The House of Flying Scalpels 2015 Comic Awards!

Scalpel 2015 baseplate

Welcome one and all to the fourth annual #HoFS comic awards! The single most important part of this labour of love that makes it always worthwhile is how thankful people are to be asked to take part. You may have noticed that if you ask for volunteers in an open forum then few respond willingly. Perhaps this is because readers may feel that they haven’t read enough this year or that they are not knowledgeable enough. If that is what this post was about, then it would be akin to every other end of year review posts on multiple comic websites. I ask everyone I communicate with to take part because I genuinely believe everyone has a view and it is worth voicing. It does not matter if you have read a hundred books this year or ten, as long as it is from 2015 then that is all that matters. You love what you love and that is all I ask of you.

This year has been an interesting year in that there has not been a truly standout title such as Hawkeye, Southern Bastards, and Batman in the polls gone by. This is certainly reflected in the questionnaire with what seems like a record degree of variance. It does make it difficult to award a particular creator or comic an award, but that is the nature of the beast and whoever gains most votes wins. So join me in revelling at the best this year has had to offer!

I must make note that this post contains most of the results and comments to the questions posed but given the seer volume of detailed answers to the last two, they will be addressed in a follow up post soon. Also please do not be upset that I did not use one of your comments because I place them all anonymously and use the best/most diverse ones. I have no idea who you are! So these results are listed as roughly a top ten set of answers. They aren’t always because there may be a number of books tied further down, which can often be too many to list. Note I used percentages for the single answer questions, but not for the questions asking top threes. Given a single comic cannot be in the 1,2 or 3, column, a percentage is not really a meaningful parameter. 

untitledBest Publisher

  1. Image      49% 

  2. Marvel                 23%
  3. DC                         9%

4. Black Mask 4% 5. Boom 3% =6. Valiant, Panel Syndicate, IDW 2%.

Not as firm a stranglehold as last year but Image comics have maintained a majority over the others. There have been a number comments about their consistency in quality and sheer diversity in ideas. However Marvel seems to cause more controversy in the strategies they have employed to enact change, whilst being very poor at promoting it. These points make for interesting comments:

Image Comics. There was no better publisher of a diverse array of titles this year. Creativity nurtured and promoted through and through. 

Image Comics by a landslide, the quality of their books surpasses the majority of what the ‘big two’ are putting out week in week out. It seems a strange thing to say about what is essentially a corporation but Image seem to care about their readers. Their books offer value for money, their trades are priced to entice new readers and there is so much variety in their work that there literally is something for everyone.

Image comics once again knocked it out of the park. Best original series, best partnerships, best new stuff, best on going stuff, and with Island they’re even revolutionising the Anthology series. Everyone in comics should look to Image as a good way of working.

Valiant. They keep their prices low, their event tie-ins are actually relevant to the event itself, and they make more fan and retailer-friendly moves than any other publisher.

Black Mask Comics. They are Punk F*****’ Rock comics. Grimey, dirty, crazy comics. Space Riders was a mind warp of incredible story met with face melting art: incredible series. Toe Tag Riot was great, I mean zombies vs the Westboro Baptist Church! What more could you want?

Perhaps Action Lab and Panel Syndicate are the two that have really captured my interest, due to their content. Action Lab has a lot to offer and being an indie without being pretentious is appealing. Panel Syndicate’s business model is perhaps the future of the indy sector.

Boom Studios. I’d say Image, because I buy a lot of Image books, but I think Boom has really made great strides this year in publishing books for all different kinds of readers and all ages. They’re doing everything.

So, I was going to go with Image. But when I actually thought about it, I was basing this on their achievements last year. This year has been good as well, but mainly from series that have carried on from last year. Then I thought about Black Mask Comics. This company literally exploded onto the scene with small runs of great series with amazing art. Numerous reprints later, still doing amazing work. But what I am happiest for is the return of Vertigo. They’ve had a strong start with great new titles such as Twilight Children, The Clean Room, Art Ops, The Sheriff of Babylon and return of Lucifer. Reminded me of the way Vertigo used to be. So my vote goes to them.

Marvel was still the best publisher in 2015. It was the year that Hickman wrapped up one of the all time great superhero runs with Avengers/New Avengers. He destroyed the Marvel Universe in grand fashion, and Secret Wars has been phenomenal. Yes, it lost a lot of momentum because of delays, but every issue has made me cheer out loud with how awesome it has been. We also saw the launch of All New All Different Marvel, which has exceeded my high expectations. Somehow they managed to reboot a universe, keep continuity intact, and unleash a line-up that is from top to bottom as good as Marvel has ever been. Never have the A-list, B-List, and C-List titles ever been this good at the same time. 

While everyone has been critical of Marvel’s PR (and rightly so), Marvel has been the best big publisher for increasing character diversity this year. Marvel switched to a brand-wide initiative instead of pushing individual characters, and almost nobody noticed. They’ve fully changed their strategy. For Red Wolf and Sam Wilson, they aged Steve and found a new role for him. So Red Wolf gets the Man-out-of-Time role, and Sam Wilson gets the Captain America role. For Laura, since Wolverine is dead, people want him to come back, so they gave us Old Man Logan instead. Miles is the edge case, but as they’re clearly trying to establish Peter as something other than the traditional Spider-Man, the only thing is he’s keeping the name. Even take a look at the Avengers-esque teams. Robert Dacosta is leading New Avengers, Blue Marvel is leading the Ultimates, and Sam Wilson is leading the All-New, All-Different Avengers. Three of the four teams aren’t led by white people anymore. And I know people are down on Marvel’s queer representation, but we’ve now got Iceman, America Chavez, Angela and Billy and Teddy in prominent roles/teams. Marvel isn’t going to get out in front of this, because Marvel doesn’t want people watching as they fix problems. 

Image, even though naming any company in the Year of Our Empire 2015 was considered a relative struggle by a combination of creative output and company-level decisions. On one hand, it’s not up to me to determine whether or not Robinson’s apology in the Airboy controversy is sufficient, per se. On another, the sheer procedural nature of how that apology occurred, and who he consulted is on its front officially “correct.” For better or for worse, Image as a company allows enough creative freedom that its creators can commit egregious errors and yet also allow for a wide range of ideas and ways of visually expressing them.

1569237-jason_aaron_1Best Writer

  1. Jason Aaron                64 pts

  2. Jonathan Hickman                             49 pts
  3. Rick Remender                                     40 pts

4. Brian K Vaughan 31pts 5. Scott Snyder 30pts 6. Kieron Gillen 27pts 7. Mark Waid 17pts 8. Tom King 15pts 9. Mark Millar 12pts 10. Kelly Sue DeConnick 11pts.

Jason Aaron has worked his way up the charts over the past fews years, from sixth to fourth to first. It took a couple of years to knock Hickman from the top and it makes you wonder whether the Secret Wars delay caused this drop in favour. Nonetheless with the strong work on Thor and Southern Bastards, it isn’t a surprise his consistency has paid off. Lets hear what the people said!

Jason Aaron is producing some fantastic work at the moment. Southern Bastards is a compelling read that I was never expecting, The Goddammed is an exciting premise and I look forward to seeing in what direction it heads. His start on Dr. Strange has been exciting offering an imaginative reintroduction to the character and he continues to have a hand in numerous other top quality books.

Jonathon Hickman: I wasn’t planning to buy Secret Wars at all and just leave it languishing on the shelves, but having read some of the books leading up to the series, I was highly impressed by its audacity. He’s a writer whose work on Marvel will pay off in the long run.

Scott Snyder: Well, usually Snyder’s work is at the top of my list, have to say the Superheavy arc had me doubting for a few issue, hence the slip to No 2 this year for me. But I’m really enjoying how Gordon’s run as Batman has turned out after all, especially the way it seem to be going in the run up to issue #50.  

Nick Spencer has had a somewhat quiet year by his standards, but what he has lacked in quantity he has made up for in quality; Ant-Man has been one of the better Marvel reads recently incorporating Spencer’s signature humour whilst keeping the book full of action and adventure. Morning Glories has lost its way slightly but still continues to be a must read as the plot slowly unravels and still enthrals me as a reader.

2015 has been the year of the King: Tom King, that is. I have loved Grayson since the beginning, where he shares credit with Tom Seeley, another great writer. I have loved his Omega Men, intriguing, similar yet so different from what has come before.

Geoff Johns: Darkseid War is the event book that seems to not be getting traction, which is a shame as it’s the best writing he’s done on Justice League since his Forever Evil tie-in issues. Writing a pastiche of a Morrison JLA story shouldn’t work, but Johns has crafted something really good 

Joshua Williamson’s work in 2015 has been outstanding, Nailbiter is quite simply a must read for any fans of the genre and Birthright is a solid story that has continued from strength to strength. His new ongoing with Marvel – Illuminati will surely only see him gather more plaudits and become more recognised as one of the more talented writers currently plying their trade. 

Kel Symons I’ve loved every issue of Reyn, the multi-layered adventures of the last warden of the Land of Fate has been a particular favourite of mine from Image. The story had so many twists and turns, a great mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy elements. I hope the trades do well, its was originally conceived as a 10 issue arc only, but I would love to see more adventures from this great series. 

Lee Bermejo, he’s well known for being an artist but he’s really come into his own as a writer, his post apocalyptic series Suiciders has proved he can write a compelling story combined with his hyper realistic art. 

Warren Ellis: This is at least half because of the rhythm he clearly hit with Shalvey and Bellaire, half because his vigor and conviction in the stories he brought to the table. His narratives felt at once gigantic while being confined to a single book.

Gerry Duggan, after Mark Waid decided to leave Hulk, it fell on Gerry Duggan to pick up the pieces, whilst his run borrowed heavily from Peter David’s Hulk, it was just fun to see Hulk (Doc Green) being an arrogant smartass again, It might not have been the closure that many have expected for a character such as the Hulk, for me it had a sense of finality

Jason Aaron has been killing it again this year with Southern Bastards while letting us get our nostalgia foreplay until JJ Abrams allowed us to climax with Star Wars screaming Goddamned. Grant Morrison had a seller year with Annihilator and Multiversity both are books that I fondly enjoyed and will be reading again soon. Of course Brain K Vaughan did Saga but he’s stepped up his books and also did my recent favorite read Private Eye.

Ooh…curve ball…Chip Zdarsky! The humour that good old’ Chipper brings to Kaptara, Howard the Duck, and Jughead is no surprise, the well-rounded characters and emotional undercurrents really were, great to see him developing as a writer too.

Ales Kot. I think he is taking a lot of chances, pushes himself in his work, some of it really works for me, some…not so much, I can see he really polarises opinion, and I think that’s because he really is an artist, he pushes the boundaries of the form, and doesn’t shy away from real issues.  

Rob Williams: He co-writes the Eleventh Doctor, the best Doctor Who comic from Titan by a country mile. Martian Manhunter is such an unusual, fresh, and enjoyable take on the character. And Unfollow very quickly became a must-read from Vertigo.

3823Best Artist

  1. Greg Capullo                 37 pts

  2. Esad Ribic                                                   29 pts
  3. =Jamie McKelvie                                     22 pts                                                                                                               =Fiona Staples                                                                                                                                                             =Sean Murphy

6. Jason Fabok 18pts 7. Stuart Immonen 15pts 8. Mike Del Mundo 12pts 9. Matteo Scalera 11pts 10. Nick Dragotta 9pts. 

I must say I am impressed that Capello has remained the king for another year, especially with the meteoric rise of Esad Ribic up the charts. His art has become more honed and experienced over time but his consistency is to be admired. It is also great to see Jamie McKelvie making an appearance in the top three. Let us see what you had to say.

Greg Capullo has kept up his stunning work in DCs’ flagship Batman title. He brings vibrancy to Gotham that really adds to the narrative of the book. His work on action and set pieces is immense with such in-depth renditions of minute details that his work can only be applauded. With the news that Capullo is leaving Batman, I can’t wait to see what he does next with some creative freedom as he has the potential to be a modern great.

Greg Capullo: Another great year for Capullo on Batman. I like the Bat-Bot with the bunny ears, the new gadgets, and vehicles, its been a blast to see Gordon taking over as Batman. The Lumber Bruce look also went down quite well for Mr I’m not quite sure who I am / was anymore.

Steve Skroce bought to life an untold story with his art on We Stand On Guard, which immersed the reader into the world and made them care about the characters. Some of his character work in that book is unrivalled this year.

Chris Samnee: Again, this is for Daredevil. I’ve loved the art on this series; it captured the spirit of DD like no other, brilliant work! I’m going to miss this series so much.

Nate Stockman: For his work on Reyn, what a magical world he created with the Land of Fate, and all its many creatures and monsters. The actions scenes with Reyn and the Followers of Tek battling the Ven were also brilliantly structured, the quieter character moments were handled really well too, and Nate’s work made this series something really special indeed. 

Gunnerkrigg Court has been rolling along as usual this year, from the sweet to the creepy and from the mysterious to the emotional.

Tom Scioli– Thoroughly delightful and lively work with Transformers vs GI Joe.

David Lapham- Works eight panel pages with a cinematic precision.

MWBest Colourist

  1. Matt Wilson                   64 pts

  2. Jordie Bellaire                                            49 pts
  3. Matt Hollingsworth                                  40 pts

4. FCO Plascencia 29pt 5. Bettie Breitweiser 6. Dave Stewart 11 pts 7. Ive Svorcina 9pts. 

I as very proud of the progression in consideration for this years colourist award. There was only one option last year but I decided to push a little further by asking for three nominations. There were people that could provide no answers but the majority managed three which was very impressive. There was a great showing from Fco with his great work on Batman and Jordie maintained her high standard of quality, but it was Matt Wilson that has shone on so many books this year. (Note there were no comments on Matt Wilson so I have added mine!)

Matt Wilson has been stellar in any book he touches. Not only has he been integral to the Gillen/McKelvie books, especially Phonogram but his work on Thor has taken Dauterman’s art to a new level. It is the one book that seems to use all of his ability as it is incredibly bright and colorful but also so subtle in how it depicts the fantastical elements of the comic. These include the rainbow Bifrost and the magnificent Ice Giants, but it is Dauterman’s detailing that he brings crystal clarity to.

The reason Hollingsworth has come out as top choice for me is quite simple, the majority of the books he has worked on wouldn’t have worked without his colours. He has added to the book with his distinctive style and the fact I would check a book out based on his colour work alone is statement enough.

Matt Hollingsworth – His work on Wytches was astounding. The watercolour splotches and hues he used gave the series a sensational, rugged and claustrophobic feel!

Jordie Bellaire: A few of my picks here would already not have made it, if it wasn’t for her uncanny [er, sorry] ability to rotate into a book. While I clearly like what Shalvey did, I am positive that her colours were essential to it, even when she went with neutrality or absence. In this sense, she’s like a drummer, knowing when a beat isn’t necessary. The ability to use and highlight negative space for the sake of narrative is one of the least appreciated elements in comics, amidst a readership that often just jumps between word balloons like they’re rocks poking out of a river to be crossed.

clayton-cowles-0001Best Letterer

  1. Clayton Cowles               22%

  2. Todd Klein                                                       6%
  3. Joe Caramagna                                             4%

=4. Colin Bell, Rus Wooton 3% =6. Chris Eliopoulos, Rob Jones, Steve Wands 2%.

As I alluded to above, I wanted to inspire some thoughts regarding the people involved in comics that we often don’t think about. The letterer is easily ignored because so much work seems to be identical but it is not. Not until you read books such as The Wicked + The Divine and Sandman: Overture do you truly appreciate the impact a letterer can have.

Sandman Overture wasn’t great just because of Gaiman and Williams. Todd Klein’s lettering were just as important to the story and the art.

Steven Finch (aka Fonografiks) is much more than simply a letterer. You can tell when you pick up a book that Fonografiks has had a hand in because of how on point the visual arrangement of his work is.

Clayton Cowles: Battleworld Siege would not have been as good as it was without his expert lettering.

1358839-alex_ross_4Best Cover Artist

  1. Alex Ross                       13%

  2. Mike Del Mundo                                       11%
  3. Kevin Wada                                                 5%

=4. Scottie Young, Phil Noto, Francesco Francavilla 4% =7. Russell Dauterman, Darwyn Cooke, Cliff Chiang 2%.

This was a brand new category for the year, suggested by the First Lady of the House! Though Im sure she would be displeased her choice didn’t win, but there are some amazing artists on this list. Alex Ross’ work on Secret Wars has been exemplary and his big event feel with multiple characters was ideal for the book.

It’s time for a reappraisal for Alex Ross his work on Secret Wars and Astro City. The covers often feel like a story in themselves.

Jae Lee has a distinctive style and this has been apparent in his covers for Catwoman throughout 2015. Lees` covers captured the essence of a re-imagined Selina Kyle, giving hints at perils she faced in her new position.

Connor Nolan’s covers for Hellraiser Bestiary were stunning, Pinhead has never looked so powerful and menacing, and the cover of issue #6 was especially good – it was almost like a macabre stained glass window! 

Val Mayerik did one of the variants for Howard the Duck Vol 4 #1. What was great about this is Mayerik is the co-creator of Howard along with Steve Gerber so to have the artist who gave Howard life create a variant that adds elements such as Man-Thing and Beverly Switzler to the mix was very welcome.

WicDivBest Creative Team

  1. Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie          14% & Matt Wilson & Clayton Cowles                   

  2. Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo                                                              12%
  3. Mark Waid & Chris Samnee & Matt Wilson                                    9%

4. Jonathan Hickman & Esad Ribic 5% =5. Geoff Johns & Jason Fabok, Tim Seeley & Tom King & Mikel Janin 4%.  

This category becomes more and more important every year because you see some teams develop over time to produce some incredible comics. Note how Hollingsworth is almost always colouring Sean Murphy, or how Brubaker will never let Phillips leave him and Breitweiser has followed in similar fashion. This year saw some incredible work, none better than the long in the tooth Phonogram group. An award thoroughly deserved.

Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, great work on the Wicked and the Divine, a book that started strong and has continued to gather steam, but mostly for the return to my comic heartland, the world of Phonogram, just brilliant. 

Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok. I’ve started reading JL again when Fabok took over and they are just a brilliant pairing. Fabok is at a position in comics where he can’t do anything wrong, he’s up there with the legendary Jose Garcia Lopez.

It’s got to be Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. The reason being that I can’t imagine it working quite as well with any one of them missing. I literally tried a book outright because all three were definitely present together. 

Mark Waid and Fiona Staples in Archie. They turned a series that could have been a flop into one of the best series of this year. Both Waid’s story and Staples’ artwork add to the personalities of the characters Archie has been known for.

Rick Remender and Wes Craig. Those two have taken me on a nostalgic trip down memory lane with Deadly Class, evoking the horror of high school, sequestering the social anxiety and awkwardness of the time and bringing it back to mind in a glorious cacophony of blood, snot and viscera. It is an incredibly personal comic from Remender, which creates an incredibly personal experience for the reader.

Emma Rios and Brandon Graham. Whilst not a traditional team up of writer and artist, the two of them working together to curate an amazing Anthology of original ideas, unique comics and articles is simply wonderful to behold and I am in their debt that it exists.

Mark Waid and Chris Samnee on Daredevil made my old, tired heart sing again. Their work on that series and their upcoming work on Black Widow is something that will live on long past we have all died and started to rot away into the earth. Those two really are an amazing one-two punch!

554a383517bc6Best Comic

  1. Secret Wars                      28 pts

  2. The Wicked + The Divine                            19 pts
  3. =Batman                                                           18 pts                                                                                     =Southern Bastards

=5. East of West, Grayson, Deadly Class, Saga 16pts 9. Lazarus 15pts 10. Ms Marvel 14pts.

This is probably the lowest points score to win this category over the time I have been conducting this poll. You will notice only a five point difference between the second and tenth spot showing that there were a number of books people loved. Secret Wars was genuinely a surprise winner given how many people complained about its delays. Let us see what you had to say.

I am hesitant to say Secret Wars, but I have to… it is such a bold move on Marvel’s part, with such a solid creative team, that I have to excuse the scheduling issues it caused.

My favourite ongoing comic of the year has been Grayson. Tom King, Tim Seeley, Jeremy Cox, and fill-in artist Stephen Mooney have mixed superheroics and spy craft in a nearly perfect way. Every issue this year was fun, sexy, and badass. The main creative team is pretty special: You have the upcoming superstar Tom King co-writing with the dependable vet Tim Seeley, and the art of the great Mikel Janin. The result has been a great comic book. 

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: the only comic that leaves a smile on my face for the entire issue. Quirky and funny, no other series can surely beat her. I also love those little comments left on the bottom of almost every page.

Bizarro. I only grabbed this because of the 2.99 price point, and I very quickly fell in love with the humour and, especially, the artwork of Gustavo Duarte. I loved the way this book incorporated the guest artists as well – the highlight being Bill Sienkiewicz drawing Bizarro’s dreams!

All-Star Section Eight. Oh dear God this book made me laugh, so much. Whether it was racist Batman, Wonder Woman’s wedding, or Etrigan rapping about reprints of Ennis/McCrea’s The Demon, this book was nothing but hilarious, unpredictable madness.

Giant Days: it started as a 6-issue mini, grew to a 12-issue maxi, and has now become an ongoing. It may not have any super-heroics to it but everyday life can be just as entertaining. 

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye: I’m going to put them in because of their franchise affiliations, they don’t get nearly the acclaim they deserve. In-depth explorations of a society of robots and the gruelling aftermath of a war that lasted millions of years. You’ll believe a robot can feel.

Oxymoron from ComixTribe was a comic that really pulled me back to the fold. I picked it up at Thought Bubble at a time when I was becoming a little disillusioned with the comics’ world. Oxymoron from John Lees is a horrific tale, it is billed as the Joker in Gotham without Batman and it reads very much like that, as each one of its four issues was quite simply captivating.

tumblr_inline_nsx5w8q1W51r77eon_540Best Individual Comic

  1. The Wicked + The Divine  #13            20 pts

  2. Ms Marvel #19                                                                                       15 pts
  3. Secret Wars #1                                                                                      15 pts

4. Batman #44 13pts 5. Howard the Duck #1 11pts 6. Hawkeye #22 11pts 7. Batman #40 10pts =8. Ms Marvel #18, The Vision #1, Grayson #12  9pts

Sometimes it is hard to remember those issues that truly astounded you, especially over the course of the year. But many of these were truly amazing and speaking personally, the ones that got to me emotionally were the ones that I never let go of. These ten books are a great compendium of incredible variety and should be read by everyone. Let us see what you had to say.

WicDiv #13: Tula Lotay’s art is gorgeous, and Gillen gives us an excellent character study of the Pantheon member Tara while simultaneously throwing a giant middle finger towards people who harass women on the Internet.

The Wicked + The Divine #13 (Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay – the Tara issue) nothing else matters to me compared to this issue.

Ms Marvel #19, because that last page hit me right in the feel basket.

Hawkeye #22: with every delay I thought I was ‘over’ Fraction, and Aja’s, Hawkeye. Then it came. Damn. That damn book. Loved it. A brilliant end to one of my favourite modern runs on any book. Phenomenal. 

Justice League #44 because Darkseid War has been an amazing reminder of how good that book can be when written well, and Geoff Johns seems to have come out of his slump and stepped up in a big way.  

Secret Wars #3 because it was Doctor Doom at his Doom-iest. We find out he is using Johnny Storm as the Sun for Battleworld? Come on!!!

Mind MGMT #36 (New Mind MGMT 1) another great conclusion to a masterpiece from Matt Kindt, I was worried that any ending to this wonderful book would do it a disservice, I was wrong. Kindt wrung every emotional point perfectly, whilst keeping the tone perfect. This has been such a remarkable book. So sad to see it go. 

Batman 66#30: I’ve been reading this book on and off basis, it was basically a DC doing a silver age book all over again and the last issue done written by the Allreds was a delightful and fitting end to the series.

Hank Johnson Agent of Hydra, there’s been load of stories through the henchman’s point of view but this one’s been a right hoot.

The Surface #1: the concept, and execution, we’re so far up my street this book could have moved in with me. Loved it, for an introduction into a world, a bold exploration of scientific principles, and a use of different tone/ voice, this was such a success. Ales Kot writes phenomenal number 1s.

8177ulfgh4LBest Original Graphic Novel

  1. The Sculptor                      14%

  2. Avengers: Rage of Ultron                               9%
  3. Virgil                                                                       7%

=4. Batman Earth One Vol.2, High Crimes 5% =5. Apocalyptigirl, Nimona, Russian Olive to Red King, Sexcastle 3%.

OGN’s are probably the most neglected comics on the market, fewest answers were provided on this category. They always sit in a pile waiting to be read in my bedroom after my regular comics. They give an opportunity to try new books that take a different direction in storytelling and are able to complete their mission. I quite like the there were only a couple of mainstream hero books on this list, however there were a huge number of different books picked and certainly a few recommendations for myself.

Virgil by Steve Orlando – a stunning read that is not only packed full of action and excitement but also considerably emotional draining. A story about fighting for love that captures the heartstrings.

High Crimes by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa, w/ color assists from Lesley Atlansky. A murder-mystery/caper story set on Mount Everest, the story is one of human chaos against the predictability of nature….or possibly the reverse. The setting is rich and stark all at once, the characters deep, even when they’re being shallow.

Saint Cole by Noah Van Sciver (published by Fantagraphics) because it is brutal and unyielding and cuts right to the heart of the matter.

ApocalyptiGirl: Beautiful work, astoundingly vague yet a wonderfully cohesive narrative. Touching, funny and shocking all in one beautiful package, it’s a great release for Dark Horse.

The Invisible Lesbian by Oceanmarie, Murielle Magelin, and Sandrine Revel. (Delacourt) It’s Oceanmarie’s story of growing up lesbian in idealized Paris. Revel’s artwork is gloriously charming and pretty. It was the most delightful thing I read all year.

TerraQuill from writer and artist Shawn Daley is possibly one of the best comics I have ever read. While it was initially created as a web comic, the collected edition I backed through Kickstarter is one of the most incredible things I have ever held in my hands. It’s sweet, touching, challenging and occasionally brutal. If you haven’t done so already, track it down now!

Last year I praised Alice’s Siegfried GNs, and now I can only hope that you’ll be able to get an English translation his latest endeavour real fast.

Biggest dislike least likely to publicly admit

  1. Batman                        8%

  2. =Secret Wars                                         6%                                                                                                                          =Batgirl
  3. =The Wicked + The Divine               5%                                                                                                               =Thor                                                                                                                                                                                   =Saga                                                                                                                                                                                     =Amazing Spider-Man

This question was one that was asked of me recently and it was quite relieving to give it in my own answers. There are plenty of books out there that are adored and sometimes you just don’t understand why. I was more intrigued to see if there was a book that was more common than others. Batman is a relatively obvious answer because of its mass popularity, and given that there will always be people that try it and dislike it. This also means that social media will promote these works and make it more difficult to say anything negative against. This goes for all of the other books which have been massively popular over the years. So the real answer will probably be whichever book is most popular at any one time. Hence the top three comics of the year also appear on this question category too. Let’s check out some of the reactions but I warn you, you might not like what you read but then that is kind of the point!

I’m sick of yearlong Batman arcs and everything having to be so grand and epic in scope. Batman is a street level vigilante first and foremost and that has been lost for the most part since the New 52 launched.

I don’t dislike it but I no longer find Saga to be as great as it was when it first began. I don’t think it deserves as many awards and as much praise as it’s been getting recently.

I don’t find it hard to admit in public, but I consider Batman to be very overrated. There are certainly others that I have a more active and vehement dislike of, but Batman.

Secret Wars. I know everyone is Make Mine Marvel and Hickman is awesome but a seemingly simple idea has been executed with difficulties.

Grayson! I know people seem to like it, it does really well, but I hate it and everything that’s been changed about the character.

I don’t really discuss comics with many people but I love & dislike Transformers/GI Joe in equal measures – I like it cause I think the 2 franchises work great together and the crossover toys that were SDCC exclusive for a few years (stopped last year) were epic in both toy & box art. Any opportunity to see characters I like in a comic means I’m likely going to want it. As for why I dislike it because I seriously have no idea what’s going on & the characters do not act like themselves. The art isn’t my style but it suits it.  

Generally if I don’t like something I just don’t buy any further issues and keep my mouth shut. But With “Zero” published by Image I didn’t do other. After a spectacular for two arcs, it imploded on itself. Sure the argument is that it didn’t tell the story I wanted it to tell. Of note, this argument made by the writer.

Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl might be the worst comic I’ve ever read, but I’m afraid if I say that all of Tumblr will show up outside my home with pitchforks and torches.

Dark Knight III. I don’t even think it’s terrible, but certain ham-fisted moments made this peculiar compromise something I’m looking at incredibly warily, and it’s the #1 book with fans exhibiting a bizarre “persecution of the majority” complex when any criticism happens to it.

Rat Queens. Sorry. I get that it’s important and why, and I love Tess Fowler’s art, but whether it’s the setting (I was never a D&D kid and I don’t dig elves and orcs and stuff) or the characters (I find Hannah obnoxious and Beth? The tiny one creepy).

ODY-C – for the most part I really like Fractions` work but this book does nothing but confuse me. Yes, it is undoubtedly a beautiful book but I didn’t find the narrative progressive and to an extent found it a little pretentious. I know a lot of people like this book, and love Fraction, so I rarely state my opinion in the public domain!

Earth 2: it makes me mad the total disregard DC has for fans of those classic DC characters of the JSA. I want a proper JSA books again, f*** all the current Earth 2 crap DC keep churning out, scrap it, and make a proper Earth 2 book again. Oh, and bring back the Legion of Superheroes as well DC while your at it.

Bitch Planet. I just don’t think it’s that good. If you’re at all familiar with feminist ideas, it feels very basic and obvious and heavy-handed.

Batgirl. For some reason the ones who do like it and one of the creators take it very personally if you are heard or seen saying you don’t like it. I love the art, I just don’t dig the story.

Tokyo Ghost I’ve found this really hard to read and while Sean has been my favourite artist for many years and he improves constantly I just can’t get into it.

All New Hawkeye. It can die in a fire. I hate it. I hate it so much. It’s an abomination. Cline and Kate are both grossly out of character, the plot moved nowhere in the first four books it had before it got renumbered again and even then it’s still awful.

DIG061439_1._SX640_QL80_TTD_Best Secret War Tie-in Book

  1. Weirdworld                      16%

  2. Thors                                                                12%
  3. =Siege                                                              10%                                                                                                                 =Civil War

5. Old Man Logan 8% =6. Spider-Man Renew Your Vows, Marvel Zombies 6%.

Approximately two thirds of people responded to this question which I was pleased with because some of these books were genuinely quite good, and a reasonable temporising measure with the delays of the main book. I was also quite impressed with the variety as I found only a couple of these books maintained quality all the way through. Let’s see what the people said.

Weirdworld was possibly the most original and brought obscure characters back to the forefront. When was the last time you heard about Crystar the Crystal Warrior? Jennifer Kale? This book was beautifully illustrated, written brilliantly and wasn’t a book that just rehashed old storylines.

Weirdworld: Mike Del Mundo’s sweeping vistas and stunning landscapes in this book are the reason he is my pick for Artist of the Year.

Siege: Kieron “King of the Event Tie-In” Gillen’s Marvel U swansong. I had no idea I needed Illyana and Leah to be a power couple, but apparently I did. (Almost enough to wipe out the utter disappointment of Inferno and the boredom of Years of Future Past. Not quite, but almost.).

Planet Hulk by Sam Humphries and Marc Laming was good stuff. Not only was it the most surprising of the Secret Wars tie-ins, but it was the best of the bunch. That’s saying a lot too, because there were quite a few really good tie-ins. Awesome take on Steve Rogers, Devil Dinosaur, and a whole lot of Hulks. This is the title that made me want to see more Marvel work for Laming. It was beautiful.

Batman-44-coverBest Batbook

  1. Batman                      39%

  2. Grayson                                               20%
  3. Gotham Academy                           15%

4. Detective Comics 5% =5. Batgirl, Gotham by Midnight, Robin:Son of Batman, We Are Robin 3%.

The motivation was this question was to discover which Batman books people were enjoying, especially because personally I have found Batman to be surpassed by Grayson and Gotham Academy. Nevertheless Batman remains immensely popular and loved but it is important to emphasis the quality that exists outside of the main title, especially as it features some excellent new artists. Some of the comments were interesting in not only in their love of the Batman title but also the slow grievances people have found with the run. We shall come to those but given the growing popularity of new books Son of Batman and We Are Robin, the Bat books appear to be in good shape indeed.

It’s still Batman. From the socially relevant Batman #44 dealing with issues in the criminal justice system to the epic final battle between Batman and the Joker, the gutsy move to put Jim Gordon in the cape, cowl, and bot, and the creepiness of Mr. Bloom. Plus Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, and FCO Plascencia are one of the most consistent art teams working now.

Batman has been top notch for the past four years under Snyder and Capullo. It’s still great, and it can’t be discounted. What impressed me about their work in 2015 has been how they took an unpopular concept on the surface (Gordon The Bat-Bunny), and kept the high quality that we’ve come to expect. The coolest part is that the issue where Capullo took a break might have been the best DC superhero comic of the entire year. Batman #44 with guest art from the great Jock was a stunning and heart breaking issue.

I’m not a huge Batfam fan, I’ve only really started delving into it but the current BatGirl run is amazing. It’s the first time I’ve really felt I’ve connected with a DC character. I’ve really enjoyed it and I’m hoping to maybe work my way back into some more DC stuff at the moment.

Grayson has without doubt has been the best Bat book, admittedly that could be just me being biased but I genuinely believe it has been not only the best but also the most enjoyable. I think the fact that it hasn’t had any crossover issues with the main Bat book for the sake of it has also been a huge help as it has let the team have a solid run with the character, as they want. All whilst still building a solid supporting cast.

Gotham Academy. New, fresh, still tonally recognizable as a Gotham book – creepy, dark – but with a playful edge, and stakes that for once don’t depend on the Joker or an 11-issue psych deconstruction (not knocking those, I just think we need variety).

I’ve found Batman and its recent directions to be hugely disappointing, and Endgame wasn’t the rapturous ending I wanted. The only Bat Family book I really, truly enjoyed this year was Gotham Academy. Bat books have lost so much of the fun, adventure and spooky menace that I loved in the other books (Grant Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin all the way up to its demise under the tide of the New 52 being the highlight of all time for me) and Gotham Academy pushes back into that territory, and has more detective work in it than Batman does nowadays.

As mentioned above the final two questions were far too extensive in results and commentary for me to compile quickly, therefore I shall be posting these in the coming weeks.

I want to thank the people who took part in this survey and the fact this is the fourth year and yet still it garners so much enthusiasm in the responses means ever so much to me. It really provides a valuable insight into the reading habits and passions of comic lovers and teaches me more about appreciation and perspectives of books I would not have even picked up. Thank you again for another amazing year as we say goodbye to the wonderful comics of 2015!

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