Paul’s Top 10 Comics of 2014 (and AJ’s Lament)

'Saga' art by Fiona Staples.

‘Saga’ art by Fiona Staples.

Last week, we brought you our top 10 films of the year. It was different from past years in that while I still wrote words and words and words, Paul presented his list without comment. He continues that trend with his top 10 comics of 2014. Meanwhile, I’m getting into some unusual territory by admitting that I don’t have a list. Sure, I could have scraped something together, but it wouldn’t have felt right.

I adore comic books–look no further than the year-long Four-Color Flashback series on Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman we just wrapped in December–but this was the year they unfortunately fell by the wayside of my pop culture habits. There are a few reasons: comics are expensive, often going for $2.99, $3.99, or even more for a bundle of 20-25 sheets of paper; reading is a solitary, time-consuming activity which requires laser focus, unlike a lot of movies and TV (I’ll probably get in trouble for that), and this year I chose to devote much more of my reading time to prose; and lately, I’ve grown to prefer sitting down with one-and-done graphic novels or trade paperback collections to only getting a single hit of a story each month.

Then there’s the fact that 2014 was the year I (and Paul, and frenemy of the show Eric Sipple) published a book. I’ve always considered myself a creative person, but actually putting blood, sweat, and tears into finishing a real product available for purchase left me with a lot less free time. Video games were the first casualty–I played the very comics-oriented LEGO Marvel Superheroes for a few days, but that was about it–and then, completely by chance, I noticed comics becoming the second. Which is ironic, considering how heavily indebted The Deli Counter of Justice is to superhero comics.

Speaking of superhero comics…blergh. Paul is going to hate me for this, but fatigue has set in. A lot of it is over-saturation. I distinctly remember an older kid telling me in first grade that superheroes were for nerds; now, they’re as inescapable as Taylor Swift or Duck Dynasty. Then there’s the fact that while there may still be great books coming out of Marvel and DC (well, mostly Marvel), even the best tend to get swallowed up by corporate crossovers or boneheaded editorial meddling. They are not, after all, the creative properties of a single mind. They’re art by committee, and while they can still make for thrilling and fascinating art, sometimes you get tired of the committee. The genre needs a swift kick in the pants, something to which I hope The Deli Counter of Justice is able to contribute as much as a self-published short story anthology can.

In any case, I did read some comics last year, and while I can’t claim I’m fully caught up on any of them, I’d like to shower praise upon Saga (Image), which remains this decade’s gold standard for comics storytelling; Sex Criminals (Image), Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s wacky, painfully honest exploration of human sexuality; Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man (Marvel), the one superhero comic I still enjoy with exactly zero reservations; The Private Eye (Panel Syndicate), Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin’s digital-only noir about a very analog future; The Manhattan Projects (Image), which’ll just melt your face off; Lazarus (Image), the most depressing yet compulsively readable take on the next era of humanity; Mind MGMT (Dark Horse), which still blows me away with its innovative use of the monthly format; and the scant few issues of The Sandman: Overture (Vertigo) released this year, because how couldn’t I?

And now for Paul’s much better informed list…

1. Saga (Image)

2. Rat Queens (Image)

3. Deadly Class (Image)

4. Ms. Marvel (Marvel)

5. Umbral (Image)

6. Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man (Marvel)

7. Afterlife with Archie (Archie)

8. Lazarus (Image)

9. Lumberjanes (BOOM!)

10. The Sandman: Overture (Vertigo)

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Pretty Deadly (Image)

Trillium (Vertigo)

Black Science (Image)

The Private Eye (Panel Syndicate)

East of West (Image)

The Wake (Vertigo)

All-New Ghost Rider (Marvel)

Sing No Evil OGN (Abrams)

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