CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2015: #100 - #76

Christmas is now a memory. New Year's Eve is around the corner. But the happiest holiday of all is right here, right now -- the start of CBR's annual Top 100!

Each year, we take a good long look at the comic book industry's multitude of offerings and poll the passionate, thoughtful and always-opinionated CBR 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 over the next 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.

Today, we start unveiling the list with entries No. 100 to 76, with the countdown continuing each day this week. Here's the schedule, mark your calendars accordingly (all times Pacific): Tuesday, 12/29, Noon: Top 75-51; 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. While you're here, feel free to revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:

100. Superman: American Alien

Written by Max Landis

Art by Nick Dragotta, Tommy Lee Edwards, Evan Shaner

Publisher: DC Comics

"The one character in all of comics who certainly doesn't need another retelling of his origin is Superman. Lnowing that, Max Landis chronicles the life of a young Clark Kent by, well, telling the story about a young Clark Kent. Landis doesn't dwell on the first time Clark did this or that amazing feat, but rather focuses on the boy behind those deeds, as well as those around him. This comic has been nothing short of an amazing introspection of a kid trying to be normal, and trying to do the right thing, and then facing the consequences of such seeming inconsequential decisions. Landis' story is not about Superman, nor about Superman trying to be Clark Kent; it's about Clark trying to be Clark, something just about anyone who's tried to discover themselves can relate to.

-- CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson

99. Elfquest: The Final Quest

Written by Richard & Wendy Pini

Art by Wendy Pini

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

"The promised conclusion of elf hero Cutter's journey gets weirder with each issue: a cozy send-off to Wendy and Richard Pini's 40-year epic this is not. Her art is as stunning as ever, yet their storytelling has become unnervingly fast-paced."

-- Guest Contributor Heather Johanssen

98. Howard the Duck

Written by Chip Zdarsky

Art by Joe Quinones, Rob Guillory, Jason Latour, Katie Cook, Veronica Fish

Publisher: Marvel

"Chip Zdarsky is one of the strongest comedic talents working in comics. Taking the reins of 'Howard the Duck' alongside series artist Joe Quinnones, Zdarsky incorporated meta, self-referential humor into the Marvel Universe, while maintaining the integrity of every character (and there were a ton) that made guest appearances. And we got to see a Howard/Rocket Raccoon team-up-- which we can all agree was long overdue."

-- CBR Assistant Editor Anthony Couto

97. "Ant-Man"/"Ant-Man: Last Days"/"Astonishing Ant-Man"

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Ramon Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel

"Marvel's smallest hero has had a pretty big year. Not only did his feature film earn more than $500 million at the worldwide box office, he got his first ongoing series in a while. That ongoing series by Spencer & Rosanas proved to be right in line with the movie's tone, with hapless hero Scott Lang struggling in his professional life (hiring D-List bad guys to work at his scrappy security company) and personal life (having to live in a plastic toy house). But as dire as things became, like the time a bad guy tried to steal his daughter's heart, Spencer kept the tone in check with plenty of witty one-liners.

-- CBR Assistant Editor Brett White

96. Melody: Story of a Nude Dancer

Written & Illustrated by Sylvie Rancourt

Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"The best thing about this volume, collected from the rarely seen '80s comics, is how completely free of judgment the tale is. Watch Melody's poor choices and good heart without any revisionist perspective -- just being able to live in that moment makes a powerful comic."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Michael C Lorah

95. A Silent Voice

Written & Illustrated by Yoshitoki Oima

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

"Bullying comes up a lot in manga, but 'A Silent Voice' is unusual in that it is told from the point of view of the bully. Shoya is a thrill-seeker who tends to push too far, and when Shoko, a deaf girl, arrives at his school, he is fascinated and begins tormenting her, willingly abetted by his classmates. After she leaves the school, though, he realizes the tables have turned and he is the victim -- and Shoko was protecting him. Years later, Shoya sets out, clumsily, to make amends, and that's when the story really takes off. Oima shows everything through Shoya's eyes; he imagines his classmates gossiping maliciously about him and sees them with Xs over their faces. While high-school manga is usually terribly mannered, everything about this story is solid and down to earth, with the characters behaving in ways that feel real, even in extreme situations."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Brigid Alverson

94. Dungeon Fun

Written by Colin Bell

Art by Neil Slorance

Publisher: Dogooder Comics

"Concluding this year, 'Dungeon Fun' managed to not only wrap up the storyline in a surprisingly emotional, smart manner -- but it also connected every previous issue and tightened the narrative into an unbreakable bow. Funny above all else, the series made itself known by offering characters who broke up the gags with intelligence, verve and wit, rendered adoringly by Neil Slorance. Slorance gave the comic a style which was suitable for all-ages, but also appealing to everyone -- it's not cutesy, but it is silly, and it gives bright bouncy characters who still retain a sense of depth and heart. Ending on a hint that the characters may well return at some point in the New Year, Dungeon Fun was the single most purely enjoyable comic released this year."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Steve Morris

93. Sex

Written by Joe Casey

Art by Piotr Kowalski

Published by Image Comics

"Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski add to this world every month in new and surprising ways, finally shedding some light on the past and using that to the build the foundations of the future. This year, it came its closest to touching on its superhero roots, but never strayed from its 'what happens after' mandate that is so ripe for exploration. And 'Sex' explores 'what happens after' with more depth and thought than any other work."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett

92. The Dark Knight III: The Master Race

Written by Brian Azzarello & Frank Miller

Art by Andy Kubert and Klaus Janson

Published by DC Comics

"If Disney had a lot of healing to do with the revival of Star Wars, DC had to find a way to bring 'The Dark Knight' into and out of the Lazarus Pit. Thankfully, the miniseries is off to a promising start. Maybe we can look forward to another decade or two of worshipping Frank Miller."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Jason Strykowski

91. Batman '66

Written by Jeff Parker, Rob Williams, Mike W. Barr, Ray Fawkes, Gabe Soria, Lee Allred

Art by Scott Kowalchuk, Lukas Ketner, Jesse Hamm, Dean Haspiel, Leonardo Romero, Jonathan Case, Brent Schoonover, Giancarlo Caracuzzo, Sandy Jarrell, Ruben Procopio, Mike Allred, Michael Avon Oeming, Jon Bogdanove, Ty Templeton

Published by DC Comics

"I'm sad this comic is going away because it delighted me every month. Doing this kind of homage/pastiche is really tricky because you want it to be recognizable, but you don't want it to look like some sort of slavish copy. Jeff Parker and his collaborators made it feel like we were actually getting new episodes. The series went out on a high note- -- #29b and #30 are probably my favorite single issues of anything I bought in 2015. I'm really going to miss this as an ongoing monthly."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher

90. Groot

Written by Jeff Loveness

Art by Brian Kesinger

Published by Marvel

"In 'Groot,' Jeff Loveness & Brian Kesinger were given what might seem like a Herculean task; telling a tale where the titular character and his limited English vocabulary was the focus, yet they rose to the occasion. 'Groot' is essentially a Pixar movie in comic form -- yes, it's that good. It's a moving, hilarious and beautifully rendered tale about cosmic misfits and the power of friendship."

-- CBR Staff Writer David Richards

89. James Bond

Written by Warren Ellis

Art by Jason Masters

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

"I am the hardest kind of Bond fan to please that there is -- an Ian Fleming purist. I had read all of Fleming's books by the time I was 14 and I have a very firm idea about what James Bond should be like. Ellis nails it. The Bond in this comic is absolutely, recognizably, the same 007 that Fleming described. The art from Jason Masters is slick and cool and shadowy, just like it ought to be. Possibly the best comics version of James Bond anyone's ever done."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher

88. Berlin

Written & Illustrated by Jason Lutes

Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"When it comes to clear-line comics, few can hold a candle to the meticulous compositions of Jason Lutes and in Berlin, his tale of life and diversity in German capital between the wars that elegantly captures all the tensions of a city on the brink, his work is at its best."

-- CBR Guest Contributor Rob Cave

87. DC Comics: Bombshells

Written by Marguerite Bennett

Art by Marguerite Sauvage, Stephen Mooney, Ted Naifeh, Garry Brown, Mirka Andolfo, Bilquis Evely, Laura Braga, Ming Doyle, Marc Deering, Sandy Jarrell, Maria Laura Sanapo

Published by DC Comics

"If this comic isn't the best kind of wish fulfillment, I don't know what is. Set in the 1940s, Kate Kane is a war hero-turned-baseball star married to Maggie Sawyer, so for all of us who read and rooted for them during Kate's ongoing series in the regular DC universe, at least we got to see it somewhere. It's also filled with plenty of other incredible stories about many of DC's female characters who don't always get the spotlight they deserve. Wonder Woman, Zatanna, Queen Mera, Supergirl and more can be found in the pages of this uniquely engaging and incredibly refreshing comic. The Marguerites are a dynamic duo in their own rights; Bennett writes them with love and attention and Sauvage captures all of them flawlessly on the page."

-- CBR Guest Contributor Heather Knight

86. Shutter

Written by Joe Keatinge

Art by Leila Del Duca

Published by Image Comics

"There seem to be no limits to the always expanding story of explorer Kate Kristopher and her massively messed-up family, with shocking new discoveries in every issue. Writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila del Duca constantly come up with crazy new directions, new characters and new worlds to explore, keeping the story grounded in Kate's mix of skepticism, wonder and fury."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Josh Bell

85. Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye

Written by James Roberts

Art by Brendan Cahill, Alex Milne

Published by IDW Publishing

"One of the greatest accomplishments in comics is overcoming a ridiculous core conceit and delivering stories and characters that endure and shine. Larry Hama did it with 'G.I. Joe' at Marvel, and one day we will all speak in the same reverent tones about James Roberts' enormously powerful work on 'Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye.' Not content to write stories about giant robots smashing together, his scripts instead delve deeply into their motivations and their origins, fleshing out millions of years of Cybertronian history and culture with the deftness and efficacy of a few brush strokes. Adding brilliant concepts like shadowplay, empurata and conjunx endura to the Transformers lexicon -- the latter being one of the most subtle signs of alliance for the LGBTQ community in comics -- as well as using them to fuel plot threads resolved years down the line speaks of Roberts' creativity and focus. This series is among the best science fiction being published today, and Roberts is an unparalleled talent, ably assisted by visual titans who take the sometimes messy challenge of detailed giant robots and make each one distinctive and give even the faceless expression.

-- CBR Columnist Hannibal Tabu

84. Ragnarok

Written & Illustrated by Walter Simonson

Published by IDW Publishing

"A master storyteller doing a masterpiece. 'Ragnarok' started out great, which is why it was on my list last year. It's only gotten better as the tale of an undead Thor's revenge has deepened. This is the whole package, from Walter Simonson's writing and art, Laura Martin's color and John Workman's letters."

-- CBR Columnist Ron Marz

83. The Sandman: Overture

Written by Neil Gaiman

Art by J.H. Williams III

Published by DC/Vertigo

"It took two years to complete, but the prequel epic 'Sandman: Overture' stands as a worthy addition to Neil Gaiman's 'Sandman' library -- and by that measure, it is exceedingly worthy when judged against most other comics. Williams' considered, highly designed yet relentlessly fluid art is a perfect complement for Dream's adventures, and Gaiman opens up new facets of the Endless family drama through a tale that is both very large and intimately personal."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Shaun Manning

82. Invisible Republic

Written by Corinna Bechko & Gabriel Hardman

Art by Gabriel Hardman

Published by Image Comics

"After honing their craft on politically tinged stories set in the 'Planet of the Apes' and 'Star Wars' universes, Bechko & Hardman cut loose with the creator-owned 'Invisible Republic.' Set on a colonized moon hundreds of years in the future, 'Invisible Republic's' dual narrative follows the rise of dictator Arthur McBride and one reporter's quest to expose McBride's past atrocities. While ostensibly a sci-fi series, the story itself is a tight political thriller infused with vulnerable humanity and strikingly realistic settings rendered in detail by Hardman. With fascinating essays by Bechko and process pieces by Hardman and colorist Jordan Boyd, each issue of 'Invisible Republic' feels like its own world.

-- CBR Assistant Editor Brett White

81. Kaijumax

Written & Illustrated by Zander Cannon

Published by Oni Press

"Zander Cannon's Oni Press series was a bizarre treat of a comic, taking the serious format of a prison story and flipping it round entirely, stomping it up and spitting radioactive weirdness all over. Kaijumax is a high-security prison for giant monsters, which works in the exact same way any other prison might work -- there are gangs, drugs, favors, risks, horrors. But because everything is filtered through the 'giant monster' prism throughout, the series becomes even more darkly humorous than if it was about a human prison. Sometimes with a high-concept comic, the concept is all you have and you see the story slowly spiral away into nothingness -- 'Kaijumax' is a series where the high concept is just the first step into a complex, multi-faceted social system where every character has their own agenda and interests. You just have to work out what it is before they turn on you."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Steve Morris

80. Nimona

Written & Illustrated by Noelle Stevenson

Published by HarperTeen

"Few books this funny are also this kind. The story of Nimona, an overly enthusiastic, shapeshifting sidekick to a villain, starts off giggly and hijinks-heavy, but writer and artist Noelle Stevenson has a more poignant story in mind for her often absurd, quasi-medieval cast. With gentle, cartoony artwork and a warm, humane script, Stevenson has fun with the foibles of her characters while still treating them as full, realized people -- with all the aspirations, fears, and choices they're not proud of that come with that. How could you not love a book that's as concerned with self-acceptance and forgiveness as it is with shark jokes and dragons?"

-- CBR Reviewer Marykate Jasper

79. The Autumnlands

Written by Kurt Busiek

Art by Benjamin Dewey

Published by Image Comics

"For those who love well-built worlds, 'Autumnlands' is a detailed tour de force from Kurt Busiek and artists Benjamin Dewy and Jordie Bellaire. Yet its charming characters offer depth and charm, too -- it reminds me in a weird way of DeMatteis & Muth's 'Moonshadow', albeit furrier.

-- Guest Contributor Heather Johanssen

78. The Legend of Wonder Woman

Written by Renae DeLiz

Art by Renae DeLiz & Ray Dillon

Published by DC Comics

"As a Wonder Woman fan, I have been left wanting in the post-New 52 DC Universe. A piece of my soul was magically revived by Renae DeLiz's digital-first origin tale. DeLiz, who writes and draws the book with inks, colors, and letters by Ray Dillon, presents a thoughtful and intriguing reinvention of Amazon Society and Themyscira, while showing Diana as a person trying to find her place in the world. It is beautiful, both visually and in the themes it's exploring."

-- CBR Contributing Writer Tamara Brooks

77. Heart in a Box

Written by Kelly Thompson

Art by Meredith McClaren

Published by Dark Horse Comics

"This is not only the best comic of the year, it almost lapped the field.  Thompson's amazing story of a girl who gets her heart broken and the literal and allegorical way she puts it back together is emotionally gripping, funny in places, occasionally action-packed, and never less than brutally honest about people and why they do certain things. McClaren's art has never been better, as she augments the writing with so much wonderful body language and facial expressions, and her coloring is staggering. I was looking forward to this for a few years, and it absolutely didn't disappoint."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Burgas

76. Princess Ugg

Written & Illustrated by Ted Naifeh

Published by Oni Press

"This is a wonderful story from Ted Naifeh about a rough-hewn Viking warrior princess who's sent to finishing school to be civilized. It passed the ultimate test for a humor book -- it made me laugh out loud when I was reading it. I'm extremely bitter that it's not still going because it was my favorite book every month. More is promised 'eventually.' I hope it's soon."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher

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