Indulge me as I give you a little backstory. I was never one for comic books, but after being sucked further and further into the vortex that is the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I dabbled. It was several years ago when I first downloaded a handful of comics on my kindle. While I enjoyed what I read, obviously nothing stuck because I forgot all about the world of comic books until about this time last year. With the Captain America: Winter Soldier film slated for release earlier this year, 2013 me decided that there was no better time to get back into what I had halfheartedly started years ago. The rest, as they say, is history.
Below you can find my favourite Graphic Novel discoveries of the year so far.
Hawkeye, Matt Fraction and David Aja
Oh, man. You know when you open a book (graphic or otherwise) and even when you’re only halfway through reading the first page you just know that this is for you and it’s like you’ve found “the One”. Well, I knew. Fraction’s Clint is so great (think Jason Stackhouse crossed with… no, actually, I think that’s pretty accurate.) and Aja’s illustrations are perfection. The Clint/Kate dynamic is something that I never knew was lacking in my life until reading this series, and you’ve got to love a comic that dedicates a whole issue to being told from the point of view of a dog. It’s funny and fast paced and pokes fun at Clint and his position in the Avengers in the nicest way possible. I am beyond excited for the next volume, having held off buying the individual issues so that I can grab volume 3 as soon as it hits the shelf late next month.
Saga, Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga seemed so random to me that it just might work, and all of those 5 star reviews couldn’t be wrong, right? Sometimes you just have to believe the hype. I couldn’t put it down. The writing! I couldn’t believe that all these different characters could have such distinct voices in such a short space of time! It’s sci-fi and adventurous and so many of my favourite things! Reading Saga is like… well, to me it’s like flailing madly through a crazy, alien universe and having the time of your life while doing it. It manages to make villains out of the good guys and simultaneously humanise the villains. It’s like pick’n’mix – on one page you’ve got a human bounty hunter and on he next you’ve got a Prince with a TV for a head. It’s crazy and it’s amazing.
Sex Criminals, Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Speaking of crazy and amazing, can we just take a second? Because I think that’s the perfect description of Sex Criminals. When I bought this, all I knew was that I that it was gorgeous and I needed more Matt Fraction in my life. I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a weird mix of sex, and magic, and humour, and crime, and I’m here to tell you that it works. Yes, it’s a little explicit (I actually saw it wrapped in plastic at one shop the other day!) but you’re in it for the story – and did I mention it was hilarious? Because it is. There’s a whole scene where the main character, Suzie, performs Fat Bottomed Girls in a bar – complete with cheesy dance routine and the cooperation of the other patrons – but it’s all covered over with sticky notes as Fraction explains that they couldn’t get the rights to use the lyrics. And it’s so. damned. pretty. As with Hawkeye, I’m holding off reading the individual issues so that I can grab the next volume – and it can’t get here soon enough.