Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My Top Ten Comics for 2013

CBR sent round an invite for me to vote in their Top 100 Comics of 2013 feature, and so I picked ten comics and sent them over as my nominations. So far five of the ten all made it into the final list, but I don't reckon any of the others will make it in. So, with one amendment I should've made to start with, here are my top ten comics of 2013.

I lean more heavily on all-ages comics than I think most of the other voters did, which probably explains why only half my final list made it to their final list - every single comic which didn't make their Top 100 is an all-ages book, of sorts.

Here's my reckoning!



10: Bad Machinery by John Allison

The webcomic shows no signs of slowing down even now, with new cases cropping up which threw in even more new characters and ideas into John Allison's northern world. Filled with witty dialogue which is filled with clever jokes and unexpected turns of phrase, this is the most realistic portrayal of teenage life I've seen. Charming from start to end, Bad Machinery keeps rolling onwards, ever stronger, even more brilliant with each passing year. 



9: Batman: L'il Gotham by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs

Don't be fooled - this is by far the best Batman book you can buy. Roping in all the characters from the series at one point or another, Derek Fridolfs and Dustin Nguyen's series was a bright burst of entertainment at DC this year. Each issue of the series centers around a different holiday or season, and this year that premise has moved outwards a little, taking in more unexpected celebrations than might be expected. But throughout, the creative team have managed to keep to the clear and vibrant voices of their cast, and create a book which shows off what you can do with Batman when you really let loose on the character.



8: Halcyon & Tenderfoot by Daniel Clifford and Lee Robinson

Superheroes don't tend to have kids, and when they DO have kids? It doesn't usually turn out like the story in Halcyon and Tenderfoot, which will catch you out within the first issue. Kicking off with an incredible twist - the surprise of the year, in my opinion - the story expands out into something incredibly emotive and powerful, whilst retaining a sense of magic about the world of the hero.



7: Journey Into Mystery by Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti (CBR Ranking: 30)

Marvel perhaps threw this book to the sharks once Kieron Gillen left, but Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti turned the double-dealing craftsmanship of JiM into a ludicrous, sprawling, hilarious swashbuckler in his wake. Their work on the series is every bit as fun and entertaining as the Loki stories were, but this time placed Sif in the spotlight and showcased her, wildly. Filled with detail and imagination, Immonen's writing was as fast-paced and manic as ever, but in Schiti she was joined by an artist who really fed into her style of storytelling, and elevated the material to a whole new level.



6: Five Weapons by Jimmie Robinson

Jimmie Robinson's miniseries has rightly now been stretched into an ongoing series, which'll continue next year. With Robinson handling almost every aspect of the books' creation, this is a unique take on the 'school for assassins' concept which has all the half-barmy ideas and characters you'd expect from him - but handled in a careful, well-considered manner. The concept is explained smartly, and leads the reader along without patronising them. We know exactly what will happen... we simply don't know HOW it will happen. Always one step ahead, I can't wait until next year's revival for issue #6.



5: The Fez by Roger Langridge

Roger Langridge is one of the finest humorists on the face of the planet, and although he does wonders on established properties like Thor, The Muppets, or Popeye, his very best work remains his creator-owned work. The Fez steps into the size 14s of Fred The Clown and immediately brings to life an unpredictable lead character who fails, rises, falls and succeeds at an incredible lick of pace. Proving that slapstick isn't dead and that you can do anything you want in comics, I thought The Fez proved itself to be one of the most energetic and purely funny comics of the year.



4: Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton (CBR Ranking: 36)

The first arc of this series proved that Revival was more than just a strong concept, but this year saw the book build and build in strength and scope. With deft characterisation which quickly builds up an authentic and coherent idea of small-town life, Revival's supernatural elements creates a constantly unexpected storyline which keeps the reader tense and involved. It's certainly the best thing Image have published in the last few years, and is a continually rewarding, smart, and scary book.



3: Quantum and Woody by James Asmus and Tom Fowler/Ming Doyle (CBR Ranking: 49)

If mainstream comics became obsessed with depression this year, than 2013 should also be noted as the year when publishers like Dark Horse, IDW, Valiant and Image developed a sense of humor about themselves. Valiant in particular grabbed a whole bunch of the best comedic writers in comics for their new line of books, with James Asmus jumping straight into the poisoned chalice of Quantum & Woody. 

Flanked by one of the most gifted cartoonists around in the shape of Tom Fowler, and aided immeasurably by the coloring of Jordie Bellaire, the book raced into top gear almost immediately and still hasn't let go of the throttle. It would have been incredibly easy for the book to crash and burn without Priest and Bright at the wheel, but the relaunch has been a smart and challenging humor title, constructing characters who feel realistic and understandable even whilst fighting monsters which explode into clowns.



2: The Phoenix Magazine (CBR Ranking: 84)

The Phoenix is one of my very favourite things in the World, and this year they celebrated 100 consecutive issues of top-quality kids comics. Boasting an incredible line-up of creators including Neill Cameron, Laura Anderson, Jamie Turner, Zak Simmonds-Hurn, Garen Ewing, Patrice and John Aggs, Adam Murphy and so many more I can't even begin to list, the stories have really pushed and experimented this last year, establishing The Phoenix as THE comic to read. Share it with your kids, share it with your friends, share it with your grandparents - this is the best advert for comics as a medium that I've seen in years.



1: Dungeon Fun by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance (CBR Ranking: 61)

Only released very recently, Dungeon Fun was the single most brilliant work of comics I've read in a very long time. Taking an irresistible premise and filling it with silliness and manic goodness, Colin Bell and Neil Slorance's first issue is hugely clever, stonkingly funny, gorgeously made and charming beyond belief. If you want to show somebody the best that comics has to offer - hand them Dungeon Fun. 

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