If there is one thing that comic book fans like, it is lists. One of our fans, James C., has commented to me that he gets large influxes of finances in chunks and so he is constantly looking for recommendations of good things to scoop in $60 worth of trades as opposed to financially committing to monthly issues. In these economic times, it can be much less expensive to purchase trade paperbacks and collected editions from a local comic store with great deals or a clearinghouse website like Instocktrades.com. Trade waiting also allows you to get the story in chunks and not constantly be on the edge of your seat. Some might say that authors write for the trade and that issues are a thing of the past. It is in this vein and with James C. in mind that we are gonna’ make some lists of all my favorite collections that I can remember. Here is our definitive, favorite Comic Book List of comics that we read in or around 2013. Most of these collections have had write-ups in past Comical Musings posts. I will link to the previous post (if there is one), put a picture of the cover, and a tiny synopsis of “why it was great.”
Return Of The Dapper Men
This is a beautiful steampunk-y fairy tale with amazing art from Janet Lee and a wonderful and pitch-perfect story from Jim McCann. This is a good book for personal consumption or to read to kids. REVIEW
The Essex County Trilogy
The Black Ness Monster did a write up on this before. The truth is, there are not many comic books or even works of literature that tickle my heart strings like Essex County. REVIEW
Batman/Superman Public Enemies
With Ed McGuinness at the drawing board, this was one of the first DC comics I ever read that piqued my interest at all. DC Comics had always been a non-factor for me, but McGuinness’ art (which I want to get tattooed all over me) got me to sit down and read Jeph Loeb’s story…and this is good Loeb. The story gets a little fantastical at times, but has a good “comic book-y” nostalgia-type feel to it. It helps that the trade is cheap too.
I have always been a big Ultimate X-Men fan and loved The Ultimates (Avengers) deeply. When they went to war with Chris Bachalo drawing each battle, I was not only sold…I was in love. I have owned this in issues TWICE and have purchased the trade at least once.
This was a shockingly under-rated series for what it was! Bendis just killed it and being paired with longtime collaborator, Alex Maleev, didn’t hurt. This is just such a comfortable and complete look at an enigmatic character in the Marvel universe (616). Two trades make up the whole story! Hal liked it too. REVIEW
The story of Rasl is simply captivating. All of the kooky science sucks you in and before you know it, you genuinely care for the characters and their world. If you were turned off by the massive gaps between issues, I suggest you put that aside and read this work as a complete tale of when science is a little more like magic. REVIEW
Ultimate Comics The Ultimates
Jonathan Hickman’s first story arc on The Ultimates is a doozy. He sets forth plot elements that are both familiar and bold. It has set the stage for all of the spectacular Ultimate Marvel Comics that are coming out now and, like most things that Hickman does, the story is very rich. REVIEW
Jeff Lemire is a boss and this comic book made me cry as it ended a month ago. Sweet Tooth is a different take on the post-apocalyptic genre that fires on all cylinders. There were some lags in the story when read in issues, but if you just read it all in trades, it should be just fine. Buckle up for this emotional ride. REVIEW
As surprising as Sweet Tooth was to the post-apocalyptic genre, Revival finds a way to feature a completely different take on the zombie genre. Zombies are tired and over-used in modern culture, but Revival has me on the edge of my seat every issue Tim Seely feeds up tense moments to Mike Norton, who alley oops them for some of the best moments that I have read in comic books in the last two years. As a young series, this is the perfect time to hop on the bandwagon.
In this day and age, it is hard to be humorous and taken serious simultaneously as a comic book. Chew straddles this line perfectly and feels like reading a television show. When it needs to be frightening or shocking, it’s right on time. At the same time, Layman and Guillory don’t waste page space, cramming jokes onto each lovingly executed page.
Ultimate Spider-Man Presents Ultimate Six
Ultimate Spider-Man is a wonderful story and has many ups, downs, and surprises. But, none got my attention more than Ultimate Six. All of the villains that Peter has faced join forces and the realism that is brought to the table in how they interact and the actions that they take is refreshing. Bendis takes this story and grabs you by the throat. You will genuinely worry about Peter Parker and revel in the victories of the Ultimate Six. It’s a great Ultimate universe (1610) look at the classic Sinister Six team-up.
Batman: Knight Of Vengeance
Knight of Vengeance was like a warm up band that ruins the headliner’s set by being too satisfying. This was a story out of DC Comics’ Flashpoint event that ended up resonating with me more than the main event. But, in the 90s, it could have easily stood on it’s own as an Elseworlds tale. The emotional high and low points of this story make it compelling. I was truly surprised by the plot twists. REVIEW
Joe The Barbarian
Creativity flows from Grant Morrison’s mind as beauty flows from Sean Murphy’s pencil. The fantastic story is a perfect marriage of top-tier professional creators. REVIEW
Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Dark Victory
When Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are “on,” it can be amazing. DC Comics’ Long Halloween and Dark Victory hooked me and got me into Batman. I genuinely had little interest in the character before hand and tearing through these books showed me Batman in a different way. Batman became a character that I could understand and the world of Gotham was still dark, but it was easier to comprehend.
Bendis’ Avengers #7-12
I love the Hood. Plain and simple. Parker Robbins is a great character and he nearly has his day in this series. There is little wrong with a Bendis “Avengers” book and adding the Infinity Gauntlet in for good measure takes the story to a new level. John Romita is one of my favorite artists and this book is a gorgeous display of how much and how well he can illustrate. REVIEW
The Nightly News
Jonathan Hickman’s “Fight Club-esque” graphic novel is really amazing when you take a step back and consider that he provided both the engrossing story and the graphically intriguing art. This tight little series is as odd as it is compelling. Smart, fun, and a little bit frightening.
Nextwave: Agents Of Hate
Warren Ellis’ irreverent sense of humor shines over blog-favorite artist, Stuart Immonen’s pages in this short, but sweet romp through the Marvel Universe’s (616) C and D list characters. The dialogue and action never skip a beat and the hardcover is one of the best deals in comics today. REVIEW
Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon
There is no series in comic books that makes waves like Matt Fraction and David Aja’s, “Hawkeye.” The graphic art and ingenious page layouts have made this the breakout hit that everyone is talking about. Each issue is it’s own story (for the most part) and the formula for the books is unheard of. “Hawkguy,” as he prefers to be called, spends hardly any time in costume and rarely saves the world. This feels like an indie book with a Marvel character. Like an art-house movie, showing the other side of the life of an Avenger. It is super compelling and I would argue infinitely enjoyable. The first collection (issues 1-5) comes out March 13, 2013.
All-New X-Men, Vol. 1: Here Comes Yesterday
Many critics had said that Bendis “couldn’t do X-Men.” Boy, did he prove them wrong. When I first saw the premise for this Marvel NOW! series, I have to admit, I did not get it. The X-Men from the past come to the future. I found myself wondering “who cares?” Well, this series is fabulous and one of my top 5 ongoing series right now. The interplay between new X-Men and old X-men is consistently priceless. The first volume, which collects issues 1-5, comes out on April 02, 2013.
The Authority Vol. 1 HC
The Authority is a benchmark book in comics history. It helped to launch careers of famous writers/artists and paved the way for successful “wide-screen” comics to follow. One thing that is difficult about this series is getting it. Collections are out of print and speculation on issues can be high, but May 21st, 2013, we are getting a volume 1 hardcover edition at a fair price. These stories are poignant and bloody, the characters are strong and unique. We are lucky to finally have it collected. REVIEW
Thank you for checking out the first post of Gratuitous Fan Service Week, We are happy to have you. If you liked what you read, please share and stay tuned all week.
~ Scott Deaux ~