The 10 Most Anticipated Comics of 2014

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What the hell’s going on in the comics industry right now? Really, guys: it’s objectively nuts, and we mean that in the best way possible. Image has been hosting a consecutive coup on Marvel and DC, sneaking their best talent out the bedroom window to their creator-owned party for the past two years. Meanwhile, one of the biggest publishers of textbooks has been cranking out all ages indie gold. Why wasn’t Macmillan and its First Second umbrella around when we were kids? Andre the Giant biographies win out any day against cosine/tangent formulas that we don’t remember now and never will, thank you very much grade school. Also: Warren Ellis is writing a perpetually underperforming, C-List, mentally-ill Batman ripoff.

We may have no clue what these paradigm shifts will usher in for the rest of 2014, but we’re committed to a long and fruitful year of fantastic, weird comics (mostly) unconfined by corporate censorship and overprotective licensing. Here are 10 comics we’re particularly looking forward to:

1. Andre the Giant: Life and Legend


Writer & Artist: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 2014

In creating a biography of a cult figure, you have to be careful not to trivialize a human life for the sake of novelty, but Box Brown is well qualified to produce an exemplary take on the 7-and-a-half-foot pro wrestler best known for his role in The Princess Bride. For one thing, Brown identifies as a lifelong pro wrestling fan. But more important, he has a gift for mixing stoicism with the emotions oft hidden under the surface, which seems an appropriate perspective in this case. Both his webcomic Bellen! and, even more so, Love Is a Peculiar Type of Thing held a gentle sweetness that would be an asset in depicting such a dynamic figure. Hillary Brown

2. How to Be Happy


Writer & Artist: Eleanor Davis
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: May 2014

Eleanor Davis has long been one of the most talented, creative, and driven voices on the comics scene, but her work for adults has only been parceled out in anthologies (Best American Comics, Mome) or in mini-comics. Now, Fantagraphics has collected 144 pages of her work in this anthology. Davis’ stories always spring from a unique place, whether or not they take place in a contemporary and mundane setting. Her feminism is as much a part of her work as her variable visual style (luminous watercolors, pure and linear black linework, combinations of the two that marry beautifully); both aspects shape her characters and narratives with subtlety. There’s a good possibility this book will end up near the top of many year-end best-of lists. Hillary Brown

3. The Love Bunglers


Writer & Artist: Jaime Hernandez
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: April 2014

Any time a collection of Jaime Hernandez’s Maggie (and/or Hopey) stories is published, it’s cause for celebration. This volume should give us 104 more pages of character development on a character who’s already among the most developed in the medium. Maggie’s struggles with depression make up a large part of the last supercollection Fantagraphics issued (Locas II), but even when things get dark (and they do), the story is suffused with the author’s deep love for his character. She might be messy all around, her emotions overflowing and her life spiraling out of control, but she never loses her capacity to reach out to others, which seems to be a focus of this collection. Hillary Brown

4. Moon Knight


Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Declan Shalvey
Publisher: Marvel
Release Date: March

In spite of Marvel’s efforts to build up Moon Knight, his books never seem to catch on. Then again, Moon Knight is a strange character. Well let’s face it: the guy was (is?) more than slightly confused. Like Tyler Durden with a room at the Bates Motel, Marc Spector has an incredibly difficult time separating reality from fantasy. He’s a rich former-mercenary with multiple personalities, who was resurrected by an ancient Egyptian god and imbued with super moon powers. But, if Warren Ellis has his way, Marc Spector’s days of being famously unknown are nearing an end. The vitriolic brit promised “weird crime” in his revival, and when Warren Ellis strives for weird… well, what do you think will happen when he gets his hands on a nocturnal pyschiatric patient who fights werewolves? Ellis is a savage storyteller and Declan Shalvey’s rough shadows and splattery accents are just the thing to tie the whole demented affair together. Robert Tutton

5. Multiversity


Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Frank Quitely, Cameron Stewart, More
Publisher: DC
Release Date: 2014 (Hopefully)

(Reprinted from The Most Anticipated Comics of 2013).
Comics should probably cool it with the alternate reality hoo-hah, especially now that regular DC comics feel like Elseworld versions of themselves. Grant Morrison’s Multiversity doesn’t just get a pass, though — it’s easily my most anticipated superhero comic. No other writer understands the fundamental appeal of superheroes as well as Morrison, and few can write deep, multi-layered comics that are both fun and insightful as well as he can. Add in a roster of world-class artists, including long-time collaborator Frank Quitely, and Multiversity becomes far more interesting than the average crossover of archetypes and thinly-veiled analogues. Garrett Martin

6. Pascin


Writer & Artist: Joann Sfar (translated by Edward Gauvin)
Publisher: Uncivilized Books
Release Date: May 2014

Published in French five years ago, Joann Sfar’s biography of the French-Bulgarian artist Jules Pascin holds much promise. The story is full of depression, sex, alcoholism, bohemianism, and, at its conclusion, suicide, but Sfar has always had an ability to treat the most serious subjects with an impressive lightness. The Rabbi’s Cat was philosophical and entertaining, Klezmer: Tales of the Wild East leapt through musical history, Vampire Loves traced the relationship of two undead monsters, and his work with Lewis Trondheim on the Dungeon series is inspiringly comedic and fiercely plot-driven. In short, he is both peripatetic in his interests and always conscious to entertain his reader. Hillary Brown

7. Seconds


Writer & Artist: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Release Date: July 15, 2014

Four years and a bittersweet film adaptation later, Scott Pilgrim and his poignant slacker poetry have left a massive hole in the market for hipster manga and awesome fictional band names (Clash at Demonhead FTW). This year, SP writer/illustrator Bryan Lee O’Malley returns to quarter-life-crisis purgatory with Seconds, a graphic novel about the restaurant where “lovable spaz” Katie embarks on all manner of magically domestic hyperbole. O’Malley is keeping mum to maintain some mystery around the project, but in an interview with Random House Canada, the creator said that the narrative will maintain a grounded connection before going into more “mental” directions. In other words, it sounds like a Bryan O’Malley book and it couldn’t come any sooner. Sean Edgar

8. Serenity: Leaves on the Wind


Writer: Zack Whedon
Illustrator: Georges Jeanty
Publisher: Dark Horse
Release Date: January 22, 2014

In a just and righteous world, Firefly would have had a long televised life. But, alas, the cult of Browncoats have had to sate their space-western yen with a relative trickle of Serenity comics over the last decade. Where past issues filled in backstory, Serenity: Leaves on the Wind, out this month and written by Zack Whedon, takes its title from the late pilot Wash’s final words. The big complaint about the cult sci-fi western’s comic iterations was always that you had know the show, and that will no doubt remain the case here as the new 6-issue miniseries picks up after the movie. Either way, fans finally get another fix of Mal Reynolds and his scrappy crew of bandits as they aim to misbehave. Considering the trouble they caused for the Alliance at the end of the film, I wouldn’t be surprised – in fact I’d be downright giddy – if we see the return of Jubal Early, the intensely psychotic yet philosophical bounty hunter from the series finale. Robert Tutton

9. Southern Bastards

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Publisher: Image
Release Date: Early 2014

At the Image Expo in San Francisco last summer, the indie comics juggernaut announced that Jason Aaron and Jason Latour were set to make their long-awaited return to the world of creator-owned properties with Southern Bastards, a “southern fried crime comic” set in a fictional Alabama county. Featuring a cast of colorful, ultra-violent characters (presumably the titular “Bastards”), the comic will dive into the seedy underbelly of small time life and all the dirty secrets hidden underneath; the main baddie is a well-respected high school football coach prone to “burying bodies under the end zone and bleachers.”

Details aside, this comic is worth highlighting purely from the involvement of the “Two Jasons,” who comprise a pair of the best creative minds currently working in comics. As an artist, Latour’s contributions include the excellent one-shot Daredevil Black and White and, as a writer, a run on Winter Soldier. Aaron was the driving force behind Vertigo’s Scalped, which stands as some of the richest storytelling in the medium’s recent history (the aforementioned coach was originally created for the Indian Reservation crime epic). Moreover, Aaron’s coming off a fantastic run of Marvel’s Thor: God of Thunder. Southern Bastards represents a chance for two incredibly skilled auteurs to run wild, and I can’t wait to see the results. Mark Rozeman

10. Wytches


Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock
Publisher: Image
Release Date: April 2014

The comic book writer that Paste tends to enjoy quite a bit reteams with his Detective Comics collaborator at the publisher where he unleashed some nasty horror a few years ago. There is no part of this equation that does not have us excited as hell for the Batman and The Wake writer’s next horror foray and the obsessive research that probably informs it. Recent interviews generally point to a primal take on the oft-romanticized sect of black magic women, strongly alluded to in the William Blake-esque spelling convention of the title (tyger’s aren’t the only ones with fearful symmetry). And when it comes to jagged, imperfect aesthetic oblivion, illustrator Jock’s intricate shading and warped layouts should be a perfect match. We’ll drink this brew the moment it hits the shelf. Sean Edgar