By CM Team | CultureMass Staff Published: 12/28/2013 10:00 am EST
This week, the writers of CultureMass reflect on the Best Comics of 2013. Today, we examine our favorite collections and original graphic novels of the year.
Stephen Wilds (Contributor):
Superior Spider-Man Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Marvel): I know this title had a lot of long-time web-slinger fans on edge, and I can’t really blame anyone for being weary of the decision to do this, but I am here to tell everyone that I think it is now safe to say that it worked. The unthinkable has finally happened, Peter Parker has been outwitted by one of his oldest foes, Dr. Octopus, who in a final attempt at survival, took over Peter Parker’s body, but is now, more-or-less, a good guy. It sounds crazy because it is, but it is the kind of crazy that works, and once I saw it all on paper, I was hooked.
Jonathan Jacobs (Staff Writer):
Snapshot (Image):Snapshot is the creator-owned collaboration of writer Andy Diggle and artist Jock. When these two get together, excellent works of art tend to ensue. Refer to The Losers or Green Arrow: Year One if you don’t believe me (both of which have either inspired a movie or a TV show). Snapshot, originally four single issues, follows comic store employee Jake Dobson as he finds himself caught in the middle of a hit man’s crosshairs. Jake stumbles upon a lost cell phone that contains “proof of kill” snapshots of a murder victim. The man responsible discovers that Jake has encountered the photos and will stop at nothing to make sure he is permanently silenced. Diggle’s writing, supported by Jock’s scratchy style, provides a fast-paced adventure that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. It’s very rare that a comic book manages to successfully build this much suspense.
Andy Mansell (Contributor):
The Great War: July 1, 1916: The First Day of the Battle of the Somme (WW Norton & Company): The best OGN from 2012, Building Stories, took the comic book form and expanded on it in ways only hinted at before. The same must be said for The Great War by Joe Sacco. The book is really just one long panoramic drawing that shows the day’s battle from beginning to end as you move along the trench front from west to east. It is grizzly and sometimes painful to look at, but without any panel separations, captions or word balloons, this image provides us with a complete picture of the horrors of the day—the first of many, as this offensive went on for months—and a perfect microcosm of the trench warfare that bled Europe white for three years. Also included in this slipcased edition is a booklet written by Great War historian Adam Hochschild. Lastly, the 24-page folded drawing is displayed in a much smaller form along the bottom of the booklet with Joe Sacco’s detailed and personalized notes. This book takes sequential art another step further. The Great War tells the story in pictures in a unique and exciting way. It deserves our praise and it belongs in everyone’s library.
BONUS! Best Archival Reprint—Society is Nix (Sunday Press): This is a no-brainer. Plain and simple, this is a showcase of tremendously gifted and hardworking artists developing a new art form without a safety net. Although the material is clean enough for a daily newspaper, the content is oddly subversive. The comparisons have been made that these early cartoonists were closer in tune with today’s alternative comic creators than any kind of main stream artists. The pages are reproduced at their original tabloid size. This is a perfect accompaniment to last year’s Forgotten Fantasy that focused on the antecedents and children of Winsor McKay’s Little Nemo strip. These books are essential. If you are not a mint-condition commando, you can find these $150.00 editions a bit banged up for a whole lot less.
Brian Martin (Graphic/Novels Editor):
Nemo: Heart of Ice (Top Shelf/Knockabout): The daughter of Captain Nemo takes the Nautilus to the South Pole in search of a realm full of Lovecraftian horrors that nearly drove her father mad, pursued by mercenaries hired by Charles Foster Kane. If that description doesn’t make you want to sit down and read this book immediately, it speaks entirely to a deficiency within yourself. Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen universe returned in top form this year. And we haven’t heard the last of Janni Dakkar—another volume of her nautical exploits is on the way in 2014.
What are your favorite trades and OGNs of the year? Let us know in the comments!