Choosing the "best of" anything - comics, movies, television - involves personal tastes, employing criteria that can be impossible to pinpoint. The same, of course, goes for the best comic book covers of the year: Should the selections skew more toward the traditional or the modern, the humorous or the serious, the action-packed or the artsy?
This list of the 50 best comic book covers of 2015 (presented alphabetically) touches all of those bases, with a selection that ranges from color-soaked to black and white, from superheroic to supernatural, and from cartoonish to realistic (well, as realistic as a gorilla rocking out on the drums can be). They represent the work of 46 artists, plus inkers, colorists and designers, and nine publishers.
While whittling down the massive number of comics released last year in the North American market to just 50 covers, some trends became apparent:
- From "standard" and retailer incentive variants to custom variants and publisher theme months, there was staggering number of covers released in 2015. However, perhaps that's not a surprise. Although a vast majority didn't make their way onto the list, a handful did.
- Homage covers were big last year, in part due to initiatives like DC Comics' movie-poster covers and Marvel's hip-hop variants. Three particularly clever (and humorous) ones made our Top 50: Sonny Liew's recreation of Rembrandt's "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp" for "Doctor Fate" #7; Amanda Conner's nod to "The Shining" for "Harley Quinn" #21; and Ben Caldwell's ode to Nixon's farewell for "Prez" #2.
- Rigidly formatted cover designs seem to be gaining popularity, particularly among independent comics. Although that can establish an easily recognizable "brand identity," it can also hamper creativity. But Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson broke from that mold in a brutal, startling fashion with "The Wicked + The Divine" when, after 10 covers featuring closeups of the series' characters, they unveiled Issue 11, featuring the aftermath of a decapitation. (Yes, it made the list.)