2015 will go down as the year of change for comic books. With more people than ever from different walks of life reading comics, the time to set the stage for a future generation of readers was more than evident this year. Maybe you saw it with the DC You initiative. Maybe you picked up on it with Marvel’s latest crop of heroes. Whoever your favourite publisher was this year, comic books saw a massive renaissance of new ideas, genres and storylines thrown at readers.
And that made for an exciting and thrilling year, evolving the medium to new heights. There were a ton of great comics released, with talent shining and storylines paying off. Here’s ten of the best, that you should be reading right now.
Loki: Agent of Asgard
Trickster. Villain. Immortal nemesis of Asgard. Over the years, Loki has assumed many roles, living out his role in a pre-ordained cycle of death and rebirth that never ends. But the trickster god was never satisfied with his role in life to be a mere plaything for higher powers, resulting in an epic quest to be reborn as a god who was free to choose his own path and break free of the Ragnarok cycle.
After an epic run in Journey Into Mystery that saw Loki’s grand scheme play out on a massive scale that saw the ten realms at war, the Odinson was resurrected as a secret agent for Asgard. And as a series which dealt with the shadows of running Asgard, future prophecies and trying to break free from the predestined, Loki: Agent of Asgard was magical.
But it was so much more than that. A gripping epic about the power of stories, it redefined the trickster god for a new generation and repositioned him the new Marvel Universe as the kind of liar that you could trust.
Marvel’s massive reboot isn’t even finished yet, but it’s still one of the finest event comics that the house of ideas has ever produced. Grand and epic in scale, Doctor Doom’s Battleworld is a planet filled with danger and intrigue as Jonathan Hickman’s Incursion event is currently building up to a massive pay-off that will see history rewritten as we know it. Plus, that Esad Ribic art is absolutely beautiful to look at.
Perhaps one of the darkest series to come out of the revitalised Image Comics as of late, Monstress deals with the all too human condition of having a beast lurking within you. Except in the case of Maika, that monster is a real and tangible threat that exists to cause chaos. Gruesome, heartbreaking and a white-knuckle ride of terror, Marjorie Liu’s and Sana Takeda’s Monstress is easily one of the prettiest and most ambitious comics on shelves today.
HAHAHAHAHA, sweet Grodd no. I have no idea how this slipped into the post, but I am rather drunk right now so let’s leave it at that. Ignore Convergence like the plague.
If you’re looking for the very best superhero comic book that isn’t trapped by a convuloted history or unnecessary spin-offs, Invincible is your man. Filled with action, kinetic art from Ryan Ottley and story beats that just make sense, 2015 saw Mark Grayson shed his hero persona to become a family man. But when you’ve got the power to crack planets, standing still isn’t exactly an option, and a call to action isn’t far away in the consistently brilliant Invincible.
Worlds die! Heroes perish! Man, comic books these days sure can be heavy when it comes to a monthly adventure. And then you’ve got Ms Marvel, easily one of the funnest comic books that Marvel has ever produced. Sure, lots of folks love the fact that protagonist Kamala Khan is a Muslim-American hero for a new generation of kids in a world that is filled with all manner of Islamaphobia. And that’s good! That’s fantastic!
But it’s the fact that Kamala is clearly one of us, a fangirl who finds herself thrust into a world where she has to balance her culture, school and a social life with sueprheroics and manages to make it all work somehow. There’s a certain sense of glee in not only seeing Kamala rise to the challenges set before her, but overcoming and embracing any hardships in life.
And really, that makes for a hero that we can all aspire to be more like.
Anything from Valiant
Chances are, you have no idea who Bloodshot, XO Manowar or Harbinger is. And that’s a damn shame, because Valiant Comics are putting out a massive line of comics right now that are spread across multiple genres and influences to create something truly special. The amount of talent on offer here, is something that hasn’t been seen since the mass exodus of comic book creators in the early 1990s who left to form Image Comics.
The key differential here however, is that Valiant has yet to lose any steam on their progress, with their current event series The Book Of Death only picking up more and more momentum with each subsequent issue. Unrestricted by the reactionary tactics that define Marvel or DC, Valiant truly feels like an evolution in comic book storytelling, with plenty of results to show off.
For years now, DC has failed to understand what makes Superman so great. It’s not the powers that define him, but his humanity and indomitable spirit to do right that makes the first American superhero also the greatest. You don’t need to have issue after issue harping on about his alien heritage and his apparent estrangement from our race, to make Superman a compelling character.
And this year, we finally got a Superman that we could relate to. Massively depowered, the man of steel rose to all manner of challenges as he used what little power he had left to still fight for truth and justice. It also made for a more interesting hero, one who embodied the best values and is still an inspiring figure for oridinary people to be extraordinary in other ways. The depowerment may be temporary for now, but it still makes for a character who is a man first and super second.
Superman wasn’t the only hero who experienced massive changes this year. With the Joker back in Gotham City and ready to play for keeps, the Batman faced his greatest challenge yet, and barely survived the events of Endgame. In his place, was the need for a newer Batman. One backed by police resources and with a harder attitude towards crime. Jim Gordon makes for a fascinating Batman, as well as a prime example of the dark knight being more than just one man, but a symbol for all of Gotham.
Bruce Wayne will most likely be back under the cowl before 2016 is finished, but until then, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have managed to shake up the status quo and then some with the prime Bat-family comic book that DC produces.
You know what the greatest injustice is about DC’s Omega Men comics? Is that despite it having solid art, writing that leaves you on the edge of your seat and a space opera story arc that could put Star Wars to shame, it was almost cancelled. Fortunately, a fan effort saved one of the best comics around, and gave the series enough breathing room to at least finish a cliffhanger or two. PEACE FOR VEGA!
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Who’s the deadliest hero in Marvel comics? Wolverine? Hawkeye? A really pissed off Hulk? Nope, it’s the unbeatable Squirrel Girl! But even the Omega-level hero has to face threats that can;t be solved by chucking squirrels at the problem, resulting in a quirky and unique comic where sitting down and talking out your problems can result in the planet being saved.
And that’s it for this year! The comics are above are just ten of the best, but there’s so many more out there. Do yourself a favour, head down to a comic book shop and start reading already!
Last Updated: December 18, 2015