Yesterday, we ran down the 10 best comics of 2014 on The Dan Cave. The only thing I like better than great new comics are collections of great older comics. Herewith are five of this year’s best, arranged in no particular order, featuring the work of creators as disparate as Brian K. Vaughan, Jack Kirby, Chris Clarement, Willow Wilson and Scott Snyder.
Ms. Marvel Volume 1: No Normal — Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphonsa (Marvel)
As a big fan of Willow Wilson’s Air, I was heartbroken to see that Vertigo series end prematurely. But her Ms. Marvel more than makes up for its loss. Focusing on sixteen-year-old Kamala Khan, a Pakistani girl living in New Jersey who inherits the powers of her idol Carol Danvers, Marvel’s newest superheroine’s adventures are by turns charming, thrilling, and heartfelt, helped in no small measure by former Runaways artist Adrian Alphonsa’s fine illustrations and keen sense of storytelling. The Volume 1 trade paperback collects the comic series’ first five issues, and boasts plenty of supplemental material. Kudos to Marvel for providing further evidence that anyone can be a superhero.
Saga Deluxe Edition Volume 1 HC — Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples (Image)
Brian K. Vaughan has concocted some of the most successful mainstream comics in recent memory. But as strong as Y: The Last Man, Pride of Baghdad, and Ex Machina might be, Saga could prove to be his masterpiece. In Fiona Staples, the scribe has found the ideal collaborator, an artist whose vision not only meshes perfectly with his own, but who brings out the best in this Hugo Award-winning, multi-generational science-fiction epic. Volume 1 collects issues 1 through 18 (the first three trade paperbacks) in a much-deserved deluxe format. Plus it’s a steal at thirty bucks retail.
The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio — Joe Simon and Jack Kirby (Harry N. Abrams)
If you’re into IDW’s ongoing series of oversized Artist Edition hardcovers, printing the original pencils of seminal Golden and Silver Age comic creators, you owe it to yourself to grab this volume, a three-hundred-and-eighty-four-page bargain showcasing some of the best of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby’s collaborative efforts. At twelve inches tall, it doesn’t reproduce the team’s work in the size that work was created, but it’s hard to complain when every pencil mark, every smear of correction fluid is crisply reproduced from complete stories featuring classic creations like Boys Ranch and Fighting American.
The Wake — Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy (Vertigo)
Where would twenty-first century horror comics be without Scott Snyder? Having already given us American Vampire and his continuing run on Batman (which has yielded some of the character’s best stories since the ‘80s), the Columbia professor and comic writer concocted his uncategorizable ten-issue Eisner Award-winning Vertigo series with artist Sean Murphy, collected here in a handsome hardcover. Broken into two halves, it offers sea creatures, pirates, and a chilling look at an all too possible future with much of North America submerged underwater.
The Uncanny X-Men Omnibus Volume 2 — Chris Claremont, John Byrne, and Dave Cockrum (Marvel)
With apologies to Grant Morrison and Joss Whedon, Claremont and Byrne’s X-Men remains the high-water mark for Marvel mutant mayhem, inspiring this summer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past and just about every superhero creator since the team ended their run with X-Men #143 (in March 1981). This omnibus features every remaining Claremont-Byrne issue left uncollected after Volume 1, and spans the second half of the Dark Phoenix Saga, as well as the original two-issue “Future Past” storyline. It also sees New X-Men co-creator Dave Cockrum return for a handful of issues, and boasts superior guest turns by artists like George Perez, Paul Smith, and Michael Golden, all of them operating at the height of their powers.
What was your favorite comic book reprint collection of 2014? Let us know in the comments below!