By Brett Kelley
BK’s Pull List for 2015:
Another year of really cool comic book movies! And yet, lest we forget that comic books themselves are arguably at an all-time high for quality and quantity these days. Spanning all genres and types, it’s important more than ever to be aware of all the fantastic writing and artwork coming out of the industry. With more unique voices to be heard and glorious art to behold, it’s tough to pinpoint which ones to keep an eye on. This is where I humbly throw my hat in the ring to help navigate the seas of graphic goodness that came out in 2015! Here’s a list of my ten favorites from twenty fifteen (In no particular order).
NOTE: In pure nerd fashion, I try to avoid spoilers so you can keep all the surprises to yourself! Also, I’m a complete dork for Image, so let’s get that out of the way right now. Enjoy!
- Huck- Mark Millar (writer) Rafael Albaquerque (Artist) – Nov 2015 (Image Comics)
Two issues in and it’s been nothing short of refreshing. This is a story for those of us who yearn for a more light-hearted type of reading. A somewhat surprising departure from Millar’s other known titles like “Kick-Ass” and “Nemesis”, “Huck” is a soft spot that makes you feel just a little warm and fuzzy in the heart muscle at times. Millar cites the latest DC movie “Superman: MoS” as inspiration (or a response, as it were) for this story, feeling the need to bring a super-powered hero back to a more innocent place, which he is doing very nicely. Looking forward to seeing how the story develops in the New Year!
- Providence – Alan Moore (Writer) Jacen Burrows (Artist) – Mar 2015 (Avatar Press)
With 2015 marking Howard Phillip’s 125th Anniversary, Alan Moore has released a masterfully written story to celebrate the cosmic horror writer. Halfway through a 12 part run, this series is shaping up to be much more than a fan-service love letter to H.P.’s work. It is a true homage and strangely biographic take on his writing and what made Howard’s work scary in the first place. Burrow’s artwork makes the panels look like storyboards as this tale enthralls and entices on every page. It rewards the knowledgeable as much as it discomforts in all the right ways. The second half is slated to pick back up in February, this is on my MUST read list. It’s top shelf Moore at his finest.
- Empty Zone – Jason Shawn Alexander (Writer/Artist) – June 2015 (Image Comics)
Cyberpunk isn’t dead, and Jason Shawn Alexander is proving it like a boss, telling a solidly dark, gritty grunge tale that is an automatic hook on the first issue. Starring a badass female lead that rivals Tank Girl and Aeon Flux, Empty Zone reads like a high octane thrill ride with every cylinder firing. Intrigue, Action, Romance with forays into the supernatural and technological, the first five issues are already out in a trade for $9.99 (Image knows how to sell their trades) which is well worth the investment.
- Archie – Mark Waid (Writer) Fiona Staples (Artist) – Jul 2015 (Archie Comics)
This book was covered extensively in episode #179 on OMV with Jon, and that was enough to sell me on it. Mark Waid and Fiona Staples are massive names in the business, and they work their magic on re-launching Archie. Never in my life did I ever imagine getting stoked for an Archie comic, but here we are. Give a listen (nudge-nudge), then give a read, and be happy. It’s that simple.
- Invader Zim – Johnen Vasquez (Writer/Artist) – Jul 2015 (Oni Press)
If you watched the cartoon as a kidult (kid/adult for you unhipsters), it was something of a gruesome joy to hear that Zim would return in some form after years of being far removed from Nickelodeon canon. The great beats of humor and spastic energy we have missed from Mr. Vasquez all these years are in full force, coming back to punch you right in the nostalgia. It might not be Johnny the Homicidal Maniac or Filler Bunny, but I’ll take it.
- Monstress – Marjorie Liu (Writer) Sana Takeda (Artist) – Nov 2015 (Image Comics)
Goodness gracious, where to start with Monstress…. The first issue alone is a powerhouse of world-building and story-laying that immediately puts you in this new universe. If I were to pitch it as a loose concept for a movie, I’d call it a cross between Fables and Saga if Tarantino directed it. Monstress is jam-packed with super sharp characters and dialogue, with some great story concepts at work. Paired with simply gorgeous artwork to boot, it is well worth your time to give it at least a peak.
- Vertigo Comics releases many, lots of titles (Various)
DC’s mature-oriented label “Vertigo” has recently launched 11 new titles to add to their rejuvenated roster and historic comic book legacy this year. Too many for me to get my hands on all at once, but I’m intrigued enough to investigate. With titles like “Lucifer” (an expansion on The Sandman series), “Art Ops” (a love letter to the art-punk stories Morrison coined in his Doom Patrol run with Vertigo) and “The Twilight Children” (something people are saying is really, really good), Vertigo has given me some homework to do. If you are looking to add a new wildcard book or two to your pull list, give some of these a try.
- Material – Ales Kot (Writer) Will Tempest (Artist) – May 2015 (Image Comics)
Sometimes, comics offer stories that are both subversive and political in a time where journalism is a hazardous occupation. Material is such an example, following four very different stories that deal with issues that are relevant in our modern age society. A big selling point for me is the footnotes you can find on nearly every page, giving you information to research based on every point that is made / referred to in the story. The first volume is out in trade, pick it up if you want something that challenges you, makes you slightly uncomfortable and gets you to think.
- Nameless – Grant Morrison (Writer) Chris Burnham / Nathan Fairbairn (Art) – Feb 2015 – (Image Comics)
Nameless is another Morrison indie classic, a story of insanity, the occult and cosmic horror. Think Constantine in space with a dash of Event Horizon and Armageddon. With a six issue run (possibly more later?), the stakes ramp up quick and high with every issue. There is beautiful art to accompany you on the journey, so that helps with the terror bits.
- Bitch Planet Vol. 1 – Kelly Sue DeConnick (Writer) Valentine De Landro (Art) – Oct 2015 (Image Comics)
I know it’s a technicality, as BP debuted officially in late 2014, but the TPB came out in Oct, and I needed an excuse to talk about this book. Using the tropes and styling of seventies exploitation and sci-fi, Bitch Planet takes a look at social issues affecting women using both subtle and not-so-subtle imagery and story elements (“Non-Compliant” tattoos as visual labels, Bitch Planet being a women’s prison that they are sentenced to, etc. etc.) for making a pretty gritty and great book. More issues are on the way in 2016, and it’s a really intelligent story that has a message behind it. Give it a read and see what you’re missing.
That’s ten, which wraps up my big pull list. I do have other notable mentions, like “Black Magick (Image), “Limbo” (Image), “Diesel”(Boom! Studios) “Constantine: The Hellblazer” (DC), “We are Robin” (DC), “Head Lopper” (Image), “Thor” (Marvel) and much more, but I wanted to give you the ones that I really had clear and concise thoughts on, and ones that you NEED to read. That and “Invincible” (Image). ALWAYS. READ. INVINCIBLE.
Keep reading, support your local comic shops and book stores, and see you in 2016!
Yours in hipster comic-dom,
Brett Kelley: Art Mercenary