2013 was a great year to be a comic book fan. From publishers big, small, and self-published, several single issue comic books stood out from the crowd as exceptional works of art and story. Here are GeekMom’s favorite comic books of 2013. Swing by your local comic book store and pick one up!
Leaving Megaopolis (Self-Published), Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore – The best comic book I read this year was Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore’s Leaving Megalopolis, which was a Kickstarter project and isn’t available yet to the general public. I thought I’d like it because I like Gail’s work, but this has to be the best thing she’s ever done. I hope it’s on Amazon or available to the public soon. – Corrina Lawson
Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, #4 of 4 (Archaia), David Petersen – This issue was my favorite, mainly for the Bill Willingham story. His writing is great in Fables, but certainly not kid-friendly. Combining his style and imagination with an awesome family series like Mouse Guard was a home run. – Lisa Tate
Batman and Robin #18 (DC Comics), Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason – A Batman comic with no text seems like an odd choice for one of the best of the year, but Tomasi and Gleason masterfully capture anguish and grief in an unforgettable single issue. – Kelly Knox
Smallville: Season 11 #56 (DC Comics), Bryan Q. Miller and Jorge Jimenez – If I could put every issue of the “Olympus” arc on my top ten list for 2013, I would. Smallville: Season 11‘s version of the first adventure of Wonder Woman and Superman had me impatient for Fridays so I could read the next digital installment. – Kelly Knox
Hawkeye #11 (Marvel Comics), Matt Fraction and David Aja – Another issue with almost no text that still makes a huge impact, Hawkeye #11 is told from the unique perspective of Clint Barton’s dog, Lucky (AKA Pizza Dog). The icons showing how Lucky sees (and smells) the world are innovative and thought-provoking, like the series itself. – Kelly Knox
The X-Files: Season 10 #6 (IDW Publishing), Joe Harris, Elena Casagrande, and Silvia Califano – For me there was no question about my favorite single comic issue of 2013—Joe Harris’ The X-Files #6 stood head and shoulders above the rest. Although the opening five-part arc had set up the return of Agents Mulder and Scully in classic style, issue #6 returned Season 10 to the show’s popular Monster-of-the-Week format. There was the tense and creepy pre-”credits” set up, some nice scenes at FBI headquarters (including the return of the basement office), an appearance from everyone’s favorite boss D.D. Skinner, and some brilliant banter between Mulder and Scully themselves—consistently one of my favorite aspects of the show.
Finally, #6 had Mulder and Scully going about their usual roles: Mulder off investigating in the field and generally riling up the locals with Scully left behind to do autopsies and lab work; the pair staying in constant contact via their surgically attached cell phones. The flashbacks to TV episodes and the cliffhanger ending were just the icing on the cake of an issue that, in my opinion, really proved to me that my beloved X-Files was really back again. – Sophie Brown
Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. This week we have a wide variety of books including Leaving Megalopolis by the team ofwriter Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore, Molly Danger, DC: The New Frontier, Divas, Dames, & Daredevils, and Mouse Guard!
Corrina–Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and Jim Calafiore; Batwoman #25 by Mark Andreyko and Trevor McCarthy
Re: Leaving Megalopolis
Omigod, the feels in this book.
Leaving Megalopolis is a hardcover, full-length graphic novel that was published via a highly successful Kickstarter campaign that raised over $100,000. I had very little idea of what the book would be about as I backed the project on the strength of the creative team.
I was blown away by the intensity, sadness, sacrifice, love, and honor in this story. It may be the best thing Simone has ever written and the art by Calafiore is beautiful, terrifying, and awe-inspiring, ranging from facial close-ups to massive craters to monsters to a city crumbling into pieces.
The story is exactly what the title says it is: A small group of survivors band together reluctantly to try and get out of the city which has been overrun and destroyed by the heroes who used to protect it. Why the heroes turned evil, why the police officer leading them is so reluctant to help, and how others react to their city being destroyed is all part of the story. There’s also a quiet back-up tale with a former human sidekick (no powers) helping out a girl who’s stumbled into his former lair.
At times, this book broke my heart. But somehow, even with the tragedy and sense of loss that’s interspersed through the book, there are still flashes of heroism that were just enough to give me hope.
Simone’s been tweeting the graphic novel will be available at some point via regular publishing channels. I hope so. This story deserves to be read by as many people as possible.
And it sure brought some surprises. Kate’s background has been somewhat revised. Once a supposed distant cousin of Bruce Wayne, she’s now his first cousin, via his mother, Martha Kane. Kate’s home from West Point for the funeral of their mutual uncle, Philip, and attends a wake at Wayne Manor, where it’s clear she, her sister Bette, and Bruce are fairly close, if not exactly buddies. Kate even talks of a family curse, pointing to Bruce’s dead parents, and her own (presumed) dead sister and mother.
But all that is prologue as Kate, wanting to do something to help during the blackout, borrows one of Bruce’s motorcycles to try and keep the peace. In doing so, she briefly encounters one Maggie Sawyer, then a volunteer from the Metropolis Police Force.
It’s a good story, though I can’t decide whether tying Kate to Bruce more closely is a good thing or not. Kate’s always been very much her own person, though she wears the Bat-symbol, and I’m worried this will make her more of an adjunct to Bruce rather than a hero in her own right. We’ll see. It certainly adds another element to the Batwoman/Batman fight that ended in a cliffhanger with issue #24.
Dakster Sullivan — DC: The New Frontier Vol. 2 by Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart
After being slightly disappointed in DC: The New Frontier, Volume 1, I picked up Volume 2 in the hope that it would involve less politics and more heroic action. Thankfully, I wasn’t disappointed and Volume 2 brought all the heat that I felt was missing from Volume 1.
For the most part, the story centers around Hal Jordan, Martian Manhunter, and Superman, with Wonder Woman and the Flash getting honorable mentions.
Batman has a very small role in this story and I can’t say I missed him that much. His lack of involvement allows the writers to bring other characters, like Flash and Wonder Woman, into the spotlight in his place.
I grew to hate a few of the characters but the writers had a way of pulling at the heartstrings at the very last minute—which left me mourning instead of celebrating their deaths. One scene in particular, with Martian Manhunter, proved that a male losing a male friend could force a hero into action just as much as the loss of a female friend could.
The art style had the same beauty as Volume One and the writing, especially Superman’s, made the characters feel real in the World War II era.
I almost wish the stories wouldn’t end so I could watch Hal Jordan grow as a Green Lantern and watch as Martin Manhunter grows more into his new role as a hero on Earth.
Kelly Knox — Divas, Dames, & Daredevils by Mike Madrid
After chatting briefly with author Mike Madrid at this year’s GeekGirlCon, I decided to check out his new book Divas, Dames, & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics, an exploration of the forgotten heroines that hit the funny pages even before Wonder Woman did. I wish now I’d caught his panel at the convention — the book is a compelling discussion of comic heroines of the 1940s that are no longer lost to time thanks to this fascinating read.
Not only does Madrid include commentary about the Golden Age time period itself, he introduces us to a cast of characters that run from adventuresome career girls inspired by Lois Lane, to vigilantes with no qualms about catching the bad guy, to superheroines with almost limitless powers. And then, I discovered to my delight, each heroine is featured in a reprinted full comic strip showcasing her daring exploits.
Chapters divvy up the Golden Age heroes into categories, like “Women at War” and “Daring Dames.” (I personally enjoyed reading about the exploits of “Penny Wright, Feature Writer” because just for one second I imagined that it read “Kelly Knox, Feature Writer” and I could be in the pages of a comic book with some adventures of my own.) Madrid reacquaints us to over 25 characters of the Golden Age, and each comic adventure is an engaging, and occasionally strange, experience to read.
Lisa Tate — Molly Danger, Book One (Action Lab) by Jamal Igle
Molly Danger is eternally young, superhumanly strong, and a filled with personality and spirit.
Her story seems vaguely familiar (an orphaned alien child stranded on Earth, but is blessed with superhuman strength and other powers), yet she is also cursed with being perpetually trapped in the body and emotional needs of a 10-year-old. Treated as a fragile weapon by the D.A.R.T. organization through which she is protector of the city Coopersville, she is loved my many in her community, but kept isolated, unable to have friends or even make contact with the general public. When a recent “hot dog” ex-police pilot and his family befriend her, she discovers how much she yearns for a little normalcy in her life.
Funded through a Kickstarter campaign, this creator-owned hardback comic is the brainchild of Inkpot Award winning writer and illustrator Jamal Igle (Supergirl), with inks by Juan Castro and colors by Romulo Fajardo Jr. This comic is great, not only for young girls looking for a strong, confident female hero, but for any kid (or adult) who has often felt they are on the outside-looking-in or isolated. If the first book is any indication, Molly’s fight against loneliness will be as intriguing as any fight against the forces of evil.
Kay Moore — Mouse Guard: Legends of the Guard, Vol. 2 by David Petersen (Author, Artist), Stan Sakai, Bill Willingham, Rick Geary, Ben Caldwell, Nick Tapalansky, Paul Morrissey, Rebecca Taylor, Cory Godbey, Eric Canete, and Alex Eckman-Lawn.
This is the second outing in the Mouse Guard “Legends” series, which collects stories told by characters in Petersen’s Mouse Guard tales, but written and illustrated by guest creators. The framing story is set in the June Alley Inn, where the inn owner offers to dismiss the bar tab for the winner of a contest for the best tale. Then we get 12 stories and an illustrated song from different artists and creators, plus the framing pages of the inn story, an introduction and character bios from David Petersen. I’m a fan of Mouse Guard so I enjoy the Petersen art, including the nods to medieval mood and design on the maps and reference pages.
From story to story there is a lot of variation. I’ve enjoyed other anthologies similar to this because it’s a potluck of dishes recommended by an author I like. I am wandering around in the midst of all this goodness.
In this book, I loved a few of the stories, enjoyed most of the stories, and there were a couple I wouldn’t have missed. The stories are so short, I am amazed that authors can establish the characters and tell a complete story in just a handful of pages. My favorites included a black and white densely inked story with no words, featuring a mer-mouse, and a watercolor-y tale of a princess and four adventuring brothers that reminded me of the stories in the “Color” Fairytale books of my childhood. That art was beautiful with a distinctive, colorful, and illuminated palette and unusual panel layouts.
The tales don’t focus on the main characters from the Mouse Guard books; they are meant to be tall tales or stories the mice tell themselves. As such, the tales are not connected to the forward movement of the story lines in the major collections and I missed seeing my favorite characters. I also wish fewer pages were spent in the “framing” moments at the inn. I like the comfort of Petersen’s art and writing for those segments but nothing much develops during those linking pages to justify the expense of all that page real estate. Still, Volume 2 of Legends is a bouquet of fun and interesting styles, with clever stories by authors you have not yet discovered. The book is recommended for ages 8 and above.
Looking for something else, readers? Check out this week’s listed books:
100 Bullets Brother Lono #6 (Of 8)
Animal Man #25
Batman ’66 #5
Batman And Two-Face #25
Batman Beyond Universe #4
Batman Detective Comics Vol. 2 Scare Tactics TP
Batman Detective Comics Vol. 3 Emperor Penguin HC
Birds Of Prey #25
Fairest In All The Land HC
Forever Evil Rogues Rebellion #2 (Of 6) Green Lantern New Guardians #25 GM
Harley Quinn #0 He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe #8 GM
MAD Presents Spy Vs Spy Fight To The Finish TP
Red Hood And The Outlaws #25 Scooby-Doo Team-Up #1 KF10
Trinity Of Sin Pandora #5
Vertigo Essentials Fables #1
Wake #5 (Of 10)
Wonder Woman #25 Worlds’ Finest Vol. 2 Hunt And Be Hunted TP GM
A+X Vol. 2 = Amazing TP
Amazing Spider-Man Epic Collection Cosmic Adventures TP
Avengers A.I. #6
Cable And X-Force #16
Captain America Living Legend By Mike Allred Poster
Cataclysm The Ultimates #1 (Of 3)
Dexter #5 (Of 5)
Fantastic Four #14
Indestructible Hulk #15
Inhumanity By Olivier Coipel Poster
Longshot Saves The Marvel Universe #2 (Of 4)
Secret Avengers #11
Secret Avengers By Rick Remender Vol. 3 TP
Spider-Man Vs Venom By J. Scott Campbell Poster
Superior Spider-Man Annual #1
Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #6
Takio 2 HC
Uncanny X-Force Vol. 2 Torn And Frayed TP
Uncanny X-Men #14
Wolverine MAX #13 X-Men #7 KF10
X-Men A Skinning Of Souls TP
X-Men Legacy #20
X-Men Vol. 1 Primer TP
Young Avengers #12
Ben 10 #1 KF10 Ben 10 Classics Vol. 1 Ben Here Before TP KF10
Doctor Who Classics Vol. 9 TP
Doctor Who Prisoners Of Time #12 (Of 12)
Mars Attacks The Human Condition TP My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic #13 KF10 Samurai Jack #2 KF10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures #5 KF10
Transformers Dark Cybertron #1 (Deluxe Edition)
Transformers More Than Meets The Eye #23 (Dark Cybertron Part 2 Of 12)
True Blood Vol. 2 Tainted Love TP
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth #113
Baltimore Vol. 3 A Passing Stranger And Other Stories HC
Berserk Vol. 37 TP
Brain Boy #3
Buzzkill #3 (Of 4)
Conan The Barbarian #22
Dark Horse Presents #30
Fifth Beatle The Brian Epstein Story HC
Kiss Me Satan #3
Last Man Standing Killbook Of A Bounty Hunter HC
Magnus Robot Fighter 4000 A.D. Archives Vol. 2 TP
Oh My Goddess! Vol. 45 TP
So I Survived The Zombie Apocalypse And All I Got Was This Podcast TP
Star Wars Darth Vader And The Ninth Assassin HC
Star Wars Dawn Of The Jedi Force War #1 (Of 5)
Star Wars Legacy II Prisoner Of The Floating World TP
Strain The Fall #5
Violent Cases HC
Acronym Key: VC = Variant Cover / HC = Hard Cover / TP = Trade Paperback / GM = GeekMom Recommended Reading / KF10 = Kid-Friendly for 10-years old and younger
Happy Comic Release Day! Welcome to another installment of GeekMom Comic Book Corner, where we recap our adventures in comics for the week. Did you know Comic Book Corner covers titles for all ages? Yup! And this week, I look at The Pandas & Boom, a motion comic for ages two to six, while Lisa Tate takes us inside Mouse Guard! Corrina takes a look at the comic at the heart of the “no marriage!” controversy, Batwoman.
Corrina Lawson – Batwoman Volume 3: World’s Finest by J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman and Trevor McCarthy
Batwoman (Kate Kane) has been a tough sell for me, personally. She, rightfully, has her fans and I’ve recognized her importance as the only mainstream lesbian superhero, but her characterization left me cold. In many ways, she is the most like Bruce Wayne among the Bat characters, remote and emotionally distant. But this story? I loved this story, for the imaginative artwork, for the interaction between Batwoman and Wonder Woman, for the literal descent into a Hades-like prison, for Kate’s absolute determination to find lost children and return them to their parents, and for the glimpse into Kate’s training that finally allowed me to see beneath the remote exterior.
It’s ironic that I finally “got” the character the day before it was announced those behind this story were leaving the title due to capricious editorial demands.
The plot follows up on Batwoman’s long-running search to find a monster in Gotham who is abducting children. Events turn metaphysical when she realizes she’s dealing with something out of myth and legend. Batwoman and Kate Kane take a winding journey that eventually leads back to the heart of darkness, in this case, Gotham, and finally to a resolution that has Kate proposing to her lady love, Gotham Police Detective Maggie Sawyer. It’s a beautiful end sequence and will have to serve somewhat as Williams’ and Blackman’s defining moment of the character.
Volume 3 stands alone nicely, for those who are worried about jumping in without reading the first two story arcs of her title.
Dakster Sullivan – The Pandas & Boom #1: Wonderwood, by CAT Studios
The Pandas & Boom is an interactive motion comic by CAT Studios about Boom, a curious squirrel, and her new panda friends, Sophie and Hector. From the first few pages, I knew this wasn’t the average comic book reading experience. Having read Subject #9 on the Narr8 app, I was expecting motion in each panel, but what I wasn’t expecting was interaction between the reader and the story.
The story takes us above the forest, where Boom lands herself in a mystery as she discovers two boxes misplaced in the forest. Her interested is piqued when she hears one of the boxes snoring and the other sounding very angry at something. The angry box opens first and out pops Sophie (a pink panda girl), and she is ready in full karate-stance to defend herself from the unknown. The snoring finally ends in the other box and Hector (a blue panda boy) emerges, both hungrier and more trusting than his companion, Sophie.
After convincing Sophie and Hector that she has no desire to harm them, Boom convinces them to come to her place for muffins, tea, and a place to sleep.
This is a neat story because while you’re reading, some of the words are highlighted so that you can learn the definition or hear it in a different language such as Spanish, British, Korean, or Russian. You are also given the chance to tell the characters what to do (for instance, Boom needed to look closer at one of the panda boxes, so a magnifying glass appeared for you to tell her to do so). As a mother, I like how the writers incorporated various learning opportunities into the story and made it fun to learn along the way. Each of the stories has a point to make and a lesson to learn, and it’s easy to pick up on what the writers were trying to get across.
At the end of the story, a friendly bird appears with a list of the five words learned in the story and offers another opportunity to hear them in a different language.
This simple adventure story is only thirteen pages long, so it’s just the right length for anyone up to the age of six. I would recommend sitting with your child the first time they are watching the story to make sure they understand the signals the story gives them. In addition, because some of the other stories in the Narr8 app are more geared towards adults, I would keep a close eye on the little ones while they are using the app to make sure they don’t accidentally open up Subject #9 or another title that is not for them. In the future, I’d like to see Narr8 create a child lock or child app to keep children from accidentally seeing stories they are not old enough to experience yet.
The Pandas & Boom is released weekly on the Narr8 app for 99 Narrs (or about $1.85) per episode.
Lisa Kay Tate – Mouse Guard: The Black Axe
This third volume in David Petersen’s award-winning, all-ages fantasy series is a prequel to his other adventure, and reveals the back story of young Lieam’s first meeting with the fabled Black Axe. The impressive art and stellar storytelling in this series appeal to a wide audience that in our home includes both my husband and myself, as well as our 11-year-old fantasy expert, who read this voraciously. Even our 4-year-old loves to take up these books and peruse Petersen’s images.
The worst thing about this book was the excruciatingly long wait—after all, I’ve had the previous volumes since 2010! The adventures in these books moved so quickly, I had to fight my impulse to fly through them. I knew as I lingered on the last pages of The Black Axe that I was beginning yet another long wait before I could join these simple soldiers in further exploits. However, Mouse Guard is worth the wait.