We’re continuing our ten-year celebration of borg today with our favorite comic books. If you missed them, check out our Top 40 movies here and our Top 40 TV series here.
We reviewed thousands of books and comics that we recommended to our readers since June 2011, and some even made it onto our favorites shelf. We don’t publish reviews of comic books that we read and don’t recommend, so this shortlist reflects 21 comics and creators we view as the Best of the Best.
So let’s get going!
Best Superhero Series (tie) — Black Widow (Marvel Comics). Phil Noto’s art and colors were incredible and Nathan Edmondson’s story didn’t let up once. Full of action, espionage, and intrigue. A great series to catch-up on in a trade edition. Hawkeye (Marvel Comics). Before Black Widow, Matt Fraction and David Aja set the stage for a successful Tier 2 superhero story. If you don’t usually go for the dramatic superhero book as opposed to the masked action story, this may be the one exception you should check out.
Best Sci-Fi Series – Copperhead (Image Comics). Fans of sci-fi Westerns like Firefly should take note. There’s a great series released by Image Comics–Copperhead. It features one of the best characters of 2014, the tough Sheriff Bronson, large and in-charge in an off-world, sparsely populated town. Writer Jae Faerber and artist Scott Godlewski created an instant hit complete with plenty of alien crime.
Best Tie-in Comic Book Series: Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who: Assimilation² (IDW Publishing). Writers Scott and David Tipton and Tony Lee and artist JK Woodward’s painted artwork throughout this limited series was stunning. Probably the best depiction to-date of Star Trek characters in a comic book, Woodward took a fanboy’s dream job of merging two of the biggest sci-fi franchises together for the first story ever attempted and delivered a great looking series.
Best Supernatural Comic Book Series – Ghost Tree by Bobby Curnow and Simon Gane (IDW Publishing). Haunting, mythic, and sweeping, this story of a man reflecting on his past and coming to terms with the present incorporates Asian legends to form an emotional, curiously funny tale.
Best Retro Comic Book (Ongoing Series) – Miss Fury (Dynamite). The 2013 Miss Fury series was a unique take on the world’s first superheroine. Writer Rob Williams and artist Jackson Herbert concocted the surprise hit of the year–a book that might not have been on pull lists yet it was swiped off the store shelves every week as readers couldn’t get enough of the series–a non-stop, action-filled, fun read–it’s a comic book series that will remind you why you love comic books in the first place.
Best Retro Comic Book (Limited Series) – The X-Files Year Zero, aka The X-Files Mystery Magazine (IDW Publishing). Writer Karl Kesel crafted both a great Mulder and Scully tale and a film noir mystery in this five-issue limited series, flipping from the present to the past in a tale that is worthy of being canon for the franchise.
Best Comic Book Writer – Matt Kindt, Dept.H (Dark Horse). Kindt pulled together an incredibly nostalgic assemblage of the best action concepts: classic science fiction of the H.G. Wells variety, G.I. Joe Adventure Team-inspired characters, and a fun character study and whodunit that will have you digging out your old game of Sub Search.
Best Comic Book Interior Artist – Mike Mayhew, The Star Wars, Star Wars #15, Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Storms of Crait, etc. (Dark Horse). Mike Mayhew’s great artwork make a 1974 George Lucas script something bigger and better than it otherwise might have been. Superb interior work on several titles, with a specialty in getting Star Wars just right.
Best Comic Book Cover Artist – Alex Ross, Mighty Mouse, Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern, Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77, The Shadow/Batman, Marvel Legacy, The Mighty Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman ’77 Meets The Bionic Woman, etc. Alex Ross had another banner decade, providing the best nostalgia for fanboys and fangirls with his classic painted artwork. And as always, he didn’t just paint a few covers, but hundreds, across nearly every major title.
Best Comic Book Cover Multi-Artist Event — Betty & Veronica Issue #1 variant covers (Archie Comics). Reaching out to a few dozen comic book artists to create their impressions of the world’s oldest–and longest published–frenemies provided a brilliant and beautiful result, reprinted in a collected volume.
Best Graphic Novel (tie) Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, Jill Thompson (DC Comics). Writer/artist Jill Thompson is probably the best creator in comics today. Her origin story of Wonder Woman is vibrant, and she presents a flawed, complex, and ultimately strong and fearless heroine. The best Wonder Woman book we’ve ever read. Minky Woodcock, The Girl Who Handcuffed Houdini (Titan Comics). Cynthia von Buhler was a double threat on this book. As a writer, she combined a well-researched story pulled from her own ancestral research, tying in historic events and weird supernatural pieces of America’s past. As an artist, she revealed a beautiful style mixed with realistic characters and places, and nostalgic colorful layouts conjuring artists of the Golden Age of comics.
Best Single Issue – Hawkeye Issue #11 (Marvel Comics). Writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja set a new standard for writer/artist partnerships as they created a silent story told from the perspective of rescued pooch Arrow aka Pizza Dog aka Lucky. It’s a standalone issue that folks will look back on for years as an example of the best work of both creators.
Best Retro/Reboot Comic Book Series — Afterlife with Archie (Archie Comics). Who would have guessed someone could make Archie and friends so accessible to any demographic in the 2010s? And whose brilliant idea was doing it via a horror genre story of zombies taking over Riverdale? Smart writing by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and spooky atmospheric illustrations by Francesco Francavilla.
Best Superhero (Limited) Series – X-Men: Grand Design/X-Men: Genesis by Ed Piskor (Marvel Comics). Ed Piskor took the brass ring and took fans of Marvel Comics past and present to relive the the history of Marvel in a few comic book issues. His styles, his choices, his paper selection, his color work, his lettering, all made this series stand apart.
Best Crossover/Mash-up Series – Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by writer James Tynion IV and artist Freddie Williams II (DC Comics/IDW Publishing). A great idea executed wonderfully, combining two key franchises in a way fanboys and fangirls will keep coming back for. Williams once again shows why his eye-popping Batman and TMNT layouts are the best for both properties you’ll find in any series today.
Best Comic Book One-Shot – Radically Rearranged Ronin Ragdolls, No. 1 (Kevin Eastman Studios). A single issue that is screaming to be its own series with a quick but thoroughly crafted world and unlikely but superb superheroes.
Best Comics Moment – Detective Comics arrives at Issue #1000, various writers and artists (DC Comics). Even more so than past events, the #1000 issue’s look at Batman really brought the best out of every writer and artist that participated, and documented a key high point in comics history.
Best Comic Book Surprise/Best Borg Comic – Star Wars No. 108 (Marvel Comics) – A big win no one could have predicted–the return of Valance, The Hunter. For anyone who read the original Star Wars comics in the 1970s and 1980s, this issue came out of nowhere. It also showed that these stories and characters are still loved by fans, and there is a market for the Expanded Universe aka Legends stories today.
Best Online Comic – Aztec Empire by Paul Guinan, David Hahn, and Anita Bennett (Big Red Hair Comics). Probably one of the best uses of comics in a web format so far, the great storytelling and vivid, quality artwork was a fresh look at a history lesson–for comic readers and history fans.
We hope you find something you haven’t read from the past four days–and past ten years–of recommendations.
Thanks for reading!
C.J. Bunce / Editor / borg