Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Best New Character of 2015
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best new character of 2015 — and four great runners up.
Runner Up: Mr Bloom, Batman
It’s hard to introduce a new character to a comic, especially one with a storied history like Batman. With each member of Batman's rogue’s gallery, and a supporting cast so iconic, new additions can fall by the wayside as fans clamour for their longitme favourites to return.
Throughout their run on Batman, Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have tried to upend this pattern, and in the latest arc, “Superheavy,” they’ve put a new Batman, Jim Gordon, under the cowl, and pitted him against a new villain, Mr. Bloom. Whereas many of Bruce Wayne’s archenemies are men like him, Gordon’s Batman is a big bunny-eared mech, who needs a different kind of enemy. Enter Bloom, a creepy, Slender Man-esque megalomaniac with a penchant for flowers. Capullo’s design is a menacing silhouette; Snyder delivers the creepy dialogue; and Steve Wands’ letters create an unsettling impression. Making a memorable new Batman villain is hard. With Mr. Bloom, they’re succeeding. [James Leask]
Runner Up: Zodiac Starforce, Zodiac Starforce
The Zodiac Starforce are four 16-year-old girls (a fifth has been hinted as a future member) all introduced, quite efficiently, in Zodiac Starforce #1. Emma (Gemini) is the leader, a girl with tragedy in her life who tries not to burden her friends (even when she could really use their help). Kim (Taurus) is the muscle, a burly girl in a punk rock vest who can manifest magical armor that enables her to run headfirst into things — a useful skill for someone inclined to do that anyway. Molly (Aries) is the angry one, not that interested in being a cosmic protector, but always up for picking a fight. Savannah (Pisces) is the sweet one, and also the queer one, although she seems to still be figuring out the latter. Lily isn’t a member of the Starforce (yet), but she’s Savannah’s new love interest, and getting drawn into their adventures.
Kevin Panetta and Paulina Ganucheau have created one of those sets of characters that makes you want to decide which one you are, which is a good sign that they’ve built a team that has grabbed readers’ imaginations. The Starforce has the potential to last a long time. [Elle Collins]
Runner Up: Beth Ross, Prez
There was a time, my friends, when the only people who were super excited about the return of Prez were the kind of folks who sift through back-issue bins getting really excited about obscure, offbeat titles that got canceled after four issues, 40 years ago. But then, there was Beth Ross. As the star of Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell's reimagined Prez, she's at the center of one of the most biting, brutal political satires in comics, and it's her perspective that shapes the book.
As a teenage president ushered into office by social media and crooked electioneering, Beth is already over it without being bitter, and as someone who watched her father die and then had to take charge of negotiating with pharmaceutical companies to fight the epidemic that killed him, there's a heartbreaking element to her character that never drags the book down. Here's hoping she gets another chance to shine soon! [Chris Sims]
Runner Up: Nancy Whitehead, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
In The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vol. 2 #3, Nancy Whitehead matches wits with Dr. Doom and holds her own. This happens in the course of her investigation of Squirrel Girl’s disappearance into the past and erasure from the timeline. Only Nancy can remember that her roommate ever existed, and she quickly figures out what happened and then manipulates Doom (the only guy around with a time machine) into taking her to the past to find Squirrel Girl. Things go bad after that, but that’s just the inevitable side effect of working with Dr. Doom. Nancy’s competence remains impressive.
After just 11 issues of Squirrel Girl, Nancy feels like a character who could support her own comic (although I’d really rather keep seeing her be friends with Doreen). She’s more than just competent; she’s distinctive and likable. She has a refreshing lack of warmth for a nonvillainous female character, but she’s a very good friend. She also has really cool hair, and one time she went to Asgard and hung out with Loki. She’s not a supervillain or a superhero, but she seems like she could be a great one if she put her mind to it. [Elle Collins]
Winner: Mary Parker, Switch
A nerdy high school outcast named Parker learns that great power brings great responsibility. That was the sensational character find of 1963; it also happens to neatly describe the winner of Best New Character of 2015, Mary Parker, aka the new wielder of the Witchblade in Stjepan Sejic's bold reinvention of the concept for his Top Cow series Switch.
To many readers, Witchblade is forever associated with the bad girl comics of the late 90s, which saw formidably powerful women dress (just barely) in outfits designed more for the straight male gaze than for fighting crime. Mary Parker plays against type, embracing her own comfort and some of the underdog vibe of Spider-Man to bring Witchblade up-to-date with new audiences. What makes Mary most quintessentially 2015 is that she started out as an idea on Sejic's Tumblr, amassing over a million views. An internet success story; a character redesign for a changing market; a fresh take on the female superhero. It's not hard to see why Mary Parker is a very 2015 success story. [Andrew Wheeler]