We reach the end of what was yet another amazing year for comics, as between Batman turning 75, Spider-Verse, Multiversity and the launch of so many new #1’s, there’s been plenty to keep us occupied. But what has stood atop of this extraordinary gold mine? And what series from 2014 have given us the most joy?
This is the question I placed to our esteemed REVIEW TEAM, and here are their response.
Managing Editor HARRISON RAWDIN had this to say:
It’s always tough to pick a favorite comic series. We here at UTF cover so many high caliber titles, but VAMPIRELLA was the clear champion in my mind. Because, let’s be honest, after Red Sonja I just didn’t think Dynamite would succeed with another icon re-launch but they did. Boasting a new and talented creative, there was no doubt that the icon was primed to turn heads for reasons beyond her disarming looks. To say the duo impressed would be an understatement, as Nancy A. Collins endeavors to write a novel thick text that’s dripping with detail and Patrick Berkenkotter illustrates a dark world with deliberate pencil strokes. You know how much I love this iteration of Vampirella? We get review copies for the site and I still have to have it on my pull-list! So by all means in 2015 get the back issues and catch up on a rewarding supernatural thriller.
Honorable Mentions: DAMSELS IN EXCESS and LITTLE NEMO: RETURN TO SLUMBERLAND
CHARLES JOY had this to say:
It was my #1 choice last year. It is my #1 choice this year. And though we only have 8 issues left until MIND MGMT comes to an end, it will, without a doubt, be my #1 choice next year. In fact, this was a pretty amazing year for Mind MGMT and Matt Kindt…
Two hardcover releases, each with a set of Matt Kindt personalized pre-orders. 12 monthly issues, each with a number of hidden gems and bonus features (like the run back covers that form into not one, but two different posters!) Various convention appearances and interviews, galore (including one by yours truly, during ECCC 2014)! He also Live Tweeted a few “Creation Of” experiences, one of which, I transcribed: The Making of Mind MGMT 24 Cover.
I have been reviewing this amazing book since Issue 9. My rating system? 1 to Mind MGMT. It is that good. It is Comic Book Perfection. And it is no secret that Matt’s storytelling is the best in the business. Go ahead, take a look at his references: Dark Horse, Valiant, Marvel, and DC. I maintain that Mind MGMT is the crown jewel in his current publications, though. Heck, I dedicated my #Inktober 2014 sketches to this amazing series!
Honorable Mentions: THE WAKE and CHEW
MAX DELAGADO had this to say:
Still trucking after a thirty-year run, USAGI YOJIMBO is one of those series that has been around, literally, for a lifetime. Creator Stan Sakai has graced the comic cannon with over twenty-seven volumes of his classic title, and provided reachers with a rich cast of characters that have become both iconic and beloved.
For lifelong fans of Sakai, one of the best part of 2014 was Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, a stand-alone mini-series that took everyone’s favorite Samurai rabbit and evolved him in a way no one expected. Set twenty years in the future, Senso took H.G. Wells War of the Worlds and applied it to the Usagi continuity. Translation: aliens have invaded Japan, and are intent on destroying everyone and anything that tries to stop them.
For fans who’ve invested years into Sakai’s characters, the joy of this title doesn’t come just from the kick-ass premise, but in seeing how Sakai’s staple characters have changed over the years. Whether it’s watching Tomoe Ame and Usagi share a poignant moment that reveals their complicated history, or finally seeing Usagi’s son Jotaro become a warrior like his father, Senso is both entertaining and emotionally fulfilling.
And as with all of Sakai’s work, the art rocks — readers get gorgeous wide panel shots, panoramic battle scenes, and meticulous detail. Although the bulk of this series was published in 2014 there’s still one issue left of this series, so it’s not too late to catch up and read along.
Honorable Mentions: ROCKET GIRL and RAT QUEENS
ERIC BRIDGES had this to say:
If there’s one comic that I can recommend from this year, it’s the exciting and fantastic horror series NAILBITER. The story deals with intelligence officer, Nicholas Finch, who is brought to a town where sixteen serial killers have originated from, including, Edward Warren aka Nailbiter. He looks for his friend who says that he has found the connection between all the killers, but when he arrives he realizes that his friend is nowhere to be found. With the help of the Nailbiter, townies, and local law enforcement, they must figure out the connection and the location of his friend and colleague.
The story is one that I found to be a page turner. It is clever writing, interesting ideas, and disturbing moments wrapped into one package by writer Joshua Williamson, who clearly knows what he is doing. Along with Williamson’s words, we have Mike Henderson‘s art, which matches the tone and ideas that Williamson is trying to convey. I think it’s the best horror comic of 2014 and I think everyone should check it out.
Honorable Mentions: SPIDER-MAN 2099 and BATMAN: ETERNAL
ED MARSH had this to say:
While its sister title struggled with the mess that was last year’s Dark Cybertron, TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE has leapt right back into its stride. In fact, writer James Roberts has taken the biggest change from Dark Cybertron and made it his own.
Megatron as an Autobot is not something anyone expected to work, but More Than Meets The Eye has managed to use it brilliantly. Roberts has juxtaposed the stern seriousness of the character with the wacky and bizarre plot-lines the series is known for. Whether it’s quantum duplicates or time travel, every issue manages to stay at a consistently high level.
What really appeals to me most is the sense of character. Roberts treats every individual as deeply unique and understands the strong relations between each of them. 2014’s changes to the line-up only add to this, while the current time travel arc plays with past events and strong, personal themes of regret, loss and a desire for change.
Of late, the artwork is really shining through, too. I have a small disdain for artists that overuse ‘gritty’ colors unnecessarily, so I always look forward to the sheer detail and vibrancy of More Than Meets The Eye.
Honorable Mentions: SAGA and IMPERIAL
DANIEL ALVAREZ had this to say:
GODZILLA: CATACLYSM isn’t the best Godzilla mini-series due to underdeveloped characters and feeling too short. However, those don’t change the fact how atmospheric and engaging the overall story is. A monster Armageddon has been toyed around with in the comics before (surprisingly not really in the movies at all), but this is the first time a series uses it as the main launching point. The plot takes place years after the kaiju came and destroyed everything. Easily the most exciting parts are the flashbacks to when the monsters came and scorched the Earth. There’s a sense of dread that artist Dave Wachter perfectly emulates in those scenes. While writer Cullen Bunn didn’t develop two of the characters well at all, he nicely sets the mood with Hiroshi’s engaging narration throughout the five issues. (Some of it can be too melodramatic however.)
Cataclysm will be collected in trade soon, and is definitely worth a read, longtime Godzilla fan or not. It’s an engaging concept with pretty epic fight scenes sprinkled throughout!
Honorable Mentions: MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC and AVENGERS
MARCELL HINES had this to say:
Usually when a new character is created from one of the Big 2 it takes a lot of pull and intrigue about said character for them to debut in their own series right off the bat. MS. MARVEL was one of these titles, a huge uproar being over the fact that the title character is a Muslim teenager. While seeing a POC character getting their own solo is pretty rare in the Big 2, it isn’t what makes Ms. Marvel such a great book. We don’t follow Kamala because she’s Muslim (although her juggling her life as a superhero and her home life are very interesting), we follow because she’s smart, she’s kind, she’s witty, and she always does her absolute best to help people around her. She’s relatable and that’s the best thing a character can be, no matter their heritage. Every adventure she finds herself is exciting, each triumph is rewarding, and her interactions with other heroes and the people in her life only add to her character (her team up issue with Wolverine being one of my favorites). One thing is for sure, G. Willow Wilson has created a timeless character that will continue to captivate and excite us as we roll into 2015 and beyond.
Honorable Mentions: MILES MORALES: ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN and COPPERHEAD
Finally we come to me, your FRIENDLY NEIGHBOURHOOD COMIC BOOK EDITOR:
There are many comics that have captivated me this year, with there being a few series that have especially grabbed my attention. There has however been one series that has surpassed all others, and that has been DEATH VIGIL.
Written and illustrated by former Aphrodite IX, Artifacts and Witchblade artist, Stjepan Šejić, Death Vigil takes us into the world of dark fantasy. Having died at the hands of her Necromancer boyfriend, Clara Jenkins quickly has to learn how to become a protector of the living, as she becomes a Death Vigil. Lead by the Reaper herself, Bernardette, the Vigil are a group that are eternal, thwarting the Necromancers at every corner. The Necromancers are however becoming stronger, with Clara appearing to be the key factor that will dictate the outcome of this war.
Giving humour and action at every corner, Šejić manages to create an enticing series that is both exciting and fun. This is in no way achieved at the expense of the story, with the eccentric creator fleshing out a gripping backstory, as well as a mysterious continuing plot. His artwork is also as ever phenomenal, allowing for his extraordinary tale to be beautifully visualised on the page.
Honorable Mentions: RAVINE VOL. 2 and WYTCHES
So there you have it! That’s what we thought stood head and shoulders above rest from 2014. But what did you my fellow fanboys and fangirls think? Do you agree with these choices? Or should something else have made it onto this list? One thing that is for certain; if 2015 is anything like this year, then it’s going to be a good one.
Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!