It’s been such a glorious year. There is really quite a challenge winnowing down all of that power streaming forth every Wednesday night into just a list of five, but there’s only a couple of weeks left in the 52 and this is what we always do: GHG’s Best Comics of 2019!!
1. House Of X/Powers Of X (Marvel Comics) – This was, no problem, the series that I was most insane about for the entire year, before it hit, a madman drunk on the perpetual glory for those twelve perfect Wednesday nights it was happening, and then reveling in the aftermath. Hickman & Larraz & Silva & Gracia and everyone else who helped bring this out into this world deserve our eternal gratitude. This finale, that first skylit night in the nation of Krakoa should have been the end, will always be the end, because it’s the final beat that these merry mistrusted mutants have always deserved. Logan hands the beer to Slim. Emma raises her eyebrow at Jean. We all melt away into the night with them. – 5/5
2. The Green Lantern (DC Comics) – Grant Morrison returns to monthly DC shenanigans after five years abroad and simply imports his intervening Heavy Metal aesthetic whole-cloth into this fine procedural, a drinking game I call “Space Police.*” Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff are one of the premiere art teams of the year. The breakout character of this series is Volk, Green Lantern of Space Sector 0315, who is simply a musclebound physique with a constantly erupting volcano atop his shoulders in place of his neck and head. He has a bit of a speech impediment, what with all the intermittent erupting. – 4.5/5
3. Batman (DC) – Tom King played a bit of a trick on us this year. We finished out the first week of December 2018 with an extremely serious and memorable turnabout twist cliffhanger in Batman #60, and then my man proceeded to give us nine issues of an it-was-all-a-dream-arc every single month, only seems like #s 64 and #65 weren’t even that, they just suddenly let Williamson come in here and run around, and we were all like, “who has left their post? How is this happening?”, but then King roared back in with the City of Bane, which even that started off slowly, but #83 and #84 with Janin back were both stunning returns to form, and I anticipate an extremely strong finish on 12/18, MurderDay. – 4.5/5
4. Thor/War of the Realms (Marvel Comics) – That was only still this year, right? I actually can’t begin to sum up how all-encompassing and glorious this was because really the only way is to experience for yourself, but know that when you begin in 2012 with Jason Aaron’s “The God Butcher” and wonder how he can possibly top that first year, it’s going to take a full seven more years and three or four reboot #1s along the way just to barely handle the breadth and beauty of Aaron’s vision, all leading to the War of the Realms, which was more than worth this long wait. We’ve got one issue of King Thor left, and it’s sure to be one of the most devastating finales in any medium. We all live in such a charmed fortunate age when Marvel Comics facilitated Jason Aaron crafting such wonder with Jack Kirby’s Thor. – 5/5
5. Doomsday Clock (DC) Only three issues this year? I’m pretty sure that #8 came out that same night as Batman #60. That damn . . . I want to reiterate my respect for King’s long game with Bruce. But over here, okay, we only got those opening pages from #9 of every-damn-body hurtling to Mars in all those great various spaceships just as fast as they could. And then #10 is the best Superman issue written this decade and gives All-Star Superman #10 a solid run. We don’t even need to talk about #11. I rest my case. Johns & Frank & Sinclair have been steadily and convincingly crushing a Watchmen sequel for two years before Lindelof and his crew blasted in from out of nowhere with that hot new best show. It sure is a shame that Doomsday Clock #12 is also going to come out on 12/18, MurderDay. That’s going to be a pretty hard one to get through. These twelve issues have been DC’s finest accomplishment since All-Star Superman, their finest accomplishment. – 5/5
Honorable Mentions (and heartbreaking to leave out): Copra, Paper Girls, Criminal, Spider-Man: Life Story, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Justice League, X-Men: Grand Design – X-Tinction.
1. Mister Miracle: TPB (DC Comics) – Every now and then, a creative team blows the dust off of a second tier DC concept and knocks it out of the park (Andy Diggle & Pasqual Ferry on Adam Strange, Gail Simone on Secret Six, Christopher Priest on Deathstroke, etc). Tom King and Mitch Gerards are now added to that list. I’ve been a fan of Scott and Barda for decades. However, I cannot remember the last time a series made me run through the gamut of emotions like this one did. Issue #7, dealing with Scott at the hospital as Barda prepares to give birth hit right in the feels. This series — released in 2018 but IDGAF — was damn near flawless. – 5/5
2. Bitter Root (Image Comics) – The trials and tribulations of the monster hunting Sangerye family took center stage in this, one of the best books released from Image Comics in quite some time. The dialogue was always crisp and the art captured such animated, yet raw emotion. This title is one of the true gems of the last few years. – 4.5/5
3. Immortal Hulk (Marvel Comics) – Creative synergy is a term that gets thrown around in the comics world all too often. Nevertheless, the term is apropos here. The creepy horror vibe in Al Ewing’s scripts wouldn’t hit as hard if it weren’t for Joe Bennett’s reliable, fantastic and sometimes, downright disturbing art. – 4.5/5
4. Excellence (Image) – This was the book that so many young people needed. For all of the fans who wanted something like Harry Potter but could never identify with that cast, this is the book for you. Every issue has been off the hook. – 4/5
5. Monstress (Image) – What can I say about this series that hasn’t already been said by fans and reviewers alike? This wondrous, yet nightmarish fantasy tale is the book I didn’t know I needed until reading it. It made me hope that one day, Marjorie Liu makes her way to DC Comics to scribe a certain magical Amazon warrior. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Deathstroke, The Green Lantern, House of X/Powers of X.
1. House of X (Marvel Comics) – For the first half of 2019, Jason Aaron was stringing ya along with his run on Avengers and Thor. One of those may have taken a spot on this list if not for that whole ordeal with Malekith, the Ghost Rider Race, Iron Man in a cave, etc… Also Marvel was force-feeding the Disney motto of “it’s a small world after all” during this MAGA Trump Era. Here comes Jonathan Hickman returning our mutants to their rightful metaphor, outlining another Black Wall Street plan for us, and showing us even if we tried, there’s still going to be some angry old white people coming after us. Yup, I read this series like Don Pedro Albizu Campos, Young Lord Nuyorican that I am. It really spoke volumes, always looked amazing, and our beloved X characters were redefined and refined to perfection. It was packed with suspense, beauty, revolution, and revelations – 5/5
2. Powers of X (Marvel) – Remember that part in Ant-Man & Wasp where Paul Rudd asks Wasp, Goliath, and Pym, did they really just quantum in front of everything? This was the fantastically illustrated science book along with traditional Hickmagrams or Jonagrams. The series endeavored to promote selflessness with flash forwards into frightening “quantum?” realities brought to us via Moira MacTaggart. The name of Powers of X should be named “Amazing Loose Ends” if it becomes a chapter in a mega collected edition of Hickman’s run. – 4.75/5 (because I selfishly need more Black Monday Murders and The Dead and Dying.)
3. Immortal Hulk (Marvel) – This year Marvel gave me Science and “Social Studies” from Hickman. Al Ewing brought Theology by incorporating bits from Sefer Yetzira and Bible Testaments to bring a devilish perspective to the aspects of the Hulk. Joe Bennett delivers the violent brutality that pairs brilliantly with Ewing’s tone and pace. Issue 25 was my only problem with this series as Al Ewing tried to get Al Moore with the Hulk. Issue 26 helped us forget that though. – 4.5/5
4. Transformers: A Bold New Era (IDW Comics) – My son and I enjoyed this book every month. It delivers some backstory to our G1 legends and depicts the origin of the Decepticons. Ruckley and Hernandez deliver a Cybertronian only tale sans annoying humans with tight art. It’s not too stylistic and doesn’t get manga-esque or sloppy. It has definitive lines with un-exaggerated expressions for Cybertronians without the face plate. Ruckley wonderfully outlines a pretty Gnostic Faith system in the first few issues of the series. This book is better than this year’s Ghostbusters and Transformers series and Galaxies series about Devastator and the Insectacons. – 4.5/5
5. Criminal (Image Comics) – Teeg and Ricky Lawless have not been seen in an HBO series and it really is a crime. The side story that kicked off in issue 2 with Hal Crane was so engaging as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips gave us a look into the dark underbelly of a comic book industry. I remember when Phillips was used as a fill-in artist for X books or Wildcats. I haaaaated it. I’ve been reading the Criminal series along with last years Kill or Be Killed and it’s been so phenomenal. Phillips’ art translates really well onto smart phone. Criminal has been the great escape from Super Hero books this decade and still going strong. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mentions: Die Die Die, Detective Comics, Avengers.
1. Isola (Image Comics) Co-created by Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl, Isola continues to one of the most gorgeous comics to this date. The story revolves around the captain of the Guard to Queen of Maar and the Queen herself. A spell has cursed the Queen and now both she and her captain will venture out to a mysterious island to reverse it, Isola. The book isn’t overly complex, with little dialogue, letting the visuals doing a lot of the lifting. – 5/5
2. Monstress (Image) – One of the darkest epic fantasies I’ve ever came across. Unlike the former mention, this world is highly detailed both in its storytelling and artwork. After a war between two races of peoples, Maika navigates through her world facing terrible danger in search of her past. Sana Takeda‘s artwork visually weaves a story that is both beautiful and terrifying. Marjorie Liu and Takeda’s collaboration highlights the celebration of an international team. This is a welcomed addition, but I’ve learned my lesson not to read this before bed. – 4.5/5
3. House of X/Powers of X (Marvel Comics) – Jonathan Hickman‘s soft reboot of the X-Men series provides new insight and provides a new history to this well established sect of the Marvel family. There’s very little hand-holding which gives space for the reader to come up with there own ideas how things work and the status quo. I’ve been out of the X-game for years. This mini series not only brought X-Men back, but many fans, including myself as well. – 4.5/5
4. Rose (Image) – Created by Meredith Finch and Ig Guara. An ongoing high fantasy adventure set in a world where having magic is a death sentence. It’s a story about a cruel Queen’s iron fist and a young woman’s rise and journey for justice. The story flows like an 80s adventure film and is filled with a cavalcade of colorful characters. Ig Guara’s art is a sight to be seen. His character designs beautiful, at times humorous, and very expressive. Triona Farrell‘s coloring adds to the flowing nature of the artwork, almost like watercolor. – 4/5
5. Excellence (Image) – Spearheaded by Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph, this series takes place in a world hidden within our own. The story is about a young man named Spencer Dales, a late blooming magic user from a prestigious family, who is expected to live up to his family’s strict standards. Due to his lack of magical prowess, he is raised in anger and becomes more volatile. It’s a journey which leads to violence and betrayal. The creators undeniably have their own signature in the fantasy genre which may have some inspiration from existing properties, but won’t be confused for them. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Doomsday Clock, The Batman Who Laughs.
1. House of X (Marvel Comics) – This story had me at the edge of my seat with each issue. I’m a biased X-Men fan; but, really, it was the animated series that got me into comics in the first place. As for the current era, Ive been anticipating this event since March when Hickman first announced that he was penning. His East of West already sold me on this series. With House, JH completely changes the landscape for the X-Men and all mutants for the better– even the baddies. And other than one particular aspect of a classic character, Hickman manipulates the X-history without changing anything drastically. My favorite 2 issues are #4 and #5; so many feels, man. So many feels. – 5/5
2. Powers of X (Marvel) – This is just #2 by default. Off the strength of its sister series, you really need to read both X-series in a certain order for the full experience. – 5/5
3. War of the Realms (Marvel) – Jason Aaron is one of my favorite writers, and I was first introduced to his work with his Wolverine goes to Hell story. But with the Thor mythos, Aaron pulled a “Hickman” and thoroughly planned out TWOTR as it unfolded throughout Thor stories he had written over the past decade. All of Aaron’s work gave a huge build up to this huge crossover event, highlighting a lot of our favorite Marvel heroes at their best going against the worst. Russell Dauterman’s artwork also had me sold, making Thor appear so raw throughout this epic. Extra points for Captain America actually warning Malekith, “You want these hands, Malekith!” In the end, Avengers Assemble felt like Avengers: Endgame. – 5/5
4. Batman: Last Knight On Earth (DC Comics) – Scott Snyder writes a story playing with the idea of Bruce Wayne actually being insane and the villains he fights as Batman are hallucinations of the Arkham Asylum staff. Then after a crazy turn of events, we have Bruce Wayne dressed in a Batsuit built from a straight jacket that carries the talking head of Joker in a Post Apocalyptic Earth. Plus Greg Capullo is drawing the story. Sold! – 4.5/5
5. Justice League (DC) – Batman pulls a cosmic cheat code move, fooling everyone while secretly setting up Superman for the alley-oop. When Superman sees the opening… SMH; there’s a reason why Roman Reigns’ signature move is the Superman Punch. JL #25 displays the greatest Superman Punch ever. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: Space Bandits, Spawn 300, Excellence, Savage Avengers.
1. Spider-Verse (Marvel Comics) – AWESOME! This comic jumps through various Spider-verses, meeting different incarnations of Spider-Man, all while telling a captivating story with a sprinkle of humor. From the first page I was sucked into the action and the fast-paced nature of the story kept me locked in. Jed MacKay has a great way of advancing the story while keeping the reader informed of what is going on. The art of each Spider-verse was diverse and did a fantastic job at giving a brief look into the world that Miles is jumping in and out of. – 5/5
2. Red Goblin: Red Death (Marvel) – The comic’s three parts are just massive killing sprees. Very gory, but awesome! Norman tries at the beginning to keep the Symbiote’s violence at bay, but eventually, and not surprising, he cannot keep his hunger for killing under control. Huge props to the artists Pete Woods and everyone else involved because the creepy tone that this art provides really accompanies the story. There has been a lot of buzz surrounding the current Absolute Carnage run and how insane it is. This comic has sold me. – 5/5
3. Old Man Quill (Marvel) – When I picked up OMQ, I expected a knock-off of Old Man Logan and Old Man Hawkeye, which admittedly, it kind of is, but it is a rollercoaster. A damn good one. Writer Ethan Sacks has a knack for creating these “Old Man” versions of our favorite characters and turning them into badasses hungry for revenge! As for the art, Robert Gill’s style fits perfectly with the theme the story has created. Out for revenge, Old Man Quill is out to serve “The Church” a piping hot dish of payback! – 4.5/5
4. War Of The Realms (Marvel, duh) – The break from the vanilla storylines of these heroes that we all have been waiting for. In the issue War of Realms Omega, we wrap up the WOR and place our heroes in their new positions in comics. Daredevil retires from being the all-seeing “God without Fear”. Jane Foster takes on a new role for Thor, the new All-Father. Loki also becomes a king. Gary Duggan knew how to spice things up, while Juan Ferreyra‘s visuals could not match any better. – 4.5/5
5. Sonata (Image Comics) – Has the looks and story to truly suck you in and not want to leave. Though the story by David Hine and Brian Haberlin is great, Brian Haberlin does an even .lre phenomenal job painting vivid pictures. Reading the comic feels like I am in the same world. Between meeting different races/tribes, exploring the world or flying around on a Thermasaur, Sonata will keep you interested from start to finish. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Road of Bones.
1. Fallen World (Valiant Comics) – An epic miniseries about a Cyborg bent on freeing the world from the oppressive AI called Father.. but at the cost of destroying it. Prolific writer Dan Abnett has created a story and struggle that is so relatable, human, and relevant to the present. Adam Pollina strikes the right tone of fantastical and realistic, with dynamic line work that jumps of the page. – 5/5
2. Saga, Compendium One (Image Comics) – Truly one of the greatest cast of characters and adventures of post modern comics, just blew us away with a shocking death and then went on hiatus. I waited for the next chapter while crying my eyes out to this joyous mammoth of a rewind. – 5/5
3. The Walking Dead (Image) – An iconic, and –yes– aging title that spawned an unstoppable TV juggernaut that deviated from its progenitor years ago, killed off their main character without fanfare. Millions were pissed, but still what a ballsy move! – 5/5
4. Bitter Root (Image) – Even with only 3 issues and a one-shot in 2019, Bitter Root is still Black Gothic par excellence. Better news: Chuck Brown and Sanford Greene’s masterpiece is about to end up on the big screen and I am so here for it! – 5/5
5. Jook Joint (Image) – Tee and Aitha Franklin’s horror beauty was cancelled unfortunately, but the setting of a humid backwoods juke joint as the backdrop for rural justice — via domestic violence survivors transformed into sexy cannibalistic demons — was chilling and funky at the same time. Gone way too soon. – 5/5
Honorable Mentions: Faithless.
1. House of X (Marvel Comics) – This might be the best X series I’ve read in years, possibly decades! Honestly, I haven’t enjoyed an X-series this much since the original Age of Apocalypse. Like AoA, HoX got me excited about mutant kind again. Excalibur was one of the first comics I ever purchased as a kid from a spin rack at 7-11. From then, I would read every X title I could get my hands on. That being said, there have been a lot of mediocre X universe books over the past couple of decades which is why HoX felt like something new and different. Hickman and Pepe Larraz really knock it out of the park with this one. – 4.75/5
2. Powers of X (Marvel) – Superstar scribe Jonathan Hickman continues his epic reimagining of the X-Men universe. Powers of X dives into the future of mutant kind and changes the past making us question the future. If you were ever or still are a fan of the X-Men do yourself a favor and read both of these series. – 4.75/5
3. Immortal Hulk (Marvel) – I grew up watching the old Incredible Hulk TV show so I’ve always been a fan. Since then I‘ve tried to consistently read The Hulk but haven’t always succeeded. Thankfully, Al Ewing‘s Immortal Banner Man breaks the mold with its haunting take on this Jekyll and Hyde story. – 4.5/5
4. Savage Sword of Conan (Marvel) – I love Conan and I love this series! It’s well written by Gerry Duggan and beautifully drawn by legendary artist Ron Garney. Did we need another Conan comic.. Probably not, but if you are a fan of swords and sorcery and good old fashioned ass kicking, then you can never have too much of the Sorcerer/Barbarian/Cimmerian! Here’s hoping someone makes a new Conan movie that doesn’t suck. – 4/5
5. Superior Spider-Man (Marvel) – Otto Octavius as Spider-Man? I’m so glad Marvel decided to bring this series back. What a fun take on the Spider-Man mytho! When reading the first series all readers wanted was for Peter Parker to get his body back; but, admit it– you secretly loved the idea of Otto being a better version of Peter’s spider. This time around you have no choice but to want Otto to be the best possible hero he can be. – 4/5
Honorable Mentions: Absolute Carnage, Batman: Damned, Doomsday Clock.
1. Silver Surfer Black (Marvel Comics) – This short five-book run was not only incredibly entertaining, but it was the first series of the Silver Surfer since the passing of Stan Lee, who was rather outspoken about his love for the Silver Surfer, and Donny Cates was just the person to take the reins. This series was a beautiful throwback to the origin of Galactus and Norrin Radd and every bit of the story was so carefully written. I always loved vintage Silver Surfer artwork and Trad Moore delivered big time here. The artwork might be the best of any book all year and each issue impressed me more and more. Great story, great art! I want to give a perfect score, but I’ll save that for something I’ve yet to read. – 4.75/5
2. Wonder Twins (DC Comics) – I got into this series simply because a friend of mine mentioned how funny it was, and was it ever! This run of the Wonder Twins was a book I looked most forward to and would almost always read the day it came out. Mark Russell did a fantastic job writing this book with just the right amount of silly humor that was also quite topical. It gave me flashbacks to early Simpsons level of writing and who could be mad at that?! The panels art by Stephen Byrne complimented this series very nicely. I’m sad this run is about to end but it was so good it has made me a Wonder Twins fan going forward. – 4.5/5
3. Batman: Curse of the White Knight (DC) – Coming off of the Batman: White Knight series, this extension by Sean Murphy is simply amazing. This is the story that should have been made into a major movie. I love how smart and cunning the Joker is depicted in this series and each month Sean steps it up with both the art and the story. While only an eight book run, I sure hope they extend the story somehow. The Von Freeze one shot tie-in was also one of my favorite books of the year. This series is a can’t miss for Batman and Joker fans alike. – 4.5/5
4. Magnificent Ms. Marvel (Marvel) – Eisner-winning writer Saladin Ahmed does a bang-up job of getting a story moving quickly while hiding in some great exposition for those newer to Ms. Marvel. This series has also been special because there have been a lot of firsts in this series with Kamala. I already can’t wait for the Disney+ series to get going. Looking to this run will be a great laughing off point. – 4.5/5
5. Daredevil (Marvel) – DD has long been a favorite of mine, and anything related to Matt Murdock is always so well done and this run by Chip Zdarksy is no different. You know you’re onto a hot comic when you immediately read each issue the day it comes out and I’m always on the edge of my seat as to where this comic is heading. The story is intriguing and the art by Marco Checchetto brings out the best in this story. It feels very vintage Daredevil with a modern story. – 4.5/5
Honorable Mentions: House of X, Far Sector, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.
1. The Green Lantern (DC Comics) – #1 for the many reasons that Rob Bass gave way above. Further, Morrison and Sharp’s brilliant GL run in year one has paved the way for rook N.K. Jesmin’s Far Sector and Morrison’s delightful side-dish Black Stars, more juicy characters in an already plentiful juicy universe. Volk is my comic world’s “Baby Yoda”.. just cute in a dummy thicc uncle kind of way. Read this book, sci-fi schlubs! – 4.75/5
2. Thor (Marvel Comics) – Thor’s world in 2019 has only been overshadowed by the X-cellence of Hickman due to the newness of it all. Otherwise, did any superhero have a more prominent, impactful year than Jason Aaron’s Odinson? It wasn’t easy to keep up with the Avenger, either, since a tremendous tie-in event, numerous one-shots, a few hundred variant Thor clones (I kid, kinda), and a new King Thor mini rounded out the presence beyond his proper ongoing. I was thrilled to eat it all up though, yet sad just the same to see the end for one of the greatest Marvel runs ever quickly coming to a head. – 4.75/5
3. Batman (DC) – The only problem with King’s Bat-Comics this year as been the brevity; you can literally eat up most of his issues in less than 5-minutes. But with so many other comics loaded with exposition, it was a treat to see very few words spoken on the page with a saga that had so much to say. From the 1930s romance with Selina to the surprise Flashpoint Daddy-Bats infiltration to the return of The Bark of Bane Rises, King gave us far more in his last year than he’s likely credited for. It was the comic I read first every other week and the one most shaved into my heart. While I’ll always miss my Kitty, King’s stories — with the constant tremendous all-star art — have helped this pup relate to the Dark Knight more now than ever before. – 4.5/5
4. Powers of X/House of X (Marvel) – #XmenBack.. probably my #1 if everyone else didn’t already place it there already. – 4.5/5
5. Justice League (DC) – Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV have been quietly killin’ it all year in JL with swift tag-team work, telling a huge, bombastic picture without all the usual fanfare. Blame the resurgence of the X-Men and Bruce’s quieter, more widley captivating moments with Cat for that one. Still, what Snyder has built here gives me plenty of ’97 JLA vibes and the supporting art, from Jorge Jimenez and a slew of wonderful colorists also helped deliver that classic Howard Porter big fight picture feel. Lex has been front and center, with the Legion of Doom — thus, The Doom War! — plenty of shady Joker scares from the shadows, and a Broken Multiverse that continues to fuck our shit up with very page turn. While Snyder leaves the book next month, he definitely leaves DC’s biggest team franchise in a thankfully not-so-critical post-crisis world. – 4.25/5
Honorable Mention: Immortal Hulk, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen, Daredevil, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, War of the Realms, Aquaman, DIE, Old Man Quill, Doomsday Clock, and anything Marvel Conan.
1. House of X/Powers of X (Marvel Comics)
2. The Green Lantern (DC Comics)
3. Immortal Hulk (Marvel)
4. *TIE* Bitter Root (Image Comics) / Thor (Marvel)
5. Batman (DC)
Honorable Mentions: Monstress, War of the Realms, Excellence, Justice League, Doomsday Clock, Criminal, Batman: Last Knight On Earth, Daredevil, Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen.
-Merry Christmas, geeeeeeeeeeeeeeks!!!