Bag and Bored’s ‘Best of 2013’: RAYMOND JACQUES

BEST OF 2013
with Raymond Jacques

Greetings, Friends & Fellow Readers. I’m Raymond Jacques (and you’re not).  It has been an amazing opportunity contributing to BagAndBored.net for the last 8 months or so & this is my contribution to Bag and Bored’s “Best of 2013”.

As a preface, I’d like to state that my comic reading in this wild year has primarily been the bulk of DC’s output (25-30 issues a month!) & a smattering of Indies. I underwent a small degree of stress about trying to keep the list varied but ultimately decided it would be best to shoot straight from my sassy little hips (which DON’T happen to LIE) about what made me smile this year.

Without any further ado:

Best Comic Overall:

BATMAN by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo (DC COMICS)

It’s good.
It’s so, so good.
It’s so good it’s almost cliché to tell you how good it is.
It could be easy to dismiss or exclude this Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo’s BATMAN from a list like this due to it’s reliable omnipresent excellence.
But, I don’t think it should be taken for granted that Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo meticulously and lovingly craft this book to a degree of consistent excellence for us monthly. I don’t take lightly the hard work, guts, & thoughtfulness these gentlemen have brought to the table in the tapestry they’ve been & continue to weave. From December 2012-December 2013, it’s been a big, strong continuation of their bull of a run. From the wrap of the excellent DEATH IN THE FAMILY arc to the REQUIEM tie-in Damian Wayne Memorial issue with the return of Harper Row to the wonderfully fun Clayface two-parter to the awesomely daring ZERO YEAR arc currently unfolding…it is all killer, no filler. There’s a very good reason why BATMAN is DC’s bestselling title…Capullo & Snyder are swinging for the fences every at bat & destroying the ball. Their place on Gotham Mount Rushmore is ensured.
If I had to drop my 30 title a month subscription pull at my local comic store down to one book: This would be it.

Best Mini-Series:

THE BLACK BEETLE: NO WAY OUT by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse Comics)

Francesco Francavilla is a man of impeccable skill and taste whose work I admire and adore. His Pulp inspired Black Beetle is thoroughly awesome and mysterious. His storytelling technique and atmospheric skills are just about peerless. I’ve talked about it before on this very website: The Black Beetle: N.W.O. Review. Absolute Neo-Noir Heaven. Buy it immediately. Both the individual issues and the hardcover collected edition are about the most beautiful pieces of comic paraphernalia you’re likely to ever lay hands on.

Best Single Issue:

(TIE)

BATMAN INCORPORATED #8 “The Boy Wonder Returns” by Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham (DC COMICS)

Even if I attempt to ignore this story’s place as the penultimate dramatic highpoint in Grant Morrison’s infinitely epic 7 year Batman run…it still easily makes it to the apex plateau of stories told in a single issue this year.

It was a perfect marriage of Grant Morrison & Chris Burnham’s superlative talents to tell this particular comic book story of epic intensity and haunting emotion.

It evoked everything you could want out of a single issue.

I laughed. I cheered. I loudly exclaimed. I wept.

So many moments. Damian flies into Wayne Tower. A handcuffed Batman inside a safe, atop the roof, taunted by Talia; regurgitating a lockpick from within his stomach. (SIDE NOTE: Is swallowing a lockpick Standard Procedure for Bruce like every night, every mission? Does alternate sets per week and leave them in? Maybe this was a special occasion? I prefer the former two. Please leave a comment or approach me on Twitter. We need to discuss this.) Batman Bat-Sleeper Holding a Ninja Man-Bat straight down the side of a building in a desperate race with time to save his son. The Final Dick and Damian Team-Up. The Last Double-Punch. The emotion and brutality of Damian’s Last Stand & Hero’s Death. The Final Farewell.

It was Epic in the true sense.

Trust me. I used to study Greek Tragedy.

BATMAN #24 “ZERO YEAR: Dark City: Part One” by Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo (DC COMICS)

Also flawless. Another peak in single issue comic book storytelling.
Another issue that does everything right and reduces me to my 8 year old self.
Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo & their talented team put together probably the single most satisfying issue (even with an inflated price tag!) I have read as a Batman or comic fan in general this year.

It had it all & I loved everything about it. Which brings me to the next category…

Best Storyline/Arc/Event/Etc.:

“Zero Year” – BATMAN by Scott Snyder (writer), Greg Capullo (art), Danny Miki (ink), FCO Plascencia (colors), Mike Marts (Group Editor) (DC COMICS)

I can be an old fashioned guy when it comes to Batman. Sometimes, I can be a downright possessive jerk when it comes to him and changes to his mythos.

ZERO YEAR has melted my every instinct.

As I’ve stated earlier in this list that the consistency of quality in the BATMAN title under Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo has reached “Well, duh! Of course it’s great!” proportions but the ZERO YEAR portion of the run has exceeded my every hope, expectation and possible fear of veering from YEAR ONE.

It’s bravery cannot be overstated.

Every component of the BATMAN team are stretching their legs and taking considerable artistic risks from writer to artist to inker to colorist to editor. It’s an adventure and responsibility Scott Snyder & Co. don’t take lightly and it shows in the work.

It’s Batman and it’s Bold and Bright and Gritty and Beautiful and Defiant Punk Rock…but most of all…Not One Aspect Rings Untrue.

It’s that Unattainable Batman Story That You’ve Never Heard.

It is a new adventure every month where we have NO IDEA what will happen or, even, why it will or what it will look like…
…and I salivate like a dog for it!
They’ve made me crave the curveballs I generally despise…and that’s fucking magic!

Standout Artist Of The Year:

Francesco Francavilla

From THE BLACK BEETLE to AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE to his guest work on Matt Fraction’s HAWKEYE & J.H. Williams III’s dearly departed BATWOMAN run to a plethora of FUCKING AMAZING COVERS (numbering around 100 in 2013) for a variety of publishers to Pulp Sunday blog posts to Mondo Movie Posters to his BATMAN 1972 internet fun…Francesco Francavilla CRUSHED it at every turn this year.

I hope 2014 catapults him right to The Next Level.

Standout Writer Of The Year:

Scott Snyder

I’m sure this comes as a surprise to absolutely no one. But think about it: BATMAN, SUPERMAN UNCHAINED, THE WAKE. Scott has been on top of his game all year long. It’s not even about a number game…Scott Snyder has been a consistent quality machine since day one. But, again, the bravery! He’s already established himself as DC’s Main Man and now he’s running with it, branching out and experimenting. And it turns out to be a big win for everybody to watch Scott Snyder spread his wings and evolve his craft before our eyes. This is an amazing thing. A world where Scott Snyder steps up his game is, theoretically, a world where everyone else MUST out of sheer necessity.

Favorite New Series Of 2013:

GREEN ARROW (#17- ) by Jeff Lemire & Andrea Sorrentino (DC COMICS)

Is that unfair of me? Tough cookies. Green Arrow #17 hit me like a revelation. Lemire & Sorrentino’s reinvigoration of Green Arrow is just straight up excellently executed kick-ass comic book storytelling. It’s so good. It’s so well written. It’s SO fucking COOL looking. I LOVE this book. It’s got a great cinematic feel…it’s kind of like a psychedelic-spiritual BORN AGAIN (maybe that’s just my take…) with ninjas.
It’s a huge highlight of every month. One of the absolute best of DC’s line. I don’t watch ARROW. I read this.

Favorite Comic Oriented TV or Film:

MAN OF STEEL (Warner Bros. Pictures, DC Entertainment)

I hear they’re making a sequel.

___________________________

Follow Raymond Jacques on Twitter:  @danceformyhorse

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