Welcome to Comic Book Herald’s countdown of the best comic books of the decade! Throughout the remainder of 2019, Dave and John will be picking the best 70 books of the 2010’s, and writing a few thoughts on their picks.
As you’d expect, many of these will come from Comic Book Herald’s 500 best comics of all time, of course editing for those that have been released in the past 10 years. The list will inevitably leave out plenty of very exciting comics, so let us know what would make it onto your list in the comments!
Without further ado check out our picks for comics #70 to #61 below, and stay tuned weekly as update with another round of 10 counting down to our favorite comics of the decade!
John Galati: Illustrator Tradd Moore does an incredible job here, turning out what could be the template for a whole new generation of psychedelic comics. Moore’s already impressive style is bolstered here with influences ranging from Chris Bachalo’s florid sense of motion and Brendan McCarthy’s vibrancy, all the way to Gene Colan’s storytelling and Peter Chung’s anatomy. If I have one qualm about this book it’s how Donny Cates feels like he’s scrambling at times to keep up with Moore’s art, meaning rereading multiple times becomes a necessity. But is that so bad when the book’s this good?
John Galati: Greg Rucka has a singular ability to write women. In Batwoman, Kate Kane is struggling with how difficult it is to connect emotionally with people… and how natural it feels to be dangerous and violent as Batwoman. JH Williams pushes this dichotomy further with his art, rendering Kate pages with a slightly Mike Allred indie feel while Batwoman pages are all Neal Adams and Fritz Lang, with everything tied up in Art Nouveau. Rucka and Williams make this a powerful book, worthy of its stature as an LGBTQ standard.
68) Daredevil by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, Chris Samnee, et al
John Galati: Mark Waid had the craziest idea for his run on Daredevil: Don’t imitate Frank Miller. This meant that Matt Murdock could actually be happy for once and live in a world that’s worth living in, both of which completely break from about 30 years of accepted thinking on Daredevil. Chris Samnee backs this up with some jaw-dropping panel progressions filled with art that looks out of a 60s or 70s action movie. Of course, Murdock’s life and New York as a whole are still routinely in danger, but for the first time in a long time, Daredevil was fun.
67) Deathstroke (DC Rebirth) by Christopher Priest, Carlo Pagulayan, et al
Deathstroke is wildly present in DC’s non-comics media (Say hello versions from Arrow, Titans, Teen Titans GO!, and the Batman Arkham series!). Nonetheless, it’s the mastery of tone and political intrigue from Priest and Pagulayan that made Deathstroke one of DC’s best Rebirth comics, and one of the best superhero ongoings of the decade’s back half.
Deathstroke’s greatest crime at this point is perhaps that it’s lived too long (these “Year of the Villain” tie-ins can’t hold a candle to stories like “Chicago”), but wherever Priest and company decide to end the story, this is going to go down as one of the great runs in Slade Wilson, DC, and reformed (well, maybe?) villain history.
66) Wolverine & The X-Men by Jason Aaron, Nick Bradshaw, et al
It’s amazing how often X-Men comics can forget the inherent pleasures of a school for gifted youngsters. Much like journeys to Hogwarts, Wolverine & the X-Men builds (often literally because these things tend to blow up) a Jean Grey school for higher learning full of charm, hijinks, and BAMFs.
Coming out of Schism, I wouldn’t have necessarily pegged Jason Aaron as the writer to bring so much comedy and teenage drama back to X-Men, but that’s exactly what the writer was able to do throughout with the right blend of exaggerated cartoonish features from Nick Bradshaw and Chris Bachalo. There’s a lot going for Wolverine & the X-Men but what might stand out the most is how many “favorites” the series hits across the world of X-Men. It’s my favorite Wolverine series of the decade; my favorite Kid Omega series ever; My favorite debut of Eyeboy; My favorite return of Doop; My favorite Kitty Pryde series of the decade! Wolverine and the X-Men will belong on all-time Marvel lists for years to come.
65) Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, & Lee Loughridge
Even now, a part of me has to remind myself how thrillingly captivating Southern Cross hits right out of the gates. It’s a science fiction mystery that will not lack for converts when Netflix or HBO finally get savvy to the potential here.
Honestly, if Southern Cross wasn’t limited to 14 issues, there’s a chance the series could have ended much higher among my favorites this decade. The book was never appropriately hyped, which in some ways helps it exceed expectations. You just sit down, take a trip to the Moon, and let the sinister secrets wash over you.
64) Midnighter by Steve Orlando & ACO
John Galati: The most interesting thing about Midnighter is not that he fights crime and is incredibly violent. It’s also not that he has a supercomputer in his head and used to be married to guy who’s basically Superman. What’s interesting is that unlike most other evening crime fighters, Midnighter is actually knowable. Orlando uses the openness of the character to deliver a book that funny, sweet, and surprising… as well as filled with supercomputer enabled violence.
63) Venom by Rick Remender, Tony Moore, et al
Rick Remender and Tony Moore’s 2011 Venom series relaunch takes a short-story backup from Amazing Spider-Man about Flash Thompson losing his legs to war, and turns it into one of the best Marvel books of the decade, and the best Venom series of all time. Forever the bully turned bewildering part of the gang (I’m just always astounded by Peter’s ability to forgive when it comes to Flash as part of the friend group), Venom offers the best Flash Thompson characterization imaginable, merging the war veteran with the Venom symbiote, and grinding them both into the muck and grime time after time.
This book’s accomplishments – for example, making Jack O’Lantern one of the premier archenemies in Marvel for a spell! – are incredible, and offer one of the hardest superhero comics to stop reading. Seriously, pick it up, give it a go, Venom fan or no. I dare you to put this one down!
You could make a strong case that the six issues of Moon Knight by Ellis and Shalvey are absolutely perfect one-and-done superhero comics, somehow maintaining a throughline that connects the first issue to the last, and I’d sit here nodding like a fool with the book still stuck at #62 on the decades’ best. You could also make a case for other amazing Moon Knight reads this decade, particularly by Jeff Lemire and Greg Smallwood.
For me, though, it’s Ellis and Shalvey’s all too brief, all too gorgeous ride through six nights in the life of Mister Knight. The only real criticism is that I want more, but I get the feeling Mister Knight wouldn’t have much sympathy for gluttons.
John Galati: Lazarus is a unique sci-fi story. It follows the life of Forever Carlyle, the deadly female enforcer who is owned by one of the 12 ruling families that control the planet. As you would expect, there’s an enormous world at play here, but readers learn much of its details through inference alone, having to glean it from Lark’s masterful artwork or Rucka’s clever suggestion. Working out those clues can be such a reward.
As I said above, Rucka is fantastic at creating heroines, and Forever Carlyle is no exception. And putting the female hero into this cyberpunk and all its timely economic oppression that makes this book such a perfect sign of the times.
Next: #60 to #51