Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Continued Excellence In Serial Comics
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the award for continued excellence in serial comics in 2015, recognizing comics that are still some of the best in the business more than a year and a half into their run. We've named both the winner and four deserving runners up.
Runner Up: COPRA
When it's all said and done, there's no doubt in my mind that COPRA is going to go down as one of the best self-published comics of all time. This year, Michel Fiffe — who writes, draws, letters, and even ships the book himself — reached 25 issues, and while the book is still an homage to DC's Suicide Squad, it's gone far beyond a bunch of analogue characters with the serial numbers filed off.
There's a craftsmanship at play here that's hard to find elsewhere, a book that's filled with innovative page layouts and narrative tricks like serializing a second story in the last two pages of each issue. Every time a new issue arrives, it brings something that I'm not seeing anyone else doing in superhero comics. But then, that's been the case for as long as COPRA's been coming out. It's as good as it gets, and there's no reason to think it won't stay that way. [Chris Sims]
Runner Up: Lazarus
Dystopian futures are hardly a rarity in science fiction, but Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have managed to create one that's entirely distinctive. It's a world where natural resources are incredibly scarce, controlled by aristocratic Families and protected by the Lazarii of the title, imbued with the power of being dead but then getting better again.
That world is fleshed out without ever relying on expository info dumps. Details are scattered into conversations, encouraging you to scan every line for hints. But Lazarus' best world-building tool is elegantly simple: captions over the establishing shots at the start of each scene.
These present the population of that place, broken down into 'Family', 'Serf' and 'Waste'. The bluntness of that language lays out the political heart of Lazarus, as does the accompanying numbers — small and precise for Family members, huge and approximated for the non-citizens classed as 'Waste'. Presented as cold hard fact, it makes the reader complicit in the way these people are dismissed by society. Which, if you've spent any time reading headlines in 2015, is a probably a familiar feeling. Like the best — worst? — dystopias, Lazarus never feels that far away. [Alex Spencer]
Runner Up: Lumberjanes
How do you praise a book like Lumberjanes, which has already been praised so much? Probably by reiterating that it deserves all the praise it’s gotten and more, for its diverse cast that was revealed as more diverse than expected this year, for its sense of spirit and adventure, for its ability to endure a shift in creative staff with the departure of Noelle Stevenson and the arrival of Kat Leyh, Shannon Waters and Carolyn Nowak.
Lumberjanes is the book everyone says it is, and more importantly, it’s the book that comics should have had all along. That it endures is a blessing twice over. [Charlotte Finn]
Runner Up: Saga
At this point, what can you say about Saga that hasn’t already been said? Eight Eisner Awards and a Hugo in under four years of publication conjures up a superlative that’s hard to beat. This isn’t the first end-of-year 'best' list it’s been on, and it probably won’t be the last. Month in and month out, it continues to surprise and impress.
Really, isn’t that the most complementary thing that can be said about it? Thirty-one issues over almost four years, and Saga doesn’t seem to be running out of steam or places of interest to go. Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan have presented readers with a world that feels lived in and rooted in real emotion, which means that any time they veer off and zoom into a new facet of it, it’s generally someplace interesting to investigate. The last year has taken the cast into holographic soap operas, refugee camps and resistance groups. It’s torn apart a family and teased their reunion. Where to next? Let’s find out. [James Leask]
Winner: Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye
If you had told me even a year ago that the single best comic on the stands was not only a Transformers comic, but the Transformers comic where the entire cast just sort of goofs around in space without ever getting any closer to accomplishing the goals that are nominally driving the book, I would've laughed you out of the office. And yet, here we are, in a world where I've read every issue of More Than Meets The Eye and can't wait for the next one.
The character work and astonishingly clever setups in this series have taken a franchise I never cared about and made it one that I'm deeply invested in, with heartbreaking drama and thrilling action just underneath a surface of comedy that's very hard to pull off.
It is, quite simply, The Best. [Chris Sims]