Well, 2014 is almost over, which means it’s officially LIST TIME! Comicbook blogs and websites across the globe are in the process of churning out lists of titles and creators that have impressed themover the last twelve months, and with such an incredibly high standard of work being produced pretty much across the board, who are we to buck that trend?
So, over the next few weeks, some of our contributors will be sharing their thoughts on the publishers, artists, writers and series’ that got their juices flowing in 2014, and with me personally reviewing over 160 comics for the Big Comic Page (and counting) over the last year, I felt like I should get the ball rolling with my 2014 “Best Of’s”
As always, let me know what you guys think, whether you agree or disagree, and what you consider to be your “Best Of’s” from 2014.
Best Publisher – Image Comics
Okay, so this is maybe a little predictable, but you really can’t question the consistently high output of Image over the last twelve months. East of West, Southern Bastards, Black Science, Five Ghosts, Manifest Destiny… I could go on. They’re not infallible by any means, but in terms of having the most consistent success rate in terms of churning out ‘must buy’ comics, nobody else really came close to Image over the course of 2014.
Best Writer – Jason Aaron
There were a lot of candidates for this award, and to be honest I could probably have gone in several different directions. However, the release of Aaron’s Men of Wrath in the last few months pretty much sealed the deal for me. Equally comfortable with the gripping superhero fare of Thor: God of Thunder as he is with the gritty, grimy world of Southern Bastards, Aaron’s chameleon-like writing style and gift for realistic, gripping dialogue ensures that regardless of the publisher, regardless of the genre, you’re in for an absolute treat whenever you pick up one of his comics.
Best Artist – Juan Ferreyra
While staying relatively quiet for the first half of the year, Ferreyra’s output has exploded recently with stellar work on the likes of Prometheus: Fire and Stone and Colder: The Bad Seed, along with ‘guest’ appearances on Abe Sapien and DC’s Constantine. One of the most distinctive artists on the scene right now, Juan has an innate gift for gluing your eyes to the page with his shocking, eye-catching style. There are a select few artists whose name on the cover alone will convince me to buy a comic, regardless of what the contents may be, and Juan Ferreyra is right at the top of that list.
Top 5 Series of 2014 (in no particular order)
Curse (BOOM! Studios) – Using separate creative teams to portray the past and present of a comic is a bit of a risky proposition, but it’s one that paid off in spectacular style in this gripping werewolf horror. Colin Lorimer and Riley Rossmo knock it out of the park with their distinctively unique visual styles, and co-writers Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel keep the emotion ramped all the way up through the five issue run.
Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel Comics) – Taking Hawkeye’s ‘offbeat’ ball and running with it, Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber’s ridiculously funny and creative villain yarn has been a consistent joy to read throughout the past year. Basing a comic around the exploits of Fred “Boomerang” Myers and the rest of the Sinister Six (or five, or… whatever) may seem like a risky proposition, but Spencer’s whip-smart writing and Leiber’s gift for neat visual ‘Easter Eggs’ make this comic one of the most unashamedly fun reads of the last twelve months.
Southern Bastards (Image Comics) – Gritty, grimy and brutal, Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern crime drama made an instant star of grizzled, stick-wielding Earl Tubb. With a spot-on portrayal of the South, not to mention some of the most impressively subtle characterisation and dialogue you’ll find anywhere, Southern Bastards is unlike anything else on the shelves right now, and remains absolutely essential reading as the second arc gets underway.
Magneto (Marvel) – While it may have lost its way ever so slightly as part of Marvel’s recent Axis event, Cullen Bunn’s Magneto exploded onto the scene in 2014 with a gritty, brutal and noir-drenched look at the Master of Magnetism, taking him away from the bright colours of your typical X-fare and giving us a deep, chilling insight into the inner workings of the mutant revolutionary’s mind. Captivating stuff.
And Then Emily Was Gone (ComixTribe) – I was wavering back and forth to decide just what would be the fifth title on this list, but the recent release of the final issue of John Lees and Iain Laurie’s Scottish horror series made it a surprisingly easy choice. Unnerving, creepy, thought-provoking and just plain disturbing, this is a horror gem that deserves to be seen by as many eyes as possible. Truly unique, in every conceivable way.