Episodic 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 10 issues of 2015. Continue reading
Today, Drew and guest writer Pivitor are discussing the Flash 17, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Drew: “Move forward” are the words the Flash lives by — both the man and the title. We’ve seen both accept rather profound changes, from the newfound abilities of the Rogues to his own death, rolling with the punches where most superheroes (and their series) might work to return things to their status quo. At the same time, writers Brian Buccellato and Francis Manapul are ever committed to their own continuity, recalling and building upon details first mentioned months earlier. The fact that those elements don’t come into play until long after they are introduced gives the series a propulsive sense of forward motion, allowing it to build incrementally. Thus, issue 17 can resolve plot elements first established in issue 6, as the Rogues, Gorillas, and the victims lost in the Speed Force finally get their due. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Scott are discussing the Flash 16, originally released January 30th, 2013.
Patrick: We expect our heroes to bravely sacrifice themselves for the greater good. If we’re blessed with complex characters, we can even expect this of our anti-heroes. But what about our ancillary characters? With the smoke-screen of a superheroic battle for the fate of city, real-world sacrifices tend to go unnoticed. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato deliver plenty of that bombastic hero action, but bury under it the sad, frustrated story of Iris West. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Mikyzptlk are discussing the Flash 15, originally released January 2nd, 2013.
Patrick: Whenever a writer keeps up several narrative threads at one time, one of us will say that he or she is “spinning a lot of plates.” It’s an odd metaphor. I mean — “juggling” works just as well to express the same thing and it’s a much more common activity. My friend Pete Pfarr had a KLUTZ book that taught him how to juggle, but there sure as shit wasn’t any KLUTZ book to teach him plate spinning. So what makes that turn-of-phrase so useful in describing the storytelling in The Flash 15? Possibly because we get the sense that the stories continue (the plates continue to spin) even when we’re not watching them. But I think the real reason we use the metaphor — and the only reason we’d want to see someone spinning plates (because: boring, amirite?) — is because we can’t wait to see what happens when too many plates are spinning and they all come crashing down. Boldly, Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato give us just that. Continue reading
We generally avoid quantifying our enthusiasm around here — we’ll gladly praise or condemn comics as our tastes dictate, but turning that into a grade or a score makes us uncomfortable. As there are in our pull-list, there are holes in this ‘Best of’ list. Mea culpa. We’ve had some great experiences with comics this year, and these are the series that were consistently fun, thoughtful and beautiful. Too subjective for a year-end list? Ignore the rankings. Any way you slice it, these are fantastic series that deserve the scrutiny we heap on everything. Each is a rewarding read and well worth your attention. Our picks for the top 12 series of 2012:
Today, Patrick and (guest writer) Tricia Aung are discussing Batwing 0, originally released September 5, 2012. Batwing 0 is part of the line-wide Zero Month.
Patrick: I always thought it was weird that the African arm of Batman, Incorporated would spend his time the same way regular Batman does. The real world problems of the continent are catastrophic to the point that fighting supervillains seems like a waste of time for someone with David Zavimbe’s abilities and assets. What Batwing 0 does is patiently remind me that there’s more to this character than simply his unique setting. Prior to this issue, I might have disagreed with that assessment.
Drew: When I interviewed Francis Manapul back in April, he expressed that he reveled at the unique expectations mandated by the New 52. Specifically, he expressed that “the best thing about knowing what people are expecting is when I change something, it seems shocking.” Subverting expectations is such a simple concept — and one so central to genre fiction in general — that you’d think it would start to lose its spark; but then again, with Manapul and Brian Buccellato on writing duties, nothing ever is that simple.
Patrick: Flash 11 (and 10, for that matter) is a bit of a place-setting issue. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccaletto are smart enough to fill these issues with self-contained stories, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that this series is currently in the business of establishing a new breed of Rogues. And they’re not just new to the audience, they’re new to the world of the Flash and — more distressing — new to each other. Thankfully, this is done without the slightest hint of an origin story: these bigger, better Rogues have a history together that’s half what-you-already-know-about-The-Rogues and half total mystery. And all of this villain business unfolds gracefully without ever losing sight of Barry Allen. Continue reading
Drew: Patrick and I like The Flash. Like like. I guess I shouldn’t speak for Patrick, but The Flash is perpetually on my list of top 3 comics. I love the writing, I love the art, and I especially love the synergy of the two. It’s hard for me to imagine it improving, so I’m generally wary of any changes. This is the first time we’ve seen a guest artist on The Flash, and while guest penciler Marcus To delivers a crisp, clean issue, it’s hard to compete with the Francis Manapul’s painterly style that has so defined this title for me. Continue reading
Drew: Art is repetitive. Analysts like Joseph Campbell and Heinrich Schenker acknowledge that, if you zoom out far enough, most works of art resemble each other. This is true of most narratives, and especially true of superhero comics, where the beats of secret identities, costumes, fighting crime, etc. are near-universal. What makes them interesting are the details around those universals, the details that make Superman different from Batman or the Flash. What drew us to Batwing in the first place was it’s potential for interesting details — as a new title, it had yet to establish just what those details might be. Ten months in, I’ve yet to see those details effectively explored. In fact, this issue turns the focus so sharply from those details that I’m starting to think they just aren’t coming.