Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues

With the 2015 nearly behind us, it’s fun to take a look back at the highlights from what came out of the year and get excited about what 2016 might bring. In regards to my ‘Top 5’ lists, please keep in mind that I am only going to list what I have personally dealt with. I’m not going to write opinions on something I haven’t experienced. Sadly, stupid adult responsibilities prevent me from spending every hour of the day reading comic books, building LEGO, playing Xbox, or watching TV/movies. With that said, there’s a very good chance I’ve missed out on something list worthy. If you think something is missing then PLEASE let me know! If there’s one thing the geeky community is good at, it’s sharing opinions. I want to hear yours!

Top 5 2015 Releases – Individual Comic Book Issues


I love supporting my local comic book shops. They are local establishments that are very reliant on local patronage to keep things going. This year I’ve tried to stress the importance of supporting local business and our regular visits to comic book shops have been an excellent resource. 2015 has brought multiple storylines worth following across several publishers. I’ve tried, and mostly succeeded, to keep up with the ones that really grabbed me. I went through my stack of 2015 comic conquests and picked the top five individual issues that stuck with me the most. This was not and easy task!


So here are my Top 5 favorite individual comic book releases from this year…..


(Slight spoilers for the current Justice League run – skip the runner up and #4 if you don’t want to find out.)

Runner up – Justice League #44: The Darkseid War Part 4




I hadn’t planned on listing any more than five individual titles in any of my year’s best lists but this one was worth including. The Darkseid War story arc has definitely been an interesting one. Some points have been a tad ‘out there’ while others managed to satisfyingly hit on factors that make Justice League so great. This one issue is a stand out because you finally get to see the thunderous conflict between Darkseid and The Anti-Monitor. I was shocked to see Darkseid actually die! He’s come close in the past in fights with Superman and Doomsday, but this time he wasn’t so lucky. Seeing the Flash (possessed by Death/The Black Racer) punch through Darkseid’s chest like a cannonball was flat out awesome. Jason Fabok’s artwork in this entire series is phenomenal. He succeeds in bringing life to the clash of titans on each page. If you’ve missed any of The Darkseid War, and wish to check it out, I suggest you wait until the trade paper graphic novel is available. Jumping in mid-story would not only be confusing, but it would lessen the impact of moments like this issue.


#5 – Star Wars: Shattered Empire #2




I’ve already done a write up of the full SHATTERED EMPIRE storyline so I won’t go too deep on this one. The series was good, not as great as many Star Wars nuts may want, but still good enough to read. I will establish the second issue in the arc as one of my favorites because of its battle scenes. Overall, Star Wars battles are fought in space (it’s right there in the title). The few ground battles like Hoth or Endor (the forest moon, that is), feature vehicles and weapons that are the highlight of epic toy fights from childhood. SHATTERED EMPIRE #2 combined all of those elements into a dramatic war scene with an AT-AT stomping through a city with a swarm of TIE Fighters and A-Wings overhead. A squadron of Y-Wings swoops in dropping a wave of magnetic mines that attach to the AT-AT like explosive parasites. It’s a very, very cool scene portrayed with top-notch artwork. I also liked the creepy post-mortem messenger sent by the Emperor to relay is final nefarious orders.


#4 – The Darkseid War: Batman




The fallout from Darkseid’s fall reminds me of the clusterfuckery that followed DEATH OF SUPERMAN. Now the Justice League are “gods”? What the hell? Fortunately, some of the one-off stories work very well. Batman’s issue is definitely the standout (big surprise). It carries the strength of a one-off storyline while keeping ties to the current arc.


Now “The God of Knowledge”, Batman returns to Gotham to get back to basics. I love that he can still effectively be a vigilante will never getting up from his chair (the all seeing/knowing Mobius Chair). I respect any crime fighter that can do it while sitting. Extra-All Knowing Batman is more ruthless than ever and uses the Mobius Chair to give Gotham the hero he believes it deserves. I absolutely love how he handled Joe Chill. Rather than killing the thug who forever altered his life, he put the fear of “the boogeyman” into him in order to make the unpleasant realities of prison even more terrifying. If you come across The Darkseid War: Batman, be sure to pick it up.


#3 – Huck #1




Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque make a great team. Millar has the vision and Albuquerque has the style to use all of the Image Comics prowess to create a unique experience. Huck, the tail of a simple minded hero in our busy world, is down right charming. His origin is familiar but stripped down to the core theme of doing right by other people. Superman, an oh-so-familiar orphan, lives two exciting lives in adulthood – one of a globe trotting reporter and also as the most powerful being ever known. Then you have the mysteriously orphaned Huck – a normal guy raised to do one good deed a day. That’s it! No ulterior motives, no gradiouse plots. Just one good deed for people who may not even know they need it. Thanks to his super abilities, Huck’s good deeds are often performed on a fantastic scale with the only thing asked in return is to not tell anyone it was him who helped. The story is a refreshing read. I can’t wait to see where future issues will take the gentle hero.


#2 – Superman: American Alien




I previously did a full writeup of Superman: American Alien #1 and thus won’t get too deep into it here. It’s worth restating that this is a fantastic instance of DC thinking outside of the box. Their ability to take one of the most established characters in pop culture and find a fresh way to tell stories of his past. The second issue came out almost a week ago. I’m kicking myself for not getting out to the comic book store yet for a copy.


#1 – Batman #44




I love, love this comic. One day I want to get my issue autographed and frame it (next to our framed/signed copies of WYTCHES #1). The creative team behind it bats a hundred with me and I simply cannot get enough. My review at the time it was first published goes into my reasoning deeper so I’ll try not to gush here. What I can say now in retrospect, is that of all 2015’s great comic titles, nothing could top the Dark Knight in issue #44. Jock’s style is one of a kind. Scott Snyder understands comics and what makes them great. Together they are unstoppable. It doesn’t matter if you’re up to speed with the current Batman story arc with the creepy Mr. Bloom – find this and read it!


What comics were your favorites from this year? Did I miss anything? If I did, PLEASE let me know! It can be very difficult to keep up with the never ending flow of good comics out there. I know for a fact that I’ve missed out on some highlights.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK: Volume 1 by Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin

Justice League Dark Vol. 1: In the Dark by Peter Milligan & Mikel Janin

I had really, really high hopes for this series. Prior to this I hadn’t read anything written by Peter Milligan or illustrated by Mikel Janin, so I didn’t know what to expect from them. My anticipation, however, came entirely from fascination of the Justice League Dark concept. I’m sorry to say I felt rather unfulfilled after completing Volume 1.

The art is great and writing is just fine. I think the problem is that there is a lot of material crammed into only 144 pages. Story lines with the regular Justice League can get away with this because the core characters are about as developed as a character can get. You’re already invested in the key players before cracking the first page. Without having to worry about much character development, authors/artists can run with a central story line while giving it proper treatment. This wasn’t the case here yet it was still approached as if the characters had the same status.

Justice League Dark struggled with character investment because the characters are largely obscure. I’ve seen all of them at some point in other JLA books; some come up way more than others. Zatanna is a solid player who pops up frequently in JLA books and shows like Young Justice and Justice League Unlimited. Deadman was familiar only because I’d recently read the Darkest Night/Brightest Day books. Constantine is the strongest of the lot by far. HELLBLAZER is a worthy favorite series for the charming “old sod” even after decades. I still hold a grudge against NBC for cheating John Constantine out of what he deserved and hope his coming appearance on Arrow turns into something more frequent.

Constantine was too much of a minor player in this volume. Sure it wouldn’t have been fair for it to focus on him, however, he deserved to be featured more than Shade the Changing Man. If given the chance, I’d read an entire volume that primarily focused on Zatanna and Constantine because chemistry between the two is strong enough to carry the book.

I still like the concept of Justice League Dark but don’t feel compelled to seek out Volume 2. If I stumble across it in my regular used book store visits then I’ll grab it, otherwise I think I’ll pass. It wasn’t a bad book… but I wouldn’t call it a good one. In rating I feel Constantine and Zatanna earn an entire point each.

My rating of JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK Vol. 1: In the Dark is a disappointed 5.5 out of 10.

5 out of 10

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JLA: EARTH 2 by Grant Morrison


JLA: EARTH 2, written by Grant Morrison and illustrated by Frank Quitely, is one of those books that was on my list for a long time before I actually got around to reading it. I absolutely love alternate history stories! SUPERMAN: RED SON and GUNS OF THE SOUTH are two of my all time favorites. My interest in the alternate themes aside, JLA: EARTH 2 has gathered a respectable amount of hype in the graphic novel circles.

When I finally crossed it off my to-read list was honestly a bit disappointed. Don’t get me wrong – I liked it. Although, with all of the buildup, I expected to love it. That one is on me… I shouldn’t have allowed the hype to expand my expectations beforehand.

The Crime Syndicate of America is a broken-mirror version of the Justice League. Dialogue contributing to this went well overboard to the point of becoming goofy. Similarly, the nuances in the alternate Earth rolled my eyes more than once. (“Satan help us” in place of “God help us” – give me a break)

Now that I’ve aired my grievances, let’s talk about what I liked. I love Owlman! He shares a lot of the same characteristics as Flashpoint’s Batman. Seeing the Flash (Johnny Quick) as a junkie was oddly gratifying as well.

Overall, give this one a read if you’re a JLA/ DC fan. It may not have resonated with me as I expected it to, but it’s still worth the time.

JLA: EARTH 2 still deserves a spot in any DC library collection. I give it a 6 out of 10.

6 out of 10

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