Welcome to the very first Top of the Pile: Year End Wrap-Up! Each month, Top of the Pile examines what five books each member of the staff loved more than any others. With this special edition, we've decided to take a look at what books, over the course of the year, we loved and applauded with all our might. We totaled up each time a series appeared on each staff member's list, month after month, and found out what books made the most appearances on their list. While this compilation may not give you an idea of what the best of the year is, it certainly will let you know what issues, month after month became our favorites and always go on the top of our reading pile.
Tony's Top Series
Appearing the most, this year, on Tony's list was the Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo series BATMAN, from DC comics. Like many fans, Tony has really been enjoying the current Zero Year story line. In fact, issue #21 was the ONLY issue to ever get the top slot for two different people! Here's what Tony had to say about this series in a past Top of the Pile.
"It was everything I had hoped it would be. Many have been saying we already know Batman's origin but that's not fully what this is... This issue shows there's so much more to see. With Snyder and Capullo on board, what more could we ask for? And this is just the beginning of the story."
"Matt Fraction and Mike Allred continue to make this series an absolute joy to read. The book is pure fun yet there's some serious business going on... The series may seem like it's just fun and games but there is so much more going on here."
At third place is BATMAN/SUPERMAN written by Greg Pak with art from Jae Lee. Although this series is new and only has 6 issues out, not counting Villains Month, it still appeared on Tony's list enough times to make it one of his favorite reads of 2013.
"This is a team up story that we've been waiting for... With so much fresh and unknown, it adds to the suspense of the storytelling as we are completely in the dark about what happens next. Greg Pak does a great job setting things up and Jae Lee and Ben Oliver do a beautiful job on the art."
One of the series that all of us here at Comic Vine really love happens to come in at fourth place for Tony. It's HAWKEYE written by Matt Fraction with the art of David Aja. Since this character is now part of the Marvel movie franchise, it was only a matter of time before he had a great book with an amazing creative team backing him up.
"Each issue manages to entertain. Great action, humor and art, all in one single comic. If you've never liked the character of Hawkeye before, Fraction should be able to win you over."
Finally, in 5th place, on Tony's top picks, is from Dark Horse Comics: STAR WARS which is written by Brian Wood and drawn by Carlos D'Anda. This series takes place during episodes IV-VI, which is a pretty big deal. It's almost as cool as the series has been.
"I'm surprised at how much I'm enjoying a Star Wars comic set in between Episodes IV and V. You would think the story and characters would be limited in the direction they could go because of this. Brian Wood carefully weaves a new story for the characters and you can see he really knows and cares about them."
Mat's Top Series
In what was actually a surprise to Mat, the series that he put on Top of the Pile the most, month after month, was CLONE, written by David Schulner, Aaron Ginsburg, and Wade McIntyre and drawn by Juan Jose Ryp. This Skybound series really kicked things up a notch in its second story arc, and here's what he had to say about it.
"From issue one, CLONE has been one of the best science fiction stories to deal with cloning, in any medium... Not only is it a fantastic book about cloning, but it also hits on whether or not cloning is morally right. It's a great mixture of the two and each issue is better than the last."
Up next, a book that Mat has fallen in love with since its relaunch: X-O MANOWAR, written by Robert Venditti. The book had various artists over the course of the year, but month after month, it delivered some awesome stories. It's another winner from Valiant.
"Writer Robert Venditti crafted a fantastic story, which I cannot wait to read again, when this comes out in trade. Yes, I will double dip on X-O MANOWAR. If you aren't reading this series, then you need to start at issue #15, when the next story starts."
Mat doesn't hide the fact he's an Aquaman fanboy. However, this past year, AQUAMAN has been an amazing book, and that's why it consistently made it onto his Top of the Pile list. This series was amazing this year with Geoff Johns as the writer, who recently left, and Paul Pelletier on art.
"It's the end of an era. Geoff Johns' stellar run on AQUAMAN has come to a close. It was a run that completely redefined the character. Everything Johns built up over the past two years ties together incredible here... While it's sad to see Johns go, what he did for this character and this book is unforgettable."
Coming in with the fourth most votes, this past year, was a new book from Skybound called GHOSTED, written by Josh Williamson and drawn by Goran Sudzuka. This Oceans 11 meets Ghostbusters story only has five issues out, but it made it onto Mat's list four times.
Who thought a book about a guy who has to steal a ghost could be so awesome? It's Ocean's Eleven meets those guilty pleasure ghost hunting shows I find myself watching. Writer Josh Williamson has the start to something pretty awesome here... Keep your eye out for this book... and buy it when you find it.
Finally, in 5th place, is SAGA, written by Brian K Vaughan and art by Fiona Staples. This book had a break for a few months here, but it found its way onto Mat's Top of the Pile list, month after month, without fail. While this juggernaut of a story may be 5th on his list, it's still one of the top on-going books on the shelves.
I love how Brian K Vaughan gives the reader a main story that is incredibly compelling, but also, he gives us small bits and pieces of the history of these characters. On top of all of that, Fiona Staples art work is breathtaking.
Gregg's Top Series
The book to make it onto Gregg's top of the pile list the most this year was DEADPOOL by writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn. While it's gone through a few artists, lately, Declan Shalvey has been supplying the art for the recent story line "the good, the bad and the ugly."
"This isn't just a good Deadpool story, people... it's definitely going to go down as one of the best Deadpool stories ever. Yeah, it's that good. If you like Deadpool and you don't hate smiling, this was made just for you."
Obviously, one of Gregg's favorite series, including all the tie ins is TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES which is written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz. This series was on his list enough times to get the 2nd place slot.
"Want to know why I love TMNT? Then you should read this issue because it has just about everything I adore about my favorite childhood franchise. Awesome art? Check. Great humor? Check. Astonishing action? Check. Lots of fun? Oh hey, another check."
Although the series recently came to a close, over the course of 2013, SCARLET SPIDER, written by Christopher Yost, made it onto Gregg's Top of the Pile list enough times to grab the 3rd place slot for him. Here's what Gregg had to say about the series.
"Superior who? I say Scarlet Spider is where it's at when it comes to the Spider-Man world! I have no idea how so many people are overlooking this title, but you should rectify that mistake immediately."
GREEN ARROW is a series universally loved by the Comic Vine staff and Gregg had it enough times on his list, during the year to grab the 4th place slot. Written by Jeff Lemire with art from Andrea Sorrentino, this book continued to be a favorite of Gregg's throughout the year.
"Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are miracle workers. This is a book which fell off many radars and has done a total 180. It almost feels like it has the potential to be like what Geoff Johns did with GREEN LANTERN. Then there's Sorrentino, a man who's art is beyond praise."
Finally, on Gregg's top picks, is BATMAN & ROBIN. Gregg picked this series out a few times, especially after a death in Batman's life. The series is written by Peter Tomasi and drawn by Patrick Gleason. Gregg remembers some somber moments in the series here.
"Writer Peter J. Tomasi produced an absurdly powerful and heartfelt issue dealing with the loss of Batman's son. This one had a firm grip on my emotions the entire ride and I have no shame in saying it made me tear up -- none whatsoever."
Corey's Top Series
Corey wasn't involved in every month of Top of the Pile, but he did chime in a few times. Here's his top four series out of the few times he made his picks.
"Robert Kirkman's "other" smash-hit Image book continues to be one of the best on the shelf and this particular issue brought a lot of hanging plot threads together, as well as bringing back one or two legitimately hilarious running jokes. Ryan Ottley's art has gotten better and better over the years, with more depth and shadow giving way to more complex emotion, and complex emotion is the name of the game here."
Finally, one of Corey's favorite series came to a close this year, X-FACTOR, written by Peter David. While it was a bummer to see the series go, with this particular team, Cory seemed very pleased with how everything played out in the last issue.
"Not to end on a downer, but I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight the end of one of my favorite series of the last decade. Peter David kept this book on point, shepherding it to an absolutely fantastic end. The final arc did a perfect job of typing up all the characters' loose ends without closing out their stories altogether, leaving them open to appear elsewhere."
Other Amazing Series
While this list mainly takes a look at books that consistently wowed us, there's a few newer books that deserve some credit for coming out of the gates screaming or even a few books all of us had on our list that didn't make the best of list for the end of 2013.
It's only two issues in, but AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and art by Francesco Francavilla, is making a splash with the staff of Comic Vine. Both Tony and Mat have put this series on their Top of the Pile list. This is zombies meets Archie in a very dark and dreary way. Here's what Tony had to say about the series.
"If you ever read or had the slightest interest in ARCHIE comics, you'll experience the crushing feeling of the doom and gloom being unleashed on Archie and the gang. This sick sort of feeling is what's been missing from this genre. It's not just a matter of trying to exploit the characters to create a shock. We get an interesting story with some amazing art. What more could you ask for?"
Another series, which is currently only two issues in, that wowed us, is BLACK SCIENCE. The long-awaited Image series from writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera truly lived up to the hype as the first issue appeared on both Tony and Mat's Top of the Pile list. Here's what Mat had to say about it.
"The out-there first issue does a great job at mixing science fiction with a great adventure story. What really clinched me was the art from Matteo Scalera. The designs and layout for the world we see in this first issue are incredibly wonderful and awe inspiring. Dean White's colors really give this book a brilliant feel. BLACK SCIENCE has me hook, line, and sinker."
Finally, here's yet another book both Tony and Mat went ga-ga for over the course of the year: THE WAKE, written by Scott Snyder with art from Sean Murphy. This underwater horror series really delighted the guys and it found its way onto both Tony and Mat's lists numerous times over the year. Here's what Tony had to say about it.
"This is another series that combines great storytelling with great art. It's always interesting comparing a writer's work on an established character to something they've created. Of course there is the feeling that anything goes, as we see in this issue in a big way."
That does it for our Top of the Pile 2013 Wrap-Up! Make sure to check out our regular Top of the Pile feature at the beginning of every month. Make sure to leave us a comment to let us know what series you loved this past year, and as always follow all of us on Twitter (Comic Vine, Tony, Mat, Gregg, Jen, and Corey). See you guys next year!