My Favorite Comics of 2020
I spent most of 2020 reading early Superman and Spider-Man comics and didn't really read a ton of new stuff, but the comic books I did read were all really, really good. Here are my favorite comics of 2020:
A super fun DANTE'S INFERNO riff from ComiXology Originals and creators Chip Zdarsky and Jason Loo. The series follows a rideshare driver that finds herself unwillingly ferrying a soul through Hell. Clever, frequently touching, and featuring an ample amount of flying demon goat monkeys, the series combines big imagination with a big emotional payoff.
I have really enjoyed Nick Spencer's current run this past year. From Peter Parker forced into becoming roommates with one of his Z-level rouges to the mystery of Kindred, a hell demon that's been toying with Spider-Man and his loved ones, Spencer managed to keep a half dozen different plates spinning over the last year as he teamed with a variety of spectacular artists and released a sheer ton of issues. At times, this book really felt like a weekly title - and it was always one of the first things I read when it did come out. This book was my favorite superhero title of 2020.
Yeah, seriously. Alex de Campi and Robert Hack took what should have been a goofy joke and turned it into a meta-celebration of Archie Comics, specifically the relationship between Betty and Veronica. I was shocked to find how touched I was by the final issue when Satan pops up to offer the characters (and readers) great advice about being your own person and breaking free of others' expectations. I suggest grabbing this one while you can - who knows how long it'll be available once Marvel takes the rights to PREDATOR in 2021.
Daniel Kraus is one of my favorite writers so I was eager to check out the results as he entered the world of comics with a mini-series with artist Chris Shehan. The book hasn't, to date, concluded but it features one hell of a set-up. Part WICKER MAN, part MIDSOMMAR, the series follows a single mother who moves back to the New Hampshire town she grew up in, searching for a fresh start but instead digging up some pretty dark secrets she had managed to forget. I can't wait to see where this series goes next.
A twisty, fun horror comic with one hell of a punchline. Joe Hill and artist Leomacs deliver a great, EC-inspired story about a young woman who finds a cursed ax that grants immortality to the heads that its blade lops off. She uses said blade and the talking decapitated heads that she keeps accumulating to save her kidnapped cop boyfriend. Fantastic artwork!
Mysterious gods task a man to commit unspeakable violence, and it’s up to his son to defend him in court. FRAILTY meets Neil Gaiman’s THE SANDMAN. The artwork is this book is absolutely gorgeous and the story, which weaves worldbuilding myth with human emotion, has me hooked. I will read anything Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky, the book's two creators, work on going forward.
Only two issues in I know this is going to be one of my favorite comics. The debut issue was the single best opening issue of a comic book I've read since SAGA. Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw's book is set in the "real world," in the aftermath of a mysterious event that saw every fictional superhero and villain brought together in a crossover mega-event to end all mega-events. Unfortunately, our reality was the playing field and the event decimated a Colorado town before a forcefield was erected around the city, trapping the characters within. Now, two humans must help reunite an escaped girl from the comic book world with her parents. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS meets COOL WORLD in this weird, meta epic from a creative team that obviously loves comic books to their core. I have no idea what's coming from this series and I love it that way.
From Jason McNamara and Greg Hinkle, this dark and nasty graphic novel follows a true-crime writer searching for his wife, who was kidnapped ten years ago. Haunted by her ghost, literally, the writer follows her disembodied voice as she speaks to him from the corpses of the ex-convicts he leaves in the wake of his trail of vengeance. A hardboiled piece of neo-noir, this comic reminded me a lot of STRAY BULLETS, another series I wholeheartedly recommend. This book will fuck you up.
If you like comics, you've probably read the original series or watched the Hulu show. Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona's original run is, after all, untouchable - so much so that I never really tried to read anything with the characters that followed the original creators leaving the book. That said, Rainbow Rowell has been killing it with the series as of late. She 100 percent gets the characters and their voices in a way I would not have expected but - more excitingly - she's not afraid to move the book's heroes forward in their development as characters. The series, which suffered some unfortunate delays this year due to COVID, is a great mix of fun character dialogue and the soap opera drama I dig in long-running series. I'm truly happy RUNAWAYS is back to being one of my favorite books again for the first time since the early '00s.
I spent the first half of 2020 reading over 200 issues of the current TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES comic book from IDW. The result? I fell absolutely in love with it. Like a lot of folks my age, I grew up on the Turtles and this book hits all the sweet spots in my nostalgia. It pulls from the original Mirage Studios comics, the Archie comics, and various cartoons, including a bunch that came long after I stopped watching. It's great for beginners and long-term fans. Even if I wasn't familiar with some of the side characters like Pigeon Pete at first, it didn't take long for me to become a huge fan of them. The series is smartly plotted, surprisingly emotional, charming as hell, and consistently well illustrated. If you're looking for something fun to read, you've got a ton of issues to wade through - and read it all, the mini-series, the one-shots, the spin-offs. It's all great.
A new discovery, this 2007 book from Mike Richardson and Todd Herman is lean, mean, and would be the perfect thing for a filmmaker to adapt into a short film or horror anthology segment. A young woman is kidnapped while leaving work, waking up in a seemingly abandoned house with no way of escaping. What kidnapped her? And why does she hear the sound of wings? This is a short book - but it packs a great punch with what it does deliver.