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Top 100 Comics of 2018


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20. The Lie and How We Told It

Writer/Artist: Tommi Parrish

Publisher:  Fantagraphics

With The Lie and How We Told It Tommi Parrish uses a simplified narrative to navigate queer desires, masculinity, fear, and the ever-in-flux state of friendships. It is a story about old friends reconnecting on a random night, and how that reconnection makes them reflect on where they where they were and where they are now going. If you have ever felt lost or unsure of yourself there is a great deal to relate to with this story.


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19. The Divided Earth

Writer/Artist: Faith Erin Hicks

Color Artist: Jordie Bellaire

Publisher: First Second

The world of young adult comics is as healthy as it has ever been and Faith Hicks plays a large part in that fact. What makes Hicks such a strong YA writer is her willingness to approach some complex and difficult subjects without kid gloves. It is rare to see a colorist named on the front cover of a comic so prominently, but when that name is Jordie Bellaire you get why. She is one of the best colorists in the business and this shows why. The color palette is key to make the art pop as much as it does. This ends the Nameless City trilogy which has been a story about friendship, the cost of war, and those that are stuck in between forces they cannot control.


18. Abbott

Writer: Saladin Ahmed

Artist: Sami Kivela

Publisher: Boom! Studios

There was no book this year hat oozed more style than Abbott. From its overall design, use of color, character creation, and panel layout every piece goes into maintaining an aesthetic of the 1960’s. It gets to the point that I forget this book was made today and not over forty years ago. Although it feels of the time it does not feel dated because the character of Abbott is so strong. She is this he does not get overly down on herself and continues to do her job as a reporter despite those obstacles. There is a take charge aspect to her that makes it so easy to route for her. This series has been able to utilize the more supernatural elements without taking around from the more grounded issues.


17. Batman: Creature of the Night

Writer: Kurt Busiek 

Artist: John Paul Leon

Publisher: DC Comics

It is criminal how much this series has flown under the radar. It could be due to its wonky release schedule but considering the quality of its story, the talent behind it, and the fact it centers on Batman makes me shocked that as end of year lists are coming out this continues to be left off. The story is about Bruce Wainwright, a comic book-reading kid obsessed with the Caped Crusader, loses his parents in a violent crime…and in the real world, no superheroes exist to save the day. Similar to Kurt Busiek’s Superman: Secret Identity he finds new ways to approach comics most iconic character. John Paul Leon on art is force himself being able to blend a real world aesthetic with the gritty reality of Gotham. Hopefully when this is finally collected the attention it deserves will be given.


16. Hot Lunch Special

Writer: Eliot Rahal

Artist: Jorge Fornés

Publisher: Aftershock

I am hesitant to compare creators to one another as it can assume attentions that are not there, however reading Hot Lunch Special I cannot help but feel like I am reading a great comic book version of a Coen Brothers movie. How it deals with small-town crime in the Midwest, the way plan seems to fall apart in epic ways, and the ability to build compelling characters in a few short periods of time. It is a busy narrative that never feels overpacked. Jorge Fornés panel designs are also a treat as he finds creative ways to keep the pace of the story.  Eliot Rahal and Jorge Fornés have something special here. If this series ends with issue five hopefully this will just be the first of many projects they do together.


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15. Home After Dark

Writer/Artist: David Small

Publisher: Liveright

Home After Dark is a visual poem full of tragic longing as an adolescent boy lives with his distant father who gradually losing his battle with alcoholism. It is a trying tale of how we often simply cannot get out of own and reject those that care due to societal expectations. How the childhood need to be loved conflicts with the fear of not belonging. How it can cause us to lash out towards those we care about most of all due to how they are perceived.


14. Is This Guy For Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman

Writer/Artist: Box Brown

Publisher: First Second

Box Brown’s Is This Guy For Real?: The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman  is so good it made me angry. It made me angry because it made it clear how much the film Man on a Moon failed at capturing who Andy Kaufman really was. Brown has an innate ability to find the humanity in the people he writes about. He did it with Andre the Giant and here it does it with Andy Kaufman.He cuts through the folklore to get to the reality and in doing so makes their legend even stronger.


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13. All the Answers

By: Michael Kupperman

Publisher: Gallery 13

Joel Kupperman is not a household name today but at one time he was. He became one of the most famous children in America during World War II as one of the young geniuses on the series Quiz Kids. With All the Answers. In Michael Kupperman’s All the Answers, we see just how fickle nature of phenomenon celebrity culture.  This is part biography and part memoir as Michael Kupperman is Joel Kupperman’s son. With his father now suffering from Alzheimer’s this book is used as a tool to try to understand who his father was to connect with him in a way he never did before.Joel Kupperman’s story is fascinating in its own right, and when you add this additional emotional father and son layer you have one of the most captivating reads of the year.


12. My Brother’s Husband Vol. 2

By: Gengoroh Tagame

Publisher: Pantheon Books

My Brother’s Husband Vol. 2 is a book that will make you smile ear to ear as you read while tears gently roll down your checks. The characters in this story are so endearing you experience a sense of loss after the book ends. This is the second and final volume of this story where Yaichi gradually comes to understand that being gay is just another way of being human. It touches on those insecurities we go through we trying to understand something we do not understand, and how learning to accept others can lead us to rediscover those we thought we lost forever.


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11. Upgrade Soul

By: Ezra Claytan Daniels

Publisher: Lion Forge

Upgrade Soul is something else. A medical procedure designed to give a second chance at life goes wrong..or maybe it goes right. This has so much to say about identity and what defines us as people. How vanity can be an infection, and how good intentions are not always good enough Thought provoking and surprisingly emotional even though you never fully know how exactly you should feel.


10. Judas

Writer: Jeff Loveness

Artist: Jakub Rebelka

Publisher: Boom! Studios

I am still amazed this book exists. A comic that approaches the topic of religion in an earnest way without an ounce of cynicism. No this is not some sort of glorified Christian tract that is secretly trying to get you to join their team as long as you agree to their small joining fee of 10% of your yearly wages. Those who vehemently oppose religion along with the most devout can read this series and get something out of it. What it does is try to inject a tangible context into the relationship between Judas and Jesus. It even takes actual passages from the bible to help enhance the story. A book like this is so important for the medium of comics. Showing it can approach sensitive and complex topics in a way other mediums may not be able to accomplish.


9. Gideon Falls

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentio

Publisher: Image Comics

Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are a creative team that works together so well despite how different their approaches seem. Lemire is very much a minimalist. From his art style to his storytelling he tends to try to get the most out of the least. Using only a few lines to express deep emotion on both a drawing and writing standpoint. Sorrentino, on the other hand, puts so much on the page. At times uses images to construct other images in a way unlike anyone else. Based on their work together on Green Arrow, Old Man Logan, and now Gideon Falls it appears the old adage is true that opposites do attract. Great horror is built on one key element and that is the atmosphere. One where the intensity is maintained even when the scares are temporarily muted. In this series that atmosphere is gradually built. Setting the stage with these opposing storylines that a first seem to have zero connection. By the end that connection becomes clearer as we see there is much more going on than we first thought and plenty to be afraid of.


8. Kill or Be Killed

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Publisher: Image Comics

This was my number one series last year and although it dropped some due to lackluster ending it did not ruin everything that came before for me. For some, if an ending does not work everything that came before is lessened. That’s never been the case for me. The world of comic books is filled with good writers that constantly come up with inventive ways to tell compelling stories. There are few writers in general though that truly have a master like understanding of their craft. With his work on books like Criminal, Velvet, The Fade Out, and now Kill or Be Killed it is safe to say Ed Brubaker has an elite understanding of the noir genre. Reading a crime book from him is like listening to a musical savant, while we are focused on what is in front of us he is five steps ahead in his mind planning his next move. This makes we wonder if revisiting the series as a whole will make that end click more than it did in the first go around.


7. The Highest House

Writer: Mike Carey

Artist: Peter Gross

Publisher: IDW

It is somewhat difficult to fully quantify what makes this series so great as there is nothing else quite like it. From its oversized design to its unique setting there is a freshness to everything that was pieced together to make this book. For those who worry the medium of comics is getting stale this shows there are some creative minds out there looking to break the molds so many others fall into. For those who enjoy stories about the middle ages with a more realistic flair and include major pieces of everyday life, you have a new book to read. The art plays a major role with its wide views and fine details. Love how it will often design the page so there is one main image and then within that image add panels so no part of the page is without intricate art. Plus it is very much a reflection of how things so tightly intertwined in a narrative focused on a hierarchy culture.


6. Grass Kings

Writer: Matt Kindt

Artist: Tyler Jenkins

Publisher: Boom! Studios

As cliche as it may sound the biggest success of this book, was the building of the Grass Kingdom to the main characters of this story. It is a setting that has meant different things to its different citizens but ultimately been this beacon of freedom that has slowly been chipped away. As this series came to a close its slow burn began to rage. Even including action-packed invasion that up the stakes to a new level. Also in a year where a lot of major series ended in a disappointing fashion the last issue of this series not only met expectations it was easily one of the best single issues of the entire year. Not only did it solve the mystery much of the final arc was based but also added some insightful commentary to the obsessive culture of fandom.


5. The Immortal Hulk

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist: Joe Bennett

Publisher: Marvel Comics

As has been stated on several occasions by many different people, superhero comic book storytelling is all about the illusion of change. Anyone who has read comics for any period knows that no matter how drastic a change may be eventually things will return to their status quo. That fact makes this Immortal Hulk run a unique piece to this evolving puzzle. While this run has looked to redefine what Hulk has become most if its roots lay in the original foundation of the character’s origin. Making one wonder if this is a type of change that will stick around longer than most. Judgment and how it ties to both the act of self-reflection and responsibility has carried through issue to issue. Hulk has been Ghost Rider esc acting upon his nature to locate those who are presenting a danger to others. His words and actions have had a more vengeful connotation to them as he seemingly has taken more enjoyment of righting some of these horrific wrongs.


4. Sabrina

By: Nick Drnaso

Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly

Sabrina’s mundane approach sneaks up on you as it is a timely tale about the isolationism that has driven of present culture to become tribalistic skeptics who are unable to process tragic events and confuse disillusionment with intellectual prowess. Even the title itself is used to strengthen Nick Drnaso’s point as the titular character is absent from the majority of the book, and it is her lack of presence that is driving each event forward. It is a type of read that will make you want to hug the first person you see after finishing simply to feel the presence of another individual.


3. Black Hammer: The Age of Doom

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist:  Dean Ormston, Rich Tommaso

Publisher: Dark Horse

This year major things changed for Black Hammer as the mystery that was building since issue one was finally answered. It is one thing to build mystery, answering it is an entirely different beast. So far those answers have been as satisfying as one could hope as the meta-context of this series has grown even further.  What I have found fascinating about this series that involves magic powers, cosmic level beings, and alien robots is how the dramatic tension tends to get boiled down to small moments like simply trying to have a dinner together.


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2. Hey, Kiddo

By: Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Publisher: Graphix

Well…this one got me. A memoir that tells a story that is far too common about growing up in a family suffering from addiction. Demonstrates the impacts of parentage, how parentage can take different forms, and how those around us make us who we are for good and bad. No book this year had a deeper emotional impact on me than this. At first, I was not sure why exactly it hit me as strongly as it did. As I look back at it now it has to do with the way Jarrett J. Krosoczka is able to find faults in people without the inherent reaction to pass judgment. He has every reason to as he tells his story about growing up without a father and a mother who was never there due to her addiction to heroin. Instead, he presents what happened and in doing so sees the failure to beat addiction is tragic enough.


1.Mister Miracle

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Mitch Gerads

Publisher: DC Comics

I have been doing these Best of the Year comic lists for some time now and this year was by far the hardest on in choosing my favorite comic. Looking at my overall top five there is reason each could be in this slot. Ultimately I went with the book that challenged me the most as a reader, and the one I see having the biggest impact on the industry moving forward. One that broke from convention and tried to say something that was both timeless and relevant for today. With all that I had to choose Mister Miracle as my comic of the year.

Although Mister Miracle has many people who adore it, myself included, I know it may have just as many detractors–or at least they are twice as loud. Those who claim its abstract storytelling style is a crutch to make up for a loosely tied together with a narrative that lacks basic sense and cohesion. As if this series is an ‘Emperor has no clothes’ situation where people are putting much more into it there is actually there.

While I can somewhat understand where a point of view can come from as different comics will work with different people, I feel that dismissive mindset is at best a tad short-sighted and at worst just plain lazy. Can I tell you everything this series is about and exactly what it is trying to say? No, but just because there are no exact answers does not mean there are no answers. I do feel each issue has a clear theme that is brilliantly plaid out. On a basic standpoint, you have the idea of taking the surreal and subjecting it to the mundane. How actual combat is juxtaposed with the everyday conversations of raising a child. I know many were disappointed with the ending I felt it fit the story perfectly. This has never been a series with overt intentions so to change that with the final issue would have done the series a disservice. Great stories do not always have to provide exact answers. Allegorical implications tend to die the moments a story starts to do just that. Great craft should be respected for how well it is constructed and you do not get much better constructed than Mister Miracle. Darkseid Is. 

 

00 – 81⌉ 80 – 61 ⌉ 60 – 41 ⌈ 40 – 21 ⌈ 20 – 1

 

 

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Dan Clark

A fan of all things comics, movies, books, and whatever else I can find that pass the time. Twitter: @DXO_Dan Instagram: Comic_concierge
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