Thursday, January 16, 2014

2013 - Best year in comics, like EVER !

Well, at least if you can believe everything you read on the internet. Then the last year 2013 has really been a totally airwolf ride for comic readers.

And I´m not saying this to be sarcastic or to diss all the bloggers who - unlike me - did their review of 2013 on time. It´s just that, as always, I didn´t get to read most of the books that landed on the top ten lists of comics of 2013 so I probably will read most of those best comics in 2014.

Which is one of the reasons why I still wanted to do this look back on the best of 2013 although we are already in the middle of January. It´s the only time I can really do this, even if I have to use the old excuse that I´m doing it for my readers. I´m sure most of my readers have already read them, if not all the comics per se than at least the best of the best lists. Nevertheless, reactions to my last post were quite encouraging so I thought I should keep up writing positive things about comics. And what is more positive than writing about all the good comics that came out in 2013 ? Not that there weren´t bad comics out there. I´m sure I´ll go into a rant on all the crap that happened in 2013´s comics BUT not in this post. Here I´m going to look at the silver lining of the methaphorical dark clouds hanging over the collective comic readers heads this past year.

Now that being said, I can´t talk about 2013 without talking about the big two so there may be some negative things I might say about them but nothing I haven´t said before. One of the reasons for that is that - in my opinion - how good a comic year 2013 was for you depends on big part how successful you were in staying away from DC and Marvel. A lot of the comics on the best of lists are from other companies so if you only read the big two you missed out on a lot of fantastic stuff. Which you can now discover through this post. The other reason is that there are also quite a lot of books from the big two on those lists, strange as that may sound.

I guess this comes from being a huge corporate monster : there are still some creators who manage to fly under the radar and make good comics.

With all the hype and constant renumbering and coming up with such wonderful ideas like Doctor Octopus becoming Spider - Man, Avengers going total sci - fi and Nova turning into Doogie Howser the bigwigs at Marvel just don´t have the time to look into all the stuff they put out. Especially when they have three or four books on guys like Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and whatnot. So it shouldn´t be a surprise that quality books like DAREDEVIL or HAWKEYE get a free pass until it´s too late to really " improve " them because the fans and comic critics have already discovered it. And I don´t want to say that Marvel wouldn´t try to f - word it up because they care so much about their fans or critics. We all know that Marvel is now Disney and they are totally without morals BUT the thing they really do care about is the Benjamins. So if the book is already selling great and chances are it will not sell as good if you go in and change something Disney will probably let it continue. Which in the case of DAREDEVIL means restarting it under Marvel NOW with a number 1.

Because we don´t have enough of them. If you want to know why Disney keeps on doing that you just have to look at the newest catalogue, there is a Spider - Man trade with all of Spidey´s plethora of first issues included. Now whoever came up with the idea for this trade clearly has no idea WHY first issues are so sought after by comic fans and demand such exorbitant prices. Because I can tell you right now that this trade is not a very good read. It may be nice for people who don´t have all of the issues - which is questionable the way some of the restarts have been hyped - and want to compare the different series throughout the decades.

If you are a comic historian and want to write about the differences of the first issues and you can´t pay big bucks for them the trade is probably an invaluable resource. For all others probably not so much. But still the guy who proposed it did get approval and since they probably will put out more of it they need more number 1s so that will be a fixture for 2014.

But like I said, that´s not what I want to talk about so let´s get back to all the good comics that came out in 2013 and of which I managed to read some. In the case of Rob Bricken over at io9 who comes to the conclusion that 2013 Was an Absurdly Great Year for Comics I haven´t read any of his picks - which for me means there are still a lot of great comics for me to discover. Aside from the parts of Dark Horse´s MIND MGMT I read in DARK HORSE PRESENTS, still one of the best anthology books out there which you won´t find on any best of lists out there. Because they mostly concentrate on new books. So I will be mentioning some of the really great books I read in 2013 that have been going for years and are still fantastic. And speaking of books being still fantastic it seems that my prediction for FF was just a bit off as Mike Allred has managed to stay on the book for more than 12 issues. Of course the book´s still canceled with issue 16 and Mike Allred is now off to do the new SILVER SURFER book.

FF still managed to make a few top comics lists for 2013 and quite deservedly so, like the one by Mark Peters on SALON . Okay, he focuses mainly on superheroes and I´m not so sure about including SUPERIOR SPIDER - MAN in the list, but the rest seems to be solid. Like Grant Morrison´s BATMAN INCORPORATED, one of the few good books at DC.

Douglas Wolk on TIME Entertainment has a more eclectic list of Top 10 Comics and Graphic Novels of 2013 and the only comic I´ve heard of is FRAN by the brilliant Jim Woodring. Without any doubt this will be one of the highlights of 2014 for me and it may be included in my list of BEST COMICS I DID NOT READ IN 2013 - if I get to do one. Now even if I had already finished FRAN it would still be on the list because the comics by Jim Woodring are not the kind of comics you can read. Because for starters they don´t have any words. So you don´t really read them but you rather experience them. It´s like being on a psychedelic trip or having a rather vivid daydream with really good art. Yes, I always recommend these books because if you haven´t tried them you´re really missing out. As always Jim Woodring breaks new ground as this new book - for which the term graphic novel is nowhere near to doing it justice - is both, a prequel AND a sequel to CONGRESS OF THE ANIMAL. And if you want to know how that works, well, you just have to get the book, don´t you ?

Speaking about books to get, there are quite a few on Sean Fagan´s list on BUZZ FEED GEEKY and you can get an indication of how good 2013 was as a comic year because instead of trying to narrow it down to 10 he just went with The 19 Greatest Comics of The Year .

Again, I´m not sure about the whole SUPERIOR SPIDER - MAN thing, but besides such great books I actually read like BATMAN INCORPORATED and the insanely good ALL NEW X - MEN he also includes some books that have been on my " must check out " list for quite some time like HAWKEYE, AVENGERS ARENA, SHADOWMAN, THE UNWRITTEN or THIEF OF THIEVES. Add to that more than a handful of books I never heard of but which look really promising and you know why I had to include it.

Likewise Oliver Sava from A V CLUB gives us The best mainstream and superhero comics of 2013 which narrows it down to 20 titles. One of these days I have to find out where Huffington is because The Huffington Post manages to do a top 10 again AND include the brilliant RACHEL RISING by Terry Moore, hats of to them. Kudos also to Nick Gazin at VICE who modestly titles his list Here are the ten best comics of 2013, or at least some good comics that came out this year that you should buy . The title is as long as the actual descriptions are short. But do you really want to read another long winded list at this point ? No, I didn´t think so.

Since I already mentioned The Huffington Post, The Washington Post also has a top 10 list by David Betancourt which is confusing for me because while it´s labeled as Comic Riffs Top 10 Superhero Comics of the year it includes AMERICAN VAMPIRE, DJANGO UNCHAINED and THE SIXTH GUN. It also includes AGE OF ULTRON which I haven´t read yet and which is either one of the best books of 2013 or an incredibly huge crapfest.

WIRED has a neat list of The Best Comics of 2013 - And How to Read Them Online , which is really helpful. Publishers Weekly´s The Best Books of 2013 only include five books but all come with links to previews and videos. And if you want a more engaging read, When Worlds Collide : The Ten Best Comics of 2013 are really the top 10 out of 25 and it includes the link to where Timothy Callahan counts down the numbers 25 to 11.

On MTV com I couldn´t find a top 10 list for 2013 but instead they have The 10 Best Comic Books of December 2013 . If you are acessing the site from Germany like me they immediately try to shove you off to the german site but I don´t think they have anything about comics there.

PASTE magazine also has a top 10 list for 2013 although various people contributed to it. Some of the picks are already mentioned in the lists above but there are still a few interesting comics and graphic novels that haven´t been mentioned yet. I would have included it higher up in the post, but you have to go to the second page for the second part of the list and - at least for me - a list is not a list if you have to turn the page or in the case of a page on the internet click a button. It´s not that I´m saying those are not as good as the others that are featured here so far. But I´m a lazy son of a you know what and I guess some of my readers are also lazy. So we´re coming to the lists where you have to click a lot.

UPROXX has The Fifteen Best Comic Books of 2013 which is still acceptable because - while in no particular order - the list includes such favorites of mine like ASTRO CITY and ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG. And I hear AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE is all the rage with the kids.

And finally, WHAT CULTURE has the 50 Best Comics Of 2013 which means more clicking but there are some nice picks like A USERS GUIDE TO NEGLECTFUL PARENTING, IT CAME !, BURN THE ORPHANAGE, YOU´RE ALL JUST JEALOUS OF MY JETPACK, THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERHERO GIRL or BANDETTE which you won´t find on the other lists. And that´s it.

I hope this wasn´t too boring and I will include my own picks in a future post. Where I will probably ramble about everything I hated this year. But the reason why I wanted to do this first is that - for the most part - the best comics I read all year are always the same. So, I don´t know what we will be talking about in my next post - not exactly - but you have enough comics you can check out until then. I mean if this doesn´t at least triple the comics you´re putting on your amazon list then nothing will. For me, initially I wanted to catch up on my sleep and watch the 2014 People´s Choice Awards ( I watched the Golden Globes Yesterday ) but I spent almost the whole day writing this post. Maybe I can sleep Tomorrow.


But as always, the post isn´t finished without the video at the end. Which in this case are more than one. The first one is a video for all my german readers because it´s in german. Duuh, obviously. It´s for people born before 1980 and it basically explains why that was the greatest generation and all following generations were such slackers, losers and whiners.

The next one I found is a spanish version although it says that it´s for people born before 1975. Which is still my generation so it´s okay.

Now I tried to find an english version but there seems to be none. Either because the americans put down everything or because they are still ashamed of what they all did in the 80s. I did found this one from the UK and I only post it because I know Terry Hooper will get a kick out of it.

Another good one is WE DIDN´T OWN AN iPAD and the title says it all.

Since I almost cracked the 900 mark with 883 views last week I have to include the next one for any potential readers in America. It´s a lot of music groups, movies, tv show and toys but it includes Doogie Howser who I have mentioned in this post ( some of the younger readers probably never heard of him ) and I like the song by Huey Lewis & the News.

And finally, the last one about the 80s with a somewhat different selection of pop culture icons and paraphernalia that shows pretty good why the guys from Hollywood and the music industry are still ripping it off.

New to the blog ? Everything you need to know about TALES FROM THE KRYPTONIAN : top ten posts / more posts of interest

We cannot hold a torch to light another´s path without brightening our own.


Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

Hah! Shops were Shut on a Wednesday. So true. But chip shops closed on Mondays in the UK also? Ask someone why and they'll have no idea. Basically, its because its "Fish and chips" and fish was only delivered fresh back then. On a Sunday, being a holy day, fishermen would NOT put out to sea. So, Monday -no fish. There you go. Oh, and when I briefly lived in Kent in the 1970s their shops closed Thursday afternoon -WTF????? Anyway,my memory is crisp and clear on all, we were talking....uh. Comics! Yep. Purchased my last monthly comics in April 2013 and things were going downhill with only 2(?)DC on my list and about 4 Marvel titles. Watching the B3 Comics reviews on You Tube (gone now :-( )I saw that I was not missing much. In the Avengers In Space or whatever it was called, I just could not believe they had CAPTAIN AMERICA saying "We should surrender"????????????????????
Seriously, I try to keep track but all new reboots, new 1st issues I said before, Disney own Marvel now and they are never going to let it go -they must have wet themselves continuously when they saw the profits from Avengers Assemble. Its dead to me -and Michael Douglas is to be Ant Man??? So, is Joan Rivers to be the Wasp?? Judge Judy Ms Marvel??
I miss the fun of catching the monthly comics (when they were good and original) and the excuses WHY the local comic shops could not get this or that title in my long term standing order.
I think, based on what I saw and heard online, that DC and Marvel are dead to anyone but the multitude of posers who are now on You Tube reviewing their latest purchase but have no knowledge of comics before 2009 or 2010.
A good posting and nice bum at the end. My old gran allways used to say to us kids "Its nice to have a bum at the end" -we had no idea why she kept telling us this at the breakfast table but thought it best to just roll with it. I was born in 1957. I'm senile.

SUBZERO said...

Well, in the town where I live they still close shops on Wednesday afternoons. I think the only shops that are open here Wednesday afternoon are the supermarket and the ice cream parlor. Yep, that´s how it still is in Germany´s small towns.

Terry Hooper-Scharf said...

WAIT!!! Only the supermarket and ice cream parlour? No comic shop??? You need the first to get in goodies to eat, the second (only if they sell diabetic ice cream) for a treat munchy and the comic shop do they do in comic shops now? I recall one in Detmold (or Lemgo) that had the doors open and I walked in and was told rudely (for that time) "We're not open. Come back later!" I just replied "No. No I don't think I will. I'll spend my money elsewhere!"
Ahh, wandering through Lemgo and Detmold.....sigh.

SUBZERO said...

Ah, yes, the rugged charme of comic shop employees. There´s no shortage of horror stories about rude comic shop clerks in Germany. But I guess you can find those guys all over the world.