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Friday, December 13, 2013

Shane's Top Comic Series of 2013

As you have probably noticed, we here at GeekRex have been presenting our favorite comic series of the year 2013.  First came Kyle's and Harper's list, and now comes my chance to tell you the five comics I have really enjoyed this year.  Our only criteria going in was that the series had to have completed at least one story arc in 2013, so there are quite a few comics I really like right now, but were not eligible.  If anything overlaps between all three of our lists, you can definitely know it is a comic worth your time.  Nevertheless, you can see my top comics of 2013 below!

5. New Avengers

Going into the relaunch of sorts that was Marvel Now, I found myself feeling a bit jaded as a reader of Avengers.  Brian Michael Bendis' recent run had been my first time reading the series regularly, so the idea of it starting over at #1 after only thirty issues was enough to convince me I did not need to bother with the title anymore.  Then, I saw what Jonathan Hickman had in mind for New Avengers.  Starring the group of people in Marvel's Universe who call themselves the Illuminati, New Avengers made itself clear right out of the gate that it was going to be a force to be reckoned with.  The trick with a comic like this is how to make it obvious why this specific team must be together, and how the conflicts it encounters differ from those the rest of the Avengers must face.  During 2013, Hickman made it very clear that this team would not only face crises that required their specific set of skills and secrecy, but would be involved with making tough moral decisions the rest of the heroes in the Marvel U could not.  With a smaller cast than he deals with in Avengers, Hickman has been able to make this comic a character driven piece that is always a highlight each month.  It is also all drawn beautifully by Mike Deodato, making this book an absolute must read for anyone.

4. Batman

This is perhaps one of the more predictable choices for a list such as this, but Scott Snyder's run on Batman continues to be a best seller each month for a reason.  The trend of this comic being leaps and bounds ahead of much of what is going on in the rest of the New 52 continued this year.  In 2013, Snyder and artist Greg Capullo began what will end up being a year long epic known as Zero Year.  The story seeks to re-imagine the origins of the Caped Crusader in the New 52, giving Scott Snyder an opportunity other writers could only dream of...or dread.  When announced, Zero Year was met with quite a bit of backlash.  Many Batman fans are (understandably) protective of sacred Bat-texts such as Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, a comic still considered the end all be all take on Batman's origins.  Nevertheless, Snyder has continued with his story, believing fully in the story he wanted to tell and its importance to this take on the character, and it is perhaps that infallible belief in the story which has made it (thus far) a success.  Snyder made the brilliant decision to focus this origin more on Bruce Wayne than Batman, and that shift in perspective has allowed for a much deeper insight into why this man decides to don the cape and cowl than many Batman writers have ever provided.  This is all in addition to the art Greg Capullo provides, which may be some of the best work  Batman has had in over a decade.  If you, for some reason, are still not reading this comic, make 2014 the year where you change that.

3. Thor: God of Thunder

When selecting the comics which would appear on this list, it was honestly a very difficult choice as to whether to put this comic or Wonder Woman.   Both comics brought excellent storylines and art this year which put interesting and different twists on well known mythological characters.  What finally made it easy to chooe Thor: God of Thunder was when I reminded myself of one important fact: two years ago I would have never dreamed I would be reading (and loving) a solo Thor comic.  Such is the power of writers like Jason Aaron, to take a character who I could, honestly, only find interest in when interacting with a team of superheroes and make me clamor to know more about what he was doing on his own.  Thor: God of Thunder had an excellent year of stories in 2013.  It began with the wrapping up of a somewhat overly long story involving Gorr the God Butcher, but, as usual, Aaron proved his doubters wrong by showing just how necessary every chapter of the story was.  The comic then had one of if not the best single issue of this year in a story that told of what Thor does when he visits Midgard.  Now Thor finds himself fighting against Malekith, a villain not so coincidentally shown on film recently, and even then Jason Aaron continues to make the comic a must read.  Add in a spectacular line up of artists and you have a comic that is heading into 2014 very strong.

2. Fables

Okay, okay.  If you know me at all, or have listened to our podcast a few times, this choice was probably not surprising one bit.  In fact, you were probably just scrolling your way through this list just to see where I would place it.  So, yes, it should come as no surprise that Fables, my favorite ongoing comic book series of all time, ends up on my list of the best comics of 2013...but this is not just the ramblings of an obsessed fan.  Fables very much so deserves its spot on this list, perhaps even more so when one considers there will not be too many more of this lists that it will end up on.  Yes, 2013 brought us the devastating news that, with issue 150, Fables will be coming to an end.  It is a bite which stings even more so when one considers that the comic has just now become the focus of a video game as well as having a film in the works.  Such announcements did not stop the comic from having a great 2013.  Although I still find myself being made at Bill Willingham for killing off my favorite character this year, I cannot deny that Fables continues to tell stories which are engaging, heartfelt, and develop these characters we have always thought we knew in ways which are refreshing and unexpected.  Mark Buckingham's art continues to be great, never becoming stale even after 10 years.  I may not be able to convince you to read Fables right now, but you better believe there will be no room for excuses when this amazing comic comes to an end.

1. Ghosted

This was perhaps the most difficult decision to make for this list.  I knew that I wanted to include Ghosted somewhere on this list, but its exact placement was a mystery to me, even as I began to type everything out.  As this list came together however, it became abundantly clear that Ghosted deserved my top spot for 2013 for one simple reason: it just may have been the biggest surprise of the year for me.  2013 was most definitely a year full of plenty of fantastic independent comics, many of them being published by Image.  So what makes Ghosted different?  As I said, it is the surprise that this comic is as good as it really is.  It is an even more amazing accomplishment when one considers this comic was originally going to be a mini-series.  Fortunately it got bumped up to on-going status...and it just may be due to this unique story Joshua Williamson is crafting.  Ghosted tells the story of Jackson Winters, a man who is great at organizing heists.  Things change when Jackson is given perhaps his weirdest assignment yet: capture a ghost for an eccentric collector of the paranormal.  What follows is a horror comic that takes the idea of the haunted house and plays with it in a way which feels more refreshing than most of what comes out of Hollywood these days.  Goran Sudzuka is on art duties for this comic, and his artwork blended with Williamson's writing makes for some of the best chemistry one can ask for in comics.  A great read, Ghosted's first story arc has been collected in a $10 trade paperback, so there is really no excuse for you to not give my favorite comic of 2013 a chance.

Honorable Mention: Wonder Woman, Saga, Lazarus, Fairest, Thunderbolts, Earth 2, Superman Unchained
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