35. COYOTES by SEAN LEWIS and CAITLIN YARSKY (Image)
This book is very new, but you can tell just from issue #1 that it’s heading towards greatness. Wolves patrol the border and a young girl with some kind of super-Ninja skills is hunting them, to protect the people that are ignored by most of America. It feels deeply symbolic, on top of being ultraviolent and dark, and strikes the right balance of fantasy, horror, humor and insight.
I’m expecting it to rate much higher on my list next year, after more issues are out.
34. BLOODSHOT by JEFF LEMIRE and various artists (Valiant)
Valiant learns from Marvel and just runs a bunch of limited series featuring their most popular character. This year, we got the conclusion of Bloodshot: U.S.A. and the beginning of Bloodshot: Salvation. Any of these series are good jumping-on points, and this book is a great way to dip your toe into the Valiant universe of comics. As you will soon see from my list, I am becoming a bigger and bigger and fan.
33. MADE MEN by PAUL TOBIN and ARJUNA SUSINIA (Oni Press)
The daughter of Frankenstein is a cop who brings her strike team back from the dead to avenge the incident that killed them all.
32. THE HARD PLACE by DOUG WAGNER and NIC RUMMEL (Image)
This isn’t a book that will change your life, it’s just a straight up cool crime story about an ex-con trying to be good when the only thing he’s good at is being bad. What I found particularly interesting about it is that it’s the first time I can recall a car chase comic being this good. I’m sure that comics have featured car chases in the past, but the fact that I can’t remember a single good one shows how much Hard Place deserves to stand out. In a year that gave us the film Baby Driver, this is a solid comic book accompanyment.
31. REDNECK by DANNY CATES and DEE CUNNIFFE (IMAGE)
Vampires in the South. Yeah, it sounds a bit like American Vampire. And it is. And that’s not a bad thing.
30. THE FIX by NICK SPENCER and STEVE LIEBER (Image)
Yeah, it could be corny. It could recycle old jokes, like a vaudeville routine. But it was so much fun.
29. DIVINITY III by MATT KINDT and TREVOR HARISINE (Valiant)
I never read the original Valiant run, but I’ve enjoyed a lot of the titles in their reboot. I never read Divinity I or II, but I totally loved this book, which I saw basically as Valiant’s version of DC’s Red Son: What if the Russians had taken over? I guess what I’m saying is that even you’re not all that familiar with the Valiant Universe you could read this and love it. And even the tie-in issues were good, like the Bloodshot one, above, by Jeff Lemire and Clayton Crain (pictured above).
28. MOTOR GIRL by TERRY MOORE (Abstract Studios)
No, it’s not Terry Moore’s best work. In fact, it’s probably his least great. Notice, I didn’t say “worst.” Because there’s no such thing as a bad Terry Moore series. This one ended quickly—unusual for him—but as usual was full of heart and wild, fascinating concepts. Iraq combat veteran Samantha has an imaginary gorilla for a best friend (or is it real?), and together they fight off an alien invasion (or is it real?) while protecting the junkyard they live in from real estate speculators who may or may not be tied to the aliens.
27. X-O MANOWAR by MATT KINDT and THOMAS GIORELLO (Valiant)
Again—I didn’t read Valiant in the 1990s, so I had no idea what to expect from the Conan-as-Iron-Man, sci fi story. It’s mostly just a big, violent war story, but there’s some nice moments about the meanings of power and leadership.
26. THE OLD GUARD by GREG RUCKA and LEANDRO FERNANDEZ
What it must be like to be Greg Rucka, capable of creating so many original concepts that you can’t produce your own books fast enough.
This one is about a group of immortal mercenaries, who are now being hunted by a powerful military group that his figured out their secret ability to heal from any injury.
25. LADY KILLER 2 by JOELLE JONES (Dark Horse)
Not as good as the first series, but still great black humor and worth a read.
24. THE WILD STORM by WARREN ELLIS and JON DAVIS-HUNT (DC)
When it first came on the scene, WildStorm was intended to look at superheroes in a modern, realistic light. That was back in the 1990s. Now, we’re seeing it through the light of a post-911 world where terror and technology have worked their way into our daily lives.
Expectations could not have been higher for Warren Ellis to return to—and reboot—the universe he helped create so many years ago. The results haven’t been as great as we’d hoped—but that’s probably because his original Wild Storm books set the bar so high.
And he’s in charge of the entire reboot—which means that books like Michael Cray, in which the WildStorm mercenary is hunting down Green Arrow, Flash, and the like (in an alternate universe), are all under Ellis’ watchful eye.
23. PAPER GIRLS by BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and CLIFF CHIANG (Image)
The upside of writing the most celebrated comic book of all time is that you get to work with an artist like Cliff Chiang and thousands of people will read whatever you write because, hey, you earned their eyes. And Paper Girls is a very good comic. So now, Mr. Vaughan, you will earn our eyes for whatever you do next.
22. INFAMOUS IRON MAN by BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS and ALEX MALEEV (Marvel)
I didn’t think the Iron Man version of Superior Spider-Man would be worth reading, especially after the shit they did with Dr. Doom during last year’s big Secret Wars event, but I was wrong. It was interesting watching him work through his mommy issues, and great seeing Thing track him down. This book kept me guessing, and reminded me (a) why Bendis is a master at serialized superstories; and (b) that Marvel can still produce fun, quality books. They just don’t do it as often as they used to.
21. THE BEST WE COULD DO by THI BUI (Abrams)
The autobiographical story of Bui’s family asi ti moves across Southeast Asia to America, after the fall of South Vietnam.