Monthly Archives: January 2013

Rumor Contol: R. B. Silva On A New Justice League Book

Over the weekend, sleuth-site Bleeding Cool took note of some interesting photos on artist R. B. Silva’s Instagram. The artist posted several pictures of artwork for what seems like a new Justice League team. Several photos feature the hashtag #justiceleagueinternational, but with the one exception the team depicted is very American. Check out some of the photos and a bit of speculation after the jump. Continue reading

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On My Radar In 2013

At the beginning of 2012 I posted a list of things I was most looking forward to. Some of them delivered (Green Lantern, Earth 2), some were a bit of a let down (AvX, Rotworld), and some have carried over into 2013 (Pandora, Multiversity). So, like last year, here’s a list of the things I’m looking forward to the most in 2013.

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Best of 2012: Best Writers

So I’ve fallen a bit behind on my whole “Best Of/Year End” lists. This last one was especially hard for me, but I’ve finally narrowed down my 5 (well, 6) favorite writers of 2012. For your reading enjoyment.

5. Tie: Jeff Lemire & Scott Snyder

DC’s newest golden boys had a great year in 2012. Together, the duo finally got the ball rolling on their pseudo-Vertigo opus, ‘Rotworld.’ While that story in particular was one of my most anticipated of the year, it’s grown a bit long in the tooth. Fortunately both writers had other enjoyable works as well. Snyder wrapped up his surprising ‘Court of the Owls’ story and began the hotly anticipated ‘Death of the Family’ arc, both of which received astounding critical acclaim. Lemire wrapped up his run on “Frankenstein” and moved over to “Justice League Dark,” where he continues to weave bits of Vertigo lore into the New 52. Both writers also hit major milestones in their creator owned works at Vertigo, with Snyder hitting the halfway point of “American Vampire” and Lemire wrapping up his 40 issue run on “Sweet Tooth.” As if that isn’t enough, Lemire also released an original graphic novel, “Underwater Welder,” a small-town story in the vein of “Essex County,” to critical praise. These are two extremely prolific writers who seem to just be getting started. Both writers will launch new Vertigo series in 2013, and will add new DC books to their plates as well. Expect both writers to play a major role in the upcoming “Trinity War” event at DC.

4. Joshua Hale Fialkov

Fialkov wasn’t as productive as fellow writers Snyder and Lemire in 2012, but his work on “I, Vampire” was so focuses and unique among its peers that it alone earns Fialkov a slot in my top 10. “I, Vampire” went through around three status quo changes in the past year, each more shocking and exciting than the last. When a writer can play fast and loose with such played out genres as super heroics and vampires, while still remaining fresh and engaging, it’s an accomplishment worth mentioning. Recent news has revealed that Fialkov will finish his story in “I, Vampire” #19. While it’s sad to see the book go, I absolutely cannot wait to see how it all wraps up, as well as what the writer has in store for the future.

3. Matt Fraction

I’ve never been a Fraction fan. I gave “Cassanova” a shot once, but couldn’t get through it. However, the writer made it into my pull list in a major way this year with “Hawkeye”, “Fantastic Four,” and “FF.” These three books represent some the purest and most fun story telling in all of comics. Fraction’s ability to connect to the reader emotionally, using fantastic characters in everyday interactions, is unparalleled. If you want comics to be fun, instead of dark, depressing affairs, while still remaining relevant, look no further.

2. Brian K. Vaughan

I hate to admit it, but I’ve never read more than the first issues of both “Y, The Last Man” and “Ex Machina.” I’ve never touched “Runaways.” The only substantial exposure I’ve had to BKV was through his work on “Lost” (rest its TV soul). So, when I picked up the first issue of “Saga,” all my excitement was due to hype, rather than personal experience. I now understand the hype, and am dying to read more from this guy, who is a true modern story-telling master.

1. Jonathan Hickman

Hickman had an unbelievable year in 2012, from wrapping up his long-running “Fantastic Four/FF” run as well as his run on “The Ultimates,” to launching a new “Avengers” series and his creator owned “Manhattan Projects.” After reading his work I can say, without a doubt, that Jonathan Hickman is the new Grant Morrison. No other writer since has channeled such bizarre, otherworldly ideas and concepts into such small and poignant moments, eliciting an emotional response from somewhere deep within the human soul. He also has the uncanny ability to surround himself with fantastic art talent, such as Nick Dragotta, Nick Pitarra, Steve Epting, and Jerome Opeña. His background as a graphic designer shows in his work, which bears a clearly crafted design. Everything Hickman touches bears a mark of the highest quality production (except for AvX, but who can help that?).

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Best of 2012: Best Artists

5. Jerome Opeña

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One of my favorite artists of last year and one of the best artists in the industry in general. Opeña comes in lower on the list due to a decrease in output for the year, with only two full issues of “Avengers” and some covers. However, the work that he did was absolutely fantastic. I only hope he gets a bit more regular work in 2013 after he wraps up his short stint on “Avengers.”

4. Andrea Sorrentino

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Sorrentino defined “I, Vampire” this year, making it a must read book month in and out. His dark, moody work was perfect for this tragic and blood-soaked series. It’s a shame to see him leave the title, as it is struggling to begin with, but I can’t wait to see his gritty style translated over to a street-level hero like Green Arrow.

3. Doug Mankhe

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Mankhe is a madman of an artist, and perfect for a book full of bizarre alien and sci-fi concepts. However, he can also handle more “down to earth” fare, presenting expressive and believable characters. After working on “Green Lantern for three years now, he still shows no signs of fatigue or burn out. While he often gets overshadowed by bigger artists, he deserves recognition as one of the industry’s best.

2. Fiona Staples

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Fiona Staples has easily claimed the status of pre-eminent sci-fi/fantasy artist with her work on Saga. In just 8 short issues she hasn’t given such rich visual life to a brand new universe, full of winged soldiers, horned wizards, space ship trees, royal robots with TV heads, nude spider-women, and emaciated, lie-detecting cats. Her handwritten narration for Hazel is a beautiful touch for the book that adds to the bizarre fairytale quality of the book. Together with BKV, Staples can do no wrong, and the occasional hiatus is worth having her as the book’s sole artist. I can’t wait to see what she has in store next.

1. David Aja

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It’s a terrible cliche, but “A picture is worth a thousand words” applies so fittingly to David Aja, the man who, along with writer Matt Fraction, has made “Hawkeye” my favorite book of 2012. Even without Fraction’s words, Aja crafts beautiful and emotional tales.There’s no one else like him in mainstream comics. Here’s hoping he can keep up the pace and continue to innovate in 2013.

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Best of 2012: Best New Comics

5. Prophet

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A definite underdog at the beginning of the year, “Prophet” marked the start of the Images revamped line of Rob Liefeld’s “Extreme” books. Writer Brandon Graham and artist Simon Roy took a dead 90’s property and turned it into one of the most brilliant hard sci-fi comics of 2012. The first three issue arc alone is full of high concepts and maddening ideas, characters, and settings to last an entire years worth of story. In a year where Image seemed to début a critically acclaimed new series every week, this book stood tall as one of the very best.

4. All-New X-Men

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On paper, calling this book “All-New” this book seems a little pointless and silly. Bring the original five X-Men to the present and watch the consequences sounds like the potential for a Marvel comedy series. However, Bendis plays it straight in the devastating aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men, giving us the best book of the initial Marvel NOW! books. Bendis perfectly captures the emotions of X-Men past and present, with both sides forced to examine the events that have beset them from an entirely new angle. Add in new mutants, a new status quo for Cyclops and the Extinction team, a new look for Beast, and unbelievable art from Stuart Immonen and you have the biggest X-book since Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men.”

3. Saga

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Everyone knew Brian K. Vaughan’s return to comics would be a big deal, but “Saga” exceeded almost all expectations when it debuted this year with an oversized first issue full of sci-fi/fantasy goodness. This is Star Wars for a new age, rolled up a with a bit of Romeo and Juliet. Vaughan’s ability to create engaging and lovable characters from the get go is unparalleled, as is Fiona Staple’s uncanny knack for expression and scope. If you aren’t reading this then you’re missing out on the biggest phenomenon in comics right now, bar none.

2. Manhattan Projects

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This list is pretty heavily dominated by sci-fi, showing just how well represented the genre was this past year. Manhattan Projects started out as just a simple concept; there was more to the story than just the atomic bomb. From this point Jonathan Hickman, hot off of his groundbreaking run on Fantastic Four/FF, delves into the secret history of the US and world military science divisions in a post WWII world, and the results are spectacular. Prominent historical figures such as Oppenheimer, Einstein, F.D.R., and Truman are cast in fascinating new lights, and mad science runs amok with death monk powered teleportation portals and jelly-fish powered robots. This book is overflowing with so many wild and zany ideas that it nearly puts Grant Morrison to shame. Further drawing the Morrison comparison is artist Nick Pitarra, whose Frank Quitely-esque style gives the book a life of its own.

1. Hawkeye

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I literally cannot say enough good things about this book. I never thought I would like Hawkeye, who always seemed far inferior to DC’s Emerald Archer. Not even the ‘Avengers’ movie could get me interested in the character. However, Matt Fraction and David Aja have not only got me interested in a book about Hawkeye, they’ve made it my favorite book of the entire year, and in only six issues at that. This book has the best art, the best characters, the best plots, the best action of any other super hero book out there. “Hawkeye” is the new definition of high quality graphic storytelling.

 

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Best of 2012: Best Continuing Comics

5. Uncanny X-Force

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This time last year everyone was heaping praises on the recently concluded ‘Dark Angel Saga.’ This year, much was expected of Rick Remender’s little X-book that could, and while its final story-arc ‘Final Execution’ didn’t quite reach the fantastic heights of DAS, it was still one of the best books on the stand. “X-Force” took a major blow in the art department this year with the loss of both Jerome Opeña and Dean White. However, the book still featured some incredible character work from Remender, and themes that have permeated the series from the beginning were payed off brilliantly. It’s a shame that the series had to end after only two years (with a whopping 35 issues mind you, along with two point one issues) but it was definitely a brilliant ride while it lasted.

4. Wonder Woman

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This book started off the year with a bit of a slow burn, but writer Brian Azzarello ended his first year of “Wonder Woman” in the biggest way he could; the return of the New Gods. From that moment on “Wonder Woman” has been going full throttle. This isn’t a book that’s afraid to get its hands dirty, and at times feels as if it would be just as at home under the Vertigo imprint as in the New 52. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, along with new creations, form a fantastic and quirky supporting cast, the likes of which DC’s Amazonian princess has never had.  Add in fantastic art from Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins and you have one of the best super-hero books on the stand.

3. I, Vampire

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“I, Vampire” was one of the biggest surprises of the New 52 when it released last year to astounding critical acclaim. With a twisty-turny plot, an incredible cast, a tragic love story, and a complete disregard for mainstream comic story telling conventions, this is not just another throwaway vampire story. We saw lead Andrew Bennett go from heroic vampire, to mystical messiah, to villain all in a single year’s worth of stories. Guest appearances from Batman and the Justice League Dark helped round out the already fantastic cast, and Fialkov delivered the signal best portrayal of Stormwatch so far in the New 52. I can’t go without mentioning the unbelievable art of Andrea Sorrentino, who gave this book an clear visual identity while not missing a single issue. The new year sees Sorrentino leaving “I, Vampire” for “Green Arrow” with Jeff Lemire, which is a major blow. Hopefully Fialkov will continue to deliver the same caliber of story in 2013, even without the moody and atmospheric art the series is known for.

2. Journey into Mystery

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Another fantastic Marvel run that ended far earlier than I would like, Journey into Mystery was a book unlike any other. The closest thing the Gaiman’s “Sandman” that Marvel has ever published, this was, at its heart, a story about stories. Told through the eyes of the lovable Kid Loki, a crazy concept that writer Keiron Gillen not only made work, but made preferable to the traditional old trickster fans have known for ages. Like “Uncanny X-Force,” JiM started the year off a bit slow but quickly picked up with crossovers between “New Mutants” and “The Mighty Thor.” The latter story, “Everything Burns,” was a fantastic culmination of the many plot threads Gillen weaved over the title’s short run, leading to a finale issue with the power of an emotional freight train. This comedy in 30 parts, tragedy in 31, will go down as one of my all-time favorite runs.

1. Green Lantern

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Some might scoff, but this book still continues to wow after nearly 7 years. Geoff Johns’ “Green Lantern” may have hit a slump in the aftermath of ‘Blackest Night,’ but the New 52 has completely reinvigorated the title. This year brought revelations about the Indigo Tribe (finally!), the return of Black Hand, and a brand new Green Lantern of Earth. Simon Baz, a Lebanese American living in Dearborn, Michigan, is one of the breakout characters of the year and breath of fresh air. Of course, the book would be nothing without the work of Doug Mankhe, who managed to keep a better pace on the book than he did in 2011. His art is strangely extraterrestrial, perfect for a book about alien space cops and blue munchkins. With the rise of the third army and the coming of the First Lantern,  it’s clear that Johns still has plenty of ideas to keep these book interesting and engaging. As long as Johns keeps up this level of quality, I’ll keep coming back to see what he cooks up next.

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