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My top non-X-comics of 2013

January 25, 2014

A couple weeks ago, I posted my favourite X-Men comics of 2013. Now, I’ll do my favourite non-X-Men comics. My previous post already listed two of them – Pretty Deadly and Young Avengers, which were my two favourite comics of 2013. But now I’ll go into the others.

Well, to start, Journey Into Mystery, by Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti. The writing was stellar. It was funny and touching, and gave a lot of insight into who Sif is. This series was tragically short-lived, because Marvel’s readers suck, but it was a lot of fun while it lasted. Schiti’s art was a perfect match for Immonen’s writing, bringing a fun bit of cartoonishness, becoming a little more serious when appropriate. The whole series 9-issue run really deserves to be given special mention, but the first arc was better than the second, in my mind. Some of my favourite moments would be this one from #648, Monica’s cameo in #649 (she’s so awesome), poor Rro in the same issue, and the entirety of #651 (with art by Pepe Larraz).

Immonen, along with David Lafuente, also did the excellent Avengers Annual. It was basically split into two stories. One part dealt with Captain America volunteering at a soup kitchen and talking to a veteran. This part was really sweet and touching. The bulk of the issue, though, dealt with a young girl named Zamira sneaking away from a tour and hiding out in Avengers Tower, and getting into crazy shenanigans. This part of the story is hilarious. But there’s also a real sweetness to a lot of it. Zamira’s really sympathetic, dealing with a power she doesn’t understand, and which keeps getting into greater and greater trouble. The Avengers present – Cap, Tony, Hulk and Widow – have to deal with things getting progressively crazy, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s full of moments like this, and this, and this. It’s absolutely insane, and it’s fantastic. Kathryn Immonen needs to be given more work, now.

Also excellent, Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick writes the most wonderfully human characters in comics. She has a real knack for natural dialogue that gets to the heart of the characters. And she’s also very witty. Her Pretty Deadly, with Emma Rios, is one of the best damned things I’ve ever read. Her Captain Marvel has been excellent right from the start. Filipe Andrade was the main artist for the book this year, and while I can understand why people disliked him, I really liked his art. It’s kinetic and evocative. It’s highly stylized, but in a way that helps to show the characters’ emotions. The best issues were #9, which was just an incredible “day-in-the-life” story full of touching interactions with the people in her life, some nice excitement in the form of dinosaurs, and plenty of humour, but with a huge dramatic bombshell on the last page. I love her telling a cabbie that her cat is Spider-Man (Spider-Cat!), and then punching a dinosaur. And #17, which was a touching finale to the volume. The “I Am Captain Marvel” moment was cheesy, but still managed to be awesome, as a really sweet homage to the online Carol Corps who’ve supported the book. And the beautiful, heart-warming ending, with Kit giving Carol Captain Marvel lessons. Also, The Enemy Within had Spider-Woman trolling Carol, and it was amazing. (She also trolled the Grapplers and the ’90s. Spider-Woman was hilarious in that whole issue, really.) The new volume of Captain Marvel, starting in March, is definitely going to be worth checking out, especially if DeConnick manages to keep the supporting cast from this previous volume. Carol needs Wendy and Chewie in her life.

Also great was DeConnick’s Avengers Assemble. Again, her skill for writing human characters made it a great book. However, I need to give special credit to Al Ewing’s two Age of Ultron issues, and especially #15. It was funny, sad and scary all at the same time. He did a great job with gallows humour all through the issue. And then there was the ending. Captain %!#@$* Marvel indeed.

On the topic of Al Ewing, he’s been doing a killer job on Mighty Avengers. It’s a shame he’s been saddled with Greg Land, the biggest hack in the comic industry, because Ewing’s writing has been excellent. Tons of great humour, plenty of characterization, and some excellent action. Special mention goes to #4, which was just flat-out hilarious from start to finish.  The explanation of where Blue Marvel was was great, as was DW Griffith’s theory for Spider-Man’s change in attitude.  (This week’s #5 was also hilarious.) The presence of Greg Land on this book really is a travesty. The book deserves so, so much better. It’s definitely worth watching in 2014.

Avengers AI, by Sam Humphries, has been another excellent book. Another one with humour and drama, but it’s also got a really interesting premise: Exploring the relationship between humanity and AIs. Some want war, some want peace. It’s actually a lot like the basic premise of the X-Men, and Humphries is doing a very good job with it. The best issues are the first (Doombot!), #4 (Dimitrios trolls Vision, gloriously) and #6 (with an amazing battle between Vision and Dimitrios, wonderfully drawn by Valerio Schiti).

I need to mention Scarlet Spider #16. Armadillo showing up is always going to be awesome, but there’s really one reason I need to mention this issue, and it’s this panel. Yes. The rest of the issue’s amazing, as well (Armadillo can be a rodeo star, too!), but man, that one, single panel was one of the greatest things ever.

I enjoyed Fearless Defenders, by Cullen Bunn and Will Sliney. It wasn’t a great book, but I did like it. There was, however, one issue that was not just great, but downright amazing, and that was #7, with gorgeous art by the amazingly talented Stephanie Hans. Hans is mostly a cover artist; she doesn’t do a lot of interiors. When she does, they’re always worth picking up, because you’ll really be in for a treat. Her watercolour style is beautiful. It’s especially effective in Fearless Defenders #7. It’s gorgeous. Just look at this. Look. Look at this action page. Stephanie Hans is just frigging amazing. She’s second only to Emma Rios in terms of my favourite artists. It’s just gorgeous stuff.

And finally, Superior Foes of Spider-Man has been excellent. Hilarious, but with plenty of heart. Seeing this group of loser villains bumbling their way through their lives is so entertaining. Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber have been doing a great job. Best issues are #1 (not least because of Speed Demon stealing a puppy – who does that?), #2 (Speed Demon steals a scene again, when he returns for his doggy bag), and #6 (for more general insanity than I can even get int).

So, yeah. Lots of great comics. I’ll talk about some of my least favourite comics of the year soon.

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From → 2013

One Comment
  1. Journey Into Mystery probably would have benefited greatly from a renumbering. It was a rare example of a series that got better with every issue, right up to the end. I mean come on, the one issue opened with Sif gardening with a broadsword. I miss that series greatly.

    Besides Fearless Defenders (which was fun, just not great), all of these books were amazing.

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