The nights are drawing in, there are work and school parties every other night, and gruesome horror movies on the horizon..at least in my house. All of this can only mean one thing, the end of the year is fast approaching.
And as the end edges ever closer, it heralds in the End of the Year Best of Lists. I’ve already seen some, paving the way for the many others that are destined to follow. I personally have submitted some input for a Best of the Year list and a Best of the Decade article for Monleysfightingrobots so expect to see them appear soon.
As I’m not one to buck a trend (i.e. unoriginal and proud) I thought I’d chuck together a personal ‘best of the year’ list. There’s plenty of time to pick up Christmas presents so maybe try to source some of these beauties for your comic-book loved ones, or even yourself.
Daniel Warren Johnson’s excellent Metal Music infused emotional drama is over the top and rooted to the ground in equal measures. It’s surprisingly moving and will make you cry just as much as it makes you punch the air in excitement. What’s it about? Just read it, because it’s difficult to explain in a quick paragraph like this, however, Murder Falcon does not disappoint.
It’s been a while since I read any X-Men comics and, to be fair, I don’t really buy Marvel comics at all but one thing attracted me to this: Jonathan Hickman. I love Hickman’s work so I thought I’d give House of X and Powers of X a go. And, boy, has it been an impressive journey. The depth of world building and expansive character arcs pull you in and envelope completely. The 12 issue run is just the beginning but it is well worth investing your time. The only drawback is that it will lead to a whole series of X-Men books that you’ll find yourself not wanting to miss.
Sandman Presents: Hellblazer
There has only been one issue and a Special so far this year but Simon Spurrier GETS Constantine. The character is perfect and the stories are a meld of horror and dark humour. This series is a call back to the original Vertigo titles as it has the same themes and tone. And after the excellent start with Aaron Campbell, Jordie Bellaire and Aditya Bidikar on art duties, Hellblazer is going to be hot stuff next year.
Aftershocks Comics have been on a roll this year with some outstanding titles. Stronghold is one of, not only their best, but the best superhero based comics released this year. The first issue made a massive impact on me and I likened it’s intentions to those of Watchmen. Phil Hester and Ryan Kelly break down the Superhero Origin story and use it to comment on modern sensibilities. The Artwork is especially strong, with colors from Dee Cunniffe who has been producing excellent work this year, and Simon Bowland’s letters finished off the comic perfectly. The series finished too soon for my liking but while it was around, I loved every moment of it.
I’m not sure if it was just me and the comics I was drawn to this year, but I’ve read a lot of philosophical themed comics of late. Coffin Bound questioned the very nature of existence and what it means to be a part of the World. Partial horror, partial existential crisis, Dan Watter’s Coffin Bound blew my mind. The art work by Dani suited the nature of the tale and Aditya Bidikar’s letter was especially impressive. Not often an easy read, the final issue dropped on a rough week for me which gave me a slightly different insight into the series than I had up to that point, but it was intensively thought provoking and addictive throughout.
East of West
This series has been running since 2013 and still impresses me with each issue. Hickman and Dragotta’s series should come to an end before the year is out which is bitter sweet. I love the series and can't wait to see what Hickman has planned for that final issue but a part of me just wants it to keep going. A re-read of the entire series is in order in December and I feel I may write more about it very soon.
The first of a three arc series, Faithless from BOOM! Studios introduced me to the exceptional Maria Llovet. Her artwork is lryical, graceful, erotic and beautiful. The panels dance across the page with delicate yet self assured images filling the white space. Llovet’s work is dream like in presentation and fits the story that Brian Azzarello created perfectly. It’s a match made in heaven..or hell!
Another Aftershock title, this time a crime story set in the 1970’s. Ollie Masters is no stranger to gritty crime stories and Killer Groove is a prime example of his writing talent. The story is full of twists and turns with more than one truly shocking moment. Eoin Marron has a lyrical art style which captures the nostalgic element of the story but his layouts and compositions often hint at the darker underbelly of the story. Killer Groove looks like a 1970’s crime movie and is another title that finished too soon. However, there is a possibility for more in the future...
Machine Gun Wizards
Formally Tommy Gun Wizards, I left this comic until last for a reason. Out of everything I have read this year, one creative’s name has impressed me more than most. From his stylistic Superhero covers, to his bombastic, out of this world interiors in Invisible Kingdom, and on through his writing in Machine Gun Wizards, Christian Ward has never failed to impress.
Machine Gun Wizards does feature some of Ward’s artwork but most of it is provided by Sami Kivela and Dee Cunniffe with Hassan Otsmane- Elhaou on lettering duties. The story is a historic, fantasy, science-fiction epic about gangsters, illegal magic and the very famous Eliott Ness. The world Ward has created is too big for this mini-series as it extends across history and far flung universities. The cast is spectacular, with some wonderfully expressive names, and there are a number of clear character arcs. There are moments of sheer breathtaking beauty mixed with urban crime scenes, and wonders I can’t describe. In short, I couldn’t say enough good things about this comic.
This year has been a mammoth year for good comics. Each month a number of publishers have put out outstanding titles, making it difficult to produce a best of list. There are so many good titles missed off this list, such as Vault Comic’s Test or Image Comics’ Pretty Deadly, but to name all of the worthwhile reads would become a phone directory sized document; it would be easier to reprint each month’s Previews magazine.
2019 has been a stellar year for good quality comics and leads us on a high into the next decade. Here’s hoping that the comic industry is able to do the creative talent justice and that ‘comics’ continue to go from strength to strength.
Hang on a minute..only 9! That's an odd number. Well, it's hard work thinking about my favourite comics, so what you have as a tenth choice?
Life long comic book reader, collector, and reviewer.