Oh, the mini series. The short run, minimal commitment that can serve as an oasis in the middle of continuity-laden publishing lines. Or, at least, that’s what the mini series looked like once upon a time. Now, they tend to serve a different purpose. Smaller publishers use the mini series to build up steam and notoriety, laying way for the inevitable trade paperback to put up numbers in the book market. They’re also a way for writers and artists to work in public, releasing work regularly, as opposed to disappearing for a year in order to put out the periodical graphic novel.
As we’ll see below, at least one half the Big 2 can still find success with the mini series, as two of our five spots were won by DC Comics. But beyond that, the three other spots are held by publishers from different tiers of the industry. Read on!
4. (TIE) Frankenstein Underground
(Mark Tweedale) Frankenstein’s creature lumbered from the pages of “Hellboy: House of the Living Dead” to his own miniseries in “Frankenstein Underground”. This is a truly unique book in the Hellboy Universe, with a lead borrowed from classic literature, and yet so intimately connected to Mignola’s core mythology. For those looking, there are links to every other Hellboy Universe series, all tied up in this kind of homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Pellucidar novels. It’s really quite remarkable.
That aside, this is Ben Stenbeck’s monster book. He gets to draw Frankenstein’s creature going up against all manner of beast, and he’s clearly having fun with it.
4. (TIE) Convergence: Shazam
(Zach Wilkerson) From the word go, “Convergence: Shazam” was the book to watch coming out DC’s big crossover event. Reuniting the Dynamite “Flash Gordon” team of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner and Jordie Bellaire, “Shazam” channeled the classic and yet timeless tone of that previous work. A simple two-parter, “Convergence: Shazam” followed the example of last year’s “Thunderworld,” making great use of the limited page count to tell a gripping tale of magic, monsters, and technology run amok. In short, it was the quintessential “Shazam” comic.
The team manages to break out from the shackles of the “Convergence,” working within the constraints and rules of the event while not weighing down or dragging out the story in unnecessary ways. Also, the book closely matches the tone and style of the era it references, an area in which many “Convergence” titles fell short. Such flexibility and versatility is rare among modern events. If ever there was a template for a how to write an event tie-in or a “Shazam” ongoing series, Parker, Shaner, and Bellaire have unquestionably delivered. The DC3 adored this book unequivocally, and you can check out our thoughts here and here.
3. We Can Never Go Home
(Leo Johnson) In a year where Black Mask Studios made a big name for itself, “We Can Never Go Home” helped to really solidify that. Created by Matthew Rosenberg (who pops up on the list in other places), Patrick Kindlon, and Joshua Hood, “We Can Never Go Home” mixed superpowers, teenage angst, road trips, crime, drama, and more into one of the best mini series of the year. It’s a story of familiar parts and ideas, but one with a lot of heart and depth. With great critical acclaim and seemingly every issue going back for multiple printings, “We Can Never Go Home” was the first genuine, solid hit for Black Mask in my mind. Considering how well it’s done, it’s no surprise that we’ll be seeing more “We Can Never Go Home” in 2016.
(Brian Salvatore) Much like our #1 pick seems to be everything about that writer’s comics love distilled into one book, “Airboy” attempts to reconcile the entirety of James Robinson’s personality into one comic. There’s Robinson the lover of old heroes, Robinson the former addict, Robinson the friend/mentor, and Robinson the piss-taker. This is not a white-washing of his personality, instead, this is an exorcism.
Of course, it wouldn’t be what it is without Greg Hinkle’s absurdly great work. Hinkle manages to capture reality in a way that doesn’t rely on photorealism or subtlety. This is as gonzo of a comic as you’ll come across, and yet, it somehow feels grounded. Perhaps that’s just the guilt and bad behavior of the book settling into the work – but don’t let that fool you. This isn’t a real story, nor is it a fake one. Like all great stories, it is simultaneously both.Continued below
1. The Multiversity
(Keith Dooley) “The Multiversity” returns, once again, to take the crown as best miniseries of 2015 after decisively deserving the coronation last year. Although only two issues were released this year, they were stunning exercises in creativity and ingenuity. Writer Grant Morrison made us question our existence and the meaning of the world with “The Multiversity: Ultra Comics” #1 with artist Doug Mahnke while wrapping up his opus with artist Ivan Reis in “The Multiversity” #2. This miniseries will be remembered not only as one of the greatest comic book epics of all time, but one of the greatest love letters to the artistic medium we all love and appreciate with every fiber of our being.
Mike Romeo – For the sheer volume of minis that Marvel put out as part of Secret Wars, I was really surprised to see that not a single one made the top five. To push that even further, we’d have had to make this list the top 15 minis for Marvel to show up. I found that to be astounding.
Brian Salvatore – The role of the miniseries is different than it has ever been before, and it seems like that role is still in flux right now. Despite having two offerings in the top 5, the Big 2 have really softened their approach to minis or, maybe put differently, they’ve disguised them as ongoings until the inevitably fail and get collected as a 6, 8, or 12 issue collection. I hope to see the pendulum swing back towards all comics embracing the mini as a viable way to tell a meaningful story.