Now that 2015 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics that really stood out for me, personally. These comics were all released this year, and in the case of a limited series if had at least two issues released this year (if a mini series began late this year, then expect to find it on next years Yearly Round Up). Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, I may not have read it.
Best Ongoing Superhero Comic
This wasn’t as easy a choice as I expected, and the comic that I ended up selecting as my #1 is there because of the awe I felt when reading it, even if it may not have been on my radar until half way through the year. But honestly, any one of the runners up could have easily taken this slot (and I’m still wishing I had decided on a “top five” for this category without picking a winner, but that just feels like a cop out on my behalf).
Moon Knight (Marvel)– This was THE book for me this year, and perhaps one of the biggest reasons I was against Marvel suspending publication of some of their titles over the summer, because it meant I wouldn’t get to read any Moon Knight. This book’s use of colour, and the deliberate lack there of with the title character consistently made my jaw drop, and I loved how each issue told a complete story.
- Rai (Valiant) This is a beautifully painted comic, and I was genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed this series because I will typically shy away from anything set too far into the future. But some stellar writing, the gorgeously rendered artwork and the introduction of one of my favourite comic book characters elevated this series above almost any other this year for me. Why wasn’t it my top pick? Because the coin landed on tails.
- Captain Canuck (Chapter House) A comic that exemplifies exactly what I love about comics. Action, humour, and a style that doesn’t preclude younger readers from enjoying it.
- Howard The Duck (Marvel) I loved everything about this series, the art may not have been super detailed but it was absolutely perfect for Chip Zdarsky’s writing style. I’ve described issues of the two series this year as an almost anti-Marvel Marvel comic. The dry humour, jabs at Secret Wars, and the fact that there were two first issues of Howard the Duck in one year combine to make this one of the best series of the year.
- X-O Manowar (Valiant) Is another series that took me by surprise this year. I wasn’t expecting such a well rounded character who exemplified virtues that we all wished we had. That he’s a time-stranded 5th century warrior in control of the most powerful weapon on Earth? The icing on the cake.
- Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior (Valiant) Although only two issues in, I’m already eagerly anticipating the next issue. This is a series that focuses on one of the most interesting characters in comics, the immortal guardian of the Earth, and forces the reader to ask themselves whether if they can do something to help others, would you risk everything to do so?
Best Non Superhero Comic
I’d love to say that I had as much trouble with this category, but… I didn’t. There were several great non-superhero series that I didn’t read this year, and a few that I did. None came even remotely close to taking the top spot for me, hence no honourable mentions.
Johnny Red (Titan) is comic that reminded me so much of the old British war comics that I read as a child, striking a powerful nostalgic cord within me. There’s something inherently powerful about nostalgia done well, and I understand not everybody will have the same emotional attachment to the series.
But on top of the nostalgic glory, the thing is is that there is also a very good comic lying underneath. Focusing on the search for the history of a plane, Garth Ennis uses an interesting method of telling the World War Two era story, coupled with some fantastic double page spreads from Keith Burns, and Johnny Red was a very easy choice for me here. I’d encourage you to check it out.
Best Limited Series or One Shot
The Paybacks (Dark Horse) This was one of those series that just crept up on me. I read it up on a whim, and I laughed all the way through. It’s a fantastic look at the darker side of superheroing, and what happens when the bills mount up. If this was an ongoing series, it would have easily been my best book of the year, that it’s only a miniseries is the only bad complaint I have.
- The Fox (Dark Circle) Six issues of pure brilliance. If you haven’t read this, you really should, because this is what a superhero miniseries should be.
- We Stand On Guard (Image) An effective look at a decades long conflict between the USA and Canada that, at times, seems a little too on point for comfort. This isn’t an easy series to read, and there is very little that’s black and white if you consider both sides to the story. It’s brutal, but absolutely worth reading.
- Old Man Logan (Marvel) I don’t think I realized just how much I missed Wolverine until I picked the first issue of this comic up. One of only two Secret Wars tie ins I read, the series seemed to falter a little in the middle until I finally twigged as to what Bendis was doing, and had a light bulb moment. I’m looking forward to the new ongoing series that’s due to hit later this month.
- Hank Johnson: Agent Of Hydra (Marvel) The other Secret Wars tie in was a great look at the daily life of the typical henchman. It’s a shame there was only one issue, but any more than one may not have gone over quite as well.
- Legends Of The Geomancer (Valiant) The only reason this didn’t take the top spot is the same reason I struggled to recommend this series to people: Valiant’s insane distribution choice. This brilliant-in-every-way-series was a retailer incentive that was notoriously hard to find in the wild. But if you could find it, it was absolutely amazing.
Best Single Issue
Again, there’s no honourable mentions because there was nothing remotely close to Batman #44 (DC) for me this year.
There was never a question of this comic not being the best single issue I’ve read this year. Aesthetically this is a stunning comic, with the colours and lettering just elevating an already well drawn issue. That it also is the first time we see Bruce Wayne as Batman in the series post convergence also struck a cord with me; it wasn’t until reading this issue that I realized how much I don’t enjoy the Robot Bunny Batman.
In conjunction to that the slap to the face that Snyder delivers with his commentary on the societal injustices of the day make this issue just incredible. If you only read one comic from last year, make it this one.
Best Event/Story Arc
This is another category where there was only ever going to be one choice for me. I started reading Valiant’s comics around the middle of the year, and they quickly became my favourite publisher. They may not release many comics every week, but the ones they do release are almost always among the best on the racks that week. Valiant emphasize quality over quantity, and it shows with what is arguably the best and most cohesive super hero universe out there today.
Book Of Death (Valiant) As a new reader, this event was incredibly friendly. Despite the tagline being the final story of some of the publisher’s greatest heroes told in tie in one shots (and all but one of those were fantastic, and even then the less than great issue was largely because I had no idea about the characters involved), the entire event was incredibly accessible from a story line point of view. The main four issue mini series was head and shoulders above anything else released this year, whether that means an event or an arc told within a series.
If I’m being completely honest, this could have placed on almost every category this year for me, I loved it that much, but with there already being so much Valiant here, I figured that maybe, just maybe, I shouldn’t go overkill with the publisher.
- Ivar, Timewalker: Ending History (Valiant) This was just a phenomenal arc that utilized time travel in a way that I’d never seen before. Technically this is the third part of a trilogy, but you don’t need to have read the first two parts to love this chapter – I didn’t.
- Batman: Endgame (DC) This was without a doubt my favourite Batman centric arc this year. Snyder was really able to give the story a sense of impending doom and finality leading into DC’s lackluster Convergence arc that can be hard to do in comics. I reread this a few days ago, and the quality of this arc reminded me of just how great the Batman series can be.
- X-O Manowar: Exodus (Valiant) If you ever want to read an arc that perfectly encapsulates being stuck between a rock and a hard place, this is it. The artwork is beautifully realized, and convey’s the sheer power of X-O Manowar brilliantly.
Well there we have it; a look back at some of the best comics that I read over the year. Agree, or disagree? Let me know!