By Lvenger 39 Comments
For my last blog of 2013, I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon of writing about what my 5 favourite series of 2013 have been. I’ve been much more experimental with indie and alternative comics but the Big Two still dominate my list for the most part. I’ve also stolen Deranged_Midget’s format so in exchange, I heavily recommend you check out his excellently written and engaging blog on his 5 favourite series of 2013. Now there will be SPOILERS for the series I’ve chosen so you’ve been warned here and now.
5. Indestructible Hulk
Despite a recent nosedive in quality in the disappointing conclusion to the Agent of TIME arc and lacklustre start to its new storyline, Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk series started off the year as one of the freshest, engaging and fun series of 2013 with only 3 issues underway. After Jason Aaron’s disgraceful run on the Green Giant, Waid took a new approach with the Hulk which was just what Doctor Banner ordered. Waid made Banner into an Agent of SHIELD in exchange for laboratory funding so that Banner can restore his scientific reputation and better the world with his own scientific invention. There’s also an intriguing ongoing mystery as to how Banner has blackmailed SHIELD into letting him work for them. Under Waid’s pen, Banner has become a brilliantly fleshed out character once more. He’s confident, outgoing, pragmatic and willing to take a direct approach in applying his intellect and using the Hulk to solve problems both scientifically and in the world threatening way. So far, Waid’s taken Hulk to the undersea city of Lemuria, to Jotunheim of the past and across the bounds of time and space itself ranging from the Wild West to ye olden Camelot. The wackiness of the stories embraces the old Silver Age fun that writers put into their comics and Waid captures that with modern sensibilities.
Although the artistic teams have been inconsistent (and not mostly liked by me) on this series, Lenil Yu started off as a damn near perfect fit as a Hulk artist. His kinetic style worked wonderfully for the action sequences of the series and the detail Yu puts into his facial expressions encapsulates a certain uniqueness with each person he draws. Hopefully Clay Mann’s gorgeous art will make for a suitable replacement in the next arc on this series
Favourite Issue: Indestructible Hulk #7
I was tempted to choose something from the Agent of TIME arc but its disappointing conclusion put me off that. Thus, this leaves the second part of Gods and Monsters as my favourite issue from Indestructible Hulk to date. Waid knocks his quality story telling out of the park with hilarious interactions between a Thor of the past and Hulk, particularly with Hulk seemingly controlling Mjolnir only for it to be revealed that Mjolnir was just dragging him along. This is complemented by a great fight between Thor and Hulk versus a band of Frost Giants, solid characterisations of all of Banner’s lab assistants and an emotionally charged cliffhanger when it is revealed that Patricia Wolman is suffering from Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, a form of brain cancer. And the best thing is that Waid treats this serious illness as realistically as possible. In a world where gods and aliens battle on a daily basis, cancer is not undermined at the expense of this mythological world and Waid shines on making this point apparent. I’m not a huge fan of Simonson’s current work but it was nostalgic seeing him draw Thor and Jotunheim again and it was OK to look at. Above all, Indestructible Hulk is a fun series to read and Waid makes it so in this issue.
4. Superman Unchained
Yeah, yeah, a Superman series has made it into my top 5 comics of 2013. Feel free to roll your eyes and groan etc, etc. Morrison’s concluding issues on Action Comics were good but his better writing came in 2012 IMO. Between Diggle’s departure leaving Daniels to hash out a contrived and mediocre story coupled with Lobdell writing two Superman titles until recently, being a Superman fan seemed to be a disappointing affair. Add in my despair with how I felt about Man of Steel and that made me feel even worse. Then along came Scott Snyder and Jim Lee with their new Superman Unchained series to rectify my doubts and remind me of why I am a Superman fan with an intriguing, classical feeling Superman story. Despite his lacklustre Batman writing, Snyder has crafted a tale that involves a Superman we’re more familiar with and love rather than the brash and angsty Superman that has come across in the New 52 so far. Once again, Superman is kind, compassionate and friendly yet also tough and authoritative and I love seeing these mixed characteristics in him again. Another great thing about this story is that Snyder looks set to take many aspects of Superman that make him an enduring character and turn them upside down to challenge Superman’s place in the world via General Lane’s secret military organisation, a new alien called Wraith with similar powers to Superman only on a greater scale with more experience along with a cyber-terrorist group known as Ascension causing world-wide problems. To its credit, this series has given Superman creative and unique challenges to test his powers and brains in how to prevent tragedy from occurring. Whether stopping a falling space station or the tallest building in the world from collapsing, Snyder and Lee have made tense disasters for Superman to overcome.
Whilst his delays have kept the book from being released, Jim Lee brings his incredibly detailed and unique art to another Superman story and the epic scale and feel of this series has only been helped by the expansive set pieces and iconic character models that Lee brings to the table. Hopefully, his art will keep getting better and better as he challenges himself even more on this series.
Favourite Issue: Superman Unchained #4
Although I have high hopes for Superman Unchained #5 coming out next week, so far it’s been issue 4 which has impressed me the most. I loved how Snyder provided vital roles and introspections of Superman’s supporting cast. Lex is given a mysterious and malevolent insight thanks to an amazingly well written paper folding dialogue, Lois winds up with the key to solving the story’s mystery and shedding light on the truth hidden from sight and Jimmy is made into the harbringer of Superman’s doom. Plus Lee’s sublime art illustrates an extremely dynamic fight of Superman and Wraith taking on some Russian drones designed to kill Superman should he ever turn rogue. Overall, these pieces of the puzzle made for a highly satisfying issue demonstrating how Superman stories should be written.
3. Thor: God of Thunder
Remember how I said Jason Aaron’s Hulk run was disgraceful? Yeah somehow he turned it all around for his Thor: God of Thunder series and has given fans one of the best Thor runs to date as well as my favourite Marvel NOW! series. Aaron utilises a distinct story telling mechanism involving 3 Thors telling Aaron’s story from different periods in Thor’s history. Not only does it allow the reader to see Thor’s character development over time, Aaron has been able to juggle multiple plot threads from different periods and weave them into one glorious Godbomb arc. The addition of the murderous Gorr into into Thor’s cosmic and mythological expansive place in the Marvel Universe has provided Thor with a serious challenge that places all the gods of the universe in peril.
The spectacular action is all made possible thanks to Esad Ribic’s sprawling art. His action sequences jump off the page with his amazing layouts and broad pencils and whenever he draws a splash page, one cannot help but be awed by the splendour Ribic can produce. Although his faces can be ridiculous and his hair can be more stuck in place than a rock, these are minor when compared to the grandour of Ribic’s art on the series.
Favourite Issue: Thor: God of Thunder #9
A well written story, important character development and essential plot expositions are what make the best stories. But when an issue has all that and a jaw dropping fight sequence between 3 Thors and Gorr, what’s not to like? All the tension and conflict that has been built up by Aaron explodes in this dynamic fight for the fate of all the gods in creation. Planets are cracked by the mere blows thrown, Gorr is blasted light years away and an entire sun is turned black. Such a fight worthy of the power at these 3 Thors’ command makes the inner child within us all squeal in delight at such a battle. Aaron crafts a blockbuster action sequence and Ribic makes it as dynamic as possible thanks to his amazing art style. With introspection into Gorr and the scales set for what’s at stake, this made for a truly epic issue and a series everyone could do themselves a favour by checking out.
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
If any series is underrated and underappreciated on my list, it is definitely this one. IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is unquestionably one of the most vibrant and entertaining comics out today. The story is amazingly well written with characters feeling as life like and engrossing as possible, the plot threads have been expertly balanced and lore from all corners of the TMNT universe has been brought together by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz, blended together in a gritty environment and enriched by fresh new characters such as Alopex and stunningly refreshing stories like City Fall. This comic can juggle peaceful character exploration and humorous interactions with bombastic action and dark moments on a whim. I’ve been constantly engaged with what this new take on the TMNT universe will do next and what’s even more amazing is that it manages to appeal to older fans with its mature storytelling including many things from different cartoons and TMNT series whilst crafting them seamlessly in a manner where new readers can instantly jump on board and get a grip of what’s going on
The series has also benefitted from some talented artists but chief among them has been Mateus Santoloucho. His subtle distinctions between each Turtle even without their masks shows how unique his art style is. And more evidence for his distinctive style can be found in his glorious action sequences that flow seamlessly with every punch, kick and shot fired thanks to his exquisite positioning of each action sequence.
Favourite Issues: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #27-28
Yeah, yeah I’m cheating here but really these two issues have been some of the best TMNT and overall stories I’ve read all year. City Fall has been an incredibly ambitious gambit from the creative team and it’s paid off in a wonderful fashion. This is a storyline that I have truly cared about, from whether Leonardo will break the shackles of Kitsune’s mind control to the morally ambiguous actions Splinter has performed showing how his fatherly instincts have made him willing to do anything to save his son. In these final two acts, everything comes to a head as the Shredder makes his play for power in the New York underworld, the Turtles and their allies instigate a head on clash with the Foot and fan favourite mutants Bebop and Rocksteady make a triumphant and brutal return to TMNT comics. Shredder is made into the menacing and sadistic antagonist that even with some minor defeats is still able to gain considerable ground in his new empire and that’s what made City Fall so awesome. If ever there was a series more in need of support and praise, it has to be this series.
1. Wonder Woman
For some of you, this may be a strange choice for my number 1 comic of 2013. But for me, it’s been a naturally easy choice. Brian Azzarello’s Wonder Woman has been consistently amazing month after month after month. And I mean that seriously. I can hardly think of any minor problems with the series let alone major drawbacks. Every issue leaves me surprised, extremely satisfied and hungering for the next part of the story. From my perspective on the series, Azzarello’s amazing storytelling hinges on numerous aspects. He has incorporated the dark and twisted nature of the original Greek mythology, mixed it in with almost a Vertigo esque horror tone to the story and presented sweeping plot points played out by wonderfully rich characters with crafty ambitions and motivations of their own. The Greek Gods are given a crucial role within the story and hinging Wonder Woman’s mythology to that of the Greek Gods has given readers shocking twists such as making Wonder Woman a demi god and daughter of Zeus and overarching themes such as family within this brilliantly written tale. Including the expansion of Wonder Woman’s universe with new demigods and even tying in New God Orion into the story has made Wonder Woman into the most unique and refreshing comic on the shelves. Chiang’s art is exceptionally smooth and captures the bloodiness of the action within the series as well as very realistic facial expressions and contrasting backgrounds smoothly rendered.
Favourite Issue: Wonder Woman #23
This series and this issue may have its naysayers but for me, this was not only my favourite Wonder Woman comic of the series but the best comic of the year. Azzarello brings together the tense conflict between the First Born and Wonder Woman’s family, ramps up the threat the First Born poses to the entire world and produces wonderful character moments such as Ares bringing an army of his own to the battle and Zola and Hera’s changed attitudes towards each other. The issue progressed with a worrying despair as the First Born shrugged off all attempts to stop him only for the unexpected and surprising moment when Wonder Woman kills Ares to stop the First Born from taking his power as God of War, thus becoming the God of War herself. It’s an alarming and daring change in Wonder Woman’s status quo which sets the scene for some truly amazing stories to come. But for now, this issue remains the best issue out of the best series in DC’s New 52 to date thanks to Azzarello’s masterful and engaging writing.
Well those make up my list for my 5 favourite series of 2013. Hope you enjoyed reading it and my reasoning for each choice and feel free to include your thoughts and top series below! Have a Happy New Year to you all!