Before we give 2013 its final sendoff, I’d like to thank all the members of the Thor crew for finding so many interesting things to say about comics this year, and for pointing me toward titles I’d otherwise have missed. And if we have any readers out there thinking “Hell, I could do that!”… well, why not? Those of us who contribute regularly to this column can’t possibly cover everything worth reading (or, for that matter, everything that deserves to be slagged off), so we’d love to add a couple more writers to the crew. If you’d be interested, go ahead and email me: firstname.lastname@example.org, and we’ll have you send along some writing samples. The Year in Review: Adam X. Smith’s Best and Worst of 2013 By Adam X. Smith Joy to the world and my bank account. The holiday season has come and gone, folks, so since there’s officially bugger all going on this week besides sleeping off hangovers and looking back on the recent past, I’ve decided to churn out what will probably be one of a slew of best/worst-of-year pieces coming out in the next week or so because apparently that’s what gets bums on seats at this time of the year. Yup, no sense doing something original in December or January – you’ll just get crowded out by a swath of festive and nostalgia-based programming. And whilst I could counterprogram against it, you know what – sod it, I need a good laugh. So here we go – my list in no particular order of the best and worst comics, companies and creatives in the industry for this year – the Raggies. Let’s get started with… Reason to Be Cheerful Part 3 Award – JL8 by Yale Stewart continues to be the one good thing to come out (semi-regularly) featuring the DC stable of characters. While Messrs Lee, Johns and Didio continue to put an emphasis on Image-esque grit and snarkiness to the detriment of everything else, and their parent company’s mismanagement of DC’s intellectual property is now extending to the people making cartoons based on them, Stewart – one artist, who does this strip for free on the internet for a relatively small but passionate audience – shows an understanding of humour, character and pathos that is unrivalled. And all this from a guy who is essentially making Peanuts with the Justice League instead of Snoopy and Charlie Brown. Now if only DC would do the smart thing and hire him like Marvel has done with Skottie Young. JL8 can be found on Facebook and Tumblr. I’m a Full Grown Man But I’m Not Afraid to Cry Award – It’s a rare privilege when you read something as a reviewer that genuinely moves you. Something Terrible by Dean Trippe is one such piece. In a world of sob-stories, this is one that genuinely hit home – a story of a young man trying to find closure after a traumatic childhood experience by escaping into the world of comics and pop culture. A condensed version can be found here and the full version can be purchased here for less than a dollar. Do yourself a favour and read it, and I guarantee you will have your heart broken and put back together. A print edition of Something Terrible is also currently getting Kickstarted here. Most Egregious Rip-Off Artist Award – Mark Millar has been working a long con for a while, and one that a lot of people seem to have fallen for. But not me, and no more. This isn’t even about Kick Ass 2 and Jupiter’s Legacy sucking, although God only knows that was bad enough. Every single time that I’ve given him a chance to impress me, he’s took a dump on my porch; the man is so crooked, so deeply and pathologically unhinged in his misogyny, misanthropy and general contempt for the human race that he needs to have his pants screwed on in the morning. For crawling so far up Fox and Matthew Vaughn’s arses you could call him a kidney stone, by leaching off Image Comics and Marvel’s Icon imprint to propagate his little ego empire Millarworld, by selling movie pitches instead of stories, and by insisting – all evidence to the contrary – that he is some sort of hot-shot insider among the Hollywood muckity-mucks – for all these reasons and more, I give Mark Millar the glowing endorsement of being the most smug, self-satisfied, talentless little hack to darken my doorway with his bullshit stories. Congratulations, Mark – you win the solid gold sledgehammer. Now rest your fat grinning head on this anvil and close your eyes. Lesser of the Two Evils Award – As I mentioned above, it is very hard to credit DC with contributing anything to the industry this year other than driving away writers with their editorial policies, their handling of the Harley Quinn controversy*, the dwindling quality of their animated output and the dismantling and purging of Vertigo and Wildstorm that has turned them into ghost towns, satellite colonies, shadows of their former selves. Marvel, by comparison, is coming along leaps and bounds – largely due to the fact that they’re hoovering up all the good writers and artists that DC have dismissed, sued, disfranchised, blackballed, guillotined, run out, left in bulk, charged, hung, drawn or quartered, or needle-nardle-noo**. Granted, it’s still a little cookie-cutter, and the majority of the company crossovers still passed me by with nary a care, but you know what? When a title about Captain Marvel is one of your best regarded and progressive titles, when you’re actively trying to break DC’s grip on the graphic novel market, and when even titles that are at best mediocre (Superior Spider-Man, Avengers Arena) are providing something different from grim, spiky stories about human sides of beef hitting each other, then you’re doing something right in my book. What was the big contribution DC made this year? “Well they had another big month-long event this September.” Oh really? Like the Zero Month from 2012 that I didn’t care about either? And what did that involve? “Well it was a Villains Month.” … And? What did that involve? What stories were there? “Well they took all the regular ongoing series, crossed out their names and made them number one issues for villains.” Umm… that’s not a story really, is it? That’s just a gimmick to sell more comics. “It is?” Yes. “Oh. Fuck. Wait! Don’t go! There’s more!” I’m listening. “Right… um… they retold the origins of some of DC’s greatest villains…” I don’t want to read the millionth fucking origin story of the Joker or Two-Face or the Masturbator. What’s so special about these? “Um… 3-D covers? That way DC can charge extra.” Ugh… Goodbye. “Wait! Come back! They have some really good writers and artists! Like… um… Hang on. Geoff? Dan? Who have we still got under contract?” So yeah. For now, I’m a Marvel guy. Don’t act surprised. Writer To Watch – Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, Nova) Artist To Watch – Sean Murphy (The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus) Best Independent Stable – Avatar Press (Caligula, Fashion Beast, Doktor Sleepless, FreakAngels) Best Limited Series – Willow: Wonderland by Jeff Parker, Christos Gage and Brian Ching Best Extant Ongoing Series – Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Picelli. Best New Ongoing Series – Brain Boy by Fred Van Lente and R.B. Silva. Best Graphic Novel(s) – Avengers: Endless Wartime by Warren Ellis and Mike McKone Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fedrego. Nemo: Heart of Ice by Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill. Best One-Shot – Multiple Warheads by Brandon Graham. That concludes my list of things that happened in the comic industry this past year. Happy 2014, everybody. Now go away. *QED, my open letter to DC from last year for the whole miserable story of how DC managed to alienate me enough to not read or buy their books for a year. **Ask a British person who’s over 40. Or Google.