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The Comic Lounge's Best of 2019


Wow, 2019 has been one hell of a year in comics. So many great books came out this year. Marvel revitalized the X-Men franchise. Image continued to be a force to be reckoned with. DC's Black Label line of books gave us new interpretations of beloved characters. Just so much great content. The following list is just a small sample of the great comics that came out this year. Hope you guys enjoy and here's to 2020, happy reading guys.

RYAN'S PICKS

CRIMINAL

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Colorist: Jacob Phillips

This year saw the return of CRIMINAL by Brubaker and Phillips. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse here, but you guys know how much I love these 2 creators. It had been years since we had a monthly dose of CRIMINAL. Every issue has been flawless. Brubaker's dialouge/plot and Phillips art are a match made in heaven, a perfect example of what a creative team should be.The current arc "Cruel Summer" has been phenomenal and with only 2 parts left, all of us are left wondering what's next. Hopefully we can look forward to more of it in 2020.

THE FLASH

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artists: Scott Kolins, Howard Porter, Christian Duce, Rafa Sandoval

This has been the most consistently entertaining book being published by DC. Since Williamson took over the title in 2016, it's been mostly underrated. I feel like more people should be reading this. He has a clear love for the entire Flash Family and has really ramped thing up this past year. One of the highlights was "Flash Year One", which honored the past while also feeling fresh and new. Not to mention that this dude has been blessed with some of the best artists this year (Scott Kolins, Rafa Sandoval, Howard Porter, and Christian Duce).This is already one of my favorite Flash runs of all time and I can't wait to see where he takes the Scarlet Speedster this year.

IS THIS HOW YOU SEE ME?

Writer/Artist: Jaime Hernandez

This past year I finally read LOVE & ROCKETS (well I read Jaime's "Locas" stories). I read all the way up until this HC that was released this year. I fell in love with this world that Jaime created and the tumultuous relationship between Maggie and Hopey. I think everyone should be reading this book and I only wish I had read it sooner, luckily I have an awesome little brother how bought me the first volume for my birthday. So while this is the only LOVE & ROCKETS book I read that came out this year, it was Jaime's entire "Locas" story that made me a fan this year.

EXCELLENCE

Writer: Brandon Thomas

Artist: Khary Randolph

Colorist: Emilio Lopez

Holy shit, this series came out of nowhere and just blew me away. Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph introduced us to Spencer Dales and the world of the Aegis (an order of Black Magicians) and created one of the best books being published by Image. The writing is phenomenal and the art is fucking epic. I highly suggest you throw on some Gangstarr while reading. Now is the perfect time to grab the first trade, before the new arc starts this Spring.

BATMAN: LAST KNIGHT ON EARTH

Writer: Scott Snyder

Penciler: Greg Capullo

Inker: Jonathan Glapion

Colorist: FCO Plascencia

This entire series was one of the most exciting/fun Batman stories I've ever read. This will surely go down as one of the perennial Batman stories by on eof the greatest Batman creative teams of all time. This book only made more excited at what these guys could possibly be working on next.

SPENCER & LOCKE 2

Writer: David Pepose

Artist: Jorge Santiago Jr.

Colorist: Jasen Smith

Take Calvin & Hobbes and drop them into a Frank Miller book and you get Spencer & Locke. This second volume did what very few sequels are capable of, it was just as good, if not better, than the orginal. I can't wait for Volume 3.

KING THOR

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Esad Ribic

Aaron's final Thor book was a tale worth of the God of Thunder. This book was a love letter to the entire mythos and was one hell of a goodby from Aaron. I don't think we will ever see the like of this run on Thor again. This run will forever be ingrained in my memory.

GINSENG ROOTS

Writer/Artist: Craig Thompson

This was the year I discovered the work of Craig Thompson. From the minute I finished BLANKETS, I soaked up every other book he did. Then GINSENG ROOTS came out, his first serial work, and it instantly became my favorite work of his. Part memoir, part essay, but all comic book. This is a book that should be on everyone's shelf. If there's one book I could urge you guys to buy, it would be this one.

DYLAN'S PICKS

WAR OF THE REALMS

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Russell Dauterman

Colorist: Matt Wilson

It was a story 7 years in the making, and the grand presentation to the Marvel Universe was everything that the Jason Aaron Hype Train had been building. There were moments in this series that made me fall in love with characters I had previously chosen to disregard. The art was supreme to match its Iliad-like storytelling and that’s why it's my number 1 of 2019.

SILVER SURFER BLACK

Writer: Donny Cates

Artist: Tradd Moore

Colorist: Dave Stewart

Donny Cates & Tradd Moore’s beautiful portrayal of the Sentinel of the Spaceways. This 5-issue mini was absolute poetry and its art was psychedelic. It was true visual storytelling at it's best, which just adds to my excitement for Donny’s Thor run.

HOX/POX

Writer: JOnathan Hickman

Artists: Pepe Larraz & R.B. Silva

Colorist: Marte Gracia

12 issues of straight mind-blowing, history-changing X-Team excellence. What Jonathan Hickman did in these 12 issues reinvigorated the franchise and made sense of the sordid and convoluted history of our favorite family of mutant misfits, setting up the next few years of X-titles.

DCEASED

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: Trevor Hairsine

Colorist: Rain Beredo

This miniseries absolutely destroyed me. Every single issue was completely heart wrenching. But most importantly, it inspired me to pick up more Superman trades. His symbology of hope is the most prominent thing about this series... apart from all the deaths.

SEA OF STARS

Writers: Jason Aaron & Dennis Hallum

Artist: Stephen Green

Colorist: Rico Renzi

Jason Aaron making a second appearance on my list should come as no surprise. His lost-in-space/Finding Nemo hybrid story of a father, a son, and the ties that bind them is definitely the beginning of something special. Rico Renzi’s color work here is top shelf as well, making him as my choice for best colorist very easy.

SHAH'S PICKS

IMMORTAL HULK

Writer: Al Ewing

Artist: Joe Bennett Okay, this book kicked off in 2018…But the bulk of the Hulk (rhyme intended) raged into 2019 and shows no sign of slowing down. This is my favorite ongoing book from Marvel and I recommend it to people like it’s my job. Behold an *incredible* modern classic for anyone to become addicted to! Al Ewing’s writing will twist your brain and Joe Bennett’s will melt it! And those Alex Ross covers keep. getting. crazier.

THE WHITE TREES

Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Artist: Kris Anka

Colorist: Matt Wilson

I keep saying how versatile a creator Chip Zdarsky is. His work on Image Comics’ The White Trees with Kris Anka and Matt Wilson proves that. It’s beautiful, brutal, vivid and, uh, occasionally sexy? As one of my favorite all-time creators, it was a trip to see Zdarsky bring his talents to another creator-owned series, albeit shortly. (Shoutout to Zdarsky’s Daredevil for continuing Matt Murdock’s 10+ years of solid stories!) #ZDARKSEIDIS

TWO DEAD

Writer: Van Jensen

Artist: Nate Powell It’s a graphic novel but it counts. TWO DEAD by Nate Powell and Van Jensen is the culmination of years of hard work and collaboration. It’s a vocal, multi-layered southern crime story that comments on race in American history and the modern day. As a dedicated Powell fan, I will pick up any book he puts out— all of his projects are created with meaning!

FANTASTIC FOUR: GRAND DESIGN

Writer/Artist: Tom Scioli

This two issue series might have been my most anticipated book of 2019. Jack and Stan’s Fantastic Four made me into a comic book junkie for life as a kid. It was destined from the day this series was announced that I would be picking it up. Over two issues, Tom Scioli retells the story of the Jack and Stan’s FF in his own fashion, pouring out pure imagination on paper. I’d recommend it to old and new fans alike. Look out for the collected trade in 2020!

MARTIAN MANHUNTER

Writer: Steve Orlando

Artist: Riley Rossmo

Orlando and Rossmo’s maxi-series doesn’t get enough love. It’s one of my favorite books coming out of DC. It’s J’onn J’onnz like you’ve never seen him— flawed, broken and seeking redemption. No one can do what Riley Rossmo does with his art. It’s so uncharacteristic of superhero titles and veers on an indie style. MM is already a character-defining run.

GEN'S PICKS

You know me. Can’t do anything like everybody else. Ryan asked me for a top 5 picks….But since it’s hard to pick an absolute favorite, here we are with my unconventional top 5 comics of the year:

Favorite Find: CANTO

A beautiful heart shattering comics. I never thought I would be shaken to my core when I first picked up this piece. The storytelling matches perfectly with the adorable and almost magical art. Canto is always in the back of my mine. It’s the type of comics I haven’t even finished reading yet since it’s a story you need to pause, reflect on it, think about, let it sink in. Canto is one of my absolute favorite.

Favorite Art: LITTLE BIRD

A unique, well detailed comic. You already know the story is one of my favorite… But I had to include the art as a favorite as well. It simply became a reference of how art can transform a story.

Favorite Concept: Vault Vintage Covers

Can we all agree that this concept was the bomb? I fell in love with She Said Destroy over the Saga homage cover. Talk about the best way to create your place in the comic industry while presenting some of the best creators of our time! Definitely something I was waiting for every month: seeing what they would come up with was an awesome highlight to my year.

Favorite Cover: STRAYED

Strayed is everything I didn’t know I wanted in comics. First of all, there’s a cat. Second of all, astral projection. Third, space. And the art is to die for. This cover is one of my ultimate favorite for the year. It’s incredibly vibrant and just…. unique! I love it.

The One That Got Away : ONCE & FUTURE

I was (and still am) not able to put my hands on this one. So I decided to wait for the Trade… But I heard so many great things and the solicit is just perfect. Not being able to pick up the series is my one regret for 2019.

TREVOR'S PICKS

DIE VOL. 1

Writer: Kieron Gillen

Artist: Stephanie Hans

If I had to pick any series from Image that won me over, it would have to be DIE. When people are throwing a descriptor like “gothic Jumanji” while I am up to my neck in D20s for Dungeons & Dragons, I had to check it out. I instantly felt sucked into the story and fell in love with Stephanie Hans’ art style. The plot wasn’t anything crazy new, but how it was told and the emotional toll of the world these characters were reentering was so drawing. This is a series I love having nearby in its collection whenever I’m looking for some high fantasy inspiration.

BLACK CAT ANNUAL #1

Writer: Jed McKay

Artists: Joey Vazquez, Natacha Bustos &Juan Gedeon

Colorist: Brian Reber

When I first picked up Black Cat I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy it that much. I was looking to have a shift in my subscriptions to a majority that featured the many women in DC and Marvel that have been around for so long and deserve their own ongoings. Enjoyment was still a requirement for this series to stick around and oh boy did it not disappoint. Every issue so far has been filled with a light hint of an Ocean’s 11 feel while perfectly paired with Back Cat’s sass and great humor. This Annual was the real cat’s meow of the series for me though. Her team up with SPider-Man is full of witty banter, hilarious moments and just pure enjoyment that had me putting the issue down thoroughly impressed.

CONAN THE BARBARIAN #6

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Colorist: Matt Wilson

I never would have thought that I would enjoy this muscle-bound barbarian ever. Ever. Conan was never on my radar until Jason Aaron came around. I loved this guy’s work so much on Thor that I decided to give the first couple issues a go. I have enjoyed every issue so far. It’s just pure fun watching Conan be a total badass and get out of these crazy scenarios by just being stubborn and not dying. This issue, in particular, was my favorite among the bunch as it equally split Conan being one man against ann army and winning with him also being way smarter than people think to which they pay the price for underestimating him. I have a greater appreciation for this character thanks to Jason Aaron.

WAR OF THE REALMS

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Russell Dauterman

Colorist: Matt Wilson

Jason Aaron’s work at Marvel forever left its mark on me. From the day I stumbled across Nick Fury’s words that would make the Odinson unworthy whispered into his ears, to the emotional and powerful journey of Jane Foster when she was Thor. The story he had been building for so many years was incredible and when the culmination of the big event that he was building to arrived, I decided to go all in on the big War of the Realms event. I got everything from the main story to all the tie-ins. With everything Aaron had done to build to this big event, I owed it to him and myself to explore every corner of it and had a great time doing so.

SUPERMAN: UP IN THE SKY

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Andy Kubert

If DC had Tom King make his way through every character in their universe and write a mini for each one I would be throwing my money at them. When I first read his Batman I knew that for me, he wasn’t writing about a cool dude that fights crime. He was writing about a man and what drives him. It was the human side of his characters that was so appealing. Seeing that in Superman was exceptionally powerful for me. I hadn’t felt so strongly about Superman since Rebirth ended. King puts Superman on a journey across space, full of trials that push the man of steel to the limits physically and emotionally. Every moment King puts Superman in tries to drag him down but he continues to have Clark Kent and his goodness shine through at his core.

ANGEL'S PICKS

COFFIN BOUND

Writer: Dan Watters

Artist: Dani

Coffin Bound explores the various death anxieties. It’s a difficult read, and may require reflection but it is genius, and allows exploration of purposeful action, or non-purposeful living. Each panel seems so deep and created thoroughly. My hats off to Dan Watters for this one!

I.T.

Writer: Scott McDaniel

Artist: Heubert Khan Michael

In the world of Blackbox, not all superheroes wear capes. There are barely, if not, any humor in their books. Just heroism and honor, and this one gave a true 90s feel. With its exuberant writing and youthful art, once you have it in your hands, you won’t be able to put it down!

BLACK HAMMER: AGE OF DOOM

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Dean Ormston

Colorist: Dave Stewart

One of the best character developments I’ve read all year. A sincere exploration of shame and guilt. In the world of Black Hammer, Jeff Lemire isn’t slowing down one bit, so why is this title still so underrated!?

GENDER QUEER

Writer/Artist: Maia Kobabe

This is a memoir, and that in itself is courageous. I wish I had this book to relate to the many and what should be non-existent taboos in the gender spectrum. It’s quirky and heartfelt, and highly recommended especially to LGTBQiA young readers.

FAITHLESS

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Maria Llovet

All social adeptness aside, if you allow this book to speak to you without judgements, it will. It’s got something for you that you won’t see coming (even though I’ve just mentioned this).

Other mentions:

Harleen, Middlewest, Lady Bird, DIE, Goodnight Paradise, Money Shot, Prince & The Dressmaker, Savage Shores, Sonata

SOPHIE'S PICKS

LAURA DEAN KEEPS BREAKING UP WITH ME

Writer: Mariko Tamaki

Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell

Mariko Tamaki and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell have succeeded in creating one of the most relatable works of fiction I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. Dealing with the uncomfortable issue of toxic relationships, Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me depicts the struggle of dealing with a manipulative and narcissistic other half. Whilst many LGBTQ+ stories strictly portray idealised relationships, Laura Dean isn’t afraid to tell a realistic narrative – if you haven’t already, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy!

HARLEY QUINN: BREAKING GLASS

Writer: Mariko Tamaki

Artist: Steve Pugh

It’s safe to say that Mariko Tamaki has been one of my top writers this year. Breaking Glass was another exceptional read, successfully rebranding Harley Quinn and finally re-sparking my interest in the previously over-sexualised character. Presenting a new origin story for Miss Quinzel, Tamaki presents Harley as a forthright, feminist, empathetic LGBTQ+ ally who stands up to the patriarchy, acting as an inspiring influence for younger readers.

PREACHER (Book One)

Writer: Garth Ennis

Artist: Steve Dillon

I was lucky enough to be gifted the first three volumes of PREACHER this year, and wow...I had no idea how obsessed I would become with this series. Pages and pages of glorious, irresistible blasphemy, PREACHER is a surreal thriller rooted in philosophical values. I’m a big fan of anything that questions religion, and PREACHER does that in the most intriguing, creative manner.

SNOTGIRL: CALIFORNIA SCREAMING

Writer: Bryan Lee O'Malley

Artist: Leslie Hung

Snottie is the girl you’ll love to hate. Self-absorbed and judgmental, yet vulnerable and self-conscious – nothing’s ever quite how it seems online. I was hooked at volume one, so it was great to get to finally read the second trade. Eccentric and mysterious, Snotgirl combines addictively bitchy dialogue with striking aesthetics, as well as some supernatural elements.

HARLEY QUINN & POISON IVY (#1-#4)

Writer: Jody Houser

Artist: Adriana Melo

The series hasn’t even concluded and I’m already considering it one of my favourite series from DC. It’s great to see more LGBTQ+ representation as a focal point of a superhero - or in this case, supervillain? - series. The artwork is fantastic, the characters are so well written and there’s some great cameos and themes throughout. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’ll be sad to see the series come to a close in February.

MARIO'S PICKS

As the year comes to an end I look back at some of my favorite issues/collections of the year.

Favorite Event Single Issue: ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #1

Writer: Donny Cates

Penciler: Ryan Stegman

Inker: JP Mayer

Colorist: Frank Martin

I really wish the rest of event lived up the promise of the first issue because got damn does this issue start the Absolute Carnage event with a bang. The issue is of the oversized variety with a price tag to match of $7.99 but it definitely delivers as I found myself multiple times throughout the issue surprised that there was more. The stakes and key players were quickly defined and it moved at a great pace, it really was one of the best first issues of an event I've ever had the pleasure of reading.

Favorite Hardcover of 2019: KILL OR BE KILLED: THE DELUXE EDITION

Writer: Ed Brubaker

Pencils/Inks/Lettering: Sean Phillips

Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser

I thoroughly enjoyed the series when it was being published in single issues so it comes as no surprise that I love this deluxe edition of one of Brubaker's best series. Some of the previous deluxe/omnis of Brubaker's series have been a bit oversized and because of that seem a bit cumbersome to read, fortunately though this one is perfectly sized. I also very much appreciate the cover and essay art galleries that are collected in the back material of this edition. Dylan's journey as he's charged by a demon that may or may not just in his head to kill someone once a month or die himself, flows so well that it's hard to not sit and read through the whole thing in one sitting. Definitely check this series if you haven't already

Favorite Single Issue of 2019: FRIENDLY NEIGHBORHOOD SPIDER-MAN #6

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: Juann Cabal

Colorist: Nolan Woodard

I remember when this issue was first solicited that the speculation immediately began as to the importance/significance of this new character, Spider-Bite. Would this go on to be a sought after issue because of Spider-Bite? Fortunately, turns out none of that mattered because instead of introducing a new character for people to speculate on, we instead got a heart warming story about a child that is terminally ill who wished to save the day with Spider-Man before his times comes. I generally like Tom Taylor as a writer and while I haven't liked every issues of this series, this is an exceptional issue that really shows us what makes Spider-Man (Peter Parker) an exceptional hero.

Follow Up Favorite Single Issue of 2019: CONAN THE BARBARIAN #4

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Gerardo Zaffino

Colorist: Matthew Wilson

This issue is exacty the kind of issue I was looking forward to when I heard Jason Aaron would be taking over Conan at Marvel. The one paired with fantastic art by Zaffino and Wilson really feel like something from Image or Dark Horse from years ago. The story itself reminds me a bit of what Aaron did with Thor God of Thunder as this issue deals with an aged King Conan that has been defeated by his success. He's old, bored and sick and longs for his younger days when he could go off adventuring and fighting so he does in secret along his lion side-kick. It's a fantastic one-shot from a series that I have been thoroughly enjoying. Defintely give Conan the Barbarian a try if you've been ignoring it.


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