Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016. Here’s a look back at the Best and the Worst of 2015* Comic Books.
The Best On-Going Series
1. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Val De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV
Average rating: 5/5
I love this blatantly intersectional feminist book so much. It packs a solid punch with each and every issue. Though it makes me sad that the book is late almost every month. However, the work and finesse that DeConnick and De Landro put into it make it layered, relevant, and scarily close to our reality. Not to mention the fantabulous essays in the back of every issue.
Read my reviews of Bitch Planet.
2. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Kat Leyh, Brittney Williams, and Carolyn Nowak
Average rating: 4.9/5
This series was a runaway hit. I’m so happy for the success Lumberjanes has had, both in making it an ongoing series and for its creators, who are doing other amazing projects too. At its heart, this is a book about female friendship and that critical friendship during adolescence. Sure, there are dinosaurs, magical gods, mermaids, etc., but the core is the relationships between the girls. My only wish would be that when I was a girl, there was a great book like this.
Love live Lumberjanes! Friendship to the max!
Read my reviews of Lumberjanes.
Since this review was posted, Warren Ellis was outed as an abuser. As comic books are a collective effort, this review will remain live, but I cannot in good faith recommend purchasing this book or other works by this person.
3. Trees by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard
Average rating: 4.8/5
On the other end of the spectrum, there are books like Trees, which explore the deplorable nature of humanity. Or at least the depths it will go to destroy itself. The premise of the book is that aliens planted “trees” into the Earth and then they did nothing. (There’s some major ecological consequences and immediate destruction.) We then get to observe humanity freaking out over that nothing and what nothing means.
Read my reviews of Trees.
4. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl by Ryan North and Erica Henderson
Average rating: 4.7/5
When you need a book full of humor, this is it. No single book has made me laugh this much in a long time. Of course, I’ve been a big fan of North’s linguistic humor for a long time, and I can’t think of a better writer to take on Squirrel Girl. She’s one of those characters who started out as a joke and then became a serious thing. Henderson’s art adds a ton of charm as well.
Read my reviews of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
4. Giant Days by John Allison and Lissa Treiman
Average rating: 4.7/5
Did you ever go to college and live in the dorms? Giant Days captures the surreality and reality of dorm life in an English college. Who cares about classes when you can follow the main characters’ love lives, feminist zines, dance fashion emergencies, and death plagues? Every time I pick up this book I’m transported back to my college experiences: the good and the bad.
Read my reviews of Giant Days.
5. Lazarus by Greg Rucka, Michael Lark, Tyler Boss, Owen Freeman, and Eric Trautmann
Average rating: 4.6/5
An ongoing favorite of mine, Lazarus is perfect for those us who worry about a dystopian, corporation-controlled future. Like Bitch Planet, this is very much a world which I can see happening. It’s eerie. The amount of research and extras created for this book make it one of the most dense and the most reward comics out there. You won’t be disappointed.
Read my reviews of Lazarus.
5. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, Elmo Bondoc, Jacob Wyatt, and Adrian Alphona
Average rating: 4.6/5
This book’s been winning all the awards for a reason. It’s great and also fun. Wilson’s done an incredible job at fleshing out the character of Kamala Khan and the world she lives in. Particularly her friends and her family are such great, brilliant parts of her story. Never does Wilson introduce a new character without making them full of life. Of course, Kamala’s journey becoming a superhero and understanding what that means for her world is the best and a classic coming of age. I’m so glad Kamala’s here to stay, to inspire, and to let a whole generation see themselves in her.
Read my reviews of Ms. Marvel.
The Worst On-Going Series
Wonder Woman by Meredith Finch, David Finch, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Goran Sudzuka
Average rating: 1.5/5
I love Wonder Woman so much, but the main title continues to take away from her feminist history and from her mission of peace and love. The Finches have kept both Azzarello’s new origin for her (as daughter of Zeus, instead of fatherless and made from clay) and her status as God of War. Not to mention, the Finches own insistence that they don’t believe Wonder Woman to be feminist. The one thing I loved from this book was the remaking of Wonder Woman’s costume into something that actually looks like what a warrior would wear into battle. Of course, I was saddened when reading that D. Finch didn’t understand why the costume redesign was needed or what M. Finch was asking for. How can you be part of the comic book industry in the last 15 years and not understand the struggle, conversations, and problems around female superheroes’ costumes and the ones who’ve done a redesign and gotten a ton of praise for it.
Read my reviews of Wonder Woman.
The Best Miniseries
This year, I read less miniseries than years before. I believe that’s in part due to avoiding a lot of tie-ins to big events or the ones that I did read were either single issues or ones I didn’t review. (Though even those were only a handful.)
1. The Infinite Loop by Pierrick Colinet and Elsa Charretier
Average rating: 4.8/5
So good. Definitely one of the breakouts of the year. I read this because it’s a lesbian love story, but The Infinite Loop was surprising and great. It had depth (even if a little preachy). I loved the characters of Teddy and Ano and the truth about the oppressive world they live in and how they broke out of it. If you like love stories, time travel, and social justice sci-fi, you’ll definitely enjoy this.
2. Lady Killer by Joelle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Average rating: 4.3/5
I adore Jones’ art so I’m so happy to say that I also enjoyed her cowriting with Rich. I couldn’t turn down a book about an early 60’s housewife who’s also an assassin. While wearing fucking amazing dresses and heels. Josie was so incredibly self-reliant and badass. I can’t wait to read more about her journey.
3. Long Distance by Thom Zahler
Average rating: 4/5
Cute love stories are what Zahler excels in, and Long Distance fits perfectly. The couple in this story is separated from each other by distance (hence the title) and this is how they work through it. Or work around it. Or don’t work it. It was sweet and endearing, and all the things that are comfortable and you want when you need some fluff.
4. Fight Like a Girl by David Pinckney and Soo Lee
Average rating: 4/5
I wish Fight Like a Girl hadn’t just stopped. I wish that when I tweeted at Action Labs, they would’ve told me if they were continuing the series or if it was canceled. Hearing nothing about such a great story was beyond frustrating. I really cheer on indie publishers and want them to be successful. But this isn’t being so transparent or great. Make more of this book because it’s rad and features an incredible hero out to save her brother.
Read my reviews of Fight Like a Girl.
5. Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Sarah Gordon, Clayton Cowles, Jamaica Dyer, Christian Wildgoose, and Andre May
Average rating: 4/5
The new Phonogram series is just as fun as the last couple, even with the years between publications. I’m enjoying Emily and Claire as the protagonists, especially instead of David. Nice to have a lady in the center of the story. It follows the musical pretension of the other books and that isn’t a bad thing at all, just the very nature of these books.
Read my reviews of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl.
The Worst Miniseries
The Kitchen by Ollie Masters and Ming Doyle
Average rating: 2.8/5
I really was excited for this book, for this trip to the ’70s and to see women running a mob group. And at first, it was great with three women — two sisters and one close friend — who take over their husbands’ business when the men go to jail. The beginnings of the exploration of turning housewives and mothers into killers and gangsters was fabulous. But the fantasy fell apart when the husbands came home and [SPOILER] the women turned against each other.
Read my reviews of The Kitchen.
The Best Graphic Novels
I considered not putting this category in here. I’ve read a lot of graphic novels this year, but haven’t reviewed them necessarily here on the blog. When I do my book review, there will be several great ones that should be on this list. (Like Bad Houses by Sara Ryan or Nimona or Amelia Cole.)
1. Heart in a Box by Kelly Thompson and Meredith McClaren
Such a delightful book: one of sadness, one of mourning, and one of joy. Definitely one of my favorite books in general which I read in 2015. Thompson’s story is beautiful and McClaren’s art is a wonderful match for it. I love stories about hearts, and this beyond unique. Emma’s journey to gain and heal her heart has more pieces to it than are on the surface.
2. Saga Vol 4 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Saga is a beautiful story about family and raising a kid. This volume, while technically has the least action of any of the volumes so far, was perhaps the most impactful and emotional story. All the adult characters and all their flaws, pains, and wounds work against each other or to bring each other together. Vaughan’s smooth here, and Staples’ art always on point and gorgeous.
3. Saga Vol 5 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
The latest volume wasn’t as good as the previous one, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the read or doesn’t move the story further along. The trouble I had with this volume was the world building, specially around the rebels. Unsurprisingly, Alana and Marko aren’t the only ones who take issue with the ongoing war being fought between their people and many others. While it’s appreciative to see the rebels aren’t the answer like in other tales — I’m looking at you, Star Wars — this was too dismissive, too leaving out any kind of hope. Except perhaps at the end when we see Hazel in a school with other kids, but don’t know why or how.
4. Fairest: Of Men and Mice Vol 4 by Marc Andreyko and Shawn McManus
Perhaps the last volume of anything Fables‘ related that I truly enjoyed. Not shocking that it was penned by Andreyko, not Willingham, the chief writer. Cinderella’s always a fun character, especially in her super spy mode. I loved how Andreyko explained how she “ran” her business and did her spy work. This is notably one of the only Fables books which features non-Western fairy tale characters and gives them full characterizations, instead of just shallow, racist stereotyping.
The Worst Graphic Novel
Fables Vol 22 by Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, David Petersen, Russ Braun, Mark Schultz, Lee Garbett, Joelle Jones, Gene Ha, Peter Gross, Neal Adams, Andrew Pepoy, Steve Leialoha, Teddy Kristiansen, Michael Allred, Aaron Alexovich, David Hahn, Lan Medina, Niko Henrichon, Terry Dodson, Andrew Dalhouse, Megan Levens, and Bryan Talbot
Honestly, right here we could just put the final three Fables graphic novels. Each of them was pretty terrible, but if I had to choose one, it would be the ending for everything the ending wasn’t. It was anti-climatic. It meandered. It wasted pages with superfluous characters. It was a series that I and others have invested so much time reading. It seemed silly not to follow it through the ending, but then I regretted every single moment of it. It wasted the talents of so many great artists. It was like that guy at the bar you said goodbye to and hoped to part ways amicably, but instead, just kept coming back for one more moment, one more comment about your shoes, one more mention about how to connect on social media…
Read my review of Fables Vol 22
*2015 being when the reviews appeared here on my site. Not necessarily when the book was published.
What were some of your favorite comic books in 2015?
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