As always, I like to put my BEST OF list up before the year actually ends, mostly because it drives Greg Burgas crazy. Probably since the last Monday of the year is reasonably close to the end of the year it will drive him less crazy, but we’ll just have to be okay with that. You can't win them all! As always, my feeling is that if I haven’t read it by mid-December (and let's be clear there are MANY I have not read) then I’m not going to be able to get to it in time for it to make my bests and worsts lists anyway so it’s all the same in the end.
So what’s on this year’s list? Well you can bet it’s going to be a lot of stuff I've already been excited about this year, but it's still fun to see it all stacked up here in the end I suppose. Again this year I didn’t have it in me to do any worsts…call it optimism, call it fatigue, readers choice!
Let’s get to it, shall we?
BEST SINGLE ISSUE: BITCH PLANET #1
Kelly Sue DeConnick (w) Valentine de Landro (a) Cris Peters (c) Clayton Cowles (l) – Image Comics
This book blew the competition out of the water. It’s so everything I want in a comic, and everything the industry feels like it NEEDS in a comic. I wrote a whole essay last week about this issue (and the power of first issues) so I won’t drone on and on and on again, but suffice to say it’s wicked smart, totally subverts expectations, perfectly assembled, and tonally so ridiculously on point and effortlessly executed I can’t even. The ONLY problem with this book is that the opening bar is so damn high it will be impossible to top in future issues…but I look forward to seeing them try!
BEST COVER (S): ELEKTRA #3, SILVER SURFER #1 (Variant), BLACK WIDOW #6, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #5 (Variant), and ELEKTRA #2 (Variant)
Always one of my toughest categories because there are SO MANY WONDERFUL COVERS – since even a crappy comic can have a completely brilliant cover it’s impossible for me to narrow it down to one. I’m going to go with my "top 5" but click here to see my "Best 52 Covers of 2014" for ALL my favorites.
ELEKTRA #3 by Mike Del Mundo
SILVER SURFER #1 (Variant) by Francesco Francavlla
BLACK WIDOW #6 by Phil Noto
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #5 (Variant) by Becky Cloonan
ELEKTRA #2 (Variant) by Chris Samnee
BEST SHORT STORY: WYTCHES (Preview Teaser Story)
Scott Snyder (w) Jock (a) – Image Comics
Six brutal pages that told me that the forthcoming Wytches comic was going to be everything I was hoping it would be. Now, if you don’t already know, this Wytches “preview” was a little confusing because most thought it was a more accepted literal preview of the forthcoming book, which is not unreasonable since that’s usually what the previews are. However, this was a gorgeous mean little standalone story that served to introduce readers to some of the ideas and world behind Wytches and damned if it isn’t effective. The only problem with this story is that there isn’t (already) more of it. I hope that Snyder and Jock will return to this twisting little knife of a story someday and show us more, because it’s the kind of story that haunts you long after you stop reading.
BEST MINI-SERIES: LUMBERJANES
Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis (w) Brooke Allen (a) Maarta Laiho (c) Aubrey Alese (l) – Boom! Studios
Technically Lumberjanes has morphed into an ongoing (Hurrah!!!) but it was on my list as a best mini-series already and so here it shall stay. And those first 8 issues do indeed work as a lovely and self-contained story, so it seems only fitting that we allow this arc to still win in the category for which it was intended. If you haven’t read Lumberjanes all you really need to know is that it is filled…literally cover to cover with girls and women of all shapes and sizes, ages and personalities, it is also powered by sheer enthusiastic joy, something often in short supply in comics for some reason. Full of adorably hilarious catch phrases and an energized mythology based story it feels like one part Scooby Doo, one part Nancy Drew, and one part something entirely new (and no, I didn’t mean for all that to rhyme).
BEST WEBCOMIC: NIMONA
Two years ago I had Nimona winning in this category. It was the year I discovered the comic (and possibly the year it began?) and it was like falling in love. And now, this year, it’s finally ended and though I hate that it is gone, it exists as this perfectly beautiful and bittersweet comic whose ending is so emotional and well earned that I can only be grateful that such a wonderful comic – a complete whole beautiful thing – exists. Nimona is filled to the brim with feelings and jokes and everything that makes the world worth walking around in. If you haven’t read it, I urge you to go and read it from the beginning (available in its entirety for free online) and then, once you fall in love, make sure to pick up the print edition when released in May 2015 from Harper Teen.
BEST NEW NON-SUPERHERO ONGOING: WYTCHES
Scott Snyder (w) Jock (a) Matt Hollingsworth (c) Clem Robins (l) – Image Comics
If we had a few more issues out of Bitch Planet, I might have had to give it to BP, but since a first issue is more of a promise of an ongoing than an actual ongoing, I’m going to give it to the still young but brutally impressive and utterly terrifying Wytches. With a story rooted in painful relatable reality and a razor edge of horror that infects every single page, Snyder and Jock have created a beautiful but mean little book that is absolutely unwilling to pull punches to the benefit of us all. I am on the edge of my seat waiting for this book every month and absolute terrified about where it’s headed. So far it’s one of the best horror comics I’ve ever read and it will solidify Snyder as a horror comic master, if he’s not already there.