Bob’s Top Ten Comics for 2013 A mess o’stuff by Bob Reyer With another year having gone in the books, it’s time for my co-hosts, fellow contributors, and me to make our personal “Top Ten Comics for 2013” lists, and in my case, to see if I can influence the voting for some of my favorites! There have been some very special comics out this year, from the worlds of “capes’n’cowls”, horror, science-fiction, and humor, as well as all manner of mash-ups and combinations, and from creators both seasoned and new. This platform also affords me an opportunity to check out your thoughts on these books that I’ve been on about all year, and for some of you to see how your opinions have influenced my selections, too! I’ll post my complete “Top Ten” (give-or-take) lists at the end, but there are a few titles and creators that I’d like to single out for special mentions. Going right for it, my pick for “Breakout Artist” is Amy Reeder, whose stunning art from Rocket Girl #1 can be seen at the right. Her work in the past on various DC and indie books was excellent, and her Halloween Eve one-shot was one of my favorites of 2012, but here that art has taken a leap upwards from an already high place. Notice in the page lay-out shown here how your eye is being directed to follow the panels in a way that mimics Rocket Girl’s actions in the panels themselves! Beyond the beauty of the work itself, Ms. Reeder’s story-telling craft and ability to create moments of genuine emotion made her the stand-out in this category, even over such tough competition as Freddie E. Williams II, Alex Garner and Yasmin Liang. Rocket Girl also factors into a number of my other lists, as Brandon Montclare was in the running for “Breakthrough Writer” till the last minutes, the cover for Rocket Girl #2 made the cut, and the series itself was on my lists for best “New”, “On-Going” and “Over-All” comic! Another smaller series that caught my fancy was brought to my attention by our own Stephanie Cooke, and that is the delightful Bandette by Paul Tobin and Collen Coover. Originally a digital title from MonkeyBrain Comics, a hardcover collection (“Presto!”) has just been released from Dark Horse, which seems only right as the series deals with a rather-young cat burglar who “liberates” all manner of objets d’art from their sometimes unscrupulous owners, so a book about someone stealing rare books should be in print form, non? Bandette appears on a number of my lists (“Humour”, “Kids”, and “Webcomic”) and all quite deservedly! On that “Humour” list… (Robert, why are you spelling “humour” in the English/Canadian way? Not that I mind, but the last I checked, you were born and raised in New York. By the way, I find Bandette’s outfit simply marvelous, darling! @udrey) (Well, Audrey, since you asked; as Our Ms. Cooke recommended it to me, I thought I should spell it “correctly”!) As I was saying, the “Humour” list also contains “straight comedy” such as Faith Erin Hicks’ Adventures of Superhero Girl and It Girl & the Atomics, as well as some titles that might not be considered humour at all, such as FF, Avengers Assemble, and Afterlife with Archie, but these books provided some of the biggest laugh-out-loud moments of the year for me, so on the list they go! While walking on the sunny side of the street, let me just mention Jamal Igle’s Molly Danger, which is a marvelous all-ages book in the truest sense of that term. Crafted as a comic book that he could share with his own daughter, it’s the story of the “world’s strongest 10-year-old”, but there is so much more to it than that; Molly has a secret, you see (which you’ll have to read for yourself!), and that leads her to discover the value of friends and family in a quite moving way. There’s plenty of action, too, as Molly dukes it out with baddies and giant robots, and always in good service to the story, and to Mr. Igle’s high goals. Molly Danger is simply a book that’s a lot of fun, and is highly recommended! In the “Mini-Series” category, I must take time to mention John Byrne’s Doomsday.1 from IDW. For those of you who are fans of films such as the original Planet of the Apes, The Andromeda Strain, or Colossus, the Forbin Project, or who enjoy comics such as The Wake or The Massive, Doomsday.1 is a slice of old-fashioned science-fiction that tells of an Earth devastated by a massive solar flare, and how human society copes with the aftermath. Beautifully told in words and pictures by the industry legend, it has just been released in a trade paperback collection, which I would suggest is the best way to read this very cinematic tale. Coming into the home stretch now, I’ll start by saying how much I enjoyed the many books that fell under my “curse” and are now longer with us: Fearless Defenders, Dark Avengers, Red She-Hulk and X-Factor, with Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four and his FF with Michael Allred soon to follow them into the four-color graveyard. All of these fine comics found places on my lists, as did their creators, so my thanks to Mr. Fraction, Cullen Bunn, Peter David, and Jeff Parker, and their various “partners in art” for a great time; sorry about putting the Mal’occhio on you! My favorite “New” book this year (as well as my #2 in both “On-Going” and “Over-All”!) was The Movement by Gail Simone and Freddie E. Williams II. Using very minor, virtually unknown, or newly-created heroes as a team is a huge risk, but Ms. Simone and Mr. Williams made the gamble pay off. Within a short time, Virtue, Katharsis, Mouse, Vengeance Moth and the rest have become favorites due to the creators’ combined efforts at crafting layered and complex characters, and the involved but involving story-line never fails to heighten our attachments to these new additions to DC’s line-up. Finishing up, for the year 2013 the book that for me summed up all the best that a super-hero comic could be was Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel. Already a great book, Captain Marvel reached new heights this year, as within the pages of that book and Avengers Assemble, Ms. DeConnick brought a new level of emotional connection between the character of Carol Danvers and her audience as she fought to subdue “The Enemy Within”, as this Summer’s mini-cross-over was titled. As Carol struggled with adversity from all sides, we were shown the face of true heroism as she came to the only decision that she could, but at a tremendous personal cost. Quoting the close of issue #14 : “We tell her that heroes aren’t defined by their powers or their costumes…but by the contents of their hearts.” “We will know the light she has inside her because she showed us all today.” “We will know…she’s Captain Marvel…she’s our hero.” (I’m welling up again as I type it! Darn you, Kelly Sue!) Topping this (which I didn’t think possible!), there’s another heart-wrenching climax that is basically the entirety of issue #17, which was my favorite “Single Issue” of the year (#14 was right behind!), and both would be in my “All-Time” lists as well! For all this, Captain Marvel is also at the top in “On-Going”, “Over-All”, “Story Arc”, penciller Filipe Andrade is in the #3 slot for “Best Artist”, and Ms. Kelly Sue DeConnick is my choice for “Best Writer”, especially factoring in her other fine work on Avengers Assemble, Dark Horse’s Ghost and the stunningly original Pretty Deadly, co-created with her sometime-collaborator on Captain Marvel, the amazing Emma Rios. The rest of my picks will appear below (provided I can get the computer to co-operate!), and if you feel the urge, don’t hesitate to leave a comment on the post, as I’d love to discuss what you think! BREAKTHROUGH ARTIST Amy Reeder Freddie E. Williams II Alex Garner Yasmin Liang Will Sliney Francesco Francavilla Scott Hepburn Stephanie Buscema BREAKTHROUGH WRITER Caleb Monroe Jamal Igle Brandon Montclare Faith Erin Hicks WEBCOMIC Bandette Our Valued Customers Girls with Slingshots Hark! A Vagrant! Adventures of Superhero Girl Lady Sabre… Girl Genius JL8 PUBLISHER Marvel Image IDW Dark Horse Dynamite DC KIDS Princeless Molly Danger My Little Pony Bandette Li’l Gotham Batman ‘66 HUMOUR Adventures of Superhero Girl Empowered It Girl & the Atomics Princeless FF Bandette Archie: Afterlife Batman ‘66 (Avengers Assemble) (Harley Quinn) ANTHOLOGY Witching Hour Dark Horse Presents Womanthology: Space True Patriot Comics A + X HISTORICAL Pretty in Ink Divas, Dames & Daredevils… Miss Fury: Sundays 1941-1944 “Secret History/Marvel Comics” Flash Gordon (Titan) IDW “Artist Editions” Marvel’s continuing GA program PS Art Books “Collected Works” COVER ONLY ARTIST Mark Brooks Joe Quinones Amanda Conner Alex Garner Stephanie Buscema Alex Ross (Hall of Fame!) OVER-ALL Captain Marvel The Movement Hawkeye Fantastic Four Fearless Defenders Rocketeer/Spirit FF X-Factor Rocket Girl Pretty Deadly (*N.A.; Batgirl; X-Men) ON-GOING Captain Marvel The Movement Hawkeye Fantastic Four Fearless Defenders FF X-Factor Rocket Girl Pretty Deadly Red Sonja Empowered MINI-SERIES Rocketeer/Spirit Steed & Mrs. Peel Mara Doomsday.1 Locke & Key: Alpha/Omega It Girl & The Atomics Masks Triple Helix NEW The Movement Fearless Defenders Rocket Girl Pretty Deadly Red Sonja Sex Criminals T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents Molly Danger Mara (*New Avengers; X-Men) STORY ARC CM: “Enemy Within” FD: “Doom Maidens” X-F: “End of X-Factor” RSH: “Route 616” The Movement: “The Tweens” S&MP: “Hellfire” F4/FF: “Worst. Vacation.Ever.” DA: “The Other NYC” BG: “Batgirl—Wanted!” SINGLE ISSUE/ONE-SHOT Captain Marvel #17 Captain Marvel #14 Hawkeye #9 Empowered: 9 Beers w/Ninjette Fantastic Four #4 X-Factor #262 The Movement #4 Molly Danger X-Men #4 Harley Quinn #0 Witching Hour COVER Doc Savage #1 Fearless Defenders #2 (Blister) Captain Marvel #11 (JQ/poster) Batgirl #24 (AG/Babs & Ricky) Pretty Deadly #1 Hawkeye Annual (Javier Pulido) FF #7 (Silver Age vibe) Batgirl #21 (AG/Ventriliquist) Rocket Girl #2 X-Men #1 (Coipel) ARTIST Michael Allred David Aja Filipe Andrade Amy Reeder John Byrne Emma Rios Alan Davis Francesco Francavilla Adam Warren Mark Bagley WRITER Kelly Sue DeConnick Gail Simone Matt Fraction Cullen Bunn Peter David Jeff Parker Jonathan Hickman John Byrne Paul Levitz Mark Waid 4 Responses Suzanne Nagda January 8, 2014 Hi Bob, I’m with you on most of your picks, including Kelly Sue DeConnick as best writer and The Movement as your best new book. I hope the series sticks around despite the lukewarm sales numbers. Log in to Reply Bob Reyer January 8, 2014 Suzanne, Thanks for your endorsement! Looking over your list of favorite single issues, I can see some that nearly made mine, too…and some I should have considered! As to The Movement, lukewarm sales would be a great improvement; but if only a quarter of Batgirl’s readers sample and then stick with The Movement after the cross-over between the two books, it would be well north of the cancellation line–one can only hope! Log in to Reply Logan Rowland January 8, 2014 Unfortunately Bob, as you know, I have not read “The Movement” and we have discussed my plans for that. I think my biggest sin at the moment is that I have yet to read “Rocket Girl” and after viewing the art you have posted, I intend on buying the existing issues on Comixology after I am through with this comment! Captain Marvel is a book that took me by surprise. I knew I would like it because…well, you told me I would and you haven’t steered me wrong yet. For example: The Rocketeer, Fantastic Four/FF, etc. What I wasn’t prepared for is the emotional tidal wave I was set to ride my little boat upon the moment I began reading Captain Marvel #1. Ms. Kelly Sue begins the story in a way that captured my attention: putting Ms. Marvel next to Captain America fighting side by side against some guy that looks like he belongs in a God of War game and ending it with that wonderful panel as she gives in and takes up the mantle as Captain Marvel left me wanting so much more and excited for the next issue. The way the author presents the origin of Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel as more of a plot device and subtle set-piece brings a breath of fresh air to the “comic book hero origin” stories. She wowed me with her presentation of relationships between Helen and Carol and the past versus future and how connected they are, but it was when “Enemy Within” began that I knew that the best was yet to come. For me to fear for the hero, dreading the impending doom and yet understand what was to come and accept the outcome for it’s heroism is a feat within itself, one that left me teary eyed and hopeful for humanity. The relationships between Carol and her friends, especially Kit touched me in all the right places and moved me in ways I didn’t expect. Ms. Kelly Sue truly knows how to balance the small character moments with the grand action pieces. This is proven in issue #14 and #17, which I hope, anyone who is reading this and any person claiming they love comics and superheroes have read through. I can’t think of a better way to introduce someone to comics, or celebrate the superhero genre than Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick. The only other story arc that competes with Enemy Within for me is “Angels Unaware” in Daredevil: Dark Nights, which you need to read Bob! It’s only three issues! Thanks for the great article! Log in to Reply Bob Reyer January 8, 2014 Logan, You’ll love Rocket Girl and The Movement, I’ll stake my fading credibility on that! (I say “fading” based on how many books I champion that end up cancelled!) Your celebration of Ms. DeConnick’s work on Captain Marvel needs no comment from me, except to say how pleased I am that you tried it on my recommendation, and received so much from it. One of the greatest pleasures we have here at Talking Comics is hearing a listener such as yourself respond this way! Thanks so much Logan! Bob Log in to Reply Leave a Reply Cancel Reply You must be logged in to post a comment.