MARVEL’S BEST OF 2014 (SO FAR)

Marvel has done a decent job this year so far, but not a great one.  Several of their reboots have either failed or haven’t been good enough to call successes, like Iron Patriot and Ghost Rider.  The relaunch of Captain Marvel didn’t come out well, either—it went from a solid character-based book to an adventure story, and its charm was largely its intimacy.  And several titles that were once good are starting to show quite a bit of wear.  In particular, Guardians of the Galaxy was great for a while but crossing it over with Bendis’ X-titles didn’t do it a good service.  Nor did bringing in the Angela character.  The book seemed to be losing focus, and fracturing, the closer it got to the movie launch date.

And big screen influence may well be the corrupting influence.  Ever since the reboot, all of the Avengers books have struggled to find and keep a central idea—and the “big” Avengers books (Avengers, New, and Uncanny) are the worst of the lot.  The decompression in the storylines verges on the boring—too much exposition, too little character, too much “Wow!  Isn’t this big!”  It’s like the heart was drained out of them when Bendis left.

Mighty Avengers, also known as the “black Avengers,” is on the cusp. Having a street-level team was a good idea, and having a team that is trying hard to be a team was what made Brian Michael Bendis’ early work on New Avengers so much fun.  The problem is, the book doesn’t have a good sense of itself yet.  Why are these people together?  I still don’t see it.  So as of now, it’s not one of the best books on the market.  But it could be.

And Bendis’ X-books, which started strong, hasn’t continued to thrive.  It, too, has gotten plodding.  It all feels ponderous and pointless.

But those are the negatives.  Marvel is actually doing a great job with smaller stuff.  Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey’s Moon Knight is a humble book of done-in-one stories, each wilder than the next, and every one making me want more.  Ms. Marvel is the best new Marvel book in years, and one of the best on the market, period.  The first issue was the best introduction to a new character since Amazing Fantasy #15 gave us Spider-Man.  And George Romero’s Empire of Dead Act One was a pretty cool comic book movie.

But I know what you’re really looking for a list, so click to the next page for the top 10 Marvel comics of 2014.

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