Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
2013 was another year that had plenty of crossovers, plenty of events, plenty of highly hyped comics, some overly hyped comics and quite a few books that seemed to come out of nowhere to become a pillar of goodness month in and out.
On a personal note I can't remember ever finding my read list so swollen with quality reads before. In fact, I find myself needing to trim the fat where no fat can be found and that is highly unusual. Dare I say the industry looks to be on solid footing with quality and that seems like a good thing for a reader, loyal or new.
The guidelines are that I try not to include arcs or series that haven't completed by the end of the calendar year. Before Watchmen wrapped up as an event in 2013 even though some mini-series wrapped up in 2012. As far as ongoing series goes, the book should have shipped more than six issues during the year to qualify. Take the rules with a grain of salt please.
Favorite Mini-Series: Punk Rock Jesus
The easiest category to pick as there was barely any other book that approached this high a level of in-depth character focus. The book is stunning to look at as Murphy, the artist, tries to upstage Murphy the writer. The book provides a cast of characters that are so complex that I can't find two readers that see the same things in them. It's a brilliant book.
Most Disappointing Mini-Series: Before Watchmen: Nite Owl
Though it technically wrapped up in 2012, my final issue didn't arrive until January. If Nite Owl gets the hot girl in Before Watchmen then its hardly a surprise that he ends up with the hot girl in the real Watchmen isn't it? That's just the tip of the iceberg of this pointless series. It added nothing to the characters and I say characters because Rorschach seems to be the co-star of the series. It would have been better simply being a team-up. While it would have still been pointless at least it wouldn't trample the real Watchmen so much.
Favorite Collected Mini-Series or Original Graphic Novel: Fear Agent Library Volume 1
Technically shipped right before Christmas of 2012, but I didn't receive mine until January, this collection outdoes all others easily. Solicited for 440 pages but it packs well over 500, which includes plenty of back matter. Rick Remender has written plenty of epics but this one rises above as he creates an amazing lead character in Heath Huston, plus an insane time travel plot that involves two warring alien races. The only downside is that Volume 2 has yet to ship, but grab this while you can if you like throwback science fiction epics. This one is a heartbreaker. Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground is a must have as well.
Favorite Crossover: Infinity
This was a tough one because the meat of the crossover occurred in the Avengers books. However, if you like grand epics then this one was a great one.
Most Disappointing Crossover: Age of Ultron
Wow was this bad. Plot threads that were introduced in the first few issues were never re-visited, characters acted out character, standard time travels staples were ignored and never explained. Dreadful ten issues to read, but well over twenty when you pick up the tie-in books.
Favorite One-Shot: American Vampire Anthology
A who's who of creators that take their shot at short stories set within the American Vampire universe. Some get to play with Skinner Sweet, the primary character of the series. The comic is eight bucks but is fantastic. It serves as a painful reminder of how long this series has been on hiatus unfortunately. Great comic book. Mark Waid's Age of Ultron AU was another good one as Battle of the Atom #1.
Most Disappointing One-Shot: Before Watchmen: Dollar Bill
The low point of this event for sure. They saw an opening on the schedule and pushed out this drivel. If you haven't picked up on it yet, Before Watchmen is something avoid universally.
2012: Thanos Quest One Shot
2011: Marvel Point One
2010: Wolverine Road to Hell #1
2009: Transformers Spotlight: Cliffhanger
2008: What If: Wolverine versus Spider-Man
2007: Captain America Fallen Son: Spider-Man
Favorite Ongoing: Saga
Batman, Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye, Fatale, Hawkeye, Star Wars, Chew and a few of the other usual suspects could have easily won this category. However, now that the plot was begun to hatch around the interesting cast of characters I find this book to be the one I waiting to read the most each time it ships. Though only nine issues shipped in 2013 I think this is the best one out there.
Most Disappointing Ongoing: Fantastic Four
Perhaps the time has come to rest this property for a while. I know that isn't going to happen but this is one of the biggest misses of the Marvel NOW! group and was a tough read to slog through. A+X was a close second.
The favorite franchise or character that spreads across many books.
Favorite Overall: X-Men universe
Though the Battle of the Atom crossover wasn't good I do recommend X-Men, All New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men and Amazing X-Men. Even Uncanny Avengers is worth checking out but you probably need the back catalog because its one enormous arc. This is a strong franchise.
2011: X-Men universe
2009: Green Lantern
Most Disappointing Overall: Superman
Roughly five books and the character depictions and timelines vary so much I can't figure out what's in continuity versus what's just a flashback or an alternate reality. The two that stand out as promising are Batman/Superman and Adventures of Superman now that Superman Unchained appears to only be a mini-series. How DC screwed this character up (especially coming out of the successful movie) is beyond me.
2012: Justice League
2011: Justice League
2010: GI Joe
2009: GI Joe
Old Reliable: Thor: God of Thunder
This is a fantastic read and it always ships on time with consistent story and art. Each arc is then brought to an epic proportion and even the fill-in issues are never dull. Jason Aaron is doing something consistent and special in this book. Tranformers Regeneration was a close second as Simon Furman may be doing his best Transformers work yet. Regeneration is coming to end soon though but I recommend tracking the comics down starting from issue #80.
Missing In Action: American Vampire
The series has been on hiatus for far too long now. I'd trade Snyder's Superman Unchained, or even Batman (okay maybe not Batman), if it meant American Vampire would start up again. Come back home Scott. The time is overdue.
Favorite New Series: Batman 66
I've waited decades for a comic focusing on the old show from the '60s and now that its here I can say it's a must read. The only thing that's missing is the cliffhangers, like Batman in a giant band saw. This is exactly what comics are all about. Young Avengers was definitely second and one that could have easily won. Uncanny X-Men, Secret Avengers, All New-X-Men and X-Men are all very strong series that I categorize as "new".
2010: American Vampire
Least Favorite New Series: Trinity of Sin: Pandora
Mistaken that this book tied to the Justice League crossover, Trinity War, I picked this book up. Sadly, nothing in it kept my interest and it seemed like the well of ideas over at DC had dried up and given way to tricks like this one.
2012: Avengers Assemble
2011: Justice League
2010: Green Lantern Emerald Warriors
2009: Superman (War)
Favorite Arc: God Bomb
Three Thors, all battling to save every God in every land. Truly epic, fun and Kirby-like.
Arc to Avoid: Rise of The Third Army
Though technically a crossover, the books were basically self-contained. This was a bait and switch in Green Lantern. Rather than dealing with the Third Army, all it did was introduce yet another Green Lantern from Earth, more cookie cutter characters with generic traits from tired clichés. I dropped the book after more years than I care to admit after this debacle. Ironically the final issue of the Johns run was one of the best comics of the year.
Favorite Anniversary Issue: Green Lantern #20
This is a loaded category but Geoff Johns coda on his run on Green Lantern is among the best you can find. This is a fantastic read all the way through.
Least Favorite Anniversary Issue: Invincible #100
Wasn't this "The Death of Everyone"? I wasn't compelled to ever look at an issue of this series again. This was a similar problem with Spawn #200 as well.
Annual Worth Reading: Batman & Robin #1
This was an awesome comic book about Robin being Batman. It was clever and well placed because Robin dies shortly after this book. Terrific use of an annual.
2012: Green Lantern Annual #1
2011: New Avengers Annual #1
2008: Action Comics #11
2007: Action Comics #10
Annual Better Off Not Reading: Batman: Joker #23.1
I'm counting the 3D issues as Annuals and one-shots because I'm not really sure where they fit in. This comic book isn't done by series regular, Scott Snyder, doesn't use the current incarnation of the Joker (it uses the Silver Age version) and doesn't provide a complete story. Avoid.
2012: Batman Annual #1
2011: Amazing Spider-Man Annual #38
2008: Action Comics #11
2007: Batman Annual #18
Recommended reading from comics in 2013:
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye
Star Wars (main series)
Superior Foes of Spider-Man
Batman and Robin
Star Wars Dawn of the Jedi
Star Wars Dark Times
Conan The Barbarian
Locke and Key
Dial H (since concluded)
Batman Inc (since concluded)
Fury MAX (since concluded)
Wolverine and the X-Men
Star Wars Legacy II
I'm sure I left some off the list but that gives you 30 or so comics to paw through the back issues and try one or two out.
I can't wait to see what 2014 has in store for the readers.