While a number of these series will appear on a few of our other ‘Best Of’ lists this year, we still think that it’s important to call out the impactful comics that got their start this year. All told, 44 different series were nominated in this category, and they covered quite the spectrum. Everything from “Giant Days” to “Rumble” to “From Under Mountains” was nominated, and the tallies were incredibly close for the top five vote earners. So what was the best new series this year? Read on to find out.
(Greg Matiasevich) Godzilla meets Oz. When that’s your starting premise, chances are pretty good you’re going to be ending up on some “Best Of” lists at some point, because how can a prison drama starring all manner of giant monsters NOT be amazing? Even the title is so spot-on that I’m frankly shocked nobody thought of it before Zander Cannon did. But I’m glad Cannon was the one to bring this book to life because as awesome as that premise is, execution is everything. And he does not disappoint. From an art style and palette 180 degrees from his previous B&W work on “Heck” (or “Double Barrel” if you want to be specific about it) to a story that induces belly laughs and audible gasps in every issue, “Kaijumax” is no one-note parody mash-up. Just about every aspect of the prison or monster genre shows up: corrupt guards, prison gangs, cryptids, mecha-monsters, isolation, shanks… even down to the “Oh my Goj” usage; there doesn’t seem to be any trope left untouched. But Cannon makes all of these disparate things work incredibly well. “Kaijumax” may be the new fish this year, but here’s hoping it doesn’t get an early release from our pull lists any time soon.
4. We Can Never Go Home
(Jess Camacho) This year Black Mask burst onto the scene with new, truly unique titles like “Space Riders”, “Young Terrorists” and their crown jewel, “We Can Never Go Home”. “We Can Never Go Home” tells the story of Duncan and Maddie. Maddie has super strength and Duncan can supposedly kill someone with his mind. When things go wrong at Duncan’s home, he and Maddie go on the run. Matthew Rosenberg, Josh Hood and Patrick Kindlon tell an exceptional story that provides a new take on “kids with super powers”. Maddie and Duncan see a lot of violence in this story and end up committing much of it themselves but never once does this book condone any of it. In fact, everything gets worse for the two of them as they get deeper and deeper into using violence. Underneath all this violence there’s a story of teenage love and how easy that can go wrong. Rosenberg and Kindlon’s script is full of dark humor, raw emotion and it’s packed with so much action that it’s almost tough to believe this has only seen five issues so far.
Josh Hood’s art is out of this world. He conveys so much through his characters. From dread to lovesick, everything comes through perfectly and his work is incredibly tight. The lines are clean and he holds himself to a high standard while doing a ton of extra work thanks to the sometimes used 9 panel grid layout. Madison’s strength is a wonder to behold because Hood is able to make it believable. She’s has no real physical features of a generic superhero and that’s what makes her abilities feel believable in this setting. Tyler Boss and Amanda Scurti split the color duties throughout and they create this flat style that immediately sets the retro vibe the series is trying to capture. “We Can Never Go Home” is a series that just owned the 2015 rookie class so if you haven’t had the chance to read it, pick up the collected edition as soon as you can.
3. Harrow County
(Mark Tweedale) When I was introduced to “Harrow County”, I thought it was the best thing I’d read in 2015 up to that point. Now, at the end of the year, I feel this my series for 2015. It’s what I look forward to the most every month. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s world of woods filled with countless haints has an undeniable appeal to me. Emmy, the series’ protagonist, won me over immediately, and continues to win me over again and again with each new issue. She was amazing in issue eight, the final issue of the year. I love the tale-telling voice of Cullen Bunn’s narrator, and Tyler Crooks beautiful water colour pages. There truly is nothing else out there like “Harrow County”.Continued below
2. Invisible Republic
(Paul Lai) Image Comics bursted at the seams with exciting new series this year, so many they probably split votes on lists like these. But that makes Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko’s Invisible Republic, colored by Jordan Boyd, even more of a standout. How did another futuristic sci-fi epic about revolutionaries and reporters in a complex universe distinguish itself from the globular cluster of alike titles out there?
Invisible Republic’s opening story arc dangles an intriguing combination of elements: a chronicle of the rise (and fall?) of Arthur McBride, political strongman of Avalon, an economically strangled moon of the planet Asan. But the profile unfurls through layers of conflicted testimonial, like Citizen Kane, primarily through the lost journals of his cousin, Maia Reveron, found four decades later by disgraced journalist Croger Babb, whose misadventure of recovering Reveron’s account is its own revealing drama of unrest and quiet upheaval.
Bechko and Hardman, partners in comics and life, have surfaced in recent years with an incomprehensibly prodigious output, demonstrating their knack for infusing familiar genre and licensed worlds with pitched sociopolitical prescience. With Republic, they might have a slow-burn magnum opus on their hands, a “poly sci-if” thriller with both intrigue and insight.
1. The Omega Men
(James Johnston) As will be mentioned several times over the course of this series, 2015 is the year where DC made me a believer again. And frankly, they’ve been pumping out some good books for a while. But even then, a lot of their output felt sort of safe or, in some aspect, like a reaction to Marvel (as awesome as “Grayson” is, you could also argue it’s an attempt to see how hard DC can turn Dick Grayson into The Winter Soldier before anyone notices.) Then, all of a sudden, came this comic where Kyle Rayner was kidnapped by space terrorists and then executed on live video. A lot of comics sound like crap on paper and “ISIS In Space” is no exception. But damn me if “The Omega Men” wasn’t the most surprising thing to come out of DC since they decided to give Superman a turtleneck.
“The Omega Men” has quickly grown to become one of DC’s most popular comics (even getting temporarily uncancelled just from the sheer volume of fan support) by looking at what’s been done in space comics before and just throwing that out the window. The Omega Men are our protagonists, but they’re definitely not the good guys, nor is the Alpha empire they’re looking to overthrow. Kyle Rayner, alive actually, serves as our point of view as he gets more and more worn down by the monsters he’s now forced to work with. And it would all be so much easier if his kidnappers didn’t have some very solid points. “The Omega Men” isn’t just about an insurgency, but the motivations and reasoning that leads to such extreme actions.
A lot of comics in 2015 did a great job of presenting high concept characters with great motivation and characterization, but none were as brutal as “Omega Men.” It was the right hook to the jaw that DC needed to show that Big Two comics can go just as hard as their indie contemporaries. Also, that moment in the mirror with the Green Lantern symbol alone was enough to put this comic in the top five. Just buy it so we don’t have to worry about it getting cancelled again, yeah?
Mike Romeo – Look at that, smaller publishers dominating the list. Even the sole DC entry feels like an indie book. I wonder if that’s why it earned the top spot? It sort of seems like they’re flirting with series that break the self-imposed mold, and if our staff is to be believed, there’s a hunger for that sort of sea change.
Brian Salvatore – Each of the books on this list subverts its genre in one way or another, and makes something truly unique out of it. While we – and many of our readers – love these books, I can only hope that the buying public at large can love them, too, so that they aren’t new books this year, and cancelled books next.