Thursday, January 07, 2016

Top 10 Comics of 2015

I love comics, and I love reading them in general.  That will always be the case, and 2015 was no different.  I’ve read plenty of titles.  However, unlike the previous two years in which I did “top 20” lists, I will just be doing a “top 10” for 2015.  It’s not because 2015 wasn’t a good year for comics – it was.  Comics have gained higher recognition and status as an art form in recent years, and have since been a fantastic medium for profound storytelling and stunning graphic art year in, year out.  However, I feel that 2015’s crop of comics – or at least those I read – isn’t that noteworthy to warrant a top 20.   Also, I feel too lazy to write a top 20. Hehe.

Honorable Mentions: Bloom County (the awesome cartoon strip is back as a web comic!), Superman: American Alien, Spider-Man & the X-Men, S.H.I.E.L.D., Batman and SupermanInvincible Iron Man, Action Comics


I enjoy inter-property crossovers, and it’s been a while since something as cool as this has been done.  Only the first issue had been released in 2015, but the premise and mood it had set appealed to me considerably, enough to get a spot in this list.  I’m excited to see how the rest of its run will go in 2016.


In 2015, I encountered for the first time this fascinating sci-fi comic book series.  It’s an immersive tale about a team of scientists who have discovered the secret to travelling to alternate universes, but after their device for doing so (called “the Pillar”) was damaged, they found themselves unable to directly return to their native reality, and thus, have no choice but to jump across the infinite realities until they figure out a way to go back home.


This mini-series about the DC multiverse made the top 20 comics of 2014, but it was only during its run and culmination in 2015 did I fully grasp the epicness of Grant Morrison’s ambitious vision in this comics.  It was hard to read – or at least follow – at times, and it took some effort and time to understand what picture Morrison was trying to paint.  I had to re-read some issues a few times – but once I did, enjoyment and approval effortlessly followed.  And even when the times it’s incomprehensible, there’s always a sense of beautiful profundity on what had been read.


Both Marvel and DC had significant status quo changes for several of their key characters.  One of these was on Batman.  After a brutal battle with the Joker in the “Endgame”, Bruce Wayne lost his memories as Batman.  And who would assume the cowl in his absence?  Commissioner James Gordon!  Donning on a high-tech power armor, Gordon is now the new Batman.  It’s crazy, but the novelty has made the comics very, very interesting.


Meanwhile, over at the Justice League comic, Bruce Wayne remains as Batman (and Superman, who was significantly depowered in other Superman titles, remains at full power) as the team engages in an epic event called “The Darkseid War.”  Told in the pages of Justice League as well as one-shot spin-offs focusing on individual members of the League, The Darkseid War has presented a string of shocking developments.

It starts off as a war between Darkseid with his forces and Anti-Monitor and his allies, wherein the Justice League is caught in the middle.  Suddenly, Darkseid is killed, and a couple of Justice League members end up becoming gods!  Batman sits on Metron’s chair and becomes the God of Knowledge; the Flash merges with Black Racer to become the God of Death; Superman falls into an Apokolips fire pit, gets corrupted and filled with rage, transforming him into the God of Strength (I would have loved it more if he had been called the “God of Steel” instead); Lex Luthor absorbs Darkseid’s Omega Force to become the new God of Apokolips; Green Lantern temporarily becomes the God of Light; and Shazam becomes the God of Gods.  Taking into account that, prior to “Darkseid War”, Wonder Woman had already been declared as the new God of War, all these brings a new dynamic to the accustomed paradigm of the Justice League as a pantheon of gods.


Speaking of gods, the new Thor was revealed in 2015 to be Jane Foster.  The original master of Mjolnir, Thor Odinson, is still around serving a supporting role, but The Mighty Thor (also Thor prior to Secret Wars) is all about Jane fantastically killing it as the new Thor.  Almost all top superheroes from both Marvel and DC have recently had radical status quo changes, but Thor is by far what I enjoy the most that I feel some reluctance of having the time come when Mjolnir will eventually revert back to Odinson (Marvel will probably figure out a way to keep both characters as “Thor.”  Heck, there are two Hawkeyes, three Spider-Men, and several other characters sharing the same superhero name in the Marvel Universe right now anyway).


This brought the end of the Marvel Universe that we had known for decades – well, uh, not really, for much of the old continuity has been brought over to the new post-Secret Wars continuity.  Nonetheless, it was still a mega-event that I greatly enjoyed, though I initially thought I was going to hate it.

Click here for the list of my most favorite Secret Wars titles.


Though I hated him during Superior Spider-Man (I’ve since acknowledged that it was a genius idea and a fantastic addition to Spider-Man history), writer Dan Slott proves his knack for spinning terrific Spider-Man tales, and as a big Spidey fan, I’m consistently being entertained on what is brought with each issue.

Earlier in the year, we had the continuation of the awesome Spider-Verse event, and then in the new series, set after Secret Wars, Peter Parker has become the new Tony Stark of the Marvel Universe.  The Amazing Spider-Man started 2015 strong, and ended the year strong, carrying over the momentum to 2016.


2015 isn’t only the year we finally got Star Wars Episode 7, but it’s also the year the license for publishing Star Wars comics returned to Marvel after 28 years.  And so far, Marvel is doing a superb job.  The Star Wars series, set between Episodes 4 and 5, isn’t as thrilling and endearing as The Force Awakens – obviously – but it brings the same sense of feel-good, giddy gratification to a fan like me.  Also, I have to let Darth Vader share this spot since it’s a fine complement to Star Wars, and they are best read together.

1.) SAGA

Same as 2014, Saga takes the top spot.  Even with an ongoing Star Wars comics around, Saga still remains the best science fantasy space opera comic book.  I’m a bit irritated of its irregular schedule – issues are few and far between – but that’s only because I have a ton of fun reading it and can’t wait to know what happens next.   There’s a part of me that would love to see this series end already, only because I want to re-read the entire series in one, uninterrupted go.

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