The Top 10 Comics of 2015

Photo Credit: El Capitan/Image Comics

For the last few decades, the demise of the American comic book direct market has been widely predicted. In 2015, there were definitely some dire warnings in the sales figures, as even Marvel and DC have suffered declines that they can’t seem to entirely pull away from.

But the comic medium itself is alive and well, with a range of genres that go far beyond superhero and licensed comics. Image Comics, Dark Horse, Vertigo, and independent comic book companies have continued to push the medium forward with new titles that would have been lost in the marketplace just a few years ago.

None of this means that superhero comics are going away. Marvel and DC still have the biggest share of the direct comic book market, and even some of the best comics, period. For 2015, we’ve selected our annual list of the top 10 ongoing comic book series. But like every list, this is purely subjective. So feel free to share your selections in the comment section below!

10. Astro City

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Artist: Brent Anderson

Astro City has long been the perfect fusion of Kurt Busiek’s human oriented superhero tales and Brent Anderson’s classic superhero art. Sometimes that meant long breaks between issues, especially when Busiek was battling health issues.

But Vertigo Comics has Astro City back on a monthly basis, with the occasional guest artist, including Jesus Merino, Joe Infurnari, and Gary Chaloner. Most of the issues are done-in-one story that either follows a normal person in a city of superheroes or peels back the layers of the heroes or villains themselves. Sometimes, Busiek even pulls the seemingly disparate stories together in remarkable ways. The result is a superhero world that is uniquely his, and it’s still one of the very best comic books.

9. Huck

Photo Credit: Image Comics

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Mark Millar loves to write cynical bastards in his comics and scripts. Huck is definitely not one of Millar’s anti-heroes. Huck isn’t driven by vengeance, anger, or justice. Instead, the title character just wants to help people in the unique ways that only he can. And considering that Huck’s powers make him superhuman, he’s a better person than most.

Considering that Huck’s story has only begun, there’s a chance that Miller and artist Rafael Albuquerque could drag him down with the relentless scrutiny of a world that is becoming aware of who he is and what he can do. That may still be an interesting story in of itself, but Huck is the Superman that we need now.

8. Omega Men

Writer: Tom King

Artists: Barnaby Bagenda and Toby Cypress

Omega Men is one of the more challenging comics that DC publishes, because it’s heroes are essentially cosmic terrorists. The original Omega Men weren’t that dissimilar to the original Guardians of the Galaxy. They were cosmic superheroes fighting against alien oppression.

Under the pen of Tom King, the Omega Men have become immensely more interesting as they use terrorist tactics to bring down an intergalactic empire in a way that makes it really difficult to root for the “heroes.” Because frankly, the Omega Men may not be heroes. In some ways, they are almost as terrible as the regime that they’re fighting.

Artists Barnaby Bagenda and Toby Cypress have also been amazing on this title, with the highlight being an extended fight between Tigorr and Kalista…that was largely for show! “More.”

7. Hellboy in Hell

Photo Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Writer: Mike Mignola

Artist: Mike Mignola

We may never get another Hellboy movie, but Hellboy’s creator Mike Mignola may finally lay his signature creation to rest next year. Hellboy in Hell comes out at a sluggish pace, but it is absolutely worth it to see Mignola on interior art again. Even in death, Hellboy can’t quite escape the dark destiny that was laid out before he was born. But he’s still a great working class hero…who just happens to be a half-human demon. Other than that, he’s a regular guy trapped in some relentlessly weird stories.

6. Fables

Photo Credit: Vertigo Comics

Writer: Bill Willingham

Artist: Mark Buckingham

Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham brought their long-running Vertigo series, Fables to an end this year…and it’s the comic that I will miss the most. For the last 13 years, Fables put forth the idea that all of the fairy tale characters and myths were real, with most of the European characters living in New York City as exiles.

In the final storyline, Snow White and her sister, Rose Red neared an apocalyptic showdown…that kind of fizzled out at the end. But these characters and their worlds were so compelling that even a few stumbles couldn’t keep it from this list.

5. Silver Surfer

Photo Credit: Marvel Comics

Writer: Dan Slott

Artist: Mike Allred

Amazing Spider-Man writer Dan Slott finally found the key to making the Silver Surfer into a viable comic again. Basically, Slott made Silver Surfer into a Doctor Who riff, with a new companion character, Dawn Greenwood. It’s pretty shameless, but it’s hard to argue against something that works so well.

Mike Allred’s art adds a certain bizarre and beautiful quality to Slott’s stories, especially when the Surfer and Dawn were called upon to recreate the Marvel Universe in one of the more inventive Secret Wars tie-ins.

4. Batman

Photo Credit: DC Comics

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist: Greg Capullo

It’s hard to find a better creative team than Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. They’ve been on Batman for over four years, and their collaboration is still fresh and exciting.

On paper, replacing Bruce Wayne with former Commission James Gordon as a new, GCPD endorsed Batman in power armor sounded like a horrible idea. And yet somehow, it’s still really entertaining to see Gordon struggle with the mantle of the Bat. Bruce Wayne hasn’t entirely been out of the picture, as he built a life for himself without remembering that he’s Batman. I can’t wait to see how that crashes down around him in 2016.

3. Daredevil

Photo Credit: Marvel Comics

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Chris Samnee

Daredevil has long been one of Marvel’s best titles, but Mark Waid and artist Chris Samnee created one of the character’s most unique runs by downplaying the grim qualities and giving the stories a sense of fun. Make no mistake, this isn’t a comedic take on the hero, and the lightness didn’t undercut the drama…it enhanced it. Waid and Samnee’s run deserves to be recognized as one of the best Daredevil tenures.

It’s a little disappointing that Marvel has already walked back some of the more intriguing elements from the Waid and Samnee era, but that’s the nature of monthly superhero comics. The next creative team almost always has a different take on the character. Plus, Waid and Samnee are reuniting for a new Black Widow title that looks very enticing…

2. Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses

Photo Credit: El Capitan/Image Comics

Writer: David Lapham

Artist: David Lapham

Nobody does crime comics quite like David Lapham. If you’re looking for heroes, super or otherwise, look elsewhere. Lapham’s characters in Stray Bullets are all too human, with a very grey morality. The Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses miniseries revisited some of the classic Stray Bullets characters as they attempted to pull off the heist that sent them on the run and into exile.

Considering that we already know the fate of most of the characters from the earlier stories, it’s amazing that Lapham still manages to create tension and drama. Stray Bullets stories almost never end well for the leads, but they are always fantastic.

1. The Fade Out

Photo Credit: Image Comics

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

In Burbaker we trust.

Ed Brubaker and his frequent collaborator, Sean Phillips teamed up again with The Fade Out, an unexpected murder mystery set against the era of Hollywood’s blacklist.

To say any more would ruin some of the surprises in store for readers. But if you’ve ever loved any Brubaker and Phillips’ previous projects, then you should pick up The Fade Out. Brubaker and Phillips have practically perfected their own blend of comics, and it’s always an immense joy to read their latest issues.


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