By Joshua Yehl
We are comic book fans here at FOH but wouldn’t know the first thing about writing a column about them so we reached out to a friend and IGN writer Joshua Yehl to get his opinion on this year’s best series.
10. Green Lantern by Geoff Johns and Doug Mahnke
Green Lantern has been a strong series ever since Geoff Johns took over, but it has struggled to repeat the epic magic of the Sinestro Corps War and Blackest Night from several years ago. That is until now. Johns has struck gold not with an event but with a character named Simon Baz, an Arab-American Muslim who becomes Earth’s new Green Lantern. Johns doesn’t shy away from showing how 9/11 affected Baz’s life and uses that lifelong stigma to give him a harrowing origin that instantly makes him the most politically, socially, and religiously charged character in the DC Universe. The result is a relevant and tactfully written political thriller that features a Green Lantern more intriguing than any who have come before.
9. Star Wars: Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison by Haden Blackman and Agustin Alessio
Why are all Stormtroopers so incompetent, and a bad shot to boot? Was there ever dissent within the ranks when the Empire first formed? What would Vader do if someone else showed as much promise as him? If you’re curious to know the answer to any of those questions — and what Star Wars fan wouldn’t? — then Force-grab yourself a copy of Darth Vader and the Ghost Prison. It answers those questions as it follows Darth Vader on a dire mission to a secret Jedi prison (a JEDI prison!?) after a lethal attack on the Emperor. The Force is strong with this one.
8. Fantastic Four and FF by Jonathan Hickman and various artists
If you’re a fan of Doctor Who, Lost in Space, or anything else that has sci-fi, family, and an eclectic cast of characters, then Jonathan Hickman’s expansive, thought-provoking run on Fantastic Four and FF will be right up your alley. A few volumes need reading to catch up to this year’s series finale, but it’s worth it. We saw the battle against the god-like Celestials, the surprising destiny of Galactus, and the fate of the time traveling Franklin and Val Richards. Confused? Don’t worry. Trust Hickman knowing that he did such an impressive job on these comics that Marvel now has him writing Avengers, their billion dollar franchise.
7. Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang with guest artist Tony Adkins
When DC Comics announced that renowned crime comics writer Brian Azzarello would be writing Wonder Woman, more than a few eyebrows were raised. Yet when Azzarello changed it to a horror story that featured a brazen Wonder Woman standing up to the insidious and manipulative Gods of Mount Olympus, all fears were snuffed out. Just wait until you see how centaurs are made or where Amazons get their babies. Best of all, he revamps Wonder Woman’s origin with a shocking twist, only to reveal even more about her in a gripping narrative that feels like Game of Thrones meets The Sopranos.
6. Locke and Key: Clockworks by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
The penultimate volume to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s masterful horror-fantasy-thriller made big waves this year when it revealed the origins of the magical keys of Keyhouse. The Locke family has had it rough over the past four volumes: their father was murdered, they’ve found keys that swap your gender or turn you into a ghost, and now a demonic serial killer has possessed the body of little brother Bode. This installment sets up events in the most nightmarish way possible, making you froth up at the mouth in a mad rage that you won’t know what happens until the release of the next and final chapter, Omega.
5. Insufferable by Mark Waid and Peter Krause
Veteran comics writer Mark Waid made a splash last year with his new upbeat spin on Daredevil, earning praise from fans and Eisners from critics (think comic book Oscars). But his most important contribution to comics came when also last year he founded Thrillbent Comics, a website dedicated to creating comics specifically for computers, tablets, and mobile devices. As it stands, a digital comic from any other publisher is just a copy of the print version which you have to awkwardly scroll through while zooming in and out.
Waid altered the page size to fit the average computer screen and added in art that changes as your swipe through in addition to traditional page turns, making your digital reading experience not only more natural but, for the first time, fun. To go one step even further, Waid has been releasing Insufferable weekly to bring readers back on a more frequent basis than monthly print comics do.
The story of Insufferable follows a father/son superhero duo that has gone separate ways because the son is an insufferable douchebag. When a mysterious force brings the death of their wife/mother into question, they begrudgingly team up in a dark yet slyly humorous tale. Waid has done more than most dare to dream of for the comics community over the years, but this effort is his crowning achievement. The best part for you? Insufferable and all other Thrillbent comics are free.
4. Cow Boy by Chris Eliopoulos
Well I’ll be if the cutest comic to come out this year isn’t also one of the rootin’est ‘n tootin’est. Drawn by the sickeningly talented cartoonist Chris Eliopoulos and beautifully bound by Archaia Entertainment, Cow Boy tells the story of Boyd Linney, a child bounty hunter who traverses the Old West with his trusty stick horse to bring in his outlaw family. It might appear to be for only younger readers, but this emotional tale isn’t afraid to get down and dirty. It’s so gosh darn amazin’ you could just spit.
3. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
At this year’s New York Comic Con, writer Brian K. Vaughan described Saga to me as “Star Wars… but for perverts.” I couldn’t agree more. And how wonderfully perverted it is! Two lovers from warring planets try to escape the conflict to raise their newborn daughter in peace. Naturally, all sort of bounty hunters with talking cats and military leaders with TVs for heads are out to destroy the couple and their little girl, too. Saga is the most beautiful marriage between sci-fi and fantasy that I’ve ever seen, so get on board now before this Rocketship Tree passes you by.
2. Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja
Bear with me on this one, because I know a comic book about that useless archer guy from the Avengers movie couldn’t possibly be one of the year’s best. This book is writer Matt Fraction’s masterstroke, showing the character when he’s out of costume having a BBQ with friends, rescuing a wounded dog, and standing up to the Tracksuit Mafia to save his fellow tenants from being evicted. Told with David Aja’s brilliant artwork, this series will make you laugh, melt your heart, and turn you on, all at the same time.
1. I, Vampire by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino
A year after DC Comics relaunched all of their comics as part of The New 52, Joshua Hale Fialkov and Andrea Sorrentino’s I, Vampire comic has proven to be the best. It might seem hard to believe that a vampire romance story could be any good considering the quality of that other vampire romance story, but rest assured it will shock, surprise, and enthrall you. Vampire Andrew Bennett bit his lover Mary Seward, only to then decide to fight against the evil he had become. Unfortunately, Mary took a liking to being an all-powerful bloodsucker and became their Queen of Blood. The former lovers are hell-bent on killing one another, but they’re still in love.
Fialkov refreshes everything you thought you knew about the vampire genre while providing a healthy dose of what’s becoming his signature brand of humor. Helping him tell this standout tale is artist Sorrentino, whose detailed and macabre drawings are steeped in heavy shadow to give the book a dark and visceral feel on every page. Being an underdog title from the get-go, Fialkov has taken extraordinary risks with his narrative by offering one of the most bold and insane twists of the year, only to follow it up six issues later with an even crazier development. Simply put, Vampire is the best shit you’ll read all year.
The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire
Bandette by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover
Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo with guest artist Becky Cloonan
X-Men by Brian Wood and various artists