I already posted on the best reissues of the year [link] and my favorite comics of 2013 [link]. Here’s a few odds and ends, and goodbyes to books I really enjoyed…
Most Corporate Corporate Comic: Avengers Arena (Marvel). This high concept book is a market crossover wet dream. The concept is most immediately derived from Hunger Games, a hugely successful book that became a hugely successful movie. Hunger Games itself is almost a beat-for-beat adaptation of Battle Royale, a hugely successful manga and movie that itself was inspired by Lord of the Flies, a hugely successful book and movie(s). The cover of each issue of Avengers Arena paid tribute to the concept’s cousins (including Battle Royale and LotF). The big villain of the book was Arcade, a dude who basically traps people in “real” video games—the ultimate in reality-meets-marketing. The book has Avengers in the title, and features multi-ethnic, international characters from all of Marvel’s major publishing lines (Avengers, X-books) except Spider-Man (and God I wish they’d put Alpha in the arena and kill that worthless crap character). This is the epitome of brand-name, easy-to-digest comics. And on top of that, it was a great read.
Runner up: The Deadpool Killogy (Marvel). Why these three miniseries got made is a no-brainer: “Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe” is such a sure-fire selling title that it’s actually been used before. “Deadpool Killustrated” and “Deadpool Kills Deadpool” are pretty close to the same thing. And three separate miniseries tied together means three #1 issues! Funny thing is, they’re actually very interesting books that explore the “breaking the fourth wall” concept, and the meaning comic book fiction. Content-wise, they’re actually pretty non-corporate. And what’s next? In the spirit of the most successful TV adaptation of a comic book of all time: Night of the Living Deadpool. The hits keep coming!
Best Franchise Tie-In: Godzilla The Half Century War (IDW). I don’t generally read Godzilla comics, but James Stokoe’s miniseries was stunningly well-drawn. Story-wise it was fairly straightforward, but this is one worth having for the art alone.
Runner Up: Fred Van Lente’s new G.I. Joe series, also on IDW. A very, very nice surprise.
Best Comic Book Without Pictures: Marvel Comics, The Untold Story by Sean Howe. A fascinating book with tons of juicy bits of information about the Marvel bullpenners spanning from the dawn of Spider-Man to the present day.
But what about the kids, man, the f-ing KIDS?!? Marvel produced lots of great books starring teens and tweens and young adults this year: Young Avengers, Avengers Arena, FF, Wolverine and the X-Men…It’s important that we have quality books about kids because, without them, comic books will be dead in 10 years.
THE “SAY GOODBYE” AWARDS
This year many series reached conclusion. These are the ones I’ll miss most:
- Glory (Image). I never liked the Rob Liefeld series, but the reboot by Joe Keatinge was terrific.
- Grant Morrison’s Batman (DC). A controversial ending, to be sure, but I appreciated it. I wrote about it here [LINK].
- Grant Morrison’s Action Comics. For the first time in many years, I anxiously looked forward to the next issue of a Superman comic. But DC couldn’t back away fast enough from Morrison’s wild, decidedly different take on the character.
- Sweet Tooth (Vertigo). It ended this year with one of the greatest “last issues” I’ve ever read. Now you can buy all 40 issues and read them straight through and understand why Jeff Lemire is hailed as a genius (because God knows his mainstream comics work won’t prove it).
- Venom (Marvel). While it was never “great,” Cullen Bunn’s take on the secret agent version of Venom was always a solid, fun read. I’ll miss it.
- X-Factor (Marvel). It suffered from some truly horrendous art, but Peter David’s scripts never failed to be terrific. Of course, he’s starting a new series with many of the same characters so…How can we miss you if you don’t go away?
- Greg Rucka’s Punisher (Marvel). His coda was the Punisher vs. The Avengers mini, which was way, way, way better than anyone thought it would be and yet it still didn’t sell the way it should have. Sigh.