RO JAWS “Wotcher, HUMES! Sewer robot RO-JAWS here, taking time out from cleaning THARG’S CLUDGEY to bring you the second part of the 2014 Freaky Trigger comics poll. And MANKEY MOSES, it’s taken some bringing! Those nurks at Freaky Trigger have tried to cram FIFTEEN of 2014’s best comics into ONE post. Like HAMMER-STEIN says when stepping out of the ROBO-LAV after a hard night on the oil — GIVE IT SPACE TO BREATHE! They’re round the bend – THE U-BEND! The last time I saw anything this full, I was -“

That’s, ah, all we have time for from Ro-Jaws, but he’s right – we’re into the list proper of the 2014 poll, your Top 25 comics of the year. And here they are –

25 Black Science
25. Black Science (Remender/Scalera/White, Image Comics)

A dysfunctional family saga set in a pulp-inspired science-fantasy multiverse, Black Science lets both creators indulge themselves to thrill-powered effect: Rick Remender with melodramatic two-fisted angst, Matteo Scalera with a succession of lush, bizarre universes.

24 Zero
24. Zero (Kot/Various, Image Comics)

Slices – one carefully-selected artist per issue – of the brutal history of hi-tech 21st century spy Edward Zero. The psychopathic, the cynical, the criminal and the brainwashed scrap it out in bloody detail and there’s no hope of anything turning out remotely well. It always looks fantastic, mind you.

23 Bad Machinery
23. Bad Machinery (Allison, or Oni Press)

I don’t read this one so I’m reliant on Googled reviews that tell me to look out for the delightfully sympathetic portrayal of young mystery-solvin’ adults and the very funny dialogue. Serialised page-by-age on the web, and now also a series of collections from Oni Press.

22 The Fuse
22. The Fuse (Johston/Greenwood/Chankhamma/Brisson, Image Comics)

Back in the 80s there was a TV show called Star Cops, in which a grizzled vet runs a space station police department, solving crimes the Earth below wants nothing to do with. That is also roughly the premise of The Fuse, except Star Cops was famously boring and The Fuse really isn’t.

21 Young Avengers
21. Young Avengers (Killen/McKelvie/Wilson/Various, Marvel Comics)

Qualifies, as everyone voting for it was careful to point out, by having its final issue released last January. The most written-about comic on this site, so I won’t say more, except that there are already comics around which owe it an obvious debt.

20 Mighty Avengers
20. Mighty Avengers (Ewing/Land/Schiti/Leisten/D’Armata, Marvel Comics)

Amongst the grillions of Avengers comics, “Mighty” was expected to be the ‘street level’ team. Al Ewing (yes relation) had them fight cthulhoid terror, alien invaders, science gone mad and hordes of were-roosters… all of which probably are street-level in the Marvel U, come to think of it. Old school superhero fun.

19 Fade Out
19. The Fade Out (Brubaker/Phillips/Breitweiser, Image Comics)

The reliable Brubaker/Phillips team get stuck into historical noir with a 40s Hollywood mystery that promises to grow in scope. Straightforward in its pleasures, but no less pleasurable for that.

18 Hip Hop Family Tree
18. Hip Hop Family Tree (Piskor, Fantagraphics)

Piskor’s graphic history of hip-hop reached the 80s with its second collected volume, showcasing the zenith of Afrika Bambaataa’s work and beginning to explore the West Coast. Piskor’s books are beautiful objects, and his stories bounce with enthusiasm and the desire to teach, heavy on the atmosphere and personalities of one of music’s greatest (and most complicated) stories.

17 Uber
17. Uber (Gillen/White/Andrade, Avatar)

The challenge of Avatar is given the license and expectation to go all-out for gore, how do you find a story that justifies it? Kieron Gillen brings out his history nerd side for the most tonally serious work of his career: an alternate universe of Nazi super-soldiers and unrelenting, endless war.

16 Afterlife With Archie
16. Afterlife With Archie (Aguirre-Sacasa/Francavilla, Archie Comics)

Gimmick concept turned critical smash – having zero interest in zombies or Archie I didn’t read this, but by all accounts (including the account of our voters) it’s surprised everyone by being the best zombie title around.

15 New Avengers
15. New Avengers (Hickman/Various, Marvel Comics)

Hickman’s New Avengers and Avengers storylines remind me a bit of the notorious Mouse Trap game (not the Mousetrap play, even if it seems to have run as long). The bit where the mechanism all locks together and the mousetrap falls is glorious, even the hours of play spent getting there weren’t. But now we’re in that endgame, the dilemmas the series has teased can’t be avoided any more, and it’s all really quite exciting even if you do read the comics press and know what it’s leading up to.

14 She Hulk
14. She Hulk (Soule/Pulido/Vicente, Marvel Comics)

The most heartening thing about the Big Two in 2014 – at least if these results are any guide – was Marvel’s policy of putting out solo series for relatively minor characters whose creators were left alone to find a style and vision that fit the title. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s light lawyering comedy is the first, but not the last, in the main list.

13 Gotham Academy
13. Gotham Academy (Cloonan/Fletcher/Kerschl/Various, DC Comics)

The first DC comic on the list, and one of the first fruits of a reported loosening of the New 52’s editorial straitjacket – I’ve not read Gotham Academy yet but it looks like a very mid-10s superhero book: a diverse cast, an indie/webcomics sensibility, aimed at a younger and broader audience than the same-old same-old.

12 Eleventh Doctor
12. The Eleventh Doctor (Ewing/Williams/Fraser/Cook, Titan Comics)

I’m trade-waiting on this, so I’ve only read issue 1 – but that was one of my favourite single issues of the year (and obviously all the nicer that the best Doctor Who comic I’ve read since I was 8 was by Al) – a vignette that absolutely captured the Matt Smith Doctor and introduced a companion with bags of potential, while being a very satisfying stand-alone. Half the issues are by Rob Williams, and apparently they’ve been great too – can’t wait to get the collection and hand it to my own 8 year old.

11 Southern Bastards
11. Southern Bastards (Aaron/Latour, Image Comics)

I’ve seen talk of the Year Of The Colorist (and in 2013 too, for that matter) – a welcome raising of awareness (mine too!) of quite how much colour contributes to mainstream US comics storytelling, and quite how nuanced and skilful its practitioners are. We’ve come a long way since the brown-out “painted art” of the mid-90s and the garish palettes of early digital colour. Not that oppressive monotony doesn’t still have a role to play: Jason Latour’s suffocating red and brown tones on Southern Bastards are perfect for the comic’s cycles of violence and retribution and the sense of a series whose star is the land and its history rather than the men doomed to move through it.

Check back during the week for the Top 10!