2014 will be an amazing year for comics-based television and films, but let us not forget the heart of the hobby, the reason we are all living the Golden Age of Fandom, the comics.
By MARC BUXTON
The major companies have some huge things in store for fans to purchase on Wednesdays or download on their favorite app, or patiently trade-wait for. Here are 13 upcoming titles that have our Spidey-sense tingling for 2014.
13. Sandman: Overture, by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III (Vertigo. Sprinkled like a handful of dust throughout the year.)
Yeah, we know, the first issue came out in 2013, but what an issue. Anyone that knows Neil Gaiman understands that every issue the prolific writer creates is an event unto itself. The upcoming issues of Sandman: Overture will be no different. Fans have been waiting more than a decade for Gaiman to return to Sandman so the delays on the book are a small price to pay for the level of excellence fans of Morpheus and the Dreaming are used to. It might be a long wait, but every page of Sandman: Overture will be a dream come true in 2014.
12. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter; Magnus, Robot Fighter; Solar, Man of the Atom; and Doctor Spektor, by Greg Pak, Fred Van Lente, Frank Barbiere, and Mark Waid, with artists Mirko Colak, Cory Smith, and more TBA (Dynamite. Begins February.)
A superb group of creators will breathe new life into some greatly missed Gold Key icons for Dynamite in 2014. Greg Pak will be bringing Turok back to his dinosaur-killing glory while Fred Van Lente will be looking toward the future with Magnus. Frank Barbiere will be reintroducing Solar while Mark Waid will get his eager hands on the long-forgotten Doctor Spektor. Everything Waid has touched lately has turned to gold, whether it is work for Marvel, Archie, or his own online Thrillbent. Having Waid reimagine a classic hero from yesteryear is certainly exciting as is such amazing talent guiding the adventures of the other heroes. It’s a good year to be Dynamite.
11. Deadly Class, by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig, and Lee Loughridge (Image. January.)
Remender was one of the most talked-about creators in 2013, with his long-form storytelling and shocking deaths and reveals in the pages of Captain America and Uncanny Avengers, along with his smash creator-owned success story, Black Science, from Image. Early in 2014, Remender will do it again with a new creator-owned project, Deadly Class, the story of a Reagan-era school for assassins. The ‘80s period piece, combining skate punk pathos with crime drama, will allow Remender to flex different muscles than he is currently wielding on the hyper-tech Black Science or mainstream Marvel. When writers like Remender get experimental, bending eras and drama to conform to their voice, that’s when things get exciting, and this school for assassins, punk rock comic should be no different. Deadly Class is a great example of today’s market, as great creators get to do their own thing while also guiding the stories of comic’s biggest heroes.
10. Avengers World, by Nick Spencer, Jonathan Hickman, and Stefano Caselli! (Marvel. January.)
Nick Spencer and Jonathan Hickman are two of Marvel’s most-lauded writers on the scene. Neither scribe is afraid to take chances with Marvel’s icons and they usually deliver a new experience for readers. Spencer’s Superior Foes of Spider-Man stands out as one of the most unlikely success stories in recent years and Hickman continues to bring the widescreen epicness in his Avengers books. Both writers are also flexing their creative muscles with multiple books over at Image. Hickman and Spencer are at the top of their games, which is why it so is exciting that they will be fleshing out the Avengers’ huge roster in Avengers World. With Caselli’s high-energy pencils, Spencer and Hickman will be able to explore the motivations and characters of new Avengers like Smasher, Starbrand, Captain Universe, and other characters that have joined the team under Hickman and also continue to expand the roles of Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Captain Marvel, and the rest of the established Avengers. Naysayers may ask, why do we need another Avengers book? The answer is simple, with a creative team like this, firing on all cylinders, how can Marvel resist?
9. New 52: Future’s End, by Jeff Lemire, Keith Giffen, Brian Azzarello and Dan Jurgens (DC. May.)
The future has never been so bright for DC. Jumping five years ahead may seem like a ballsy move on the surface, but it will allow DC to bring some much-needed cohesiveness to their line of books. This new weekly can serve as a rallying point for DC’s books, as every creator knows what direction they should be pointing in. It will give readers a sense of urgency as DC will be running two consecutive time lines, and if they do their job right, readers will want to see how the books synch up. One look at the creative team and it is clear that DC is throwing big guns at the project. DC stagnated a bit toward to beginning of this year but they finished strong, and with exciting projects like Future’s End, things point to a much brighter 2014.
8. The All-New Invaders, by James Robinson and Steve Pugh (Marvel. January.)
The Invaders have always been a tough property to crack. Everyone loves the idea of a team of World War II mystery men led by Captain America against the Axis Powers, but the property’s chances for survival usually ends with nostalgia. No Invaders series has lasted despite the place of high regard comic historians put the team in. Writer James Robinson might have solved this puzzle by setting the team in the modern day but still having them serve on the front lines of a war, this time against the Kree. There should be a great deal of buzz surrounding both Captain America and the Winter Solider in 2014, and this book will take advantage of that film-driven excitement. Plus, it’s always great to see any modern appearance of the original android Human Torch. With Robinson’s sense of history, the pitch-perfect art of Pugh, and an excitement surrounding the Invaders characters, this iteration of the team may very well be the one that sticks.
7. All-New X-Factor, by Peter David and Carmine Di Giandomenico (Marvel. January.)
Speaking of sound creators, we have a reboot of X-Factor from Mr. X-Factor himself, Peter David. X-Factor has been one of Marvel’s most consistently quality books since its debut, now David and artist Carmine Di Giandomenico will be unleashing a whole new X-Factor team on fans. This is the title everyone should be reading as David constantly delivers quality and innovative stories that help flesh out the X-Men Universe. David will feature old X-Factor favorites Polaris and Quicksilver while adding members like Danger and Gambit to the title. The veteran David always leaves fans begging for more, and it’s time more fans discover his work on a book that deserves to be on the top of the charts.
6. Ms. Marvel, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona (Marvel. February.)
For years, fans have been screaming for more diversity in today’s comics. From characters to creators, the white-washed days of yesteryear are coming to an end. Or are they? All the major comic companies seem to want diversity, but when a product starring a non-white character comes out, it often arrives stillborn. Ms. Marvel will be a test of how much diversity the comics-buying public really desires. G. Willow Wilson is an amazing writer of such titles as Vertigo’s Air and DC’s Vixen mini-series from a few years ago. Both books featured female protagonists, both books were awesome reads, and both books did not sell very well, showing that many comic fans won’t put their money where their mouths are. With an awesome writer in place, and the fan-favorite artist of the much-missed Runaways, will Marvel fans embrace a female Muslim teenage hero by a Muslim female writer? None of this should matter. All that should matter is that a great creative team is working on an innovative new character. But for the future of comics diversity, it does matter. The talent is there, but will the fans be there to welcome Ms. Marvel into the fold?
5. Loki: Agent of Asgard, by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett (Marvel. February.)
Please forgive the Marvelcentric nature of this list; Marvel has been very open about their plans for 2014 while the other companies have kept their cards close to their vest. Once the Image Expo hits early in 2014, we’re sure this list will look much different. None of that takes away from the compelling nature of many of Marvel’s new books, one of which features the breakout character of last few years. There can be no argument that the Marvel character on everyone’s brain, either mainstream muggle or Wednesday warrior is Loki, the God of Mischief. Marvel would be foolish not to take advantage of this Tom Hiddleston-spawned popularity, so they are hitting fans with an espionage-focused Loki. What better genre for the god of misdirection than a spy thriller? Al Ewing has been impressive so far on Mighty Avengers and it will be a treat to see a hot new voice on the Marvel scene take on Marvel’s new favorite anti-hero.
4. Southern Bastards, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image. TBA.)
Jason Aaron and Jason Latour are just the newest creators from the Big Two to jump over into the creative-owned waters of Image. With Southern Bastards, Aaron and Latour will do what they do best: Create hilarious tales of violence and mayhem. Here’s how Image describes the title that will not be for the faint of heart:
“Earl Tubb is an angry old man with a very big stick. Euless Boss is a high school football coach with no more room in his office for trophies and no more room underneath the bleachers for burying bodies. And they’re just two of the folks you’ll meet in Castor County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs and more bastards than you’ve ever seen.”
What else do you need to know? Southern-style ultra-violence from the writers that brought you Wolverine and the X-Men, Thor: God of Thunder, Scalped, and Winter Soldier. This book might fill the void that still hasn’t been satisfied since Preacher ended.
3. Moon Knight, by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire (Marvel. March.)
When Warren Ellis sets his sights on a character, expect huge and lasting changes. Before Robert Downey’s snarky Tony Stark there was Warren Ellis. In Extremis, Ellis created the Iron Man that would be the tonal reference point for the film version of Tony Stark, and look how that worked out. Now, Ellis sets his twisted imagination on Moon Knight, one of Marvel’s most deranged heroes. An urban vigilante with multiple personality disorder and a fetish for obscure Egyptian deities is right in Ellis’ wheelhouse. Moon Knight will be the cult hit of the year, and maybe it will redefine Moon Knight in the same way Ellis has redefined every other character he has ever touched. Hot artists Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire add to the book’s potential.
2. Batman: Eternal Scott Snyder, along with writers James Tynion IV, John Layman, Ray Fawkes, and Tim Seeley, and artist Jason Fabok (DC. Spring.)
There have been a few missteps by DC in the New 52, but even the most hardened fan must admit they pretty much got Batman note perfect. Here, DC turns to the man most responsible for the creative renaissance, Scott Snyder, to oversee a weekly venture into the world of Gotham. The writer who brought us the Court of Owls, Death of the Family and Zero Year, will guide a kick-ass bullpen of Bat-writers.
1. Silver Surfer, by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel. March.)
Marvel has been trying to hang ten with a successful Silver Surfer book since, well, since the Stan Lee days. While there have been some successful Surfer books in the past, most notably the ’80s title by Jim Starlin, Ron Marz and Ron Lim, Norrin Radd has been a tough character for Marvel to maintain a long running book with. The past decade has seen a few attempts, but nothing has caught on. Now, Marvel has found the perfect team to keep the Surfer soaring. It is hard to imagine a better artist for the Surfer’s brand of cosmic zaniness than Mike Allred. And Dan Slott, who can do epic drama fueled with human emotion, is a great writer for the job. Like Dr. Who, Slott and Allred’s new title will introduce a female companion to the Surfer, allowing the book to have a relatable character for audiences that have had a hard time wrapping their heads around the very alien Surfer. This seems like one of those books, like Mark Waid’s Daredevil or Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Hawkeye, that just fly in the face of convention. This is the title that will have everyone watching the skies in 2014.