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There were so many categories and so many picks for this year’s Comic Book Awards we had to split the awards up into multiple parts. So enjoy part one, which features the Best Publisher, Comic Book Series, Mini-Series, Villain Month Comic and Underdog Comic of 2013. These are the comic book awards for 2013 from Entertainment Fuse’s comic book section!
Even though I ironically read more DC books, the handful of Marvel titles I have read have had awesome stories. Captain America, Superior Spider-Man, even Avengers Arena and Deadpool had their moments.
2) Image Comics
Image has been producing tons of creator owned series that have done well thanks to some unique storylines. Sex Criminals, Saga, Velvet, Pretty Deadly and Black Science are frequent favorites among comic book fans. Then there are series like Reality Check and Krampus that continue the trend of interesting storylines without the record-breaking numbers. Either way, Image Comics is an innovative publisher that deserves a spot on the list of best publishers.
3) Dark Horse
I’ve been reading a couple of books from Dark Horse that have made me much more interested in reading their stuff. Buzzkill won several “bests” in my opinion because of its bizarre premise of a superhero who uses alcohol to make himself so “super.” Then there’s Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine, a continuation of Dan Jolley’s Bloodhound series from DC Comics that makes me want to go and read the original series.
1) Image Comics
This is the award that, for me at least, required the least amount of thought. It isn’t that I reached my decision hastily; it was quite simply an easy choice to make. Image Comics emerged in 2013—maybe early, but on my radar in 2013—as the top publisher for quality comics. Between the series they already have in development, to ones just introduced this year, from some of the business’s top talent, to geniuses that are only now just emerging, Image Comics is easily establishing itself as a worthy competitor with the big two. They have also managed to bring in top creators for classic reboots, thinking specifically of Bob Fingerman’s minimum wage. And the content they have planned for 2014 is nothing short of thrilling. In every imaginable way, Image Comics dominated 2013.
1) Image Comics
For publishing consistently superb material, as well as allowing creators the freedom to tell their own unique stories, Image earns its spot as Best Publisher of 2013.
1) Image Comics
Since its inception, Image Comics has been drawing talented creators from other publishers. However, in the past few years, they’ve really upped the quality of their series to new peaks. The success of The Walking Dead television series is a big boost, but they’ve also recently started impressive series like Saga, East of West, Satellite Sam, Fatale, Lazarus, Sex Criminals, Pretty Deadly, Rocket Girl, Nowhere Men, Black Science, Velvet, and others. It’s an impressive line-up that keeps getting better. 2013 was a really good year for Image Comics.
1) Superior Spider-Man
I still stand by the decision to switch Peter and Doc Ock. I love seeing how Ock reacts and I love the character of Anna Maria. She’s made me realize how few little people are in comics and makes me want to see more.
2) Captain America
Always a tense story, this series made me like Captain America, which I thought previously only his movie could ever make me do. The main thing I like about it is the relationship between Captain America and his “son” Ian and the conflict between them was my favorite of 2013.
1) Justice League of America’s Vibe
If there is something that only a few could have ever expected DC Comics to create, and create well, would have been a rehash of some racial stereotype made to cash in on the urban market. In almost every way in 2013 Francisco Ramon, aka “Vibe”, was the little engine that could. The brainchild of creative heavy-weights Geoff Johns, Andrew Kreisberg, and Sterling Gates – Vibe went from the very definition of Z-Lister to an actual, fully realized, character. Someone with a strong foundation and a cast all of his own. Gone was the breakdancing fool, come had the new addition to one of the premiere Justice League titles. Of course, the series lasted only 10 issues – but it was 10 issues that no one ever saw coming, that no one expected, and something that we might never see the likes of again. For Vibe, whose own solicits called “the unlikeliest hero”, 2013 was one great year.
This is a series that never disappointed me in 2013. Every month this title came out it was always on the top of my pile to read. I have been a big Batgirl fan for years, especially Barbara Gordon’s Batgirl. So, it is nice to see this series at the top of its game. I love what Gail Simone is doing with this series because she is still making Barbara’s character fresh. The best story arcs were the James Gordon Jr. arc and the Wanted arc. They kept me on the edge of my seat and it made me want more.
I’d feel guilty giving it to anything else, really. Saga is a front-runner for one of my favorite comics of all time, so it totally steals the show when it comes to 2013. The way it was able to advance the plot this year, the developments that have been made since last year’s storylines, are nothing short of flawless. Vaughan is a masterful writer who, if not consistent, gets better with each new issue. Fiona Staples is easily one of the top artists in the business. I can’t imagine Saga looking any other way, nor would I want it to. Together, they’ve created not only one of the best ongoing comics of 2013, but one of the best and most classic science fiction comics ever. Saga is large reason why I hold Image Comics in such high regard, and it deserves every award!
It may be the easy choice, but it’s the easy choice for a reason. One of the most original worlds in comics, check. Interesting, flat- out gorgeous art, check. However, its greatest victory lies in the ability of each issue to leave me eagerly looking forward to the next, something too few comics can boast.
This shouldn’t be a surprise since this series has garnered award since it started, but it’s still worth pointing out how consistently great the series has been. The introduction of characters like Oswald Heist and The Brand shows that Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have inventive concepts to spar. The minute that Saga seems like it’s hitting familiar territory, it jumps to another wildly interesting area, which is something that can be said for few comics currently being published. This might be Saga’s category to lose for a while.
Buzzkill is a fantastic mini-series and is handled with the level of maturity that it needs. The concept is brilliant. “Ruben” used to be the greatest superhero in the world. The only problem? He needed drugs to get his powers, which have ruined his life. Now, Ruben’s in AA, but his arch-enemies aren’t ready to let him go without a fight. This storyline is effective and Ruben is written so well that you can’t help but like him and sympathize with him.
Mara was a great surprise for me. It was a 6 issue mini series written by Brian Wood from Image Comics. Even though this slipped under the radar for a lot of people this series was phenomenal. The art was perfect and Mara’s character was interesting from the start. This series hooked me from issue 1. How did Mara get her powers? Will this affect her appearance to the public eye?
1) Bushido: The Way of the Warrior
Bushido: The Way of the Warrior is easily one of the top comic books of 2013. As a miniseries, it stands at the top of a category all its own. It was made up of five action packed issues spread across the month of October—yes, it was released weekly, and yes, it’s climax coincided with Halloween. Why? Because this isn’t your average Samurai comic. These feudal warriors are doing battle with an army of ancient vampires looking to conquer all of Japan. It’s a story about family, about belonging, and about traditions being threatened that have long been held sacred. It came and went so quickly that it might have been easy to overlook. Don’t let this gem pass you by.
It seems like you don’t see as many mini-series these days, so the choices here are somewhat limited, but Infinity did manage to tell a complex story in a way that didn’t feel like every other “event” mini-series. It used Thanos, but he wasn’t the only important threat. Infinity made Black Bolt and the Inhumans an even more important part of the Marvel Universe, and it was a series where the main title really could be read on its own without the supporting crossover books, a trend I hope we see continue.
Also my pick for best mini-series of the year (SEE ABOVE) this is truly an underdog comic. Buzzkill took me completely by surprise that hasn’t been topping the charts (even though it should be) with a creative team consisting of Mark Reznicek (who has a few comic under his belt) and Donny Cates, who has never written a comic book before this one!
1) Crossed Badlands: American Quitters
The very fact that what I am going to say was the best underdog comic of 2013 is going to raise more than eyebrows only assures me that I am making the right choice in claiming that it is. Crossed Badlands: American Quitters, covering issues #37-39 of the series, deserves recognition for not only being perhaps only of the few actually enjoyable stories that series has ever produced – but also just for being enjoyable on its own merits.
Written by Simon Spurrier, famous for acclaimed series such as X-Men Legacy, the short arc is a rather scathing, yet humorous, satire on the franchise that it is itself a part of. Utilizing a clever storytelling technique, tried and true as it is, Spurrier gives a vibrant voice to the ever-snarky third person narrator – while the art by Rafael Ortiz gives a lot of style to the proceedings. There is one thing that I have never been able to say about Crossed until right now, and that is that it had style. While it might have been one arc it is definitely an Easy Rider infused, Bob Dylan crooning, hell of an underdog.
1) Ultimate Comics Spider-man
Ultimate Comics Spider-man is a series that more people should be talking about. There were some shocking issues in 2013. It was a series that developed perfectly with every issue. You even cared for supporting characters like Jessica Drew and Ganke. Give Miles Morales a try!
Monkeybrain is the obvious go-to publisher for the “Best Underdog Comic” award. For what it lacks in print issues and a wide reader base, it makes up for in extremely varied content. It’s a creator owned paradise where freedom seems limitless and no idea is too crazy. It’s the publisher that brought us Kinski, a comic unlike any other I’ve ever heard of, let alone read. When a corporate lackey finds a lost dog during one of his business trips, and names the pooch after a famously crazy German actor, he starts to develop an unhealthy obsession for the animal. Even when it becomes exceedingly clear that keeping Kinski is, well, not possible, he takes matters into his own hands. It’s one of the most gripping comics I’ve read in a long while, and yet it’s about lost dogs and chicken feed sales reps. Kinski is a must read is any year. It’s easily the best underdog comic of 2013.
1) Black Science
Coming in at the tail end of 2013, its status as an underdog may be disputed, but it definitely isn’t as popular as it should be. The concept has the potential for endless stories and world upon worlds we’ve never seen before. It’s one to keep an eye on.
1) Nowhere Men
I don’t remember seeing a lot of coverage of Nowhere Men, written by Eric Stephenson and illustrated by Nate Bellegarde, so I was surprised that when I read the first arc in trade format. It was incredible. This is a series that combines elements of pop culture, classic superhero tales, science fiction, technology, plot-twisting drama, conceptual science, and more. It’s a very difficult series to categorize, which is only because it’s so well done. If you like boundary-busting sci-fi comics – in the same vein as Black Science – I’d recommend Nowhere Men.
1) Bizarro #1
“Villain Month” was a very tricky road to navigate through because either an issue was too connected to another plot or was too caught up in the whole Forever Evil event to try to create a readable, workable, and solitary origin story. One of the few that was able to find the best balance was none other than Bizarro #1. While importantly tied to Forever Evil it told the story of Lex Luthor creating a Bizarro-prototype in the early days of the DC Universe. While not concerning the main Bizarro that has been recently introduced, it benefited by not having wanted to in the first place. Its whole structure was based around creating the opposite of what a regular origin story would contain – a smart meta-textual reference to Bizarro’s most iconic trait. Besides, it was also a rather solid Lex Luthor character study, showing off his mentality surrounding his scientific exploits and their consequences.
Seemingly light, yet still subversively horrifying, Sholly Fisch’s script met a perfect match in the art, courtesy of Jeff Johnson. It laid out for the reader what it clearly set out to do, and in doing so created its very own version of a self-contained origin. Which was more than some other of the issues could say.
1) The Rogues
Most of the villain month titles were mediocre. They were just fun one-shot issues. It didn’t relate to the titles you were reading, but with the Rogues things progressed. This issue led the Rogues to having their own mini series connected to Forever Evil.
1) The Joker
Joker — as we remember him — has been woefully absent from the Nu52. However, here, he’s put on display in all his insane, clown glory. A bittersweet story that reminded us why The Joker is one of the best villains of all time.
Those were some of the comics of 2013. Find out who were some of the best writers, artists and more in part 2 of Entertainment Fuse’s Comic Book Awards of 2013.