Welcome to Comicon.com’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of 2019. This year we will be awarding in the following categories: Best Comic Series, Best Original Graphic Novels, Best Single Comic Issues, Best Writers, Best Artists, Best Cover Artists, Best Colorists, Best Letterers, Best Digital/Webcomics, and Most Progressive Comics.
Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: Brendan Allen, James Ferguson, Oliver MacNamee, Noah Sharma, Rachel Bellwoar, Tito James, Tony Thornley, Richard Bruton, and Erik Amaya.
The following are Comicon’s 7 Best Comic Series* of 2019. [*Both miniseries and ongoing series qualify in this category.]
If you had told us that the Hulk would be transformed into a thrilling supernatural horror comic in 2018, we might have laughed in your face. If you then came back to us a year later and warned us how Al Ewing & Joe Bennett’s stunning transformation of the Jade Giant would keep its momentum, we might have been skeptical. However, they’ve done it, creating one of the most engaging continuing series in comics.
In 2019, it went even more bonkers, shifting from monsters, to science fiction, to cosmic epic, to fierce satire. Even better, it all kept the terrifying horror that electrified readers last year when the series launched. It’s a thrilling read that’s impossible to look away from.
— Tony Thornley
When Gideon Falls hit the scene back in March 2018, it was immediately clear Image Comics was onto something special. Three story arcs later, this horror masterpiece is still going strong. A conspiracy theorist in the middle of the big city. An embattled priest in the middle of nowhere. Two characters that seemingly had little in common, except for a demonic Black Barn that calls to each of them. Jeff Lemire gives us deeply flawed, but surprisingly functional characters running parallel courses through a ghastly madhouse. If the script weren’t enough to make you start questioning reality, the art by Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart would certainly do the trick. Unconventional panelwork, gutters, and layout bring a beautifully disturbing, cinematic feel to the horrific material within Lemire’s script. Gideon Falls is a complex, nuanced, deranged narrative. Dead brilliant.
— Brendan Allen
Ongoing comics are all second act. A super hero isn’t going to hang up his cape because that means the story ends. Even though the Marvel Universe is decades old, Peter Parker is maybe in his early thirties. Spider-Man: Life Story puts a different take on the character’s history, pushing everything that’s happened to the wall-crawler through real time. He’s bit by the radioactive spider in the ’60s and goes on adventuring through today, aging just like the rest of us. Writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Mark Bagley present a fascinating new look at Spider-Man that shows how and why he’s stood the test of time. It explores what makes Peter Parker a hero. It’s not that he has super powers. It’s part of his very being. He fights through heartbreak and tragedy for the sake of others and the entire world because that’s the right thing to do. It’s inspiring, beautiful, and a must-read for any Spider-Man fan.
— James Ferguson
In period horror These Savage Shores by writer Ram V, artist Sumit Kumar, colorist Vitorio Astone and letterer Aditya Bidikar, we are given a radical reinterpretation of the vampire legend. Set in India, it makes use of Indian mythology as well as real-life events to create a powerful comic book that’s true horror lies with the British and their crimes against India via colonialism. Ram V delivers a poignant reminder of the West’s savage influence on this noble and beautiful land, while Kumar breathes life into each page with his delicate and detailed artwork. Like a classic Merchant Ivory production, but filtered through the lens of classic Gothicism it is a beautiful tale of British barbarism on foreign soil as well as the story of love, loss and revenge. So, it’s only right that Ram V reappropriates the vampire form Western literature for his own in a series that I am sure will be at the top many a reviewers list this Holiday season.
— Olly MacNamee
Making the mundane into an epic adventure has always been the key strength of Giant Days. Its final issues published across most of 2019 re-framed that epic adventure into a key life-changing moment for Esther, Susan, and Daisy: the end of uni and their ability to interact daily. For Esther, whom John Allison has been writing off and on since a 2004 Scary Go Round strip, the change is particularly bittersweet as the process takes her into the maelstrom of London. But that should not give you the impression things are downbeat. Far from it, in fact! Thanks to John Allison’s winning scripts, artist Max Sarin, colorist Whitney Cogar and letterer Jim Campbell, the group’s final term was filled with laughs, action, and all the “last times” you would want. From quippy one-liners to Sarin’s art (so detailed and right, it could easily serve as key poses for an animated series) and to the way both Cogar and Campbell use their talents to bend the series’ “normal” reality into its surreal flights of fancy, the book always traded in great, expressive emotions. The series even managed to honor its original flirtation with the supernatural – a holdover from Scary Go Round – to give us an appropriate, heartfelt ending. Which isn’t to say we would refuse more Giant Days from this team, but we also totally accept the final page.
— Erik Amaya
2. House of X & Powers of X, published by Marvel Comics, written by Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Pepe Larraz (House of X), R.B. Silva (Powers of X) and Adriano Di Benedetto (Powers of X), colored by Marte Gracia, and lettered by Clayton Cowles
When Jonathan Hickman was announced as revamping the X-Men line at 2019’s C2E2, everyone expected the twin series House of X/Powers of X to be a massive change for the X-Men line. No one expected exactly how much it would change things though. In twelve issues, Hickman, with Pepe Larraz, RB Silva, Marte Gracia, Clayton Cowles and Tom Muller completely altered Marvel’s mighty mutants. The X-Men are now functionally immortal. They formed the independent nation of Krakoa. All mutant villains/criminals have been pardoned and welcomed. And those are just scratching the surface. It set the stage for a status quo which will fuel stories for years to come, and serves as, perhaps, the most exciting revamp of a Big Two property ever.
— Tony Thornley
After seeing tons of comics promise changes that will shape a universe for decades and fall short, it’s easy to get jaded when it comes to some promotional material. Nonetheless, No One Left to Fight delivers on its tagline as “the comic you always wanted.” The story from writer Aubrey Sitterson, artist Fico Ossio, and letterer Taylor Esposito follows an aging hero on a road trip as he revisits the greatest hits of his career only to realize that he has nothing that really matters in life. Sure, he has fame and glory, but no family or even any deep connections. This powerful and emotional story is wrapped in an explosive package of gigantic energy blasts, terrifying villains, and an extensive world full of possibilities. For people who played games like Street Fighter and watched shows like Dragon Ball Z growing up, No One Left to Fight is most definitely the comic you always wanted. It simultaneously speaks to your inner child and mature adult to deliver an amazing tale that absolutely must continue.
— James Ferguson