I freaking love comics. So many comics. Too many to put in one single list. We all like different things. Some of us like big two comics. Other’s may prefer large publisher creator owned work while other’s dig the small press. I like all of that. I’ll cover my favorites from the different corners of comic book publishing over the month of December.
Yes these are the big guys. I try to not write about DC and Marvel comics TOO much because I think it’s hard to give a take on these books that hasn’t been said ad naseum. Do you really need me to explain why Scott Snyder’s Batman is great again? I mean I already did once anyway and I’m about to one more time so there you go. That’s because whatever your feeling are about these comics they are ubiquitous and necessary. The sales and popularity of DC and Marvel props up the infrastructure of the entire industry so as much as I may prefer comics from Image, Darkhorse, Vertigo, First Second or Koyama those companies don’t exist without the big two. And that’s because people are passionate about the comics from these companies regardless of how they feel the quality of the current work. People love their DC or Marvel or both or they have complete disdain for one or both but it’s that passion for these companies that fuels comics as a business. As for me I still read a lot of stuff from them in spite of my passion for the indie and small publishers. In composing this list I tried to trim it down to what I thought was the best of the best from the publishers. I get annoyed with events, crossovers, Scott Lobdell and West Wing fan fiction so all that relegated Animal Man, X-Men, Swamp Thing, Indestructible Hulk, Avengers Assemble, Wolverine and the X-Men, Action Comics, Daredevil: End of Days and Uncanny X-Men to honorable mentions status. ‘Nuff respect due for Captain America, Wolverine, Batman: The Dark Knight, Marvel Knights Spiderman/X-Men, Amazing X-Men and Superman Unchained which are all very good but just not good enough and Wonderwoman, Deadpool, Fearless Defenders, Journey Into Mystery, The Flash, Ultimate Spiderman and Aquaman which I’m sure are as amazing that you all say they are but life’s too short no what I’m saying?
TOP COMIC BOOK SERIES OF 2013!
Each Tuesday, the NBC Staff will comprise a Top Ten list for whatever the chosen topic is of that week. In the comments section, we can all compare the lists to see if there were any patterns. Also, feel free to post your own top ten lists.
Today we give you
TOP TEN CURRENT COMIC BOOK ARTISTS!
While the story of Thor God Of Thunder & Jason Aaron’s run on the title as a whole are continuing this is being billed as a “last issue” which while silly certainly makes for an excellent anthology as Aaron and his group of artist create a series of three fantastic Thor related stories to close out the first twenty five issues of his run. In it Aaron teams with Scalped artist RM Guera for a condensed biography of Maliketh, a look at Viking Thor’s adventure kicking Frost Giant ass with Simon Bisley and is closed out with God Of Thunder Yin to Jason Aaron’s Yang, Esad Ribic with old Thor foreshadowing the story to come. It’s art is stunning at all levels as Aaron has become a master at writing to his artist greatest strengths. The Guera section is as gritty and dark as anything they did together on Scalped while his Bisley section is all high action and monstrosities with jagged edges. While it’s bittersweet to see Ribic’s last time drawing on this series for the foreseeable future to see him do old man Thor, his granddaughters and Asgard one last time to close out the story is a fitting end to his enormous contribution on the title. I wouldn’t call this a final issue but as the title goes through a stage of transition this book is a fantastic celebration for what’s been one of the best superhero comics on the stands since it’s debut. Issue #25 is a fitting tribute to God Of Thunder and all that it represented as well as a great reminder for what made it so great before we move onto the next chapter. That’s because at it’s core Thor God Of Thunder was always about straight up awesome fun being done with an exquisite level of technique and skill. It was pure swashbuckling adventure and high science fiction wrapped in Norse mythology that incorporated all the great parts of classic run on the character by Simonson and Kirby then blazed a trail all it’s own. It told it’s own story of an expansive universe within a crossover happy shared universe and tested it’s limits without ever breaking the thread. Thor God Of Thunder was a wonderful series and this a wonderful encapsulation of that. So pour a glass of Mead and pay tribute to the great God Of Thunder because while everything maybe changing that won’t change how great this has been.
Last weekend I had a meeting with my comic book group. It was my pick for the month and I chose to read Thor God of Thunder issues 1-11. Reading through it for the first time since reading the issues I was reminded of just how great that arc was. Don’t get me wrong, Thor has been excellent since that arc but it felt like any other great comic. I have not felt that epic feeling since the first arc. When Thor God of Thunder was in the God Bomb arc it was easily in my top five comics and probably my favorite arc of 2013. I would say that since then Thor has slowly dropped down the list although still holding strong in my top ten. However this issue, issue #21 was the first time since God Bomb that I felt the epic feeling again. This issue felt like something special. As always Ribic was at the top of his game making every page magical. From the Old Man Thor and Galactus fight to Avengers Thor causing destruction, every page is worth a linger.
The battle between Galactus and Old Man Thor is the highlight of the issue for me. This battle is on such a grand scale every blow delivers such a monstrous effect. Thor’s fire and persistence is admirable. His energy fuels me. And of course Ribic crushes these panels. Although this first fight was my favorite part it does not take away from the remainder of the issue which was terrific as well. When we first see Avengers Thor he is flying into earth explaining how much he misses it. If you ever doubted why he would take on Galactus to save a destroyed earth these pages will take that doubt away. Thor loves everything about earth he will fight till the end of his days to protect it.
I thought the villain of this arc, Dario was kind of lame a few issues ago. However he is definitely starting to grow on me. He uses Thor’s temper and Thor’s love for earth to hit him where it really hurts. Dario is a villain who has no interest in physically hurting Thor. He is a more devious villain. He wants to cut Thor deep and take away the one thing he loves the most, earth. In Dario’s mind Thor is just a sliver in his finger, just an irritant that needs to be removed. Let’s see if Thor can do more than just swing a hammer to get out of this one (I’m sure hammer swinging will have something to do with it).
If you have fallen off Thor you need to get back on. This stuff is magic!
Decompressed storytelling works in comics as long as the story stays interesting from issue to issue. Things needs to happen in every issue for it to be engaging. If not the story can’t sustain itself. This is especially important when starting a new arc. The first issue is supposed to set up the rest of the story but too often all first issues do it set up the story and if that’s the case then that comic is a fucking failure. What stood out for me the most with issue #19 or Thor God Of Thunder was how this managed to keep things fun, interesting and engaging while setting up the new story arc for the future. Aaron and Ribic manage to introduce us to the new players and circumstances while also giving one hell of an entertaining story to start us off. A large part of this is the return of Esad Ribic whose awe inspiring illustrations continue to amaze. To be truthful this comic probably could have been about anything and as long as they included Thors underwater battle, the full page spread of him knocking the tooth out of an ice giant and those big cosmic pages that Ribic excels at. With that said Aaron does his best at keeping the story light and fun while setting up the players and setting the stage for this next arc. It really doesn’t matter what the situation is because as of now as long as Aaron and Ribic are creating at this level Thor God Of Thunder will maintain it’s consistent excellence that is all too rare in superhero comics. If you’ve been reading this since issue one or if you’ve been waiting for a jumping on point this is it. Buy this issue. You won’t regret it.