Each year, my brother Randy and I look back over the previous twelve months and pick out the comics we think were the “surprise” hits of that time period. Past years have included The Hedge Night, Mouse Guard, Stumptown and The Perhapanauts.
This year, I’ve picked out a few really good books that far exceeded my expectations. See if they did the same with you.
1. Hero Worship from Avatar Press. Here’s the description: “The biggest superhero screen writer in the world comes to comics for the first time! Zak Penn (writer of X-Men II and III and the Alphas TV show) and Scott Murphy (lead writer of Star Wars: The Clone Wars) spin a tale about the ultimate celebrity, an indestructible superhero called Zenith, and the rabid fans that worship him. Legions of adoring fans follow every disaster trying to speculate where they can catch a glimpse of their modern messiah. What happens when an unhealthy obsession leads to one fan getting super powers of his own?”
I was intrigued by this book’s premise when I first came across it in the Previews monthly (otherwise known as “the phone book” due it its girth). This made me think something about Superman that’s always puzzled me … if one could do anything without suffering the consequences, would he be of such moral purity? Really?
We find out pretty quickly that, while being adored, Zenith isn’t quite Superman. He has a PR team guiding him, making sure he says the right words and does the proper things everywhere he goes. But he’s no saint out of the public eye!
When one of his fans unexpectedly develops powers that resemble Zenith’s, it starts a unique story when a sidekick may not actually look up to his “mentor.” In fact, the two may come to blows before things conclude soon!
I’m a big fan of Mr. Penn (I adore Alphas, for instance), so that helped me get in on the ground floor with this comic. It’s the biggest and best surprise of the year to me!
2. Earth 2 from DC Comics. Here’s what this book is about: “Who are the heroes of Earth 2 – and what befell them? Starring Alan Scott, Jay Garrick and many others! You may think you know Earth 2…but this is DC Comics – The New 52, where anything can happen!”
Unlike some people, I’ve long been a fan of DC’s “multiverse.” The other worlds gave creators the chance to shake things up a bit, so I loved them, particularly the JLA/JSA yearly crossovers. Wow!
With the advent of the “New 52,” I really wasn’t so sure what would take place on that alternate universe. Also, DC made it pretty clear we wouldn’t be seeing the JSA again anytime soon. So what’s going to happen?
Having Alan Scott being gay aside (that means almost nothing to me), I really loved the sense of freshness to Earth 2. I guess getting in on the ground floor (again) really helped pique my interest. I now greatly look forward each month to this book, and how!
3. Legends of the Dark Knight digital comic/now out in a monthly format. Here’s what this is all about: “Batman has lived many lifetimes and worn many different costumes in his 70+ years of existence. Legends of the Dark Knight focuses on classic, stand-alone tales of Batman by a unique group of talented creators with equally unique stories to tell!”
Sometimes having a big name behind a story can lead to a big disappointment. I bet each of you readers can think of a story being told by a “name” author that sold well but didn’t really live up to expectations.
That said, not every tale in this group is a winner. But I like the short-story format and the opportunity to give big-name or new-name creators the chance to put their toe in Batman’s universe. My favorites include “The Butler Did It,” “Slam!” “Letters to Batman,” “Gotham Spirit” and “Haunted Arkham,” but most of the others aren’t far behind.
Every Thursday, I’m hot to download the latest edition, and I hope you are, too!
What will be the surprise hit comics of 2013? Be back next year to find out!