As anyone who knows me knows, I’m a huge fan of comics! Marvel, DC, Indie, etc. and there was a lot to like this year. Over the course of two articles, I’ll be breaking down my favorite comics of the previous year.
2018 was a twice-strong year for Champions, as Mark Waid and Humberto Ramos wrapped up their initial run and Jim Zub and a host of new artists took over. Waid’s Champions was smart and poignant, featuring a mix of characters, superheroics, and character work (even if I didn’t love Ramos’ art) and the inclusion of Viv Vision and Cyclops made it a series I could not pass up. It is fair to say I was nervous when I learned Waid was leaving and taking Cyclops with him, but Zub’s run has blown my expectations so far.
Despite the lack of a consistent interior artist, every arc has been drawn with a surprisingly simplicity that really narrows in on the story: a tour de force of character work and heroics, enhancing on all the messages put forward by Waid while carving its own, vastly superior, path. Champions is consistently one of the best series Marvel puts out, and I’m excited to see where it goes as it relaunches in 2019.
4. Moon Knight
Alas, poor Moon Knight, we hardly knew ye. I read lots of Moon Knight, being a big fan of the slightly unhinged Marc Spector and his Dissociative Identity Disorder, but recently he’s been on a streak of extremely good series. Jeff Lemire’s previous run had been surreal in the best possible way, so new series writer Max Bemis went the opposite route and created a series that was bloody and frank in a very honest way.
Exploring motifs of family, mental illness, society, and sanity, Bemis’ Moon Knight was always a solid read. It took many, many risks, not all of which paid off, but I looked forward to it every month and was very disappointed when Marvel cancelled the book after only a few issues.
3. Green Arrow
I love Black Canary, let me get this out of the way, and I picked up the series for her. I’ve never disliked Oliver Queen, but his series has been very, very bad for the past decade or so and Arrow only succeeded by changing everything about him, so I went into the series with very low expectations. I expected to read maybe the first three issues of Ben Percy, Otto Schmidt, and Juan Ferrerya’s Rebirth Green Arrow run. Instead, I picked up all 39 issues written by this powerhouse team.
Another smart and topical mix of politics and danger, Percy’s Green Arrow tore down Oliver Queen and built him back up, kept him snarky, hilarious, but grounded by a multifaceted and strong supporting cast, and never went quite where the reader expected. I was pretty bummed when this run came to an end– I would’ve stuck with it for as long as it was around.
2. Avengers: No Surrender / (Uncanny Avengers)
So, anyway, I’m a huge Avengers fan. Not so much of the movies, but the comics (as I will obnoxiously brag, I have technically read the entire first decade of Avengers stories straight through). Recent Avengers comics haven’t gelled with me that much as they’ve tended to focus on the movie cast (eugh) and ignore the previous soap opera character work and smaller characters (coughVisionandScarletWitchcough) for very flat stories about Tony Stark and his friends. Only side Avengers series, such as my much-loved Avengers Academy and Uncanny Avengers, have even attempted to capture the old Avengers magic.
Avengers: No Surrender was the first main Avengers series in a long time that changed that. Juggling a gigantic cast of characters and three teams (Avengers, USAvengers, and Uncanny Avengers) along with Voyager and Lightning, No Surrender somehow wove a straightforward, beautifully vast yet equally intimate look at what made the Avengers tick. A worthy conclusion to the powerful Uncanny Avengers saga I’d also been enjoying, it was a phenomenal experience I was privileged as an Avengers fan to read.
1. Shade: The Changing Woman
I don’t even know how to describe Shade the Changing Woman. It’s weird. Really weird. It’s about an alien acting as a tourist on Earth, and it speaks to humanity and what makes us human, and the art and the writing are beautiful and Oh God, I miss this comic so much but I could not describe any of it to you without spoiling it. Just read it, please.
Castelluci and Zarcone were at the top of their game and this comic was life-changing. I miss it. Come back.