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CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2015: #75 – #51

by  in Comic News Comment

Each year, CBR takes a good, long look at the comic book industry’s multitude of offerings and polls our passionate, thoughtful and always-opinionated staff — including editors, reporters, reviewers, columnists and bloggers — for their picks of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material, regardless of genre or format, is fair game; each individual list is then factored in (all thanks to the magic of spreadsheets) to determine the overall Top 100 that will be unveiled on CBR this week.

2015 was another banner year for the Top 100, with more than 40 contributors to the list and more than 200 comics nominated. That’s resulted in a typically diverse field: superhero franchises sharing space with creator-owned works; major publishers alongside indie favorites. Of course, no list can be an exhaustive collection of every noteworthy piece of work in a year, but the end result of the CBR Top 100 is a wide selection of eclectic comics and graphic novels worthy of attention.

On Monday, we started unveiling the list with entries No. 100 to 76, and today we present the next quarter chunk: No. 75 to 51. Here’s the remaining schedule, mark your calendars accordingly (all times Pacific): Wednesday, 12/30, Noon: Top 50-26; Thursday, 12/31, 6 a.m.: Top 25-11; Thursday, 12/31, Noon: Top 10; Friday, 1/1, 6 a.m.: Master list.

Start perusing the list below, and feel free to take to Twitter and discuss your thoughts using the hashtag #CBRTop100. Check back on Wednesday for No. 50-26, and feel free to revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:

CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2015: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1


75. Batman and Robin Eternal

Written by Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Tim Seeley, Ed Brisson, Steve Orlando, Genevieve Valentine, Collin Kelly, Jackson Lanzing

Art by Tony Daniel, Paul Pelletier, Scot Eaton, Ronan Cliquet, Steve Pugh, Alvaro Martinez, Roge Antonio, Geraldo Borges, Fernando Blanco, Christian Duce Fernandez, Javier Pina, Goran Sudžuka

Published by DC Comics

“As a fan of Batman and the various versions of Robin, I’ve been loving this weekly series. The story is focused and the flashbacks to the early years of Batman and Robin remind me of how much fun that era of Batman can be.”

— CBR Columnist John Mayo


74. Monstress

Written by Marjorie Liu

Art by Sana Takeda

Published by Image Comics

“It’s not exactly news to say that comics spend a lot of time on power fantasies. The main character of ‘Monstress’ is powerful, certainly, but her power comes at a cost and has consequences. The main character’s abilities are obviously powerful, but they’re also a pain to use and have a cost. Everything in the world of Monstress has a cost: Magic relies on body parts and blood, slaves are traded regularly, and more than a few characters have missing limbs. It’s horrifying. ana Takeda’s amazing artwork that beautifully melds art deco and manga, and creates a setting that looks and feels like nothing else in comics right now. Monstress is a parade of horrors, but it’s also the single best-looking comic on shelves right now.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Joe Streckert


73. Hellboy in Hell

Written & Illustrated by Mike Mignola

Published by Dark Horse Comics

“We get so used to certain creators doing work at such a consistently high level, we forget how remarkable it is. ‘Hellboy’ is always good. ‘Hellboy’ with Mike Mignola writing and drawing is even better. And ‘Hellboy In Hell’ might well be the best yet. With the constraints of the real world taken away, it’s pure weirdness and wonder.”

— CBR Columnist Ron Marz


72. The Sculptor

Written & Illustrated by Scott McCloud

Published by First Second

“The Sculptor is a beautiful fable of the life of an artist, with all the hard work, the harder choices, the sacrifices and wasted opportunities that can entail. And then there is the deal with what could almost certainly be described as the devil. If ‘Understanding Comics’ is Scott McCloud’s guide to what comics can do, this is a lyrical demonstration of what they can be.”

— CBR Guest Contributor Rob Cave


71. Fante Bukowski

Written & Illustrated by Noah Van Sciver

Published by Fantagraphics

“Noah Van Sciver gives us the sensational character find of 2015 in the person of Fante Bukowski, a man so obsessed with his idols that he changed his name to match theirs, although he never got around to making himself a good enough writer to live up to their example — but he doesn’t quite get that, and that is all the fun of Van Sciver’s brilliantly told story.”

— Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin


70. Harley Quinn

Written by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti

Art by Chad Hardin, John Timms

Published by DC Comics

“The characters and cast continue to evolved into a well-performing blend for DC. Just when think Amanda and Jimmy cannot top themselves, they do.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Tim O’Shea


69. Island

Written & Illustrated by Various Contributors

Edited by Brandon Graham & Emma Ríos

Published by Image Comics

“Nothing else this year has matched the excitement of picking up a new issue of ‘Island’ and getting lost in the weird worlds within. The Image anthology, curated by Emma Rios and Brandon Graham, has assembled a diverse crew of new and established artists — all worth checking out.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Ryan Ingram


68. The Goddamned

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by R. M. Guera

Published by Image Comics

“Admittedly, I’m a Jason Aaron fan and I was stoked to see him work with R. M. Guera again. I was less excited about the idea of a Bible story that looked like a cross between a Sergio Leone Western and a Conan film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. It’s good to be wrong. This pre-apocalyptic tale promises great things and reframes the story of Cain and Abel gruesomely.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Jason Strykowski


67. Zodiac Starforce

Written by Kevin Panetta

Art by Paulina Ganucheau

Published by Dark Horse Comics

“An incredibly charming book. If you have been a fan of ‘Sailor Moon’ or ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ or just love the genre, this series starring magical girls taking on cosmic forces will warm your heart. It’s a story of complicated female friendships, queer romance, overcoming personal losses and triumphing over evil, set against the backdrop of a bunch of teenage girls in high school all just trying to find their own way. Kevin Panetta totally gets the magical girl genre at its core, and Paulina Ganucheau’s art is as mystical as the story itself. What I love about this book is that this group of women are powerful, but they’re not without their flaws. When they come together to save the world, it might not be perfect, but I don’t think the earth is doomed.”

— CBR Guest Contributor Heather Knight


66. Trashed

Written & Illustrated by Derf Backderf

Published by Abrams

“A riotous tale of no-future small-town fellas toiling in the doldrums of their trash-hauling work, with a bone-chilling account of our society’s trash consumption and sheer waste volume. It’s hilarious and socially aware, so you’ll enjoy seeing just how bad we’re messing up our home.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Michael C Lorah


65. Weirdworld

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Mike Del Mundo

Published by Marvel

“‘Secret Wars’ provided an excuse to resurrect and reimagine countless old characters and concepts from the dusty corners of Marvel’s vaults, and no creators did that better than Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo did here. Aaron proved that mashing up countless obscure and even forgotten ideas with a fresh twist could truly be something original, and Del Mundo’s lush, gorgeous, and fantastic layouts and renderings made nearly every single panel a literal work of beauty. Every issue of this series was a showcase for what how beautiful creative synergy can be, and showed just how amazing the sequential art form can be in the hands of modern day masters.”

— CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson


64. Danger Club

Written by Landry Q. Walker

Art by Eric Jones

Published by Image Comics

“I can’t imagine what a random new reader who walked into a comic shop and picked up a 2015 issue of ‘Danger Club’ would have made of the series. After a years-long break from their teen superhero-via-‘Hunger Games’-via-mythological epic series, Walker & Jones returned with a handful of flat-out insane issues. A cross-dimensional, cross-temporal, cross-genre battle over three issues was a hell of a way to take the series to its conclusion, and even as the action was pushed to its day-glo limit (thanks to the work of colorist Michael “Rusty” Drake), the big bloody finish somehow found a way to return the story to the roots of what good young superhero stories are all about. In short, it was a finale well worth the wait.”

— CBR Staff Writer Kiel Phegley


63. All Star Section 8

Written by Garth Ennis

Art by John McCrea

Published by DC Comics

“Garth Ennis & John McCrea’s triumphant return to DC — reviving the Section 8 team from their run on ‘Hitman’ — could’ve been the publisher’s greatest editorial decision all year. Part of the DCYou initiative, Ennis & McCrea offered an off-kilter tale of the least-respected superteam in existence, while showing us the quirky and unknown side of many characters we thought we knew — and along the way, teaching us that Martian Manhunter doesn’t smell so great.”

— CBR Assistant Editor Anthony Couto


62. Plutona

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Emi Lenox

Published by Image Comics

“‘Plutona’ has been frequently (and favorably) compared to ‘Stand By Me,’ and it’s easy to see why — after all, this is a story about a group of misfit kids that finds a body. However, this miniseries is much more than that: It’s a story about those sometimes-tenuous friendships we forge as children; it’s about secrets and wonder; and it’s about superheroes, but only sort of. It’s also told beautifully by writer Jeff Lemire, who demonstrates a firm grasp of preteen dialogue and behavior, artist Emi Lenox, whose big-eyed characters are expressive but always (seemingly) a little sad, and colorist Jordie Bellaire, whose palette gives the comic an almost storybook quality.”

— CBR Editor Kevin Melrose


61. Wytches

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Jock

Published by Image Comics

“Horror can be a difficult genre to truly pull off in the comics medium, but Scott Snyder and Jock deliver absolute dread in their first arc of ‘Wytches.’ The series is packed with suspense, and the stakes climb higher and higher until the story hits a gut-wrenching, gasp-out-loud crescendo of a conclusion. Few comics can make me cry, but I’ll admit I wept openly as this six-issue arc drew to a close.”

— CBR Assistant Editor Meagan Damore


60. Ruins

Written & Illustrated by Peter Kuper

Published by Abrams

“From the very first page, when Kuper introduces his conceit of a migrating butterfly as a narrative device, you know that ‘Ruins’ is going to be a novelistic graphic novel. And indeed, it’s a good example of the form at its best. The plot centers on a married couple who travel to Mexico; she is on sabbatical from her job as a professor, while he has just been let go from his job as an entomologist/illustrator. A teachers’ strike and the turmoil that follows provides a dramatic counterpoint to the slowly unfurling story of their marriage and the revelation of a tragedy deep in the past. Kuper has rich material to work with, and he makes the most of it: The visual splendor of Mexico, the dissonance of the couple’s reactions to the peculiarities of their new home, and the politics and conflict of the time. It all adds up to a moving and unforgettable story, the sort of thing you are still thinking about long after you close the book.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Brigid Alverson


59. S.H.I.E.L.D.

Written by Mark Waid

Art by Various Artists

Published by Marvel

“Series writer Mark Waid did a fantastic job merging the comic book world of classic Marvel and the characters from the ABC TV series ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Seeing Quake explore her powers, watching Coulson lead the team against unknown enemies — everything about this book is awesome.”

— CBR Assistant Editor Lauren Gallaway


58. Amazing Spider-Man

Written by Dan Slott, Christos Gage

Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, Olivier Coipel, Humberto Ramos, Adam Kubert

Published by Marvel

“Dan Slott’s ability to maintain momentum on Spider-Man after nearly eight years remains remarkable. In 2015, he wrapped up ‘Spider-Verse’ (an ambitious event rounding up nearly every Spider-character in history), carved out a piece of the ‘Secret Wars’ landscape in ‘Renew Your Vows’ (while showing fans a version of the Peter Parker-Mary Jane marriage that could have been), then relaunched the series (again) with Peter Parker now a Tony Stark-esque globe-trotting industrialist. Slott can’t do it alone, of course: This past year, he was again joined by top-notch, visually diverse artists. The sheer number of ideas on display during the Slott run on Spider-Man has ensured it’ll be remembered as one of the very best eras in the world-famous character’s history, and it looks like there’s still a ways to go left on this ride.”

— CBR Managing Editor Albert Ching


57. MIND MGMT

Written & Illustrated by Matt Kindt

Published by Dark Horse Comics

“Matt Kindt says that he has tried to be ‘Watchmen’ his entire life. And ‘MIND MGMT’ certainly gets the writer/artist in the conversation. Kindt changed the rules for comic book storytelling with his Dark Horse opus, which ended its run this past summer, perhaps as much as any title since Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ game-changing epic in the 1980s.”

— CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud


56. Casanova: Acedia

Written by Matt Fraction, Michael Chabon

Art by Fábio Moon, Gabriel Bá

Published by Image Comics

“Fraction’s masterpiece continued this year, as he gave us another trippy journey through Casanova Quinn’s life, as he doesn’t know who he is and has to find out. There’s also a nice subplot about the creation of E.M.P.I.R.E. and Fraction’s usual zaniness throughout, while Moon and Bá, as usual, crush the art. I hope we get another arc soon!”

— Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Burgas


55. Captain America: Sam Wilson

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Daniel Acuña, Mike Choi, Paul Renaud

Published by Marvel

“2015 wasn’t an election year, but you wouldn’t know that just by turning on any news station or late night show. The highly political ‘Captain America: Sam Wilson’ came at just the right time, incorporating the very real schism forming in America’s population directly into the opening arc’s complex narrative. Spencer even pulled off making Steve Rogers and Sam Wilson disagree while maintaining both characters’ integrity, proving that all sides have nuance to them. And in a book that could easily become overly dramatic, Daniel Acuña’s brightly colored pop art provides a tonal check that makes this socially conscious book thoroughly superheroic.”

— CBR Assistant Editor Brett White


54. Displacement: A Travelogue

Written & Illustrated by Lucy Knisley

Published by Fantagraphics

“Lucy Knisley’s built her career on autobiographical comics, but ‘Displacement: A Travelogue’ felt like a huge step forward in that department. Detailing the time that she took her aging grandparents on a cruise, Knisley tells the story of her grandfather’s military service in World War II alongside her present-day doubts on how she can take care of the duo. In lesser hands this could have come across as a sob story, but here Knisley is able to bring her worries to life in a way that feels sympathetic and understandable. With soft lines and colors on the page finishing up the package, ‘Displacement’ is a rare moment where a creator is able to lay her soul bare for readers to see, and the end result is not only inviting but believable without ever being sugarcoated. Knisley’s talent continues to grow by leaps and bounds, and this latest creation is no exception.”

— CBR Reviewer Greg McElhatton

“You might expect ‘Displacement’ to be filled with the same humor and insight as Lucy Knisley’s previous books ‘Relish: My Life in the Kitchen’ and ‘An Age of License.’ After all, it recounts the 2012 cruise with her memory-impaired grandmother and physically challenged grandfather. Yet the quality that’s made Knisley a great storyteller — her ability to recall nuanced encounters with a blend of wit and compassion — allows her to craft a compelling and complicated account of this time spent with her grandparents.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Tim O’Shea


53. Black Magick

Written by Greg Rucka

Art by Nicola Scott

Published by Image Comics

“2015 was a year of exceptionally beautiful comics, but for me nothing was quite as beautiful as the work done by Nicola Scott on ‘Black Magick.’ The world of Rowan Black is filled with witchy shadows, detailed architecture, velvet-soft facial expressions, and the cold chill of moonlight (thanks to colorist Chiara Arena.) Greg Rucka is building another intimate and captivating world that I look forward to exploring with each issue.”

— CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

“‘Black Magick’ by Greg Rucka & Nicola Scott just started but the emotional subtlety of the Scott’s art and Rucka’s solid world-building have already hooked me.”

— CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng


52. Copperhead

Written by Jay Faerber

Art by Scott Godlewski

Published by Image Comics

“Writer Jay Faerber’s best work to date combines his strengths at low-key character-building and meat-and-potatoes genre storytelling with a simple but evocative premise: A sheriff on the rugged frontier — in space. Faerber and artist Scott Godlewski seamlessly blend conventions of Westerns and science fiction without either one ever feeling forced, and they’ve built up a rich cast of complex characters, led by human Sheriff Clara Bronson and her gruff, resourceful alien deputy Budroxifinicus”

— CBR Contributing Writer Josh Bell

“This year, Faerber & Godlewski continued to build the world of ‘Copperhead,’ and the cast of their fascinating space western. The series is a cleverly constructed cocktail that’s one part ‘Star Trek Deep Space: Nine’ and one part ‘Deadwood.’ The recently concluded arc involved a desperate manhunt for a gang of fugitives and gave us more insight into the lead characters of Sheriff Clara Bronson, her alien deputy Budroxifinicus (a.k.a. Boo), and the fascinating supporting cast that populates the titular town of Copperhead.”

— CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards


51. Southern Cross

Written by Becky Cloonan

Art by Andy Belanger

Published by Image Comics

“In ‘Southern Cross,’ Becky Cloonan & Andy Belanger give readers a glimpse of a fascinating, gritty, lived-in future that’s as well designed as the ones you see in similar set tales like ‘Firefly’ or ‘The Expanse,’ and they utilize their setting perfectly by making it the backdrop of an engaging mystery and horror tale. The pacing and sense of creeping dread in the book is perfectly done, and I can’t wait to see where Cloonan and Belanger take us next”

— CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

“What started out as a sort of murder mystery in space has developed into something more cosmic and psychedelic, while retaining the emotional core of main character Alex Braith’s search for her dead sister. Writer Becky Cloonan builds a convincing future world and populates it with realistically flawed characters, and artist Andy Belanger brings to life the dingy, low-rent locale of the space freighter that serves as Alex’s temporary home and potential final stop.”

— CBR Contributing Writer Josh Bell

CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2015: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1