Happy post-whatever you celebrated/are celebrating “dear” reader. The Santa-man was pretty good to me this year, which was nice because Christmas is expensive y’all.
So yeah, it’s the final week of 2013, and my video game cup run overfloweth. Which means time to crap out one of those best-of lists. I’ve usually done such for action figures and toys, but it’s been a pretty lackluster year for me and toys. Let’s just say that Armored Red Power Ranger was the best toy to drop, kay?
2013 for comics however, was great. Super great in fact. I could have easily made this a top 10 and coasted on a list for like 4 weeks. You should expect a runner’s up list at some point though. Because lazy. Anyways, let’s get show on the road.
by Natasha Allegri (Boom Studios) and a whole bunch of rad people.
Boom Studios is doing all-ages comics right with their Cartoon Network/Cartoon Hangover books, successfully merging indie & webcomics talent with popular properties. And honestly, from a quality standpoint Regular Show, Adventure Time or Bravest Warriors could have taken this spot, but I connected with the Fionna & Cake in ways I haven’t with those titles. And given the success of this book and the popularity of Fionna and Cake, I’m probably not the only one.
It’s all thanks to animator Natasha Allegri, who you may know from her recent and super successful Bee and PuppyCat Kickstarter. Aside from creating the pair, she handles writer/artist duties on the main stories in this mini and her work is phenomenal. Not unlike Saga, her layouts are more like a children’s storybook than a comic books, and the range of emotion she displays in her characters is fantastic. I know saying “So cute!” may sound like I’m doing this book a huge disservice, but I swear it’s not, despite wanting to hug several of the cast member. Just flip through the book and look at the thing Allegri does with Cake the Cat’s expression and form to be amazed. It’s also legitimately hilarious and sweet, a credit to Allegri’s talent. That’s not to saying that the the back-up comics aren’t also fantastic, it’s just Natasha is playing on a whole different level here with the main plot, which involves a diminutive flame prince, some boys, and evil ice queen and a prince who is both lumpy and from space . The end result is a fantastic bunch of comics, which is a win for everyone.
A simple thing like changing the gender of the cast usually doesn’t end in results like these, but Natasha is damn good, and does more than just tell stories that are all “THEY’RE GIRLS SO LOL BOYS, FLOWERS AND SHIT”. The source material is very progressive and so is this comic, to the surprise of no one I imagine. Which is just another reason why it’s the BEST mini-series in 2013, at least to me.
Brian Michael Bendis, Stuart Immonen, Chris Bachalo and others (Marvel Comics)
On paper, All New X-men sounds like a hot mess (despite the guarantee that X-books will always sell) . Taking the original Kirby/Lee era X-men and dragging them to the modern Marvel era sounds lazy, and at best maybe good for a few issues before the continuity baggage ways the book down. I had my reservations going into this book, aside from the art because Stuart Immonen and Chris Bachalo always delivers.
And then I was proven wrong. So very wrong, and that’s fine, because that’s okay.
We don’t get New Avengers-era Bendis/Immonen here. It’s Ultimate Spider-Man level quality here, only thing time set in the 616 with the entire X-universe at it’s disposable. Which means heavy on the Kitty Pryde and the snark, which I am so okay with. It means Stuart Immonen being the best at what he does, which is draw the living hell out of the Marvel Universe. It also means Brian Michael Bendis has a whole bunch of new toys to play which, some of which are the best that Marvel has to offer. It also means we get Uncanny X-men, which sees Chris Bachalo and Bendis take on Cyclops, his renegade X-men and a whole slew of new mutants, and it’s GREAT.
For the most part, Marvel NOW! was a huge success for Marvel by shaking things up creatively. None have benefitted better than the X-men under Bendis, which is true because Hawkeye and Daredevil weren’t rebooted. These books are giant love letters to the likes of Kirby, Claremont, Cockrum, Byrne and a few dudes who have the last name Lee, without being clever rehashes. They’re loud, funny and over-dramatic, like any good X-book. And under Immonen, Bachalo and the occasional guest artist, they’re some of the best looking books coming out from Marvel. They’re a ton a fun to read, and I’m geniunely excited to see where Bendis and company take their characters next.
That wraps up part 1. Expect Part 2, aka “The Matt Fraction Power Hour” to go live within a day or 2.