We are officially halfway through 2019, and the Monkeys Fighting Robots’ team has compiled their picks for best comic of the year (so far)!
Our writers have put together a list that runs the gamut, from gritty, street-level stories to grand cosmic epics, and everything in between. And, of course, “best” is a completely subjective term and this list represents our personal opinions. There are countless comics that have come out this year that deserve a place on this list.
Read on for our selections, and then tweet at us and let us know yours!
SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY #1
Spider-Man Life Story: #1 by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley is one of those comics that makes you ask, “why isn’t everyone else doing this?” The premise is fairly simple: after his debut in the ‘60s, Spidey ages in real time. Zdarsky strongly incorporates real-world events and this blend of the Marvel Universe with our reality is particularly captivating in the first issue. Peter Parker grapples with the responsibilities that come with being a superhero in war time. The subsequent issues are excellent, too, but seeing Peter have an emotional discussion with Captain America, who’s about to join the fight in Vietnam, can’t be topped.
BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH #1
The way the first issue is written, you would almost expect Scott Snyder to retire from comics after the series ends, because the book feels unleashed as the writer pours his heart out on to every page. Then you have Greg Capullo, giggling with excitement as he gets to draw one of the most epic Batman stories ever, and then begging Synder to go bigger. Did we mention Batman is carrying around Joker’s head? The book is insane, and there are only a few first issues that come out swinging as hard as Last Knight On Earth. Snyder and Capullo have put together a blockbuster comic, the likes we haven’t seen years.
For the uninitiated, Middlewest from writer Skottie Young (I Hate Fairyland, Giant-Size Little Marvel) and artist Jorge Corona (Canto, No. 1 With a Bullet) follows “Abel, a teen who must make his way through an ancient, unforgiving landscape and face the sorcery lying beneath the scorched farmlands to unearth his family history.” From its opening pages, Middlewest grasps you with its bewitching artwork and haunting script. After the magnificent first issue, Abel and his loyal (albeit sardonic) Fox are on the run from his monstrous father.
In Middlewest #4, Abel and Fox make their way to a traveling carnival to find the mysterious Magdalina, a magical healer who just might be able to quell the storm within him. The fourth issue also introduces new characters Bobby, a skeptical carnival-worker, and Wrench, her mechanical assistant. Young’s world of Middlewest is opened up a little more in this issue, revealing more of its magic and secrets. Corona’s artwork is particularly stunning in this issue, bringing his unique style and detail to the amusement park backdrop. And the art is elevated to another level with Jean-Francois Beaulieu’s vivid color palette. In short, Middlewest #4 is a stunning example of story and artwork in comics, and is but a part of one of the most beautiful, powerful, and epic series on shelves today.
THE GREEN LANTERN #7
Hal Jordan, arguably the most popular Green Lantern, is known for his unbreakable willpower. But few storytellers have chosen to unpack his relationship with the thing that gives it life: the power ring. The dynamic duo Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp craft a beautiful tale of Hal’s relationship with the source that gives him his abilities. We learn this energy, the very essence of willpower itself, is his ultimate love. And the lengths he’s willing to go to protect it is nothing short of extraordinary. Seeing this unstoppable love, hope, and optimism play out in the story reminds us why Hal is such an inspiring character.
When Criminal was announced as becoming a monthly ongoing series I immediately knew it would be a must buy. A guaranteed visit to the interconnected underworld created by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips? Book me and charge me, cause I’m in! And as amazing as the first issue was, it’s issue #2, the first part of the ‘Bad Weeknd’ arc, that has so far not only been the title’s best issue, it’s also one of the best single issues of 2019. Criminal #2 thrusts readers into a crime story that intersects with the world of comics and is the perfect example of why Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips are one of the premier sequential art teams in the history of the medium. It’s relentless in its narrative, inventive with plot, and filled with morally ambiguous characters that still manage to make you feel, care and root for them; and it’s all wrapped in gorgeously illustrated and colored pages from cover to cover. It’s also a HIGHLY accessible issue (despite heavy easter eggs and call backs for longtime fans) and a great way for new readers to check out the title out.
AfterShock Comics are gaining a reputation for producing genre challenging comics and this year there have published some outstanding work. Stronghold #1 by Phil Hester and Ryan Kelly is a genre busting take on a Superhero origin story. Fuelled by the modern obsession with voyeurism, Stronghold bonds the familiar superhero story with a cultish, disturbing conspiracy. On top of this the creators push the boundaries of comic book storytelling, employing techniques unique to this medium. If you want a new, modern take on the superhero genre, you need look no further than the exceptional Stronghold issue 1.
DETECTIVE COMICS #999
After his parents’ deaths, Bruce Wayne donned the cape and cowl and became Batman to fight crime. Everyone knows that much. A question many writers have struggled to answer, though, is why. What possessed him to be the Batman, and what still motivates his mission? In Detective Comics #999, writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Doug Mahnke present the most compelling and personal, yet succinct exploration I’ve yet seen of what lies at the core of Batman’s motivation. It’s simple, but profound in that very simplicity. Batman pays the price to wear the cowl because he knows it is less than the price he would pay otherwise. This book was a fitting prelude to the landmark issue #1000. It sums up in very plain terms what makes Batman a compelling character, even 80 years after his debut.
What is YOUR pick for best comic of the year (so far)? Let us know in the comments!