Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Outstanding Creative Team of 2015
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the outstanding creative team of 2015 — and four great runners up.
There was never a huge audience clamoring for a Squirrel Girl book. The character is a gimmick from late in Steve Ditko’s superhero career; a joke character that writers have returned to in necessarily small doses. No-one ever expected her to be a star, and when her book was announced it was easy to ask, “Who wants this?”
Easy, that is, unless you recognized the names of the talent involved. Erica Henderson and Ryan North weren’t known quantities to superhero readers, but their fans knew them as two incredibly gifted, incredibly funny people, and putting them together on Squirrel Girl made the best kind of sense — as the results have shown. It’s a title with humor, heart, and a suddenly inspiring lead character in Doreen Green, who is so much more than a joke. A year on, most readers know Henderson and North's names, and Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is deservedly one of the most acclaimed and successful launches of 2015. Sorry; two of the most acclaimed and successful launches of 2015. [Andrew Wheeler]
In Southern Bastards, Jason Latour and Jason Aaron repurpose hicksploitation tropes into a jarring and unapologetic book that delivers one gut punch after another. But Southern Bastards is more than just a gritty crime comic — it's the product of Latour and Aaron's conflicted feelings toward the place they called home, and it's more layered and complex than many people give them credit for. The creators consistently juke your expectations in both plot and tone.
Although very violent and even a little grotesque, Southern Bastards is also heartfelt and emotional, maybe even plaintive; and it's a very beautiful kind of grotesque, the way Latour illustrates. Characters that at first look like stereotypes — a conscious choice — are revealed to have depth and conflict, with even the most loathsome made somehow relatable. And to say that they've pulled off a shocking twist or two doesn't even begin to cover it. Southern Bastards is truly eye-opening and unique, and one hopes this pair of southern gentlemen will be sticking with it for some time. [John Parker]
The impressive thing about Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder's continuing run on Batman isn't that they've been the most consistent, high-quality team on DC's roster since the 2011 launch of the New 52, although that's certainly something to be proud of. The impressive thing is that the stories they tell just keep getting bigger.
You'd think that after Endgame, a story that climaxed with the Joker leading a parade through the streets of Gotham that included Batman's robot T-Rex, things might just have to calm down, but when Superheavy launched with the idea of Jim Gordon shaving his mustache, packing on muscle, giving himself a mohawk and fighting crime in a robot Batman suit, "calm" was exactly the wrong word for it. The way this team has come together — with Danny Miki and FCO Plascencia, who deserve a huge amount of credit for their work — has once again taken Batman to new heights — and set him up for some terrifying falls. [Chris Sims]
You’re all aware of Daredevil, so you know the work that the team of Chris Samnee and Mark Waid — with colorist Matthew Wilson, letterer Joe Caramagna and others — have put into that series. Together, they created a series that felt tight and inventive, without wasting a single panel of a single page. Daredevil is one of the most accomplished extended runs on a superhero title in recent years.
Perhaps the clearest demonstration of this creative team's importance as a unit was the collective gasp when they were announced as the custodians on a relaunch of Black Widow in 2016. It was a gasp of relief, because readers know they can trust any title to the hands of such a reliably exceptional team. It was also a definitive statement of support for Black Widow, because any book under this team is going to be a sensation. There are very few creative teams that can put that sense of ease in the hearts of readers, months before a comic even comes out, but the names of Waid, Samnee, et al have become a hallmark of quality. [Steve Morris]
Individually, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are excellent creators whose work I'll pick up entirely on the basis of their names, and the results are almost always rewarding. But together, they bring out the very best in each other's work, and the results can be truly special.
Along with colourist Matt Wilson and letterer Clayton Cowles, they form a comics-creator Megazord, capable of incredible feats. Like putting out two of the year's best creator-owned comics, The Wicked and The Divine and Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl, not only in the same year but often on the same day each month. Like putting together an entire issue remixed from old McKelvie art. Like pastiching “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Scott Pilgrim in the same series. Like setting a comic to a four-to-the-floor beat. Like...
It's difficult to think of two other names in comics that have become so completely entwined. Even Morrison & Quitely or Lee & Kirby spent time apart, but McKelvie & Gillen have shackled themselves to one another seemingly permanently. For all the time they spend dissing each other on Twitter, their reationship is one of the greatest romances in comics. [Alex Spencer]