Best of 2014: Best Series Part 2

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 2 our top 14 series of 2014 (click here for part 1).
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Best of 2014: Best Series Part 1

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 1 our top 14 series of 2014 (check back here for part 2 tomorrow).
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Best of 2014: Best Writer

Best of 2014: Best WriterIn such a collaborative medium as comics, it can be difficult to say where a writer’s influence on the story ends, but there’s no question on where it begins: words on the page. Whether they thrill, elate, chill, or deflate, the best writers create characters, settings, and situations we want to return to, again and again. These are our top 14 writers of 2014. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Issue

Best of 2014: Best IssueEpisodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 14 issues of 2014.
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Sex Criminals 9

Alternating Currents: Sex Criminals 9, Ryan and DrewToday, Ryan and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 9, originally released December 10th, 2014.
Ryan: Sex Criminals 9 begins with an entwicklungsroman of sorts, chronicling the development of the young woman who grows into Jon’s favorite adult actress, Jazmine St. Cocaine. It begins, like all good stories, with an inciting incident: a playground accident — seeming perpetrated by the subtly blood-speckled see-saw — leaves Rae Anne Toots with nerve damage on her clitoris and thus insensitive to that particular type of sexual stimulation. Despite this injury and the high school promiscuity (her intimation, not mine — judgment-free column here) she partially attributes to it, Ana graduates top of her class with her sights set on university. Unfortunately, her father can/will not help her with the financial strings attached, and she eventually finds that supporting herself by working forty hours plus to afford college is for suckers. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 8

sex criminals 8Today, Greg and Ryan are discussing Sex Criminals 8, originally released October 8th, 2014.

Greg: Let’s have fun with oversimplifications: Life is messy. To distract us from this messiness, humans create and consume media. Some media is tidy, to help us escape. Some media is messy, to help us examine. The best media, like the latest issue of Sex Criminals, has a balance of both elements. Now, let’s have fun with overcomplications.

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Hawkeye 20

Alternating Currents: Hawkeye 20, Suzanne and SpencerToday, Suzanne and Spencer Drew are discussing Hawkeye 20, originally released September 10th, 2014.

Drew: Of all the ways a writer can use to emphasize their storytelling beats, shuffling the chronology of the events always demands my attention. I almost called it “distracting” but I think I mean “demands my attention” — I absolutely appreciate that it’s a handy tool in the savvy writer’s toolkit, but we’re so used to perceiving events one after the other that flipping them around feels noticeably alien. Again, I don’t want to imply that it’s inherently bad — there are lots of compelling reasons to tell a story out-of-order — but that it draws attention to itself in ways that aren’t always accounted for. Fortunately, Matt Fraction has routinely proven himself capable of handling (and justifying) these types of stories, making Hawkeye 20 an excellent example of nonlinear narrative done right. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 7

sex criminals 7Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Sex Criminals 7, originally released August 13th, 2014.

Patrick: This is going to be one timid-ass example, but rest assured, the story is so tame because I want to save face here. In high school, I was all about grand romantic gestures — mix tapes, love letters, picnics, whatever: it was all my jam. So, early on the morning of her sixteenth birthday, I picked up my girlfriend from her house and drove us to the shores of Lake Michigan to watch the sunrise. Mind you, it’s April and both the lake and the beach are covered in ice. Already not the smartest idea. But I was on my way to her house, zipping along mostly-deserted roads far too quickly and I got pulled over for speeding. Driving safely just wasn’t a thought in my horny little head at that moment. Luckily, I only got a ticket — no one was hurt or anything like that. But who knows what kind of damage my hormone-addled body could have caused? This is the G-rated version of a story we all have; especially when we’re first discovering it, sex turns us into weirdly irresponsible monsters, monsters that make mistakes. Continue reading

Hawkeye 19

hawkeye 19

Today, Spencer and Courtney are discussing Hawkeye 19, originally released July 30th, 2014.

Spencer: My best friend is an artist, and he constantly complains that I read my comics too fast, that I don’t pay enough attention to the art. I’ll admit it, he has a point; I’m so eager to read the story that I often devour my comics, and miss things in the art I don’t catch until my second or third time through a book. There was no way I could do that with Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye 19, though. This issue demands that you slow down and pay attention to every detail. It’s a challenging read in many ways, but it’s a challenge that’s absolutely worth attempting. Continue reading

Sex Criminals 6

sex criminals 6

Today, Scott and Shelby are discussing Sex Criminals 6, originally released June 18th, 2014.

Scott: Have you ever been surprised at your own emotional response to something? It happened to me last summer, when my grandfather died. It was unexpected, or at least as unexpected as the death of an 88 year old man could be. I was shocked and saddened by the news, but I was very aware that my reaction felt muted. I knew my grandfather very well and loved him dearly, so why wasn’t I more emotional? I started to wonder if I was incapable of truly grieving. It seemed like another step in a progression I had noticed in recent years, a general softening of my emotional responses, and the thought that I might be dead inside scared the crap out of me. A couple months ago, my entire family reunited for a memorial service and I was again surprised when, while speaking about my grandfather, I could hardly get through a sentence without bawling. Discovering that I was capable of such an emotional outpouring was a huge relief, as the thought of a lifetime of even-keeled reactions seemed dreadful. I realize I can’t always control how I will react to major life events, but I’m thankful that I can at least be comfortable with my emotions. As Sex Criminals 6 illustrates in painstaking detail, not everyone is so lucky.

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