So I decided to join in on the “best of” or “top” end of year lists that we see around this time. These are my personal favorites for 2013. Some of them are obvious choices, others may not be such popular picks. They are however, comics that I pulled this year and the books that I enjoyed the most. Make sure you scroll all the way down to check out some additional categories including “Best Comic Book Podcast” and “Best Television Show” of 2013. All of the pics are from my Instagram account. Enjoy and Happy New Year everyone.
Best Marvel Comic Book: Superior Spider-Man
Dan Slott has received both criticism from Spidey fan-boys and praise from those who love great writing in this remarkable run of Doctor Otto Octavius “Doc Ock” as your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Regardless of how you might feel about Peter Parker’s absence, Superior Spider-Man is easily one of the best super hero titles this year and one of my best Marvel pulls.
Best Marvel Comic Book: Hawkeye
It seems as if everything Matt Fraction touches turns to comic gold, so it is no surprise that the best Marvel title comes from him and artist David Aja. Hawkeye follows the personal life of Clint Barton away from his Avenger team mates, and what we get is some of the most intriguing and flat out best writing to come out of Marvel in decades!
Best DC Comic Book: Batman (Snyder)
Along with Scott Snyder’s re-imagination of DC’s most popular character and everyone’s favorite vigilante, artist Greg Capullo lends his legendary hand in what is one of the most rewarding titles to pull today. No other DC title even comes close to Batman.
Best Comic Book Miniseries: Helheim
I almost left this Cullen Bunn title out, but then I realized that there was no other mini series that I enjoyed more in 2013 than Helheim, and there were some great ones. Helheim is just a great read that features Vikings, Witches, and the undead. Both violent and mysterious, it left me wanting more. Joelle Jones puts her brilliant artistic signature on this six issue arch, and with Brides of Helheim recently announced, Helheim fans have something to look forward to in 2014.
Best Image Comic Book : East of West
Jonathan Hickman’s East of West was almost my favorite overall comic book of the year, and arguably it should of been. There were moments this year after reading an issue where I was just in awe of this amazing retelling of American and World history, drawn beautifully by Nick Dragotta. It mixes a western tale with science fiction and has violence, action, drama, death, love and most importantly, incredible art mixed with genius story-telling. With Death and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse perhaps being overdone as of late, Hickman and Dragotta have collaborated to give us something very original and special. This is arguably the best comic book of the year.
Best Image Comic Book : Saga
Everyone’s favorite comic book and rightfully so, Saga is a love story disguised as a Sci-Fi action adventure where two people from two different races that are sworn enemies fall in love. Despite being on opposite sides of the war, the couple manages to escape together and are on the run from both military’s and mercenaries. With characters that feature a Prince with television for a head, and a mutilated ghost named Isabel who baby sits the couples infant child, Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples continue to put out page after page of a classic graphic novel. A must read for not just comic book fans, but anyone who loves great literary storytelling.
Best Vertigo Comic Book: The Wake
Another Scott Snyder title, this time working with another magnificent artist in Sean Murphy, The Wake is a Sci-Fi/Horror adventure that is perhaps one of the most remarkable underwater tales I have ever read. It involves a group of scientist who have been called together to investigate the discovery of what appears to be a mermaid like life form. The story occurs in three different time periods and so far through five issues, has not disappointed. The Wake has all the makings of a successful blockbuster big screen movie and I as well as countless others who have helped the book stay a consistent top seller are looking forward to its conclusion next year.
Best Zombie Comic: Revival
The best zombie comic book that does not really contain zombies, but does contain the Undead (which is good enough for me). Revival is about a small town that has been quarantined by the government because of an event that has occurred referred to as “Revival Day”. Our zombies here appear to look normal, but the thing is that they are all deceased but have returned for reasons that are not clearly explained as of yet (No Spoilers). The addition of “Passengers” who look like creepy ghostly like aliens adds to the mystery of the supernatural occurrences of Wausau, Wisconsin. Story by Tim Seeley and art by Mike Norton, Revival is another great Image Comic that happens to be one of the best of 2013.
Best Western Comic Book: The Sixth Gun
With all due respect to East of West and Pretty Deadly, the best western comic book out there today is Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun. In its third year, this story set after the Civil War mixes the old west with the mystical/supernatural and includes both classic heroes and villains. There are six pistols that possess dark powers, and whoever happens to own the weapons also obtains a power that is specific to that particular weapon. Of course, the sixth gun which is in the possession of Drake Sinclair is the most powerful of the six, and along with Becky Montcrief, they set out on an incredible adventure that includes black magic, demonic beings, and of course the undead. Along with the quickest draw in the west (artist Brian Hurtt), Bunn continues to deliver a dark and powerful gun slinging tale that is one of the best all around comics out there right now.
Best Kids Comic Book: Lookouts
I reviewed Lookouts earlier this year, and compared it to both Lord of the Rings and The Legend of Zelda. When I compared it to LOTR’s, what I meant is our group of heroes reminded me of the Hobbits (Sam, Frodo, Merry and Pippin) and the art was very Zeldaesque (with Lark reminding me of Link). I reviewed this comic book after one issue one, and what unfolds afterwards is a fun fantastic adventure that challenges this young group of boys led by their guide Samson (a dungeon master of sorts). The groups motto “May we die in the forest” has literal meaning for some who live in and around Eyrewood Forest. A perfect fantasy adventure comic book for both young and old, it is my choice for Best Kids Comic Book of 2013.
Best New Comic Book: Rat Queens
Okay, take my last review of Lookouts, and replace the young boys with four foul mouthed, heavy beer drinking, mushroom taking, ass kicking killers for hire, and you have Rat Queens. Did I mention that they are not boys? Obviously, the queens here include an atheist cleric named Dee (humanoid), Betty the Thief (Hobbit), a Mage called Hannah (Elf), and Violet the Warrior (Dwarf). Not only is this comic book just a flat out epic adventure that features a fascinating story that is both intense and violent, but it’s fucking hilarious. Kurtis J Wiebe and Roc Upchurch have introduced us to one of the best group of heroines (or anti-heroines) that I may have ever come across. What’s great about Rat Queens is that it does not take itself seriously (at least in my opinion), and because of that, it’s damn near perfect.
Best New Comic Book: Sex Criminals
Time Magazine’s best comic book of 2013, Sex Criminals is as controversial as it is brilliant. Matt Fraction delivers yet another gem with this extraordinarily unique visionary tale that is not about registered sex offenders, but instead tells the story of Suzie and Jon who literally are sex criminals. Suzie discovers at a relatively young age (while experimenting with herself in the shower) that she can stop time with her orgasms. The first issue which features the origin of Suzie’s powers was one of the best debut issues I have ever read. Her love for books leads her to meet Jon at a library fundraiser. After their first sexual encounter, she soon discovers that she is not the only one who can literally freeze time by climaxing. Banned by the Apple App Store, many have misunderstood and labeled this as pornographic, completely missing the premise of the book. Sex Criminals is a story that in its first few issues explores sexual awakenings and discusses these matters in ways that a parent never would. The book exposes the parents absence with this awkward but necessary responsibility with great humor and genius. The controversy is a perfect example of America’s obsession and ignorance of human sexuality. Fraction and artist Chis Zdarsky are three issues in to what is already next years favorite for best overall comic book.
Best Overall Comic Book: Trillium
Finally, my best comic book of 2013, Jeff Lemire’s Trillium, a science fiction masterpiece that has been called the last love story ever told and spans across two different times. Nika Temsmith is a botanist in the year 3797 who must collect the Trillium, which is a flower with unknown powers that just may be the last thing that can save her people. William Pike is an English explorer in 1921 who is leading an expedition in search of an ancient temple of the Incas. How these two are linked and brought together is both amazing and impressively creative. Lemire, who writes and illustrates the book sets up the introduction of the story as a flip book, with two separate stories featuring both of our protagonist, representing their own time period and the start of their personal journeys and eventually linking the two together at the conclusion of issue one. In issue two, with both Nika and William together in the same time, it moves away from a flip book, yet Lemire distinctively portrays the differences between our two characters visually with unique panels for each protagonist and with language (showing the reader what each character can and cannot understand). As the story progresses, both Nika and Williams roles are reversed, as they apparently return to their own time periods, but this time Nika is the explorer in 1921 and William the botanist in 3797, yet both are somewhat aware of their former roles. A brilliant and absolutely original sci-fi adventure surrounded in mystery, action, suspense and romance, Trillium is my choice for best comic book of the year.
Best of the Rest – Comic Books: Chew, The Bounce, Sandman:Overture, Pretty Deadly, Sheltered, Hinterkind, Velvet
Best Comic Podcast: Tales From the Water Cooler
I’ve been listening to these guys for a little over a year now, & their knowledge of not just comic books but the entire industry is impressive. Oh & they’re kind of funny too. Join Decapitated Dan, Infinite Speech, & the Canadian Webslinger every week as they cover comic books and all things related to geek media on Tales from the Water Cooler.
Best Comic Book Cover: Revival #16 – Jenny Frison
There was something about this particular issue when I picked it up a few weeks ago, it just stood out amongst all the other issues I picked up that day. Sometimes, there are issues that I look forward to reading first, but when I see the cover, the order that I actually read them in may change. That’s what a great cover can do for a comic, and you throw in a great story like the one in Revival, and it can make the whole comic book experience that much more rewarding. There were plenty of others I could have listed here, and I thought it was really strange that my pick would come from an issue released so late in the year. But again, there is something about this Jenny Frison cover that is just so compelling. Maybe it is because I am enjoying the story so much, or maybe it’s the girls naked body submerged in the water that is both frightening and beautiful. Regardless, it is my pic for the best comic book cover of 2013.
Best Television Show – Breaking Bad
The best show of the year came to an end with a series finale that was television perfection. The journey of Walter White concluded with his demise and the demise of many others as the climatic ending brought so much death, darkness, mourning, and yes joy. Everyone knew that things would get darker and Vince Gilligan and crew did not disappoint, producing episode after episode of classic Breaking Bad and will not soon be forgotten. The joy that I mentioned can be experienced by watching this show from beginning to end, and realizing that the creators did not play by the rules by not aiming to please both executives and fans that wanted the show extended a few seasons. Gilligan could have asked for as many additional seasons as he wanted, and would have been granted them without question. More money could have been made by all, but the show remained exactly how it was intended, it was finite. Thank you Vince Gilligan and thanks to the cast and crew for giving us one of the most original and rewarding shows in the history of American television.
Best Television Series (ongoing) – Game of Thrones
With Breaking Bad now part of television history, the best ongoing series on television belongs to Game of Thrones, which once again was one of the top shows of 2013. GoT’s continues to closely follow the George RR Martin novels, honoring the story and transforming the characters and words to the screen with authenticity and perfection. With dragons, sorcery, giants, warriors, kings and queens giving the show its fantasy element, this epic show about family, power, war, politics, death and betrayal is far and above greater than any other show currently airing right now.
Best Sci-Fi Show: Doctor Who
Celebrating it’s 50th anniversary this year, Doctor Who is not only the best Science Fiction show on television, it is easily one of the best show on television period! The show continues to please fans with brilliant writing and spot on casting that continues to expand the DW universe and making it more popular than ever. This year we saw David Tenant and Matt Smith join forces, watched a new companion win over countless fans, witnessed yet another regeneration as we said goodbye to Matt Smith and welcomed Peter Capaldi as the 12th doctor.
Best New Show: Les Revenants/The Returned.
The French television show Les Revenants began airing in the U.S. this year on Sundance Channel as The Returned. The show takes place in a mysterious small french town where some of those who were thought to be dead suddenly without explanation return. They come back appearing exactly the way they looked when they departed and with no recollection of what occurred before their death. Amongst those who have returned, some have been dead for only a few years, others much longer. Each episode of the first season introduces us to a character who has returned from the dead, and sometimes the person does not even realize they were ever deceased. There are some in the town who are keeping secrets, and are hiding something that occurred many years before that may help explain how and why this undead phenomenon is occurring. Definitely one of the darkest and creepiest shows to come out this year, The Returned is must see zombie television.
Best Kids Show: Teen Titans Go
The best kids show of 2013 was also one of the funniest overall shows on television. The perfect blend of super hero action and comedy, Teen Titans Go quickly became a favorite of both me and my daughters. You can follow the adventures of Robin, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy on Cartoon Network.