There were a ton of comics that came out this year, and by tons I mean there were so many they probably would have needed a couple extra dump trucks in Die Hard with a Vengeance in order to fit the number of comics that came out this year. Due to how any comics came out this year it is nearly impossible to read all of them. That being said, on this the last day of 2015 here are my choices for the best comics of 2015:
This book continues to excel in palace intrigue, character examination, and politics not to mention delving into some spy and assassination themes as well. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have created a wonderful and rich dystopian world centered around one of the best characters in comics, Forever Carlyle, as she questions her role in the world while navigating the treacherous politics within her family as well as without. Lazarus will keep you on the edge of your seat whether Forever is leading a troop of soldiers on the wintry battlefield in Minnesota or she is elegantly dancing in the middle of all the major power players of the world.
9. Roche Limit: Clandestiny
The colony of Roche Limit has been abandoned, but a new team has arrived on the planet and will face all new dangers and find new and old allies in their attempt to flee the tortured colony. Michael Moreci combines sci-fi and horror elements to great effect, but his characters are what really makes this book interesting: an android with a conscience, Hello Danny; a hardened military commander, Elbus; Sasha, a scientist struggling to deal with the loss of her family; and a gun-toting grunt, Colt. Each faces their own separate struggles both externally and internally. Roche Limit: Clandestiny is a great book that will creep you out, but also make you ask big and hard questions about life and philosophy.
A group of ancient Egyptians wage a continual war throughout the ages against a power-hungry priest turned Pharaoh, but first they must awaken themselves in order to remember their past lives and skills they have acquired. However, in order to do so they have to experience a near-death moment. Fred Van Lente builds an engaging team that has a ton of history and chemistry with each other, not to mention plenty of drama and action that is very Indiana Jone-esque. Maurizio Rosenzweig’s artwork is wonderful, combining past and present storylines and detailing how the Resurrectionists acquired certain skills in their past lives. Resurrectionists was truly great; it was unfortunate it was canceled.
One of my favorite characters from the Original Trilogy, Lando Calrissian finally got his own comic. Charles Soule tells an adventure that takes place before Lando ever comes to be the dashing entrepreneur and leader of Bespin. He wines and dines Imperial Moffs while taking on a daring mission to steal the Emperor’s own ship full of dangerous Sith artifacts. The artwork by Alex Maleev makes this book standout, capturing the iconic look and the personality of Lando whether he is smooth talking a Bounty Hunter or convincing an old ally to take on his daring mission. Lando captures the heart of Star Wars with humor, adventure, and danger.
The first of three Valiant titles on the list, Imperium details the exploits of Toyo Harada as he comes out of the shadows and begins to carve out his empire in the Middle East, taking on Rising Spirit and all of the world’s governments. Joshua Dysart creates extremely compelling characters where he provides in-depth looks at their motivations and reasoning for joining with Harada all while taking on dangerous and at times immoral missions to attain Harada’s utopian vision of the world. The political context and moral discussion along with the dark, violent action combines together for an exciting, thought-provoking read aided by the great artwork of Doug Braithwaite, Scot Eaton, and Cafu.
5. Justice League The Darkseid War Chapter 1
Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok tell a truly epic tale pitting Darkseid against the Anti-Monitor with the Justice League finding themselves caught in the middle, completely unprepared for this showdown between two titans. The artwork is absolutely gorgeous with plenty of large splash pages detailing the exciting combat. In addition, Johns does some good character work introducing Grail, the daughter of Darkseid and taking a number of the core members of the Justice League in new, interesting directions. Justice League: The Darkseid War is definitely a dark, exciting adventure where Grail’s end goal is still yet to be revealed and the Justice League find themselves outmatched and then have to adjust to new found powers.
4. The Valiant
Valiant’s first event book of 2015, chronicled the millennia old battle between the Eternal Warrior and his foe the Immortal Enemy, a force of nature keeping the world in balance. We got to really see the Eternal Warrior’s extreme sense of duty as he continued to fight on despite failing every single time. We were also introduced to the newest Geomancer, Kay McHenry, as she struggled with her new powers and role as a Geomancer and embraced the violent mercenary Bloodshot. The Valiant was a four issue series that introduced one of the most compelling and sinister villains in comics highlighted by the excellent artwork from Paolo Rivera. The Immortal Enemy was a match for the entire Valiant universe as they attempted to prevent a new Dark Age with the death of Kay. Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt show they are masters of the art with compelling characters, an excellent plot, and an even more compelling resolution that expands the mythos of the Valiant Universe.
3. Bloodshot Reborn
Jeff Lemire took the helm of Bloodshot Reborn after the events in The Valiant, where Bloodshot found himself free of the nanites for the first time. However, his new found freedom leaves him feeling unfulfilled and lacking purpose, plunging him into a deep depression steeped in drugs and alcohol. He is forced into action after mass murders committed by individuals looking like Bloodshot begin happening around Colorado. On the hunt for these Bloodshot imposters, he is forced to confront his own past in order to truly discover who he is, the ruthless killer of old or Ray Garrison, the man the Geomancer Kay McHenry saw. Bloodshot Reborn is a truly great story that explores the depths of Bloodshot’s emotions. It has excellent artwork from Butch Guice and Mico Suayan that complement Bloodshot’s fluctuating state of mind on his journey.
2. Lady Killer
Lady Killer was the writing debut of Joelle Jones as she and Jamie S. Rich took us to the 1960s where an unassuming housewife, Josie Schuller, lives a double life working for a covert agency dealing specifically in assassinations. She struggles with balancing her home life and work while also keeping her conscience in check as her work threatens to consume her both physically and spiritually. Jones and Rich provide a dramatic story with plenty of excellently drawn action scenes that give you a real play by play. Josie Schuller is a combination of Jason Bourne and James Bond.
1. Will Eisner’s The Spirit
This book has been by and far the best book of the year. It has fantastic storytelling from Matt Wagner, excellent and innovative artwork and layouts from Dan Schkade, great coloring from Brennan Wagner who is able to make the book feel modern, but also conjures the post World War I time frame it is set in. Finally, it has the most innovative lettering I have seen in a comic. You don’t need to see the sarcasm or the anger in the character’s facial features because the lettering lets you see it in the design of the word bubbles! The characters are memorable and the story provides a number of challenges for the characters as they set out to discover what happened to The Spirit and which of his many villains could have been behind his disappearance. Will Einer’s The Spirit has suspense, action, and humor. It is everything you want in a comic book experience.