Matt’s Favorite Comics of 2014

I love looking back at a year and formulating lists of my favorite video games and comic books and movies. It’s a lot of fun to look back on focus on the most joy I felt doing what I enjoy most: absorbing media. Art and entertainment is bound to affect all of us in different ways, which I think is fascinating. Whenever I do these lists, I like to make it clear that these are my personal favorites for this year; I’m not attempting to claim these are the best. Wholly subjective reasons form the backbone of this list. How could I, a lone dude, tell you what the best movies or comics or games were the best in a whole year, anyway? That’s a lot to cover!

There’s a certain warmness to talking about media in a more personal way. I hope you enjoy my list of my top ten favorite comics of 2014. I didn’t differentiate between one-shots and ongoing series and mini-series and graphic novels. As long as it’s a comic book, it’s eligible. No story-arcs or single issues, though; if it’s a part of something bigger, that bigger thing has to earn its way onto the list as a whole.

10. Superior Iron Man

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The first issue of Superior Iron-Man absolutely floored me, so much that I felt the need to score it a perfect 10 in my review. It did what I think superhero comics do at their best, which is making big commentary through ridiculous comic booky fun. Marvel’s decision to bring Tony Stark to a state of mind very similar to his characterization before he became the hero we all know and is a brilliant one despite its simplicity. Tom Tayler and Yildiray Cinar managed to piss off a whole new generation of common men with a truly gross new direction for Iron Man, all while have loads of fun. The next two issues dropped in quality a good bit, which puts this low on the list, but the series still continues to be good.

Read my review of Superior Iron Man #1!

9. Batman

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Another comic I’m even surer deserved being praised as representing the best a comic can be is Batman #33, a gut-wrenching and thoroughly brilliant examination of the character of Batman. Beyond that, more excellent issues released, like three parts of the latest story arc entitled “Endgame.” I’m sure it’s going to go down in history as one of the best Joker stories; so far, I’d say I’m enjoying it more than Snyder and Capullo’s “Death of the Family.” Speaking of Capullo, that dude delivered issue after issue of incredibly gorgeous looking pencils, always made astounding thanks to the inking of Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia.

Read my reviews of…

Batman #28

Batman #34

Batman #37

8. Teen Dog

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There’s a solid chance you didn’t hear about Teen Dog, and that’s truly a disgrace. This limited series, written and drawn by Jake Lawrence, debuted this year and saw the release of four issues, all of which a treasure. The comic is about having a totally rad time eating pizza, skateboarding, and hanging out with the coolest dude in the whole dang world, Teen Dog. It’s absolutely ludicrous but gut-busting in its hilarity. Along with all of that is some genuine tenderness and diverse representation of different walks of life. I jump in on this comic late, but I’m hooked.

7. Multiversity

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With time I’ll appreciate Grant Morrison’s massive, epic Multiversity even more than I do now, because of how heavy and deep it is. There is a lot to take in and love in Multiversity, from its warm reminder of golden age comics in its Captain Marvel-centric issue to its fascinating throwback to Watchmen. That Watchmen throwback, which will probably win the Eisner’s award for “Best Single Issue,” was especially exciting to me because of the creative team of Morrison and Frank Quitely, the masterminds behind my favorite comic of all-time, All-Star Superman. It’s clear Morrison adores superheroes, and this series is a glorious celebration.

Read my review of Multiversity #1!

6. Daredevil

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I’ve been on-board Mark Waid’s Daredevil from the very beginning, and it continues to impress to this day. This year saw the wrap-up of his first volume, which set up an exciting new status quo for Daredevil. The relaunched series, handled by the same creative team of Waid and Samnee, takes Daredevil in a new direction as a series, with a focus on more self-contained, short stories. Small bursts of visually-stunning superhero fun, not without intelligently done themes, were consistently found in Daredevil this year.

Read my review of Daredevil #9!

5. Swamp Thing

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Charles Soule is leaving not just Swamp Thing in March, but DC Comics as a whole. This blows, because Swamp Thing has been my favorite DC comic ever since he started writing it, thanks to his clever writing and the great artists he worked with. Soule’s run is about the admirable characterization of Swamp Thing, choosing to be noble and moral in a position in which he is expected to be ruthless and cold. Also essential to Soule’s run and something I love is the lore, which I can promise you is not something I tend to care about in fiction at all. I was scared to welcome a name I had never heard of into my pull list after Snyder left Swamp Thing, but Soule has failed to disappoint me. Marvel better take care of this guy.

Read my review of Swamp Thing: Future’s End #1!

4. Southern Bastards

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I heard really good things about Southern Bastards when it started coming out in 2014, but I didn’t even consider jumping on due to finances, so I barely even looked into it. A friend of mine couldn’t resist, so he bought the first trade and let me read it when he was finished; man-oh-man was I impressed. The portrayal of the South in this comic gives everything straight. It’s a brutal, brutal comic, with action masterfully choreographed by artist Jason Latour thanks to a poetic control of motion. The characters and plot are so solid in their elegant simplicity that Southern Bastards never lost its grip on me.

Read my review of Southern Bastards #6!

3. Saga

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Another year, another set of amazing Saga issues. If you’re not reading this series and you like comic books, you’re probably confused about something. The most impressive aspect to Saga this year was its rather large bombshell in #19 that completely shattered the status quo of the series. I was compelled to think about the entire series in a different way, strongly taken aback. Saga has always hurt my soul, but the latest direction has been the most beautifully painful thus far.

Read my review of Saga #18!

2. Deadly Class

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The first issue of Deadly Class immediately pulled me in with its honest and bleak narration from its impoverished teen protagonist. Deadly Class tells the never predictable and always discomforting tale of a group of very troubled teens. Never shying away from gruesome violence, sex, depression, childhood trauma, and all sorts of other uncomfortable subject matter, Deadly Class is raw in its brilliance. I knew this comic was one of my favorites whenever I realized just how much I could buy into its characters’ cynical and mean musings on life.

Read my reviews of…

Deadly Class #1

Deadly Class #7

Deadly Class #8

1. Seconds

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I’ve never anticipated a comic to release for as long a period of time as Seconds, an original graphic novel from Bryan Lee O’Malley of Scott Pilgrim fame. He’s hands-down one of my favorite comic book creators, thanks to his sweet, funny writing style, lovable characters, and stupendous artwork. I am really glad he decided to be so tight-lipped on the contents of this book, because it only amped up my excitement. Whenever I went to the comic shop to pick this up the week it came out, I was literally giggling with excitement. I couldn’t stop flipping through the book until I finally got home and was able to read it from start to finish.

O’Malley’s work has only gotten better if you ask me, his latest my favorite in a line of books that are all favorites of mine. My first observation was of the amazing artwork, made so good in large part due to the coloring of Nathan Fairbairn, one of the best colorists in the business. Its relatable main character, Katie, took me on a funny, adorable little trip that ended up delivering a message that hits close to home for me. Seconds is all about dealing with personal mistakes and not dwelling on the desire for a second chance, something I am vividly away of thanks to my clinical issues with anxiety that came to a peak during the early bits of 2014.

Seconds helped me out.

Read my review of Seconds!

Honorable Mentions:

Ms. Marvel

Afterlife with Archie

Black Science

Wytches

The Woods

Check out Matt’s online portfolio here