Every site out there seems to have a “Best of 2013” feature, so we felt obligated to step up and provide our own feature. That said, it’s pretty presumptuous to call your list the “Best”, what ALL these lists are providing are opinions based on what their favorites are, so that’s what we’ll do here at ComicSpectrum,. Many (but not all) of the ComicSpectrum regular review contributors provided a list of their favorites from 2013.
We think looking at a favorites list is pretty informative, it lets you know how your own likes/dislikes line up with a particular reviewer which may give you an insight into how their opinions on books they review may similarly line up with your own views. Let’s get to it!
Marvel came in as #1 for Andrew, Chris, Hank, Jeff and Shawn: MarvelNOW was a hit and revitalized a lot of books in the Marvel line-up without a wholesale abandonment of continuity. Image came in second as the favorite of Bob, Lawrence and Ian, with Gilad picking DC and Al favoring Viz (which wasn’t a surprise, given his love of manga).
Favorite Comic Series
This one was a little trickier. Everyone picked their top 3 favorite titles. We assigned 3 points if something was ranked as #1, 2 points for rank #2 titles, and 1 point for rank #3. There was a LOT of diversity in what we all liked best in 2013, which is a great sign that allows for diversity in our reviews and is also an indication that there are a lot of great comics out there.
Saga (10 points) came in at #1 and Thor: God of Thunder (6 points) came in at #2. Given that Saga is topping most lists for 2013, this isn’t much of a surprise. The MarvelNOW relaunch of Thor is also a really solid series. Tied for #3 (4 points each) is Bendis’ All-New X-Men and Greg Rucka’s Lazarus. There’s nothing that was on 2 lists. The rundown of the top 3 for the ComicSpectrum reviewers were as follows:
Al: Wonder Woman (DC), My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (IDW), A.1 (Marvel)
Andrew: Superior Foes of Spider-Man (Marvel), Popeye (IDW), Todd The Ugliest Kid On Earth (Image)
Bob: Saga (Image), Walking Dead (Image), Rachel Rising (Abstract Studio)
Chris: Superior Spider-Man (Marvel), Hawkeye (Marvel), Transformers: Regeneration One (IDW)
Gilad: The Flash (DC), The Star Wars (Dark Horse), Breath of Bones (Dark Horse)
Hank: All New X-Men (Marvel), Nova (Marvel), Lazarus (Image)
Ian: Lazarus (Image), Saga (Image), Daredevil (Marvel)
Jeff: Thor: God of Thunder (Marvel), Saga (Image), Batman (DC)
Lawrence: Saga (Image), East of West (Image), Zero (Image)
Shawn: Thor: God of Thunder (Marvel), Afterlife with Archie (Archie), All New X-Men (Marvel)
Jonathan Hickman, who revitalized the Avengers franchise and wrote the Infinity event for Marvel was the favorite writer for both Jeff and Shawn. Bob and Lawrence picked Brian K Vaughn on the strength of Saga and the digital hit “Private Eye”. Al favored the author of popular manga Yotsuba&!, Kiyohiko Azuma. Andrew went with Fred Van Lente, currently writing Brain Boy at Dark Horse and Archer & Armstrong at Valiant. Chris picked Dan Slott driving force behind the Superior Spider-Man, Gilad went with Tom Taylor who has done an excellent job on Injustice: Gods Among Us and now Earth Two, both from DC. Hank went with All-New X-Men’s Brian Michael Bendis, also writing Uncanny X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. Ian chose Mark Waid, writing Daredevil and Indestructibe Hulk for Marvel, as well as The Fox for Archie, Green Hornet for Dynamite, and Rocketeer/The Spirit for IDW.
Favorite Cover Artist
The ‘Marvel Power Block’ of Jeff & Shawn picked Chris Samnee as their favorite cover artist. Al went with Amanda Connor, Andrew chose Francesco Francavilla, Bob picked Alex Ross, Hank favored Emmanuela Lappuchino, Ian picked Boo Cook and Lawrence went with Jenny Frisson.
Favorite Interior Artist
Bob, Lawrence & Ian loved the work of Saga’s Fiona Staples as the favorite interior artist. Al went with Kevin Maguire, Andrew chose Brandon Graham, Chris went with Superior Spider-Man’s Ryan Stegman, Gilad picked Flash’s Francis Manapul, Hank favored Hawkeye’s David Aja, and Jeff picked Batman’s Greg Capullo.
Favorite Digital First/Digital Only Comic
Bob, Hank, and Jeff all chose Brian K Vaughn & Marcos Martin’s Private Eye. Al went with Ame-Comi Girls, Andrew chose World’s Strongest Mailman, Chris loved Battlepug, Gilad picked Injustice: Gods Among Us, Ian favored Marvel’s Iron Man Fatal Frontier Infinite comic and Shawn picked Knuckleheads.
Not everyone reads manga, those of us who do picked our favorite for the year. For ComicSpectrum’s manga expert Al Sparrow, his favorite was No Matter How I Look At It It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular (aka Watamote). Jeff and Shawn were both fans of Mobile Suit Gundam, while Bob favored the conclusion of Naoki Urasawa’s 20th/21st Century Boys.
Favorite Original Graphic Novel
For works that were published originally in the longer Graphic Novel Format, 2013 was a good year, with a lot of things to choose from (as distinguished from reprinted collections of works originally published in comic boom format that are often referred to as “Graphic Novels” by people somewhat embarrassed by the term ‘comic book’. No two of us chose the same thing, although First Second and Top Shelf got 2 nods each. Andrew picked Alan Moore’s Nemo: Heart of Ice (Top Shelf), Bob went with the civil rights story March (Top Shelf), and Hank went with Unwritten’s Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice (DC/Vertigo).
Ian chose Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas (First Second), a fascinating all-ages volume the rest of us had not heard of and Jeff picked Paul Pope’s Battling Boy (First Second).
Shawn rounds us out choosing the massive post-apocalyptic tome Last Man Standing: Killbook of a Bounty Hunter (Dark Horse).
Favorite Collected Edition (of Previously Published Material)
Ian & Jeff both favored Sabertooth Swordsmen (Dark Horse), after that, we were back to “something different for everyone”. Al picked Yotsuba@! Vol. 12 (most all manga volumes are reprints of previously published material, not even counting that they were published in Japan before being translated into English. Andrew went with The Stuff Of Legend Book 4: The Toy Collector from 3rd World, Bob chose the hardcopy reprint of the web-series Polar: Came From the Cold from Dark Horse, Hank loved Saga Volume 2 from Image, Lawrence went with Change by Ales Kot published by Image and Shawn favored the Animal Man Omnibus by Grant Morrison published by DC.
Favorite Collection of Archival Material
The clear winner in this category was the IDW Artist’s Edition series. These are fabulous volumes reproducing (usually) 100+ pages of original art at their full original size with the black & white pages reproduced in color so you can see every pencil mark, white-out, blue-line and notation. It’s the closest almost everyone will get to holding these originals in their hands, especially given that many of them would cost $1000s (or even tens of $1000s) each. They’re a bit pricey at $100-$200 each but considering the cost of the art they reproduce, they’re well worth it for comic art aficionados.
Shawn & Jeff named the Best of EC Artist’s Edition as their favorite, while Bob went with Will Eisner’s The Spirit and Ian chose John Byrne’s Fantastic Four. Beyond that, Andrew went with the collection of his favorite character: Marshal Law: The Deluxe Edition (DC), Al picked the Vampirella Archives Volume 7 (Dynamite) and Hank chose The Origin of the Inhumans (Marvel).
2013: A Great Year for Comics
Any way you slice it, 2013 was a great year for comics. There was a massive revitalization of many titles at Marvel (with more to come in 2014). Image, Dark Horse, IDW, and a number of other publishers put out a lot of top notch material, much of it creator-owned. Whether you like reading classic periodical comics, digital, or collected editions, there was more high quality material published than most people can afford to buy. It’s a great time to be a comics fan.
Contributors to the “Favorites”:
Bob Bretall (EiC): firstname.lastname@example.org
Shawn Hoklas (Sr. Reviewer): email@example.com
Al Sparrow (Manga Reviewer): firstname.lastname@example.org
Andrew Sanford (Reviewer): email@example.com
Chris Stark (Reviewer): firstname.lastname@example.org
Gilad Levin (Reviewer): email@example.com
Hank Johnson (Reviewer): firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Gowan (Reviewer): email@example.com
Jeff Bouchard (Reviewer): firstname.lastname@example.org
Lawrence Arboleda (Reviewer): email@example.com
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