The best comics of 2014


For our Best Comics of 2014 panel survey, we wanted to wait until the end of Jan. 2015 before choosing our picks so as to let 2014 come to a full close and to allow ample time for reflection. And rather than take votes and come up with a single choice for each category, we decided to let each of five comic reviewers share all his picks so as to allow for a maximum diversity of recommendations. Each reviewer has included a short bio of his general tastes for readers to consider when deciding what to read next.

Not surprisingly, a number of choices overlapped, but since each reviewer chose his picks without knowing what the others were going to pick, that speaks all the more highly for certain titles on this list. And if you want to give any of our recommendations a go, purchasing them by clicking the hyperlinked titles would go a ways toward helping this site survive. And since we’re all about supporting artists, we think the creators of these comics would appreciate that too.

Now then, let’s get to the Pop Mythology team’s picks for Best Comics of 2014.

Reviewer: Captain John K. Kirk

Intro: In terms of tastes, I’m pretty much a geek of my generation: I’m devoted to comics from the Bronze Age and to classic groups like The New Teen Titans, The New Mutants and the X-Men under guys like Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, John Byrne, and John Romita Jr. And as a comic historian, I love continuity. I really enjoy reading the origins of heroes and seeing how they develop over the years into their ultimate forms. Looking at books in the Silver Age and seeing how they transform into the 21st century is also really exciting for me. But I also enjoy innovation, and contemporary books from companies like Image are definitely leading the way to entice new readers to the medium.

Best Ongoing Series:  Lazarus  (Image)

An amazing look at a possible future. The world is divided into family-dominated sectors that control different economic assets and resources. They are each championed by a “Lazarus”—a genetically engineered member of the family, loyal to the family—and this comic follows the exploits of one such Lazarus, Forever Carlyle of House Carlyle.

Best Mini Series: Forever Evil  (DC)

Regardless of how you feel about the New 52, this publishing event really exploited the rebirth of this comic line and successfully revamped an old storyline to new proportions.

Best Story Arc:   Batman,  “Zero Year”  (DC)

Again, another incredibly successful reboot of a stock character. Breaking Batman down to his initial origins and showing him as flawed and unsure makes this a refreshing take on a classic character.

Best Trade Volume: Saga, Book One: Deluxe Edition  (Image)

I purposefully waited for this to come out in hardcover format and was not disappointed. This story needs to be taken in fully, from the start of one segment to another to get a full appreciation for its novelty and uniqueness.

Best New Series: Moon Knight  (Marvel)

What I love about this 2014 relaunch is that it keeps to the original character in essence yet reinvents certain aspects of him at the same time. There is more of an emphasis on the character as an avatar of Khonshu and also addresses his mental health in a provocative way.

Best Single Issue: Batman Annual #1  (DC)

Just a truly vicious and psychotically brilliant rendition of the Joker. Incredible issue and Scott Snyder is a joy to read. He made Batman come alive for me.

Best Panel/Moment: Uncanny X-Men #29  (Marvel)

(Marvel Comics)

I can’t really give away the details, or show any panels after this one, without getting harangued about spoilers, so you’ll just have to pick this issue up and read it.

Best Genre Bender: Rat Queens  (Image)

This book takes the D&D adventure to new humorous heights. Strong female protagonists also really make it stand apart from other books in the genre.

Best Creative Team:  Greg Rucka / Michael Lark  (Lazarus)

Had a hard time deciding between these guys and Scott Snyder /Greg Capullo on Batman, but there can only be one! Or so my editor says.

Publisher With Most Interesting Growth/Development in 2014:  Image Comics

Has to be Image. Just look at the amazing array of winning titles they launched in 2014 alone. The Walking Dead was their big success but they are bound to repeat that success with new titles like The Fuse, The Mercenary Sea, Rat Queens, and of course, Lazarus.

Series Most Begging for a Film Adaptation:  East of West  (Image)

This needs to be envisioned for the big screen. Of course, it’ll be a three hour plus movie.

Reviewer: Kyle Simons

Intro: My father got my brother and me into comics from a very early age with Marvel stuff, and that’s what I read the most, by far. I do branch out from time to time for good stuff from any publisher though. In general, I almost exclusively read superhero stuff but have great love for anything written well: Locke & Key, Saga, Rat Queens, Who is Jake Ellis?, and anything else I see stirring up critics and friends alike. My first love is, and always will be, superhero comics though, regardless of publisher. And since most of my experience is with Marvel I’m generally much more up-to-date with stuff going on with them.

Best Ongoing Series: Saga  (Image)

Pretty self-explanatory, though not at all surprising for any comic reader.

Best Mini Series: Multiversity  (DC)

The mad genius, Grant Morrison, is back and he’s got a wonderfully meta comic series that I’ve been loving. The re-readability, the layers, the Morrison-ness of it all, it’s just great stuff.

Best Story Arc: Green Arrow, “The Outsider’s War”  (DC)

This really came out of left field for me, I liked Jeff Lemire’s independent stuff, but didn’t love it. Now, what he did with Green Arrow though, together with Andrea Sorrentino, was absolutely and consistently amazing the whole run through.

Best Trade Volume: Saga, Book One: Deluxe Edition  (Image)

Considering it’s my favorite series, this shouldn’t be a huge surprise. Particularly, the Deluxe Edition hardcover is really where it’s at. 18 issues, over 500 pages, absolutely love it.

Best New Series: Miracleman  (Marvel)

I realize I’m probably cheating here a little bit, but it was totally new for me, and I’d heard a lot about it but was never able to read it until now. Of course, it’s as awesome and mind-blowing as everyone always says it is.

Best Single Issue: Ms. Marvel #1  (Marvel)

The first issue of Ms. Marvel  was a really memorable experience for me. It made me feel like this is Peter Parker for a new generation, just really great stuff.

Best Panel/Moment: Rat Queens #8  (Image)

(Image Comics)

Rat Queens, Saga, and, believe it or not, Cyclops, were contenders here for me, but Rat Queens takes the cake with a really great, heart-warming scene that begins on page 17 with this panel.

Favorite Genre Bender: Gotham Academy  (DC)

Boy, just didn’t see this one coming. Gotham Academy has this weird Harry Potter crossed with Gotham and the Batman-verse, along with supernatural elements that don’t always get played up in it. It’s really fun and fresh.

Favorite Creative Team: Greg Capullo / Scott Snyder  (Batman)

Surprisingly enough, and despite being a Marvel fanboy, my two absolutely favorite runs of the year were both from DC. Snyder and Capullo are just perfect together and have been since the beginning. Every. Issue. Is. Amazing.

Publisher With Most Interesting Growth/Development in 2014:  Valiant

I really love seeing this company, along with all the IP attached to it, come up and come back with a force. All those comics I loved in the 90s—X-O Manowar, Eternal Warrior—they’re all back and better than ever. I really hope they can keep digging in, they totally deserve it over there.

Series Most Begging for a Film Adaptation: Velvet  (Image)

One of my favorite series ever, Ed Brubaker is just amazing at writing these old-school spy thriller story lines that would translate perfectly to the big screen. It wouldn’t even take a ton of money, and we’d finally get a mature, female Bond counterpart that would almost assuredly end up kicking his ass.

Reviewer:  jman

Intro: Born and raised a DC guy. Over the last few years, branching deeper into Marvel territory and even deeper into independent titles. Mostly superhero stuff, but definitely enjoy reading non-traditional comic stories. A good story is a good story.

Best Ongoing Series:  The Manhattan Projects  (Image)

Takes the last 75 years of history and turns it onto its head.

Best Mini Series:  The Wake  (Vertigo)

Technically, this comic started in 2013 but it continued well into 2014 so I’m gonna go with it.

Best Story Arc:  Edge of Spider-Verse (Marvel)

Almost chose Batman: Zero Year, but the clever use of all the different variations of Spider-Man (and their environments) over the years alone makes Edge of Spider-Verse worth the read.

Best Trade Volume: Sweet Tooth Vol. 1 – 6 (Vertigo)

This didn’t come out in 2014 either but it was one of the few trades I read last year.

Best New Series:  Sex Criminals  (Image)

How many comics have you read that have a musical number in them, let alone one by Queen?

Best Single Issue: Robin Rises Alpha  (DC)

While I’m not the biggest fan of Grant Morrison’s work, I am a big fan of Damian Wayne. Glad to have the lil’ angry clone back!

Best Panel/Moment: Captain Marvel #1  (Marvel)

(Marvel Comics)

Easy choice.  Last panel on the second to last page.  Carol looking off into the big unknown, ready to see where it takes her.

Best Genre Bender: Jupiter’s Legacy  (Image)

Again, another one that didn’t actually start in 2014, but I picked it up in 2014.

Best Creative Team:  Scott Synder/Greg Capullo  (Batman)

Sooner or later another team will take over, but I hope these guys keep on keeping on Batman for a long time indeed.

Publisher With Most Interesting Growth/Development in 2014:  Image Comics

Image continues to push boundaries in impressive ways.

Series Most Begging for a Film Adaptation:  Saga  (Image)

C’mon. It’s Saga.

Reviewer: Clint Nowicke

Intro: Bit of a Marvel fanboy here, so you will see that reflected in my choices. Also, being in my last semester of grad school meant I wasn’t able to read as many comics as I’d like last year, and if you ask my comic book crack dealer he will tell you my file is huge thanks to the backlog of issues I need to read. So my choices were a bit limited this year. But nevertheless here are my picks.

Best Ongoing Series: Hawkeye  (Marvel)

This is what Hawkeye does when he’s not being an Avenger. *Pseudo-spoiler*: He screws up.  A lot.

Best Mini Series: Hawkeye vs. Deadpool  (Marvel)

You know this is a great series when Deadpool comes storming into battle on Hawkeye’s skycycle which he stole from the Avengers Tower.

Best Story Arc: The Death of Wolverine  (Marvel)

Everybody has to get at least one big death in Marvel. This one was good.

Best Trade Volume: Saga, Book One: Deluxe Edition  (Image)

Since Saga is such an epic story it’s much easier to read it all as a collected volume rather than as individual issues.

Best New Series:  Manifest Destiny  (Image)

I’m not sure about this one because I didn’t read any new series that specifically started in 2014 unless Manifest Destiny, which started in Nov. 2013, is an acceptable choice.

Best Single Issue: Hawkeye #19  (Marvel)

As someone who signs most of the day (i.e. uses sign language), this issue, which is done in images of signs almost like an ASL dictionary, meant a lot to me personally.

Best Panel/Moment:  Hawkeye #19  (Marvel)

(Marvel Comics)

The baddies are trying to figure out the meaning of an airport sign, which was an interesting take on what “sign” language means.

Best Genre Bender: Manifest Destiny  (Image)

If history class meshed with science fiction like this series does then maybe I would have paid attention.

Best Creative Team: Matt Fraction / Chip Zdarsky  (Sex Criminals)

Fraction used the phrase “SLUT TOOTHPASTE” in an interview I did with him and Zdarsky drew a giant penis on a comic we were going to display at my local comic shop. What’s not to love?

Publisher With Most Interesting Growth/Development in 2014:  Marvel

For proactively spearheading some very progressive and inspiring causes/projects, my favorite among these being Iron Man: Sound Effects, a custom comic produced in conjunction with The Children’s Hearing Institute that includes not only Blue Ear (the superhero with a hearing aid based on my little real-life buddy Anthony) but also for the first time a character with a cochlear implant named Sapheara. Not to mention all the movie stuff.

Series Most Begging for a Film Adaptation: Sex Criminals  (Image)

I’m pretty sure if I really explained why, our site would get shut down. Or banned. Or something.

Reviewer: The Pop Mythologist

Intro: I’m the odd member in this group of distinguished gentlemen in that 2014 marked a return to a consistent practice of reading comics for me, something which hasn’t been the case for years. While I grew up on Marvel and DC material just like everyone else, there are staggering gaps in my canonical knowledge, having been away from them for so long. As such, I tend to more naturally gravitate nowadays to titles with limited, self-enclosed worlds like those published by Image, BOOM!, IDW and others. I’m also a big indie comic buff with Fantagraphics and Drawn & Quarterly being two of my favorite publishers. However, I did read a sizable array of Marvel titles last year as well, so my choices come from a respectably diverse pool.

Best Ongoing Series: The Walking Dead  (Image)

With 136 issues as of this writing, you’d think a book about zombies would eventually run out of ideas (and maybe it will), but as of yet this title continues to compel, surprise and be so marvelously bleak that it makes me feel better about my own decidedly non-apocalyptic struggles.

Best Mini Series:  Translucid   (BOOM!)

A tortured Batman-like hero with an intriguing origin; a fascinating arch-villain who genuinely cares about the hero and wants to make him a better one; Grant Morrison-esque psychedelia… why did it have to end?

Best Story Arc: Alex + Ada #1-5  (Image)

If I could have everyone read just one thing from my list here, it would be this meditative and profound sci-fi title that subverts your expectations of the typical man-meets-android love story.

Best Trade Volume:  Michael Moorcock’s Elric, Vol. 1: The Ruby Throne  (Titan)

An ambitious and visually stunning hardcover volume that brings Moorcock’s doomed antihero to vivid life and which Moorcock himself has stated that he believes is superior even to his own Elric novels.

Best New Series: Rat Queens  (Image)

Funny, action-packed, even touching at times—it’s just ridiculously fun.

Best Single Issue: Moon Knight #5  (Marvel)

I had a stupid grin on my face the whole time while reading this homage (maybe not intentionally) to Bruce Lee’s Game of Death. Brought back all the magic of reading superhero comics as a young lad.

Best Panel/Moment: Alex + Ada #5  (Image)

(Image Comics)

I almost gave this to a moment in Moon Knight #5  but in the end I chose beauty over coolness. No comic has made me shed a tear since I was nineteen until this, and obviously I can’t give away the context without spoiling it, but it’s achingly beautiful, just like the character says.

Best Genre Bender:  East of West  (Image)

Here again I was torn, this time between East of West and Warren Ellis’s Supreme Blue Rose but went with the former for being more consistent. Western, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, martial arts and superhero elements all in one sprawling and epic yet coherent vision.

Best Creative Team:  Warren Ellis / Declan Shalvey  (Moon Knight)

I have these guys to thank not just for doing justice to one of my favorite Marvel characters but for showing me that I still wasn’t too jaded to enjoy mainstream superhero comics. My only complaint is that their run was too short, though current team Wood and Smallwood are no pushovers either.

Publisher With Most Interesting Growth/Development in 2014:  Titan Comics

I want to say Image but I have a feeling others will choose it too, so instead I’ll give a shout-out to Titan who, in just one year, went from not being on my radar to impressing me with release after release of innovative new material as well as loving reprints of forgotten masterpieces—like Chris Claremont and John Bolton’s The Black Dragon—that deserve to be enjoyed by a younger audience.

Series Most Begging for a Film Adaptation: Lazarus  (Image)

Picture it:  intelligent, prophetic vision of post-apocalyptic dystopia; dark, muted lighting and washed out colors (popular in today’s sci-fi cinema); complex, kick-ass heroine that both male and female viewers can love. Make the movie already.

About Kyle Simons

Kyle Simons
Kyle Simons is a student at Kyunghee University in South Korea studying Korean education. He's been reading comics since he was capable of doing so and has been trying to spread his love of the medium wherever he goes. He plays tabletop roleplaying games whenever possible and sometimes even ends up publishing his own.

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