25. WE STAND ON GUARD by Brian K. Vaughn and steve Skroce (Image)
The writer of Saga once again finds a wonderful artist and spins a story with a complete world behind it. This could have been one of the (too) many books about how the future is gonna suck, and the concept of the U.S. invading Canada could certainly have recalled unflattering companions to the South Park movie (or the awful Michael Moore one). Instead, it’s very good. It’s not brilliant like Saga, and it’s not fresh or remarkable, but it’s most definitely good enough to be on this list.
24. MIDNIGHTER by Steve Orlando and Aco (DC)
I remember reading Warren Ellis’ Wildstorm reimagining of The Justice League many years ago, but I don’t remember much about the details of Midnighter’s powers and backstory—so this comic, for me, is almost like finding a new character.
So I can’t say how close this 2015 title hews to the original character, but what I can tell you is that Steve Orlando is part Robin Hood, part Batman, part Punisher, and part James Bond.
He shows up in the middle of conflicts and problems, like The A-Team, and then brutalliy kicks all the evil guys’ asses. Usually simultaneously. The big “story” here is that he’s openly gay and has all kinds of romances and flings throughout the book, but to Orlando’s great credit this is just treated the same way as all straight characters’ sexuality. No, wait. I take that back. Most straight characters in comics are unrealistic monogamists—we rarely see superheroes playing the field. Occasionally, a writer will hook into that idea—but it’s usually just to put the hero in jeopardy (like Brian Michael Bendis’ Daredevil and Alias, e.g.). In this book, it feels real and genuine.
This is the rare example of DC doing something better than Marvel in 2015. (Or, in fact, DC doing anything better than anyone.)
23. MIND MGMT by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
Mind MGMT shattered all expectations. It blew the comic book storytelling medium up and reassembled it, adding marginal comments and including a letters page that had hidden gems and clues to the secrets of this organization—a group that controlled the world through art. It was a little odd that the final arc was so action-packed, since a classic, explosion-filled ending is fairly standard for adventure comics—but in all, a tremendously groundbreaking comic.
It looked like the book was coming back, when an All-New Mind MGMT #1 came out, but it looks like that book was just a coda. So, we have to let it go and accept that it’s over. But what a great run.
22. COPPERHEAD by Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski (Image)
Blessed by Brian K. Vaughn, this book is so much better than it should be. A space western with an embittered female sheriff and a dog-like loyal(ish) sidekick. It screams tired and cliched. But it’s amazing. Wonderfully written, beautifully drawn, full of surprises and suspense—it’s one of those comics where as soon as you finish reading an issue you can’t wait for the next.
21. LAZARUS by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Image)
This book continues to kick much ass. It’s great to have a female-focused warrior tale, and it’s even better to have it illustrated by Michael Lark.
Next: The Top 20!