With the end of 2015 just around the corner, we still have time to squeeze in a few of our contributor’s “best of” lists from the past twelve months before our annual year in recap.
Up next is Ross, who runs down his favourite publisher, artist, writer and comics from the past year. Take a look at his picks below, and let us know if you agree or disagree in the comments section.
Best Publisher – Valiant Entertainment
Ah-ha! The curveball. M’esteemed colleagues are right to say that Image have had yet another absolutely stellar year, but for me, whilst there was a whole lot to like in their 2015 output, it didn’t quite reach, or indeed surpass the highs of 2014, as I was hoping this time last year. But y’know who’s been knocking out issue after cracking issue? In a shared universe that’s got the scale of the Marvel or DC universes, without any of the resetting timeline gumph that seems to be plaguing the big two of late? Valiant. I’ve been ragging y’all to get on their stuff all year, with you being spoiled for choice of jumping-on points. Big props must go to Book of Death, Bloodshot: Reborn and Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, all wonderfully crafted pieces of work, with ever-thickening plots, and gorgeous artwork. Divinity gets a shout-out too, being one of the most elegantly, poetically-written Superman analogues in years. Just a fantastic year for a close-to-criminally under-exposed publisher.
Best Writer – Robert Venditti
Perpetually misspelled by me – Vendetti? I’m a fool! – but perpetually loved as well, everything he’s done for Valiant this year has been astonishingly thoughtful and intricate. And then he went ahead and capped the year with the astonishingly impressive Wrath of the Eternal Warrior, which not only treated us to insight into one of their stable’s most compelling characters inner workings, but did so in a way that gave the tired old eternal champion trope a fresh new twist.
Honourable Mentions: Matt Kindt, Jason Aaron, Jonathan Hickman, Jeff Lemire, Scott Snyder
Best Artist – Stjepan Šejić
What’s there to be said about this magnificent bastard? From his terrifically shrewd deviations that affectionately skewer a whole host of comic tropes, to his cover work for everything from Batman through to Witchblade, to his creator-owned series Death Vigil – he’s not just a great artist, he’s the epitome of sequential art enthusiast. The man has an absolute mastery of facial expression and structural anatomy, giving even the simplest dialogues scenes an energy that other artists struggle to replicate. Pinncale of achievement? His work on Rat Queens in March and April – just… just glorious, in every possible way.
Honourable Mentions: Raul Allen, Greg Capullo, Jamie McKelvie, Jeff Stokely
Top 5 Comics of the Year (In no particular order)
Batman (DC Comics) – Who’d’ve thunk that having a complete and utter newcomer step into the iconic role would’ve been as interesting and fun as this. Snyder’s knack for hard-boiled dialogue gels incredibly well with Jim Gordon’s internal monologue – just Batman-y enough to pass as the Dark Knight, whilst at the same time balancing it with the uncertainty that a man who hasn’t been doing the whole ‘punch crime in the face’ thing all his life. Glorious stuff, with intriguing new villains, and if/when Bruce steps back into the suit, it’ll be a shame to see Jim back on the sidelines.
Wrath of the Eternal Warrior (Valiant Entertainment) – At this stage it’ll probably feel like I’m beating a dead horse, but this series was just… just gorgeous, in every way. A late entry, but an outrageously strong one – the craftsmanship here, coupled with the way that its story flows out of previous series, is just fantastic. And don’t even get me started on the artwork. Okay, I’ll start.. it’s great – the only real reason I can conjure that Raul Allen isn’t artist of the year is because I wasn’t exposed to as much of his work. Just a great read, all round.
Rat Queens (Image Comics) – I will never not have Rat Queens on my pull list. Tess Fowler’s art is as close to up-to-scratch is it could possibly be, and Kurtis Wiebe’s writing remains absolutely on point, creating compelling reasons to keep coming back for your monthly dose. Long live the fuckin’ Rat Queens!
Bloodshot: Reborn (Valiant Entertainment) – You could say that Bloodshot is Valiant’s Wolvernine. You could say that, but you’d probably have to whisper it, in case either hero heard you and subsequently disemboweled you. So yeah, I’d probably keep that to yourself – and this here, whilst hardly doing much to widen the not-a-gulf between the two characters, is still a gorgeously compelling read, and absolutely stunningly rendered by Suayan and Baron.
Star Wars: Darth Vader & Vader Down (Marvel Comics) – Given George Lucas’ efforts to completely undermine one of the 20th century’s most iconic villains in the prequels, it was about time someone came along and made him terrifying again. Kieron Gillen and Jason Aaron were apparently the men for this job, because with these and the latest flick (hey! Did you know there’s a new Star Wars movie out?!), it’s becoming easier and easier to relegate the prequels to a distant, flashback-y memory – with Vader portrayed as the terrifying ghoul that he should’ve been all along. Great, great stuff.
The Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24