As part of a two part series of Countdowns today, myself and fellow MC writer Brian Salvatore are going to be responding to Paste Magazine’s Top Ten Marvel and DC book lists with our own. Now, neither list is bad. In fact, the DC one is noted as being particularly spot on. But it inspired us to think what our lists would be, and because of that, below you can find out what I came up with for my ten favorite Marvel books, while you can come back in 30 minutes to see what Brian came up with for DC.
A couple notes before I get into it though. Like Brian who is not counting Vertigo for the purposes of his list, I will not be counting Ultimate universe books. Additionally, I know I don’t have Daredevil on my list. It’s a good book, but somehow I feel back in reading it and it simply didn’t make my list. Fine work by Waid though, although I haven’t read any of the assuredly awesome Samnee issues. Assuredly, this is my bad, because it’s a damn good book from what I have read.
Now, on to the list!
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Ed McGuinness
Why It Made the List: I can’t tell you how surprised I am that this book isn’t just good, but one of my ten favorite Marvel books. It slightly outdistances Thunderbolts (another book I enjoy) as the most surprising Marvel Now! book, and it finds Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness perfectly fitting the title. It’s a book that has a lot of heart, great characterization and McGuinness bringing his A+ game, embracing his style but not burying himself with it. Astonishingly, I am sad that the team is leaving the book, and if you told me five months ago they’d be leaving, I would have been overjoyed.
Amazing what actually reading a book does for your opinion of it.
9. New Avengers
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting
Why It Made the List: Strangely, this book is disappointing to me. It was the book I was most excited about in Marvel Now!, and what we’ve gotten so far has been very good, but not great. I have faith it will get there (unlike its sister book Avengers, which went the way of so many before in getting cut from my pull list), but so far we’ve had a rock solid storyline about the Illuminati of the Marvel universe dealing with a threat on an absolutely galactic, multiversal scale. It has struggled with some poor storytelling on occasion, but the atmosphere and character work within this book are so fascinating its hard not to root for its success.
Granted, it is Steve Epting drawing the book, and he’s one of the best in the business. This has a lot of potential, and it’s on a hot streak. So far though, it hasn’t quite reached where it could be.
8. Journey into Mystery
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Valerio Schiti, others
Why It Made the List: While I’ve loved what Kathryn Immonen has done with Sif and the rest of the cast – and I should, as her characterization is brilliant and stories have been original – the shooting stars for this book have been the artists. Regular artists Valerio Schiti has been one of my breakout artists of the year, going from someone I’ve never experienced previously to one of the artists whose work I most look forward to monthly. Then, you have guest artists like Pepe Larraz, another whose work I had not experienced, who fill in for Schiti and give a great one-shot issue a whole lot of heart and personality. This book is a primo package, and something that deserves a bigger audience.
7. Savage Wolverine
Writer/Artist: Frank Cho
Why It Made the List: I cannot believe this book is making my list. Honestly, I originally had not intended to pick this book up, but because I am a Wolverine guy it ended up coming home with me. Sure enough, this ended up being the perfect follow-up to Jason Aaron’s legendary run: instead of trying to do the same thing, Frank Cho just made the book an adventure. A gorgeous adventure with bombastic babes and Wolverine getting owned perpetually, and one that is simply a lot of fun. Sure, Wolverine says “cripes!” a lot (that’s canon!) and Shanna may be excessively sexualized, but damn if I don’t have a great time reading this book.Continued below
Plus, Amadeus Cho. I rest my case.
6. Young Avengers
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Jamie McKelvie
Why It Made the List: It astounds me that this book isn’t higher, and I think it will continue to move up my list with each passing issue. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, as I said in a review I did on our video podcast 4 Color News and Brews, our effectively releasing the comic equivalent of the perfect three minute pop song. This book is light and fun and filled with great character work (I’m personally all about Kid Loki and Noh-varr), and McKelvie routinely crushes it with truly unique looking layouts and spot on character models. This book is just a ton of fun, and it’s perpetually one of the first books I read when it comes out.
5. Avengers Arena
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Kev Walker, Allesandro Vitti
Why It Made the List: Continuing the hot streak of young characters, this is another book that surprised me from the start and just perpetually gets better and better. It’s a book that has been surrounded by controversy since it was announced, Dennis Hopeless silenced the critics (except for their praise) by doing what he needed to do: make those characters that he’s trying to kill soar to higher heights than they’ve reached in years, while telling an exceptional and unique story. Granted, it helps when you have someone like Kev Walker as the primary artist on the book, someone whose sheer artistic power is only topped by his phenomenal storytelling. This is a book that is a total package, and I have no idea what it will be in two years, but I can say this: I’ll be reading it.
4. Wolverine and the X-Men
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Ramon Perez, others
Why It Made the List: Some people were down on the circus arc. Others were down on the Dog arc. Personally? I’m just excited to read an X-Men book that is fun again. This book focuses on the school Wolverine is teaching mutants at, and it has a huge cast of young characters and the faculty that teaches them. The character work from Aaron is nothing short of exemplary, and it’s a book that has a ton of fun and heart to it. Even when he’s busily decimating my soul by trying to kill Broo (you’re my boy, Broo!), he finds a way in the most recent issue to reach in and find the litte guy we knew in the character. Aaron has done a wonderful job of getting me invested in these characters, and he always has had incredible artistic partners in the process. Right now, Ramon Perez is adding a ton of energy and youthful vivaciousness to the book, and he’s just the man for the job going forward.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mike Allred
Why It Made the List: Tell me if you’ve heard this one before, but this is another book that thrives because its handling of the young characters and the fun, spirited storytelling. 2013’s breakout characters for me have been Bentley 42 and the Moloids (as Zach from MC said, that’d be a great band name), and it seems every issue finds me falling a little more in love with those little guys. The best issue so far though has been issue #4, one that found those mischievous kids trying to thwart She-Hulk’s (“the Jennnnn!”) date with Wyatt Wingfoot. What Fraction and Allred did in that issue was nothing short of magic, bringing a huge smile to my face and making me thankful I read comics.
Major props to Allred too, though, whose lively, poppy art is the comic art equivalent to a Flaming Lips concert to me. Just pure happiness, and what’s wrong with that?
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Dave Aja, others
Why It Made the List: The open to each and every issue perfectly explains this book. This is what Hawkeye does when he’s not an Avenger, and as a normal guy who just happens to be really good at two things (hitting his target and getting himself in trouble), it’s all very ground level stuff that Matt Fraction brings to his life. The villains tend to be just ordinary bros, track suit wearing gangsters and the tough guys they send after Clint. But that’s what he should be doing. He shouldn’t be off firing trick arrows at Thanos, he should be hanging out with Grills (R.I.P.), getting into girl trouble and figuring out how to watch Dog Cops on his DVR (“whither the HDMI?”).Continued below
It’s a masterful, fun story, and thankfully Fraction has some of the best artistic partners in the business. In particular, Dave Aja, one of the absolute best, and Matt Hollingsworth, colorist extraordinaire, give this book a unique and pitch perfect look and feel. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about: covers, stories, one-liners, characterization, art, colors, whatever. This book is amazing.
1. Thor: God of Thunder
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Esad Ribic
Why It Made the List: It doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict that a book written by Jason Aaron and illustrated by Esad Ribic would be good, especially if it’s Thor. But the quality of the book is so complete, so consistently superb, that it floors me. So far in 2013, this book has been my favorite in all of comics, and the reason why is Aaron and Ribic are telling a story that is of the scope and scale of a god, not just an Avenger. Just like Hawkeye should be a story very much grounded in reality – like it is – Aaron writes a story that challenges Thor to the foundation of his being, challenging his strongest and weakest characteristics to push him to the brink. Meanwhile, Ribic gives this book a, forgive me for a lack of better words, mythical feel, and a scale that you can’t find anywhere else (see: the final page of issue #8).
This is the Thor story that I always wanted, and that’s coming from someone who hasn’t always been a giant Thor fan. Now? You couldn’t drag me away, and with guest artists that include Butch Guice and Ron Garney, even when this book isn’t the dynamic duo who head this book, it’s still spectacular.