We love us our graphic novels, and we’re counting down all of our favorites from 2015, right now!
2015 was a year full of personal and professional changes for me, and throughout all those changes, a constant in my life were the seemingly constant stream of great comics arriving every Wednesday. If you’re a regular listener to Cape Crisis, you know we podcast every week about what we’ve been reading, and we’ve got a lot of great picks for 2015. You can even hear us talk all about them here:
But if you want a more in-depth list than we could do in a 40 minute podcast, this is where your humble host of the podcast will go over their 10 favorite comics of the last 12 months, all with helpful Amazon links. Sure, I didn’t read every single comic of the year, but of the many I did, these are the ones I remember most fondly…
Henry’s Top 10 Comics Of The Year
10. Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike & Laura Allred
With his deep, deep love for Marvel and Spider-Man in particular, Dan Slott has been one of my favorite super-writers of the last decade. Meanwhile I’ve loved Mike and Laura Allred’s Kirby-inspired, vibrant art since the mid-’90s. The Allreds drawing the cosmic adventures of Silver Surfer is enough to pull me into the character’s new adventures, but it’s Slott’s novel take on Norrin Radd’s spacey journeys that makes this the best solo book Surfer has ever had. And that’s because his sometimes corny soliloquies are now balanced out by his all-too-human companion, Dawn.
Started in 2014, the series remained one of Marvel’s best all the way until Secret Wars ended the first run. The year began with Radd trying in vain to stop his old master Galactus, which was followed by one of the most artistically ambitious single issues Marvel has ever put out (#11’s oroborus tale). The book then ends with a quite creative Secret Wars tie-in. Many books harken back to the Silver Age of comics, but Silver Surfer is one of those rare titles that captures that feeling of boundless creativity from Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s best books.
9. Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
I missed out on Jeff Lemire to an extent until 2015. I’d read a little of his work, but had slept on his big works like Sweet Tooth and Constantine. After what I read in the last year, I’ll definitely be digging in the back issues for those, because I really enjoyed his ’15 work in books like Extraordinary X-Men and Hawkeye. But Descender’s tale of a little lost robot in a brutally realized Sci-Fi world is my favorite thing of his in 2015, and his collaborator, Dustin Nguyen, has a lot to do with it.
Descender is a rough science fiction tale full of violence and tragedy, where robots are hunted and a once powerful interstellar government is in shambles, all of which Lemire and Nguyen painstakingly build one page at a time. Dustin’s painterly style and striking colors create an instantly compelling world from page one, and as the cast of vibrant characters grow, the book gets more interesting with each twist and turn. I keep following it not just to see what will happen to TIM-21 on his odyssey, but also because I want to see what intriguing locale the creators will dream up next.
8. S.H.I.E.L.D. by Mark Waid and Various Artists
As a child, I loved searching through the cheap comics section and buying unwanted copies of Marvel Team-Up and Marvel Two-In-One. Their stories were obvious filler and usually ended in a single issue, but the books found creative ways to pair together heroes that rarely interacted. Mark Waid brings that same spirit to this rollicking exploration of the Marvel U, all while giving MCU creation Agent Phil Coulson a spotlight and featuring a revolving door of some of the best artists in comics.
Ostensibly inspired by the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series, the book features most of the spies from the TV show, but they’re surrounded by pure nostalgia for the 616 as only Mark Waid can provide. In fact, S.H.I.E.L.D. finds a way to weaponize that nostalgia, as Coulson is the world’s biggest Marvel fanboy, and he puts his expertise to good use, pairing together heroes large and small for one-off adventures. Who else would think to bring together Black Knight and Valkyrie to battle a terrorist holding an Asgardian artifact, all drawn by Carlos Pacheco? Or have a touchingly funny tale of Howard the Duck saving the universe? Or seeing Coulson geek out with fellow Marvel nerd Kamala Kahn? Only Mark Waid/Agent Coulson.
7. We Stand On Guard by Brian K. Vaughan and Steve Skroce
From meeting them in real life, I know Canadians are pretty cool people – hell, some of our nicest supporters on Patreon hail from the extra northern part of North America. I couldn’t imagine a war between them and the United States, though Vaughan and Skroce do a pretty good job of putting that nightmare scenario on paper in my favorite limited series of 2015. And like most great Sc-Fi, it reflects reality in ways you least suspect.
The United States say Canada attacked first, Canada says the U.S. only wants their water, and now the Great White North only has a band of freedom fighters out to protect it from the States’ military invasion. You get giant mechs battling, tense conversations on the nature of both countries, some of the creepiest scenes of “enhanced interrogation” ever, and more, all drawn by Skroce, returning to comics after years in of working in film. Not to mention Brian K. Vaughan makes a compelling argument that Superman is actually a Canadian.
6. Star Wars by Jason Aaron, John Cassaday, and Stuart Immonen / Darth Vader by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca
Not to be a total and complete parody of an aging nerd, but I have a complicated history with Star Wars. I loved it as a kid, grew tired of the prequels in my early 20s, and felt like I’d never be a fan again at the start of 2015. And while I certainly enjoyed The Force Awakens, I was pulled back into Star Wars fandom in the most unexpected way: comics. Thanks to a collection of some of the best folks working in the medium today (who also happen to be huge Star Wars fans), Darth Vader and Star Wars are tied as some of my favorite books of the year.
Aaron and Cassaday’s initial tale of Luke, Leia, and Han facing off against Vader and Boba Fett sounds like fan fiction when described, but in execution it’s fan service done right, with amazing, unexpected moments and pitch perfect characterization. Meanwhile, Darth Vader’s solo book casts him as an antihero straight out of Breaking Bad or Mad Men – a cunningly evil person out to destroy bastards who are even worse than he is. Both books find a humanity in these characters that was lost over time, while forgetting none of the spectacle and adventure that made us love the series. It’s a total triumph, and it makes you excited to see what these creators could do with all the people and places introduced in Episode VII.