~ By Nandor Shaffer
Welcome back for November’s edition of my monthly annual Comic Book Awards. This month marks the second year of doing this little hobby of mine and if you’ve been following the past three installments of these awards in its new format I hope you’ve been really enjoying it. November panned out to hold a nice batch of comic books from publishers. Marvel continues to dominate my monthly purchases and this month saw the highly awaited launch of Superior Iron Man, the armored Avenger’s all-new ongoing title brought to you by the mind of Tom Taylor and art partner Yildiray Cinar. The Fantastic Four are now back-in-blue, Brian Michael Bendis is slowly but surely crafting an even cooler, complicated Cyclops in the pages of Uncanny X-Men as the head of the “New Mutant Revolution” himself comes face to face with what possibly appears to be the most dangerous mutant ever in existence, and we also get the privilege of witnessing the ever phenomenal progressive unfolding plot found intertwining in both of Jonathan Hickman’s brilliant Avengers books. Sadly, though, this was the first month for me passing over the prime Captain America title since the creative decisions behind All-New Captain America were not to my liking.
In any case, out of the many nominees, which are most worth your time and money? Look no further as November’s awards are here.
One of the touchstone goals for any comic book cover, no less one for the first issue of a new series, is to invite readers by catching their eye amongst the hordes of other books on the stands. Mike Choi’s cover art for the first issue of Superior Iron Man accomplishes this feat to stunning affect. The elegant cover for Superior Iron Man #1 unleashes an attractive brightness that tends to make you want to pick it up even despite how much you may or may not like Iron Man as a character. Presenting first-hand Tony Stark’s most recent version of his Iron Man armor in all its dazzling, blazing chrome glory with an excellent digital style filling the background as well as the touch of a fine logo, it’d be almost impossible to walk pass this issue without taking a lengthy second glance. It’s been around four months since we’ve had a comic individually starring Marvel’s golden boy avenger, and it feels more than great to have him back – especially reemerging in such brilliant form.
Art of the Month Award: Buck Barnes: The Winter Soldier #2
Artist: Marco Rudy
When Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #1 was given this award last month I predicted Marco Rudy’s work would lift the series up to become possibly the very best looking comic book with each passing month. After issue two, that assumption seems more concrete and verifiable. His incredible artwork, heavily using paints, is out of this world. Throughout the issue the Winter Soldier encounters obstacles in a dream-like state of sorts (with no help from the god of mischief, Loki) which Rudy’s method exemplifies perfectly. Page after page you’ll find some of the most interesting and beautiful art to be featured in a comic book. Novel panel layouts are blasted with colorful bliss and Rudy’s intense, hyper-real facial expressions are just as arresting as the action sequences in this issue. If you keep saying “Whoa” to yourself under your breath as you flip through Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier #2, it only makes sense.
Story of the Month Award: New Avengers #27 (“Triage”)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
New Avengers #27 opens up hauntingly in what is known as “the nothing space of destroyed universes”, and in this particular place we find The Temple of the Black Priests, insanely powerful and fascinatingly scary multiversal creatures all but unknown to the reader. A Black Priest speaks in their chilling voice, “Somethiiiiiing shiiiiiimers…somethiiiiiing sparks. Company’s here.” That’s classic Jonathan Hickman, and those who have been following New Avengers will feel the weight of this issue after its last words are read. In Avengers #36, a small group of Avengers volunteer to seek out the cause behind the impending end of everything and are sent across the multiverse to fight back this seemingly hopeless threat. We get to see in this issue what or who they come across (the Black Priests) and a frantic battle is waged. A couple of pages visit Doctor Doom questioning Molecule Man in Latveria (what are they up to?) and one major, awesome revelation is also revealed that left this Doctor Strange fan smiling quite delightfully.
Issue of the Month Award: New Avengers #27 (“Triage”)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Color Artist: Dono Sanchez Almara
Cover Art: Salvador Larroca & Paul Mounts
This issue is present with outstanding storytelling, classy dialogue, and detailed, excellent pencils and inks by guest artist Szymon Kudranski. A handful of Avengers helped by many Ex Nihili fight the mysterious Black Priests and more is divulged regarding the puzzling death of the multiverse. With great character moments involving Thor and Dr. Strange, Mr. Kudranski’s and Almara’s work bring a cinematic, dark flare to each panel while scribe Jonathan Hickman expertly demands your attention. What isn’t said or exposed in New Avengers #27 leaves you wanting more, while all that is explained is rather epic.
Thanks for checking out this edition of my awards and be sure to check back sometime next month for December’s Comic Book Awards! In the meantime, stay tuned for my COMIC BOOK OF THE YEAR AWARDS. Spanning from December of 2013 to November 2014, this will be my second annual Comic Book of the Year Awards. This is what it’s all been leading to and the final award, Best Series, will conclude the ceremony.