This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on December 31, 2015.
Earlier this week, we published the first half ofBest Comics of 2015 list. It features a stunning diversity of styles and talent, along with the criteria for selection, that you should definitely check out before moving on to the list below. What follows are the final selections, the top ten picks for comics published in 2015. If you thought the first half knocked your socks off, then you better sit down for these.
Although the list is ranked, the rankings are based on which works I found to be the most powerful and moving. None of the comics selected here are quantitatively better than any other. They are all a testament to the power of the medium and equally worthy of your consideration.
Now for the second half of the list: the top ten comics of 2015!
Created by Various Artists
Anthology series have a difficult time in the North American market, which makes having an elite collection like Island not just an absolute delight, but a surprise as well. Taking a page from similar European publications, Island curates a diverse array of top comics artists from across the Western hemisphere encouraging them to tell whatever types of stories they want. Works by Emma Rios, Brandon Graham, and even an essay by Kelly Sue DeConnick all show the breadth and depth of comics and anthology publications. For a clear look at what the medium is capable of, you need look no further thanIsland.
9. Russian Olive to Red King
Written by Kathryn Immonen
Art by Stuart Immonen
Kathryn and Stuart Immonen are two of the most talented creators working in mainstream comics and Russian Olive to Red King, an original graphic novel from the pair, proves why. Unlike their work at Marvel, its scope is much smaller focusing on a man, a woman, and their dog. The manner in which they craft this domestic portrait and the tragedy of one week feels every bit as big as Star Wars though. Together the Immonen’s embed you in a romance that feels absolutely real and will bring you to understand the complex outlooks of both partners in this heartbreaking story.
8. The Humans
Written by Keenan Marshall Keller
Art by Tom Neely
Raw. Visceral. Intense. The Humans puts the most basic elements of humanity on display in this unvarnished vision of biker apes in 1970s Southern California. Violence, drugs, and sex dominate the scene as a wide cast of characters grapple with their own mortality and morality. Every page of Tom Neely’s art, from the humorous to the bloody, packs a wallop with dazzling layouts and inks that splatter like blood. The result is a trip through hell and back that is both an unmitigated load of fun and a deeply passionate screed about being human.
7. One-Punch Man
Created by ONE and Yusuke Marata
Despite being the birthplace of the genre, the best superhero comic being published today isn’t made in America. It’s from Japan and it’s called One-Punch Man. ONE’s creation takes all of the best genre elements (e.g. brutal monsters, epic destruction, ever-mounting odds) and distills them into a truly pure concept filled with both action and comedy. The true charm of the series doesn’t come from the fights, each of which ends that a singular punch, but an understanding of what makes superheroes so appealing. It taps into core themes of bravery, resilience, and friendship that will move you more than any Big Two comic this year.
6. March: Book Two
Written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin
Art by Nate Powell
History truly comes to life in the pages of March. Telling the story of Congressman John Lewis experience in the Civil Rights Movement, this comic utilizes the medium to realize the most visually impactful moments of his youth. Nate Powell realizes the fear and violence experienced by protesters, like the Freedom Riders whose buses were overturned and set afire. Yet March: Book Two also captures some incredible high points, including the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedoms, reminding readers of a dream and how we must still endeavor every day to make it a reality.
5. Mind MGMT
Created by Matt Kindt
The conclusion of Matt Kindt’s Mind MGMT lived up to the standard set by the rest of the series. Every page of each issue acts as both a formal and emotional experiment in comics storytelling, and Kindt delivers on both fronts. Even as the series drew to a close, Kindt continued to try new things: introducing new characters, playing with new layouts, and even providing a new #1. From beginning to end Mind MGMT is an achievement in modern comics and sets a very high bar for whomever decides to challenge what can be done with the comics page next.
4. Killing and Dying
Created by Adrian Tomine
Adrian Tomine is an absolute master of his craft, distilling complex ideas and scenes into clear lines and perfectly executed pages. The beauty of his art is found in its simplicity and clarity, and nowhere have those concepts been easier to find than in Killing and Dying. Each of the stories contained in this volume provide a window to view unique characters and broader social issues, with just enough time spent to leave readers with plenty to ponder. Killing and Dying proves just how many words a picture can be worth, and ought to keep provoking new thoughts upon each re-read.
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
Saga is the absolute pinnacle of mainstream comics today. It perfectly fuses mass entertainment, thoughtful storytelling, and craftsmanship into a package with undeniable appeal and merit. Every page of Fiona Staples art delivers exactly what it depends from deaths that will leave your jaw agape in a silent scream to sight gags that will leave you with a smile as never-ending as a gobstopper. Brian K. Vaughan continues to examine life and family in a world continually changed by war and the unknown in one of the most thoughtful examination of post-9/11 America. Saga is a comic with endless depths and joys to be discovered as it continues (almost) every month.
Created by Various Artists
The quarterly publication Frontier does two things exceedingly well: 1. select the best comics artists of today and 2. let them do what they want. The result of this strategy is a collection of pamphlets that are absolutely revelatory. Seeing immense talents like Jillian Tamaki, Michael DeForge, and Emily Carroll run away with pages is stunning. The diversity of both stories and styles is every bit as great as the individual artists. If you are trying to keep up with the cutting edge of comics, there is no better place to do so than within the pages of Frontier.
Created by Michel Fiffe
COPRA is a singular vision distilled perfectly onto the page utilizing the craft and form of comics to its utmost. It pushes the boundaries of how you tell a story with images, while telling an emotionally provoking and viscerally impactful story exceedingly well. It is an action-revenge comic predicated on superpowers. It is also the best comic of 2015.
Everything about Michel Fiffe’s COPRA is both a testament to and celebration of the medium. Originally inspired by some of Fiffe’s favorite comics, it has grown and transformed into something entirely his own. Characters live and breathe on the page and all of their actions, from bloody chases to psychedelic trips through alternate dimensions, land with real weight. Whether you’re looking for a kickass read or something that will alter how you think about comics, it doesn’t get better any better than COPRA.
That’s it forbest comics of 2015: twenty of the absolute best works from a wide field of beautifully crafted, emotionally resonant, and impactful comics. It’s a powerful collection of art and representative of a truly great year for comics.
So what were your favorite comics of 2015?
A Brief Note on Accreditation: Many of the comics on this list are a collaborative effort featuring the work of writers, pencillers, inkers, colorists, letterers, designers, and many others. Rather than feature a comprehensive list of all creators involved in the creation of each comic, I have opted to include only the names of artists, writers, and colorists. Furthermore, only the names of primary creators (those most consistently credited to the work) are included. In the instance that a work was an anthology composed of the work of many creators the phrase “Various Artists” has been used instead. This is not meant to demean the work of the others involved. It is a decision made due to concern for space.