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CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2014: #25-11

by  in Comic News Comment

Each year, CBR takes stock of the comic book industry’s multitude of offerings and polls the site’s passionate and thoughtful staff — including editors, reporters, reviewers, columnists and bloggers — for their picks of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material, regardless of genre or format, is fair game; and each individual list is then factored in (thank you, spreadsheets!) to determine the overall Top 100 that’s being unveiled on CBR this week.

2014 was another record year for the Top 100, with more than 50 contributors to the list, and more than 200 comics nominated. The end result is as diverse of a list as you’d expect, with superhero mainstays standing alongside creator-owned favorites; publishing giants sharing space with self-published digital works. While no list can be an exhaustive collection of every noteworthy piece of work released in a year, the end result of the CBR Top 100 is a wide smattering of eclectic choices worthy of attention.

Last Friday, we started unveiling the list with entries #100 to 76; things continued Monday with #75 to 51 and Tuesday with #50-26. As we near the very top, here’s #25-11 of our staff-selected rankings — which include Marvel’s “Hawkeye,” the series that ranked #1 overall last year. Keep in mind, there were quite a few high-quality comics that just barely missed the cutoff of the Top 100, but Team CBR is confident that the books ranked on the list represent some of the very best comics on the market today. A caveat: Much like with “Thor: God of Thunder” and “Thor” in an earlier installment of the countdown, votes for both “Superior Spider-Man” and the current volume of “Amazing Spider-Man” were counted together, due to writer Dan Slott’s story in one series continuing directly into the other.

Start perusing the latest section of the list below, and why not take to Twitter and discuss your thoughts using the hashtag #cbrtop100. Check back later today for the big reveal of CBR’s Top 10 Comics of 2014, and while you’re in the mood, feel free to revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:

CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2014: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1


25. Superior Spider-Man/Amazing Spider-Man

Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage

Art by Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Olivier Coipel, Ramón Perez

Published by Marvel Comics

“Nearly seven years into his stint on the character, Dan Slott keeps managing to build momentum and raise stakes, no matter what twist has come before. In 2013, he literally removed Peter Parker from the equation but still made ‘Superior Spider-Man’ such a compelling series and title character that when that book wrapped up earlier this year, some of the same fans initially horrified at the very idea were sad to see SpideyOck go. Then just a few months into the return of Peter Parker and ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ he threw even more Spideys into the equation with the multi-pronged ‘Spider-Verse,’ featuring (nearly) every Spidey in history, united by the common goal of not being eaten by the Inheritors. It could easily have been approached as just a fun one-off event — and it has been fun — but it also speaks to many of the themes and storylines that Slott has been utilizing for years, including Peter’s quest that ‘no one dies’ when he’s around. Of course, the fact that this year of Spider-Man adventures has been illustrated by the likes of Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli and Olivier Coipel further cement this lofty era in Spidey history. Only question is, how can things get bigger than ‘Every Spider-Man Ever’?”

— CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching

“Dan Slott’s latest master plan with ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ came to fruition this year with “Spider-Verse,” but before that, he managed to bring back Peter Parker in a big way as “Superior Spider-Man” came to a close and ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ returned. Slott has a knack for writing Spidey, and the ability to see his ‘Superior’ Spider-Man tangle with Peter Parker in ‘Spider-Verse’ was just excellent. It’s clear that Slott has far more plans for Spidey moving into 2015 and beyond, and if this year was any indication, it’s going to be quite a ride.”

— CBR Staff Writer/Reviews Editor Steve Sunu


24. Wytches

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Jock

Published by Image Comics

“Have you ever talked to Scott Snyder? He’s so nice! He tells great stories about his kids, he’s soft-spoken, incredibly funny… and then, like a terrifying Tootsie Pop, there’s a surprise at the center. A dark, dark surprise. This darkness compels him to spin stories of child-swallowing trees and neck eyeballs. This darkness reached out a sticky, cold tentacle and sparked a monster to life with a man of equally upsetting talent, Jock. That monster is ‘Wytches’ and I’ve never been closer to sleeping with the lights on in my adult life than I was after just two issues of this series.”

— CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

“I wouldn’t normally put anything on my best-of list that had only released three issues, but these were some of the best three issues I read all year — by a good distance — and I am completely excited and energized about comics for 2015 thanks to books like this, so it more than deserves the mention. Absolutely haunting, mean, and pull no punches, Snyder’s story is not for the faint of heart and it’s all the better for its refusal to look away from the awful terrible dark. Each issue is more terrifying than the last and this book will solidify Scott Snyder’s name as a master of horror comics.”

— Comics Should Be Good Writer Kelly Thompson


23. Silver Surfer

Written by Dan Slott

Art by Mike Allred

Published by Marvel Comics

“If you’re like Dan Slott (and me) and you loved ‘Doctor Who’ when David Tennant was flying the T.A.R.D.I.S., ‘Silver Surfer’ is the comic book for you. I don’t use the word ‘romp’ lightly, but the geek-tastic writer has joined forces with out-of-this world artists Mike and Laura Allred to channel a most unlikely pairing of an ex-herald to Galactus Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood, co-manager of the Greenwood Inn, as they travel the spaceways on a series of interstellar exploits. Allons-y!”

— CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

“Take one of the funniest writers in comics, add one of the medium’s artistic darlings, a pinch of endearing new characters, a dash of romance and a giant dollop of humor and you get the literally out-of-this-world ‘Silver Surfer.’ Enjoy!”

— CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

“What a delight this book is. Dan Slott and Mike Allred have found the magic formula to finally make the Silver Surfer soar. The book is filled with high concepts and heart, the perfect combination of humanism and imagination. This is Marvel’s version of ‘Doctor Who’ and the results couldn’t be cooler. “

— CBR Contributing Writer Marc Buxton


22. Astro City

Written by Kurt Busiek

Art by Brent Anderson

Published by Vertigo

“From the Winged Victory arc to the elderly robot-repairer and the standalone Starbright story, ‘Astro City’ continues to be one of the best superhero books on the stands. It doesn’t rely upon readers’ affection for its inspirations, whether they be Wonder Woman or Lex Luthor, but instead uses those as springboards for genuinely affecting narratives.  Here’s hoping for many more visits.”

— Robot 6 Columnist Tom Bondurant

“Somehow this book, which was on the pioneering edge of left-of-center explorations of the hallmarks of the superhero form, has endured the wave of similarly themed books that crested and crashed in the years since its debut, has somehow never descended into self-parody, has somehow resisted strip-mining its more popular characters and concepts, and — most astoundingly — has somehow gotten richer, deeper, even better in its most recent run. Capes off to Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and all involved.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Scott Huver

“Every time I enter the Astro City limits for another story, I dread every flip of the page knowing it means I am just a little bit closer to leaving Astro City until next month. As a longtime Busiek fan, it gladdened my heart to see ‘Astro City’ maintain its quality pace of stories in the same year the writer launched a great Image series like ‘The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw.'”

— Robot 6 Columnist Tim O’Shea


21. Stray Bullets: Killers

Written & Drawn by David Lapham

Published by Image Comics

“I hadn’t read an issue of ‘Stray Bullets’ before this year. Now, it’s my favorite comic. It’s funny, sad, exciting, mournful, suspenseful, thrilling, weird, surprising, and rarely reassuring. Everything goes wrong or weird. Nothing you expect to happen happens. Everything you hope won’t happen happens. I always saved this comic for last because nothing could follow it. It’s the best.”

— Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett

“The return of David Lapham’s signature series this year was akin to an announcement that ‘Big Numbers’ would be returning; the beloved series that no one ever thought we’d see again. As it turned out, the time apart from Lapham’s crime series just made it that much better. ‘Stray Bullets: Killers’ took multiple characters’ plots over the course of years, wove their tragedies together, and created a gripping and emotionally brutal storyline that leaves readers breathless all the way until the end. And while this miniseries has come to a conclusion, Lapham’s already promised us more ‘Stray Bullets’ in 2015.”

— CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton


20. The Wrenchies

Written & Drawn by Farel Dalrymple

Published by First Second

“If making comics is really like killing dark elves, all Drow should fear ‘The Wrenchies.’ Farel Dalrymple offers a multi-layered, beautifully detailed story in his latest graphic novel, combining all the elements you need for a great comic about comics — a science fiction dystopia, a gang of kids fighting for survival, a demon-fighting teenage superspy-turned-comic creator, an ‘everykid’ who might seem more familiar than you’d hoped, and a magical spell, hidden in a comic book, that can save the world. If the story wasn’t engrossing enough to read again and again, I’d probably want to take this apart so I could hang Dalrymple’s watercolors in frames. Maybe I should buy a second copy.”

— Robot 6 Writer JK Parkin

“‘The Wrenchies’ had it all: badass kid gangs roaming the apocalypse, a mad scientist in space, ghosts, a cave filled with dark elf-magic, superheroes, soul-sucking monsters and even the occasional talking duck. But despite the sci-fi-horror-superhero-dystopic goodness, Farel Dalrymple’s longest and most ambitious work yet struck an effective melancholy note and felt wholly personal.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Ryan Ingram

“Dalrymple doesn’t pull any punches in ‘The Wrenchies,’ a violent post-apocalypse story that follows roving child gangs, aspiring heroes and kids who just took a wrong turn. The deliberate ugliness and vibrating, nightmarish line work are horribly effective, and the script is just as hard-hitting. It’s a remarkable book.

— CBR Reviewer Marykate Jasper


19. Chew

Written by John Layman

Art by Rob Guillory

Published by Image Comics

‘Chew’ is still deliciously, consistently good, like a favorite restaurant that serves that weird thing you can’t get anywhere else. It’s so reliable that it’s easy to forget how good it is, and how distinctive and bizarre its humor is. This year was a bruiser for Tony Chu, and Layman and Guillory have added so much more seriousness and tragedy than anyone would have thought possible a year ago, without affecting the strength of the humor at all.”

— CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

“Along with ‘Saga,’ ‘Chew’ is another well-entrenched Image Comics series going from strength to strength. The last few issues of the year have been unexpectedly brutal, reeling back for a few more gut punches before entering the final stretch.”

— CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

“There’s no doubt that ‘Chew’ is one of the most original, wacky story ideas in modern indie books. I don’t think John Layman will ever get enough credit for his creativity. The amount of new food-related powers he comes up with is amazing for two reason: they’re always completely silly, yet he makes them seem credibly dangerous. Rob Guillory’s art is a joy to sift through, finding those little easter eggs and being able to laugh even as the most serious scenes are taking place. As their major arc is starting to come to a head, the team’s taking risks, both in character and in story. The end of issue #45, for example — heartbreaking. But still kind of funny. That’s the excellence of the these creatives on this book.”

— CBR Contributor Ben Kaye


18. The Walking Dead

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Charlie Adlard

Published by Image Comics

“With the TV show going strong, no one would’ve been surprised if Kirkman was sleepwalking through his comic work. But as the latest ‘Walking Dead’ comics attest — especially those collected in Volume 22: A New Beginning – he’s not only still paying attention, but he’s also still coming up with great ways to mess with the survivors. Which is why, much as I enjoy the show, I like the books better.'”

— CBR Contributor Paul Semel


17. Southern Bastards

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Jason Latour

Published by Image Comics

“For anyone from or currently living in the south, this comic drags all the parts about the region that you’d rather not remember or notice and throws them in the harsh light of day. It’s a brutal and brutally honest deep-fried noir that defies expectations while still being rooted in regretful nostalgia.”

— CBR Assistant Editor/Columnist Brett White

“In a year full of incredible comics, this gritty tale of a man coming home to put his past to rest was jaw-droppingly good every time out. The game changing ending to issue four was one of the most shocking and satisfying things I had the pleasure of reading in 2014. I looked forward to consuming every issue like it was a Michelin-starred meal, savoring every single panel and word balloon. ‘Southern Bastards’ constantly reminds me why I love this medium so much.”

— CBR Reviewer Matt Little


16. This One Summer

Written by Mariko Tamaki

Art by Jillian Tamaki

Published by First Second

“The team that brought us the amazing teen graphic novel ‘Skim’ is back with a deeper, more layered story told through the eyes of a girl who is standing on the border between childhood and adolescence, set during a summer vacation that is loaded with tradition and memories. Something is not right with her parents, there’s some drama going on with the local teens that she finds fascinating but doesn’t quite understand, and her younger friend suddenly seems immature and irritating, at least at times.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Brigid Alverson

“This graphic novel perfectly captures that strange tipping point in life where you go from being a kid to being something else – certainly not yet an adult, but definitely not a kid. Mariko Tamaki creates such a vivid lead character that you really feel like you’ve stumbled upon someone’s diary. Jillian Tamaki’s artwork is so lush and emotive that it creates the ideal atmosphere for our tween hero to experience the new emotions she deals with when her yearly trip with her parents to a lakeside cottage doesn’t feel the same way it did when she was younger.”

— Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin


15. Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?

Written & Drawn by Roz Chast

Published by Bloomsbury

“Roz Chast has long been one of the most unique cartoonists in America, whose cartoons look like no one else’s. Now, she’s crafted a memoir that, like all her work, is equal parts emotional and humorous. A loving account of the last years of her parents’ lives, Chast has crafted jokes that months later continue to be funny and images that have become imprinted in my memory. Some have criticized Chast for not whitewashing the flaws of her parents and herself — instead she was brutally honest. The result is beautiful, funny and heartbreaking.”

— CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

“Roz Chast’s unsparing memoir of her parents’ final illnesses is a fascinating and surprisingly funny book. Every family has its quirks, and the Chast are no exception; what makes this book so compelling the way she links those lifelong traits to the experiences her parents have as they spiral into poor health and suddenly have to cope with new circumstances. She’s also willing to laugh at the more incongruous moments. It’s a great read and a clear-eyed look at something most of us will have to go through at some point in our lives.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Brigid Alverson

“Roz Chast is making lots of best-of lists for 2014, and no wonder. It hardly needs my recommendation  stories I’ve read this year. It has all the humor of a regular Chast cartoon but so much more depth. Her affectionate and frustrated portrayal of her parent’s old age, decline and death is full of moments are laughing and crying over.”

— CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng


14. Daredevil

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Chris Samnee, Javier Rodriguez

Published by Marvel Comics

“The title was doing just fine, remaining as fresh as it had since Mark Waid took it over in 2010, but that didn’t stop him from veering it in a radically different direction and giving the series the shot in the arm no one thought it needed. With Matt Murdock practicing law in a new state and his identity made public once and for all, Waid has found a whole new set of circumstances to mine additional clever and just plain fun stories from. Chris Samnee has become the new definitive artist for the character, maintaining the swashbuckling element that had been absent for so long before Waid took over. Four years into a run that has never weakened, Waid has made The Man Without Fear all his.”

— CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson

“Mark Waid and Chris Samnee continued to make ‘Daredevil’ one of the most fascinating and accessible superhero comics on shelves. They’ve put Matt Murdock on the tightrope for years now, and they still nail the balance of joy and darkness. It’s a simpler road to focus only on the grit and gore, but Waid and Samnee choose the harder path and traverse it successfully time and time again.”

— CBR Contributor Amy Ratcliffe


13. Batman

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Greg Capullo,

Published by DC Comics

“After a protracted trip through Bruce and Gotham’s past Snyder and Capullo dropped bomb after bomb on readers, shocking us with the Joker’s takeover of the Justice League and then his own return, under our noses the entire time. We are in the twilight of this team’s work on the book making it all the more sweet when each new issue delivers at such a high level. This run will be talked about for decades to come.”

— CBR Reviewer Matt Little

“There’s a reason that Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder’s ‘Batman’ is one of DC’s bestsellers: it’s good! Continuing the trend in ‘Endgame,’ Snyder provides a psychologically complex Joker, Capullo provides the best art of his career and together the two are, much like Batman, unbeatable.”

— CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell


12. Seconds

Written & Drawn by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Published by Ballantine Books

“To be blunt, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s ‘Scott Pilgrim’ series is one of the few modern comics that can carry the phrase ‘generation-defining epic’ without looking silly. So his follow up to almost a decade of cartooning work and its Hollywood drama capper was sure to be watched with extra scrutiny. Luckily, ‘Seconds’ is a graphic novel that delivers in spades, both by being a total spiritual follow-up to ‘Scott Pilgrim’ and a completely different beast. The story of dedicated but distracted Toronto restauranteur Katie digs to the heart of life after your 20s and to the challenge of building on your earlier successes in a meaningful way. And as he mapped out this new emotional territory, O’Malley easily traded on the humor and inventive plotting that made his last books such a big hit without making readers feel that the tank was dry. Best of all, ‘Seconds’ leaves fans with pallet’s cleansed and completely unaware of what direction the artist might take yet. Sometimes the future is brightest when you can’t see where you’re going next.”

— CBR Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

“If there was any wondering if Bryan Lee O’Malley had given the best of his unique creative powers to the epic awesomeness of ‘Scott Pilgrim,’ let this graphic novel put all doubts aside. ‘Seconds’ is just brimming with originality, clever plotting, characters that immediately ring relatable and – best of all – a freshly evolving storytelling style.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Scott Huver

“Bryan Lee O’Malley’s follow up to the ‘Scott Pilgrim’ series was one of the most anticipated books of the year, and it did not disappoint. A rumination on aging, maturity, loss, fate, destiny, and more, O’Malley’s OGN was full of the sort of melancholy joy that makes life great.”

— CBR Reviewer Matt Little


11. Hawkeye

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by David Aja, Annie Wu

Published by Marvel Comics

“This year, ‘Hawkeye’ continued to be a fun and inventive series that gave readers an issue in sign language and one featuring an animated kids holiday special, while also exploring two separate and very cool narratives. One was illustrated by Annie Wu and embroiled Kate Bishop in several cool interconnected stories that paid homage to classic west coast private detective stories. The other illustrated by David Aja found the Barton brothers reuniting, dealing with the fallout from an attack by the Tracksuit Draculas and preparing for a final battle with them. I can’t wait to see how the series wraps up.”

— CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

“Fraction came out of the gate with a confident and damn funny revisionist take on the Avenger, either turning in really good or great work with each issue despite frustrating delays. Leading into their final run this past October, Fraction and crazy-talented artists David Aja delivered issue #19. This experimental story uses inspired and compelling visual choices to tell the story of Clint Barton struggling with recent hearing loss. For a book about deafness, the quality of the Hawkeye team’s work was giving its loudest voice — earning this already-standout book more deserved praise.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Phil Pirrello

“In 2014, the seemingly bottomless well of innovation that Matt Fraction draws from continued to impress, highlighted by issue #19 when Clint Barton deals with the loss of his hearing. David Aja’s brilliant visual style walks you through the experience in a way that only he can, and it’s absolutely breathtaking (and at the same time, a little heart-wrenching). The dream team of Fraction and Aja continue to break all the rules, and masterfully rewrite them with each new issue.”

— CBR Contributor Blake Northcott

“The bad news is that ‘Hawkeye’ this year has been published at a slower-than-normal rate, and that Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Annie Wu’s time with the character is coming to an end. The good news is that this year had all three creators at the top of their game, and that we still have two more issues by Fraction and Aja scheduled for 2015. Aja’s inventive and complex art is balanced out by Wu’s dark images of Los Angeles by night, both anchored by sharp and emotionally engaging scripts from Fraction. Superhero comics almost never get this good.”

— CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

Check back later today for the big reveal — CBR’s Top 10 Comics of 2014!