With superhero films still all the rage, the comic book medium has raised its level of awareness even more. The year 2015 was an incredible year for the four-colored medium as companies relaunched entire lines and put out a whole lot of books.
As veteran comics scribe Kurt Busiek (Astro City, the Avengers, Marvels) tweeted on Tuesday, “Today, there are so many good comics coming out that you can make a 100 Best list and still not cover all the good stuff."
With that in mind, we will make a list and eliminate some of the usual good stuff like Saga that has been around for a few years now and make a new list. Here are the best comics, mini-series, and graphic novels for the year that I wholeheartedly recommend (they are listed in democratic alphabetical order).
Archie by Mark Waid and Fiona Staples/Annie Wu (Archie): The reinvention of a classic! Updated for a modern audience, these timeless characters have become all too real folks. Furthermore, there’s actual continuity.
Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen (Image): A space odyssey wrapped in that old humans-versus-robots storyline that tugs at your heartstrings. A wonderful story that was immediately snapped up for film adaptation.
Doctor Strange by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo (Marvel): Aaron, one of comics’ most prolific writers, turns Strange’s world into a Harry Potter-esque one while imbuing the mage with Tony Stark-like charisma. Another delightful monthly read.
The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Image): Crime noir set in post-WWII Hollywood with a veteran who takes a job as a screenwriter caught up in a web of intrigue and mystery surrounding the death of a starlet.
Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook (Dark Horse): A Southern gothic story about a young girl who lives next to the woods that are filled with ghosts, goblins, creatures, and zombies. She eventually learns that she is connected to them and that is when all hell breaks loose.
Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini (Image): A post-apocalyptic aquatic fantasy where mankind has retreated to the ocean’s depths for survival. Unfortunately, it is no less brutal as one family is torn apart by the dangers beneath the waves.
Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa (Marvel): Arguably one of the more important comics if not the best on the stands today. Kamala Khan struggles with adolescence, school, love, family, and devotion to Islam while learning to be a superhero. The one true joy to read every month.
The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman (Marvel): The stirring run by Jason Aaron has him casting the Asgardian god into a woman and a most unlikely one too. Picked up from where Aaron’s God of Thunder series ended except this time it deals less with the mythological and delves into the present.
Omega Men by Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda/Jose Marzan Jr. (DC): A sci-fi series with some real world overtones. Not exactly a Guardians of the Galaxy wannabe but this series finds the Omega Men on the run with the entire galaxy breathing down their necks. Is there more to them than meets the eye?
Sacred Heart by Liz Suburbia (Fantagraphics): If you love the work of Craig Thompson (Blankets and Habibi) and the Hernandez Brothers (Love and Rockets), you’ll want to read this. The story addresses themes about growing up, love and sex, and faith and religion.
Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Michael Allred (Marvel): Love, humor, adventure! The heir to Mike Baron and Steve Rude’s Nexus is a fun and entertaining read.
Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour (Image): Violence, football, beer, rednecks. Walking Tall for the new millennium.
Star Wars by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday (Marvel) and Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca (Marvel): Two of the more enjoyable comics. You feel like you’re watching a continuation of Star Wars Episodes IV-VI. It fills in the gaps between films and introduces us to some cool and memorable new characters. You have to read them to find out who they are.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel): A surprise hit. With her wit, charm, and squirrel powers, Squirrel Girl battles the likes of Galactus and Thanos and wins. Check out her nutty adventures. At first, I thought it would be some corny nutball comic but it sure if funny as heck.
DKIII: The Master Race by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, and Andy Kubert/Klaus Janson: Two issues in. Better than The Dark Knight Strikes Again but still not as thunderous as the original series. Still worth reading and to see where Miller takes his left wing views with Batman and the storyline that changed the character forever.
Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman (Boom Studios) and We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce (Image): Reminds me of Terry Moore’s excellent Strangers in Paradise. Three dorm-mates become fast friends and learn a lot about the world in the face of hand-wringing boys, experimentation, nu-chauvinism, and the unwanted intrusion of academia. If they are lucky, they will make it to the spring break alive.
Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic (Marvel): Finally a Marvel mega-event that is done right. Sets the stage for the new Marvel Universe.
Long Walk to Valhalla by Adam Smith and Matthew Fox (Archaia): A sad story. When Rory’s car breaks down just outside town, a young girl named Sylvia appears by his side. She says she is a Valkyrie sent by the Norse god Odin to deliver him to Valhalla because today he is going to die. The two take a trip down memory lane where Rory comes to terms with his life before it’s time to say goodbye.
Nanjing: The Burning City by Ethan Young (Dark Horse): The horror of war told through the eyes of two Chinese soldiers trying to escape the invading Imperial Japanese Army during the early years of World War II. Powerful and deeply moving.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Harper Collins): Has the feel of "Adventure Time” with its villains, dragons, science, and symbolism. A subversive and sharply irreverent comic.
Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton (Drawn & Quarterly): A hilarious re-telling of historical, literary, and cultural figures who are placed in ridiculous situations. Simple art yet elegant. Beaton’s prose is a winner.
Two Brothers by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon (Dark Horse): Another sad tale about a fallout between twins that has profound and adverse effects on a migrant family in mid-20th century Brazil. By the award-winning duo who produced “Daytripper."
Comics that you should follow for 2016
The Sheriff of Babylon (Vertigo)
Paper Girls (Image)
The Visions (Marvel)