Sunday, December 29, 2013

by Booster Cola

     2013 is ending and it is time for the mandatory and exciting look back at the best of the best in the comic book world, according to Booster Cola. This will strictly be my dumb-ass opinions on the books that stuck in my mind as great reads over the year. Let's start with Marvel!

     First off is the excellent story of the First Class group of X-Men, the All New X-Men. When this book came out of nowhere last November at the helm of Marvel's New 52, err I mean, Marvel NOW, it shocked readers and reminded them of the relevance of the X-Men team of old. Take one parts time travel, mix it with awkward(and well written) teens, and throw in big battles, and you now have an exciting, new X-title! The All New X-Men has had its share of crazy twists and turns this year with the teams self discovery in the current place in time in the Marvel-616, especially with the Battle Of The Atom arc(that just ended). If you want to have the necessary X-Men book, this is a no-brainer, Bendis' All New X-Men is a Marvel must read.

If All New X-Men was the necessary X-book, then Wolverine and the X-Men is it's crazy, yet fun, country cousin. Jason Aaron writes the most bizarre X-Men book to date that include new mutants along with favorites like Kitty Pryde, Iceman, and Beast.  This title, unfortunately getting the creative team reboot, is one of my most favorite in my monthly pull month to month. I know what you're thinking, too many X-Men books on this list already? Sure, but when I say that this X-book is different, it's definitely different. Mutants like Quentin Quire and Krakoa make this book extremely fun, wacky, and bursting with humor. One of the most standout reasons why this book is on this list as well, is the art. Nick Bradshaw, Chris Bachalo, and Tim Townsend round out the list of amazing artists that make this alternative book unique and ooze style.  Come for the craziness, stay for the amazing artwork!

     Okay, my final Marvel pick has to be Deadpool. I know Deadpool has been written uh, poorly, in the past(I'm looking at you Daniel Way!). Usually made to appeal to fan-boys rather than to a larger, more sophisticated reader of comics who prefer their dick jokes to be classy. Brian Posehn and his group of stellar artists, Scott Koblish being the most awesomist, have taken Deadpool into a new light. His jokes are genuinely funny(Posehn being a comedian, and all.) and his story is engaging and proves to be very serious for Deadpool, as seen in the last arc. It is hard for me to explain to distraught former-fans, that this is a much better and quality Deadpool. Posehn's vision of the character, has come through with the perfect mix of action/adventure sloshed with comedy gold. My favorite of the year has to be the flashback issues penciled by Scott Koblish. Nobody can capture the 60-70's artistic style like Koblish. His art, so reminiscent of Jack Kirby's, bursts with character and movement. Hell, even his last throwback retro-issue mimicked Kirby's DC entries including OMAC and New Gods to the panel! Kudos for Posehn and company for proving that a relaunch(?) truly can be successful. If you have a sense of humor and a need a Deadpool fix, this is the title for you. Skip the bullsh*t Deapool mini-series, as a word of advice.

     On to DC Comics! Their New 52 hit year 2 and seemed to breaking records of sales with big events such as Trinity War, Villains Month, and Forever Evil. New titles such as Larfleeze, JLA, Superman/Wonder Woman, and Harley Quinn lead the list of better titles. I'll tell you what stuck out from their offerings this year.

      When I think of DC's best this year, of course Batman, Animal Man, and (up to a certain point)Green Lantern come to mind. One event in particular made me realize how great his run of the character had actually been. Of course I'm speaking of Grant Morrison's, Batman Incorporated. Volume two of this series ended this year with several cliffhangers, among them was Damian Wayne's death. His death follows closely behind the horrific run in with the Joker in Snyder's Death Of The Family, and adds to the anguish that the Bat-family has to endure. Damian went out like a hero. He saved Gotham and sacrificed himself knowing that he finally did unadulterated good. Morrison reinstates Batman's anguish even more so than the Joker ever did. Morrison's wild ride ends with more questions to debate and made me realize how seeded Damian's story truly was in the Bat-Universe. This usually doesn't happen to writers, where they take a book or group of characters for many years and develop a rabbit-hole of a story, that all comes to a dramatic finality. Morrison achieved this with the help of the great Chris Burnham and crew. One of my favorite reads of 2013.

     On the other side of things, there are character that get completely recreated and retooled. Batwing is this sort of character. I honestly couldn't be paid to read the old Batwing character before issue 18. He was boring, drab, and completely uninspired. Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray took over after the WTF issue and ran in the right direction. Completely giving Batwing a new and more interesting identity and life truly brought a breath of fresh air to borderline cancelled title. The story is so much fun following Luke Fox as he establishes himself as an extension of Batman. Gritty action scenes and crazy villains build on the new mythos and hopefully continue this title's freshness.

     Finally, there isn't enough compliments I can give to Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman. I got on this series in January of this year and was so happy I did. Not only do we get an awesome retelling of Greek mythology featuring Amazons and Wonder Woman, we got the first glimpses of the New Gods! Orion(Son of Darkseid) is a featured player this year in the book and he proved to be a great yin to Diana's yang. The struggle with the First Born renders some great action scenes preceded by some perilous chases through comic panels. All of the books' feats are beautifully rendered by Cliff Chiang. He brings the mythological feel that has never been fully grasped by a Wonder Woman title. Chiang's Wonder Woman is probably my most artfully favorite rendition. Wonder Woman is a must buy! 

I could go on and on about other DC titles but I'll give the smaller companies a chance. Icon, Dark Horse, and Vertigo, to me, all had a gem. 

Scott Snyder's The Wake had me at Scott Snyder. This mytho-monster tale has turned the genre upside down. Snyder's work on Batman, American Vampire, and Swamp Thing, have all led to this point in his creative career. An undersea horror is resurrected and brings terror to the surface. Snyder tells his greatest horror story on the pages of this book, making Mer-people terrifying! The story is the shining light in the series and cannot stop making me salivate for the next issue. Art wise, I wasn't a huge fan. The writing is so good however, it makes the art feel fitting for the story. Leave it to the best horror writer to create a new IP that takes off faster than a speeding bullet.

There is a very weird intrigue I have towards this book. I picked this title up on a whim and I have to say that it is a very cool book. The Shaolin Cowboy is a series that has been restarted by writer and artist, Geof Darrow. His original run started in 2004 spanning only 7 issues that took over three years to complete. The nameless former-Shaolin monk continues his adventures in his next volume, taking on the undead. The tagline for the series sums it up perfectly, "The only thing that can stop a bad-guy with a gun, is a good guy with a chainsaw!" His double-sided chainsaw staff is brilliantly brought to life on two-page splashes of over the top violence from Darrow's own hand. If you can find this gem, I highly recommend picking this up. The Shaolin Cowboy is still ongoing, so you have time to catch up!

My final pick is another wonderful restart in comics, Painkiller Jane. Jimmy Palmiotti once again takes his anti-heroin, Jane, into a new adventure. Jane is the brainchild of Palmiotti's that had started in the 90's and gave her life across many comic volumes and even on TV and film. Her new series is just fantastic! Coming across as a mix between a female Punisher and Deadpool, Palmiotti delivers hard, crotch-punching action that you want in this type of title. If it couldn't get any better, Amanda Conner does the covers for the series! It almost seems blatantly apparent that everything Palmiotti writes is gold. His Batwing, All Star Western, and continuing quality of Jane are testament. There is no better medicine for your action craving than Painkiller Jane!

So, there are a few of my favorites from this year. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments section or on our Facebook page. 2014 is coming and I cannot wait for more great comics!


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