Good lord, has it been a year already?
2015 is almost in the history books, which means it’s that time again. What time, I hear you ask? Why, LIST TIME of course!
Just like last year, during December several of our contributors will be sharing their thoughts on the artists, writers, publishers and comics that they’ve been most impressed by over the last twelve months, and once again, it falls to me to get this particular ball rolling.
I’ve personally put together over 200 reviews this year (a new personal best!) and have also read hundreds more comics that I simply didn’t have time to review, so trying to narrow them all down into a “Best of” list was always going to be a bit of an uphill struggle.
That said, I’ve finally settled on my choices (with some liberal use of the “honourable mention” loophole), so take a look below and, as always, let me know what you guys think, whether you agree or disagree, and what you consider to be your “Best” from 2015.
Best Publisher – Dark Horse Comics
While other publishers have undoubtedly had their own high points (both Image Comics and BOOM! Studios, for instance, have had outstanding years), it’s difficult for me to really consider any other publisher than Dark Horse for my “Best of 2015” award. For sheer consistency if nothing else, churning out hit after hit with the likes of EI8HT, both Colder series, The Paybacks, Lady Killer, Sundowners, High Crimes, Nanjing: The Burning City… hell, I could go on all day. Suffice to say that for the sheer variety of their output, along with their affectionate handling of franchises close to my own heart (both The Art of He-Man and the MotU Mini Comic Collection were utterly flawless releases), Dark Horse is far and away my top publisher of 2015.
Honourable Mentions: BOOM! Studios, Image Comics.
Best Writer – Michael Moreci
Early on in 2015, I loudly proclaimed that this was shaping up to be the #YearofMoreci, and while that somewhat clunky hashtag never really caught on, with the year almost done, I can smugly stand by my initial claim. With an impressively diverse body of work, from the existential science fiction of Roche Limit to the time travelling “spy-fi” of Transcendence to the horror comedy of Hoax Hunters to the utterly, utterly sublime work alongside Tim Daniel on Burning Fields (my favourite comic by a long shot over the last twelve months), there was never really anyone else I had considered for this award. Now somebody give that man a Star Wars book, already!
Honourable Mentions: Jason Aaron, Rick Remender, Brian K. Vaughan, Ray Fawkes.
Best Artist – Juan Ferreyra
For the second year running, Argentinian Juan Ferreyra gets my nod as Best Artist. While his body of work might not have been as sizeable as some of the other front-runners, the sheer impact of his distinctive visual style is like nothing else on the shelves. From his skin-crawling work on Colder (with “The Bad Seed” at the start of the year and the currently ongoing “Toss The Bones”) to his utterly astonishing work on Gotham by Midnight (including issue #9, which ranks as my favourite single issue of the year), Ferreyra remains head-and-shoulders above 99% of the other artists out there right now. Plus, with the recent announcement that he’ll be collaborating with Tim Seeley on DC’s New Suicide Squad series (having previously contributed several stunning SS covers), it’s a distinct possibility that he’ll be in the running for the award again come 2016.
Honourable Mentions: Rafael Albuquerque, I.N.J. Culbard, Matteo Scalera, Colin Lorimer.
Top 5 Series of 2015 (in no particular order)
Burning Fields (BOOM! Studios) – Wow. In case you missed my reviews of all eight issues, this is far and away my favourite book of 2015. Starting off as something resembling “Homeland meets Se7en”, then gradually shifting into a whole new genre of military horror that I’m sure will be attracting more than its fair share of copycats in the years to come, and finally culminating in one of the most impressively poignant finales I can remember reading, there was no way this book wasn’t going to be right at the top of any “Best Of” list I was putting together. Messrs Lorimer, Moreci and Daniel… take a bow, gents.
Black Science (Image Comics) – Right from the very first issue, Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s Black Science had me hooked. Taking a relatively simple concept (inter-dimensional travel) and turning it into one of the most eye-meltingly beautiful books on the shelves, complete with one of the most engaging, multi-layered ensemble casts since Kirkman’s Walking Dead, this is a series with near limitless potential, and is one which – I’m thrilled to say – is still going strong, eighteen issues in. Writer and artist working in perfect harmony. It’s a beautiful thing to see, folks.
Gotham by Midnight (DC Comics) – An utterly fantastic take on the somewhat overused “police procedural” genre, GbM introduces us to the “Midnight Shift”, the task force who deal with the more supernatural side of Gotham’s crimes. Serving as a wonderful showcase for two of my all-time favourite artists (Juan Ferreyra and Ben Templesmith), and featuring writer Ray Fawkes packing a fantastic amount of characterisation – as well as a creeping sense of dread – into his pages, it’s almost criminally unfair that the series is being cancelled later this month. Like I said in my review of the latest issue though, it’s better to burn out than to fade away, and in that respect, Gotham by Midnight is shining like a goddamn supernova right now.
The Paybacks (Dark Horse Comics) – While comics can definitely make you gasp, make your pulse race or make you shiver in horror, they can also make you laugh, and in 2015, no comic made me laugh more than Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal’s The Paybacks. Featuring wonderfully detailed and comedically on-point artwork from Geoff Shaw, the series – based around a group of D-list superheroes who collect the overdue debts of the hero community – is an inspired concept executed to absolute perfection. Get on this bandwagon before it runs your ass over.
EI8HT (Dark Horse Comics) – Proof, if proof were needed, that Rafael Albuquerque is a hell of a lot more than just a supremely talented artist. This time-travelling sci-fi series served as a showcase, not only of Albuquerque’s wonderfully expressive, scratchy visual style, but also of his shrewd storytelling capabilities and boundless creativity. With an inspired use of colour to represent the setting, and a wonderfully open-ended conclusion, I can only hope that we get more of this fantastic series in 2016. NIN9? N9NE? Ahh, I dunno…
Honourable Mentions: We Stand on Guard (Image Comics), Colder: Toss The Bones (Dark Horse), Beast Wagon (Changeling Studios), Sons of the Devil (Image Comics), Roche Limit: Clandestiny (Image Comics), King’s Leap (Madius Comics), Lady Killer (Dark Horse)… I, uh, should probably stop at some point, right?