I feel like talking about a few comics I really enjoyed this year. Its been a spectacular year for comics, with a lot of people really blasting away in their field. Whether in small press or at Image, mostly Image,  can I talk about how create Image are doing? there has been a huge amount of great comics flying into your face and mouth. I’m going to talk about comics I bought this year, but mostly ones that CAME OUT this year, even if it was just one volume. So…

YOUNG AVENGERS

The Young Avengers is the best super hero team up book I have ever read, with an ensemble cast I have never encountered before doing things I don’t know much about, the book not only makes me care about them but introduces me to a fully fleshed out world where weird named alien’s drive about space in a hover Cadillac. Kieron Gillan and Jamie McKelvie do a fantastic job of the plots, layouts and the dialogue is just astronomical. It also introduced me to Kate Bishop, Hawkeye the second, who is probably my favorite character I’ve been introduced to this year. Strong female characters are hard come by in mainstream comics, (even though Young Avengers also has Ms America who is another fleshed out super nova of story telling) but I love Kate Bishop who also appears in:

HAWKGUY

Hawkeye is a paired down super hero comic, instead of presenting Hawkeye as the flipping off buildings shooting boxing glove arrows kind of guy, it shows him as a man trying to survive because all his friends are super heroes and he is a guy. Clint Barton lives in an apartment block and defends those he lives with from thugs and poverty and Hurricane Katrina, whilst making really human mistakes. It also features the more realistic fight between Hawkeye and AIM, (Taking up two whole panels) showing what sort of a world a real person operates in whilst everyone else has rayguns. Again, humanity is heaped onto every involved, the pacing is superb, and it does things with narrative and panel arrangements that other comics should take note of. Its also written by Matt Fraction who also wrote:

SEX CRIMINALS

Matt Fraction. MATT FRACTION. DAT MAN! I MEAN JEEZ, DAT FUCKING GUY! He’s written Casanova, Hawkeye, Fear Itself, Invincible Ironman, and MY GOD I will buy most things with his name on it. So I am sure that waters down any opinion I have on the subject because I would lick the mans shoes clean. But the team of Zdarsky and Fraction is a fine wine of comics. This is the story of two people who find each other, and find that they have a unique gift centered around orgasms. I don’t want to go into it too much but I’ll explain it to you like I have everyone else in my life: when they orgasm they stop time and they use it to rob banks. But its more than that’s, you’ve got the motives, the reasoning and the world wherein it all happens. The art is detailed and polished, the writing is knife sharp and clever, so clever and emotionally on point. Sex Criminals has a dark sense of humour which bleeds onto every page and it says so much about the way people view sex and how sex education operates in America. Its a tour de force. A Power house, one of those titles wherein Image is bashing it out of the park. Image, though:

PROPHET

Brandon Graham and a few artists of huge talent (Simon Roy, Gianis Milonogiannis and Farel Dalrymple) provide a universe filled with war, bloodshed, madness and the blurred lines of humanity and the individual. This is the story of Jon Prophet, man, warrior and clone who is fighting both sides of a war to restore the Earth Empire that once held the universe in its grip, and to resist its totalitarian force. Prophet has had another great year and I’m sure by this point you’re like “Nick you mention Prophet all the damn time”… well, yeah, but, IT BRILLIANT, and this year its third volume came out an started THE REAL SHIT. Its got into its stride and its companion pieces Earth War and Strikefile have added to the rich tapestry of Brandon’s Bat shit universe. Its all coming to a head and you’d be mad to miss out on its conclusion.

THE WRENCHIES

I felt genuinely ill reading the Wrenchies. The writing is so strong, so powerful, that when it gets into its third act and characters start dropping like flies and the wolrd of the Wrenchies is explored in full, it made my stomach flip and a sense of great darkness hung over me. You feel real danger, real disgust and real fear reading the Wrenchies. Its a tale of a group of kids, known as the Wrenchies, fighting Shadowmen demons in a post apocalyptic future where once you reach a certain age, the shadowmen come to take you away. But even though it starts one way, it flips and turns and weaves in rich elements to create a sprawling tale of magic, mystery, science, bugs and evil. Its the art as much as everything that give it its richness, Farel Dalrymple, a man whose surname I struggle to spell and fail to pronounce, give texture to every fungusy wall, a dirt to every character, and the still wet looking washes of his pages forge this texture that is as unique as its narrative. I loved this comic, and hated it for how much it spun me in, because it really puts you through the wringer. Its strongest passages are where it deals with the cruelty of childhood and even though it is a science fiction head bender, it has this core of humanity that is inescapable and bonds everything together.

GODZILLA: HALF CENTURY WAR

I couldn’t give a flip about Godzilla. I bought this because of Jame Stokoe and his art work. He takes up writing duties as well on this one man show, and I had every faith in his ability to spin a yarn that I invested inb this potted history of gigantic Kaiju destruction. Following one mans personal war on the towering destructonaut Godzilla, it jumps through history at a quick pace and is just a barrel of fun. All the old favourites are in it (mothra, Rodan, King Ghidorah) and the pages are packed with Stokoes trademarked detail and carnage, it was enough to get me super pumped for the rubber dinosaur. Even if you’ve never had the slightest interest in men in rubber suits treading on cardboard cities, this comic is wild enough to give you something to be interested in.

Just found out that even though I bought it early this year, BATTLING BOY came out November 2013, so whilst it should be on this list, it can’t be really. But its the tale of a young God, sent down to earth to prove himself powered by 12 mystical t-shirts that give him the power of a different animal. Its set in a world where Monsters flood the streets and after the death of the cities premier hero they are looking to find a new savior, and battling boy fills that slot. Its fun and engaging and really original and Paul Pope’s expressive art work really lives up to the story he weaves.

BLACKSAD

Blacksad: Amarillo came out this year, continuing the tale of Jon Blacksad, private detective, as he is tasked with driving an american’s Cadillac across america. This time it tells a story about the beat generation, bikers, circus folk and 50’s americana painted with a skill of writing and brush that is one of those landmark books in its field. Created by Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido, the series has some of the strongest characterisation of any book out on the market. Each story has its own focus and mostly unique set of characters whose animal appearance represents their personality. Senator Gallo, the stand in for Senator MacCarthy who turns up in Red Soul is a stoic Rooster bleating out from behind his podium and Blacksad’s old police chief as an Alsatian is a nice touch. The character design, the facial expressions, the stories dealing with diverse subjects like the fear of communism and race hate make it one of the greatest comics ever made. I’ve not even mentioned the amount of care that goes into framing and rendering every panel as a fine watercolour painting. Its beautiful, it reads beautiful, and you should go out and buy it.

Now…

go on, I’ll wait.

but anyway, tis late, and I’m tired and there’s far more to come.

So I’ll speak to you later Space cowboy.

NEXT TIME:

THE PUNISHER, THE SQUIDDER, SUPREME: BLUE ROSE, EXIT GENERATION, MOON KNIGHT, OTHER THINGS

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