I’ll keep this brief. As listed on the sidebar, this list has not changed much throughout the year as far as which publisher appears on it, mainly because it is subjective to my personal tastes and what I’m reading. Without further ado, here is, in my humble/esteemed estimation, the best comics publishers of 2013.
For those who are new to the industry, Dark Horse revolutionized the treatment of comics based on films. After a history of movie properties being poorly handled with little regard for execution and continuity, Dark Horse took a new approach, carefully choosing licenses and approaching them with excitement and creative energy. Our goal was to create sequels and prequels to the films we loved, paying careful attention to quality and detail, essentially treating those films as though they were our own. Star Wars has been the crown jewel of this approach. We began chasing the title as far back as 1989, and with the launch of Tom Veitch and Cam Kennedy’s Dark Empire, a new era in comics was born. I’m not ashamed to admit that we were Star Wars geeks, and we have been determined to spare neither effort nor expense in the pursuit of excellence.
It is ironic that this announcement comes at a time when Dark Horse is experiencing its most successful year ever. For obvious reasons, we have prepared for this eventuality by finding new and exciting projects to place on our schedule for 2015 and beyond. Will they take the place of Star Wars? That’s a tall order, but we will do our best to make that happen. In the meantime, 2014 may be our last year at the helm of theStar Wars comics franchise, but we plan to make it a memorable one. We know that fans of the franchise will expect no less. The Force is with us still. — Mike Richardson
We all knew this day was coming even before the ink dried on the contract that turned over ownership of LucasFilm (and subsidiaries) to Disney, the House of Mouse that also owns Marvel Entertainment/Studios/Comics from a previous acquisition some four-plus years ago. I feel bad for Dark Horse Comics and all who work on the comics there. I’ll have more to write on this sea change at a later date. For now, I will repost the official announcement for archival purposes below.
Press Release (via Star Wars.com):
StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.
* Originally posted @ World of Superheroes.com website. Archive now defunct. *
Captain America #1 (Marvel) | “American Dreamers” Part 1 | (S) Ed Brubaker | (A) Steve McNiven & Mark Morales
* Spoiler Free *
“It’s probably hard to believe…but sometimes I actually forget I’m a man out of time”
– Steve Rogers
The all-new, but not-quite-all-that-different Captain America #1 (technically Volume 6 if you don’t count Captain America Comics from 1941) is a slight return to form of sorts for the star-spangled man-out-of time, soldier of misfortune and sentinel of liberty (coincidence that all of those start with an ‘s’?).
Long-time Cap writer Ed Brubaker, who has been chronicling the adventures of Marvel’s time-displaced Boy Scout for the better part of a decade, and Steve McNiven (he of Marvel Civil War fame) bring Steve Rogers, now the undisputed Captain America again, out of the shadows and murkiness, which suited the dark intrigue of the previous volume’s tone. This volume apparently aims to be slightly brighter with a feel that is more typical of a superhero adventure comic. This back-to-basics approach is obviously deliberate considering the choice of McNiven as the penciler. He’s joined by Justin Posner (The Mighty Avengers, Young Avengers) on colors, and inker Mark Morales (Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, The Mighty Thor).
It’s an Ed Brubaker story so it still has its share of intrigue and mystery, but unlike many of his stories this one does not have that slow-burn feel as he gets straight to the plot and adventure right away in this first issue with a nice bit of action to balance things out.
The issue opens with Steve Rogers attending the funeral for a fallen comrade with some old friends, the frequent supporting cast of grizzled veterans Dum-Dum Dugan and Nick Fury, plus the lovely Sharon Carter. By the sixth and seventh pages, this battle-tested band of buddies are forced to spring into action. By page nine we get a glimpse of an old friend-turned-foe who Cap hasn’t seen since…you guessed it, 1944. After that page, cue the flashback to that bygone era of at-large Nazis, Allied Forces and superspies. These flashback scenes are vital because they set up and support the present day situation of a past mission that went awry and the backlash of that mission coming to fruition in the present and (gulp) future. The issue closes with the resurfacing (new incarnation?) of an old foe apparently in cahoots with that aforementioned new ‘old’ character who once was a friend, but certainly hasn’t had Cap on his Christmas card list since, well, a lifetime ago because he now wants to “destroy Captain America.”
This first issue of Captain America kicks the new series off really well and is a lot of fun. You don’t have to know a lot of backstory to follow along because Brubaker does a great job of feeding you exactly what you need to know without spoiling the intrigue of what looks to be a doozy of a plot for our flagged intrepid. Here’s hoping that each issue will be as balanced as this one.
Four Stars (out of five)