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The entire Comic Book section of Entertainment Fuse has gotten together to showcase our favorite stories and characters within the comic book pages that we’ve grown to known and love from 2015. See our picks for the best series, mini-series, event, character, new character, couple and friendship below.
This is an uncensored, vulgar series with dirty humor. These are just some of the reasons why this series is so great. It is unapologetically open about everything. I really appreciate how it represents the LGBTQ+ community. Every member of the Rat Queens and several other supportive characters are all memorable and enjoyable.
Birthright, written by Joshua Williamson and illustrated by Andrei Bressan, stands out in the fantasy adventure category mainly because there’s a surprising twist in nearly every issue. Add to that a handful of interesting characters with great motivation and a lot of beautiful layouts and cool character designs throughout? The series is more than capable of grabbing the reader and not letting them go.
When you reboot the character which your publisher is called, it’s a big risk. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples are the perfect creative team for the series. The story and characters are enjoyable. The artwork adds a new level of depth to the characterization of the characters too.
Stray Bullets is an ongoing in all but name at this point which is why it takes the spot for series of the year for it’s fantastic “Sunshine & Roses” story-arc. Set near the start of the series the story-arc has brought back fan favorites in a tale that explains some of the series’ biggest mysteries. It has been chockful of the series’ trademark drama and laughs as well. It’s the perfect arc to draw readers in after the hiatus and those who had become tired of the other long running character of Virgina Applejack from previous story-arcs. Lapham is making a magnum opus with Stray Bullets, and “Sunshine & Roses” shows that he hasn’t lost his touch.
A series I never expected to like so much in 2015 was Archie! Before the reboot from Mark Waid and Fiona Staples I would rarely read Archie comics, but now I can’t get enough. I love how Waid modernized the Riverdale crew!
2015 saw the conclusion of Mark Waid’s long run with Daredevil. He went out in style, too, as his concluding arc brought together many of the themes and characters that he had been exploring throughout his time on Daredevil, while also bringing in classic DD foes like Wilson Fisk. It’s unfortunate that Waid’s and artist Chris Samnee’s time on Daredevil had to end, but their run with the character can now be seen as a whole, and will rank with one of the best work a creative team did with a Marvel series so far in the 21st century.
Howard the Duck
Howard the Duck! Bit out of left field, but in an All New All Different Marvel where everyone’s cracking wise, HtD stands out as the truly funniest book they’re pointing out. While other comics may be more interesting or have actual meat, Howard the Duck has had me the most excited to read.
Providence is the clear choice for Mini-Series of the year because of how on point everything about it has been. Alan Moore has learned every lesson possible from the utter failure of Neonomicon both in terms of Lovecraftian structure and emotional beats. The characters are well rounded but never stray far away from archetypical. The story weaves through so much of Lovecraft’s short stories but never breaks the cardinal rules of any of them, making it seem cohesive and coherent in satisfying ways. Adding Burrows’ personal best art, and that is a recipe for success. If the second half of the series is as good then it might be on the track for 2016 as well.
The Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows
It was so great to see Mary Jane and Peter Parker back together, reminding us why they are comic books’ best couple (well in my opinion at least). I think this was Dan Slott at his best and it made Peter feel grounded, which is something I don’t think we will be seeing for a while in the 616 universe.
The Fade Out
I selected Ed Brubaker as Writer of the Year, and The Fade Out was a big reason why. This 12-issue mini-series has featured numerous great characters and a complex plot that rewards close reading. Perhaps the best thing about this series is the setting, though. The Fade Out follow a fictional movie studio during 1940s Hollywood, when it was the biggest entertainment movement. Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips show both the glamourous stars of the movie business as well as the lesser-seen people behind the scenes who made the movies happen. The Fade Out is a dark story, too, revealing that underneath the glitz of the Hollywood machine was a lot of immoral and criminal activities.
Godzilla in Hell
Godzilla in Hell. What a strange, interesting idea. The concept doesn’t have legs for a drawn-out series, but luckily it lasts as long as it should. It’s a quick read, each issue varied, with awesome, compelling visuals.
As the big Marvel event of 2015, this could have been better. The fact that the last couple of issues were delayed until 2016 also doesn’t help matters. But the concept of Dr. Doom being a god and married to Sue Storm is a fascinating concept that leads to me anticipating just how Sue will react when she finds out. Plus, many of the spin-offs, including Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows, which brings Peter Parker and Mary Jane back together with a daughter, were pretty good. I also want it to be canon that Deadpool was there for Secret Wars (the original one), which I can now pretend thanks to Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars.
There were a lot of events this year, but my favorite was the one I thought was over looked, Black Vortex. Now this is how you do an event! Have a fun crossover with characters that usually do not interact, like the X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. Then have a conclusion with actual consequences to the plot. In this event we see multiple characters keep their cosmic powers and Kitty and Peter get engaged.
I run hot and cold with Grant Morrison. There are some of his projects that I think are great and others I cannot stand. I was very underwhelmed by his last big DC Comics crossover, Final Crisis (2008), so I was not expected too much from Multiversity. However, Multiversity, which begun in 2014 and concluded in 2015, really won me over. It is partly a meta-exploration of the various corners of the DC multiverse while also being about the allure and power of comic books. Multiversity has a really complicated story (which I’m not sure I even entirely understand), but really the series excelled in its inventive use of tropes from DC’s past. Morrison’s Fawcett Comics-themed issue featuring Captain Marvel/Shazam and his Watchmen-inspired issue with the Charlton characters (which Alan Moore used the basis of his Watchmen characters) were standouts.
Thor (Jane Foster)
Jane Foster hasn’t had the mantle of Thor for all that long. But Thor said it himself, he was never able to make Mjolnir fly like Jane did. Not only does she have the power of the thunder god, she is also battling cancer. Her bravery in the face of death is amazing and she continues to speak for us Midgardians as our ambassador. I had my reservations about an established character becoming the new Thor, but Jane makes it completely worth it.
Sixpack is definitely the MVP for the best character of 2015, because if anyone else got a character piece as loving and heartfelt as All-Star Section Eight, then he wouldn’t stick out as much. The fact that they don’t just means that he does, and with a vengeance. Ennis and McCrea write and draw a miniseries that is vulgar, profane, and incredibly silly – but none of it would work if there wasn’t a strong backbone to it all. For all of his drunken and incoherent glory, Sixpack is that backbone. He’s not the most personable or appealing character, but the entire thing hinges on the reader rooting for him on the strength of who he is as a person, which does shine through. There’s a certain magic there.
Kitty Pryde is one of my favorite characters and I am glad to say she had a great year. Last year she was a professor to the original X-men, but who knew the place Kitty fit the best was in outer space. She found love and a new group of friends. Kitty’s move to space was very powerful because for years Kitty was stuck phased through a bullet in space. She hated space and her story this year doesn’t take that lightly. Now she is the new Star Lord and I am excited to see her adventures with the Guardians of the Galaxy.
When viewed as a whole, 2015 was a good year for Spider-Man. This is especially true if you talk about Spider-Man as both Peter Parker and Miles Morales. Thanks to Secret Wars, Miles Morales gets to move up to the big leagues from the (former) Ultimate Universe to the main Marvel universe, and even gets to be a member of the Avengers. Plus, both Miles and Peter have played a central part in Secret Wars. Things have begun going Peter Parker’s way, too. In his own comic, Peter is the head of Parker Industries and is now a wealthy tech genius rather than the mild-manner photographer of yesteryear. Of course, this doesn’t even include the MCU, where Marvel now will share Spider-Man with Sony, meaning that Spider-Man gets to play on screen alongside Marvel Studios’ Avengers.
Thor (Jane Foster)
While I’m not usually in favor of making big stars of Marvel Comics into legacy characters (characters who have had different people take up the hero’s name and costume), the one character for which it does make sense is Thor. There have been many different stars of The Mighty Thor throughout the decades: Odinson, Thuderstrike, and Beta Ray Bill to name a few. Having a female Thor was definitely designed to be buzz worth (and it did create a lot of articles), but the character ended up being worth it. The reveal that this Thor was actually Jane Foster, the old love interest of the original Thor, worked nicely, especially when it was revealed that Foster is battling cancer. It will be interesting to see if Odinson returns, and if so, whether there is room in the Marvel Universe for two big Thors.
Jim Gordon (BatCop)
Jim Gordon a.k.a. BatCop. Right? See, I thought it too. Jim Gordon as Batman? Dumb. You take a character whose biggest trait is that he’s not Batman, that he’s just a guy trying to do his best within the system, and take that away? Well, Snyder did it. BatCop is an entirely different… bat-animal. It’s a refreshing take on the Batman book and one that I hope sticks around for awhile.
Maps Mizoguchi (Gotham Academy)
Maps only appeared once in 2014 so I’m counting her as a new character of 2015—and not just “a new character” but the “best new character.” Maps is such an energetic bundle of joy. She loves mysteries and fan-girls out harder than even me. Her enjoyment really rubs off on readers, and that’s why I consider her the best character of 2015.
The Vision’s 3rd of 4th Family
The best new character has to go to the collective group known as “The Vision’s 3rd or 4th Family”, it’s really hard to keep track of that these days. Consisting of wife and mother Virginia, and teenage twins Vin and Viv, these characters were only recently introduced in Tom King’s all new The Vision series. There’s an insanely engaging system of dynamics that the characters have from the outset because they are less of a family and more ready-made strangers lumped together. They have this need to fulfill the roles they were created for but learning how to do so is an uphill battle. There is as much rooting for them as there is just being saddened at their struggle. With only three issues out so far there is so much potential for them to grow, and that is maybe a bit more than a few other new characters this year.
Captain America 2099
I have never been a big fan of the 2099 universe, but one thing I really enjoyed from the Secret Wars 2099 series was Captain America 2099. Captain America’s secret identity, Roberta, doesn’t know she is Captain America. This makes for an interesting character because her team is purposely not telling her that she is Captain America. This interesting mystery continues in the All New All Different series Spider-Man 2099.
Burning Galactus! I mean look at him!
Kitty Pryde and Star Lord
This romance, when I first saw it in the pages of Guardians of the Galaxy, really didn’t gel in my mind. However, as I read more and more comics where the two interacted, I realized Kitty Pryde actually served as a great foil to Star Lord. The two have some surprisingly great chemistry. Plus, the tensions introduced because of Star Lord’s new political position and Kitty becoming the new Star Lord has definitely been having some interesting effects on their relationship. Hopefully they’ll eventually make it to the end of the aisle in one piece and not be forced to forget over a decade’s worth of wedded bliss… unlike what our next couple has been through in the past.
Beth and Orson
Beth and Orson from Stray Bullets were never the best couple to begin with, they were dysfunctional, abrasive, and codependent to a fault. Yet in the current story-arc, which shows the beginning of their relationship, really helps to buff out why they were even drawn together in the first place. They were never going to make it as a couple, but there is genuine affection and love there – and neither can let go and see the other come to harm. The entire arc surrounding their relationship in “Sunshine & Roses” is tinged with tragedy, which makes the parts when you forget how doomed everything is hit that much harder. That’s the thesis of the arc in a way, doing stupid things for the people you care about, even if it’s a bitter end.
Star Lord and Kitty Pryde
When it was first announced that Star Lord and Kitty Pryde was going to be a couple I wasn’t very optimistic about it, but when we saw Star Lord and Kitty start to interact it didn’t feel forced. They had great chemistry even though they have completely different personalities. They made each other better people!
Silver Surfer-Dawn Greenwood
At first, I thought that Dawn Greenwood, the Earth woman who accompanies Silver Surfer during his journey in space was going to be an annoying character. However, as she was developed by writer Dan Slott and artist Michael Allred, Dawn really shined, and her relationship with Silver Surfer became deeper and more rewarding. They are total opposites – the rational, cool, powerful Surfer with the emotional, empathetic, un-powered Dawn ended up forming a special bond as they moved through the cosmos, and it was felt by readers of Silver Surfer.
Grimm Tales of Terror
This is Zenescope’s answer to Tales from the Crypt. Told by Death, these one-issue stories have that killer twist the original Tales from the Crypt stories always seemed to enjoy pulling. I’ve really missed stories that could be told in one issue in comics, and I hope this series continues to deliver that—plus some scares.
This series has a handful of interesting characters. Besides the main lead, who has her fair share of badassery, there’s also Liesel Van Helsing who’s dating the former god of the dead Hades. Even the Christmas special was good, though Krampus tried to ruin the party…
The reasons for this should be somewhat obvious, but I think it bears highlighting that Marvel Comics has been putting out a solo comic book for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Think about that for a second. It wasn’t that long ago that important characters like Dr. Strange and Spider-Woman didn’t have their own series. Squirrel Girl has been something of a joke character for much of her existence (while also having a decent fan following). The “All-New All-Different” platform of Marvel has allowed numerous unconventional solo series that would have seemed unlikely in the recent past, such as Howard the Duck, Scarlet Witch, and Karnak. It remains to be seen if all of these heroes can support solo series for the long haul. However, I think Squirrel Girl has to be seen as the real victor here, because thanks to the post-Secret Wars relaunch of titles, Squirrel Girl actually had TWO #1 issues in 2015. That’s quite a feat.
Best Moment of the Year
Sixpack gets a pep talk from Superman
The best moment of this year is so simple yet just just hits all of the right notes. In All-Star Section Eight, Sixpack has reached the end of his rope in more ways than one. It’s the belly of the beast, it’s the darkest hour, it’s the journey into perdition. Sixpack might not be the world’s best vigilante, but he has a whole lot of heart, and for him to lose his nerve is the emotional crux of the series. So, in the dark, who does he get a pep talk from? Superman, of course. Garth Ennis has always had a soft spot for the man in blue and uses this moment to advocate what a super-hero should be about. Funny coming from a writer with an outspoken distaste for caped heroes, but maybe it takes an outsider.
Jane Foster Revealed as Thor
I have never been a big Thor fan, but Jason Aaron’s run made me appreciate the character. Finding out who the new Thor was almost a yearlong mystery, and in 2015 it was finally revealed that Jane Foster was the new Thor.
The Jane Foster reveal was interesting because there are so many story possibilities Marvel can do with the character. Jane is dying and knows what it means to be human and that’s why she is the perfect person to also be a God.
Silver Surfer #11
My pick for best moment of the year isn’t exactly a single story moment but an issue, overall, that was really innovative. Silver Surfer #11 by writer Dan Slott and artist Michael Allred played with the form of graphic storytelling is a way that few comics have done. It’s an issue with essentially two parallel stories happening at the same time, which required extraordinary efforts from both Slott and Allred to make the issue not only make sense, but actually be a more rewarding reading experience throughout the parallel stories.
Least Favorite Comic Of The Year
This series started out so promising, which made this issue all the more disappointing. While the artwork was solid, the writing was bland. It focused on more procedural elements, which were a lot more boring than they could have been. This, unfortunately, wasn’t a very magickal issue.
Earth 2 Related Titles
This one is easy – anything related to Earth 2. That series has been going through the long trek to the dump since Robinson left. Tom Taylor’s run was a shallow, two-dimensional, and insulting continuation that got rid of any depth the characters may have possessed, but even that paled in comparison to Daniel H. Wilson’s completely incomprehensibly terrible run on the series. From outright character assassination/mismanagement, to just not understanding the basic structure of stories, it’s amazing how lower the series could get. It only became more hilarious once things from his series started getting outright ignored in other series like Geoff Johns’ Justice League. While DC may have destroyed any potential the series may have, there’s still time to place it in the can.
The Darkseid War Shazam #1
Even though I read a lot of great comics this year I also read some not so great comics. My least favorite comic was The Darkseid War Shazam #1. I felt this comic was all over the place. The coloring didn’t fit well and they were trying to introduce too many Gods into one issue. This issue would have been a lot stronger if they focused on Billy. It would have been nice to see the rest of the Captain Marvel family also. Like we did in Geoff Johns’ run in the beginning of the New 52.
Most Shocking Moment
Alan Moore’s Providence #6 provides the year’s most shocking moment, bar none. In fact, it outright destroys the bar with how shocking it is. While the series is smart and knows how to build up tension and mood, this moment, the culmination of all of that, leaps into the pool of the profane. It’s not needlessly shoveled in like any scene from Neonomicon, but rather is a moment that is led up to and adds to the narrative and characters in interesting ways. I’m shying away from outright describing it, but there’s no sense doing the run around – it involved a forced body swap and abuse of multiple varieties. It’s so shocking that it’s turned some fans of the series off, but honestly, it marks the halfway point of character and threat development.
Jim Gordon Becomes Batman
One of the best issues from Scott Snyder’s Batman run was the poetic “deaths” of Batman and Joker. After Batman died Gotham needed a new Batman and they appointed Jim Gordon. When DC announced that Jim would be Batman I was interested to see what they would do with the character. Sadly my excitement outweighed the outcome. I feel they missed a lot of opportunities with the character in 2015.
Bruno & Kamala
The friendship between Bruno and Kamala in Ms. Marvel is a big reason why I enjoyed the series so much. Bruno knows everything about Kamala, including her secret identity being Ms. Marvel (shh, don’t tell anyone), and does everything he can to help her. He has no powers, yet he continues to support her and run head-first into danger. It’s touching that he also has feelings for her, but I admire writer G. Willow Wilson’s decision not to have the two become romantically involved at the end of Kamala’s first Ms. Marvel series since the end of the world is hardly the time to start a new relationship…
Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy
I hesitate to call this a friendship since I feel as if Amanda Conner wants to make a romantic relationship bloom between the two but hasn’t made it happen… yet. However, I really enjoy these two as gal pals. Harley is the only person Poison Ivy really seems to be able to stand. The two have such a fun repertoire with each other.
Bruno and Kamala
This year we have seen Kamala discover more about herself and at the end of 2015 she even became an Avenger. As Kamala grew it was also fun to see Bruno and Kamala’s friendship change.
In the end of Secret Wars they both admitted their feelings to each other, but knew they couldn’t take the relationship any further. Now in All-New, All-Different Marvel they have a different status quo, which will be interesting to see develop in 2016.
Everyone from Entertainment Fuse’s Comic Book section wishes you a very happy 2016. Here’s to many more great comics! To see our picks for the best publisher, writer, artist, cover artist and colorist, go to part one of our awards.