By Deranged Midget 51 Comments
Alright, I'm going to take a jab at trying to isolate my favourite comic book's this year and the series that they centre around. I wouldn't say there is any particular order, just the ones I enjoyed the most.
Green Lantern (New 52)
Oddly enough, Geoff Johns' Green Lantern series is arguably the most unaffected title through the New 52 reboot. Essentially kicking off right where War of the Lanterns, we see a bold move by the Guardians in reinstating Sinestro as Hal's replacement in the GL corps. One heck of a way to kick off the reboot of the series, especially when we have Hal left in the dark and Sinestro reluctantly seeking his aid. Despite all the chaos, this unexpected alliance turns into one of the most refreshing concepts that the series has taken in a while. It gives us a unique insight of how these arch enemies truly feel towards one another and how far they are willing to in order to "one-up" each in entertaining ways.
Retrospectively, I loved the heck out of the Green Lantern series because it had a consistent representation of the characters throughout while outside of this main series, Hal was written almost as a completely different character. On the flip side though, the art was fantastic, constantly keeping up a balance of emotional storytelling and immense action sequences that felt believable with every panel. Doug Mahnke truly is the ideal Green Lantern artist and he's more than proven himself time and again. Thankfully, after Johns' departure, the series still holds strong and manages to carry on with the legacy created by the former while managing to craft its own identity. Here's to many more years to a fantastic series!
Well, I think it's safe to say that this has to be the single best send-off to any series, despite the series not actually ending), but it just as well have ended. With every panel, you can see the emotion Johns pours into his work and how much he truly cared in re-imagining one of the most expansive settings in the DC Universe.
While some of the additional artists who paid tribute to the issue did a decent job, it didn't end up translating all too well or, fluidly for that matter. Of course, Mahnke's work shines the brightest here and the final send-off to the entire "crew" was heart-breaking. THAT FINAL INTERACTION BETWEEN HAL AND SINESTRO!
Aquaman (New 52)
Yup, another Geoff Johns title and another which happens to be one of the most underrated titles headed into the New 52. Now, a little over two years into the reboot, Aquaman holds strong with some of the best stories showcasing how absolutely epic the King of Atlantis really is and how truly ridiculous it can be when doubting his little corner of the universe. Disregarding the absolutely fantastic Throne of Atlantis arc which spanned the DCU, Johns managed to flesh out and intricately revolutionize Arthur's character for a new audience whilst remaining void of any cameo's for that matter from his teammates.
There was just a distinctive feel to Aquaman that really drew me in from the get-go. Many it's that I like rooting for the underdog and you can't get any more underappreciated than Aquaman in this day and age. With that said, the series has ALWAYS held the biggest and best names in the comics industry in terms of the artistic duties. Ivan Reis, and more recently Paul Pelletier, beautifully illustrate Arthur's world from the depths of the ocean, to the King of Atlantis' former "getaway" home on the surface. Each page is sprawling with detail, exuding emotion and intensity at every turn. That final arc focusing on Arthur's ancestry and reestablishing his place as King after Orm's betrayal was a touching one as despite the mixed feelings from both his people and that of the surface, he strives to find peace and balance between the two worlds and it exposes his vulnerabilities, even if only temporarily.
Issue: Aquaman #25
Another send off issue which helps wrap up all the work Johns has done in revolutionizing Aquaman's character and putting him back on the map once again. Best moment of the entire issue? DAT BEARD! Seriously, who else was disappointed when he shaved that badboy off? There were many key moments in this issue that just made me hilariously anxious to re-read the issue again, just to recapture everything and anything I missed the first time around. From accepting his heritage to the EPIC final showdown, this issue had it all. It's just a shame it all had to end.
Thor: God of Thunder (Marvel NOW)
I'll be the first to admit that I am not a big Thor fan outside of Straczynski's run several years back. I enjoyed the character but never enough to stick to an ongoing. With Marvel NOW "rebooting" its characters in a sense, I decided to give God of Thunder a whirl since I largely enjoyed Jason Aaron's work in the past and man, what a decision that was. For the entire first arc, we are almost completely devoid of any guest appearances from Avengers and instead, we are taken on a beautifully illustrated mythological journey through Thor's past, present and future. It's just something you cannot experience with any other character in Marvel considering the depth of Asgard's reach in the universe and the impact Thor seem and his kinsmen seem to have.
Amidst a new series comes a new villain and he definitely delivers as he becomes a threat not even Thor can face alone. It registers almost as a horror story for all Gods alike as they're slowly picked apart, one by one and it's a gripping tale throughout watching Thor (re)discover the purpose of such murders. All of this is even better portrayed through the ridiculously stunning art of Esad Ribic. His splash pages are jaw-dropping, his action electric and while he draws some goofy faces, there's no denying that he's soon to be a titan amongst artists.
Issue: Thor: God of Thunder #12
Some may see this as an odd choice as compared to the massive eleven issue story arc before it, the twelve issue is a rather slow and actionless issue. But to me, that's the beauty of it. After the non-stop chaos, the atrocities witnessed by Thor, Jas Aaron allows for the Thunder God to take a little breather and it is one that is extremely heart warming.
Thor rekindles a friendship with his old flame Jane Foster, a sad situation in which he learns she has cancer. Despite the grim circumstances, there are plenty of laughs to be had and even tears to be shed (for those with a heart of course). It was quite honestly the most impactful issue I've read in the series thus far and arguably, the most touching of any comic by extension. Stop reading and go pick it up if you haven't... I mean right now.
... Why are you still here!?
Scarlet Spider (Marvel NOW)
Well well, here we have the best Spider title on the market and what happens? It gets CANCELLED! GASP! Yeah, I have nothing to say to that and it's honestly the most disappointing news of the year in my opinion considering that Christopher Yost was killing it by breathing new life into Kaine's character in addition to pulling up one of the most diverse supporting casts in comics. There's not too much I can complain about in regards to Scarlet Spider. Yost pens a largely consistent story coupled with some of the best fight sequences I've ever seen in a Spider-book. Even so, I adore how Yost manages to so excellently attempt to distant Kaine from his "brothers" life and influence but no matter how hard he tries, you can see both glimpses of the hero he strives to be, and the monster he so desperately attempts to run from.
All of this is supported to a superior degree (hehe) due to the fantastic art teams that constantly switched over. While I would have preferred if the artist was locked down, I can't complain too much as the art remained consistent and gorgeous nonetheless through the multiple transitions. On top of that, I loved that Scarlet Spider seemed to lack the typical predictability or "happy ending" of most superhero comics. Kaine's luck may seem positive in one aspect, but lying just around the corner is a new challenge ready to rip his new life apart and the people he loves.
Scarlet Spider #12
Getting a little seasonal here I know, but issue twelve of the series is still by far my favourite. It rests in a period of self doubt for Kaine as he attempts to figure out his next move. He feels like he could have a new life and possibly a new home with the friends he's made, but he fears that his past is constantly catching up to him and he's constantly trying to run away. (Un)fortuantely for Kaine, a heist crew attempt to rob the hotel that Kaine's frequenting and take the employee's, including Annabelle, hostage. After some comfort from the good ol' Doc, Kaine decides to relieve some stress by pounding in the head of some jolly old miscreants and in magnificent fashion. What follows is arguably one of the best action pages I've ever seen and could be considered hilarious all together.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW)
hOk, forget everything I said earlier about Aquaman being the most underrated and underappreciated title... of any publisher. TMNT is by far one of the most fantastic comics on the market and it's sickening when you realize how ignorant people are to its existence. This is a title completely riddled with life in every aspect. So much so that the fantastic coupling of art and writing just scream out at you. The story arcs are intricately written, each title playing into each other and functioning like a well tuned engine.
By far though, this could be the single title that continually manages to surprise me with each issue. One that leaves me impressed and aching for more, something I'd argue isn't seen all too often anymore with some of the more mainstream titles. TMNT has the benefit of claiming that it is one of the sole titles that can flow effortlessly from peaceful, down-to-earth moments and ramp the action back up to the maximum within the blink of an eye. There's a little bit of everything here that will appeal to the biggest fans of the franchise and enough to attract brand new readers just looking to find somewhere to jump in. If I could recommend ONE title to someone, this is the first one that would come to mind in a heartbeat.
Issue: City Fall Part Six
Oh noes, he chooses the epic finale to one of the best story arcs of the year! SAY IT AIN'T SO! Yeah that's right, the finale to City Fall was brilliant and delivered in tying up loose ends, bringing the pain in terms of a long anticipated fight and pushing one of its main characters in a new direction. This is an emotional roller coaster of an issue duders/dudettes! The Turtles and co. do their best in rallying up their forces in attempts to stop the Shredder from causing all out destruction on the city and struggle to free their brother Leo from his grasp.
The real kicker though is how the conclusion leaves an ever-changing impact on the Turtles dynamic as we know it. Without diving into spoilers, it really hits hard on a specific character and you cannot help but feel their pain but also wish they weren't so stubborn in refusing help. It's a stunning conclusion to a stunning story arc that tossed around twists and turns at every corner.