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Top of the Pile: March 2014

Spring has sprung! Find out what our favorite springtime flavors are.

It's a new month, so that means it's time to take a look at the month prior as the staff of Comic Vine picks out their top books of the month. This past March, we saw some incredibly brilliant books get launched onto store shelves. New series popped up and favorite series came to an end. Let's get right down to business and see what was our Top of the Pile!

Tony's Picks

BATMAN #29

I've probably mentioned once or twice how much I've been digging Zero Year. For me, there's the charm of seeing a younger and rawer Batman that can't simply solve everything right away. Scott Snyder's been taking the fight to different areas and the battle in the skies was a sight to see. We do get some answers here but the stage is set for the final arc, Savage City.

There may be some that want Zero Year to end but I've been loving having this more isolated feel from the rest of the DCU. With the way the New 52 started off and the changes it's forced upon Batman's continuity, there's so much we can still see for the first time.

MOON KNIGHT #1

Hello, my old friend. I feel like this is the Moon Knight comic I've been waiting for. There was something that immediately attracted me to the character when I first came across his original series. He's far from your typical superhero and despite comparisons to a certain other character from people that don't really know who Moon Knight is, he's always held a special place in my list of favorite characters.

Warren Ellis unleashes his brilliance in this issue and while Moon Knight makes a pretty subdued entrance, it's an extremely powerful one. The art by Declan Shalvey and colors by Jordie Bellaire is the icing on the cake.

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #4

I get both sad and happy when I think about people not reading this series. It's sad because this is such a great series, issue after issue. The only reason there is to be happy is because someday they'll realize what they're missing and they'll have a bunch of "new" issues to catch up on.

This isn't your typical Archie story. This is pretty much as far as you can get. The idea of these innocent character thrusted into a horrific setting is part of makes this so endearing. Even if you don't have a connection to the characters, there is so much emotion poured into issue. This one was especially heart-breaking.

SECRET AVENGERS #1

Ales Kot and Michael Walsh are back together. This is what I want in an Avengers title. I'm digging the others but this one is definitely more self-contained. That's what I want. We have a great set up with the crossover between the Avengers and SHIELD. Throw in characters like Black Widow, Spider-Woman, Hawkeye and friggin' MODOK, how can you not like this series?

I'm also a big fan of Michael Walsh's art. Happy to see him on a regular book and can't wait to see what happens next.

And...?

I thought long and hard for my fifth choice. It's a two-way tie between THE WAKE #7 by Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy and THE BUNKER #2 by Josh Fialkov and Joe Infurnari. I'm a big sucker for superhero comics but these two series have been blowing me away.

Honorable Mention: DAREDEVIL #1

Mat's Picks

NIGHTWING #29

"Parting is such sweet sorrow." That's a classic quote from something I've probably never read. This was an extremely tough issue of NIGHTWING to read, knowing that it was Kyle Higgins' last issue, which has been a ton of fun. What Higgins does better than anyone else is tie up a series and put a pretty bow on it. This whole issue reads like a love letter to the character and to its fans. It's a gigantic thank you to those who have supported the book. On top of all that, we get some beautiful art from Russel Dauterman, who just kills it on this issue. While this is a very emotional issue, we couldn't pick a better way for it to go out.

AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #4

Speaking of books chalk full of emotion, March's saddest moment goes to AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE #4. This is a series everyone should be reading. This incredibly emotional issue also had some huge shocking moments in it. AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE has life and death and self-sacrifice. I never thought I'd be this in love with an Archie book that didn't feature members of the band KISS. The art of Francesco Francavilla really puts this book over the edge, month after month, but what makes this issue one of my top picks was the scene between Hot Dog and Vegas. It was bone chilling and tragic. I cannot wait to read the next issue.

MAGNETO #1

Is it bad that I had really low expectations for this book? It's not because of the creative team. It's because mutant solo books that don't rhyme with "Schmulverine" tend to be cash grabs and/or just plain suck. However, MAGNETO #1 was a different kind of book. It was more of a detective book than anything else, and one that was incredibly dark and gritty. Cullen Bunn has something special here, and by special, I mean incredibly awesome. On top of that, Gabriel Walta's art fits this tone of the book perfectly and Jordie Bellaire (who at this point is the queen of colors) does a killer job here too. All-in-all, this first issue blew me away.

FOREVER EVIL: ROGUE'S REBELLION #6

Say it ain't so! This is the last issue of Brian Buccellato writing the Rogues. By far, this was the best of all the tie-ins to FOREVER EVIL because it focused on this team that are consider villains, but they walk a thin line and they stand for something. Buccellato really understood these characters and how they think, which was what made this book so damn good. He and artist Scott Hepburn made this last issue a home run, but sadly, no more books centered completely on the rogues. If you missed out on this one, check it out in trade a couple months down the road.

ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #1

What a polarizing issue. Reviews for this book are all over the place, from perfect scores to people calling it under-developed. They must have read something else because this issue was a blast. Now, this book was super-depressing, but it really worked for the better here. Felipe Smith really nails home the fact that this kid's life is not going very well and he's a bit down on his luck; however, he does his best to help others. That mixed with the very stylized art of Tradd Moore created a Ghost Rider book that truly stands on its own for the first time in years. It's only one issue in, but it's already made a huge impact on me.

Honorable Mentions: CLONE #15, THE BUNKER #2

Gregg's Picks

THOR: GOD OF THUNDER #20

Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic continue to make a book that's worthy of the Gods. I've never been much of a Thor fan, but these two make the book impossible to resist. With this story, Aaron's doing an awesome job connecting the present and future timelines while also filling the pages with a tremendous sense of wonder and charm. The dialogue between King Thor and "Old Galactus" was a priceless exchange and most definitely makes me want to pick up the next issue right now. Throw in Ribic's gorgeous artwork and you have a book that's just too good and cannot be missed.

GREEN ARROW #29

Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino jumped on the title with issue 17 and they've yet to disappoint. In fact, they've transformed one of DC's most "meh" titles into one of its strongest. Lemire's creating a whole new mythos for Oliver and, with this chapter, he continues to add even more intrigue for both the heroes and villains. Not only is he doing a thoroughly excellent job with the current story, but he's doing a more than able job teasing the next one that'll take place in Seattle. Plus, there's the ending. I'm pretty sure I know how it'll be explained, but you're a total liar if you say it didn't immediately shock you. And then there's the artwork by Andrea Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo. I seriously feel like a broken record talking about their work because, simply put, it's always so damn good and filled with creativity. That's definitely on full display with this issue. GREEN ARROW continues to prove why it's currently my favorite DC book.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #32

Northampton ends on a note that's full of cheer-worthy action and beautiful artwork. The issue is essentially one big brawl with Koyo, Shredder's latest mutant, and a group of Foot Clan assassins. It's beyond fun watching the team work together and having Leo leap back into action is a truly joyous moment. It's certainly well-earned, too, since the last few issues have focused on calmer and more character-driven moments. Meanwhile, Ross Campbell's character work remains praiseworthy and full of vitality. All in all, it's an issue that's sure to please any Turtles fan and has me excited to see what comes next.

DEADPOOL #26

Time-traveling Hitler vs. Nick Fury and Deadpool. Do I really need to say anything else? If you've read the other "lost" issues in this volume, then you know they're a chance for co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn to unleash their more ridiculous and random material. It pays off big time with this chapter and I can't even recall the amount of times I began to laugh hysterically. There's just so many good lines, hilariously used references, and Scott Koblish always manages to deliver some very satisfying visuals. There's so much I want to promote about this book, but I honestly don't want to ruin any of the hilarity for you. Sure, I loved the brutal and funny street fight between Wade and Crossbones in #25, but this was just too entertaining not to include on the list.

DEAD BODY ROAD #4

There are been countless times I've raved about Matteo Scalera's artwork... and this issue proves why. The guy has an unparalleled ability to make us experience motion and force. Clearly, writer Justin Jordan is aware of this because he made an issue that's essentially one extended chase sequence and, as expected, Scalera absolutely kills it. Every panel is overflowing with energy and feels amazingly cinematic. Pulling off something like this in the pages of a comic is a commendable feat and Jordan knows how to compliment the pacing with the layouts. To top it all off, the writer still manages to toss in a pretty solid narrative-driven moment. Love R-rated action movies? Then you need to check out DEAD BODY ROAD. It's really that simple.

Honorable Mentions: Moon Knight #1, Injustice: Year Two #6

Corey's Picks

MOON KNIGHT #1

Warren Ellis is, without a doubt, my favorite comic book writer working today. And while it's mostly his independent stuff that receives not only the lion's share of accolades (deservedly so), when he really puts his mind to a superhero book, incredible things happen. Moon Knight #1 is a perfect example of him sinking his teeth (and claws) into a title and redefining its central character without completely forgetting the past. Yes, even the ultra-polarizing Bendis/Maleev run gets its due as an influence on the plot of this book and it works to great effect. We have a much more subdued, mellow Moon Knight, a Moon Knight that is much more studious, even detective-like in his approach. This is definitely the thinking man's Moon Knight, but that's not to say it's dull or boring. Declan Shalvey's visuals are alternately surreal, haunting and incredibly detailed, often all at once. This book has a visually arresting quality that demands the reader's attention.

RED LANTERNS #29

Both the issue Kara Zor-El needs AND deserves, we finally get to see her breaking free from the multitude of directions she's been pulled in by various DCU power-players and Charles Soule winds up writing her rage as the fuel for her character rather than just having it be a plot contrivance. It would've been enough to have her as well-written as she is, but we also get Guy Gardner and the rest of the supporting cast with some of the best use of Superman in a non-Superman title I've seen in years. This book like few others strikes an amazing balance between uproarious humor and incredible action, the latter courtesy of Alessandro Vitti. Vitti's characters have such incredible body language that, as I mentioned in my review, one of them literally can't move his face except to talk and STILL manages to convey an impressive range of emotion.

SHE HULK #2

Whew! Talk about an impressive follow-up to an incredible debut! Charles Soule (I feel like we've been here before, have we been here before?) gave us a first outing that did an incredible job of establishing Jenn Walters as a woman on a mission to find her own path and practice law on her own terms. Apparently those terms include a wild night out with D-list also-ran Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, but Soule manages to capture the hilarity, action and even some incredible pathos (Oh my GOD, this IS happening again!) out of a very, very funny situation involving some A.I.M. agents in a warehouse and Walker trying to go shot-for-shot with a Hulk. Part of what makes the drama so enthralling is Javier Pulido's two-page spread of a close-up on Shulkie's eyes, but the rest of his art is just as fantastic and bizarre. It does a fantastic job of communicating the tone of the book from here on in, which is to say the strange will become the ordinary.

THE WITCHER #1

I know I mentioned being a pretty big Witcher fan, but all that means is that my standards for this book would be higher than most, and it managed to meet them handily. Paul Tobin has given us an introductory issue that feels like it's pulled straight out of one of the short-story novels the Witcher's saga began as. It may not be the MOST new-reader friendly, but neither is it impenetrable if you approach it as something you're not necessarily supposed to know about ahead of time. Tobin writes the characters well enough to stand on their own as compelling, interesting people, so previous knowledge is more of a bonus than a necessity. The art, from Joe Querio, perfectly encapsulates the dark, morose tone that the franchise is famous for, both in terms of its literal and figurative grays and the story goes just far enough to pique the interest of the reader for what happens next.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #13

As bittersweet as the ending was, you could not have asked for a nicer one. We not only got a final battle from Brian Bendis that took place in the present, rather than being a recap from characters, but we got the emergence of a brand-new power to redefine a well-known character. And while some questions remain unanswered, the sheer amount and quality of the banter in this book (I would pay good money for an X-23/Drax roadtrip series) made it completely worthwhile and a joy to read. Sara Pichelli and Dave Marquez positively stun with their visuals on this one, and the two artists blend together seamlessly from page to page. The action is some of the best in comics, but the character designs are what really steal the show, particularly in how absolutely unique everyone looks down to very, very minute details. At the end of the day, this book is one of the most FUN on the shelf. It's not changing the face of comics, it's not doing that much that's particularly novel, but it is one of the most delightful books you can buy.

Honorable Mentions: Invincible #109; Avengers Undercover #1

There you have it! Thanks for enjoying another edition of Top of the Pile with us. Make sure to let us know in the comment section, below, what you're top five books for March were. See you all next month!

Why not follow us on the Twitter? We're friendly and informative! Comic Vine, Tony, Mat, Gregg, Corey. Hey! Listen to Mat's podcast (Vs The Net) and take your vitamins.

24 Comments
Edited by Jonny_Anonymous

Not all Mutant solo books suck, I mean Magneto: Testament was excellent.

Online
Posted by AllStarSuperman

Nightwing 29 was so good. I am sad to see it end.

Batman 29 was good, I like Zero Year a lot.

Eternal Warrior 7 has been the best issue yet imo.

Posted by inferiorego

Not all Mutant solo books suck, I mean Magneto: Testament was excellent.

That's because Greg Pak wrote it.... It's still one of my favorite mini-series of all time

Staff
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@jonny_anonymous said:

Not all Mutant solo books suck, I mean Magneto: Testament was excellent.

That's because Greg Pak wrote it.... It's still one of my favorite mini-series of all time

I love it and I've always thought the cover was amazing

Online
Posted by MixMastaMicah5

Superior Spider-Man!!!

Edited by Fastestmanalive

Nice list. Not bad, u guys got 2 out of my 4 standouts this month.

Nightwing 29 and Red lanterns 29 are on the list but I also really liked Superman/ Wonder woman 6, which is always good really, and Forever evil 6 were amazing.

Edited by DrellAssassin

The fact that Superior #30 wasn't on this list is a damn shame. I blame Matt and his super-hero-hating self.

Posted by RustyRoy

I hated Batman #29.

Afterlife was good.

Posted by spinningbirdcake

Corey I love you for giving The Witcher a shout out. I thought that issue was fantastic, of course I might be a bit biased.

Posted by micah
Posted by ScrappyDont27

Was really impressed with moon knight #1, Ghost Rider #1 and TMNT #32 (also DD #1)

Posted by War Killer

Zero Year has quickly become one of my favorite Batman stories to date. I've seen some who hate it, disliking how easily Batman gets defeated, yet they forget that this isn't the Batman we're use to. Seeing Batman at the very beginning, seeing him face certain threats for the very first time, it's an interesting look at one of the world's most iconic characters. I hope we get to see more of this younger and less experienced Batman again in the future.

Online
Posted by timelord

Supergirl #29 - I have been enjoying everything about of Red Daughter of Krypton I hope it can keep it up.

Red Lantern's #29 - My favorite writer writing for my favorite character would more could I want?

Forever Evil Rouges Rebellion #6 - If the Rouges don't get there own book am I going to flip a table probably the best thing to come out from Forever Evil was this mini series hopefully it continues.

Posted by ArturoCalaKayVee

Secret Avengers and Moon Knight are definitely deserving of this list.

Edited by mak13131313

Batman #29, Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion #6, Afterlife With Archie #4, Red Lanterns #29 and, Green Arrow #29 are my top of the pile. Honorable mentions are Nightwing #29 and Superman/Wonder Woman #6.

Edited by DonFelipe

@undeadpool The Witcher is awesome! I hadn't known anything about these characters prior to picking up the first issue and loved it! There wasn't a single moment where I couldn't understand what was going on. It's dark, creepy, mysterious, intriguing, perfectly paced and a very entertaining first issue. I'm happy to see it mentioned in the top of the pile here. Not many Dark Horse titles make this list but this one truly deserves it.

Edited by AllStarSuperman
Edited by RustyRoy

why?

It was very boring, too long, the story wasn't interesting, I didn't like the dialogues and Bruce was still reckless and arrogant. Also Batman #28 took me away from Zero Year.

Posted by AllStarSuperman

@rustyroy: Obviously you're the bigger Batman fan here, but I love young and reckless Bruce, gets away from all the "Batgod" stuff.

Posted by RustyRoy

@rustyroy: Obviously you're the bigger Batman fan here, but I love young and reckless Bruce, gets away from all the "Batgod" stuff.

He could still be Batman without being reckless.

Edited by AllStarSuperman

@rustyroy said:

@allstarsuperman said:

@rustyroy: Obviously you're the bigger Batman fan here, but I love young and reckless Bruce, gets away from all the "Batgod" stuff.

He could still be Batman without being reckless.

Eh, true, maybe he'll grow some in the final arc Savage City.

Posted by bladewolf

I wish we could see Jen's picks too :(

Overall, I agree with most of the choices. Especially like Green Arrow 29 and Magneto 1!

Posted by Trodorne

He-man #11 and DC Universe Vs Masters of the Universe #6 were awesome, then TMNT

Aquaman 29, Invincible ,

Edited by inferiorego

The fact that Superior #30 wasn't on this list is a damn shame. I blame Matt and his super-hero-hating self.

SUPERHEROES SUCK!

I wish we could see Jen's picks too :(

Me too.....

Staff