Thursday, January 1, 2015

Another "Top 10 for 2014" List

   One of my long-time friends (who prefers to stay Anonymous) sent in this terrific list of his top picks for 2014. Take it away, Anon:

1 – Avengers / New Avengers / Hickman’s “Time Runs Out” Epic

(Last year’s ranking – 4)

   Jonathan Hickman continues to impress me. The Illuminati, a rogue group of intellectual heroes, continues to work in the shadows with a “we know what’s best” mentality. 

   At the end of the 2014, everything is falling apart, but in fascinating ways. Much like his wonderful run of Fantastic Four, Hickman moves characters like chess pieces and often causes us to forget where they went until the right time. 

   He’s still punching out great stories with plenty of distractions from the so-called “House of Ideas” offering competing plot lines and a new artist nearly every issue. Hickman’s plotlines rise above these annoyances. 

2 – Starlight

(Last year’s ranking – Not Ranked)

   My Uncle Paul was the proverbial black sheep of my family and the person who got me into this hobby. He’s passed on now, but would have loved Mark Millar’s Starlight

   With wonderful retro art by co-creator Goran Parlov (who is clearly channeling Moebius and his Heavy Metal work), they tell the story of a Flash Gordon homage who has been back on Earth for decades and is considered crazy for stories of vanquishing evil maniacs on other worlds. 

   Of course, he’s needed again, and his adventures resume. The story might be packaged a bit too neatly, as it ties up quickly in six issues, but that didn’t bother me. 

   Much like Flash Gordon, James Bond and Indy Jones, you want this guy to win again.

3 – The Manhattan Projects

(Last year’s ranking – 1)

   Even with an ominous hiatus occurring at present, this book still is well worth your time. 

   Hickman continues to add new characters and plotlines, but the book maintains interest. 

   I’ve recommended this book to some friends and most have not liked it, mostly due to Ryan Browne’s highly stylized artwork. 

   I like it (and I guess I’m used to it), but be warned.

4 – New Lone Wolf & Cub

(Last year’s ranking – Not Ranked)

   No one ever dies in comic books. 

   Not even Bucky

   While the long death of Cub’s father remains intact, the adventures of his son continue in these graphic novels. 

   Kazuo Koike takes the reader back to the end of the last series and maintains the death, but also shows us the grief and sadness that death caused. 

   Fate is still very cruel to the surviving Cub, but a new protector enters the picture. It will be interesting to see where this new series goes.

5 – Dr. Doom and Valeria’s storyline

(Last year’s ranking – Not Ranked)

   I’m absolute sucker for this character dynamic. 

   A flawed villain with tremendous megalomania becomes attached to his niece, who happens to be the smartest human on earth and the daughter of his nemesis. What could go wrong? 

   Hickman gets the credit for laying the groundwork for this relationship during his Fantastic Four run, but it continues in several books. 

   Unfortunately, it seems to be the center of the current version of Avengers World, but subpar writing and art have me losing interest at present. 

6 – Saga

(Last year’s ranking - 3)

   The book that always delivers. 

   Great art and writing, interesting characters, things happen, and it pulls the heartstrings. 

   People look at you like you’re out of your head if you try to describe Saga, but, in the end, it’s a love story of sorts. 

   You meet the narrator, but that’s complicated as well. I’m not as excited about this book as I was, and I’m not entirely sure why that is. 

   I still buy it and enjoy it, which works for me.

7 – The Walking Dead

(Last year’s ranking – Honorable Mention)

   Robert Kirkman’s long zombie ride has gone a long distance and got an Honorable Mention last year because I was wondering if the ride was going anywhere. 

   Well, it was, which is why this book is in the Number 7 slot this year. 

8 – Grant Morrison’s Multiversity saga

(Last year’s ranking – Not Ranked)

   I became impressed again with Grant Morrison after reading his book, Supergods, which is actually a love letter to comic book super-heroes. 

   You expect some kind of drug-fueled deconstruction from Morrison when it’s actually an amazing tribute to American mythology. 

   Morrison’s Multiversity brings a much-needed bright spot to current DC comic books. 

   With the awful reboot of reboots, the New 52 (see below), DC has sucked most of the creativity out of comics with the notion of a “young, hip” version of heroes that we’ll like more than our old favorites. 

   Well, I don’t like it and, based on sales, most folks don’t either. 

   Morrison, by contrast, stacks on top of the old archetypes and expands upon them with new histories, dimensions and plot lines

   While the books seem to be a collection of one-shots, they intertwine nicely. 

   With the addition of some of my favorite artists, I’ve found this ongoing line a consistently interesting read.

9 – Fantastic Four 

(Last year’s ranking – 2)

   The writers who followed Hickman’s departure from Fantastic Four did well, but were forced to rush their ending, which really harmed the story. 

   Along come James Robinson, a fan favorite known for his reverence for old characters and his ability to breathe new life into them. 

   Robinson is clearly building to an end point for the series, which is unfortunate, but, thus far, this book has improved with each new issue.

10 – Prophet

(Last year’s ranking – 9)

   Not unlike the previously ranked Starlight, Prophet is like finding an old stack of Heavy Metal magazines that you missed. 

   Strange, hyper detailed and occasionally disturbing, this series is headed somewhere, but I’m not exactly sure where. 

   A second book has been added to the series, but neither book is on a regular schedule, which is concerning.

Honorable Mention


   My local comic shop frowns at me for not reading this book. 

   It’s good, but just not good enough for my pull list.  

   I read the Court of Owls storyline and I’ve been following the current Endgame story. 

   Greg Capullo’s art is good and capture the main character and Gotham well. 

   Scott Snyder takes the main character into challenging situations that seem like new ground. 

   It’s good, but I’m just not that into it.

Most Disappointing Comic Book(s)

DC’s “New” 52

   The Batman title aside, the “New 52” has been a real disappointment. 

   While I’ve not read anything, it still feels like a reboot for reboot’s sake. Sales are hurting, so changes will follow soon.

Shameless Plug For Something You Should be Reading or Listening To

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

   Just get a copy of this book and read it. 

   The audiobook is read by Wil Wheaton and is also worth your time. 

   A film is in the works if they can find the right director and about 100+ licenses for all of the pop culture references. 

   You won’t be disappointed.

   (Editor's note: Chuck agrees - this book is terrific!)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting, Chuck!!

El Vox said...

Good list and write-ups, I enjoyed it.