Comicon’s 7 Best Single Issue Of 2019

by Erik Amaya

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 Single Issues of 2019.

 

7. Birthright #40, published by Image Comics, written by Joshua Williamson, drawn by Andrei Bressan, colored by Adriano Lucas, and lettered by Pat Brosseau

Comics can take you on all sorts of journeys. Birthright has taken us to a land of fantasy in Terrenos and brought its mysterious creatures and magical abilities to our world. That may be a major facet of the series, but it’s not what it’s about. Birthright has always been about family. After a tragedy tore them apart, they’ve received a chance to put everything back together again in the midst of literal monsters and magic. But it wasn’t quite the same for Mikey, the precocious youngest child who is now a muscular warrior. Writer Joshua Williamson, artist Andrei Bressan, colorist Adriano Lucas, and letterer Pat Brosseau have laid the ground work for years for one of the best emotional payoffs I’ve ever seen — not just in comics, but in any medium. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye and it’s all worth it for this one beautiful moment for family.

— James Ferguson

6. The White Trees #1, published by Image Comics, written by Chip Zdarsky, drawn by Kris Anka, colored by Matt Wilson, and lettered by Aditya Bidikar

Both issues of this 2-part fantasy were wonderful, with Anka’s artwork just a stunning, beautiful, and rich thing throughout. But issue #1 makes the best single issue simply because it’s the perfect example of a creative team delivering a comic masterclass in efficiency and storytelling. Frankly, they do more in the 30-page first half of this story-arc than many could accomplish in double or triple the length.

The tale seems so simple, three warriors in a fantasy world on a mission to rescue their children. But within that, a three-act first part delivers something genuinely magnificent, with everything perfectly done to create characters and a world that is fully-formed after just the first act. 12 pages in and we’ve already learnt of a long-simmering feud, allegations of cowardice, great loss, the three warriors’ pasts, relationships and friendships, complex sexuality, a war threatening the land, and so much more. Simply put, in just one issue, we have pure perfection in the craft of storytelling and worldbuilding. It is just page after page of true fantasy spectacle, amazing storytelling from the artist and writer, a true synergy of tale-telling, giving us an issue that is thrilling, clever, a delight of pacing, a beautiful to behold.…

This is laser precision comics-making, getting over everything required in minimal panels and pages and doing it quite spectacularly. Hopefully, 2020 will see more from the world of Blacksand.

— Richard Bruton

5. House of X #2, published by Marvel Comics, written by Jonathan Hickman, drawn by Pepe Larraz, colored by Marte Gracia, and lettered by Clayton Cowles

House of X did nothing but change the X-Men forever. The series delivered retcons, plot points, and new status quos aplenty. However, none of the plot points revealed in the series came close to House of X #2’s game changing revelation about long-time ally Moira MacTaggert — she was and always has been a mutant.

The issue details the strange life of Moira (now dubbed Moira X), who was born with the power to reincarnate herself (retaining all her knowledge from her life so far) upon her death. In the issue, we see nine of her ten lives, showing how she was radicalized, how she tried to help the mutant race win, and her futile war against the AI that the X-Men were fated to always fight. Moira wasn’t the only character to get a radical revamp in the issue though, as Irene Adler (the long-dead mutant prophetess Destiny) completely reinvents herself in a single scene as one of the most cunning mutants in history, and potentially Moira’s greatest rival.

It’s masterful storytelling, and simply one of the best single issues of comics in years.

— Tony Thornley

4. Die #3, published by Image Comics, written by Kieron Gillen, drawn and colored by Stephanie Hans, and lettered by Clayton Cowles

Die is a series about the buy-in. It’s all about how stories make us consent to emotional manipulation and to things we would never allow into ourselves without them. It asks us, “why would adventurers choose to walk into a dungeon?” Die was always about these things, but it wasn’t fully real until we hit “Dungeons.”

The third issue of Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans’ hit RPG fantasy, “Dungeons” is a kaleidoscopic metatextual odyssey into the DNA of fantasy; confronting the hope and statistics at the heart of the genre in direct conversation with J.R.R. Tolkien. To be honest, it’s almost uncomfortable staring straight into the empty eyes of what are so unambiguously your childhood heroes flat out calling Professor Tolkien out, going against his desired reading of his work, and deconstructing the ground on which this series walks. And yet, in brutally deconstructing The Lord of the Rings, it also somehow celebrates the exact same heroism of the books and their likely source.

Stephanie Hans goes all out, depicting the cruel fusion of beatific fantasy gone wrong and a full-on war story with its own strange beauty, while Gillen manages to tie everything together while still spilling enough of his genre-loving blood to make this a personal moment for him and the reader. Its few flaws are often the same as the points it is making and it stands as a gorgeous, self-contained side story within the series that, at the same time, encompasses exactly what the series is about. Both as a watershed moment within the series and as a complete work on the nature and origin of fantasy, “Dungeons” is something of a masterpiece. It may be composes of “just a bunch of references,” but that doesn’t matter and that’s what makes this issue matter.

— Noah Rohan Sharma

3. Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6, published by Marvel Comics, written by Tom Taylor, drawn by Juann Cabal, colored by Nolan Woodard & Federico Blee, and lettered by Travis Lanham

The last thing a character like Spider-Man needs is a sidekick, but that’s not entirely the case with Spider-Bite. The true reason for this is revealed slowly throughout Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 and it’s a beautiful and slightly heartbreaking read. Spider-Man is a hero that myself and others look to for inspiration and I’m sure those in the Marvel Universe feel the same way. Writer Tom Taylor, artist Juann Cabal, colorists Nolan Woodard & Federico Blee, and letterer Travis Lanham deliver a powerful stand-alone tale that shows what it really means to be a hero. It’s not the ability to fly or shoot lightning from your hands — It’s doing the right thing every single time. This issue is the dictionary definition of a hero and serves as an inspiration to us all.

— James Ferguson

2. Detective Comics #1000, published by DC Comics, written by Warren Ellis, Paul Dini, Tom King, Brian Michael Bendis, Peter J. Tomasi, James T Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Kevin Smith, Christopher Priest, Dennis O’Neil, Geoff Johns, drawn by Alvaro Martinez, Joëlle Jones, Dustin Nguyen, Alex Maleev, Jim Lee, Kelley Jones, Steve Epting, Tony S. Daniel, Greg Capullo, Neal Adams, Doug Mahnke, colored by Brad Anderson, David Baron, Jordie Bellaire, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Mikel Janin, John Kalisz, Michelle Madsen, Alex Maleev, Tomeu Morey, Paul Mounts, FCO Plascencia, Alex Sinclair, and Dave Stewart, and lettered by Tom Napolitano, Todd Klein, Steve Wands, Simon Bowland, Andworld Design, Willie Schubert, Josh Reed, Rob Leigh, Sal Cipriano and Clayton Cowles

Without a doubt, following on from Action Comics #1000 last year, this is how anniversary issues should be done! Not only a celebration of Batman and the past 8 decades, but also a celebration of the great and the good working in comics today. A comic book that emphasizes Batman at his best, but also a book not short on laughs either; with such great inclusions as “The Legend of Knute Brody” (by Paul Dini and Dustin Nguyen) and “Batman’s Greatest Case” involving the whole Bat-Family coming together for a group portrait. All of this, and Neal Adams too! A reminder, all in one book, of how great comics can be and have been. Batman has been blessed with some great creators over the years and it’s a blessing for us that many of them are still around today.

— Olly MacNamee

1. Giant Days #51, published by Boom! Studios, written by John Allison, drawn by Max Sarin, colored by Whitney Cogar, and lettered by Jim Campbell

How do you handle the death of a loved one? It can be a shocking experience, especially if you’re not prepared for it. That’s the situation McGraw encounters in Giant Days #51 with the death of his father. What follows is a touching and fascinating examination of grief and how different people handle it. Writer John Allison, artist Max Sarin, colorist Whitney Cogar, and letterer Jim Campbell have the benefit of building these characters up over the course of 50+ issues, so there’s some added emotional weight, but anyone that’s ever lost someone will find a personal connection to this issue in particular. It’s beautiful.

— James Ferguson

Erik Amaya

Host of Tread Perilously and a Film/TV Writer at Comicon.com and Rotten Tomatoes. A former staff writer at CBR and Bleeding Cool, and a contributing writer at Fanbase Press and Monkeys Fighting Robots. Voice of Puppet Tommy on The Room Responds. A seeker of the Seastone Chair and the owner of a Legion Flight Ring. Sorted into Gryffindor, which came as some surprise.

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