Written PostJosh’s Favorite Comic Book Series and Graphic Novels of 2019 — Part Two!

Josh’s Favorite Comic Book Series and Graphic Novels of 2019 — Part Two!

Yesterday I listed a lot of great comic books that I enjoyed in 2019.  But those were just my “honorable mentions”!  Let’s dig into my real list.  (As I did yesterday, I’ll post Amazon links to all of these books at the bottom of this post.)

20. The Green Lantern (by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp) — This reinvention of the Green Lantern series is heavy on the outlandish sci-fi, which makes it right up my alley.  Grant Morrison’s stories are always twisty and weird and fascinating, and this is no exception.  I like the emphasis on the idea of Hal Jordan as a “space cop,” and I love how inventive this series is, continually throwing new and ever-crazier sci-fi concepts onto each page.

19. Moonshine (by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso) — The team behind the extraordinary comic book epic 100 Bullets (go read that immediately if you haven’t yet done so!!), Mr. Azzarello & Mr. Risso, have re-teamed for this story of prohibition, gangsters, booze, and werewolves.  After a lengthy hiatus, two new issues were published in 2019; I’m glad to have this series back!

18. Mae (by Gene Ha) — A teenaged girl named Mae follows her older sister Abbie through a mysterious doorway, and finds herself swept up in an epic adventure on a fantasy world.  I love this story, which is packed to overflowing with fun, original sci-fi and fantasy concepts, characters, and settings.  The story is delightful, and Mr. Ha’s artwork is astonishing.  The final two issues of the second volume were published in 2019… I hope 2020 brings additional issues!

17. The Wild Storm (by Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt) — I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Ellis and Mr. Davis-Hunt’s brilliant reinvention of the Wildstorm universe (which began with Jim Lee’s Wildcats comic, one of the first series published after Image Comics launched in the nineties).  Mr. Ellis had written a number of terrific stories for that Wildstorm universe (especially his series, The Authority, which was illustrated by Bryan Hitch), so who better to relaunch that universe?  This twenty-four issue limited-series was magnificent, rich in fascinating concepts and characters.  It was cool to see so much of what made the original Wildstorm universe interesting distilled down into this thrilling new story.  I wish this series didn’t have to end!!  (And I wish that it had actually launched additional series set in this remained universe, as it seems to have been intended to…)

15. Thanos: The Infinity Ending (by Jim Starlin and Alan Davis) — the great Jim Starlin, who created Thanos several decades ago, returned to the character (and so many of his other favorites, including Adam Warlock and Pip the Troll) for this apparently final story.  I have loved all of Mr. Thanos’ recent Thanos graphic novels, and this latest trilogy of books, illustrated by the astonishingly talented Alan Davis, was as great as ever.  If this is Mr. Starlin’s final word on Thanos and co., I am satisfied.

16. Batman: Creature of the Night (by Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon) — This four-issue prestige format mini-series began quite a while ago, back in 2017.  It was a long wait for the fourth and final issue, which was finally published this year.  It didn’t disappoint.  This mini-series tells the story of a young boy named Bruce Wainwright, whose parents are murdered — just like happened to young Bruce Wayne in the Batman comic-books.  Bruce Wainwright struggles to find a way through his grief in a world without costumed vigilantes to strike fear and terror into the hearts of criminals… while some sort of bat-like force begins stalking evil-doers in his city…  This beautiful and heartbreaking story was another brilliant work by the great Kurt Busiek, while John Paul Leon’s masterfully detailed and striking artwork was a beauty to behold on every single page.

15. History of the Marvel Universe (by Mark Waid and Javier Rodríguez) — At the end of the universe, Galactus and Franklin Richards reminisce about the Marvel Universe.  This fantastic six-issue mini-series was a joy for a long-time Marvel Comics fan like myself.  Mr. Waid has brilliantly sifted through seven decades of Marvel Comics’ history to pull out all of the highlights and weave those stories together into a consistent and compelling tale.  Mr. Rodríguez’s art was beautiful and impressive in its attention to detail, and the in-depth end-notes at the end of each issue gave entertaining context and further information on the events chronicled in each issue.  This series made me very happy!

14. Spider-Man: Life Story (by Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley) — This six-issue mini-series was also a salute to Marvel Comics’ rich history.  Mr. Zdarsky’s brilliant story retold the events of six decades of Spider-Man stories, as if they had all actually happened to a single person, who aged as the series progressed.  Each issue was set in a different decade, starting in the sixties, and as the series continued, we were allowed to relive all of the most-important Spider-Man stories, but recontextualized as we watched this Peter Parker — and his friends, families, and enemies — grow and age as the decades unfolded.  Mark Bagley — who is one of the all-time definitive Spider-Man artists, bar-none — was born for this job and beautifully illustrated each issue.

13. Marvel’s Star Wars Comics — I can’t believe how consistently good-to-great Marvel Comics’ Star Wars series have been!  That’s even more impressive considering that Marvel has been publishing a TON of different Star Wars series, mini-series, and one-shots, set all across the Star Wars universe and timeline.  There have been a few weak links, but for the most part, I have really loved these different stories!  The main Star Wars book has been great — the series has been set in the time between the original Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, and it was very cool this year to see the series finally catch up to the events of Empire.  Marvel puts out these comics at a rapid pace, but the quality is remarkably consistent and high across all the different books, and I love the way they’ve incorporated a huge variety into the line, alternating continuing series with mini-series and one-shots, and exploring many different eras and corners of the extended Star Wars universe.  Great stuff.

12. Superman and Action Comics and Legion of Super-Heroes (by Brian Michael Bendis and a rotation of artists) — After almost two decades as one of the main creative voices at Marvel Comics, Brian Michael Bendis shifted to DC and took over Superman and Action Comics.  It took a little while for things to rev up (I wasn’t blown away by the Man of Steel mini-series that launched Mr. Bendis’ work at DC), but 2019 was a terrific year for Superman under the pen of Mr. Bendis.  I’ve really enjoyed the way Mr. Bendis has started to play with the Superman mythos.  (It’ll be interesting to see how his recent decision to eliminate Superman’s secret identity will play out next year — for now, I am intrigued.)  I was let down by the much-hyped Leviathan mini-series (which, in my opinion, petered out in a weak ending that didn’t live up to all of the build-up), but I have LOVED Mr. Bendis’ take on the Legion of Super-Heroes beyond all of my expectations!  (Ryan Sook’s staggeringly beautiful artwork helps a lot!)  I am all-the-way hooked on Mr. Bendis’ Superman run, and I can’t see where these characters and these stories go next.

11. Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses (by David Lapham) — I have been a fan of Stray Bullets since I first picked up issue #1 of the original run back in 1995.  The series went away for almost a decade in the aughts, but miraculously returned in 2014 for a new run that has been just as compelling and heartbreaking as those original stories.  This series is the greatest comic book noir I have ever encountered, filled with hard-luck cases for whom life usually goes from bad to worse.  This latest run is theoretically a mini-series, subtitled Sunshine and Roses, but it’s been going on for over forty issues.  Sadly, the series seems to have hit a bit of a speed-bump recently, with only one issue published in 2019.  (Mr. Lapham seems to have briefly turned his attention to the mini-series The Lodger, which was also great!)  I’ve read that the next issue of Stray Bullets is scheduled to come out in February — I hope that happens, that we get many more issues after that!  I cannot live for too long without this gloriously dark and twisted series.  (Click here for a much longer post in which I sing the praises of Stray Bullets!)

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow as I conclude my list!  Thanks for reading!

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