2021 had a lot of pressure on it. Following up on one of the worst years ever can’t be easy. While the outside world is still dealing with pandemics and the such, we are at least being blessed with some great comic books. Here are our picks for 2021’s best comics.
Marcus Orchard – The Many Deaths Of Laila Starr
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr has more or less swept the year in comics for me. There isn’t much I can say about this gorgeous miniseries that I didn’t already say in my reviews. No comic book (or any work of fiction) has impacted me this year in the way The Many of Deaths of Laila Starr has. Everything from the main storyline to the small yet intimate stories scattered throughout is nothing short of powerful. It’s a glowing example of what the medium is capable of when writing, art, lettering, and design all comes together flawlessly.
Alex Marks – Fire Power
Maybe not the most original mind blowing comic on stands these days, but immensely consistent with story and especially the art. Robert Kirkman’s writing already has hundreds upon hundreds of paragraphs about why it’s so great. In my mind, we can never talk too much about the exceptional art of Chris Samnee and the lush colors of Matt Wilson. Each issue greets my eyes like a comicbook supernova and I honestly may be biased towards this series just for the art alone.
Zach Bissett – Deadly Class
Deadly Class is my favorite ongoing series. Save Your Generation threw a lot of readers for a loop, but after reading the arc in its totality, plus the first issue of A Fond Farewell, it’s clear Remender’s opus (don’t phase me Fear Agent fans!) is boiling to a chaotic, wrenching finale. It seems like Saya, Maria, and Marcus will all have their time with (no doubt horribly depressing) series-spanning resolutions and Wes Craig’s art remains some of my favorite in comics today.
Ethan Maddux – Fantastic Four
What can I say— I like The Thing!
Honestly though, this is probably the first year since I began reading comics that I can confidently say that Fantastic Four was the most consistently fun book on the stands. Dan Slott in a lot of ways has always been able to channel the feeling of a Stan Lee issue written in his prime, and that’s never been more true than with his handling of the FF. Which is not necessarily to say this is the best piece of literature that was released the entire year, but boy do both of those guys two know how to make good superhero comics.
Dan, same as Stan Lee before him, isn’t the only one who deserves credit for the book’s success. Unfortunately, in this limited space I can’t dedicate too much time to each individual artist and what they contributed to this book this year, but I will say there’s yet to be an artist who hasn’t risen to the occasion and drawn their respective issues with craftsmanship of the caliber that I like to think Kirby would have liked it.
In terms of how the story progresses over these nearly forty something issues, it feels like the old ABC rotating plots that we don’t really get with the trade market being what it is. Plus, it nails that feeling of constant progression without ever breaking the toys to the point that they’re unrecognizable. Ben getting married and adopting kids has been a good status quo shift that hasn’t fundamentally changed/broken what makes the FF special. On the other hand, you have Johnny, whose character arc is in constant flux, where first there’s an exciting progression of his character that’s ultimately not the kind of thing that needs to stick forever, so it rightly doesn’t.
In other words, Fantastic Four has a lot of different things working together that make it so special. I think it’s very fun and I look forward to it every month.
Honorable Mentions: The Flash, Nightwing, Nice House on the Lake