This year marked my first year of really reading comics. Although I’d always been interested in superhero stories and the comic format, it had seemed seriously overwhelming and I never truly knew where to dive in. Late in 2013, I saw clips from Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye on Tumblr and decided to start reading it. From there, I found other series that people recommended based on reading Hawkeye, then I read lists of comics that were generally recommended.
While I’m still far behind on the list of series I want to read — Captain Marvel, Young Avengers, She-Hulk, Bitch Planet, The Wicked + The Divine, All-New Captain America, and Rocket Raccoon are high on my list — I made some serious headway this year. (If you have any recommendations, I’ll happily take them!) These are the six comic series that I enjoyed most in 2014.
Published by DC Comics
Written by Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher; Art by Karl Kerschl
Set in the titular Gotham Academy, a prestigious prep school for the children of Gotham’s elite, this series follows Olive Silverwood, who returns to the school with some mysterious gaps in her memory, and her ex-boyfriend’s little sister, Maps Mizoguchi. Olive and Maps decide to investigate the supposed ghost that’s haunting Gotham Academy, but it quickly turns into something other than the typical supernatural hunt.
Although only three issues of this series have been released so far (which is why it falls so low on the list), I’m enjoying Gotham Academy. The series mixes typical high school problems like bullies and trying to fit in with the Batman mythos — Bruce Wayne is, of course, a benefactor of the academy. Issue #3 left off on a cool cliffhanger and I’m excited to see how this series progresses throughout 2015.
Published by Marvel
Written by Ales Knot; Art by Michael Walsh
Maria Hill is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and she has assembled a team to go on top-secret missions: Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Black Widow, Spider-Woman, and Hawkeye. In the lab, Hill has the ex-terrorist supergenius M.O.D.O.K. working for her. However, after a Fury — very violent creature — attacks, Coulson goes AWOL, and Spider-Woman befriends a sentient bomb, Hill begins to realize something isn’t quite right.
In its first 10-issue run, I felt that the story of Secret Avengers got a bit convoluted at times — everyone’s a spy, so I suppose that can happen. However, Secret Avengers also features plenty of humor from most of the characters that made the series fun to read. My favorite of the characters quickly became the sentient bomb, Vladimir, who discovers a reason to live in caramel gelato. Deadpool even makes an appearance for a few issues, which provided some extra fun for the reader (and those who have been reading Hawkeye vs. Deadpool) — me included.
Published by Marvel
Written by G. Willow Wilson; Art by Adrian Alphona and Jamie McKelvie
One of the most-talked about releases of the year was, of course, Ms.Marvel. The new series follows Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager who loves Captain Marvel and writing superhero fanfiction. When she receives superpowers of her own, Kamala must learn to accept herself for who she is and reconcile her powers with her (formerly) normal life.
I was excited to read Ms. Marvel and I enjoyed the first volume. I always love a good origin story and Kamala’s was certainly interesting. However, I haven’t gotten a chance to read past issue #5, which is another of my goals for 2015, so that’s why Ms. Marvel doesn’t rank too high. Kamala is a great character and I’m excited to read more about her adventures.
Published by Image Comics
Written by Matt Fraction; Art by Chip Zdarsky
When Suzie and Jon climax, something weird happens: time stops. After going through most of their lives thinking they were alone, they meet at a party one night, one thing leads to another, and they realize they had more in common than they thought. However, when they decide to use their powers for not-so-good deeds, they’re discovered and hunted by what they refer to as the Sex Police.
Weird, quirky, and totally enjoyable, Sex Criminals was certainly the most unique series I read this year. After reading Fraction’s Hawkeye, and enjoying that immensely, I decided to try out Sex Criminals. I enjoyed the series because has a similar sense of humor and also because it delves into serious issues of both teenagers and adults. Plus, Sex Criminals talks openly and respectfully about sex, which is refreshing in our current culture. Sure there are some immature jokes, but who doesn’t love a good dick joke?
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis; Art by Brooke Allen, Shannon Waters
Set at the Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, this series follows the Roanoke cabin: Jo, April, Mal, Molly, Ripley, and their type-A counselor Jen. After the girls are attacked by some three-eyed monsters, they set out to figure out what the junk is going at their camp. Through their adventures they stumble upon a mysterious cave of obstacles, a boy’s camp that isn’t what it seems, and an ancient Greek feud.
Lumberjanes is the badassery of Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets the fun and heart of Adventure Time. The girls at the center of the series believe in friendship to the max, girl power, and always taking care of business. It’s a lighthearted adventure that’s fun to read and left me wanting more. Plus, any story that includes some Greek mythology is fantastic in my book.
Published by Marvel
Written by Matt Fraction; Art by David Aja and Annie Wu
What does Clint Barton do when he’s not fighting evil with the Avengers? Drink coffee, hang out with his dog Lucky, and take care of an apartment building full of tenants. When a group of mobsters and a hired assassin threaten Clint’s home, he does everything he can to keep his friends safe — at least, when he’s not laying on the couch brooding in self-loathing. Hawkeye also features the adventures of also-Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, who leaves Clint and heads to L.A. with Lucky.
Started in 2012, Hawkeye is the longest-running series on my list, though the 20 issues that have been released are a quick read. The series has a lot of stand-out issues: #19, which focused on Clint’s hearing loss; #17, a Christmas special of sorts; #11, which was told from the perspective of Lucky (a.k.a. Pizza Dog); and #20 which features the conclusion of Kate’s L.A. story told in a nonlinear fashion. What I love most about Hawkeye is how Fraction develops his characters — not only Clint, but Kate and Lucky as well — who are not-quite-perfect superheroes.
Alex Borkowski explained why this version of Hawkeye is fantastic in his column about the series for HEAVEmedia:
“What I love about Fraction’s take on Clint Barton is that he took the concept of ‘the most breakable Avenger’ and instead of saying, ‘That’s dumb, he shouldn’t be fighting alongside the Hulk and Iron Man,’ he said ‘That’s amazing and is the best thing about him.’”