BEST ‘INDIE’ COMICS of 2015 [Clergywide Top 5]: Sunshine & Bullets.

We continue our Best Comics of the Year coverage with Part Deux, this time covering all of the funnybooks not published under DC or Marvel. So, yeah man– that means Dark Horse, IDW, Valiant, BOOM!, Oni Press, Vertigo, Archie, Black Mask, and, of course, the King of Independent Publishing, Image Comics.

Sure, one would argue that many of these publishers aren’t necessary “indie” in the sense that these publishers are indeed corporations in themselves, over the traditional sense of being “in yo mama basement” self-made. I mean.. Image has been home to this little zombie TV show you may have heard of for quite some time now, and so forth. But, we here at GHG find it easier to differentiate our top creator-owned choices from those of the Big 2. We hope you do too.


So, who had the strongest creator-owned debut of 2015? Did Dark Horse rebund after its loss of **force-choke** Star Wars? Was Book of Death better than Secret Wars? Find out below, and feel free to click on the respective bible scores to read our full reviews.

"Heirophant" Luke @LUKEPOISONER
“Heirophant” Luke

1. Rai (Valiant) – “From the ‘Fungal Farms’ to the kids cartoons coded with messages for the rebellion, Valiant’s penchant for crazily imaginative comic-book greatness is readily on display here.” – 4.5/5
2. Ivar, Timewalker (Valiant) – “Fred Van Lente brings all of the humor his work is known for, and providing a neat counterpoint to his characterisations on work on Archer & Armstrong and The Delinquents with a fiercely intelligent, seemingly-in-control protagonist.” – 4.5/5
3. James Bond: VARGR (Dynamite) -“[Warren] Ellis is in his usual fine form, eschewing his often acerbic and surreal wit for a very Fleming feel and tone– with a nod to the more modern puns and innuendos of the movies” – 4.5/5
4. Divinity (Valiant) – “Burgeoning talent Matt Kindt plays this one a bit mysteriously, telling a dreamlike tale with a topsy-turvy chronology that plays to the philosophical and metaphysical.” – 4/5
5. Chrononauts (Image) – “Chrononauts is a rollicking thrill ride of fun and laughs, with [Mark] Millar in fine form, and Sean Murphy filling the artwork with angular, busy energy and grit.” – 4/5

Honorable mention: Arcadia, Book of Death, The Valiant, Bloodshot: Reborn.


Lisa "The Goddam" Wu @the_goddamn_wu
Lisa “The Goddam” Wu

1. The Goddamned (Image) – 4.5/5
2. Black Magick (Dark Horse) – 4.5/5
3. Paper Girls (Image) – 4/5
4. Starve (Image) – 4/5
5. Airboy (Image) – 4/5

Honorable mention: Drive, Replica, Red Thorn.


"Great Rao" Bass @kidtimebomb
“Great Rao” Bass @kidtimebomb

1. The Twilight Children (Vertigo) – “The work these creators do on this series is a symphony, every element complementing the others and serving to enhance the whole at the highest level of craft.” – 5/5
2. Archie (Archie) – “Every component is meticulously crafted and a joy to experience working in concert as part of a seamless master class in sequential narrative.” – 5/5
3. Miracleman (Technically Marvel) – “While Buckingham’s art is suitably grandiose and majestic, the plot of this parable appears on the surface relatively sparse and plain, owing a linear and thematic debt to Chaucer, while still communicating to the reader that we have journeyed to an entirely new place never glimpsed before in all of comics” – 4.5/5
4. Island (Image) – “An immersive and uncommon experience from the moment you crack the cover.” – 4/5
5. Jughead (Archie) – “Jughead is an enjoyable slice of sequential goodness that will entertain readers, new or old.” – 4/5

Honorable mention: Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, Chew, Saga, Jupiter’s Circle, Pretty Deadly, Nameless, Trees.


"Dynast" Dana Keels @hatandwand
“Dynast” Dana Keels

1. Saga (Image) – 5/5
2. Klaus (BOOM!) “There is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t stuff this book into your stocking immediately and follow this savage man on his journey into the legend.” – 5/5
3. Sandman: The Overture (Vertigo) – 4.5/5
4. Godzilla in Hell (IDW) – “It may take you less than a minute to get through the book, but as soon as you’re done you’ll want to take that plunge into hell again and again thanks to the beautifully nightmarish visions of hell.” – 4.5/5
5. Lantern City (BOOM!) – “Equal parts Star Wars, Bioshock, and everything Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, this story is hard to put down.” – 4/5

Honorable mention: Giant Days, Ninjak.


"Saint" Patrick Obloy @OffTheGeekEnd
“Saint” Patrick Obloy

1. We Stand On Guard (Image) – 4.75/5
2. Paybacks (Dark Horse) – “Both the writing and artwork are great, making the characters edgy and badass while still showing a comedic vibe.” – 4.5/5
3. Book of Death (Valiant) – “Secured by the artwork by Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite and the superb writing of Robert Venditti, Valiant has a hit on their hands.” – 4.5/5
4. Broken World (BOOM!) – “Left me on the edge of my seat.” – 4/5


JaDarrell "The Belser" @TheBelser
JaDarrell “The Belser”

1. Shaft (Dynamite) – 5/5

2. Jacked (Vertigo) – “The art from John Higgins was splendidly graphic, focusing on some of the more nitty-gritty details that make the comic’s world at once fully-realized and utterly repulsive at the same time.” – 4/5

3. Django and Zorro (Dynamite) – 3.5/5

Jason "Bad Preacher" Bud
Jason “Bad Preacher” Bud

1. Minimum Wage: So Many Bad Decisions (Image) “Fingerman repeatedly peels back the fourth wall like latex, as he Easter-eggs pop- and comic-culture signifiers for as to fill our baskets with.” – 5/5
2. The Auteur: Sister Bambi (Oni Press) – “The Auteur: Sister Bambi delves into the collective brainpan with the visual insatiability of atomic-colored cream, inside a napalm-fevered dream; reminiscent of the dexterous comic perversity of such masters as R. Crumb, Harvey Pekar, and Foolbert Sturgeon.” – 4.25/5
3. The Surface (Image) – “[Ales Kott and company] wet-wire up a brain-drooling re-tooling on the meta-comic narrative structure first popularized by The Watchmen from back in the ‘80s; and Kott’s delivery on this is intellectually heavy in a way that will still seduce you into graphic image blissdom.” – 4/5
4. Cognetic (BOOM!) – “An agglomeration of offensive measures may be authorized to attempt to contain and eliminate this potential earthly apocalypse, including coordinated strikes from: sea, air, land, chemical, biological, and digital units.” – 3.75/5
5. Book of Death (Valiant) – “The very Earth writhes forth, threshing flesh asunder, and staining soil salaciously, in innocent blood and anguished ichor.” – 3.25/5


"The Apostle" Lance Paul @Lance_Paul
“The Apostle” Lance Paul @Lance_Paul

1. Sheriff of Baghdad (Vertigo) – “Tells a story so truthful and open, that it makes you care and feel for each of the characters in new ways.” – 5/5
2. Tokyo Ghost (Image) – “One of the best reads I’ve had all year.” – 5/5
3. Chrononauts (Image) – 5/5
4. Bitch Planet (Image) – 4.25/5
5. The Walking Dead (Image) – 4.25/5

Honorable mention: Big Man Plans, Uncanny: Season 2, Spawn: Resurrection.


“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007
“El Sacerdote” J.L. Caraballo Twitter @captzaff007

1. James Bond: VARGR (Dynamite) – 4.75/5
2. Black Magick (Image) “Everything reads fresh and real — and the art, by Nicola Scott is beautifully rendered in blacks and whites.” – 4.75/5
3. Snow Blind (BOOM!) – “While the vibe is very reminiscent of the graphic novel version of A History Of Violence, there is a bit more substance here.” – 4.5/5
4. Fight Club 2 (Dark Horse) – 4.25/5
5. Ody-C (Image) – 4/5

Honorable mention: HIT: 1957, Ninjak, Mythic.

"Sister" Sarah G @DarthHistory
“Sister” Sarah G

1. Book of Death (Valiant) – 4.5/5
2. Death Head (Dark Horse) – “Zach and Nick Keller deliver a traditional horror story whose familiarity in its plot breeds for an enjoyable read.” – 4.25/5
3. Starve (Image) – 4.25/5
4. Army of Darkness (Dynamite) – 4/5
5. Invader Zim (Oni Press) – “Grab some tacos, watch out for the monkeys, and sing the ‘Doom Song’ with me as we celebrate the return of Invader Zim, GIR, and the gang.” – 4/5

Honorable mention: Rowan’s Ruin.


"Cardinal" Roberto de Bexar @RobBex2
“Cardinal” Roberto de Bexar @RobBex2

1. Archie (Archie) – 5/5
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) – 4.5/5
3. Book of Death: Fall of X-O Manowar (Valiant) – “While Marvel and DC are trying to revamp their lineups what seems like every other month, Valiant has made a strong resurgence by going back to the basics.” – 4.25/5
4. Diesel (BOOM!) – “Tyson Hesse’s Diesel has a nice steampunk vibe to it, a funny flow and crisp artwork.” – 4/5
5. Southern Cross (Image) – “[Becky] Cloonan brings a great nuance to the series, introducing a number of characters in a very natural way.” – 4.5/5

Honorable mention: Project Superpowers: Black Cross, The Tomorrows.


Guy "Padre" Copes @guycopes3
Guy “Padre” Copes

1. We Can Never Go Home (Black Mask) – 4.75/5
2. Space Riders (Black Mask) – 4/5
3. Black Science (Image) – 3.75/5
4. COPRA (Copra) – 3.5/5
5. Annihilator (Legendary) – 3.25/5

Honorable mention: Nameless, Criminal: Special Edition.


"Brother" Matt McGrath @BendSteelnHands
“Brother” Matt McGrath @BendSteelnHands

1. Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses (Image) – “In [David] Lapham’s Baltimore, there are no heroes, no one wins, and everyone loses eventually– except the readers.” – 5/5

2. Fables: A Wolf Among Us (Vertigo) – “Steve Sadowski steep-angels pencils and the neutral color palette adds to the Wolf’s narration, completing that film noir feel.” – 4.75/5

3. Descender (Image) – “The style here makes the panels come alive; people look soft and warm; the metal looks cold and hard — and the reader’s focus is drawn immediately to the color.” – 4/5

stray bullets holy shitballs

Ryan “Salvation” Scott @radio_adventure

1. James Bond: VARGR (Dynamite) – 4.5/5
2. Regular Show (kaBOOM!) – “A great extension for fans that stays faithful to the property.” – 4.5/5
3. Help Us Great Warrior (BOOM!) – 4/5
4. Godzilla In Hell (IDW) – 4/5
5. Back To The Future (IDW) – 4/5

Honorable mention: Invisible Republic, Lucifer.


"The Dutchess" Taffeta @TaffetaDarlin
“The Dutchess” Taffeta

1. Big Trouble in Little China (BOOM!) – 5/5
2. The Humans (Image) – 4.75/5
3. Lady Killer (Dark Horse) – 4.75/5
4. Bitch Planet (Image) – 4.75/5
5. The Beauty (Image) – “This story could easily pair with something written by Rod Sterling, or conceptualized by Chris Carter in an X-Files episode.” – 4.5/5

Honorable mention: Plutona, Fight Club 2, Southern Cross, Ody-C, The Real Ghostbusters, Bill and Ted’s Most Triumphant Return, Kaptara, Jem and the Holograms, Rat Queens, Sex Criminals, The Wicked + The Divine.


“Joker” Moody @TravMoody

1. Southern Bastards (Image) – 4.75/5
2. Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses (Image) – 4.75/5
3. Saga (Image) – “I tell EVERYONE to buy/read/promote Saga because it will become a part of your blood.” – 4.5/5
4. Sons of the Devil (Image) – “Trust that if you enjoy Constantine, are a wee bit curious about David Duchovny’s new Aquarius series, and plain-out just love you some ferocious artwork, Sons of the Devil will wind up on your pull-list and haunt the other comics besides it.” – 4.5/5
5. The Fade Out (Image) – 4.25/5

Honorable mention: Ninjak, God Hates Astronauts, ImperiumThe Wicked + The DivineStarve, Deadly ClassBloodshot: Reborn, The Sandman: Overture, Paper GirlsNameless, Hellbreak.


GodHatesGeeks @GodHatesGeeks

***GHG’s BEST ‘INDIE’ COMICS of 2015***

1. James Bond: VARGR (TWO 1st place votes; ZERO 2nd place votes; ONE 3-5’s).

2. ***TIE*** ArchieStray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses (ONE 1st place votes; ONE 2nd place votes; ZERO 3-5’s).

3. Book of Death (ONE 1st place votes; ZERO 2nd place votes; TWO 3-5’s).

4. Saga (ONE 1st place votes; ZERO 2nd place votes; ONE 3-5’s).

5. Black Magick (ZERO 1st place votes; TWO 2nd place votes; ZERO 3-5’s).

***GHG’s Honorable mention***

Chrononauts, Bitch Planet, Godzilla in Hell, Starve, The Sandman: Overture, Fight Club 2, Southern Cross, Ody-CNinjak, The Wicked + The Divine, Bloodshot: Reborn.

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