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Top of the Pile: September 2013

Ba de ya! Say do you remember? Ba de ya! Top of the Pile in September? The CV staff gives you their favorite picks for this past month!

The fall is upon us. The summer is over. Time to put away your Electric Light Orchestra and Earth, Wind, and Fire records and time to bust out your Type O Negative and Danzig albums for the dreary days ahead. Enough about music, though. It's time for the staff of Comic Vine to give you their picks for their favorite books from the month of September. Let's get right to it!

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Tony's Picks

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FF #12

It's like someone asked for a side order of fun and instead got it for the main course. Month after month FF continues to be at the top of the list. Matt Fraction and Mike Allred have created something almost magical with this team of misfits. Fraction may be moving on due to his busy schedule but the addition of Lee Allred makes this one of the smoothest transitions we can recall.

The book isn't just about humor. There are the deep and dark undertones with Scott Lang wanting to kill Doctor Doom for the death of his daughter. There is a wide range of emotions and suspense (even romance and spilled coffee). This shows comics can be fun and exciting. They don't have to be watered down either in order to bring in the humor.

If you haven't been reading this series, you owe it to yourself to pick up the entire series whether in single issues, trades or digitally. This is good stuff.

THE WAKE #4 (OF 10)

Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy continue to flesh out their dark and mysterious tale. This falls into the "something different' category. While superhero comics are fun, it is great to see comics in other genres as well.

Murphy's art is a sight to see. He mixes up the panel layout and perspective to add to the sense of scope with what's going on. Snyder's story throws some curve balls at you which makes you even more committed to wanting to know what's going to happen next.


Okay, maybe this isn't a single issue pick but this has been a great "event" so far. It's great that we've been able to have five chapters so far in a single month. You can feel a slight difference in tone with the different writers but essentially the overall feel has been consistent.

The idea of the young X-Men being in the present and the mysterious X-Men from the future telling them they need to go back has been a fascinating story. As we are now half way through the story, we witnessed a pretty big twist. We thought we had most of the answers but there is definitely more going on and more to see. I will definitely be buying the collected version of this story arc.


We had two doses of SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN this month by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman. These issues gave us the return of Spider-Man 2099! Leave it to Slott to find a way to bring him from the future into the present in a way that makes sense (yes, we can even thank Bendis for this as well). Slott also does something I didn't see coming by giving Miguel more incentive to embark on this mission into his past. SUPERIOR Spidey having to deal with this Spider-Man has been interesting. It's been a great mix of action along with some bits of humor thrown in.

Besides the main story, we still have the underlying Green Goblin story brewing. There's no letting up. And talk about a big cliffhanger.


Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have managed to create a new comic book idea. It's not often we see something actually new. Because of the years and years of comics, most of them are some sort of variation from an existing set of concepts.

This mature readers title deals with the discovery that time stops when a certain outcome is achieved during a certain intimate act. I'm sure you can figure it out. Far from being a gratuitous book, this is meant to be more of a sex-comedy. Surprisingly, the first issue hits some more serious aspects in introducing Suzie, one of the main characters. There will be some 'naughty' bits but there is definitely a story and character development happening here.

Zdarsky's art is pretty dang amazing. Especially during those certain scenes. You'll be amazed and what he does with the colors.

Mat's Picks

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Someone is reading this right now, and thinking to themselves: "GHOSTED beat out SAGA?" Yes. We're three issues in, and I'm really in love with this series. Writer Joshua Williamson has put together a book that sounds a bit silly if you try and tell a buddy about it, but it plays out brilliantly on so many levels, issue to issue. Things got a bit violent in this one, and we finally see some of the ghosts of the Trask Mansion present themselves to Jackson's team.

Artist Goran Sudzuka has one amazing splash page within this issue, featuring Jackson receiving the memories of the lady in red. The art is beautiful and the set up for this page is fantastic. The art really is consistent and is the perfect fit for a book like this. It's has a great sense of realism and feels a bit eerie, which fits the tone of this book perfectly.

Fantastic way to end this issue. It's one heck of a cliffhanger. GHOSTED is yet another amazing series from Image Comics.


Villains Month was a huge mixed bag. There were some real winners there and some real losers, but out of all the ones I read this month, this FLASH issue was a huge stand-out. I'm a bit of a Rogues fanboy, and I really loved what the creative team of Brian Buccellato and Patrick Zircher did here.

This issue really focused on the brotherhood within this team, and while there's some things I wasn't a fan of prior to this issue, with the New 52 changes, like the Rogues becoming actual metahumans, and not just thugs with fancy weapons, this particular issue really turned me around on that idea because everything I loved about this team is still there. It just took me some time to accept the change. Buccellato and Zircher work well together here, and there's a few pages where Zircher's art was amazing. I would love to see him continue on drawing the Rogues. Oh, he's drawing FOREVER EVIL: ROGUES REBELLION? My prayers are answered. I can't wait to see the Rogues, super-villains with some morals, take on the evil that is the Crime Syndicate.

SAGA #14

SAGA's back! Last month's issue felt like a bit of a fill-in, and after a 3 month break, it was a bit of a disappointment; however, issue #14 really got back on track and delivered a fantastic issue that was a ton of fun. What happens here takes place before the events of issue #12, but the flow for this issue worked much better and everything really seemed to fit together well.

Most of the focus in issue #14 was on Gwendolyn, Sophie AKA Slave Girl, The Will, and a little bit of Lying Cat and The Stalk. This little group is becoming just as important as the main characters of the series, and this issue really focuses on them and their group dynamic. Slave Girl is finally starting to act like a little girl and a relationship starts to blossom between Gwendolyn and The Will... kinda. I can't wait for the next issue, where we should all be caught back up and I'm really waiting for Gwen and Marko to reunite. That's gonna be a battle.


We're still traveling on the road to UNITY! With the past few issues, writer Robert Venditti has shown the reader another side of Aric. It's gotten to the point, within this series, that Aric has become more of the antagonist in his book, as he tries to make a home for the Visigoth people.

With this issue, we get to feel for Aric more, and the focus on the issue is more about Aric trying to take care of his people. Sure, that stubborn side of him is still there, but we get to see both the good and the bad here. Better yet, Alexander Dorian returns! We haven't seen him in quite a while, and he plays the part of the mediator here. This story has been really cool so far since the action is pulled back a bit and Venditti is building on the world and his characters.


This was the biggest surprise of the month because I didn't know anything about the book, and I only picked it up after flipping through it and thinking the art looked pretty cool. A couple things really grabbed my attention, at first, with ZERO. The first was that it is a war book. I'm a huge fan of that genre and will give any war book a chance. The second was the art from Michael Walsh (COMEBACK) and the colors from Jordie Bellaire (MANHATTAN PROJECTS).

I loved the mix between this gritty war story with this more pulpy and animated style of art. Writer Ales Kot has a really cool book here, and this was a very pleasant surprise, and what do you know? Another really great start from an Image series. Take note, fans. Image is doing a lot of something right.


Gregg's Picks

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Deadpool #16

'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' has absolutely floored me. Up until this point, co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn have placed a strong focus on providing a consistent stream of laughs, but this issue dials it up big time when it comes to revealing a more serious and even frightening side of Wade. Basically, it's the version of Wade many of us have been craving to witness for quite some time and the reasoning behind it is superb. He still drops a quip here and there, but he's shockingly badass and there's an overwhelming amount of emotion packed into this issue. Declan Shalvey's art just makes everything even better, too. The dude's unique style is seriously a fantastic choice for this story's atmosphere. This is easily the best Deadpool story I've read in years.

Injustice: Gods Among Us #36

All good things must come to an end... for now, at least. In a book overflowing with surprises, this issue has what is definitely my favorite one of them all. Even though it's well over a week old, I'll still avoid spoilers because it's that good of a surprise. After all that Superman has done in recent issues, it was brilliant to see him get a dose of his own medicine from someone you'd never expect. For a book loaded with so many downers, it was a great idea to hit us with a massive cheerworthy moment before going on break. It'll be a long wait until the book returns, but considering it's consistent quality, it's safe to assume it'll be worth the wait.

Eternal Warrior #1

Valiant's quickly becoming like a bully who takes my lunch money. Except instead of beating me up and stealing my money, they're forcing me to give them my cash by choice and they're doing so by throwing topnotch books in my face. It's been hit after hit with them and Eternal Warrior's solo debut was definitely no exception. Greg Pak provided a really fun first issue, just giving us the basics of the character without weighing it down with tons of exposition. Instead, he wastes no time and throws us right into the madness. From there, we're hit with a key moment in his life before setting up the status quo for the character. It's super entertaining and jam-packed with potential. Gilad's a character I definitely want to see more of and I'm confident Pak will continue to do the character justice.

TMNT #26

Spoiler alert: 'City Fall' still rocks. In this issue, writer Tom Waltz does an excellent job juggling the multiple plot points in this huge story and with only two chapters left, you can feel everything building up. There isn't a huge moment that'll knock you off your chair like the last issue, but it's consistently solid and the action scenes are glorious. Seeing Leo and Shredder in action was a blast and Splinter finally helps Old Hob out in a short yet thrilling sequence. As always, Mateus Santolouco's illustrations are phenomenal. If you want to get into TMNT, pick up #22 and catch up!

Thor: God of Thunder #13

Like I said in my review: Jason Aaron was born to write Thor. Truthfully, I've never been that big on the character, but Aaron fills this book with so much charm and an overwhelming sense of adventure and wonder. Gorr's story was beyond epic, the standalone issue was supremely touching, and now we're being treated to an all-new story which, surprise, surprise, has it's own engaging vibe. While Gorr proved to be a physical challenge, Malekith is proving he'll test Thor's morals and send him on a chase across the realms. I'm already hooked -- give me part two now, please.

Honorable Mentions: Indestructible Hulk #13, Deadpool #17

Corey's Picks

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East of West #6

This issue gave me something I wasn't even aware that I wanted: even more expansion and backstory to the bizarre, futuristic world that it takes place in. Jonathan Hickman is already known for having an incredible economy to his storytelling, putting tons of content on each and every page, allowing his stories to move with an incredible economy. So it should have been little surprise that within six issues, we're already getting a massive expansion that barely features our principle players (and when they ARE featured, it's very sparing). Nick Dragotta's art hasn't missed a single beat and remains consistently clear, yet also portrays the intense surrealism of the strange world extraordinarily well.

New Avengers #10

Another Hickman book, but as much as I admired the setting and development in the previous entry, in this one I admire the development of the characters, particularly ones with such storied and rich histories. Watching the issues form cracks in the Illuminati's unified front is a fascinating, subtle thing, particularly as concerns Namor. Everyone complaining about their small issues and to have Namor flatly say his entire nation has been devastated before remarking that Black Bolt must be helped was an absolutely gut-wrenching, and chilling, moment. As unlikable as Namor can be, Hickman has made him very, very sympathetic. Mike Deodato's art also continues to be a completely consistent highlight, I still can't believe how much it's changed to suit this title. The sharpness and level of detail that he gets into every panel is not only stunning, but completely necessary to this more dialog-heavy title.

Green Lantern #23.2 Mongul

Villain's Month has been a HIGHLY mixed bag in terms of quality, but this book was a real standout. It brought the focus square only the villain's past and his origin, but like the best titles of the month, it integrated these stories perfectly with his present, having him pontificate to a character that was an excellent audience surrogate, making the exposition make sense. Jim Starlin shows his familiarity with the character, making him feel like he's been here all along and changing just enough about his backstory and method to modernize him for a whole new audience. Howard Porter's linework is likewise razor-sharp and clear, bringing all the horrors and oddities of Mongul's ship to life on the page. I'm definitely anxious to see what the future of the DCU holds for this inter-stellar warlord.

Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #1

Like strawberries and heavy cream, these are two great tastes that are absolutely fantastic together. The searing satire of '70s grimmness from Judge Dredd combined with the '50s sci-fi send-up of Mars Attacks play off one another so pitch-perfectly that I can't believe it took this long to come together. Al Ewing already has some experience with Judge Dredd, and it shows in how he puts together the characters and integrates the martians into the pre-existing Dredd fiction. John McCrea shows his veteran chops as well with a command of the characters and setting that makes this feel nothing like the eye-rolling stunt it could have been and like a perfectly slotted piece of Dredd fiction.

X-Factor #262

Not to end on a downer, but I'd be remiss if I didn't highlight the end of one of my favorite series of the last decade. Fighting through a literal stroke, Peter David kept this book on point, shepherding it to an absolutely fantastic end. The final arc did a perfect job of typing up all the characters' loose ends without closing out their stories altogether, leaving them open to appear elsewhere, but the final issue must be highlighted as it would actually be a completely satisfactory final appearance of Madrox and Layla. Part of me almost wishes it would be just so the characters can finally find some peace and happiness. Neil Edwards was a great choice for the final issue as he draws extremely expressive and emotive faces and, let's face it, that's what this book absolutely needed and was calling for. It's unusual for a comic book to actually end on its own terms, and I'd have had trouble asking for a better one out of this series.

Thanks for checking out another Top of the Pile! Let us know what your top five books for the month were in the comments below! Also, make sure to follow the staff on Twitter! (Tony, Mat, Gregg, Jen and Corey) Lastly, listen to Mat's podcast because he really wants you to like him.