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In the first part of the Comic Book Awards we focused on comic book series. Now, let’s take a look at the people behind the series in the second part of Entertainment Fuse’s Comic Book Awards of 2013.
1) Rick Remender
His run on Captain America makes me actually care about Steve Rogers and that is saying something.
2) Danny Cates / Mark Reznicek
This duo is relatively new to the comic book scene and their comic book, Buzzkill, is my favorite comic book of the year, so I couldn’t not put them on the list. They are the breakout comic book duo of the year and this is Reznicek’s first comic book and Cates hasn’t done many other books so I’m looking forward to seeing more of their work in the future – preferably together.
1) China Mieville
There is one thing that is incredibly hard to pull off in comics, or at least Big Two comics, it is that ability to create something that feels like a love-letter to a by-gone era of comics, but also infused with modern day sensibilities, without a sense of irony or disdain. Already a novelist of some note, Chine Mievile dived into the DC Comics arena with the incomparable Dial H. Incomparable in that Mieville was able to weave a story that fulfilled all of the above requirements, and thus was able to craft one of the most enjoyable runs of the entire Dial H franchise. It has left people previously unfamiliar with his body of work clamoring for more. At times incomprehensible, but above all else passionate, exhilarating, and just full of heart – Dial H finished its run this year with the astounding Dial E #1, which surprisingly tied up a lot of the loose ends that the cancelled comic had left open and gave a satisfying conclusion. Besides, any writer who can create an alternate version of Batman whose entire gimmick is “Open Windows” and still make him genuinely engaging and compelling to a tee deserves recognition.
1) Geoff Johns
Geoff Johns had a good year in 2013. He ended his long running Green Lantern run perfectly, headed two great events, and changed Justice League for the better. Everything he wrote this year was an enjoyment to read. Might I also mention that he made me a Captain Marvel fan. After reading the Shazam backups in Justice League I needed more! I hope we get an ongoing series in 2014.
1) Matt Fraction
Not only handling duties at Marvel, following in the footsteps of Jonathan Hickman, but he is also paving the way at Image. Not only bringing us a unique story like Satellite Sam, but also creating — if not the first, then certainly the best — sex romp comic in history.
1) Johnathan Hickman
Hickman has a certain style of writing that is heavy on concept and intricate plots. It’s not overly emotional or character driven. I get that some readers might not like that, but I think his style is pretty unique in the world of contemporary comics. Plus, I do think that Hickman can really write good characters when that’s his focus. If you add Infinity and his Avengers work to his comics for Image (East of West, The Manhattan Projects) and his new God Is Dead series, the quality of comics Hickman wrote in 2013 was very high.
1) Stjepan Sejic
I always love the incredible detail he puts into his work. His artwork on Witchblade and Aphrodite XI has been superb.
1) Francis Manapul
There is a wide spectrum of what could constitute someone to be among the best artists of 2013, but only a few come close to the majesty of what Francis Manapul achieved within the pages of The Flash #15. While spreads are nothing uncommon in the world of comics – the manner by which Manapul utilized the artistic skill was far and beyond most of what the Big Two have done. Creating with great skill and consistency, Manapul constructed a 9 page spread that was meant to showcase the titular character’s mental capabilities. Not only does it do a fantastic job at conveying the high speed thought processes, but the real kicker doesn’t come to light until near the fourth consecutive double page spread where it becomes apparent that the entire exercise had been to create letters detailing “DC Comics Presents The Flash” and doing so with aplomb. It’s extravagant for sure, but it is extravagance done well – and the fact that Manapul was able to create one for almost every issue of The Flash is a feather in his cap.
1) Francis Manapul
I have been a fan of Francis Manapul’s artwork for years, and every year he keeps improving. He did some amazing stuff in Flash this year. The layouts were very unique and it is sad to see him leave the series in 2014, but very excited to see his work on Detective Comics in the coming year.
1) Matteo Scalera
Matteo Scalera has been around. He has done a ton of work for Marvel—all of it incredible—and in 2013, he brought his gritty style over to Image Comics. Two of my favorite new series to come out in the last six months, Black Science and Dead Body Road, are drawn by Scalera. What I love about his work is that it’s uncommon and very distinct. Many of his panels contain speckled spots of ink where there would ordinarily be nothing—only, you have to really look to notice it. It’s a style that, in the past, I’ve described as perfectly imperfect. All of it is intentional, all an aesthetic choice, and it works brilliantly. I found Matteo Scalera to be the best artist of 2013 because out the hundreds of comics I read last year, he was one of a select few artists (or writers) who I would seek out and look forward to seeing, and I was never disappointed.
1) Esad Ribic
No other artist of 2013 has given us such great work for so long. His detailed, kinetic, living art on Thor: God of Thunder helped to make the comic one of Marvel’s best.
1) Phil Noto
This is a hard category since there are so many outstanding comic artists now, and my choice was pretty subjective. Between Noto’s work on Ghost for Dark Horse Comics and his gorgeous illustrations on the new Black Widow series for Marvel, I think his lovely line and knack for drawing beautiful women sways my choice. An honorable mention in this category would be the highly creative art done by Fiona Staples on Saga.
1) Juan Ferreyra (with assistance from Eduardo Ferreyra)
I love the painted look of Kiss Me Satan. The colors imrpove the artwork and make it stand out from the crowd.
1) Lisa Moore
Lisa is a good friend of mine and I love her work. She is a great colorist and she brings a lot of brightness to the pages she works on. Read Garfield and Damsels!
1) Elizabeth Breitweiser
The work of a colorist is something that often gets less notice than the work of an illustrator. However, Elizabeth Breitweiser’s colors on Velvet for Image Comics are so stunning that it makes you turn to the credits to see who did the work. She does the tricky task of combining the flat and neutral tones of 1970’s spy cinema with the dark and shadowy look of film noir while adding her own take on both. Illustration and coloring are a symbiotic relationship, so Steve Epting, Velvet’s illustrator, gets some of the credit, but Breitweiser should get just as much for the gorgeous interiors of the book.
1) Michael Del Mundo
Michael Del Mundo has a knack for creating visually interesting and funny covers. All of his Deadpool Killustrated covers were drawn well and his covers for X-Men: Legacy were extremely unique. Three especially creative covers in that series were X-Men Legacy #9, which had Picasso-esque brush strokes and a paint brush representing the character’s hair, X-Men: Legacy #10, which is a great mock ad for a pill to cure being a mutant, and X-Men: Legacy #11, which has pills forming in the shape of a skull.
1) Skottie Young
Skottie Young did so many great variant covers for Marvel this year. I especially loved the variants he did for Marvel Now. I know some people who just bought the title for his variant covers. Keep these baby variants coming Scottie Young.
1) Fiona Staples
Fiona Staples’ interior art is, of course, incredible. It was difficult choosing Matteo Scalera over Staples in the category of best artist. Best cover artist, however, isn’t even a competition in my mind. Fiona Staples paints all of her cover art for Saga, and all of it looks absolutely beautiful. It’s an unbelievable cross between the insanely imaginative interior art of the book and a level realism that quite simply blows me away. The newest issue—although released in 2014, the cover art was released a good four or five months earlier—and it depicts a very true-to-life looking Lying Cat with a bright crimson blood dripping from its mouth. Take any other, like Prince Robot upside down and floating through chaos, and the same point is driven home. Staples is a master and I would throw every one of her Saga covers into a frame and hang it in my home.
1) David Aja
I don’t think an artist in commercial comics today has a better sense of design than David Aja. I’ve been a huge fan of his work since he contributed to Marvel’s The Immortal Iron Fist. He’s become better known thanks to Matt Fraction’s popular Hawkeye. Although Fraction deserves a lot of credit for humanizing Clint Barton, Aja’s distinctive illustration style has made this book stand out. Aja’s art always serves story, too, even as it makes for outstanding web and blog images.
1) Fiona Staples
Fiona Staples, artist for Saga, has continually created some of the best covers out there. Using both interesting visuals coupled with masterful uses of minimalism, she creates covers that are not only great, but iconic.
Please view my Top Ten Best Covers of 2013 list for my picks!
1) The Flash #22
Even now there is one cover that immediately springs to mind whenever the question of best covers is poised. That cover? The Flash #22. Francis Manapul and Brain Buccellato are truly craftsmen when it comes to the visual side of comics. Yet, while noted for their intricate and complex spreads and layouts, the cover of The Flash #22 is surprisingly minimalistic. Just two simple colors and a dark affectation on the bottom – but it’s the bold nature of it all that feels like a tidal wave of grandeur. The wispy freckles that frame the edges of the cover give the impression that the gigantically imposing lightning bolt has made an actual impact in the real world. That it has dented itself thought the cover on its own. There is an inherent kinetic mood as well, with the way the yellow is composited over the red background. The shade of the Reverse-Flash, cleverly mirrored on the ground, is just a nice touch. The composition is just top notch and everything about it screams “The Flash”.
1) Hawkeye #8
You really could choose almost any cover that Aja did for Hawkeye, but I especially like his covers for Hawkeye #8 and #9. You know you’re doing something right when a comic book cover spawns a popular T-shirt, which #9 did. I really like the battered pulp paperback look of #8, though. Combine that with the color and design choices and this cover is practically frame worthy.
1) All the 3D Covers from Villain’s Month
Some people thought that the 3D covers were a gimmick, but I thought they were a cool gimmick. Sure you had to pay an extra dollar for them, but they were worth the money. The covers actually looked 3D and were pretty sturdy. They even became collector’s items because of the rarity of these covers. Some covers even went for 100 dollars on eBay.
1) Iris West
I loved Iris this year. Brian Buccelatto and Francis Manapul did things with Iris that I have never seen done before with her character. They were able to really bring her character into Flash’s world. She even received her own powers from the speed force for an issue. Her brother is the new Reverse Flash! Barry and Iris will be forever connected. Brian and Francis also did the impossible! They didn’t make fans hate Patty even though Iris had a center role in the Flash stories this year. They made you respect both characters in the love triangle. This is rarely done with love triangles.
1) Madder Red
Imagine of the Joker tried to go straight. If that doesn’t get you all excited, there is no help for you. Dementedly funny, quirky, and above all wickedly smart, Madder Red was one of the funnest characters to read in all of 2013.
This probably seems like a choice from left field, but that might just be because you’re not reading Transformers: Robots in Disguise from IDW Publishing. If you are, you can see the complex character that writer John Barber gives to Starscream. He’s power hungry, duplicitous, and murderous, but also seems to genuinely want to lead Iacon, Cybertron’s capital city, to peace and prosperity. The phrase “heavy is the head that wears the crown” comes to mind for Starscream, though, as he sees that leading is difficult, and not just because others are trying to dethrone you but because you have make tough calls in the face of crisis.
I didn’t expect Dark Horse to release something like Buzzkill, nor that I would fall in love with the recovering alcoholic protagonist of the book, Ruben. But Ruben makes me want to invest myself in the story with his attitude.
1) Daniel West (Reverse Flash)
A lot of Flash love on my list this year, but it was an incredible series. The reveal of the Reverse Flash was one of the best moments in comics this year. Everyone expected Reverse Flash to be Wally West and some fans expected him to still be Professor Zoom, but when it was revealed to be Daniel West I think we were all surprised. He was a great villain and I love the connection he has to Iris. Looking forward to seeing more of him in 2014. Just hope the new creative team handles him as well as Brian Buccelatto and Francis Manapul did in 2013.
1) Forever Carlyle
In a year with so many fantastic new characters, especially from independent publishers, this is also a hard category. Forever Carlyle, the lead character in Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, is a fascinating character. She has some of Wolverine’s badass assassin quality (as well as his challenges with memory), but Forever also has a complex family bond with the Carlyle clan, a group that she must protect even as some of them plot against her and others view her anything from a monstrosity to an intriguing experiment.
1) Alana and Marko
Who else embody the highs and lows of a relation better than Alana and Marko? They are the perfect power couple, only made stronger by going against impossible odds. Fun to read and impossible not to care for, they are the best couple of 2013.
1) Mark and Alana
While many of these categories are hard, this one was pretty easy for me. It’s not that there aren’t other great couples in comics. There are, but Marko and Alana have shown so many aspects of being a couple. They love, they fight, they argue, they have sex, they fear they’re making bad choices as parents, and occasionally they kick ass. They are both very well developed as characters and their relationship is almost a character itself. I’d argue that Saga is practically an ensemble series, but the relationship of Alana and Marko (which includes their family, as well) is very much the heart of the story.
Those are Entertainment Fuse’s awards for 2013. Join us next year for more of the best!