Sorry I’ve been gone for so long! Holidays happened and then other things happened, and I got bogged down! But I’m back now and I have SO MUCH to talk about. But for now, let me start by giving you my list of the five best comics I read 2015. I am using the term “comics” here pretty loosely. Some of these are comic events, some are graphic novels, some are just a title in its entirety, and also these are the comics I READ in 2015, but they didn’t necessarily all come out in 2015. Anyway, onto the list!
So you guys know how much I like this comic, so the other four must be PRETTY good to stick this one at #5. Spider-Gwen is a marvelous book (see what I did there?). Its art is unique and stylized, its characters are interesting both in their own rights and as a different take on characters we are already familiar with, and, perhaps most importantly, the book takes a character that only ever existed to be Peter Parker’s girlfriend, who then died, and gave her the richly developed story she deserves. What is really fascinating about this comic is that it is a testament to the power of internet fandoms. Marvel had no intention of expanding Gwen’s character into her own full run comic, but fans loved her so much that they did anyway! Now she is popping up everywhere, so kudos to Marvel for listening to the fans and to the fans for not giving up until we got more Gwen Stacy!
#4 Sex Criminals
Matt Fraction’s Sex Criminals has one of the most ridiculous premises I have ever encountered in a comic book. I wish I was in the pitch meeting when he came up with it, because I want to know what he said to sell a comic about people who stop time when they have orgasms. I’m glad he did, though, because what we got was an incredibly funny and human look at sex and relationships alongside a crazy fun sci-fi plot. The first volume of this comic follows both a man and woman with this power through their respective discoveries during adolescence and how they dealt with it individually before eventually allowing them to find each other. In the process, the comic also opens up a dialogue with its readers about the uncomfortableness of discussing sex as an adolescent, and how that is different for men and women. I am excited to read more of this comic as it comes out, and I would recommend it to anyone who is not turned off by explicit discussions of sex.
#3 Young Avengers
This comic came out in 2005, but I didn’t read it until this year, and man did I wish I read it earlier. I love a good ensemble comic, and this is a GREAT one. It’s funny, it has smart writing and good reveals, it ties into the existing Marvel universe in interesting ways without being reliant on it. Every character on that team is interesting to me and are rounder and fuller characters than most of the established “main stream” heroes. But what really solidifies its place on the list is the way it treats Hulkling and Wiccan, its two gay male characters. It’s obvious that they are in a relationship, but the comic doesn’t feel the need to make that their central source of angst or struggle. They struggle with other things, and they lean on each other when they need to, as people in a relationship would. The one time that their sexuality IS a source of tension of them (when they are coming out), it is immediately dismissed by overwhelming acceptance. This is not the world we live in, necessarily, but the degree of normalcy with which their relationship is treated is refreshing, and the fact that it exists in a comic that is already amazing really puts this comic over the edge.
So much has already been said about Brian K Vaughan’s sci-fi epic Saga, I can’t really say much to add to the conversation here. Certainly not in one paragraph, but this is Vaughan at his best. The best I have seen him, in fact, since Y The Last Man. The universe of Saga is so interesting that I constantly find myself wanting MORE information about it than I am getting. Combine that with a story that has a lot of heart about a family struggling to save themselves and their child (narrated by said child) and you have one of the best sci-fi comics I’ve read… maybe ever. And it only gets better every issue. Check this one out.
Okay, I really struggled with this. All of the comics on this list were #1 at some point or another when I was making it, but I am a Spider-Man fan at heart, and this event was like the collective fanboy dreams of my 10-year old self combined with my present-day self’s love of interesting narrative styles. When I heard the concept of Spider-Verse, I remember thinking “There is no way this is going to go well.” We were talking about so many characters, both existing and new being thrown into this plot, and it had all the warning signs of “gimmicky money-grabbing comic event.” But somehow, that wasn’t what it was. What it turned out to be was a wonderful at times sad, at times touching, often funny and always exciting story that tugged on every fanboy and nostalgia fiber I had. I can’t remember the last time a major comic event was actually worth the hype put into it, but this one was it. So it nabs the #1 slot. As a bonus, it has been more than six months now, it should be on Marvel Unlimited. If you have a subscription, check it out! You won’t be disappointed.