10. Annihilator (Legendary).
If you’re sick of Grant Morrison’s “writer as God” material, I forgive you. He constantly plays with the notion, even going so far on more than one occasion as to put himself in the comic (e.g., Animal Man). And this year, Morrison produced not one but two “art is life/life is art” books. The first was Multiversity, which appears earlier on this list, and the second was this independent comic with art by his “Batman and Robin” partner Frazier Irving. Annihilator speaks to that theme on a deeper level. In Annihilator, a writer is dying of a brain tumor only to discover that he serves as the link between the metahuman subject of his writing and the actual physical world. Unlike Multiversity, Annihilator is intended to have heft and weight. It’s not a breeze to read—you have to focus and concentrate—which means that as good as it is in loose issue form, the trade will be even better. Last Year: N/A
9. The Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel).
Putting AmSpM on my list is an answer to the fundamental question: “Why did you start reading comics, and why do you still read them decades later when you’re a grown man?” The answer is, first and foremost, that they’re fun. Fun! Yes, there are many on this list that a provocative, or that move the sequential art form forward, but Amazing Spider-Man, from all the way back in issue #1, has always been about telling a cool story that’s relatable on a human level and full of action, bright colors, brighter costumes, and wild imagination. Dan Slott continues to have fresh ideas for this book. Spider-Verse is a little too convoluted for me in many ways, and there are way too many tie-ins, but as a concept? It’s terrific. And its execution in Amazing Spider-Man (disregarding the tie-ins), has been fantastic. I love this book. I’ve read every single issue ever produced, and I don’t intend to stop as long as Marvel continues to publish it. Last Year: Last year, he was “superior,” so there was no “Amazing” on my list, but Superior was #15.
8. Southern Bastards (Image).
The first four issues of this series were a grinding, human tale of personal revenge that could easily be a novel or an FX series or a movie. And when that storyline ended—brutally and abruptly—a new one began that seemed to be an attempt to rehabilitate a bully from the first arc without apologizing for his flaws. This is a complicated book that is really about how damaged people damage people—nobody here is truly righteous, few are true victims, and, truthfully, nobody is safe. So many “realistic” comics are just noir-ish stories of sex and mystery and bullets, but this one isn’t. It’s about bad people doing bad things to less bad people. It’s Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino. It gets inside your head and beats your brain until you’re sore and angry. Last Year: N/A
7. Injustice: Gods Among Us (DC Digital First).
Marvel’s Ultimate Universe editors take note: This is how you tell an “Elseworlds” story. The resemblance to DC canon is clear and evident, and everything these heroes do is completely believable. Every issue matters, characters die, and the drama is constantly ratcheted upwards. This is certainly the most exciting superhero comic of the year. Last Year: #7.
6. This One Summer (First Second).
Jillian and Mariko Tamaki’s ode to the loss of innocence is heartbreaking, funny, warm, beautiful, and just plain amazing. It’s a simple story: A preteen girl and her friend spending the summer at a cottage. All appears idyllic, until the girl’s parents’ marriage starts to unravel, all while she’s experiencing puberty and her first boy crush. If this book doesn’t move you, you simply have no heart.
Oooh! I can’t wait to see what made the top 5! Hit “next” to continue!