Ninth Doctor mini-series, Surface Tension, Rivers of London, and the ongoing Eleventh and Twelfth Doctor releases we begin our countdown with... dun dun daaaaa... MURDER...
March saw the release of the first Norman graphic novel, complete with the tag line...
“I am eight years old and I kill people.”
"Yep, as hook lines go, that a pretty strong one. And it works. When I glanced at the cover I wasn’t impressed, then I picked it up and read that tagline. Big smiley face. Gotta read this!
So I went for it, and I couldn’t put it down.
What I really like about Vol 1 of Norman is that there are so many little hints and nods, half mentioned or gleanable snippets that indicate there is a wealth of stories to be told here, and that we're just scratching the surface. We’ve hardly dug the knife in yet.
Of course comics are about more than just the story and the artwork is extremely important, here the artists do particularly well with something that often doesn’t work for me, but in this case the sepia cast used for flashbacks marks them clearly and separates them as the past. Overall the art work reminds me of Schulz, though the content is more Calvin and Hobbes gone to the dark side. Way, way to the dark side."
Norman returned in September with a second volume...
"Norman is just brilliant - and getting me to say that about something French is pretty damned impressive!"
4. Scarlett Couture
Des Taylor's 4 issue mini-series arrived in April in stunningly beautiful style. The premise behind the story is simple, what if a famous supermodel was actually a Government agent? Using her cover as a model and her exceptional beauty to her advantage. Getting close to the most powerful villains, seducing henchmen, and then delivering justice with a mixture of Weapons, Wing Chun and Jeet Kun Do.
Scarlett Carver is Head of Security for her mother’s internationally renowned fashion house, and also gathers intelligence for the CIA. So when a pair of supermodels are kidnapped in Las Vegas, there really is no-one better suited for the job of rescue and recovery.
Scarlett Couture quickly became...
"...my favourite new comic book of 2015. You'll whiz through it, not because it lacks substance but because it's just so enjoyable.
In the notes at the back of the issue Taylor points out that when a guy puts on a sharp suit or a tuxedo and climbs into a sports car, he feels like James Bond. And he's right, I know I've certainly had that moment. Taylor's hope is that when a girl puts on her little black dress, slips into those killer heels and grabs her clutch bag, she has a Scarlett Couture moment.
Time will tell if Taylor's dream becomes a reality, but for now he should be very content with Scarlett Couture being this seasons must have collection."
"Scarlett Couture has truly been a breath of fresh air. As well as being a brilliant action/adventure/espionage/mystery story, it's been a whole lot of fun - something which I often feel many comic book creators forget is an option. A story doesn't always have to be super serious to be a grown-up comic book, and comedy doesn't always have to come from toilet humour or Viz style shenanigans.
Of course, when it comes to a good comic book the story is just one part of the essential ingredients, and what really propels Scarlett Couture to greatness is Des Taylor's jaw-dropping artwork. He's unbelievably talented, in fact he may well be the most talented artist working in comic books today. I know that preference of artwork style is subjective but I fail to see how anyone couldn't be impressed with Taylor's work, it's stunning!"
Four issues was just not enough, but thankfully Taylor had some good news for us...
3. The Four Doctors
Presented in five weekly parts, Titan Comics Doctor Who Summer Event from Paul Cornell and Neil Edwards was one release that really lived up to the hype.
Because of an increase in the general number of geeks per head of population, and a general decline in the standards of linguistic imagination, it is these days possible to have a nerdgasm, a geekgasm, and probably, in some dark, unexplored corners of fandom on the internet, even a squeegasm.
Buy this, and prepare to have them all.
Thank you very much – job done.
More? The four Doctors in question – War, Ten, Eleven and Twelve. In one comic-book, along with their comic-book companions.
Even more? Kick-ass redesigned version of a First Doctor villain that was relatively recently redeemed on audio.
Even even more? Fantastic in-character arguing – imagine inviting the Twelfth Doctor to the Day of the Doctor, and sharpening it up by a factor of 50.
Even even even more? The return of one of the Ninth Doctor’s best villains.
Feel free to have whatever kind of gasm most suits you.
And it didn't stop, whizzing along at a frenetic pace, delivering everything that you could want in a multi-Doctor story, whether that be in print, audio or visual form.
Issue #5 does what the finale had to do – maintain standards, then exceed them, give all the treats somewhere logical to go, and build into a climax that satisfies not only the storytelling and artistic demands it set for itself in earlier issues, but also the expectations of some of the most demanding, hard-to-please fans in the world.
Take a bow, Messrs Cornell and Edwards. Actually, take two. Hell, if you think you can count that far in this crazy, mixed up universe of Doctor Who, by all means take four.
Fans of the show, or fans of great comic-books, or really, fans of being alive and happy at the same time, take no bows. Take four Doctors, five issues and a tremendous sense of satisfaction in the knowledge of a great story, delivered to the point of practical perfection. You have been served, and served well.
2. Death Sentence London
We love a bit of Death Sentence here at WarpedFactor, and June saw a double treat when Titan released a graphic novel collecting the individual comics from the original run, and issue #1 in a new ongoing series, Death Sentence London.
Story-wise, the events of the first Death Sentence cycle were the immediate background – London devastated, millions of new infections of G+ - the virus that gives you brilliance, or skill, or superpower, but which kills you within six months – and a city with new issues: the mass destruction resulting in bodies unburied in the streets, looting, and political unrest.
A delicious gritty funny dark comic-book that’s up to its nipples in life and death and art and meaning, when a Death Sentence issue drops into your inbox or through your letterbox, you know it’s gonna be a good day.
You know what separates really great geek entertainment from all other entertainment?
It’s the thrill, and it’s the ache.
The thrill when a new episode or issue comes out – the brightness and brilliance of that day, because your new episode’s on, or your new issue’s in stock, available for pickup or download, and there to be relished and pored over, enjoyed however you like – whether you’re a guzzler, eyeballs glued to everything and gorging through every page, or sipping so it lasts longer, page by page or minute by minute, reveling in all the details, the in-gags, the art or the philosophical stance of the people you trust to give you what you need.
And then the ache, because it’s over for another however-long – another week, another month, another x-amount-of-time before the thrill begins again. Geeks were the creators of concepts like box-set binging. Geeks understand the thrill and the ache.
Geeks love Death Sentence.
Death Sentence is that kind of entertainment – just as your favourite show is never ‘just on’ but you wait for it all week, think about it, talk about it, share ideas about what might be in it, then enjoy it, then talk about it endlessly until the thrill for the following episode begins, so Death Sentence never just releases an issue. It’s the kind of comic-book that you wait for with nothing even remotely approaching patience, that you revel in when it arrives, and that you want to go door-to-door with afterwards, asking your neighbours if they’ve considered letting MontyNero into their lives, because it might just make them better people.
Simply put, Death Sentence London is the best comic-book action out there right now.
Death Sentence London encompasses lots of big things - love, life, sex, death, rock and roll and art being just a handful. It would be a worthy title to top our list of favourite comic books of 2015 (and one I have no doubt will feature highly next year) but a release from back in January still has us talking now.
1. The Tenth Doctor: The Weeping Angels Of Mons
Let's not beat around the bush, Robbie Morrison's The Weeping Angels of Mons is as absorbing, as wrenching, as heartwarming and as tear-bringing as anything from the last 52 years of Doctor Who.
We all know that in Doctor Who, there are the ok stories, and then stories that blow your brains out. Stories that make the unwary into fans, and make fans into acolytes for years to come. Y’know – the Pyramids of Mars, the Robots of Death, the Remembrance of the Daleks, the Caves of Androzani stories.
In comic-book terms, The Weeping Angels of Mons is one of those.
I said as much, pretty much all the way through its original part-work production: it was my jumping-on point with the Tenth Doctor in comic-books, so I had no backstory of Gabby Gonzalez to inform me – but when these two arrive on the battlefields of World War I, something special begins.
In fact, it begins before they even arrive. It begins in a graveyard both literally and figuratively, the battlefield of Mons running through a cemetary, where some Scottish soldiers, including a young lad named Jamie, are talking about the things that matter – their lives back home, plans to marry.
And then you see it.
A grey stone cherub on a grave. Your heart skips a beat, but then you realise it’s a graveyard. It’s probably nothing but a clever use of location.
But then there are dark grey wing-tips in the corner of a panel. And the angels attack.
It’s a chilling beginning, and it only gets better from there.
Originally released in four monthly installments (issues #6 to #9 of The Tenth Doctor) from January 2015, and collected together into one essential graphic novel, for me The Weeping Angels of Mons is the ultimate Tenth Doctor comic book adventure. Heck it might just be the best Doctor Who comic book story ever. Honestly.
The Weeping Angels of Mons is a four-issue journey that seems, in the depth and richness of its character stories, and in the surprising freshness it brings to the motivations and the portrayal of the angels, significantly longer. That’s a good thing, because it’s a journey more worth taking than several of the Tenth Doctor’s TV adventures turned out to be. It’s a story that takes everything good you think you know about the Weeping Angels, turns it up full blast, and then adds elements you never even dreamed of, just to scare you rigid while you remember the people who fought and died on one of Europe’s bloodiest battlefields.
And that's our choices for 2015. Here's to another great year of comic books from Titan.
Find out about all these titles and more at http://titan-comics.com/