We're pleased to present our favorite comic books of the past year, as selected by Screen Rant staff (with personal rankings of which books ended up as our most satisfying).
2018 was a big year for superheroes. The genre saw an unprecedented amount of success with Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War bringing in a combined $3 billion at the box office. Those were the two biggest comic book movies of the year, but 2018 will also be remembered for Deadpool 2, Ant-Man and the Wasp, Venom, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Aquaman. Though the year was certainly a big deal for the film and TV side of the genre, there were several comic book titles from both Marvel and DC that remind us why comic books are such a huge inspiration for so many of today's blockbusters.
For Marvel and DC, 2018 has been filled with huge milestones, events, character deaths, returns, weddings, and new status quos. DC's Action Comics reached its 1000th issue, a first in the comic book world. Dan Slott ended his historic run on The Amazing Spider-Man shortly after its 800th issue. Marvel resurrected Wolverine and Bruce Banner's Hulk, while killing off Thanos, the Inhumans, and Cable. Events like Doomsday Clock, Dark Knights: Metal, The Wedding, and Heroes in Crisis rocked the DC Universe, ending with the shocking death of The Flash (Wally West). But Marvel's "Fresh Start" initiative continued what "Marvel Legacy" started, delivering more than one of our favorite books. So without further ado, get ready to take notes, and start catching up on the best comics 2018 had to offer!
- Darth Vader
- Dark Nights: Metal
- The Flash
- Mister Miracle
Honorable Mention: Heroes in Crisis
It probably would’ve been easier in listing my favorite comics of the year to just say anything writer Tom King touched. However, that would probably be a little bit reductive and not include everything that was great about comics in 2018. The truth is, there was lot to love in the world of comics this year, especially coming from my personal favorite universe: DC Comics.
Batman and The Flash both managed to capture some of the greatest elements of mainstream superhero comics. The adventures of Bruce Wayne, Barry Allen (and Wally West) really balanced emotional pathos with some insane plot twists and action scenes. This isn’t even to mention the art as both writers (Tom King and Joshua Williamson, respectively) were joined by some stellar talent. Mikel Janin should just draw everything forever.
As for everything else, Dark Nights: Metal and Heroes in Crisis (even though the latter isn’t over) bucked the trend of recent comic events by actually delivering. Marvel’s Darth Vader and DC's Mister Miracle also hit similar themes, taking larger-than-life characters and grounding them in a fascinating way. Charles Soule’s Darth Vader is the Star Wars prequels we deserved, and Tom King and Mitch Gerard’s Mister Miracle deserves to be its own live-action movie.
- Detective Comics
- Justice League
- Avengers: No Surrender
Honorable Mention: The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron (so sad to see Jane Foster's time as Thor end!)
2018 has been a strange year, with a lot of my favorite runs - most notably James Tynion IV's Detective Comics - coming to an end. I don't mind admitting that Tynion is one of the writers I happily follow from book to book; he has a tremendous understanding of characters, and he balances team books with skill (I'm loving his Justice League run). It's quite rare for me to absolutely love an "event," but Avengers: No Surrender was excellent. The original idea didn't really grab me, but Mark Waid, Al Ewing, and Jim Zub put together a story with countless twists and turns. I really loved the character of Voyager, and hope to see her again in the near future.
The top comic of 2018, for me, is undoubtedly Donny Cates's Venom. I'm not normally a big fan of Venom, but Eddie Brock's had a good year - a film that did better than many had expected, and one of the best comic book arcs he's ever had. Cates has completely reworked the Venom mythology, integrating the symbiotes into the overarching Marvel Comics narrative. Helped by a fantastic artistic team, this has been comic book gold.
- Doctor Strange
- Avengers: No Surrender
- The Amazing Spider-Man
- X-Men: Red
- Infinity Wars
Honorable Mention: Domino
This year, my top five is dominated by Marvel titles, and a lot of this has to do with their "Fresh Start" initiative. While I was pleased with Marvel restoring so many of my favorite characters to the status quo, I was also impressed with the way it was done. Marvel's decision to attach new creative teams to several titles breathed new life into existing characters by sending them in bold, new directions. As someone who thoroughly enjoyed Donny Cates' run on Doctor Strange, I was disappointed to learn it too would be relaunched. However, Mark Waid changed my mind within the first issue. The new series dives deep into the mind of Dr. Stephen Strange in a way that no other comic has. What begins as an adventure into outer space evolves into a deeply personal story that reveals what makes Doctor Strange tick.
The end of Dan Slott's celebrated run on The Amazing Spider-Man was one of the biggest stories in comics in 2018, but the comic has been left in good hands with Nick Spencer, who made the series one of the year's most enjoyable reads with his brilliant, humorous, and back-to-basics approach to Peter Parker. X-Men: Red built off of the controversial Phoenix Resurrection by showing that Marvel didn't make a mistake in bringing back a beloved character who had been dead for 17 years. Tom Taylor knew just what to do with Jean Grey when he made her the leader of her own team of X-Men.
Like Avengers: Infinity War, No Surrender is packed with about thirty superheroes. Effectively utilizing that many characters in any medium is a challenge, but Avengers: No Surrender gets it right. Making the story a weekly, 16-part event allowed the writers to craft compelling stories for all the characters involved in the action.
- Darth Vader
- Batman: White Knight
- Star Wars
Honorable Mention: Star Wars: The Last Jedi Adaptation (for fixing my issues with the movie)
This year was filled with pleasant surprises, and too many comics I was eager to read each week. But as a longtime fan of Batman - and books seeking to dig below the surface of Bruce Wayne in particular - both Tom King's run and Sean Murphy's White Knight felt like once in a lifetime journeys. For King's work (with his rotating team of incredible artists) it was a chance to see the human Bruce Wayne never gets to be - one closer to myself than I would have ever thought possible. For Murphy, curing Joker's insanity and explaining the TWO versions of Harley Quinn was so brilliant, it proved no part of Gotham is beyond reinvention.
Venom remains a favorite and I'm along with Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman for the entire ride. But thanks to Marvel, this year made me fall in love with Star Wars all over again, without relying on the movies to do it. Charles Soule and Giuseppe Camuncoli's Darth Vader is, frankly, the story of Anakin Skywalker I always knew was possible but never expected to see told (and never told this perfectly). And to drive home the reason why I keep coming back to comics, the main Star Wars series genuinely brought tears to my eyes with hands-down, the best Star Wars battle and sequence I've yet seen, period. Bring on 2019!