16. Mind MGMT (Dark Horse).
I’ve loved this book from the beginning, but this year it started to wear a little thin for me. But only a little. It’s still fascinating, it still takes me a full half-hour to read every issue (compared with the more typical 10 minutes it takes for most books), and it’s still one of the most innovative story concepts around. Last Year: #4.
15. Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel).
This book is light in the extreme. C-level characters fighting B-level villains where the stakes are usually just some loot. But who doesn’t love a good heist story? There are really two reasons why this book is great. First, it’s funny. Very funny. Sometimes tragically, painfully funny. I mean, the image of Silvermane being a severed head, totally dependent on others for movement, care, and feeding, and yet still being a complete nasty asshole is fantastic. In that way, he reminds me of Eric The Actor from Howard Stern. The second reason I loved this title (it’s been cancelled) is because it all feels so real. The art takes risks, the storyline is ridiculous, but everyone in it acts so naturally you could swear you know them personally. A great example of how comics can be fun and meaningless and yet still resonate as works of art. Last Year: 15.
14. Rachel Rising (Abstract Studios).
I’ve insisted over and over that Terry Moore is a genius worthy of all the awards, and this book about witches doesn’t prove me wrong. Beautifully illustrated and genuinely frightening, this is one book that I buy in both loose issue and bound form, so I can share it with anyone who will read it. Last Year: #14.
13. The Life After (Oni Press).
I’ve always liked Joshua Hale Fialkov’s writing. It’s not always brilliant, but one thing he can do is take a strange or tired premise and make it work. Whether it was his Harvey-winning scripts for Elk’s Run and Echoes, his Eisner-winning original graphic novel, “The Tumor,” or his work on “I, Vampire” for DC or his current webcomic, “The Bunker,” I always take the time to check his stuff out. And “The Life After,” with terrific and offbeat art by Gabo, is his best project yet. It’s about…Well, I’m not sure. The main character is in purgatory for trying to kill himself, so it might be about his arc. But it’s also about the nature of judgment and Hell. It’s got intrigue and conspiracy, Ernest Hemmingway, a creepy dog, and lots of chilling, extremely dark humor. I love this book. Incidentally, between this comic, the afore-mentioned “The Bunker,” and his newest book Punks, 2014 really has been the year of Fialkov. He even got Marvel money (for Ultimate FF), but I have to say that that project really didn’t work for me. Last Year: N/A
12. Lazarus (Image).
Greg Rucka and Michael Lark launched this gritty and grim vision of the future last year, but this year we saw it develop into a complex tapestry about family, honor, slavery, and classism. Social justice and social engineering are mainstays for comic books: They’re touched on in everything from the maniacs who want to take over worlds and cities and force them into their own image to the dystopia of most sci fi comics. But Lazarus isn’t really about that. I mean, it assumes a future in which the rich control everything and the poor must become terrorists just to get enough to eat, but that’s not what it’s about. It’s really about the children of this world—the kids who have to enforce society’s unjust rules, and who have become killing machines and warrior slaves in the service of the aristocracy. Also, the art kicks ass. Last Year: 10.
11. She-Hulk (Marvel).
When this book started, I wasn’t sold. Now, it’s the first book I reach for when the new comics come out. In the “all-new Marvel” there are a plethora of corporate characters in titles that read like creator-owned indies: Black Widow, Rocket Raccoon, Hawkeye (the father of them all). What makes this one different is that Charles Soule knows how to make fun smart. She-Hulk is never silly, and there’s no meaningless events or banter. Every panel matters, every word counts. The fun comes from Jennifer Walters’ personal journey, and the unique way she looks at the world through green-colored glasses. In this book, we get a strong and different personality—there’s nothing cookie cutter here, and it’s unlike every single other Marvel comic in the way the Soule makes her such a distinct, real character. It’s a shame the book has been cancelled. Last Year: N/A
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