Comics Update: My 2014 Faves and My Current Lineup

Buffy and Giles!

One of the neatest comics moments of 2014, from Buffy Season 10. Art by Rebekah Isaacs.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity for a long list of reasons. I started a “Best Comics of 2014” entry at the end of January, saved it and then procrastinated the heck out of it. Since my wife and I will be attending the Indiana Comic Con this weekend, comics are foremost on my mind tonight and I think I’m ready to move forward and express a thought or two. At the very least, a lot of lists are in order.

Favorite comics from 2014, in random order:

* Buffy Season 10: I gave up less than halfway through Buffy Season 9, but stuck with the concurrent Angel and Faith series because the team supreme of Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs captured the voices, faces, tones, and drama of the Buffyverse better than any previous Buffy comics I’d read, more than making up for the sins of Season 8 even as they sniped at it. When they were handed the reins for Season 10, I knew we were in for even better things, and I have yet to be disappointed. I feel like I should be grumpy about the return of Giles on principle, but the truth is the handling and the results won’t stop exceeding expectations.

* Ms. Marvel: Because Kamala Khan is keen and plucky optimist heroes are such a rarity. She may not share my faith, but the same could be argued of 99.99% of all super-heroes ever. The fact that she observes any faith — and not just the lip-service variety — makes her even more of a standout from her bitter, distracted, or no-opinion peers.

* Silver Surfer: Regular MCC readers know my wife and I signed on to Doctor Who fandom a little over a year ago. In a bit of cosmic-powered timing just for me, Dan Slott and Michael Allred picked the right moment to turn one of Marvel’s mopiest heroes into a fun-loving homage to the Doctor, complete with spirited human companion, far-reaching alien adventures, wit in the face of danger, and an intergalactic travel device that’s more like a supporting character than a prop. It’s the perfect gift from them to me!

* Moon Knight: In which Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire reminded me of a halcyon time when creators tried doing something different — not just with super-heroes, but with storytelling devices in general. Few are the artists who put page design and pacing to better use than static comic-strip squares or uniform, repetitive storyboards. Frankly, I’ve grown really tired of storyboard-style comics. It’s great to see chances being taken. Successfully, at that.

* Daredevil: Still Mark Waid and Chris Samnee. Still there, still got it, and ol’ Hornhead’s still unflappable even in darkest times. The story featuring the return of Matt’s mother, in which we learn why she abandoned her husband and son way back when, was one of the year’s best even though it was an Original Sin crossover. Astounding feat.

* Avatar: the Last Airbender Free Comic Book Day 2014: Previously reviewed. Still sticks out to me. months after the fact.

* Wild’s End: Mild-mannered British animal citizens versus deadly invaders in Dan Abnett and I. N. J. Culbard’s adventurous cross between The Wind in the Willows and The War of the Worlds that’s fuzzy and thrilling at the same time.

Wild's End!

The resourceful runaway ensemble of Wild’s End. Art by I. N. J. Culbard.

2014 honorable mentions: Alex + Ada; The Autumnlands: Tooth and Claw; Beasts of Burden: Hunters & Gatherers; Lazarus; The Royals: Masters of War; The Wicked + the Divine.

Special awards for books that nailed deadlines and held my interest all year long: The Virginia Romita Traffic Management Award goes to Daredevil for publishing fourteen issues in 2014, plus a reprint of digital material, all of which I bought cheerfully. Special commendations for two other series that had a full twelve issues on sale in 2014: Batman ’66, and Hulk (counting issues of the preceding Indestructible Hulk). With eleven issues each in 2014, honorable mentions go to Astro City, Manifest Destiny, and She-Hulk.

Series that were canceled or ended as planned: The Manhattan Projects (returning soon in a different form, thankfully); She-Hulk; The Unwritten Apocalypse; Young Avengers.

New things I tried but dropped (among others): the Amazing Spider-Man relaunch; Batman ’66 vs. the Green Hornet; Dead Boy Detectives; Gotham Academy; Roche Limit; Rocket Raccoon; Serenity: Leaves on the Wind; Ten Grand; Three; Trees.

Books I was following but dropped in 2014: Atomic Robo (unshakeable resentment over the Last Stop Kickstarter letdown), Deadpool (started taking itself way too seriously); Green Hornet (despite Mark Waid); Iron Man (“Mandarin” is a trigger word for me); Lumberjanes (darling for what it is, but I’m just not the target audience); Magneto (crossover intrusion); Rocket Girl (delays between issues); Shutter (hard to explain why); Suicide Risk (unwelcome plot twist); Swamp Thing (crossover intrusion); United States of Murder, Inc. (delays); and the entire Valiant Comics line, which is now ALL about crossovers.

* * * * *

And that’s kind of an overview of my 2014 comics highlights. Here’s what I’m following as of this writing, broken down by publisher:

Marvel Comics: All-New Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Hawkeye (leaving a light on for that one final issue), Howard the Duck (one issue in and it’s already my fave new series), Hulk, Moon Knight, S.H.I.E.L.D., Silver Surfer, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (this was my fave new series till Howard #1 came out this week, so now it needs to retaliate with triple awesomeness).

DC Comics: Batman ’66, Secret Six. (Nope, still feeling zero New 52 love, though a few of their announced post-Convergence books sound shockingly promising.)

DC/Vertigo: Astro City; Suiciders.

Image Comics: Alex + Ada; The Autumnlands; Copperhead; Danger Club (nearly done); Descender; The Dying & the Dead; Lazarus; Manifest Destiny; Rumble; The Wicked and the Divine; Wayward; Wytches.

Dark Horse Comics: Angel & Faith, Buffy Season 10, Darth Vader, Ei8ht, Star Wars.

IDW: Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland.

Miniseries in progress: Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return; Graveyard Shift; Groo: Friends and Foes; Millennium; Monster Motors: The Curse of Minivan Helsing; Princess Leia; Sandman: Overture (I’m only skimming each issue of this as they’re ready, in hopes that I’ll live long enough to read all eight together in one sitting someday before I die).

Following in trades: Fables, The Sixth Gun.

What I’m not collecting: Nearly all team books; crossovers; team-book crossovers; books that super-prioritize sex, sexing, sexosity, and sexological sexitude; crossovers crossing over with crossovers.

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