Comic Booked Best of 2014: Magen Cubed’s Picks
2014 has been an interesting year for comics to say the least. I’ve picked a lot of comics up from established publishers and indie creators alike, and every month brought new titles to dig into. Now the time has come to put together a top ten list for the end of the year, and once again I find myself at a bit of a loss. There are so many titles that I’ve enjoyed, and while I’m not inclined to put any title above another, I had to narrow the list down to the ten books that I’ve enjoyed the most. So, here it is, in no particular: my top ten favorite books of 2014.
Charles Soule and Javiar Pulido have made their mark on the life of Jennifer Walters with this endearingly quirky action-comedy series. Full of inventive storylines and guest appearances by some of Marvel’s heavy hitters, the only drawback to this series is that it only lasted twelve issues. A truly fun title that is worth picking up in trades.
Kicked off by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey, this title has seen an intriguing revival through Ellis’ tight, done-in-one scripting and grim sense of humor. Now helmed by Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood, Moon Knight has gone on to tackle questions of vigilantism in our politically charged global community. Every issue takes the series in new directions, and is absolutely worth picking up.
Despite its highly irregular shipping schedule, Matt Fraction and David Aja (with help from guest artist Annie Wu) have consistently brought both understated humor and heartbreaking feels with this title. Every issue is funny, poignant, and expertly crafted from the first page to the last. This isn’t your standard cape book fare, but there are few books on the shelves as technically solid and emotionally engaging as Hawkeye.
G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s endearing Kamala Khan has stolen our hearts this year, and with good reason. Ms. Marvel is a joyous superhero adventure romp that sticks to the classics of cape book storytelling while still delivering smart, socially relevant stories to today’s diverse comic book audience. This book is just a treasure.
Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca’s fantastical adventure romp has taken some dark turns this year, but I never fail to be entertained by the rich world they’ve created. Like a children’s storybook gone sideways, the deepening mystery of Kate’s family involves a growing array of dinosaurs, murderous talking animals, and evil sisters. With its unique aesthetic and cutting sense of humor, this book is an inventive read for those looking for something different from their comics.
The Wicked + The Divine
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s dissertation on religion, pop music, pop culture, and the various intersections between them has proven to be an endlessly entertaining read issue after issue. Laura is a great protagonist, grounding this fantastic world of gods and divas with in a heartfelt coming-of-age story. This is definitely one of the best reads of the year.
Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel and Rod Reis explore the political corruption of 1960s Chicago through the lens of comic book superheroes, and as strange as it sounds, the combination works. This is a grim cape book that explores the moral quagmires of the day with a deft touch, blending tropes and genre conventions. The result is a story that’s one part superheroes, one part detective mystery, with elements of a good crime thriller sprinkled in.
Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s irreverent, heartfelt, funny, and sometimes downright heartbreaking series continues to be one of the best books on the shelves. Its most recent issue tackles porn from a perspective rarely given any credence in mainstream media, comics or otherwise, and is one of the best they’ve done so far. This book is still knocking it out of the park.
While this title from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro just came out earlier this month, it was one of the best issues that I’ve read all year. With its gritty production design and downright vicious sense of humor, this charged pastiche of 1970s exploitation movie and sci-fi/fantasy trope attacks contemporary social issues. This book takes no prisoners, and I expect great things from it in 2015.
Like Bitch Planet, Ody-C from Matt Fraction and Christian Ward has only seen its first issue, but it was the best comic I’ve picked up in a very long time. Visually complex and lyrically paced, this book reimagines Homer’s Odyssey as a psychedelic space opera of epic proportions. With each Greek state becoming its own planet, in a galaxy managed by capricious and unearthly gods, it follows a gender-swapped cast of heroes who emerge from a ten-year war only to find their attempts to return home thwarted. It’s complicated and dense, with a steep learning curve for those who are rusty on their Homer, but this book is absolutely worth the effort.
And because there are always casualties for these top ten lists, here are some of my other favorite honorable mentions:
Captain Marvel by Kelly Sue DeConnick and David Lopez.
Elektra by W. Haden Blackman and Mike Del Mundo.
Black Widow by Nathan Edmondson and Phil Noto.