After you have read comics for awhile, the lines start to blur and the colors bleed together (this is particularly true for superhero comics). Like TV and film, comics often lean on money-making cliche and character tropes, but there are always the books that are brave enough to do their own thing.
It is those books that rise to the surface with wonderful moments of originality, great creative spirit and often the fanfare that they deserve (like making G3’s “You Should Be Reading” list).
The following comics are the crème de la crème, an example for other comics to follow and collectively, the ladies of G3 pull them all. Get the issues. Get the trades. Get the hardcovers. These are the books that are worth every red cent and your precious leisure time. Promise.
Afterlife With Archie
This has to be one of the most surprising books on comics shelves right now. Sure, there are zombies, but writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa saves some of the biggest OMG moments for simple interactions between familiar characters from the Archie archives. When I read an exchange between troublemaking twins Jason and Cheryl Blossom — which suggests an, um, unusually close sibling relationship — I wanted to yell, “Is anybody else seeing this right now?!” Francesco Francavilla’s art is as bold and striking as the story. Pure awesomeness. -E.
What’s not to love about a throwback to the classic Adam West Batman? Absolutely nothing. With a rotating cast of talented creators, the initial Jeff Parker and Jonathan Case stories stood out from other DC titles for their campy stories and vibrant panels. A zany time to be had by all. -L.
Oh CHEW, how I love you. For three years now you have been quirky, funny, intriguing and wildly charming. CHEW is my manic pixie dream comic. -V.
Ed Brubakers’s tale about a deadly dame is fresh, fascinating and nostalgic. Sean Phillips’ art is charismatic and perfectly cohesive with the story as it moves through time. The mystery is mysterious, the monsters are monstrous and the magic is dark. A must read. -V.
As if the existence of Pizza Dog wasn’t reason enough to be reading this comic, the combined creative talents of Matt Fraction and David Aja are seldom off the mark on this great title. Put that together with a stellar guest artist spot by the wonderful Annie Wu, and there’s really not much else to ask for. Except for more Annie Wu. -L.
If I had to pick a favorite book of the year, it would be Lazarus. It’s a high-stakes mix of intrigue and advanced technology set on a good ole’ Dynasty-flavored background. And in this dire world market, how can anyone not relate to the most desperate plight of the have-nots in the face of those that have everything? Lazarus is thought-provoking and exquisitely paced. The Carlyles are to this geek girl as the Kardashians are to the masses. -V.
Honestly, I’m immediately on board with anything Brandon Graham does. Reading this latest mini, however, it was glaringly obvious how much of himself went into the creation of this particular series. There is a palpable sense of purpose and affection for every pun and pen stroke within the pages that does not go unnoticed or unappreciated. -L.
I am going to get straight to the point as any Rat Queen worth her ilk would – this comic is the shit. This festive flock of foul-play femmes is so damn fun and they happen to comprise the most entertaining team in comics since Secret Six. -V.
I started reading Saga for Brian K. Vaughan. I stayed for Fiona Staples. This title has been consistently great (if not consistently released) since issue one, and things are only getting better in terms of both story and visuals. It’s one of the few books that I actively look forward to. -L.
When Jeff Lemire is given the freedom to write and draw the inner-workings of his right-brain, truly captivating stories pour out. In the heart-snagging vein of Sweet Tooth, Trillium presents a futuristic glimpse of human-kind, juxtaposed against universal truths with an archaeological twist. My anthropologist soul sings every time I read an issue. -V.
With a fantastic roster of characters and a crystal clear tenacity, Young Avengers is as refreshing as it is entertaining. The care and intention that the creators have poured into this title from the beginning has made Young Avengers the epitome of a great super-hero comic for the modern age. THIS is how you evolve comics. -V.
Stay tuned for the comics that earned an honorable mention.