Best Comic Book Debuts of 2015, Part 2
It’s that time of year again: The End. As 2015 comes to a close we take a moment to reflect back on the year that was, and what a year it was! So many new books debuted this year that there was practically a #1 issue on the shelf each and every week of the month. While it was pretty easy to sift out some of these titles for a final list of the Best Debuts of 2015, I found myself struggling to whittle things down enough to fit into a single article, so I made it two. Here’s the Best Comic Book Debuts of 2015, part 2. Check out part 1 here!
I consider myself a comic book Nowist. It’s not a real word by any means, but one I made up to describe the fact that my favorite time period in comics is always right now. I love new comics! The anticipation of an upcoming title, the buzz surrounding a writer, artist, or franchise, the newness of it all, and, most importantly, discovering something new and the hopeful possibility of finding something innovative, groundbreaking, and special. While not all of the comics on this list fit those criteria, debut issues offer something else to readers. They act as gauges; glimpses into the future; of exactly what the rest of a series is going to be, and, in some cases, debut issues give us glimpses into what a direction an entire franchise of whole publishing line may be taking. Above all, however, debut issues intrinsically point to the overall state of the comic book industry as whole, and I’m happy to report that the state of comics is awesome!
There was a ton of story diversity in comics this year, and most genres were represented well, but I’m not sure we’ve had a year where there were so many quality books in so many different genres, and from so many different publishers. In no particular order, here’s part 1 of our picks for the Best Comic Book Debuts of 2015.
A note before I begin this list. While completely accidental, half of the debuts on this list come from a single publisher, Image Comics. It’s a testament to how skilled the current batch of creators truly are, as they make comic books that people love without the need for pesky editors and higher ups making choices. Now, on to the list.
Tokyo Ghost #1
First on this second half of the Best Comic Book Debuts of 2015 comes an Image title from writer Rick Remender and artist Sean Murphy that immerses readers in a futuristic world beyond compare. “Tokyo Ghost” is a dystopian sci-fi story that hits a bit too close to home in some aspects, but is some of the best science fiction I’ve read in a comic book in years. The story revolves around an addictive media that steers all of society into an easily controllable heap. It’s a great reflection of current day society in a futuristic landscape. And, OMG, that art!
Sean Murphy’s artwork is a tour de force of detail and futuristic wonderment. His form has never been this good, and panel work has never been so clean. While I’m not a huge fan of Rick Remender’s work at Marvel, his indie stuff is spot-on perfection most times, and “Tokyo Ghost” is his best work to date. An amazing debut issue with something to say, that’s saying it with great writing and beautiful art.
Paper Girls #1
Of all the comic debuts of the year, no other book did as good a job of introducing compelling characters while also taking those characters on an equally intriguing adventure in only a single issue the way “Paper Girls” did. Writer Brian K. Vaughan is a living legend. His SAGA ongoing is on the top of every annual Best of list for the past 2 years, and his other 2015 debut “We Stand on Guard” made Part 1 of the list you’re currently reading. He’s an All-Star at the top of his game. Artist Cliff Chiang’s character depictions are brilliant and do so much to help bring these characters to life, while his emotions are simply second to none.
“Paper Girls” hit the ground running and has never looked back. Fans, critics, and even other creators have chimed in with praise for this series, and it’s well-deserved. I’m not sure if BKV can do any wrong at all. Everything he releases is terrific and everyone (I mean everyone!) just loves his work.
Doctor Strange #1
Moving onto the first of two Marvel titles on this second half of the Best Debuts of 2015, we have “Doctor Strange” #1 from writer Jason Aaron and artist Chris Bachalo, a debut that forever changed the dynamic of one of Marvel’s most popular B-List heroes. While different creators have always taken different approaches with Doc Strange, Jason Aaron’s take on the character is fun, feels fresh, and shouldn’t be ignored, while Chris Bachalo’s unique art-style is the perfect companion to this new spin on Doctor Strange.
I was very apprehensive when I first laid eyes on a Doctor Strange carrying around a battle axe, but the direction Aaron and Bachalo have taken is just great, and it was all perfectly laid out in he first issue of the series, something quite rare at a publisher releasing issue #2s within a week or two of the release of an issue one far too often. I doubt this will be the Doctor Strange we see in Marvel’s big screen adaptation, but it’s a version of the character that we needed to be seen.
I Hate Fairyland #1
One of the best aspects of mage Comics (yes, we’re back to them again) is the freedom they allow their creators to have. This freedom leads directly to diversity in story, as creators try to standout from the rest of the herd. One of these standouts at Image Comics, something unlike anything else on comic shop shelves, is “I Hate Fairyland” from writer/artist Skottie Young. “I Hate Fairyland” is a twisted twist on the age-old “girl travels to a magical far-off land” story, as six-year-old Gert finds herself teleported to said magical land and merely needs to locate a magic key to reach her escape. 30 years later and Gret still hasn’t found the key, she hasn’t physically aged a day, but mentally she’s a 36 year old, dirty mouthed, rebel rouser with a bad attitude. It’s so much fun!
“I Hate Fairyland” is one of those books that fits the creator so perfectly that it couldn’t possibly be anything other than a smash hit. The whimsical, fairy book setting and characters coupled with the very adult oriented storytelling is a wonderful mix, and I’m not sure anyone else in comics besides Skottie Young could quite pull something like this off. He’s a master, and he may have found his pièce de résistance.
Ivar, Timewalker #1
The second title from Valiant Comics on this list (see Part 1), “Ivar, Timewalker” #1 was a fast-paced, beautifully wild adventure through time that did such a great job of establishing the rest of this series that I had to throw it in this list. Writer Fred van Lente and artist Clayton Henry gave comic book fans a treat with this series, and the debut was a great intro to it all, but the fact that two titles from this publisher made this list is nearly unbelievable.
Valiant puts out 2 or 3 comics a week, which is relatively nothing compared to even the smallest of their small press competition, but each and every title is well-written and beautifully drawn. The publisher really has their act together, their talent pool is loyal and skillful, and it won’t be long before Valiant Comics is as well-known a name in the industry as Marvel and DC.
Citizen Jack #1
Another Image Comics title making the list, “Citizen Jack” is the story of a piece of garbage former small town politician who runs for President of the United States with the help of his own personal demon. While it’s an oddball concept, writer Sam Humphries and artist Tommy Patterson are telling a story that’s got a lot of meaning in a year with an American Presidential election going on.
It’s not a very huge leap to think that maybe, just maybe, Presidential candidates are being lead around by evil bastards from the netherworld hellbent on bringing terrible harm to the world. The comedy is terrific, the political satire is exquisite, the artwork is fantastic, and it all comes together in a series that you need to reading. Ish #1 set the entire tone for everything that comes after it, and this could end up being a somewhat important series as 2016 runs its course.
The Vision #1
Another Marvel Comics title making the list, “Vision” #1 by writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta was a complete and utter surprise, and Marvel’s never published anything like it in my memory. “Vision” is a deep and cerebral story of a robot pretending to be a man, who builds himself a family of robots, with none of these Visions being quite capable of carrying on life in a world so different to them. This series is a legitimate family/horror, and I’m not sure there’s ever been a comic book like this released before.
When Marvel Comics announced their All-New, All-Different Marvel lineup I had a lot of apprehension, and most of the titles the publisher has released haven’t shown any real newness or felt much different, but “Vision” #1 is a rare gem that truly feels new and different on so many levels. This is award worthy writing, great art, and a book that’s quickly rising to be one of my favorite Marvel Comics in recent memory.
Johnny Red #1
When it comes to writers of the war comic genre there’s only a couple of big, legendary names that come to mind: Larry Hama, and the writer of the war comic that makes this list, “Johnny Red” scribe Garth Ennis. ennis is a master at capturing the gritty aspects of war, but this series’ debut issue touches on the heart & soul of the military by giving readers insight on the point of views of both a war veteran and a young but passionate historian. It’s a refreshing take on the genre that deserves exploration and Ennis is doing that perfectly.
Keith Burns, the artist on this series, has a unique ability to capture motion in so many different kinds of ways. Spinning propellers, flying planes, crashing aircraft, and every else just seems to move on the panels. More amazingly he captures this motion without losing any of the grit and realism you’d expect from a comic in the war genre. There simply aren’t enough war comics coming out from today’s publishers, and I’m so happy to be able to include “Johnny Red” #1 in this list of best debuts of 2015.
If you’d have told me at the beginning of 2015 that The Old Testament of the Holy Bible would make for a great piece of source material for a comic book I probably would have told you that you were crazy. If you them mentioned that Jason Aaron would be writing it I would come around a little bit but still not enough to believe you. But if you added the fact that R.M. Guera would be the artist on the series, I probably still wouldn’t have bought this crazy idea. That’s because “The Goddamned” is a series you truly have to see to believe.
The way writer and artist come together to deliver a brutal and barbaric Old Testament world; the sort that God would desire to wash away in a worldwide flood; feels so genuine and real. There’s a lot of skill on display, and I don’t think there’s another writer in the industry right now who would dare touch subject matter. Religion is often considered a taboo subject in most mediums, and to see a comic book writer discuss these sorts of things stretches the medium even more. It’s a great series, but, even better, it’s a great series for the industry, and ish #1 is an incredible start to what i consider must-read comics.
Omega Men #1
Rounding out this list is a book that I didn’t give much attention to when it first debuted, but through a series of word-of-mouth suggestions, this DC Comics title quickly earned my attention. I’ve never read these character before, I’m not even really a big fan of either The Green Lantern titles or DC Comics as a publisher, but writer Tom King is such a skilled craftsman that it’s impossible not to enjoy the comic book he’s plotting. Issue #1 was just as weird as every issue that’s followed it, but there’s no denying this book is a great one.
There’s simultaneous feel of the old and the new, as modern dialogue and tones combine with traditional design and art style provided by Barnaby Bagenda. This may be the best book that DC Comics put out all year, and it appears that everything Tom King touches turns to gold. I can’t wait to see his next project, but until then he’s got two 2015 debuts that make my Best of list.
Thanks for checking out our Best Comic Debuts of 2015, and be sure to check out all of Outright Geekery’s Best of 2015 lists and out look ahead to 2016 articles all week long.