The year that would never end is finally coming to an end. Despite how awful 2020 has been there have been some great comics. With that, I continue my yearly tradition of counting down the Top 100 comics of the year. Feel free to check out the previous year’s list as well
With this list, I attempt to be as objective as possible but ultimately there is no denying this list is bias as it is based on my opinion. Feel free to disagree. I should note that although I read a lot of books I do not read everything. This year especially was a challenge to get a number of books I was hoping to read before doing this list.
To qualify for this list an ongoing series just needs to have one issue released in 2020 or for original graphic novels they must be released this year in the US as well.
My hope with this list is to encapsulate the year that was in comics and hope those that read it may find a book or two to catch up with they would have otherwise missed. I know many if not all with disagree with this list in some way. Sometimes is too high, too low, missing, or should never have been on here. All I can say is I am trying to be as honest as possible and represent the medium I love in the best way possible.
So feel free to comment below if something you believe deserved to be on the list did not make it.
100. A User’s Guide to Neglectful Parenting
Writer/Artist: Guy Delisle
Translator: Helge Dascher
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: Award-winning graphic memoirist Guy Delisle (Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City) returns with a light-handed celebration of the relationship between child and parent. Whether he’s playing practical jokes on his son or trying to trick his daughter into eating sugary cereal, Delisle’s comic timing and wry wit are delightfully showcased in these vignettes.
Why it Made the List: As a parent this landed especially hard although that is not a must for the humor to click with you. As someone who has had to endure parent bloggers and ‘influencers’ who tend to display the most idyllic of lifestyles this was a reprieve
There is a level of honesty that is key for the jokes to land. These situations aren’t outlandish, because you would flirt with excusing abuse, instead, they represent what can happen when all the responsibility of being a parent clashes with the fault of being human.
99. King Tank Girl
Writer: Alan Martin
Artist: Brett Parson
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks
Description: Tank Girl co-creator, Alan Martin, returns with brilliant artist Brett Parson to bring the all-new adventures of the classic character to Albatross Funnybooks! Turning the clock back to the early years, ‘King Tank Girl offers up a veritable banquet of brand new stories: Tank Girl and the gang head to the beach for ‘Barney Don’t Surf’; they explore the expensive world of Wellbeing, and Tank Girl is crowned King of England. And all that before tea time!
Why it Made the List: Prior to reading this new volume of Tank Girl my only experience with this property was catching bints and pieces of the less-than-stellar film on Comedy Central in the ’90s. Similar to when Albatross relaunched The Goon this does not undo everything that came before but allows for a welcoming start place for new readers. As a new reader, I enjoyed the humor and the off the wall energy this has. When one of your opening bits includes blasting the Sword in the Stone with a tank I am on board. Plus there is time travel. Tanks and time travel, why hasn’t this happened more?
Writer: Brian Wickman
Artist: Kevin Castaniero
Publisher: Scout Comics
Description: When a routine troll hunting gig takes a gruesome turn, Old Man Barrow finds himself in the company of a wannabe doomsday cult. Just how’s he going to get out of this backwoods nightmare? Well, that axe ain’t just for show. Grit is Southern-fried sword and sorcery and pulp fantasy adventure in the mold of The Witcher by way of Southern Bastards.
Why it Made the List: Scout Comics is really growing as a publisher and with that growth are some quality comics. The best of the year for me was Grit. A bloody brawl of a book that will massively appeal to anyone who loves grindhouse or action that makes you feel like you need to wear a poncho to protect yourself from splashes of blood and guts. Now not to make this seem like it is some sort of torture porn or lacking in anything outside of violence. There is a story here and the action is stylized and by no means feels realistic. This is the type of comic Quentin Tarantino would make if he made comics.
97. Octobriana 1976
Writer/Artist: Jim Rugg
Description: In 1971, the west learned about Octobriana, the outlaw Russian superhero comic. To show solidarity, underground American cartoonists made their own Octobriana comic book. Robot Stalin’s got a new doomsday bomb! Can the Devil-Woman stop him before he destroys us all? Siberian labor camps, PPP secret orgies, motorcycle gunship train chases – this one has it all! Samizdat gone wild, a cross between 70s psychedelia and Soviet constructivism!?! You’ve never seen a comic book that looks like this!
Why it Made the List: What I love about comics is the amount of different ways that exist to push the medium forward. Everything from what type of format you are using for storytelling or in Jim Rugg’s case the colors you use within your book.
As a major fan of Rugg and Ed Piskor’s YouTube channel Cartoonist Kayfabe it was a treat to see the process of this getting made. Rugg did something that has never been done within the history of comics. For an art form that is over a century old that is something to take notice of and recognize. He used specialized inks that would glow under a blacklight to create mind-bending images. As someone who owns a physical copy of this book, it is a sight to behold.
I saw some take issue with the fact that this comic does not have a robust story. For me, that was never the point. It is meant to come off as this punk rock comic that secretly exists within this underground world. So instead you have a ton of kickass action that is exciting and dynamic.
96. American Ronin
Writer: Peter Milligan
Publisher: AWA Upshot
Description: War is over, democracy an illusion, real power now lies not with nation states but huge corporations engaged in a silent war for global domination. Their number one weapon: highly-skilled, technologically-enhanced operatives trained since childhood to pledge their allegiance to the corporate flag. But what happens when one such operative breaks free of his mental chains and decides to bring the whole system down? Can one “Ronin” make a difference?
Why it Made the List: You have to feel bad for AWA. Launching a new comic book publishing company is hard enough but do it while there is a global pandemic is another level of difficulty we have never seen. Luckily for them, they have had some solid books many of which people have enjoyed much more than me. So despite series like Hotell or Year Zero not appearing here you may want to give them a shot
The one series that has really worked for me is American Ronin. An assassin using empathy as his greatest power is quite the tale. It also has the best art out of any AWA book. I love the way ACO incorporates sound effects into his art. At times removing entire backgrounds to focus on the main action.
95. The Dreaming: Waking Hours
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nick Robles
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: A new chapter in the Sandman saga begins with an all-new miniseries populated by faces both familiar and new!
One of Dream’s heaviest responsibilities is the creation of nightmares—the beings that haunt our sleep and turn our thoughts toward darkness. In the form of Ruin, the nightmare of catastrophic failure, Dream was certain he’d built his next masterpiece…but Ruin can’t help but live up to his name, sending every situation into a spiral of unexpected consequences. Unfortunately, Shakespearean scholar (and exhausted new mother) Lindy has dreamed of Ruin…and in the process, she’s delivered him unto the waking world!
Why it Made the List: You have to love a book where examining the greatest plays in human history inside of a magical world is only a small part of what this series is trying to accomplish. Lindy is proving to be one of my favorite characters of this year. Watching her come to terms with her own life through her passion has been a cathartic experience. Sure it may be turning her evil. Honestly, I can understand her plight. I will fully admit to being a philistine and not being as well versed in Shakespeare as I should. Even still the admiration this team clearly has for that work and its history makes me want to rectify that as soon as possible.
94. Usagi Yojimbo
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai
Description: This first volume of all-new material continues the saga of Usagi Yojimbo with the three-part “Bunraku,” as Usagi becomes embroiled in a puppet drama where the players are not quite what they seem! Will the aid of a supernatural ally be enough for Usagi to prevent more death? Then, Usagi goes back to his roots as a yojimbo (bodyguard) when he is hired by Lady Mura, a famous writer, to keep her safe on her perilous journey to her father’s home.
Plus, a 35th anniversary special where Stan Sakai revisits the very first Usagi story, “The Goblin of Adachigahara”, expanding it from 8 to 24 pages and adding new insights into the characters and events, as well as revealing the reason for Usagi’s pilgrimage back home. In the final story, Usagi joins his friend the bounty hunter, Gen, and his partner Stray Dog in recovering a stolen sword, an heirloom of the Higashi Clan. Collects the first seven issues of the new Usagi Yojimbo series published by IDW.
Why it Made the List: It is easy to forget just how good Usagi Yojimbo is and has been for thirty-five years. Everything about it reflects the presence of the creator Stan Sakai. Understated and never overtly trying to capture your attention. There is silent confidence that continues to execute with each and every issue. All comic creators should study Usagi Yojimbo to understand how you can have a longstanding comic that can appease fans as well as newcomers. You can pick up nearly any issue of this series and it gives you everything you need. It is a modern day fable.
93. Eight-Lane Runaways
Writer/Artist: Henry McCausland
Description: One runner relies on her poncho to give her direction. Another deals with a suddenly missing appendage. There are also algebra dogs, a juice institute, and a helpful network that consists of miles of string that proves that, no matter how far apart, the friends you can rely on are the ones you met while traversing life’s twisty-turny trails. Cartoonist Henry McCausland’s flowing page layouts showcase his elaborate landscapes and thrilling kinetic energy, matching them with a laugh-out-loud, idiosyncratic sense of humor.
Why it Made the List: This is one eclectic adventure that seems to be in a competition to be as odd as possible with itself and we all end up winning. When a man taking a kite to the moon is your baseline you have an idea. To be fair some might find it a bit purposeless with how random it becomes.
By no means is this trying to conduct a straightforward narrative. I would recommend reading this in physical form if possible to get the full effect. Each page is spacious and those spaces get filled in with stranger and stranger things. You can get lost easily.
It was oddly like those old Where’s Waldo books where pages became their own living world and you could get as much out of exploring as you do following the main thread.
92. Fire Power
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Owen Johnson’s journey to China to learn about his birth parents eventually leads him to a mysterious Shaolin Temple. The students there study to rediscover the Fire Power, the lost art of throwing fireballs. A power they claim will be needed soon to save the world. Will Owen Johnson be the first person in a thousand years to wield the FIRE POWER?
Why it Made the List: It would be easy for Robert Kirkman to rest on his success with The Walking Dead but he continues to try to do new things to push the comics medium forward. From launching a surprise comic to starting Fire Power with a trade paperback before launching the monthly series. He also brings a great art team with him. Chris Samnee is one of today’s best artists when it comes to constructing action so placing him on a martial arts book makes so much sense. You especially see what makes him great in the issue where there is a silent bedroom fight. Pure Jackie Chan like fun. This is the first time I have ever read a book by Kirman monthly, and although it started a bit slow it has gotten better with each and every issue. Matt Wilson’s colors add a great deal. Much of what separates this book from other books with similar concepts is how great it looks.
91. All Together Now
Writer/Artist: Hope Larson
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Description: Middle-schooler Bina is having the best time playing in her new band with her friends, Darcy and Enzo. But both the band and her friendships begin to crumble when Darcy and Enzo start dating, effectively relegating Bina to third-wheel status.
To make matters worse, Bina’s best friend, Austin, starts developing a crush on her . . . one she is not sure she reciprocates. Now Bina must follow her heart. Can she navigate its twists and turns before the lights come up and the music starts playing?
Why it Made the List: When discussing today’s best YA comic creators or best comic creators in general Hope Larson should be on that list. From her Four Points books to her adaption of The Winkle in Time to now her Eagle Rocks books. This marks the second installment of this series but even if you have not read the first you should be fine picking this up. When you add a band dynamic and middle school you are bound to get a lot of drama. What really set this apart though was the message. Rarely have I seen a book dedicated to telling kids why patience is important and understanding the value of saying no to what may seem like a great opportunity. It is a different type of peer pressure and in fact a much more realistic one. Where much of the pressure is internal rather than external. How the expectations we put on ourselves can at times be our undoing.
90. A Man and His Cat
Writer/Artist: Umi Sakurai
Publisher: Square Enix Manga
Description: Fukumaru, a large and homely exotic cat at an animal shelter, is regularly passed over for adoption in favor of kittens that are younger, smaller, and cuter than he is. He is unexpectedly adopted by Kanda, an older man who is recently widowed and who has a distant relationship with his adult children. The episodic, slice of life series follows Kanda and Fukumaru as they live and seek mutual companionship together.
Why it Made the List: This gives you exactly what it promises. A man and his cat adventures. It is as quant and endearing as anything I read this year. Plus cat puns. Who does not love a good cat pun. They are puuurfect. (I am sorry) I kept waiting for a darker underlying element to show itself but it is only hinted at in this volume. Clearly, the aspect of loss is propelling this relationship to occur but here the main point is to establish this main connection between cat and man. Witnessing their affection is a delight and life-affirming read for a year that desperately needs it.
89. The Cloven: Book One
Writer: Garth Stein
Artist: Matthew Southworth
Description: The Cloven Book One stars James Tucker, the most successful Genetically Modified Human Organism ever created. Conceived in a privately financed, top-secret laboratory on Washington state’s Vashon Island, Tucker is a cross between a human and a goat — a Cloven. Known to his friends as “Tuck,” all he wants is to live a normal life as a university student; everything is going fine, until he shows a girl his hooves… Moody and mysterious and atmospheric as a fever dream, The Cloven Book One follows Tuck’s breakneck journey across the Pacific Northwest as he searches for his true home out there somewhere. Book One of a raucous, funny, fast-moving, and dynamic series of graphic novels by two bestselling and critically acclaimed storytellers.
Why it Made the List: Part of me would like to call the general narrative a bit standard although I am unsure if I have ever seen a story about genetically enhanced human hybrid clones also touch upon our current homeless crisis. So perhaps the standard moniker would be unfair?
What really sold this story for me though was the art of Garth Stein. It has a bit of a fever pitch like execution but unlike similar styles it does not lose any coherency when pages become more abstract. Lively colors throughout work with setting a changing mood that becomes more and more chaotic. I am glad this is only the first volume because there is much more left to explore.
88. Noisemakers: 25 Women Who Raised Their Voices & Changed the World
Writer/Artists: Erin Bried (Editor), Emil Ferris (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Lucy Knisley (Goodreads Author) (Contributor), Emily Flake (Contributor), and many others
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books
Description: Did anyone ever get anywhere by being quiet? To change anything, you have to make some noise! From the creators of the award-winning Kazoo magazine comes a look at the lives of 25 extraordinary women through the eyes of 25 extraordinary comic artists. In chapters titled Grow, Tinker, Play, Create, Rally, and Explore, you’ll meet Eugenie Clark, who swam with sharks, Raye Montague, who revolutionized the design process for ships, Hedy Lamarr, a beautiful actress and brilliant inventor, Julia Child, a chef who wasn’t afraid to make mistakes, Kate Warne, the first female detective, who saved the life of President-Elect Abraham Lincoln, and many more.
In 25 distinct styles from some of the most exciting comic artists, Noisemakers is for everyone who is not afraid to use their voice and for those who could use a little boost
Why it Made the List: Sometimes you can look at a comic like a math problem. If you take quality female comic creators and add stories about important figures in history you get a good comic. Two plus two does equal four after all. Not that it does not take work. I have read a number of anthologies that succumb to their own weight. Here the sheer mixture of art talent is a treat. Considering the number of stories, having a variety helps a great deal keeping each entry its own. Also, there is a mixture of stories based on people most would know and some that do not have their lives nearly as examined as someone like Rosa Parks. From science to art to leaders for civil rights all types of important women are highlighted.
87. Coffin Bound
Writer: Dan Watters
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Taqa wants nothing in the world other than God – the holy oblivion found in a syringe. But with the city planning to ban the sacred narcotic, it falls to her to prove the existence of the divine by courting death-and the array of deadly assassins who she’s set on her own tail. Worship with us on an existential road trip through the tangle of a self-destructive life.
Why it Made the List: Coffin Bound was a book it took me some time to catch up with because I unfairly dismissed it. The idea of God being a literal drug seemed like the type of heavy handed messaging that can derail even the best intentions. In reality that premise is more like a fake jab to catch you off guard as it uppercuts you with a groundswell of creativity. Issue number seven alone was one of the more inventive pieces of comic work I read this year. Where Dan Watters and artist Dani played fast and loose with the rules of comic book storytelling. They told multiple perspectives of the same story, at the same time, on the same page. Yet never was it hard to understand or follow. So if you are like me and were hesitant to catch up with this I would implore you to right that wrong.
86. We Served the People: My Mother’s Stories
Writer/Artist: Emei Burell
Description: In China, an entire generation’s most formative years took place in remote rural areas when city-kids were sent to the countryside to become rusticated youth and partake in Mao’s mandated Great Leap Forward.
Debut cartoonist Emei Burell breathes new life into the stories her mother shared with her of growing up during mid-1960s Communist China. In an inspiring tale, her mother recounts how she ended up as one of the few truck-driving women during the Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside movement, which sought to increase agricultural outreach and spur social and ideological change amongst youth.
Why it Made the List: Creator Emei Burell recounts the stories her mother told her about living under the rule of Communist China in way that makes you feel like you are there. What perhaps is most surprising was mundane life was for her. By no means is this a celebration of that life but often stories are about the extreme. Here it is demonstrated just how boring life can be when the option of choice is forced out. How the control of information can confine your world to a very small part of what surrounds you. And how defiance can come in big and small moments.
85. Black Widow
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: Eisner–nominated writer Kelly Thompson (CAPTAIN MARVEL, STAR) and rising star artist Elena Casagrande (Catwoman) launch a new BLACK WIDOW series that changes everything! Natasha Romanoff has been a spy almost as long as she’s been alive. And she’s never stopped running, whether she was working for the good guys…or the bad. But Natasha’s world is about to be upended. Beyond San Francisco’s Golden Gate lies a mystery that only the Marvel Universe’s greatest spy can solve.
Why it Made the List: Covid may have stopped us from getting the Black Widow movie but comics are here to the rescue once again. Even without seeing the movie, I am certain thefilm had little to do in impacting how this story unfolds. The story here is a bit small for a major blockbuster. It is like placing Black Widow into the middle of her very own Twilight Zone episode. This book does seem a bit underappreciated which is a shame because Elena Casagrande’s work is a revelation. Perhaps if the movie is released this will get a second life because her art here is strong enough to put her as one of Marvel’s top artists, and when you add Jordie Bellaire’s colors you get perhaps the best-looking book Marvel put on this year.
84. Spy Family
Writer/Artist: Tatsuya Endo
Description: The master spy codenamed has spent his days on undercover missions, all for the dream of a better world. But one day, he receives a particularly difficult new order from command. For his mission, he must form a temporary family and start a new life?! A Spy/Action/Comedy about a one-of-a-kind family!
Why it Made the List: This was a book that basically said, “Yea, we are just going for it!”. Spys, Assassins, a kid orphan with telepathic powers? Yep, to all of that. Either you go with it or you don’t because it is going full speed to get this concept established. A spy being forced to start a family is basically a sitcom concept and it doesn’t shy away from that. There is always a sense of humor that is clearly winking at the audience. It leads to a fun light read. I love when books are not afraid to be what they are even if it will turn some people away.
83. The Labyrinth: An Existential Odyssey with Jean-Paul Sartre
Writer/Artist: Ben Argon
Publisher: Abrams ComicArts
Description: As graduates embark on the next phase of their lives, what better way to get them accustomed to the rat race they are about to enter than by introducing them to the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre? Cleverly told through the story of a pair of rats trapped in the labyrinth of existence, this allegory humorously conveys the key ideas of Sartre’s existential philosophy in graphic-novel form—accessible for students and readers of all ages.
Why it Made the List: This is a type of comic I adore. One that on face value could seem a bit silly, using the allegory of a lab mouse to analyze existential questions of human existence, and prove to be thoughtful of and consistently clever. Prior I was not super familiar with the work of Jean-Paul Sartre so this proved to be a helpful to and understanding his work and they way he perceives the function of the mind and society. Despite dealing with lofty material never took itself too seriously which helped Strike a nice balance and leaving room for the occasional comedy made for a surprisingly entertaining read.
82. Shadow Service
Writer: Cavan Scott
Artist: Corin Howell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: Worried your partner is cheating? Need a missing person found? Gina Meyers is the Private Investigator for you. Sure, she’s a witch who worries that her powers make her more of a monster than the crooks she’s trying to catch, but it’s not like London’s criminal underworld is literally going to hell… is it? Spycraft meets black magic in the shadowy world of MI666.
Why it Made the List: Water is wet. Vault puts out good comics. Magic can be the third rail of storytelling. Having to establish rules so you can have any sort of stakes can lead to a story full of exposition that does nothing to push the story forward. When you have an entire novel or eight it is a bit easier. In the pages of a comic you have far less room. What I really appreciated about this is how it established its rules within the action of the story. For example, there is a moment where Gina is captured but comes up with ways to escape. It is a quick moment but shows the limitations and how to overcome those limitations. If those type of foundations are not there nothing else would really matter.
Writer: Aurelien Ducoudray
Artist: Jocelyn Joret
Description: It’s been three months since a terrible epidemic turned the population into zombies hungry for fresh meat. Only after devouring almost all of humanity, the undead themselves begin to wither and fall from famine… Somewhere in a suburban town, Ben, 10 years old and still traumatized by the death of his parents, forms with his friends the last bastion of humanity. And between hunting zombie survivors, expeditions to amass food, toys and comics, all filmed by the aptly named Spielberg, life flows rather peacefully in their world. Until something worse than a nuclear disaster or the 4 flashing red rings of death on an Xbox 360 hits their small community: two girls! Accustomed to chilling by the pool, eating chocolate bars and playing video games, how will the boys react to Polly’s bizarre new customs
Why it Made the List: Kidz works as a book because you could remove the entire zombie aspect and you still have a good comic. Similar to taking a Steven Spielberg from the 1980s where the kids feel like real kids. Not just because they play video games or have cool hip lingo. It goes beyond that. The traumatic events involved in a zombie apocalypse do take their toll. There are times when their veneer they are putting up is removed and you see there are kids still here. There is fun here with kids finding funny ways to kill zombies, but those small moments make it more.
80. Dead Day
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Evgeniy Bornyakov
Description: If the dead could come back for just one night, would we want them to?Meet the Haskins, a seemingly normal suburban family, as they prepare for the annual macabre holiday known as “Dead Day” – when the deceased rise from the grave from sunset to sunrise. Some come back to reunite with family and friends, others for one last night of debauchery, still others with only one thing on their decomposing mind: revenge.
Why it Made the List: A good concept does not equal a great comic, but it helps. To call this a zombie story is a bit unfair. It is more like the Day of the Dead realized in full form. The main story is solid but my favorite part may be the asides to further expand the concept. Like a previous dead rockstar showing up to play one more concert to his adoring fans. Overall the main story has some family drama that escalates when more and more secrets are revaled. When even death can’t hide the past you have plenty of possibalites.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Marcos Martin
Publisher: Panel Syndicate
Description: Friday Fitzhugh spent her childhood solving crimes and digging up occult secrets with her best friend Lancelot Jones, the smartest boy in the world. But that was the past, now she’s in college, starting a new life on her own. Except when Friday comes home for the holidays, she’s immediately pulled back into Lance’s orbit and finds that something very strange and dangerous is happening in their little New England town…
This is literally the Christmas vacation from Hell and neither of them may survive to see the New Year.
Why it Made the List: This is how you build character. How this depicts that awkward nature of two people who try to take a friendship and evolve it into a romance was uncomfortable and true to life. Doing a grownup version of an Encyclopedia Brown may come off like a gimmick, but this is doing something similar to what the Afterlife with Archie series did with its universe. One of the best pages I have seen all year came when Marcos Martin designed a breakdown of all their past adventures with one another. You had this table of books that demonstrated the bond between these two main characters. Martin thrives with the freedom the digital format gives you as an artist. Ed Brubaker and Marcos Martin are not two creators I would think could click as well as they are for this series. For them to put this up on Panel Syndicate and allow you to pay what you want is a move the comic world should be thankful for. If there had been more than two issues this would probably rank much higher.
78. Parable of the Sower
Writer: Damian Duffy (Adaptation), Octavia E. Butler,
Artist: John Jennings
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Description: In this graphic novel adaptation of Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower by Damian Duffy and John Jennings, the award-winning team behind Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, the author portrays a searing vision of America’s future. In the year 2024, the country is marred by unattended environmental and economic crises that lead to social chaos. Lauren Olamina, a preacher’s daughter living in Los Angeles, is protected from danger by the walls of her gated community. However, in a night of fire and death, what begins as a fight for survival soon leads to something much more: a startling vision of human destiny . . . and the birth of a new faith.
Why it Made the List: Well, this was an intense read. As someone unfamiliar with the source text I had little clue what this story entailed. With obvious heavy biblical influences this end of the world tale bends the mind and finds strength in the power of empathy. The visuals here are stunning and inventive. Page layouts vary to a degree I do not typically see in graphic novels. It is empowering seeing the creativity on display and that comics can push adaptions of original material in new directions.
77. Department of Truth
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Cole Turner has studied conspiracy theories all his life, but he isn’t prepared for what happens when he discovers that all of them are true, from the JFK assassination to flat Earth theory and reptilian shapeshifters. One organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?
Why it Made the List: Over the last few months there have been a number of new indie series that people have to seem to adore much more than me. Books like Seven Secrets and We Only Find Them When They’re Dead were big on concept but low on story and character. Department of Truth is one where I join the hype train. By the end of the first issue not only was I excited about the creative nature of this concept but also had a sense of who the main character was and what drives him. As we are now three issues in the concept is fully realized and getting crazier by the minute. Martin Simmonds has an art style that may not work for everyone but it is ideal for the tone of this series.
76. Basketful of Heads
Writer: Joe Hill
Publisher: DC Comic
Description: Joe Hill, the horror mastermind behind NOS4A2 and Locke & Key, arrives at DC with the twisted tale of June Branch—trapped with four cunning criminals who have snatched her boyfriend for deranged reasons of their own. Now she must fight for her life with the help of an impossible 8th-century Viking axe that can pass through a man’s neck in a single swipe—and leave the severed head still conscious and capable of supernatural speech.
Each disembodied head has a malevolent story of its own to tell, and it isn’t long before June finds herself in a desperate struggle to hack through their lies and manipulations…racing to save the man she loves before time runs out. But is June Branch a woman fighting for her life—or a deranged axe murderer with a basketful of paranoid fantasies?
Why it Made the List: This year brought us Hill House comics as DC attempted to bring back horror comics to the mainstream in a big way. Overall it lead to a number of quality books and the best among them was Basketful of Heads. Joe Hill avoids nearly every trap novel writers tend to fall into when writing comics Not that this is his first time wit the medium. Basketful of Heads was a different flavor of horror. Really horror was just a small piece of this book. It was part crime story with a nice slice of humor as well. Hill finds so much space within the horror genre to tell new and exciting stories.