BEST OF 2013
with Cory Thrall
When I started this crazy thing called Bag & Bored I was looking for something to kill some time and have some fun with. Nothing big, no readership – just silly meanderings on whatever comics I had read that week. Consider my surprise that here we are over a year later and with quite a cast of reviewers and writers on our team. One of the major pay-offs with this site has been to not only watch it grow and the writers grow with it, but also to have the excuse to read as many damn comics as I can shove in front of my face. That being said, here’s my contribution to this beautifully awesome thing that has been Bag & Bored’s ‘Best of 2013’ lists. Thank you for reading and following the site this past year, and I hope to see you here in a year for our ‘Best of 2014’ lists! Okay, here we go…
BEST OVERALL COMIC BOOK
“Daredevil” (Marvel Comics)
Well, I guess this is an obvious way to start off. I know that this comic has been a smash hit since day one, so it’s no big thing that it’d be my choice. It was too easy. Want to know the hidden genius behind this book? EVERYTHING. This book is so damn good that another *hit* title had to steal its style – like Fraction & Aja’s “Hawkeye”? Go back and read at least the first couple of issues of this “Daredevil” run. Before “Hawkeye” had hit shelves here’s a comic with not only the same writing style, but also similar narrative storytelling. Samnee’s artwork is not that far removed from Aja’s. Think about it. Go back, take a read – or, read for the first time. This book deserves every accolade thrown at it, including being the set-up for most other’s “Best” comic of 2013.
BEST WRITER OF 2013
Okay, I think “Daredevil” alone is enough to give Waid this mention, but with “Insufferable”, the surprisingly fun “Indestructible Hulk”, “Mark Waid’s Green Hornet”, and more Waid has really shown his range as a writer. Take any random two titles from that list and read an issue of each and you’ll see exactly what I mean. This is a guy who has been around for quite a while and over that time has worked in such a way that you never know what to expect from project to project or issue to issue. For me he’s keeping comics immensely exciting and varied. He’s one of the few big names that will instantly pull me to check out a book, new or old.
BEST ARTIST OF 2013
This is the man who made a Thor fan out of me, plain and simple. His work on “Thor: God of Thunder” is such an integral part to that first run that it may not have played out so well otherwise. With that title alone he has cemented himself on my ‘artist to watch’ list and looking at his “Avengers” work on the shelves right now I don’t see his magic slowing anytime soon. Just absolutely beautiful art that can change at any moment to darkly surreal swashes and smears. Every page is a days worth of input.
BEST NEW SERIES
“X-Files: Season 10” (IDW)
There have been quite a large number of TV, film, and video game franchises that have made their way to the comicverse, some okay but mostly not all that good. As a huge Buffy nut, I was so excited to see the launch of “Season 8” a while back, only to have my love shot down by lame images of Buffy jumping from a helicopter like some Black Ops mission was in action. The original X-Files comic from the 90’s had nothing that made it feel connected to the show in any way other than title and characters. That’s when IDW came in, years later, and blew my opinion on these type of books completely out of the stratosphere. “X-Files: Season 10” is what fans have been wanting for so long – it’s pitch perfect in every way. The writing is spot-on, the characters look and act like their TV counterparts, and I come away from every issue feeling as if I had just checked in on one of my favorite TV universes to date. Is it a good entry point for new readers, or ones who may not have watched all 9 seasons and 2 films worth of X-Files? Sadly, I’d say it isn’t. Is it a wonderful bit of comic book magic for those already that far in league? It sure as hell is.
BEST NEW TALENT OF 2013
Matt Miner (“Liberator”, Black Mask Studios, 2013)
When I first heard mention of Matt Miner’s (then upcoming) comic “Liberator” I was instantly curious. Here was a man not only wanting to write great comics, but also to use that medium as a launching pad for issues such as animal rights, breed specific legislation, and more – with proceeds going to help the very real problems similar to those exposed in the comic. Within this set-up lies one of the finest crafted mini-series I have read in quite some time. Saying this is one of my favorite comics of the year is a no-brainer and seeing what Miner has coming in the future (while considering what he’s already accomplished) I see huge things for him. I see now why creators such as Scott Snyder were so excited about his work. It’s stark, hard boiled, and utterly human. Watch this guy!
FAVORITE PUBLISHER OF 2013
There has been enough re-launches, re-brands, and re-boots to kill a continuity whale these past few years. I could go on and on about the Big Two, or Dynamite’s obsession with classic comics, or or or. But I won’t, because the only company to start out strong and *stay* strong has been Valiant Entertainment. Since making another attempt at the brand, this version of Valiant has been endlessly clever, intelligent, and perfectly executed. With the slight exception of the confused ‘Harbinger War’ crossover, Valiant has continued to kill it both in quality and sales. Grab an issue of any comic from their roster and you’ve just found a favorite.
BEST STORY ARC
“Deadpool”: ‘The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’
This title was launched as you would expect it to with two hilarious creators at the helm – Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan. It’s been silly, it’s been clever, it’s been Deadpool. This has been a consistently fun and well crafted title from the get-go, but it wasn’t until the ‘Good, the Bad & the Ugly’ five-part arc that this title really showed us what the team behind it are capable of. Starting with part one in issue #15, this story took the almost generic character to new heights (lows?). Want funny, goofy, ham-fisted Wade? Skip these 5 issue because what you have here is the year’s best storyline to come from any title, from any publisher. When people talk about “that one story” that changed the game for a character who (in my opinion) had nearly started to become a parody of himself (or is that the point?), this is the story they will reference for Deadpool. This arc really touched me, and was such an emotional roller-coaster I felt I should keep making sure it was a Deadpool comic I had in my hands. SO good. If they put it in its own collection I’m buying two of them. And a hardcover.
“Afterlife With Archie” (Archie Comics)
Okay, so this is one I’m sure was a surprise to everyone. I mean, I felt it, too. Zombies…and Archie? As in Riverdale, “aw, shucks” Archie? At first it made so much sense what with the zombie craze all across entertainment still going strong. Cash in time for a comic striving to keep a modern face on an aging comic and concept. I laughed it off, made a snide comment or two, and forgot about it. Then I saw Francesco Francavilla was attached as artist. So I took a look and damn if I didn’t buy it right then and there. This comic is everything you’d expect from first impressions, but also all of the great things I’m hoping you’re hearing about it. It’s not ground breaking. It’s just a brilliant comic with wonderful art starring characters we know too well for such a small amount of exposure. Read it, be surprised. It’s been quite a ride so far!
BEST COMIC-ORIENTED TV OR FILM
“Teen Titans GO!” (Cartoon Network)
In a year that has seen a good number of comic films and television be released or continued, I really feel there hasn’t been all that much of value. Granted, I still have yet to see ‘Kick Ass 2’ or ‘Thor: the Dark World’, but overall this year I was let down. So, the first thing that pops into my mind is the Cartoon Network/DC Nation show “Teen Titans GO!”. I know, I’m crazy, right? Well, first off, I am such a huge DC Animated fiend that I’ve seen the entirety of all of their series except two. So there’s that bias. Also, where else can you get a weekly 15 minute blast of silly fun starring such awesome DC characters? In a year bogged down by the CGI glitz and empty doom and gloom of “Man of Steel” (worst Superman movie ever!), or the ‘toss it on the floor and randomly re-edit’ “Iron Man 3”? ‘Teen Titans GO!’, my friend. There are smiles in these comic book characters, I assure you.
“Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem” (Dark Horse Comics)
Few mini-series – or ongoing, for that matter – carry such a heavy emotional weight as “Breath of Bones”. With Steve Niles’ writing and the Eisner-esque beauty of Dave Watcher’s artwork all working in concert, this mini is nothing short of a silent horror classic in comic form. Taking what at first seems like a simple premise and making it gut-wrenchingly heartfelt and effective, this could have been twice as long and would have been just as good – if not better. Watch for a collection and snatch that up – or find the single issues (3 total) for the amazing cover artwork. Either way you win!
BEST COMIC MERCHANDISE
Batgirl ‘Super Best Friends Forever’ PVC Figure
I am a Batman obsessive beyond words. Due to this, I have also fallen deep in love with Batgirl. When I saw this figure in Previews I knew I *had* to have it. Based on the ‘Super Best Friends Forever’ DC Nation shorts on Cartoon Network, this is one of a set featuring the Wonder Woman and Supergirl versions from the show. Batgirl was all I need, and I swear no matter what bull is going on in my world at that time, seeing her on my shelf always brings a smile, even if just a small one. Oh, and did I mention she has a total of three interchangeable heads/expressions? SO COOL!!!
BEST SINGLE ISSUE OF 2013
“Thor: God of Thunder” #12 (Written by Jason Aaron / Art by Nic Klein)
After the massive two volume arc that took up the first batch of this title, “Thor” #12 was a nice one-shot issue in which Thor makes his return to Earth after finally stopping Gorr. This issue was probably one of the most ‘human’ stories I read all year, but for different reasons than most. This story had Thor visiting his varied friends and loved ones, catching up on what has been happening while he was away. This simple ‘slice of life’ story is brought to greater heights by its main character’s reactions. Here is a God – a real one, not just some do-gooder in a skin-tight suit and cape – who learns that no matter the power he may possess he can’t save everyone, not even those the closest to him. Some things just can’t be fixed, or cured, or erased. Sure, it’s a lesson as old as time, but the way it’s handled here is brilliant. And, after such a grandiose and epic adventure behind him, it’s a welcome breather. This is the kind of storytelling and planning that makes comics what they are.
Comic Book Television
I’m going to deviate a bit from what a ton of my fellow comic fans think (and possibly anger some of my fellow team members here on B&B in the process) and say one simple thing: I can’t stand either the “Arrow” or “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” television shows. “Arrow” started out as a mystery to me, as far as its popularity. The main actor is a smug jerk who has such little charisma on the screen it’s almost like a vacuum. The supporting cast is boring and, at best, horribly annoying. The whole show is no way near as clever and cool as it thinks it is. “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is the same thing. Boring stories, boring characters, and that same “I’m so cool, I mean it!” vibe as “Arrow”. I mean, Agent Coulson as the driving character? I had huge doubts before I saw one split second of the show, and it’s actually worse than I had imagined. Both shows are full of wooden characters and are so chock-full of ‘hipster’ that it makes me cry. I want to support Joss Whedon, damn you! Did I mention I’m not a fan of TV?
Cory is an artist, writer, and musician hiding between the empty storefronts of Santa Rosa, Ca. He lives with his cat Bronson, a lifetime of comics, and a penchant for being overly wordy.