Welcome to The Last Panel’s 1st annual top 10 comics. Now, this is a purely personal list of what I consider the top 10(ish) comics that I have read this year, not the 10 best comics that came out this year, and as such you will see some comics that have come out years ago. My method of determining this list is 100% my own opinion because my blog. So without further ado,
#10 (tie): Drama, In Real Life, and Foiled.
Is a three way tie kind of a cheat? Probably, but these 3 formed a weird sort of thematic collection of teenaged female lead stories that were just shy of being really good, at least for me. So why are they on the list? Well each was unique in some way, Drama as a comic tribute to musicals and theater stage crews, Foiled for getting me more invested in the everyday life and struggles of a teenage girl than its surprise fantasy elements, and In Real Life for its ambition to tell a human story of economics and MMOs. While I think they all had their own slight and rather small failings, they each at least put in a heck of an effort in trying to be something and I respect each in some way, so I think they’ve at least earned a place on this list.
#9 (tie): The Shadow Hero and Shazam
Once again another tie, and once again a common theme, this time of origin stories to characters created in the Golden Age of Comics. The Shadow Hero
is Gene Luen Yang’s telling of an origin story for what very well could have been the first Asian-American superhero, The Green Turtle. Its a good book and its also nice to see a “reboot” of a mostly forgotten character that isn’t obsessed with being hip or “gritty”. It also raises the profile of one of the countless superheroes that weren’t fortunate enough to be swallowed up DC or Marvel, and more or less cosigned to the history books. Shazam, on the other hand, is the (admittedly largely unneeded), slightly sadly grim and “updated” reboot of DC’s Captain Marvel (now just called Shazam because, well here this explains everything ) now called simply Shazam. At first I was kind of opposed to the idea of aging up and darkening the origin story of a character that not only is the most honest and straight forward fantasy in comics and is also a bigger boy scout than Superman, but DC actually did a really good job of making a very solid origin story that I actually ended up being rather good.
Bryan Lee O’Malley’s follow up to his well known Scott Pilgrim series is really good. A magical realist-y tale of learning to accept the consequences of one’s choices with mushrooms, house sprits, and an apocalypse or two. Not much else to say besides that.
#7: Hack/Slash Omibus Vol. 1
An homage to slasher movies that even non fans can appreciate. Hack/Slash is about one of those slasher movie survivors, Cassie Hack, who decides to travel the country hunting down various slashers with a misunderstood brute named Vlad. Featuring two kick ass protagonists and an original rouges gallery of villains, Hack/Slash is loads of fun. Also it got a play version, that’s not important I just find it interesting.
#6: Bob’s Burgers
It was probably only a matter of time until the tv show Bob’s Burgers got a comic spin-off, and its fantastic. The Bob’s Burgers comic is written by the show’s writers and does exactly what a comic spin-off should, telling stories and playing around with the show’s concepts and characters in ways that the show can’t. It expands upon the adventures of the core cast and also allows the writers to do even more absurd and funny things than they could do on the show itself. Its great and just as funny as its source material.
#5: Loki: Agent of Asgard vol. 1: Trust Me
Loki as a secret agent while on a personal quest for redemption. That should really say it all, but it also just stretches the surface. Loki is trying to turn over a new leaf by working for the rulers of Asgard doing their dirty work in exchange for forgiveness for his crimes, but his evil side isn’t entirely gone. What ensues is loads of fun with an interesting cast going on adventures. Loads of fun with nice drama and great storytelling.
#4: Young Avengers vol.1: Style > Substance
Not too much to add to this one. Loads of fun, and just damn good art with good writing made better with a great plot and a terrific cast of characters. Not much else to say.
#3: Ms. Marvel (2014 series)
The series that actually kind of started this whole thing, getting me into comics in the first place. Relatable protagonist, great and lively art, terrific writing, and half bird clones of Thomas Edison driving giant robots, what more could you want from a comic series? Giant sewer gators? Got ’em. Wolverine? He stopped by for two issues, bub. Unspeakable cosmic horrors that will be the end of us all? Well, I suppose you can’t have everything in one series. So why isn’t it higher? Well, it faced some pretty stiff competition…
Saga is just plain great. No two ways about it, its fan-fracking-tastic, terr-freaking-ific, awesome. The epic story of an outcast family trying to make it in a universe locked in a never ending cosmic war between sci fi and fantasy with tree spaceships, robot royalty, and planets that give birth. Weird, awesome, epic Saga is freaking awesome.
#1: Boxers and Saints
So, I’ve already spoken about Boxers and Saints mostly separately, and they are, without a doubt, the best comic I’ve read all year. Two intertwined tales of history obscured though legend that show the best and worst of humanity, Boxers and Saints explores the Boxer Rebellion through a human lens, all the while giving both sides of the conflict and how a person do the most horrific things for the most noble of reasons while still being human. Deep, human, thought-provoking, and complex yet simplistic and not preachy, these two graphic novels are by far Gene Luen Yang’s best work to date, and are also the best comics I’ve read so far.