The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below. Welcome to part two of ComicsAlliance’s Best Comic Books of 2014.
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The last twelve months offered comic book readers a wide variety of work ranging from the most crowd-pleasing superhero epics to the most idiosyncratic of indies, and the return of old favorites to the emergence of exciting new talent. It was a busy and productive year for the industry, and one we’re pleased to celebrate with what we’re certain will be an uncontroversial, unenumerated list of awards that will prompt only resounding agreement and unbroken fellowship amongst our readers in the comments below. Welcome to part one of ComicsAlliance’s Best Comic Books of 2014.
Q: Can Santa Claus beat Superman in a fight? Can he beat Batman? --@byharryconnolly
A: You, Harry, have been affected by the cynicism of a cynical age. Any schoolchild could tell you that Santa Claus would never fight Superman or Batman, because they are all on the same side. Then again, I suppose that's why you didn't ask a schoolchild and instead went straight to someone who specializes in providing needlessly elaborate answers to yes-or-no questions about fictional vigilantes.
So today, on this wintry Christmas Week Eve, I'm going to take up the spirit of the holiday and give you the answer you asked for. The short version? Yes. Santa Claus could beat those dudes like government reindeer. It wouldn't even be close.
Q: How do the holiday mythologies compare between Marvel and DC? -- @crcovar
A: How did you know, Crovar?! Another excuse to drop nine thousand words about the underlying differences in the structure of imaginary universes and how they've affected their storytelling over the past seventy years? It's exactly what I wanted for Christmas!
Nah, I'm just kidding. We can probably get through this one in five or six thousand. Seven, tops.
I don’t really do escapism. It’s not that the media I consume isn’t described as such, nor even that I have something against the concept. I just rarely feel as though I….escape. I mean, I enjoy the books I read and the games I play. And I suppose they keep me from considering the quotidian details of my life as I engage with them. Like, no, in the most banal sense, I am not thinking about groceries as I play Portal. But there’s a power people invest in the concept of escapism—whether they celebrate or deride it—and I just never seem to get it. It’s not a big deal, really. It’s never a metric by which I measure anything. I shrug and move on.
I escaped into The Legend of Korra.
If you asked me to pick my favorite comics of the year, there's not even a question about it: Transformers vs. G.I. Joe would be at the top of the list. Even aside from my well-known love of America's daring, highly-trained special missions force, writer/artist Tom Scioli and co-writer John Barber have been doing something amazing with this book, creating an ongoing series combining two toy franchises that has the kind of raw, unstoppable energy that you almost never see from corporate comics.
Now, with the first volume of the series hitting shelves this week, I spoke to Scioli and Barber about how they created one of the most transgressive comics of the year, why they think of the Jose as "nasty, destructive creatures," and just how much more they want to push the book until it's as strange as they want it to be.
The fourth issue of Multiversity, Thunderworld Adventures, with art by Cameron Stewart, colors by Nathan Fairbairn and letters by Steve Wands, was initially described by Morrison as taking the All Star Superman approach to Captain Marvel. Set on Earth-5 — previously Earth-S in the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Multiverse — it's far more evocative of the original Fawcett Comics incarnations of these characters than any versions that have been in the DC Universe since.
Lighthearted and fun, with gorgeous art by Stewart and Fairbairn and a lettering style from Wands evocative of the neo-C.C. Beck take Jeff Smith took in his recent Monster Society of Evil prestige miniseries, it's the anti-Pax Americana in tone, subject matter and symbolism, while maintaining a consistency of message and intent.
Joss Whedon is tired.
It’s just about halfway through the shoot for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ in London, and Whedon doesn’t as much sit down for our interview as he does collapse into a chair. It’s a bright and sunny day in London, but he looks like he hasn’t seen the sunshine in weeks. He’s completely wiped out—”raggedy” as he puts it—by his schedule, which he describes thusly: “I do this, I go home, I rewrite, I go to sleep. I do this, I go home, I rewrite, I go to sleep.”
Back when it first started up, I wrote a review of Archie's Mega Man comic where I called it "the smartest superhero comic on the stands," mostly because of the way that it took on some pretty serious ideas without detracting from the accessible, all-ages adventure that made it such a fun read. That bit in the first arc where Mega Man starts to withdraw from his family, becoming cold and, well, robotic because of the psychological toll of destroying other robots like himself is still one of my favorite scenes in comics from the past few years.
Forty issues later, I can still stand by that statement. Mega Man hasn't just continued building one of the most enjoyably action-packed stories around the bare-bones plot of "go right, shoot robots" that it got from the video games, it's also having conversations about ethics, forgiveness and what it means to love someone that nobody else in comics is coming close to. And it's great.
With long runs on hit titles like Captain America, Daredevil, Sleeper, Fatale, Criminal and more, writer Ed Brubaker has cemented his position as one of the most prominent writers in American comics, and he got his start with superheroes with Batman. After being brought in from the world of crime comics to write the Batman comics in 2000, Brubaker rose to prominence with his work on Gotham City's heroes, including cowriting the seminal Gotham Central, relaunching Catwoman with a critically acclaimed and influential new direction, and retelling the first encounter between Batman and the Joker.
This week, ComicsAlliance is taking a look back at Brubaker's tenure on the Dark Knight with an in-depth interview. In part one, we discussed the writer's work with Scott McDaniel on Batman and his collaboration with Sean Phillips on the Elseworlds one-shot, Gotham Noir. In part two, we talked about Brubaker's run on Detective Comics, his landmark work with Greg Rucka and Michael Lark on Gotham Central, and his and Doug Mankhe's influential Joker story, The Man Who Laughs. Today we conclude our discussion by talking about his relaunch of Catwoman alongside Darwyn Cooke and Cameron Stewart, why he was worried that it would be a "poisoned chalice," and why it's one of the most significant comics in DC's long history.