The Best Comics And Graphic Novels Of 2019
Superheroes had a fantastic year both in live-action and 2D.
Superheroes had an unsurprisingly massive year on both page and screen in 2019--but you probably already know that, if you've taken a glance at our round-ups of the biggest TV shows and movies. So that means it's time to break down the best comics to hit shelves over the last twelve months and sure, while they don't have multi-million dollar budgets behind them, the source material for our favorite blockbusters still managed to pull out all the stops.
Between beautiful, poignant, and meditative mini-series like Spider-Man: Life Story, which broke down the life and times of Peter Parker as if he could age in real-time, or Martian Manhunter, which explored the intimate details of DC's most slept-on A-lister, or bombastic franchise overhauls like House Of X and Powers Of X, superhero stories covered all their bases. The year was full of breakout talents, spectacular graphic novels for all ages, and quality event-style storytelling from some of the best creative teams in the business.
Oh, and we can't forget zombies--they may not be traditional superheroes, but the cast of The Walking Dead has survived so long they may as well be, right?
Here are our 8 favorite comic books of 2019.
Matt Murdock's stories are generally pretty tragic and in that way they can start to feel repetitive, which for most Daredevil fans can be as much a feature as it is a bug. The point is, however, that making a Daredevil comic feel fresh and invigorated while also not completely overhauling the core of the character can be a challenge--and it's a challenge that co-creators Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto tackled with shocking ease. The current run of Daredevil has everything you could ever want in a story about the Man Without Fear and is the perfect book to pick up for both die-hard long-time readers and new fans alike.
2. Spider-Man: Life Story
The core concept of Spider-Man: Life Story is absolutely fascinating: A six-issue mini-series that handles the life and times of Peter Parker as if he were a real person, aging in real-time, from his debut in the 1960s. Each issue tackles a different decade, blending modified real-world history with new spins on familiar, classic Marvel stories. The end result is a poignant, heartfelt exploration of just what makes the world's favorite web-slinger so timeless after all. Chips Zdarsky and Mark Bagley really captured lightning in a bottle with this one, but it's a premise we hope Marvel continues to play with for other characters down the line.
3. Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
DC's line of young adult graphic novels has been pulling out surprise after surprise with their gleefully modern, updated takes on familiar DC heroes and villains, but the strongest of the bunch has been Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh's Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass. A delightfully fresh look at a teenage Harley Quinn dealing with school, friends, and an eccentric found-family, this is a story for all ages that will make you see DC's most popular anti-hero in a whole new light.
4. Martian Manhunter
J'onn J'onzz may be one of the most prominent members of the Justice League throughout its various incarnations, but he's never exactly been an a-lister in the DC pantheon--at least, until now. Riley Rossmo and Steve Orlando took one of DC's most underappreciated heavy hitters and gave him a 12-issue exploration that elevated him up to one of the richest and most vibrant heroes in the DCU right now.
5. House Of X/Powers Of X
Two intertwined, alternating six-issue miniseries that formed a complete 12-issue story, Johnathan Hickman, Pepe Laraz, and R.B. Silva crafted something truly special with House Of X and Powers Of X. By completely reframing the history and modern-day context of Marvel's X-Men, these books were able to build a jumping on point for countless new and lapsed X-readers as well as pave the way for a whole line of ongoing X-Men and X-Men adjacent titles that provided a much-needed shot-in-the-arm for Marvel's mutant community.
6. The Walking Dead
After 16 years, Image Comics The Walking Dead finally came to an end, after 193 issues, which is a tremendous feat. The team of Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard (as well as Tony Moore for the first six issues) pulled off a long and compelling story following the survivors of a zombie apocalypse. The final story of the book revolved around putting society back together while the established and peaceful city of Commonwealth was on the verge of civil war. While the jump forward in time was jolting, it gave the audience a sense of closure and was the perfect way to wrap up one of the most independent comic book series of all time. - Mat Elfring
7. Batman: Last Knight On Earth
Finales aren't easy to pull off in superhero comics--in fact, you could say that writing the "last" story for any superhero is inherently antithetical to their design. They're not meant to have endings because they're not meant to end. And yet, that's exactly what Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder did with their mini-series, Batman: Last Knight On Earth. A touching, over-the-top farewell to the caped crusader from one of his most prolific creative teams that managed to work as well as a love letter to the character as it was an ending, of sorts, for their entire run.
8. Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen
There is genuinely nothing to dislike about Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen, Matt Fraction and Steve Leiber's slapstick, absurdist take on the life and times of the Daily Planet's favorite photographer. It's absolutely hilarious, irreverent in all the right ways, and shockingly poignant when it needs to be, in ways that will leave you surprised and always wanting more.