Saturday, December 28, 2013

Best Superhero Comics of 2013

It's that time of year again to look back at the best that the year has brought us.  Of course there are titles that I didn't get a chance to check out that may have been included if I had, but that's how it goes.  I can't read everything (sorry, Spectacular Spider-Man).  These are my ten favorite superhero comics from 2013, the top of which will also be featured on my forthcoming best comics of the year list.  This is purely my opinion, so obviously people will not agree with me on all of these titles, and that's cool.  Many lists I find out there certainly make me scratch my head.  Anyways, this is meant to point you toward enjoyable material that you may have missed this year, and I hope you enjoy it.  If you've read some superhero comics that you think others may enjoy as well, please feel free to mention them in the comments!!

1. Angel & Faith (Christos Gage & Rebekah Isaacs) - Buffy the Vampire Slayer was overshadowed during season nine by this consistently entertaining comic book featuring Buffy's former flame Angel, and bad-slayer-gone-good Faith.  The two have a great dynamic, with plenty of things to haunt them from their pasts as they attempt to resurrect Rupert Giles, who was killed at the end of Buffy's Season Eight, by Angel's hands.  Their is a lot of atoning for these character to do in this series, and storyarc after storyarc has been shockingly high quality, culminating in a fight that brought all of the plotlines to an epic finale.  Isaacs really managed to make the characters her own without seeming to reference the actors overly much, while Gage played to the more interesting demons in the characters' lives.  This was one hell of a run, and one that will be sorely missed.

2. Wolverine & the X-Men (Jason Aaron, Nick Bradshaw, Chris Bachalo & Various) - This wacky series featuring Wolverine's school for mutants is a highlight for me every time it comes out.  I never know what to expect, aside from quality.  I love the vast cast of characters, particularly the students created especially for this series.  It really is one of the most unique superhero comics to come along in awhile, and I can't get enough of it.

3. Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, David Aja & Various) - This smart, street level superhero comic has a great cast of characters in what have come to be witty, thrilling stories.  David Aja offers amazing artwork on this title, often with clever panel arrangements, while Fraction breathes life into Hawkeye and his fascinating supporting cast.

4. All New X-Men (Brian Michael Bendis & Stuart Immonen) - Time travel has been a staple to the X-Men titles for a long time now, so when Bendis decided to bring the original five X-Men into the current timeline, it seemed like a no-brainer, but it made for a really interesting dynamic.  I love the interactions between the originals and the new X-Men, particularly when it comes to a young Scott Summers and the long-dead Jean Grey.  It will be interesting to see where this title goes now, given the ending of Battle of the Atom, but it seems that Bendis' creativity knows no bounds, so I'm not worried in the least.

5. Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang & Tony Akins) - Wonder Woman is the only DC Comic that remotely stands out from the others currently.  Azzarello has breathed new life into the title with his unique pantheon of gods, and Wonder Woman's place among them.  Meanwhile, the art is top-notch and not the cookie cutter 90's art that seems to plague DC's other 51 titles, keeping this title fresh and relevant, while the rest of DC flags.

6. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season Nine (Andrew Chambliss, Georges Jeanty, Jane Espenson & Various) - Joss Whedon's season nine of Buffy the Vampire Slayer was much more successful than season eight, which relied heavily on fan-favorite character appearances and an awkward transition into the new status quo.  In season nine, Buffy gets into situations that really show off what a great character she is, from her stint with Kennedy as a bodyguard, to saving the world by fighting demons alongside other demons, such as Illyria.  It all culminates into an epic battle that sees repercussions from the season eight finale, offering a satisfying conclusion to quite a roller coaster ride of emotions.

7. My So-Called Secret Identity (Will Brooker, Sarah Zaidan & Susan Shore) - This on-line superhero comic is a lot of fun.  It's very down-to-earth, with plenty of humor injected into the story, poking fun at tropes from mainstream superhero comics, as well as offering up its own social commentary.  This is a smart book with a lot of heart, and a fantastic female protagonist in Cat.  She has an interesting supporting cast in what is a very fresh series.  Check it out here.

8. Avengers (Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena & Various) - Hickman's Avengers is very epic in scope, and feels very majestic.  I love how so many different characters, of varying power sets, are featured in this title, which saw a culmination of events in the mega crossover event Infinity.

9. X-Men: Battle of the Atom (Brian Michael Bendis, Brian Wood, Jason Aaron, Frank Cho, Stuart Immonen & Various) - This is a crossover event that exploded across the pages of various X-Men titles, in which a group of X-Men from the future come back to the present day to force the original X-Men back to their original timeline.  There are all sorts of fun battles between various X-Men, with plenty of twists and turns to keep things interesting.

10. Captain America (Rick Remender & John Romita Jr.) - Rick Remender definitely brought new flavor to Cap when he trapped him in Dimension Z, where he built a life in a hard world.  Full of strange creatures and post-apocalyptic landscapes, this is a dark chapter in the life of Steve Rogers, but it is utterly inventive and exciting, rendered all the more beautiful by Romita's pencils.

Honorable Mentions
Glory (Joe Keatinge & Ross Campbell)
Uncanny Avengers (Rick Remender, John Cassaday & Various)
Uncanny X-Men (Brian Michael Bendis, Chris Bachalo & Various)

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