The Best of 2015
Best Ongoing Series
There aren’t enough people reading Shutter. Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Duca’s science-fiction/fantasy ongoing series is provocative and beautiful, with some of the most memorable characters in the industry right now. Shutter in 2015 has been simply stellar. It’s full of twists and turns and its themes are handled maturely and are treated with an incredible amount of care. There’s nothing like Shutter, and while the first year of the series started off slow, every issue since the first arc has improved. What’s incredible is that the writing might not even be the best part, with Leila Del Duca consistently delivering beautiful works of art in every panel. Do yourself a favor and check it out if you haven’t already
Matt Fraction’s science fiction spy story entered its fourth arc this year, with a fantastic new story and setting for Casanova Quinn. The titular hero now faces amnesia, treating us to a fresh take, with a new occupation for Quinn and a great supporting cast. The erratic release of the issues has been somewhat disappointing, but it hasn’t prevented the series from remaining as one of the smartest comic books out there. Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba take on different issues, with each offering a unique but familiar look to the series. It’s never too late to start getting into Casanova.
Rick Remender is having an incredible year, but Deadly Class stands out from the rest of his superb works. This series has incredible characters, dark tones, and exhilarating action. Marcus’ life is only getting worse as he continues to drive a wedge between himself and his friends, and that isn’t even his biggest problem. Remender has his reader’s hooked and invested, and we are all ready to have our hearts broken sometime soon as we inevitably suffer from more heartbreaking moments. Wes Craig’s art is without question some of the best work of the year, with incredible work on the characters and settings. The panels are laid out gorgeously, making this one of the most captivating and unique-looking stories out there.
Honorable Mentions: Saga, Rai, Chew
Brian K. Vaughan
Brian K Vaughan never seems to slow down, does he? As if continuing to write the masterpiece that is Saga isn’t enough (Although I admit it has definitely slowed down a bit this year), he has also started multiple new series that all have the potential to win awards on their own. We Stand on Guard, Paper Girls, and Barrier all came out this year along Saga. Not bad.
Jeff Lemire is having a career year, with a great amount of work in both the creative-owned realm as well as with Marvel and Valiant. Plutona is a beautiful look at how the death of a great superhero would affect young children, while heavy-hitters like Old Man Logan, Extraordinary X-Men, Bloodshot Reborn, and The Valiant exhilarate the hardcore crowd. Lemire has been busy and has delivered both quality and quantity in 2015.
Valiant Entertainment wouldn’t be enjoying its success without Matt Kindt on board. Rai, Divinity, Unity, Ninjak, and The Valiant (With Jeff Lemire) were all great works written by Kindt. As if this wasn’t enough, Kindt also gracefully ended his stellar creator-owned series, Mind MGMT, one of the most unique creator-owned series in recent memory.
Honorable Mentions: Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron
Leila Del Duca
Shutter is possibly the best looking book on the shelves right now. Leila Del Duca makes every issue an absolute treat to look at, with the best panels in comics right now. The characters are incredibly detailed, and the panels could tell entire stories with just the art. One of the most visually-impressive issues of the year was Shutter #15.
Saga continues to look better and better and every year, doesn’t it? From the covers to the gorgeous panels inside every issue, Fiona Staples makes every three-month break worth it. This year, Saga isn’t her only work though, as Staples has also graced the first three issues of the fantastic Archie reboot, showing that Staples doesn’t need to rely on insane character designs to thrive in the comic book world. We are so incredibly lucky to have drawing for us.
Greg Capullo is certainly going to be missed in 2016 when he steps down from Batman, even if it might only be temporary. No artist makes Gotham look as beautiful, terrifying, and alive as Capullo does. This is one of the hardest working artists in the industry and Snyder’s run of Batman won’t be the same without his best friend.
Honorable Mentions: Jamie McKelvie, Paulo Rivera, Greg Tocchini
Best Single Issue
The run that defined Team Hawkeye finally came to its conclusion this year with Hawkeye #22. We thought it would never come, but it did and it contained everything that made the series great. This will be remembered as one of the greatest runs in Marvel history, and a huge part of that is because the creative team was able to deliver a beautiful conclusion.
Chew #50 could have easily had been the final issue of the series. While we still have ten more issues and few more loose ends to wrap up, this issue delivered the final confrontation that readers have been waiting for since the first arc of the series. It absolutely delivers and makes the long wait worth it, as the series’ main plotline finally comes to a dramatic and emotional close.
Low #7 took its readers to the city without hope. Rick Remender’s return to Low takes to a place devoid of hope and art, and breaks the hearts of the readers as they approach the tragic ending of the issue. Greg Tochinni’s art makes the issue flow flawlessly, and his pencils in the final few pages hits the reader hard as a character loses everything.
Best New Series
Archie #1 had an incredible amount of hype behind it. The expectations were high ever since the creative team of Mark Waid and Fiona Staples was announced. They somehow delivered though, making one of comics’ oldest icons feel fresh, yet familiar, and opening the door for a new generation of Archie fans. What’s impressive is that the book continues to look stellar even with the departure of Staples, with Wu stepping in and ensuring that the title never loses its beautiful charm.
Brian K Vaughan’s new series featuring a group of young newpaper delivery girls in a conspiracy is just fun. The characters are far from generic and Cliff Chiang’s art is absolutely incredible. Add some colors by Matt Wilson and you have an instant hit. It won’t be as big as Saga, but Paper Girls still deserves credit for how well every element of sequential art comes together.
I didn’t really care much about Bloodshot before The Valiant came out. The gun-loving nanite-fuled killer seemed a bit too generic to me. Jeff Lemire changed the character though, and managed to add an incredible about depth to him. Bloodshot Reborn is a fascinating look at a now broken character who seeks redemption, which can only come if he essentially gives up his humanity. Mico Suayan’s art is fitting for the character, with a tone that feels like the 90’s.
Honorable Mentions: Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, We Can Never Go Home, Monstress
Best Graphic Novel
Sexcastle is just fun. It’s full of cool one-liners, mean assassins, and over-the-top violence. It’s a cheesy call-back to the old action movies and reads feels sort of like a Robert Rodriguez movie. The meanest person on earth is for one of my favorite characters of the year.
Sunstone Vol 2
So far, Sunstone has been wonderful in almost every possible way. On top of having two very lovable protagonists and a strong plot, it also offers a beautiful look at the BDSM community through positive lens. Stepan Seijic’s work has been impeccable, as Sunstone both moves and educates the readers on how caring the BDSM community is, while also keeping everything from getting to stale and staying sexy. This is a moving series that should be read by anyone who is curious about a community that is often depicted in a negative way, or just by anyone who wants to read a good love story.
The Valiant changed the Valiant universe in a way that we would like to see from most of the big events that come out of Marvel and DC. The Valiant definied characters, made readers say goodbye to a few, and dramatically changed the course of Valiant. Jeff Lemire, Matt Kindt, and Paolo Rivera came together to create a near-masterpiece for both old fans and new readers.
Honorable Mentions: The Loop Infinite, Book of Death, We Can Never Go Home
Jamie Mckelvie wouldn’t be nearly as impressive as he is without Matt Wilson. The same could be said about Cliff Chiang. Wilson brings out the best in some of the most impressive artists today. Paper Girls, The Wicked + the Divine, and Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl have some of the best colors out there.
Honorable Mention: Jordie Bellaire
Even though Image Comics continues to release some of the best new creative-owned series in comics, Valiant managed to breathe new life into the superhero genre and showed that it is way more than just X-O Manowar, its flagship title. Sure, both Marvel and DC took some serious steps this year towards making the genre great again, but Valiant released nothing but quality titles, from the game-changing miniseries like The Valiant and Book of Death, to insanely cool ongoing series like Bloodshot Reborn, Ivar Timewalker, and Ninjak. Valiant was the best publisher this year not because it released tons of titles, but because it showed us what the genre can be if the publisher is willing to take risks.
Best Video Game
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
The Witcher 3 redefined RPGs. Fans of the series finally got to see Geralt’s story come to a satisfying conclusion in one of the best video games to ever come out. CD Project Red’s massive game doesn’t disappoint, with a highly polished engine, intelligent story, tight combat, and a chilling soundtrack. All of this plus the addicting minigame, Gwent, which will make players want to hunt for the best cards for hours. The Witcher 3 is perfect in every way, and is the first game this generation that truly shows the power of the newest consoles.
Honorable Mentions: Bloodborne, Fallout 4, Rocket League, Until Dawn
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders (Season 2)
The second season of Stardust Crusaders is nothing short of phenomenal. By the start of the season we have a strong connection to all of the characters, and by the finale we feel like the six protagonists are our best friends. The villains are all memorable and there is more at stake than ever before in the series. The final few episodes are emotionally exhausting and break hearts, but are rewarding and deliver an incredibly satisfying battle against Dio and The World. Honestly though, seeing Dio with the steam roller is enough to make this the best anime this year.
Honorable Mentions: Shokugeki no Soma, and Ushio to Tora, Sound Euphonium