It has been a privilege to be able to read so many peoples’ answers to this questionnaire, that I thought it only fair that you should be able to read mine. I shall be posting the results of the poll on New Years Day and I am very excited for it, and I hope this will tide you over until then.
A. The Essential Questions
1. Who has been the publisher of the year?
Image – As much as I have enjoyed numerous Marvel books, there have been many that I have not. I am unable to say this about Image. I do not wish to launch into a diatribe about treatment of creators or copyrights but I genuinely feel that when you have a short run and editors that allow you to tell your story, then the greatest work is allowed to breathe. I appreciate this is a stark contrast to the dynamic of popular superhero books, but when you are bitterly disappointed again and again, then you begin to look elsewhere. However there are some supremely amazing books at Marvel and a couple at DC, but as a company, it has to be Image.
2. Who have been your top 3 writers?
This year has seen many authors write multiple books, and it is almost not enough to have one decent book to win this award, its about a creator’s body of work. Except for one man:
1. Joe Hill
I have rarely been moved as much as I was with Locke and Key. It is exceptionally well written and ends beautifully. My investment in the characters was so whole hearted that I really struggled to even read the final issue. I also enjoyed Thumbprint and am loving The Wraith.
2. Jonathan Hickman
For the most, people enjoyed the Infinity saga, and as complex as it was, it holds together. There is a lot to be said about not building your characters with such a large crew, which is certainly a criticism of mine, but as a massive space action crossover piece it is fantastic. Add East of West and Manhattan Projects into the equation and Hickman has been astounding.
3. Jason Aaron
Aaron is an underrated writer and I have been championing his cause since his run on Hulk. Wolverine and the X-Men has been my favourite X-book for a very long time, but Thor was where he truly shone. As a combination it rarely gets better but his work on Thanos Rising certainly impressed and made me feel for the genocidal maniac.
I am genuinely upset I was unable to place Matt Fraction on this list, because he has produced such immense variety and deep soul searching work. Scott Snyder also continues his supremacy at DC and BKV brings such spirit into his work.
3. Who have been your top 3 artists?
1. Esad Ribic
I struggle to find an artist who can make heroes look like the Gods they are meant to be. Aaron wrote Thor into a place he was destined to be if not borne from, but it was Ribic that bore the vessel that took him there. My favourite panel of the year was Thor grasping two Mjolnirs and it was as epic as they come.
2. David Aja
There has not been a book that I have reviewed more on my site than this mans. Fraction and Aja break the rules of comic book storytelling and tell the story the way they want to. Whether it is the depressed nature of Clint or the permanent chirpiness of Grills (may he rest in peace), the story is always told stunningly. Pizza Dog was the pinnacle of their work and the sheer audacity paid off in spades.
3. Chris Samnee
In stark contrast Samnee brings the most subtle of touches to bring Matt Murdock from the brink of suicide. This has of course has been happening for a couple of years, but aside from Waid just writing him a happier person, we get to see it through Samnee’s pencils. His panelling work demonstrates Matt’s heightened senses better than almost anyone has, a true joy to read.
Once again I am deeply upset that I excluded Gabriel Rodriguez and Francesco Francavilla from these lists, who’s work on Locke and Key and Black Beetle were exemplary. I also realise that this is my only opportunity to mention the genius of Sean Murphy on The Wake too.
4. Which colourist has stood out from the crowd this year?
This question was purposely placed here to gain an appreciation of how many people think about colourists, and who they think about. There was only one answer for me, and that was of course Jordie Bellaire. She was the first person that made me think about colouring to the point where I started writing an Iconic Colourist Post. Her work on Nowhere Men, Manhattan Projects and Pretty Deadly is just enlightening and brings her own touch to the book. Honourable Mentions have to include Matt Hollingsworth (for Hawkeye) and Fco Plascenia (who makes Zero Year truly feel different).
5. Which writer/artist combination have been your favourite of 2013?
For the reasons mentioned above it has to be Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic. I have never had any feelings towards Thor in the past, but after the God Butcher and Godbomb arcs, I worship him.
6. What have been your top 3 mainstream books?
For the reasons mentioned above, there has never been a more satisfying comic from the big two this year. I pay special tribute to Francavilla for his work when filling in and stamping his mark on the side stories.
I have loved Daredevil since I went back and read the classic Miller run. Bendis and Maleev’s run was inspirational to me in becoming more invested in comics. However Waid and Samnee have brought about a comic which completely changed the game and brought about a new perspective. It is wonderful to see him back on top again.
3. Batman and Robin
This is a great Batman book, worthy of sitting on top the throne with Snyder and Capullo’s Batman. Gleason and Tomasi were given the task of writing along side main continuity and expanding the events. I hope people read the DOTF issues, as we explored Damien’s relationship with his father and the most disturbing of art. We then were party to the grieving process which was more rapid in all other Bat books, but these two allowed Batman the space to mourn. The family, though once broken by DOTF, came together in a lovely way. I cannot praise this book enough.
7. What have been your top 3 independent books (non Marvel/DC)?
1. Locke and Key
Though not a monthly book, I was so apprehensive and nervous about each issue’s release. I care deeply for each member of that family because they seem so real and troubled, and life does not always have an easy solution. It is rare for any book to provide that level of emotion attachment.
What can I say that has not already been said about this book? The characters are brazen and wear their hearts on their sleeve, and there are so many of them that you can relate to. The art and colouring is fantastic and unconstrained, meaning that we seen things we do not see anywhere else. Fiona and Brian are completely in touch tonally and it shows.
3. East of West
Hickman once again creates an immense post apocalyptic world, run by an underlying religious prophecy. It has all the hallmarks: conspiracy, religious undertones, skepticism and enthralling characters. Dragotta’s art is wonderful and tormented as are the characters he depicts, especially Death himself.
8. What has been your favourite story arc this year?
This is a tough decision between Thor and Infinity but ultimately there is one story that pays off completely. It leaves you satisfied, without the need for further tie-ins or hints of further angles. It is complete and beautiful, with a sense of personal fulfillment. That book is Thor – Godbomb.
9. Which character have you fallen in love with, completely taking you by surprise?
Legion, David Haller only just beats Carol Danvers. Simon Spurrier provides a narrative that allows us to see another perspective of the anti-mutant argument. David is trying to live in his father footsteps and realises he actually has the power to do so. It culminated with his ultimate manipulation of Cyclops in an incredible issue. I have never resonated with Legion before Spurrier took him on, and now I can try to cheer for him as much as possible.
10. Which has been the best tie in/B title to a mainstream arc this year?
Superior Foes is an excellent portrayal of the Sinister – not so six and Nick Spencer has created a set of loveable rogues. Its a very grounded book and has some immense displays of villainy frankness. This makes it relatable and builds anticipation for character you never thought you would root for. Welcome DC to how to write a book about villains.
11. Which new ongoing have you started reading, that you instantly regretted having not picked up earlier?
Without a doubt Mind MGMT. I got to issue four before I was completely taken by the story. I had not taken to any of Matt Kindt’s mainstream books but MGMT is completely different. It is a tragedy of grand design and has some impressive ideas that are executed to perfection. It is a patience requiring book that ultimately pays off phenomenally.
12. What have you absolutely hated about/in comics this year?
Given I avoid previews and immediate reactions to books on Twitter, the Internet rarely bothers me. But I am completely fed up with the illusion that you need to read every tie in book to understand the story. This figures in Infinity but Avengers and New Avengers do add to the story, but I can understand if people found them unnecessary. Villains Month is the biggest culprit and as much as Trinity War was surprisingly well done, the follow up really was not. The bad guys are not well explored and their stories are little more a yearning desire to confront their new oppressors. I dread the promotion pages that give you another checklist for the next crossover, especially when it contains a book I like.
Above all else my biggest problem with this year was certainly the misogyny and sexism of the industry. Whether it is the poor use of female characters in so many books, the unnecessary use of cheesecake, the abhorrent discussion of rape as a plot device, the berating of female cosplayers at conventions, and the nonsensical castigation of female creators. I struggle to fully understand how to write a female superhero well, and I have rarely seen it being done. However this year I spent some time with Gail Simone and Kelly Sue DeConnick’s comics and finally found female heroes that were feminine and not just female versions of their male counterparts. They worked so well and I found myself adoring them so much. This needs to continue and more women need to be in the industry at all levels, including readers. This needs promoting and any hinderance to it is completely unnecessary and despicable.
B. The fun stuff (Completely optional)
1. Do you miss Damian? Explain yourself!
I sincerely do. It isn’t the character per se but what he brought to Batman. Having gone through all the abuse of his now non-death, the Joker, the Owls and Talia, he is then hit with the death of his son. It is all a bit too much and Bruce has become so tragedy ridden. With the work Tomasi and Gleason have been doing, I found this a new perspective on our hero and was enjoying it very much. There was something altogether different about Damien being the flesh and blood of Bruce. I also disliked how Morrison managed to completely nullify the ending to Death of the family by taking Damien away from us.
2. Often the villain story is more compelling than the good guys: Is Forever Evil doing justice to the bad guy? (i.e. are you just waiting for the JL to return?)
Aside from aspects of Arkham War and Rogues rebellion, I am not enjoying this run at all. I love Lex but his character is really not inspiring me as the villain I am meant to cheer for. I have no aspirations for the JL to return either because it will be much of the same drivel we have been fed for a long length of time. All I want are some well written characters, I am not even bothered about the story so much.
3. Is Hal Jordan an impressing you as the new leader of the GLC?
I am liking it quite a lot. However there is a lot to be done as leader that does not include trying to save the universe in a non leader like way. I would rather him deal with smaller threats than bring on the next big universe changing adventure. Even trying to stop a rogue Star Sapphire has to involve everyone ever. I wish it was more downscale but I like the underlying changes that have been brought about.
1. Was Cyclops right?
This is a deliberately contrary question because the phrase is banded about in many an arc. So what exactly was he right about? I believe it first came about through Schism and then carried on through AvX. Now we have a clearly flawed leader trying to do right for his kind, against humans that hate him. I think we are deliberately confused with the issue that this is a Wolverine vs Cyclops issue, it is not. However that confrontation is always made out to be the key to the argument. If you think about Scott’s tactics then it is quite obvious that his actions are immoral, no matter if the intent is righteous. I enjoyed reading people’s responses immensely but ultimately it is brave to say Scott was right.
2. How much longer do you think Peter Parker should be kept out of action?
For reasons I have never really divulged, I am not a fan of Peter Parker and have not been since I was child. I also have certain issues with Dan Slott and I find his writing lacks subtly. However I cannot take away the incredible year he has had with this title, which for the most I have enjoyed. The thin line between the moral and immoral has been finely traversed with Spider-Ock. It has been a joy to read. Therefore I am happy for as long as Slott can write it and for as long as he can hold off the Parker fanatics.
3. Do the Avengers need to get bigger?
4. Given so much of Jonathan Hickman’s work is based around science/mythology/origins of the universe, do you think he believe in God?
1. What concerns you most about what Kirkman is going to do in the The Walking Dead: All out war?
I actually do not read, or ever have read this book. I posed the question purely because I felt it an important topic in the Image world of books.
2. Outside of Alana and Marko, who is your favourite Saga character?
Saga is an exceptionally popular book because its characters are so down to Earth and emotional, and we are with them through the trials and tribulations of life. Obviously Alana and Marko are revered but there is an excellent cast at hand. The Will is the one true transitioning character as he struggles to move on from his lost love. As great as he is, and as fantastic a concept Lying Cat is, my favourite character is the disemboweled Izabel. Her warmth and dedication to Hazel is unerring and unshakable and for that she earns my adoration.
3. What has been the best new Image title this year?
Of all the fantastic books that have come out, Sex Criminals, Pretty Deadly and Manifest Deadly feature at the top, but there is one clear victor: East of West
I am generally surprised at how long this took to fill out, especially considering I designed it. This gives me an even greater appreciation at the time you guys spent working on it, and I cannot wait to give you the results. I hope you enjoyed reading my answers.
NB. I shall be posting Part A, which contains the main awards on New Years Day and Part B the week after. There is much to discuss!