CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2014: #10-1

Wed, December 31st, 2014 at 11:59am PST | Updated: December 31st, 2014 at 12:16pm

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor
102

The end is here -- both of the year, and of CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2014!

Each year, CBR takes stock of the comic book industry's multitude of offerings and polls the site's passionate and thoughtful staff -- including editors, reporters, reviewers, columnists and bloggers -- for their picks of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material, regardless of genre or format, is fair game; and each individual list is then factored in (thank you, spreadsheets!) to determine the overall Top 100 that's being unveiled on CBR this week.

2014 was another record year for the Top 100, with more than 50 contributors to the list, and more than 200 comics nominated. The end result is as diverse of a list as you'd expect, with superhero mainstays standing alongside creator-owned favorites; publishing giants sharing space with self-published digital works. While no list can be an exhaustive collection of every noteworthy piece of work released in a year, the end result of the CBR Top 100 is a wide smattering of eclectic choices worthy of attention.

Last Friday, we started unveiling the list with entries #100 to 76; things continued Monday with #75 to 51, Tuesday with #50-26 and earlier today with #25-11. So here it is: CBR's Top 10 Comics of 2014. Some of these entries were very, very close, but the top two places on the list received far more votes than the rest of the very worthy candidates, emerging as the enthusiastic favorites of the CBR staff in 2014.

Start perusing the final section of the list below, and why not take to Twitter and discuss your thoughts using the hashtag #cbrtop100. And while you're in the mood, feel free to revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:

CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2014: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1

COMIC She Hulk

10. She-Hulk
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Javier Pulido, Ronald Wimberly
Published by Marvel Comics

"She-Hulk is a character that tends to bring out the best in every creator that works with her. Charles Soule somehow managed to top downright legendary runs by John Byrne and Dan Slott by combining every element that makes Jen work -- her job, her fashion, her smarts, her wit, her biceps -- into the best pop art legal procedural that has ever been published and will ever be published. Javier Pulido turned in career-defining visuals on this book, leaping onto a new level of storytelling with hulk-grade gusto. And Kevin Wada’s star-making turn as cover artist; no book in 2014 looked as good as this one."

-- CBR Assistant Editor/Columnist Brett White

"This is a book that screams confidence, from the personality of the main character to the bold art style. 'She-Hulk' is a relevant complement to the female empowerment narrative shaped by the Sheryl Sandbergs, Shonda Rhimeses, and Lisa Blooms of the world, balanced with a comedic way of seeing the continuity-driven labyrinth of the Marvel Universe. A breath of fresh air, in relation to many other superhero comics of bleak tone and enslavement to events."

-- CBR Columnist Joseph Phillip Illidge

"Leaving us too soon were some fun and fascinating tales of law and order, She-Hulk style. I love the character and the way she works within the wide world of the Marvel Universe. She's a different kind of lawyer than Daredevil, tells a different kind of story than Captain Marvel and has a level of clout within her contemporaries that makes for great stories. I hope Soule gets a chance in the future to write She-Hulk again."

-- Robot 6 Writer Carla Hoffman

"We’re all onboard with 'She-Hulk,' aren’t we?"

-- CBR Contributing Writer Steve Morris

thewickedthedivine 1 A

9. The Wicked + The Divine
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie
Published by Image Comics

"'The Wicked + The Divine' is good in that read-the-whole-issue-in-the-store kind of way. Snappy, sly, and utterly unapologetic, it captivates with Gillen's signature repartee, McKelvie's stunning ingenuity, and [Matthew] Wilson's sharp colors. It's no wonder, then, that this book sends its readers into a religious fervor; between its brilliant designs, vivid characterizations, and jaw dropping twists, 'The Wicked + The Divine' is daring and innovative in all the right ways. Gillen and McKelvie continue to make true believers of us all with one of the most enthralling debuts of 2014."

-- CBR Reviewer Meagan Damore

"In Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's series, gods are real, to a point. They reincarnate every 90 years, inhabit the bodies of young, beautiful people, wield amazing power, and then they die. In the world of 'The Wicked + The Divine,' deities are literal and metaphorical rock stars, walking among mortals for a short span, awing the masses, accumulating adulation and worship, and then burning out before they fade away. The central metaphor of gods as the Cobains, Morrisons, and Winehouses of the world is not subtle, but then again these are deities we’re talking about. The whole thing suggest a mythical universe fully-formed from issue one, a cosmos and world that is immediately apparent to the reader as soon they dive in."

Story continues below

-- CBR Contributing Writer Joe Streckert

"Cool as anything. Smart. Beautiful. It's achingly rare to see a story about celebrity and media culture that isn't obvious, ugly, and stupid, and 'The Wicked and the Divine' is tops among that heap. Love it. And do listen to the 200+ song Spotify playlist Kieron's compiled, it's not only a great companion to the comic but does much to get one through the workday. "

-- CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

"The Gods are real, they're bitchy and in two years they're gonna die! The art's fantastic, the characters are compelling and the book is nothing short of a celebration of the mantra 'live fast and die young,' so naturally I never want it to end. Live fast and die after multiple volumes, 'The Wicked + The Divine!'"

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

AWA 5 0 efbd6

8. Afterlife with Archie
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by Francesco Francavilla
Published by Archie Comics

"Whenever someone wants to know what mainstream comics are capable of, I hand them 'Afterlife With Archie.' Easily among the best ongoing series of the year, the creative team of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla wrapped up the first arc of their incredible horror series in grand fashion, extending their reach beyond the undead to Lovecraftian mythos and a horrifying fate for Sabrina. The second arc is already underway and promises to be at least as good -- if not better -- than the opening salvo."

-- CBR Staff Writer/Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

"Sure, at first you look at something which asks, 'what if the Riverdale gang had to flee a zombie apocalypse?' with a kind of morbid bemusement.  Depending on how you feel about Archie and pals' eternal optimism, you might even root for the zombies.  However, Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla have grounded their story so firmly in these characters that it's impossible not to share in their terrors and triumphs."

-- Robot 6 Columnist Tom Bondurant

"The idea of the gang from Riverdale facing a zombie apocalypse, in a story that's meant to be taken seriously, was one of the most scoffed-at ideas in recent memory -- that is, until the scoffers actually read it. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa uses Archie and friends as protagonists, and around them builds one of the best modern stories of the zombie genre. Knowing that the Archie house style of art couldn't convey a story like this, Francesco Francavilla adds his own take that uses the characters' look but is otherwise all his unmistakable noir-ish style. The two creators combine for scares aplenty, telling a genuinely horrific tale that's makes an Archie comic the unlikely candidate as best horror title of the year."

-- CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson

"'Afterlife with Archie' crept into 2013 as an unexpected surprise, and reigned in 2014 as one of the most consistent ongoing series (quality-wise -- who wouldn't have liked to have seen more issues?). No matter how many times Aguirre-Sacasa and Francavilla 'go there' in this series -- do something you'd never expect to see in an Archie comic, whether it's hints of incest or a character beating his father to death -- it's shocking, it works, and it somehow still feels true to the past several decades of Archie history."

-- CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching

lazarus08 cover

7. Lazarus
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by Michael Lark, Brian Level, Tyler Boss
Published by Image Comics

"'Lazarus' serves as a great model for taking themes of the present and extending them forward into a possible future that is horrifying in its plausibility. Greg, Michael and crew have succeeded in building a fascinating world of economic and social disparity, bleeding-edge science, and complex characters. The final element of writer Eric Trautmann's backmatter content and faux ads, showing the detailed corporate history of the future of 'Lazarus,' is worth the cover price alone, and sets the series apart from the competition."

-- CBR Columnist Joseph Phillip Illidge

"'Lazarus' continues its reach toward being Rucka's best comics work to date, as he effortlessly builds a magnificent and terrifyingly realistic world, and a heroine the likes of which we rarely see. Complex and fascinating, powerful but also vulnerable, Rucka's Forever Carlyle is poised to become one of the great female comic characters of our time, and his 'Lazarus 'is headed toward being one of the great comic books of our time. Beloved and yet underrated at once, if you love comics and you're not reading Lazarus, you're simply doing it wrong."

Story continues below

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Kelly Thompson

"In just over a year, Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have crafted one of the most fascinating, complex and fully realized science fiction worlds the comics medium has ever seen, and -- in the best tradition of the genre -- one rich with allegorical resonance. But the most astounding thing about the environment they've constructed is Forever Carlyle, the equally complicated bioengineered leading lady we're following, deeply invested, through it all."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Scott Huver

"'Lazarus,' Greg Rucka and Michael Lark's tale of a world dominated by the 1% gets richer with each issue. The characterization of the main character, Forever Carlyle, depends greatly on Lark's excellent facial expressions. Rucka's research into economics and history pays off in the world-building."

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

Lumberjanes 001 coverA 11bda

6. Lumberjanes
Written by Grace Ellis & Noelle Stevenson
Art by Brooke A. Allen
Published by BOOM! Studios

"It's entirely possible that no comic has ever made me feel as gleeful as 'Lumberjanes.' Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen infuse the pages with vivacious characters, larger than life personalities, and top it all off with a hefty serving of monsters. 'Lumberjanes' makes me want to revisit my childhood in hopes of finding pals like Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley."

-- CBR Contributor Amy Ratcliffe

"This is the book that my friends who 'don’t read comics' are reading. Our intrepid group of heroes, five girls diverse in appearance, personality, and skills, face down all kinds of crazy monsters at a very strange summer camp. The all-female creative team behind this one is taking 'All-Ages' seriously. Super accessible and a great time."

-- CBR Contributor Cardner Clark

"I'm not sure where 'Lumberjanes' will land on CBR's Top Comics list, but if you try to argue with me that it's not the No. 1 entry on the most buzzworthy book of 2014, you're crazy. The runaway hit about a team of summer camp scouts traversing the weirds of the wild is so much more than its admirable girl power mission statement. 'Lumberjanes' is a funny, surprising and fantastic piece of comics whose power only increases with each issue. And with its world brimming full of madcap merit badges and monster mountain mythology, the series has the kind of unique language and feel that provides a great entry point to the medium for young readers of any background. Editor Shannon Watters and her team deserve all the praise possible for producing comics that don't just appeal to new fans but will likely become their all-time favorites."

-- CBR Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

"Though it may be an all-ages comic, 'Lumberjanes' has a rare mass appeal. Approachable but never patronizing, Stevenson, Ellis, and Allen spin yarns about Hipster Yetis and Holy Kittens, but their characters remain wholly relatable and distinct. The series is chock full of genuine laughs, electric chemistry, and sharp wit. With a spoonful of charm and a dollop of ass kicking, 'Lumberjanes' is the kind of book I needed as a kid."

-- CBR Reviewer Meagan Damore

"Mixing the fun and action of 'Adventure Time' with the mystery and mythology of 'Buffy,' 'Lumberjanes' not only gives an awesome platform for creators Noelle Stevenosn, Grace Ellis and Brooke A. Allen to do their thing, but also to showcase the quirky, rawness of the amazing lady leads. Bringing in more talent like Shannon Watters, Emily Carroll and Faith Erin Hicks just adds to the variety and wild entertainment value that makes 'Lumberjanes' a must read every time it comes out.

-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch

sexcriminals 06

5. Sex Criminals
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Chip Zdarsky
Published by Image Comics

"This isn’t just a comic about people who can freeze time when they achieve orgasm, though that’s certainly part of it. And it’s not just a refreshing exploration of human sexuality, and how it shapes our lives from a very early age -- though that’s part of it, too. At its core, 'Sex Criminals' is simply about a girl who meets a boy. Their relationship starts with fireworks, but before long real life sets in -- and writer Matt Fraction deftly peels back the layers to reveal some brutally honest truths."

Story continues below

-- CBR Contributor Blake Northcott

"The second year of 'Sex Criminals' was even better than the strong first year, as Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have now moved the story past the initial (extremely clever) conceit and are now forced to make the story work based on the strength of the characters they've developed and they have done such a strong job in their character development that that shift in the driving force of the comic is not a problem at all. "

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

"'Sex Criminals' sounds like a joke -- a comic where two characters can stop time when they have sex, and decide to rob banks to try and save the local library -- but in the hands of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky, it's more than just a funny story. Infused with quiet beats of how people view sex, relationships, depression, and fighting the system in general, 'Sex Criminals' is the perfect example of how a book can't be judged solely by its cover. Fortunately, the covers for 'Sex Criminals' are also pretty fantastic.

-- CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

"What could have been a one-note punchline of a comic, 'Sex Criminals' is a brilliant coming-of-age story that handles adult themes with a master's touch of dignity and class. Just as tender as it is titillating; sex has never been handled with more honesty in mainstream comics. This book is worth the cover price for the letters page alone."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Marc Buxton

"I had never felt sexy a day in my life before reading this comic. When I told Chip Zdarsky that, he gave me a really inappropriate hug and told me a filthy story about his parents. I haven't stopped feeling sexy since."

-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

Moon Knight 1 Cover

4. Moon Knight
Written by Warren Ellis, Brian Wood
Art by Declan Shalvey, Greg Smallwood
Published by Marvel Comics

"'Moon Knight' wasn't just one of the best comics of the year, it was one of the most perfectly crafted books I've ever read, period. This is minimalist storytelling at it’' finest, so I'll be brief: it's phenomenal. Read it!"

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

"Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey created Marvel's best title of the year doing what Warren Ellis does best: simple, one-and-done stories with more ideas in a single issue than most books have in a year. It was Marc Spector's finest moment ever. Unfortunately, Ellis and Shalvey's run only lasted six issues. Hopefully, Khonshu brings this creative team back to life next."

-- CBR Staff Writer Karl Keily

"Every year there's a new formerly forgotten hero that gets elevated to a new playing field thanks to a brilliant creative team. This was Moon Knight’s year, but it was really Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire's year. Each one of their six issues was like a masterclass in comic book storytelling. From elaborate yet clear fight scenes to horrifically trippy drug sequences, this creative team rewrote the book on how to make a top notch comic -- and they did it all with the help of the certifiable Marc Spector and his array of Moon gadgets."

-- CBR Assistant Editor/Columnist Brett White

"Six quasi-self-contained stories from Warren Ellis, Declan Shaleey, and Jordie Bellaire that were a master class in the economics of comic book storytelling. Everything served the issue: every page, every panel, every part of the panel. Nothing was extraneous, everything was essential. And it was damn fun to read."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett

"This was one of the strongest debuts of the year, with Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey reintroducing a Moon Knight who's closer to his roots, and more sharply dressed than ever. Their six issues were a series of related standalone issues that also reintroduced many of MK's long-unseen former supporting cast, and each one was a unique and tightly constructed issue that were some of the best stories told since Doug Moench's run over 30 years ago. Brian Wood and Greg Smallwood have taken over using the same M.O., but delivering a series of issues each with a decidedly distinctive feel and storytelling method. Rarely does a creative team follow up such a stellar run with another strong run with such consistent quality, but that's exactly what has happened here."

Story continues below

-- CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson

Multiversity 1 FPO

3. The Multiversity
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Ivan Reis, Chris Sprouse, Ben Oliver, Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart
Published by DC Comics

"Grant Morrison's 'The Multiversity' really covers a huge series of one-shots exploring the DC multiverse -- and despite the length of time it took for the project to see the light of day, it absolutely lived up to expectations, bringing back the feel of DC Elseworlds stories told through Morrison's expert hand. With a veritable cornucopia of artistic talent along for the ride, 'The Multiversity' was one of the strongest series to debut in 2014, and hopes are high as the series continues into the New Year."

-- CBR Staff Writer/Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

"Grant Morrison takes his meta-themes for another spin in the most epic way possible, pushing the limits of the DCU and showing multiple worlds under threat of a single comic book. The highlight of 'Multiversity' so far has been Morrison re-teaming with Quitely on the meticulous mobius strip, Watchmen-riff 'Pax Americana,' a comic book that will likely be dissected for years to come."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Ryan Ingram

"Morrison takes all that is good about DC's multiverse and turns it into something absolutely amazing, with this series of one-shots that have been nothing but pure fanboy fun, peeking into unseen corners of The New 52 multiverse. Top tier artists have all enhanced the excitement, giving each one-shot a unique flavor where half the fun is scrutinizing each panel."

-- CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson

"Grant Morrision, with free rein over the vast DC Comics cataloge, creating a canonical multiverse with metatextual threads, drawn by a multitude of great artists with variant covers that include comic legends? Yeah, it’s not terrible."

-- CBR Contributor Tamara Brooks

"['The Multiversity: Pax Americana'] is the very best single issue of the year. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are showing all of us what comics can offer. That, indeed, they are magic when you let them be. With subtle hands they play with time, they manipulate framing, they adjust and control perspective. Both creators are laureates in the field, and everything they do together yields a new form of study on the medium. But it’s 'Pax Americana' that demands the greatest attention, and yields the greatest reward."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Ryan Burton

saga 22 6c783

2. Saga
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Published by Image Comics

"A comic that somehow keeps getting better 24 issues in, 'Saga' showed no signs of slowing down in 2014. Vaughn and Staples threw readers a curveball by jumping forward in the narrative, then threw another one immediately after by revealing that we were also watching the end of Marko and Alana's marriage. Minimal yet detailed art and a rich world filled with unique characters, 'Saga' is more than living up to its name."

-- CBR Reviewer Matt Little

"'Saga' continuously delivers on the promise of everything the creative, collaborative nature of comics can offer. In Brian K. Vaughan, there's a writer at the peak of his power crafting an epic story on a startlingly intimate scale, tightly plotted yet unafraid to meander into interesting corners, set in a wild, fantastic intergalactic landscape yet utterly human through-and-through. In Fiona Staples, there's an artist with a seemingly boundless imagination creating characters and images never seen before, while exercising an unparalleled storytelling clarity. Best of all, it's clear each creator is giddily inspired by the contributions of the other, eager to veer outside their own comfort zones to provide fresh, innovative material for the other to run with."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Scott Huver

'Saga' continues to be great for Vaughn's depiction of human relationships and for Staples' art, which is almost in a class by itself for its confident linework, pleasing panel compositions and the wild, vivid colors."

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

"In 'Saga,' world-building masters Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to deliver the coolest comic book between Earth and Landfall. Everything about this series is so expertly crafted that it's any wonder each issue is better than the last. But it always is. If 'The Phantom Menace' upset you as adult, this is the 'Star Wars' you're looking for."

-- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

Story continues below

"It’s a rare story that can balance an all-out intergalactic war with intimate family drama but 'Saga' pulls it off. No book broke my heart more than 'Saga,' and I can’t wait for it to come back next year and do it all over again."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

"At this point, writing up 'Saga' is such a given that it’s almost comical. Just read it. Fiona Staples' inventiveness and Brian K. Vaughan's cliffhangers make the utmost of the way comics are serialized -- there's no better month-to-month read out there. As much as I love its gorgeous sci-fi worldbuilding, it's the emotional core story -- a family in flight -- that always keeps me coming back."

-- CBR Reviewer Marykate Jasper

MsMarvel

1. Ms. Marvel
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona, Jake Wyatt
Published by Marvel Comics

"Long before her first issue hit the stands, Kamala Khan took the world by storm. Much hyped, 'Ms. Marvel' had a lot of expectation to live up to -- and, boy, did she ever. Awkward yet lovable, Kamala is one of the most relatable teenage characters to hit stands since Peter Parker. In Wilson and Alphona's capable hands, issue after issue hits new heights as Kamala grows as a hero and a person. With quality this consistently great, 'Ms. Marvel' wins hearts through its stellar character writing and charming artwork."

-- CBR Reviewer Meagan Damore

"From the very first panel of the first issue, it's clear that G. Willow Wilson isn't afraid to confront the realities of a young Muslim girl in a sympathetic, honest and hilarious way. Ms. Marvel has delighted and surprised me all year long and Kamala Khan isn't just the superhero we need, she's the one I want to be."

-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

"Pretty much the most fun you can have in superhero comics right now is 'Ms. Marvel.' A media darling for its star Kamala Khan, a Muslim teenager dealing with the pressures of school and family life in New Jersey, the series has earned its spotlight through its depiction of a real and relatable young woman who greets the superhero world with excitement and wonder -- despite the grief it brings her trying to square things with her parents. Oh, and Ms. Wilson absolutely killed the Obligatory Wolverine Guest Appearance -- genuinely funny stuff."

-- CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

"I just couldn’t imagine a more lovable protagonist than Kamala Khan. Earnest, kind and almost embarrassingly geeky, she's a real joy to root for. Add in the artists' beautifully wonky version of Jersey City, and this book is unbeatable."

-- CBR Reviewer Marykate Jasper

"This is the most important comic that came out this year. I want this to be the most important comic for the next year, too. I want people to covet their copies of 'Ms. Marvel' #1 and to talk about the origin of the character the same way they talk about 'Ultimate Spider-Man.' I hope 'Ms. Marvel' is the most important book for years to come."

-- Robot 6 Writer Carla Hoffman

"Imagine a combination of the great '80s teen films from writer/director John Hughes and the fun of the Marvel Universe. If you've read 'Ms. Marvel' you know exactly what that looks like. Kamala Khan is one of the most likable and identifiable teen protagonists since Peter Parker, and like all heroic adolescents she's on a quest to do good and establish her own identity, a quest made even more fascinating by her immigrant roots and shapeshifting abilities. Plus the series is full of weird, wonderful, and funny characters and events."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

Discuss this story in CBR's CBR Community forum.  |  102 Comments

TAGS:  top 100 comics of 2014

 
CBR News