In a year when independent comic books took a gigantic leap in the industry, with a record number of publishing houses making waves in 2015. It is a great thing that we here at PopCultHQ are massive comic book fans to begin with. With our official media partnerships with so many of these hot new independent publishes, along with the major publishing big boys and ComiXology digital comics, we get to read A LOT of fantastic creations from all corners of comic-dom! You will be hard-pressed to find a much more diverse list of the best comics from 2015. That has been our goal since day one, give an equal playing ground for every publisher in comics from the largest to the up-and-coming independent comic book makers in the industry. This list was compiled, heavily discussed and co-written by myself Manny – EIC of PopCultHQ and our resident comic book historian Christain, who reads/reviews/discusses just about every single comic each week on his own Facebook page Between the Pages. ALL comic book publishers were considered, not just the ones we officially work with. Keep in mind, though we are about pop culture, we care more about the impact that comics of 2015 have had on pop culture. As I said before, we are comic book fans first and foremost, this is not a popularity contest.
Without further ado, here is PopCultHQ’s Best 25 Comic Books List for 2015
Books that almost made the list:
Spawn – Image (McFarlane, Meyers, Larsen): Al Simmons is back and Todd McFarlane had great artist Jonboy Meyers helping him in the resurgence of a character that has had a bit of a down time. Today we have Erik Larsen and McFarlane working together for the first time on a series. Just feel the 90’s nostalgia in the air in a modern time. Al Simmons is going to the place he never thought he would ever to go again, HELL. Only this time Al is ready to fight back against the legions of evil. Spawn has not been this exciting and fun for a very long time!
Broken Moon – American Gothic Press (Niles, Jones): A very underground book that slipped past many comic book fans. You have Steve Niles (30 Days of Night), you have Nat Jones (68′, Death Dealer) two of horror comics best talents teaming up with an original concept and story that reads just as beautifully creepy as it looks. What happens when our moon is broken up and the monsters from the deep come out to rule the wold. Broken Moon is a great new series from a hot new publisher.
Daredevil – Marvel ( Mark Waid , Chris Samnee): In the last year Mark Waid with the dynamic art of Chris Samnee have been wrapping up the story of Matt Murdock and his alter ego, Daredevil. Over the years many good creative teams have come and gone on this title but each have left plot hooks and dangling threads. Waid has gone in and closed up most of these so that Daredevil could have a fresh start in the post-Secret Wars Marvel Universe. The new DD team of Charles Soule and Ron Garney set to do great things with Matt Murdock and his cast of characters around him. It’s a good time to be a DD fan.
Solitary – Devils Due (CW Cooke, Nando Souzamotta): If you passed on Solitary single issues shame on you. If you pass on Solitary tpb, you’re a comic book criminal. You have no idea what you’re missing with CW Cooke’s superhero meets OITNB comic series. When a superhero ends up in prison, it’s not a pretty sight. Not your normal kind of superhero tale or even your average prison tale. Solitary is fresh new look at something many fans have always wanted to write about, but are now pissed that they never actually did it. Art by Nando Souzamotta.
What if? – Delcourt (Fred Blanchard, Fred Duval, Jean-Pierre Pécau, Philippe Buchet, Colin Wilson): Another new title from the up and coming French comic publisher. This series has a revolving creative team which tackles real life scenarios. The fist being, what would have happened if the USSR had made it to the moon before the Americans did and the second arc having to do with the Kennedy Assassination. This is not What if? of comic book superheroes but What if’?s of real world history and that’s what Delcourt does best. Time displacement period pieces.
Self Storage – 451 (Clay McLeod Chapman, Matt Timson): Small independent 451 Media has been making HUGE strides in the comic book industry. The comic book shops I talk to that carry 451 titles, don’t keep them in stock for long, constantly selling out. Self Storage is a great new twist to the zombie lore, what do you do with an abandoned Zombie in a storage room you bought?
PopCultHQ Best Comic Book List for 2015
25. Secret Wars – Marvel (Jonathan Hickman, Esad Ribic, Alex Ross): The end all event for the Marvel Universe. This is it, this is the beginning of a whole new era for the House of Ideas and fans had no clue what they were getting into. With months and months of teaser images that had fans curiouser and curiouser to what the heck was Marvel playing at, with new images of old classic stories. Then we finally get to the huge news that Marvel comics is going to revamp (or reboot) its entire line-up after Secret Wars. While the whole ideas always was to integrate the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the comics, we actually got a whole fresh new batch of characters and titles for new generations of fans to hop on the All-New, All-Different Marvel. What started off as a great idea, honestly it has just been too damn much, for too darn long. We have our All-New, All Diffrent Marvel now and Secret Wars is still not finished. Either way, the Secret Wars mini series is really getting good now with the latest issue #8 and another extra issue yet to come.
24. InSEXts (MR)- AfterShock (Marguerite Bennett, Ariela Kristantina): Only one issue of this strangely awe-striking comic was needed to get on this list and that will just go to show how shocking of a book this was. And it has absolutely nothing to do with the graphic lesbian love elegantly portrayed either. This is one comic book that fans will kick themselves if they didn’t pick it up! From all-new publishing house AfterShock Comics, comes one of their best titles right out the gate.
23. Elves – Delcourt (Jean-Luc Istin, Duarte, Jarry, Gianluca Maconi, Olivier Peru, Stéphane Bileau): In another revolving door creative series, the French publishers Delcourt have produced a comic that is so fabulous to look at and will immerse you in issue after issue. Everything about this comic you can tell was very well planned. From layouts to panel design and the scripting of multiple clans in one series, makes Elves any fantasy fans wishes come true. Elves, orks and humans vs each other….oh my!
22. Silk – Marvel (Robbie Thompson, Stacey Lee, Helen Chen): A character that was given a brief spot in Marvel’s Original Sin story lines has now become one of Marvel comics All-New, All-Different line up standouts. Silk was introduced as having major implications to the origin story of Peter Parker, as we first learned that she had been bitten by that same radioactive spider as the Amazing Spider-Man. now Cindy Moon was reintroduced into the Marvel Comics main universe as she is now trying her hand at redeeming the Sinister Silk. While the hype of Spider-Gwen is distracting pop culture, Silk is rewarding comic book readers who follow her.
21. Savior – Image (Todd McFarlane, Brian Holguin, Clayton Crain): FULLY-PAINTED pages by artist Clayton Crain (Carnage), first off make this comic a visual glory to behold. Next, the story from Brian Holguin who has helped craft the iconic character Spawn, created by Todd McFarlane. All three men create a comic that makes you really think about our place in life when the “Savior” all of a sudden appears from the ashes of a plane crash. How does the world react to a man with powers of the one people call, the salvation of man? Compelling and gorgeous mix of writing and art are found in Savior’s 8 issue origin mini series.
20. Lady Mechanika – Benitez Productions (Joe Benitez, M. M. Chen Martin Montiel): Lady Mechanika is back and back in full force in 2015! After her initial mini-series the popular steampunk woman of fortune is back for yet another mini-series. When it comes to period stories that take place in the Victorian era or the Wild West mixed with a bit of Steampunk for good measure, this book is for you! From Benitez Productions, the art is easy on the eyes and the story is usually enough to keep one coming back for more. This little lady has landed herself on the top selling charts time and time again in 2015. We can only expect more great comic book goodness from Benitez as the word gets around to new fans, at just how fantastic this series really is.
19. The Ultimates – Marvel (Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort): Ewing and Rocafort bring you a team for the new age. This isn’t the Ultimates from Ultimate Marvel, just in name only. Here we have a very eclectic team of Blue Marvel, Carol Danvers Captain Marvel, Ms America and Spectrum who are lead by Black Panther. Their mission is to tackle the strange and unusual mysteries of the Marvel Universe. While the forced-fed changes of Marvel characters keep coming, The Ultimates shows you can make great change to long standing characters without having to change its race, color or sex. Good comic book storytelling from the big two should remember the past while being uniquely creative at the same time, without the need of gimmicks.
18. Josephine – Delcourt (Pénélope Bagieu): Josephine is in her “thirties”, as she says discreetly. She is not married, does not have any children, but she does have a cat. That’s how writer Pénélope Bagieu describes Josephine as well as saying that Josephine is plagued by misfortunes, but she is often her own worst enemy; she manages her professional relations and work poorly, struggles to be understood, is prone to blunders. Josephine is NOT a superhero comic, it’s barely even considered a comic book at all. This wonderfully delightful read is filled with full page comic strips that are so much fun to read month after month. Whimsical, honest, daring and most likely very personal. Pénélope Bagieu gives us a character and a look at her daily life that will make any woman love this book. I’m not even a woman and I LOVED this book from issue #1, and we are now at issue #5, and it still gets my Editors pick month after month. This is Delcourt-Soleil’s best title by far.
17. Bloodshot Reborn – Valiant (Jeff Lemire, Raul Allen, Mico Suayan): When Bloodshot Reborn was announced it didn’t get too much fanfare from those outside of being Valiant comic fans. But once the jaw-dropping artwork from red-hot rising star Mico Suayan dropped and then finding out how crazy of characters Jeff Lemire had created. The world took notice quickly and the creative teams have not stopped the high-octane action and phenomenal artwork you get from Bloodshot Reborn. Then the S*** really hits the fan as we get a glimpse of what’s to come for Valiant’s flagship title with Lewis Larosa taking over art duties and the madness that will come in 2016’s futuristic tale The Analog Man!
16. The Wicked and Divide – Image (Kieron Gillen, Kate Brown, Jamie McKelvie, Leila del Duca, Stephanie Hans, Matt Wilson): A tale about twelve Gods and being mortal every ninety years. Gillen McKelvie and Wilson Cowles does a modern day take on the whole, God Walk Among Us idea and shows that even the divine can be petty. Because when you’re a God and you come to Earth in human avatar form the first thing you want to do is be a Rock Star! In 2015 The Wicked and Divide took a slight turn from its original arc to give us a more defined look at these divine beings and who they really are. A mix mosh of talents come to The Wicked and Divide this year and each issue is still a wonder to behold.
15. Southern Bastards – Image (Jason Aaron, Jason Latour): What in the sam-hill is going on in the world of Sourthen Bastards? Southern Bastards is Jason Aaron (Scalped, Thor, Star Wars) and Jason Latour’s (Spider-Gwen, Loose Ends) twisted look behind the dark and seedy history of Craw County and its most famous and feared resident, a high school football coach who has turned into backwoods crime lord Euless Boss. This series is NUTS! It’s also a fun ass thrill ride into the minds of some very disturbed people. The most nuts of them all just may have appeared in issue #11 of this series as a man who lives deep in the seedy woods of Craw County, who may be even more dangerous than Coach Boss himself. He handles snakes with his bare hands. He hunts the woods with a bow and arrow. He absolutely hates football. And he may have been sent with a mission from God. Shit just got real in Craw County!
14. Batman – DC (Snyder, Capullo): Batman as we have never seen him before! For the past five years this creative duo of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been telling the adventures of the Caped Crusader for a new age. “End Game” was one of the most gripping stories of the year in all of comics and had fans wanting more each issue. Only six months after “End Game” and we’re still on the edge of our seats about the fate of Bruce Wayne and Batman.
13. Monstress – Image (Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda): The darkest anime you’ve never seen! Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda bring you a dark tale about a fantasy world in a post war future where humans fight against magical creatures and one’s own destiny hangs in the balance. There are no good guys in Monstress just all lesser of main evils. Only two issues have come out but the first was a 64 page monster with no ads, just pure mystic greatness. This will be 2016 hottest title if it keeps going delivering such high quality work.
12. Archie/ Archie vs. Predator / Archie vs. The Afterlife – (Mark Waid, Jack Morelli, Fiona Staples, Alex de Campi, Fernando Ruiz, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla)) Archie the character has really changed the game for the independent publishers. After years of never being taken seriously as a publisher, the once high school student who never grew up, Archie has climbed the comic charts with innovative and fresh ideas. Ideas such Archie vs. series which has Archie and gang crossing over with other properties you’d least expect, like showing us what Archie is like in the Afterlife. Archie vs. Predator was a surprisingly good hit in 2015. They could have skipped out on Archie vs. Sharknado though. Not to mention Mark Waid has taken Archie into the modern with both new titles; ‘Archie’ and ‘Jughead’.
11. Saga – Image (Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples) What happens when West side Story meets Star Wars? Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples tell us just that! When two lovers; Alana and Marko, each from warring interstellar factions fall in love they do nothing but try to escape their people’s bitter hatred with their newborn child, Hazel who oddly enough narrates this series from a future point in her adult years. Why is this book not higher on the list? Only because the last few issues have been far too delayed in the making.
10. Book of Death – Valiant (Robert Venditti, Doug Braithwaite, Robert Gill): When non-Valiant fans were hearing about Book of Death company-wide crossover, many were dismaying the idea. By the time Book of Death ended, it had sold more then 100,000 copies and became one of independent comics biggest crossover events of all-time. Oh, and one of Valiant’s long-stay characters also went though a monumental change in this 4 part mini series. Book of Death had major implications and was a huge successful hit for Valiant comics in 2015.
9. Spider-Verse/Spider-Gwen – Marvel (Jason Latour, Robbi Rodriguez): There is NO denying the impact that Spider-Gwen has had at Marvel but most importantly the fans in 2015. Even if you were not a fan of the character I bet you still had to have an Edge of Spider-Verse #2 issue in your collection (that just went BONKERS on ebay for months). Or even one of the many bazillion covers of Spider-Gwen, may have found its way into your collection at some point this year. If you had nothing to do with comics, then at least you have heard or seen some form of the gazillion cosplayers who made Spider-Gwen one of comic books BIGGEST and HOTTEST properties of the year. Even if you’re not a fan, you can’t deny it, Spider-Gwen was HUGE in 2015!!
8. Neil Gaiman Sandman Overture – DC/Vertigo (Neil Gaiman, J.H. Williams III): Neil Gaiman returns to the series that made him famous among comic books in the 80s and 90s with art by J.H. Williams III. Gaimen returns for a six issue mini-series which span all of 2014 and most of 2015 with publication hold ups, but the wait was worth it as we got to see a prequel to the ever popular Vertigo series. 25 years in the making we finally learn just how Morpheus was captured in the beginning of the Sandman series. Two issues came out this year and finally the collected Sandman Overture collected graphic novel that was 2015’s top graphic novel seller.
7. Grayson – DC (Tom King, Tim Seeley, Mikel Janin, Stephen Mooney): This series surprises me. I personally don’t get it, my comic book historian doesn’t get it, but the fans just love Grayson. This is not the Dick Grayson we grew up with, as this Dick likes to carry a gun. That must be the draw for the new generations of fans flocking to this series, as Dick is now a super spy agent using what the Batman thought him all these years, to solve super spy missions. What sold me on the fact that Grayson was a massive hit, is when ComiXology recently had a sale for all Robin related issues. Every single issue of Grayson was on the top of all digital buying charts that whole sale, far above any of the classic Robin series of old. Again showing me that Grayson was one of the very few big hits of the failed DC You. Grayson is once again in the top selling charts as the new “Robin Wars” storyline takes place.
6. Sex Criminals – Image (Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky): Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky bring us an off the wall tale of love and what one wouldn’t do for love. Suzie and John meet at a party and after one drunken night of sleeping together realize together they can stop time when they orgasm. This leads the duo to commit a number of criminal acts during these frozen moments and let’s just say there’s a lot of those moments! Always a top seller for Image comics Sex Criminals looses spots also for its delays and just not heaving the awe-striking art of the number one independent book on our list.
4. Wytches – Image (Snyder, Jock): A series written by Scott Snyder and drawn by Jock (Mark Simpson); yes kids that’s his name! Wytches is just good old Lovecraft horror at its finest. A series which takes concepts about witchcraft and Wicca concepts and spins them with an unknown horrific aspect is sure to keep even the avid non-believer up at night. One of the hottest series of the year for its mind-numbing horror from the man who knows a bit or two about the subject.
4. Squarriors – Devils Due (Ash Maczko, Ashley M. Witter): This should not be a surprise. I have been saying all year long how great of an independent comic book that Squarriors has been. By far the best independent comic on the market. Yes, there have only been three issues of this fine series come out in 2015, but we also got the collected edition for the fans who can’t find this book anywhere.
After the extinction of man the primal animals of the Forrest have somehow gained self awareness but most importantly intelligence. Many of the creatures formed clans to protect themselves from the ones that won’t let go of their primal instincts. Ash Mazcko gives a brilliant new look at tragic tribal life and the betrayals of warfare, all while Ashley M. Witter gives fans the most enriching artwork that can be found in all of comics. Such a sleeper hit for many fans who have no idea what they are missing here.
3. Thor/Mighty Thor – Marvel () The year for Marvel started of with one major question, who is the new famale Thor? Who is the mystery woman that has been deemed so worthy that she can now wield the mighty Mjölnir. That question was answered finally in Thor issue #8 with the revelation that Jane Foster was indeed the new female Thor, Goddess of Thunder! Not only was she the new Thor but Jane is also fighting a losing battle with cancer. No longer a book fuled by hype, The Mighty Thor has shown that real life issues can still be Marvel characters most dangerous of Achilles heels.
2. Vader – Marvel/Disney (Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Mark Brooks): The most galactic badass to ever grace the minds of imaginations for decades, finally gets his very own ongoing comic book series from Marvel. All new Darth Vader stories keep the fans wanting more each month and both Star Wars and Vader books always being the top sellers for the month for Marvel Comics. The recent Star Wars title crossover with Vader called ‘Vader Down’ has shown just how awesome having Star Wars back at Marvel with Disney’s full support is. The fans imaginations are getting the best movie to comic books property stories ever.
1. Star Wars – Marvel/Disney (Jason Aaron, John Cassaday): Star Wars the new ongoing series by Marvel celebrated the return of the sci-fi franchise to the home where it first started. Selling over 1,000,000 copies which was a feat not seen in comic since the 90’s boom of the industry. I personally didn’t think much of this series when it was announced. Just how good could all new Star Wars stories be without the hand of Lucas? I and the world were pleasantly astounded to find out that Marvel’s new Star Wars books were not just nostalgic, but very well crafted. This was not just a licencing used to make money by selling books with a title. Star Wars all new stories are spectacular! Fans have been making Star Wars the number one selling book month after month and now with the movie hype building. There is going to be no stopping for Marvel’s gargantuan monster title, as long as they keep delivering such high quality original fan fun with classic characters!
That’s our list what do you think of it, let us know in the comments section below.