Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Brain Splatter Best of: Comics I Read in 2013

Before jumping into the first of my "Best of" lists for 2013, I'd like to state one thing: this particular list does not reflect ONLY comics that were printed in 2013. This is a list of the best comics I read in 2013 regardless of when they were printed. With that in mind, here we go...
6. The Black Panther, Volume 4

This, for me, is the definitive view on Black Panther. Let me be clear: this is MY definitive view of T'Challa as the Black Panther. Other people are free to prefer other volumes, but this volume, which was VERY good for most of the 40+ issues, provides a comprehensive view of the extraordinarily complex character of T'Challa. We see the king, the warrior, the diplomat, the genius and the enigma of one of Marvel's finest characters. It is through this volume that I was able to see T'Challa as one of Marvel's truly elite characters and it is a shame that he is still not in the MCU. Of course, at the heart of any Black Panther story is Wakanda and that's no different here. We are constantly reminded that everything T'Challa does is done for his country. While a few stories veer away from what was an overall outstanding volume, when taken as a whole this is one of the best ways to get to know and understand The Black Panther. 

5. Captain America, Volume 5
Issues 1-6, 8,9, 11-14

This is the Winter Soldier story...and somehow, I hadn't read it its entirety until now. It really is a wonderful story and it gives us a different look at Cap but really, it's the same old Cap driven by his beliefs, just in this case it is his belief in his friend's inherent goodness that drives the story. The film version is not going to be a straight adaptation of the story as some elements will be added and others cut out, but at the core will be Cap's challenge to believe in his friend while he learns that he's not always been lead down the path of truth and righteousness by those for whom he works.

4. The Korvac Saga
The Avengers, Vol. 1 #s 158, 167, 168, 170-177

A classic Marvel comics event that I picked up as a trade. This is an old-school example of the Avengers up against a foe that not even their combined might can best.  While the story-telling of some of the older books often pales in comparison to some of the talent of today, this event, while not perfect by any means, really spins an impressive yarn. When it's over you'll be left to question if Earth's Mightiest Heroes really are the good guys we've all believed them to be and if Korvac, a man whose torturous journey found him imbued with the powers of a god, is really the bad guy.

3. The Immortal Iron Fist
Creative Team: Ed Brubaker, Matt Fraction, Duane Swierczynski, David Aja, Travel Foreman

This is the story of the Iron Fist. If you're knew to Danny Rand's story or want to know the truth and depth of what being an Immortal Weapon means, this is what you should be reading. While the high points of the series are the writing by Brubaker and Fraction, the story didn't lose too much traction when they departed. I found myself really engrossed in the history of the Iron Fists and went through 5-6 books at a time without stopping to think. The story sees Rand's friends come to his aid and, at one time, was the source material for an Iron Fist film. It remains to be seen if this story, or parts of it, are adapted into the Netflix series, but a Bloodsport like tournament among the Immortal Weapons wouldn't be the worst thing you watched all year.

2. Infinity
Infinity #s 1-6, Avengers, Vol. 5 #s 18-23 and New Avengers, Vol. 3 #s 9-12

My favorite Marvel event in years. I know that this one left some people with a funny taste, but I loved the sci-fi layers that Hickman added to this, The Avengers and New Avengers. I loved seeing the entirety of the cosmos threatened and come together under the leadership of Cap, proving that the strength of his ideals and his conviction go beyond stars and stripes. Black Bolt and Maximus have hatched a plan, the implications of which will be far-reaching and won't be understood in full for some time, but I truly look forward to the reintroduction of the Inhumans that this event began. And there were several unforgettable panels with magnificent artwork that have stayed with me: Black Bolt's voice unleashed, Ronan's Universal Weapon striking a death blow and Mjolnir's stunning return to the hand of its master. This was an enjoyable event that ended with The Avengers looking unbeatable, but let's not forget that we saw the war but we have yet to see The Fall that was teased in the early going...I can't wait for that.

Buy at Amazon: Infinity

1. Batman, Volume 2
Issues 1-6, "The Court of Owls"

I know I'm behind in reading this and I just started volume 2 last night; that's why the list is the best I read this year. This is, undoubtedly, the best comic I read this year. It was a ballsy move by Snyder to introduce an entirely new group of villains to the mix and an even ballsier one to retcon history and root the Owls deeply into the past of Wayne and Gotham. The move, however, turned out to be genius and certainly paid off by telling not only the best story I read this year, but one of the best Batman stories I can ever remember reading. I don't go out recommending things often, but if you have not read this yet, you need to as soon as you can. It will either renew your love for the Batman or make you love him for the first time.