My favourite comics of 2015

I’ve been writing about my favourite comics every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve narrowed it down to five picks each year, it’s interesting how three of the five titles on this list were here on last year’s list – My Favourite Comics of 2014, and two of them are brand new titles.

This year’s list looks like this.


Robert Charpentier (1960-2014)

Rob passed away a year ago this past Saturday.

He was my comics guy for the better part of a decade. He was the reason I travelled an hour in to his store every week for a year. It’s because of him that I became a comics guy. In a lot of ways, the guy who called himself “The Man Who Did Nothing” changed my life.

For comics fans, there are few relationships more intimate than your comics guy. As a former comics guy myself, you learn a lot about a person by what they read. You learn to anticipate what they will buy, and you find commonalities to talk about.


My Favourite Comics of 2014

I like putting together a few year in review lists that remind me what I enjoyed in a year.  Comics are a big passion of mine, big enough that I take the kids to two or three conventions every year, and always make plans to go to one of the bigger ones (like C2E2, WizardWorld Chicago, or the big daddy of them all, San Diego Comicon).

I sat down this year to put together a little list of my favourite comics of 2014. This is by no means a comprehensive list, there was plenty of one-off stuff that I enjoyed through the year, but this is the stuff that stood out to me month-in and month-out.


Multiversity Makes Me Happy

This is my first new comic book review since August 31, 2011 when I reviewed Justice League #1, the first comic of the “New 52”.  This one shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as Grant Morrison owned a full 10% of my “50 Greatest Comic Runs“.

Grant Morrison and Ivan Reis bring us the first iinstalment in the culmination of Morrison’s involvement in the mainstream DC Universe with The Multiversity.  Morrison is bringing all of his chickens home to roost with this one, and with this issue he deftly ties in threads from his runs on JLA, Final Crisis and Action Comics among others.

Morrison is a massive DC Comics fanboy, he’s been a fan his entire life, and loves to pay homage to tradition, while taking things in entirely new and unique directions.  One of my favourite Morrison concepts, the “Super Young Team”, a Japanese super hero group, was his take on Jack Kirby’s “Forever People”, which is amazing because the two couldn’t be more different.

His run on Batman is among my very favourites, and he wrote what I consider the definitive “Dick Grayson as Batman” story in Batman and Robin.


Comics that Scared Me – Swamp Thing #25

Swamp Thing #25I can’t tell you much about what my life was like as a 12 year old.  I have snippets of things from back then, a fun vacation to Niagara Falls, some trips to Ipperwash and Grand Bend, some great birthdays, lots of terrific times at my grandparents farm…but I can vividly tell you exactly what I did and what I had for lunch the second Saturday in May, 1984.

It was a beautiful warm day, super sunny, with just a hint of spring chill still in the air.  I rode my bike to Les’ Variety in Old Wortley Villiage.  The comics were at the back of the store on a low shelf.  Les had a ton of comics, probably consistently the biggest haul of anyone around, and his was the shop I would go to when I was looking for something in particular.

I picked up three comics that day.  Batman Special #1, featuring a new character called “The Wraith” who was basically the bad guy version of Batman (his parents were killed in front of him as a child by police officers in a very Bonnie and Clyde reminiscent scene).  Blue Beetle #1, featuring a brand new super-hero who was really a stuntman who gets trapped inside of his special effects costume.

The third comic was Saga of the Swamp Thing #25.  I bought it because the cover was striking, it had an image of the swamp monster crawling out of the muck and grabbing a white haired girl by the leg.  The title was formed out of the negative space in the vegetation, and the design of everything really appealed to me.  Of course 12 year old me just thought it looked cool.  The interior art was really creepy and awesome too.

I didn’t know it at the time, but 12 year old me was about to be introduced to both Alan Moore and John Totleben.  Names that years later would mean a lot more to me as I got to learn more about the British invasion of comics, and Miracleman in particular.

I went a couple of doors down to the Wortley Road Diner and ordered a plate of french fries with gravy and a Coke.  I sat down and started reading Swamp Thing #25.  Here’s the brief description from ComicVine.

Paul’s parents, Chris and Jenny have accidentally released the Monkey King using a ouija board, they both get killed by him and his son is taken to Elysium Lawns, a center for autistic children, the Monkey King has adopted Paul as his master and is using him and the rest of the kids in the center to feed.

Jason Blood, The Demon, gets to Baton Rouge, where he has tracked the demon, to haunt and destroy him; he and The Swamp Thing have felt trouble ahead. Meanwhile, Abby has gotten a new job at Elysium Lawns, as she is shown the place she knows Paul, who seems to be very disturbed by the thing that has happened to him and his family. The Monkey King is ready to attack again and he’s getting stronger.

I had read some Demon stuff from Jack Kirby.  The character was kind of goofy, with primary reds and yellows, and a cute little rhyming gimmick.  I had seen some Swamp Thing stuff before by Bernie Wrightson.  What I had never experienced before though was Alan Moore’s storytelling.

It starts with Jason Blood telling a travelling salesman that at 5:32pm the salesman would be impaled by a swordfish, and ends with that story coming true.

The final scene is of the Monkey King cuddling up to the little boy in the story, its muzzle wet and warm with blood.

I was both terrified…and hooked.  I really enjoyed comics before then, but that day, with a fresh out of the fryer plate of brown gravy topped fries and a Coca Cola, I fell in love with the medium of comics.

For some reason, the Monkey King reminded me of a Work Sock Monkey, and from that day on I was terrified of them.


Top 50 Comic Runs 10 – 6

The Top 50 Comics 10-6

Okay, seriously…what is wrong with me?  I’ve had this damn list finished for going on three months, but I haven’t posted the last two parts.

Time to rectify that!

First…the rules.

The rules were simple, they had to be comics I was incredibly excited when they came out. I had to have bought them off the shelf when they were released. This list was about anticipation, and these are the comics that I went absolutely nuts waiting for 30 days to go by so I could find out what happened next.

Second, the previous list (the kids call this “deep linking”).

And now, for the very dramatic penultimate listing of the top 50 comic runs that I collected as they came out in stores.


Top 50 Comic Runs 20-11

Best ComicsMy first three entries in this series tell a much different story.

From here on in there are no easy choices, and honestly other than the top five…any of these from 20-5 are pretty much interchangeable depending on my mood.

Previous entries in the Top 50 Comic Runs are:

I’ve got a little bit of work to get 10-6 out, but 5-1 is completely written…so look for them both later this week.

A quick recap of the rules:

The rules were simple, they had to be comics I was incredibly excited when they came out. I had to have bought them off the shelf when they were released. This list was about anticipation, and these are the comics that I went absolutely nuts waiting for 30 days to go by so I could find out what happened next.


Top 50 Comic Book Runs 50-41

Way back in September of 2009, I thought I’d put out a list of the top 40 comic book runs. This was the list of comics that I return to again and again. Something happened though…I kind of fell off the wagon a little bit. I have the entire list, all chunked out in three more posts (20-11, 10-6, and 5-1), but nearly four years has gone by!

A lot can change in four years, namely there has been four years of awesome comics! So I’ve amended the Top 40 to actually be a “Top 50”, and I’m adding, retroactively, #50-41 right here.

I hope to get the next segment (20-11) out a little quicker.

For those of you interested, the recently renamed Top 50 Comic Runs are available here:


Superman Earth One Review

Superman Earth One
Superman Earth One

DC Comics announced nearly a year ago that they would be creating a series of stand alone graphic novels about the major heroes in the DCU, and appropriately enough they started it off with Superman Earth One.

Written by J. Michael Straczynski and illustrated by Shane Davis with colours by Sandra Hope, Superman Earth One is a modern retelling of the Superman Mythos.

For those of you wondering, Superman Earth One is in stock on All New Comics, although you should grab a copy quickly as it has sold out at the publisher and distributor level.


A killer app for comics?


I had an opportunity to get my hands on an iPad today when Mark at work brought his in for some Info-Tech show and tell.  Steve Jobs has declared it a “Magical Device”. Arthur C Clarke once said “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Well in that respect, the iPad is magic.

It’s fast, attractive, intuitive, and using it is effortless.

I played around with the Marvel Comics app (which is also available for the iPhone), and it’s pretty amazing.

The presentation is incredible. Comics look pretty much full size, and the whole panel by panel thing works really well, and may actually be a better way to read a comic.

The collection aspect of the app is really good too.  It’s a nice layout, and you can easily find the comics you’re looking for.

There’s two knocks. I found the in-comic navigation a little weird. It was very hard to get back to the main menu once you’re reading a comic. Secondly, you will need a seperate app for every publisher right now.  There’s no “Comics” app, well there are a few, Panelfly, ComiXology, and soon, but there’s no single app that has access to all comics.

DC Comics really needs to get in gear on this.  They’ve yet to announce ANY sort of a digital initiative, and Marvel is really grabbing headlines with this app launch.

The thing that will push this over the edge is the day that a consumer can buy a brand new comic the day it goes on sale in the Brick and Mortar stores. I’m not afraid to admit I’ll be one of those customers buying my comics on the couch. I’ll still buy some Hardcovers and Trades, but I’d love nothing more than to not have physical copies of comics around my house anymore. They’re a pain in the rear to deal with, and space is at a premium in my house.