The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 290 | My favorite new comics of 2015

Leaving Proof 290 | My favorite new comics of 2015
Published on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 by
We take a look back and list our favorite comics and graphic novel releases of 2015. Check out the list after the jump.

It’s that time of the year again, when anybody and everybody with a media outlet compiles lists of their favorite new comics of the past 12 months. I’m wary of the exercise myself—it feels a bit too much like reducing art to a faux-objective competition—but at the same time, I do recognize its value as a means of getting more eyes on worthwhile and notable work that may otherwise be overlooked by the community at large.

Before we go any further, a qualifier: While I am fortunate enough that I can supplement the comics I personally purchase with copies of comics for review provided by certain creators and publishers, I am still restricted in my reading by budget and time (or a lack thereof). I do try to read as many comics in as many genres and styles as possible, although I will readily admit that my personal preference largely veers towards crime, science-fiction, horror, fantasy/sword-and-sorcery, comedy/slice-of-life, and historical comics.

One more thing before I present this year’s lists. I know this post is supposed to be about comics that debuted in 2015, but I also want to take the opportunity to acknowledge ongoing comics series from previous years that I continued to enjoy through the year. If you’re looking to get into some older titles, you really can’t go wrong with any of the following: Birthright (Image Comics) by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan, Conan the Avenger (Dark Horse Comics) by Fred Van Lente and Brian Ching, Copperhead (Image Comics) by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski, East of West (Image Comics) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta, The Fade Out (Image Comics) by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, The Fuse (Image Comics) by Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood, Lazarus (Image Comics) by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, Low (Image Comics) by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, Ms. Marvel (Marvel Comics) by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona, Ragnarök (IDW Publishing) by Walt Simonson, Saga (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples, Shutter (Image Comics) by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca, The Sixth Gun (Oni Press) by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt, Southern Bastards (Image Comics) by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Stumptown (Oni Press) by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood, Velvet (Image Comics) by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse Comics) by Stan Sakai, and Wayward (Image Comics) by Jim Zubkavich and Steve Cummings.

And now, with all the preamble out of the way, here are my favorite comics of 2015.

Favorite series/miniseries (must have debuted within the 2015 calendar year; must have been completed or had at least four issues released through 30 December 2015):

  • Invisible Republic (Image Comics) by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman: A gripping political thriller presented as an account of future history, this science-fiction series is one of the strongest titles in the Image Comics catalogue.

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  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses (Image Comics/El Capitan) by David Lapham (with Maria Lapham): Purposely designed to be accessible to readers new to the decades-spanning Stray Bullets saga, this series is a worthy ongoing addition to what is arguably the all-time best American crime comics series.

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  • Harrow County (Dark Horse Comics) by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook: The Sixth Gun writer Cullen Bunn brings his talent for period piece horror and character work to Dark Horse Comics with this tale that explores folk horror themes in an early 20th century setting. Features award-winning artist Tyler Crook doing some of the best work of his career.

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  • The Spire (BOOM! Studios) by Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely: An action-packed fantasy of manners set in a brilliantly-realized world by the same creative team behind 2013’s superb sci-fi satire, Six-Gun Gorilla.

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  • Kaijumax (Oni Press) by Zander Cannon: What do you get when you cross HBO’s Oz with a loving homage to the classic Toho movie monsters? One of the funniest comics of the year!

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  • Dark Corridor (Image Comics) by Rich Tommaso: Small press veteran Rich Tommaso could very well have a mainstream(-ish) breakthrough with Dark Corridor, a crime comic that can be described as “Gilbert Hernandez-meets-David Lapham” in its sensibilities for those unfamiliar with Tommaso’s prior genre comics work (although doing so is a bit unfair to the cartoonist, who has a voice and style all his own).

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  • Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery (Dark Horse Comics) by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse: The third installment in Hogan and Parkhouse’s crime/sci-fi mash-up comic maintans the cozy mystery appeal of prior entries in the series while ramping up the subplot regarding the government’s pursuit of the comic’s literal “resident alien.” A brilliant work all around.

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  • Tyson Hesse’s Diesel (BOOM! Box) by Tyson Hesse: An all-ages-suitable dieselpunk story featuring a plucky protagonist with a lot of growing up to do. Hesse’s stylized renderings stand out immediately, but readers should not overlook the cartoonist’s talent for visual storytelling and pantomime.

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  • Toil and Trouble (BOOM!/Archaia) by Mairghread Scott, Kelly Matthews, and Nichole Matthews: A novel spin on Macbeth, retold through the perspective of the Three Witches. Scott plays up Macbeth‘s thematic ties to the Nordic/Anglo-Saxon concept of wyrd, while also updating the depiction of the Three Witches with depth and agency.

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  • Hex11 (HexComix) by Lisa K. Weber (with Kelly Sue Milano): This YA-style supernatural action comic features an intriguing twist-filled plot and charming characters but the real draw here is creator Lisa K. Weber’s illustrations—the sleek line art, unambiguous composition, and dynamic storytelling call to mind the visuals from top-flight traditional feature film animation.

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  • Also worth seeking out: Age of Reptiles: Ancient Egyptians (Dark Horse Comics) by Ricardo Delgado, Airboy (Image Comics) by James Robinson and Greg Hinkle, Cluster (BOOM! Studios) by Ed Brisson and Damian Couceiro, EI8HT (Dark Horse Comics) by Rafael Albuquerque (with Mike Johnson), The Empty (Image Comics) by Jimmie Robinson, Giant Days (BOOM! Box) by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Max Sarin; Groo: Friends and Foes (Dark Horse Comics) by Sergio Aragones and Mark Evanier, Lady Killer (Dark Horse Comics) by Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich, Midnight Society: The Black Lake (Dark Horse Comics) by Drew Edward Johnson, Past Aways (Dark Horse Comics) by Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins, RunLoveKill (Image Comics) by Eric Canete and Jonathan Tsuei, Tokyo Ghost (Image Comics) by Rick Remender and Sean Murphy.

New OGNs (Must have been published within the 2015 calendar year and feature all-new material)

  • Two Brothers (Dark Horse Books) by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon: Twin comics creators Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon bring Milton Hatoum’s novel Dois Irmãos to graphic life in this sterling adaptation that reflects on the themes of family and identity. A must-read.

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  • Walking Wounded: Uncut Stories from Iraq (NBM) by Olivier Morel and Martin “Maël” Leclerc: A companion non-fiction graphic novel to Morel’s critically-acclaimed 2011 documentary On the Bridge, Walking Wounded presents an uncompromising, gut-wrenching examination of the effects of post-conflict PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) on veterans of America’s military incursion into Iraq through the personal stories of nine service members and their families.

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  • Nanjing: The Burning City (Dark Horse Books) by Ethan Young: A harrowing look at one of the most infamous war crimes of the 20th century. Like Walking Wounded, this book can be an uncomfortable read at times, but it is an important volume for those who wish to go beyond the dry accounting of war in history books.

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  • Also worth seeking out: ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times (Dark Horse Books) by Andrew Maclean, Empowered, Vol. 9 (Dark Horse Books) by Adam Warren, The Fall of the House of West (First Second Books) by Paul Pope, The Lion of Rora (Oni Press) by Christos Gage, Ruth Fletcher Gage, and Jackie Lewis; The New Deal (Dark Horse Books) by Jonathan Case, VEDA: Assembly Required (Dark Horse Books) by Samuel Teer and Hyeondo Park, Virgil (Image Comics)by Steve Orlando and J. D. Faith.

Reprints and collections (Must have been published within the 2015 calendar year and feature previously published material)

  • Planetes, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Manga) by Makoto Yukimura: A much-needed reissue of the award-winning science-fiction manga, with a tweaked English-language script and improved lettering. This volume collects the first two books of the all-time science-fiction classic.

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  • The Quest for the Time Bird (Titan Comics) by Serge Le Tendre and Régis Loisel: Long out-of-print in English (it was first published in the United States as a four-part miniseries by NBM in 1987), the original four-part Quest for the Time Bird series is collected in its entirety in this volume.

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  • Seraphim 266613336 Wings (Dark Horse Manga) by Mamoru Oshii and Satoshi Kon: This paperback presents in English for the very first time the unfinished manga masterwork by two of Japanese cinema’s most prominent visual stylists. A book sure to intrigue fans of film and comics.

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  • Also worth seeking out: 2 Sisters (Dark Horse Books) by Matt Kindt, Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 31: Final Curtain (Dark Horse Manga) by Hiroaki Samura, The Crogan Adventures: Catfoot’s Vengeance (Oni Press), The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service Omnibus, Vol. 1 (Dark Horse Manga), Miss: Better Living Through Crime, Book 3—White as a Lily (Humanoids), Polar: Eye for an Eye (Dark Horse Books) by Victor Santos, The Realist (BOOM!/Archaia) by Asaf Hanuka.
  • NOTE: I know some of you are probably scratching your heads over the exclusion of IDW’s hardcover English-language reprint of Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese: Under the Sign of Capricorn, but it was just one of the many books I really, really wanted to read, but just couldn’t get around to perusing this year.

Most Promising New Titles (Must have debuted within the 2015 calendar year; must have three issues/volumes or less released through 30 December 2015)

  • I haven’t read enough of the following comics to recommend them unreservedly, but what I’ve read of these titles has me optimistic about their ability to sustain my interest and enthusiasm going forward: Avatar: The Last Airbender—Smoke and Shadow (Dark Horse Books) by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru, Black Magick (Image Comics) by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, Cops for Criminals (Legendary Comics) by Steven Grant and Pete Woods, King Conan: Wolves Beyond the Border (Dark Horse Comics) by Timothy Thomas and Tomas Giorello, Last Man (First Second Books) by Bastien Vivès, Michaël Sanlaville, and Balak, The Legacy of Luther Strode (Image Comics) by Justin Jordan and Tradd Moore, Monstress (Image Comics) by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, Mystery Girl (Dark Horse Comics), by Paul Tobin and Alberto Alburquerque, Paper Girls (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang, Plutona (Image Comics) by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox, Ringside (Image Comics) by Joe Keatinge and Nick Barber, The Sheriff of Babylon (DC/Vertigo) by Tom King and Mitch Gerads, Venus (BOOM! Studios) by Rick Loverd and Huang Danlan, The Violent (Image Comics) by Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham, Weirdworld (Marvel Comics). by Sam Humphries and Mike del Mundo
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