**The Inaugural 2014 Vigilant Geek Awards**
Welcome back graphic novel geeks and gurus of all ages!! 2015 is rapidly approaching, and the time has come to present due credit, props and accolades to those creators and artists who have achieved greatness in the graphic novel medium during 2014. Here are my picks!!!!!
Best Mainstream Comic Book Title: Green Arrow
This was a huge year for Green Arrow, regarding both the comic book title and the television series. The transformations Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino were able to make with this character over the past year were astounding. Jeff Lemire was able to essentially take one of the worst, lukewarm titles in the New 52 and make it one of absolute best in less than a year's time. I don't know of many other writers, other than maybe Geoff Johns that have the power to change a title like that so drastically and promptly. With The Outsider's War concluding Lemire and Sorrentino's run on the book a few months back, we were able to see Oliver square off against a long list of heavy hitters including Komodo, Count Vertigo and even his own father Robert Queen!! Never a dull moment with this title now, the torch has been passed to Arrow producer Andrew Kreisberg, who has been killing it in the first two issues he's put out. This is a title I'll be looking forward to reading every month for the indefinite future and comes very highly recommended!
Best Mainstream Story Arc: Batman: Zero Year
The Riddler has created a city-wide blackout in Gotham and has seized control of the whole city during one of the worst storms in decades! Batman, Luscius Fox, Commissioner Jim Gordon and scattered members of the family must put their heads together to solve The Riddler's intricate puzzle before all of Gotham is washed out to sea! Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo hit it out of the park yet again with their fourth big story arc since they were issued the keys to Gotham City at the start of the New 52. The Snyder / Capullo freight train is scheduled to be taken out of service at the end of their latest arc, Endgame, but I really hope that changes because I could see these two, who are already going down in history as two of the best to ever work on the title, do wonders with the Dark Knight for years to come.
Best Comics-Based Motion Picture: Guardians of the Galaxy
Marvel's strengths really seem prevalent on the silver screen, and they keep on proving that point year after year. This year was so damn difficult to choose "Best Comics-Based Motion Picture," due mainly to the fact that Marvel put out four incredible blockbusters this year!! 2014's Marvel movies included Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy. I almost chose Cap 2, because its crystal-clear portrayal of Steve Rogers and the supporting cast stayed so true to the source material that it should make every true comic fan shed happy tears of joy. However, then I was going to choose X-Men: DOFP, because its portrayal of the dystopian future that was originally created in 1984 by Chris Claremont was spot on! This choice was altered as well though when I saw Guardians of the Galaxy. Guardians was the most fun I had at the movie theater this year by far. Not only are the special effects and cgi incredible, but the story, once again staying true to the source material, was one of the best space operas I have seen in a long, long time. Like I've said before, keep em' coming Marvel!
Best Comics-Based Television Series: Arrow
This out-of-control, action-packed crime thriller based on outlaw vigilante Oliver Queen, (aka "The Arrow," (aka "Green Arrow")), hit network television on the CW for the first time in 2013 and has gained a cult following of extraordinary magnitude ever since. As I mentioned this past summer in a previous article, DC Comics has really taken over network television in a big way. Other DC contenders would include Gotham, The Flash and Constantine, but none of those three other shows have completed a full season as of yet. Marvel contended as usual with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it seems like America just has a tough time getting excited over "Agent Phil Coulson" and his band of Abercrombie models and angsty teenage brats. As far as Marvel's contributions to television are concerned, I for one am gearing up for the Netflix series, Daredevil, set to air next year!
Best Comics-Based Animated Feature: Justice League War
Do you remember how great the first Justice League story arc was at the start of DC's New 52? Imagine it now as a fully animated feature! Marvel contended this year with Punisher / Black Widow: Avengers Confidential, but in the end, nothing out there was able to top Justice League: War. Join the likes of Superman, Batman, Cyborg, Wonder Woman, Shazam, The Flash and Green Lantern as they all meet each other for the first time, form alliances and battle evil parademons sent by Darkseid to destroy Earth!
Best Independent Graphic Novel: Roadhouse Sons : Dangerous Gambles
Those that have been following my trail of rants, raves and reviews this year have already heard me talk a blue streak about this brilliant three-volume mash-up of rock-and-roll and international espionage. The brainchild of novelist and former professional wrestler J.H. Sanderson, this thrilling spy caper follows the trials and tribulations of a rock-and-roll band that was manipulated into actually becoming trained government operatives for the F.B.I. during a time when the Cold War went hotter than hell!
The first thing that struck me when obtaining this amazing publication is the incredible quality of the soft covers themselves! Illustrated by Allison Barrows, Romas Kukalis and Alexandra Kukalis, and produced by Mia Moravis, the quality of artwork and coloring that went into this series was unmatched by anything I laid eyes on at any of the cons this year. A big congrats to Mr. Sanderson and his creative team on this outstanding achievement! Stay tuned for my reviews on the next Roadhouse Sons story arc when the next publication is released later in 2015.
Best Independent Story Arc: Return to Rander : The Lone Savior
This fresh, new, epic adventure written and drawn by Tony Sedanis is far too intricate and original to be tied down to any one comic book genre. However, I will say that the book had very strong influences from both the wild west and eastern asian, (dare I say samurai?), archetypes. The first scene of the first issue of The Lone Savior kicks off in a classic western saloon with a shady character buying a beer for a man about to meet his doom. I immediately felt like I was in the middle of an opening scene to one of Serio Leone's classic "Spaghetti Westerns," except instead of the dastardly Lee Van Cleef sending the beer over to the man in peril, it was the cold, calculated Matador!
This story arc, which is the complete brainchild of Sedani, really blew me away. It is by far the most original idea I have seen in a long time. Also, Sedani's art and writing styles have a certain ability of taking the reader out of reality and into the realm Sedani created. Will our hero find Rander some day? I am itching all over to find out in the next story arc!
Best Independent Anthology: Hellbound V: End of Comics
The FULL review for HELLBOUND V: END OF COMICS is on its way!!
Even though I am still reviewing this one, having at least read it cover-to-cover, I can say that it the best horror anthology I have laid eyes upon in years. Created, written and illustrated by the BOSTON COMICS ROUNDTABLE and published by RIVERBIRD COMICS, this is a no-nonsense literary journey through some of the darkest, trippiest, creepiest, eeriest nightmares one could possibly conjure up! Stay tuned for the FULL REVIEW very very soon!
Best Independent Web Comic: Newopolis City
I just recently started exploring the world of web comics this past fall and fell upon this absolute gem created by the BOSTON CARTOON COMPANY. Join Puck, the superhero of NEWOPOLIS CITY as he battles giant tentacle monsters, were-elks, mad cactus and all sorts of other creatures and cretins! This highly entertaining and witty online read created by Michael James Meara and colored by Chris Watson will leave you frothing at the mouth, just waiting for next week's issue!
Have a safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!! Join me here at THE VIGILANT GEEK in 2015 for tons more comic book-related articles and reviews!!