It’s incredible to think that another decade has come and gone. Throughout these ten years, the comic industry has been treated to some of the most defining works of art by some of the best writers and artists the industry has seen. In this article, we’re going to take a look at some of the comics that I believe are worthy enough to be considered the best of the decade. So without further ado, let’s jump in and see which comics made it on the list!
Saga (by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples)
This is the one series that really showed me how powerful comics can really be, especially comics that don’t involve superheroes. Saga is a sci-fi, space opera series about a pair of lovers, Marko and Alana, from two different worlds at war is one of my favorite comics I’ve ever read. Vaughn and Staples pull on your heartstrings with a tale about family, love, war, and friendship. It’s a series that isn’t afraid to make you laugh or cry. Heroes come and go and in brutal fashion at times, villains become heroes, and the struggle of parenthood is fully embraced in this relevant and relatable tale. Staples’ characters are a visual delight to behold as her characters have some of the most unique designs about them. While you can get absorbed into the beautiful world building by Vaughn and luscious artwork by Staples, what really makes this book shine are the characters. You care about them, you feel for them, hell you mourn for them! Saga is a series that I look forward to each month and while it’s on hiatus right now, I cannot wait for this series to come back!
Aquaman (by Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Paul Pelletier, Joe Prado, Rod Reis)
Since Aquaman has become such a popular hero lately due to the successful solo film starring Jason Momoa, it’s easy to forget that Aquaman was mocked for years because of how “uncool” he was. Now since I’ve been an Aquaman fan since before Momoa was even a thought, like many Aquafans I can tell you he’s ALWAYS been cool, but I can see where that perception comes from. He’s often been mocked and ridiculed by the media but that all changed when Geoff Johns took a hold of the character during DC’s New 52 reboot initiative. Giving Aquaman a definitive origin and establishing just how powerful he is, Johns showed just how important a hero Aquaman is. He also helped re-introduce Mera to the world, giving the DC Universe another powerful female superhero the limelight. This team gave us extraordinary blockbuster action and awe-inspiring world-building, which became the foundation of the recent movie! Popular villains like Black Manta and Ocean Master were reintroduced and even reinvented in the best ways possible during this time. Geoff Johns and company made a character who many wrote off as being lame into one of DC’s biggest stars, making Aquaman one of the best selling DC series during their run. Johns’ run on Aquaman is considered to be the best run with the character and for good reason, it’ll be one that is remembered for years to come and one of the best of the decade.
Batman (by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo)
Batman has been fortunate enough to have had a lot of great creative teams working on him through DC Comics’ publishing history. When DC unveiled the New 52 reboot back in 2011, all of the characters’ histories were erased (or sort of?) which gave creators the opportunity to play with younger versions of the heroes we all know and love. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo took the reigns of Batman and immediately made this book one of the “must-read” titles month after month. They introduced us to the shadow organization called the Court of Owls, gave us two memorable Joker stories and even explored a new look at Batman’s origin in Zero Year! Capullo’s brilliant artwork perfectly captured Gotham City with gorgeous page spreads and his characters were rendered masterfully. While it’s been many years since they wrapped up their time on Batman, their run will forever be remembered as introducing the Dark Knight to a new generation of comic readers by building on his mythos and new and exciting ways.
The Wicked + the Divine (by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)
I’ll be honest, it took me a while to get into this run. I remember reading the first arc and not being all that interested in it at first. But then, I went back and tried a second time and I was immediately hooked! What we got was a brilliant fantasy book about life, death, and fame which brought mythological deities back as pop stars. Making books about gods can be kind of tricky because I mean, how do you make them relatable right? They’re gods! But Gillen and McKelvie pull it off expertly by fully fleshing out these characters by giving them strengths, weaknesses, fears, and desires. It’s a comic that really showcased the power of this medium by slowly revealing secrets and building upon the incredible world. While The Wicked + the Divine wrapped up this year, it’s a series everyone should take a look at and perfectly shows you how amazing comics can be.
Thor (By: Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman, Mike Del Mundo, Matthew Wilson, and many more.)
Before reading Jason Aaron’s brilliant Thor run, I’ll admit that I had little interest in the character. But when Marvel’s new relaunch back in 2012 started, I tried it out after hearing so many great things about his series Thor: God of Thunder at the time. I was immediately hooked with the story of Gorr the God Butcher and I couldn’t get enough of his run. Seven years later and Jason Aaron has wrapped up his incredible Thor saga and I can’t even begin to explain how much this series meant to me. It was the ultimate high fantasy series about worthiness, love, and hope. It’s a series that I have recommended to all and when people ask me what my favorite Marvel ongoing was, Thor was almost always my pick. Whether it was Thor: God of Thunder, Mighty Thor, Thor, or King Thor, each issue was my most anticipated comic of the month. No other comic felt as epic, emotional, or dramatic as Thor did, each issue was well worth your time and money. Joined by incredible artists like Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman, Mike Del Mundo among others, Thor was always one of the most gorgeous looking books on the shelf. We saw the climax of Aaron’s run with a line-wide event called War of the Realms which wrapped up the long story of Malekith and his war across the Nine Realms. It’s been a long time since I’ve been so absorbed in a series like Thor and while I’m sad to see it end, Thor has a bright future ahead of him.
Mister Miracle (By Tom King and Mitch Gerads)
After such amazing hits like Vision, Sheriff of Babylon, and Omega Men, Tom King has really solidified himself as being one of the biggest comic writers around, especially with his twelve-issue limited series. Teaming up with his Sheriff of Babylon collaborator and artist extraordinaire Mitch Gerads, the two looked towards the Fourth World characters with Mister Miracle. As a reader who only knew about characters like Mister Miracle and Big Barda from sporadic guest appearances in event books, I was excited to learn more about the New Gods and get a better understanding of this rich world Jack Kirby had created decades ago. The book fascinated readers with its mysterious nature and questioning of Scott’s reality as the series moved on, and the famous line of “Darkseid Is” echoing throughout. The book focused on not only a war between New Genesis and their accursed foes on Apokolips, but it also focused on Mister Miracle’s personal life as the world’s best escape artist and looks at struggles with depression. Another character like really got to shine was his wife, Big Barda, who stole the show in every scene. The book is intimate, dramatic, emotional, and even frightful at times but King and Gerads make us care about these characters so much that we can’t help but fear for them. Gerads gives us some of his best work with his vivid details and color schemes appropriately fixed to the tone of the scenes he’s working on. It’s even more impressive considering the book had no splash pages but relied on nine-panel grids for the entire series. This is a series that no one should pass up.
Immortal Hulk (by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett)
This might get me some strange looks from comic readers but characters like Hulk never really appealed to me. Unless creators could come up with exciting plots that took the characters to unexpected places, it made it hard for me to care. Al Ewing and Joe Bennett have managed to not only achieve this, but they’ve made Immortal Hulk into the “must-read” series of current ongoings. A simple concept: Bruce Banner lives in the day. The Hulk comes out at night, and yet this creative team was able to give us a series that is dramatic, horrifying, and instantly captivating. This “Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde” like tale is brilliantly illustrated by Joe Bennett who treats us to his horrifying and grotesque character designs for characters such as Sasquatch or Abomination. After reading this series more and more, it’s become clear that this new psychological horror take on Hulk was a perfect route to take the character. This is one of those series that takes a character with a very storied past and re-examines him in a new light to give us a series that will go down as essential reading for years to come.
Ms. Marvel (by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, Stephen Wacker, Sana Amanat)
When it comes to best “new” characters in comics, there is no better candidate than Kamala Khan, a.k.a. Ms. Marvel! She’s the first Muslim Marvel character to get her own ongoing series. While she carries the mantle of (her favorite hero) Carol Danvers, make no mistake, Kamala forges her own legacy and with a power set that is significantly different from her idol. Her rise to popularity is a great win for diversity and representation in pop culture, but she’s also very relatable. She’s a kid who has to go to school, deal with their personal lives and maybe, to some, write fan fiction about their favorite superheroes! It’s great to have a character who’s a fan of these superheroes, which makes her relatable even if you’re no longer a teenager. I mean…we’re all here because we love superheroes right? She’s a character who is goofy, compassionate, nerdy, and lovable. It’s incredible to see how fast she’s become a fan-favorite. Kamala is even starring in the upcoming Square Enix game Marvel’s Avengers as the main character! Kamala Khan is by far the biggest, new star of the decade.
Black Hammer (by Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston)
I’m not usually drawn to superhero comics if they aren’t made by DC or Marvel, which might sound unfair to other publishers who make amazing superhero comics. It’s one reason why it took me a while to try out Black Hammer, but once I did, I completely understood why people were raving about it. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston were able to make a series that was engaging by creating a cast of lovable characters, many based on familiar archetypes seen in popular comics going back to the Golden Age. While many ages of superhero history are acknowledged in some form, Lemire and Ormston have crafted this series in a way to deliver a fresh experience for readers with new characters while delivering a love letter to the decades of superhero comics.
Monstress (by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton)
Being a big fan of fantasy, I was ecstatic to learn that Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, both two creators I was already big fans of from their Marvel work, were doing their own fantasy series. Combining Liu’s exceptional world-building and fascinating cast of characters with Takeda’s gorgeous, elaborate illustrations Monstress became an instant fan favorite indie series for comic readers. Monstress is a steampunk fantasy series about war. Takeda delivers some of her best comic work of her career, filling the pages with elaborate detail on environments as well as the unique looking characters including hybrid like creatures and demons. Liu gives us a world that feels alive, filled with captivating histories and mythologies while introducing Maika Halfwolf, who lives with a tentacled demon that she has to control. After reading this series, it’s no surprise that it’s been nominated for multiple awards and it deserves that recognition without question. For those looking for an indie comic to try out, I highly suggest Monstress.