Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Best Horror Comic of 2015
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best horror comic of 2015 — and four great runners up.
Runner Up: Burning Fields
Here’s what’s really horrifying: the state of the world. In Burning Fields by Michael Moreci, Tim Daniel, and Colin Lorimer, a dishonorably discharged ex-military investigator and an Iraqi detective investigate a series of ritualistic murders in Kirkuk, a city well-acquainted with nightmares. But it’s quickly apparent that this isn’t just another serial killer, and the US has been digging up more than oil.
Amidst the ruins of Kirkut are a knot of oil companies, private military corporations, Kurdish rebels, Sumerian cults, and a people permanently scarred by tragedy. When an ancient evil is unearthed, only Dana Atkinson and Aban Fasad can stop it. The metaphor at the heart of Burning Fields isn’t exactly a subtle one, but it explores what really scares us as a culture now, and it’s frightening. A dark, tense, and unnerving exploration of fear, atrocity, war, greed and entropy, it’s modern horror at its finest. [John Parker]
Runner Up: Chilling Adventutres of Sabrina
I think it says something about how good Chilling Adventures of Sabrina was that we’re still talking about it, even though there were only three issues published this year, following a six-month gap after #1 made its debut last December. For some books, though, the wait can be worth it, and Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack’s reimagination of Sabrina as a mix of Lovecraftian horror and ’50s teen drama fits the bill.
That it hits the exact bullseye of those two genres would be enough of an accomplishment to make it notable, but that it does so in a completely different way than Afterlife With Archie, with a completely different kind of horror, is really impressive. Here’s hoping that next year finds it on a more regular schedule — and with another spot on 2016’s Best Of lists. [Chris Sims]
Runner Up: Harrow County
Ghost stories have power. They seep and bubble in our communities, hiding just out of view, but always there. Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook understand this, and in Harrow County they’ve created a comic whose ghosts and haints are familiar enough to be truly unnerving, and whose answers are always just out of reach.
Harrow County tells the story of Emmy, a young woman who discovers abilities about herself in a town and a time where “abilities” have a history of bringing trouble upon oneself. As the story has progressed, she’s been forced to reconsider her relationships with those around her and herself, in a parable about the difficulties of growing up and deciding who you are. Bunn, known for his weird western stories, takes a turn left into the chilling alongside Crook, whose delicate colours give vivid life to Emmy’s home. When the haints creep in, everything looks very different, and Emmy’s familiar world takes on a different tone. Harrow County exercises restraint at all turns, letting the readers fill in the blanks. This just makes it scarier. As Emmy realizes, what you don’t know can always come back. [James Leask]
Runner Up: Wytches
There was probably no other comicbook in 2015 that addressed so many fears as well as Scott Snyder and Jock’s Wytches: nature, chaos, and the unknown, the prison of mental illness and defunct bodies, the terror of parenthood, and giant flesh-eating forest monsters. When a family stricken by tragedy several times over relocates to a small town in New England, daughter Sailor discovers a clutch of so-called “wytches” in the woods, a loathsome breed of elemental creatures that live in the trees and devour human flesh. How they actually get the human flesh is the really horrifying part.
Snyder, as ever, conjures up increasingly sophisticated ways to disturb us, and Wytches is practically an anthropology of primeval dread. With murky and vicious art by the singular Jock and migraine splatter-tones from Matt Hollingsworth, this black pit family tragedy will chill you to the marrow and suck it out. [Steve Morris]
There’s been a little confusion as to why Imperium got shortlisted into the horror category, because many feel it’s a sci-fi series. Or a thriller. Or a political work. And hey, yeah, it’s all three of those things — but it’s also the most terrifying comic I read all year, and its victory in this category shows that I’m not alone in thinking that.
You can’t get comfortable in this series at any point. The collection of monsters, freaks, horrors and otherworldly creations that makes up the ensemble cast are unpredictable in the extreme, with writer Joshua Dysart doing everything in his power to make sure that the readers are left in terrible suspense with each turn of the page. With this being a book where only one of two characters have ever been seen before, there’s no safety net for any of the characters — your favorite could be mutilated forever within the events of any one issue. This is a psychological horror as much as it is anything else, and Valiant’s series has quickly leapt up in intensity to the point where each issue is a gleeful sequence of spectacular suspense. Sometimes I can barely dare turn a page. It’s riveting. [Steve Morris]