Best Print Comics of 2014, Part 2 (#24-17)

Don’t forget to read my HONORABLE MENTIONS for print comics in 2014 before continuing.

In case you missed it, here are my favorite archival/collected/reprinted comics of 2014.

And also, my favorite webcomics of 2014.
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And hello once more! Welcome to my Top List featuring the best print comics in 2014. We already tackled the honorable mentions, but now it’s time for the TOP 24 of 2014!!! Here are books 24 through 17 (with the countdown leading to my absolute favorite title of the year). Part 3 of my TOP 24 (books 16 through 9) will follow soon. Thanks, enjoy, and leave some comments!
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24. ALL-STAR WESTERN by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and various artists (DC)
jonah HEXXX
One of the things that makes DC so great is that it highlights its characters from different time periods. And the Wild Wild West of DC is one of my favorite places to visit (when handled well). Palmiotti and Gray have indeed handled it well. The New 52 reboot kept Batman and Green Lantern’s histories fairly intact, but most folks don’t realize that most of Jonah Hex’s history was spared as well! Palmiotti and Gray use a ton of references and nods to the classic Hex of yesteryear while forming a heartwarming, beautiful love story meets gritty, brutal Western. I don’t think I “shipped” harder for Jonah and Tallulah than any other couple in fiction this year. Palmiotti and Gray even brought Hex into the present for an arc—a usually disastrous move and something most writers would botch horribly—but it was amazing and fresh. Highly recommended.

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23. BATMAN AND… by Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Mick Gray, & John Kalisz (DC)
Batman AND AKWAMAN
What a stupendous year for this title, IMO the best Batman book of 2014. The revamped Two-Face origin is the best Two-Face origin BY FAR and quite possibly the best Batman arc of the year. “The Hunt for Robin” and the start of “Robin Rises” is also in the running. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, when I think of the quintessential Batman artists of the New 52 it is Gleason all the way. Gray and Kalisz’s inks and colors knocked it out of the park. Simply stunning.

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22. HAWKEYE Vol. 4 by Matt Fraction, David Aja, & Matt Hollingsworth (MARVEL)
SIGN-ING
There is a reason this book has won so many damn awards and has become the most highly decorated superhero title on the market. Fraction and Aja have turned “Hawkguy” into a living, breathing Master Class in design. Each layout is more interesting, unique, and awe-inspiring than the last. Just when you think it can’t look or feel and better, they wow you. Case in point above. You ain’t gonna see superhero comics like this anywhere else. Also mad props to the inventive lettering of Chris Eliopoulos.

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21. WILD’S END by Dan Abnett & INJ Culbard (BOOM!)
wild's end
I love Abnett and Culbard. This is their finest work since New Deadwardians and it’s been just as strong so far. Staying in the familiar realm of Victorian British Fiction with a sci-fi/occult twist a la GK Chesterton or W Somerset Maugham, Abnett and Culbard dream up a vivid and charming adventure mystery chock-full of anthropomorphic animal characters. Can’t wait to see where this War of the Worlds homage winds up.

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20. Annihilator by Grant Morrison & Frazer Irving (LEGENDARY)
annihilator
Grant Morrison is always lauded with praise every year. But 2014 is the first year in a long time where there doesn’t seem to be an equal amount of both praise and befuddled detraction. The average comic book reader is really starting to get Morrison. And it’s about damn time. Now, that being said, Annihilator isn’t necessarily an easy piece to digest or process with its layered meta narrative, multiple story-arcs, and running commentary on all things from sci-fi to the occult to Hollywood. However, Annihilator seems like Morrison’s most focused creator-owned work in over a decade. He’s found his stride with old concepts and made them refreshingly new again. And Frazer Irving, like Frank Quietly and Cameron Stewart before, has really become a “Morrison Guy.” This is an incredible thing. The stylized pencils we’ve come to expect, layouts, colors, spreads, marvelous epic backgrounds, you name it—Irving is dynamite on this title and it’s just as much his baby as Morrison’s.

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19. The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber, Rachelle Rosenberg (MARVEL)
superior foes
Let me preface this with a bit of blasphemy. I’m not a Spider-Man fan. Not since I was a little kid. Just never saw the appeal compared to a ton of other characters. But I try, try, try my best to read as much of everything as I can. And I won’t lie, Spider-Man had a pretty killer year. From the ending of Superior Spider-Man to charming varied heroes emerging from the expansive Spider-Verse (I’m looking at you Spider-Gwen), I read some pretty decent stuff. But the best and most refreshing of it all was the ongoing Superior Foes of Spider-Man. Everybody knows I love a good villain book and everybody knows that I love a book that captures 80s Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League humor. Superior Foes has the best of both worlds. I don’t know jack about some of the characters featured in this book, but I’m obsessed with them now and I’ll be damned if I don’t love the Marvel Universe much more now than before I started reading. Spencer and Leiber inject real LIFE and PERSONALITY into their characters in a way that most creators can only dream of. Swoon.

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18. This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki & Mariko Tamaki (FIRST SECOND)
awago beach bumz
The Tamaki cousins have risen to prominence in 2014, becoming one of the most exciting creative duos on the comix scene. This One Summer is the first collaboration between the Tamakis since 2008’s Skim and it’s been way too long since we’ve seen their combined brilliance. The Shigeru Mizuki-esque art is gorgeous and clean. And the story instantly sweeps you away to the moody and complicated shores of Awago Beach. Coming in at just under 300 pages, this is a dense book, but it flows and captivates you so much that the pages seem to turn themselves. A touching and eye-opening coming-of-age tale that has a level of taste and sophistication (both visually and narratively) far beyond other similar comics or most YA fare dealing with similar subject matter.

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17. Zero by Ales Kot & various artists (IMAGE)
zero zero zero!!!
Ales Kot’s first ever creator-owned series garnered a lot of acclaim last year. This year, reviews have been a bit more mixed, but I think Zero really came into its own. The story itself, a non-linear tale about the life of a futuristic spy, is totally dope, but the thing that really hooks me about Zero is its rotating roster of artists. Every single issue has a brand new artist with a new take—and it’s always fresh and exciting. Not only that, Kot writes and directs his co-creators in such a way that every issue of Zero is a masterpiece of PURE VISUAL STORYTELLING. Zero is like Hitchcock illustrated. Sparse text, less exposition, more beautiful layouts and panels that tell the story through the images themselves. THAT is GOOD COMICS! I also love when writers pause within their story to speak about something important—the issue about rape victims during the Bosnian War was a gut-wrenching feminist scream. Whether or not Zero is your style, it definitely deserves your respect and attention.

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COMING SOON… the CHRONOLOGY blog’s “BEST PRINT COMICS of 2014 – Part 3,” which will feature my next batch of favorite books (#16 through #9).

About Collin Colsher

Collin Colsher, the creator of The Real Batman Chronology Project and disCONTINUITY, is a writer, filmmaker, teacher, and comic book historian that currently lives and works in Brooklyn, NY. He has lectured at various universities, libraries, and book fairs. Collin has also served on the jury for the Lynd Ward Graphic Novel Prize, which is sponsored by the US Library of Congress.
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