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21 Comics I Read in '21

For multiple reasons I really haven't watched a lot of TV this year, so instead of my usually irrelevant rundown I'm going to look back at the 21 most memorable comics (old and new) that I read this year.


By Vita Ayala and Rod Reis

The latest volume of New Mutants was a mixed bag when it first started in 2019, mainly because every issue it flipped between two unrelated storylines by two different creative teams. I loved the Jonathan Hickman issues, but found Ed Brisson's to be rather forgettable and was disappointed when he became the sole writer after Hickman finished his arc. Thankfully, Ayala took over after 'X of Swords' with Reis as main artist and New Mutants quickly became my favourite of all the current X-Men titles.

By Mike Mignola

This is something I had sitting on my shelf for ages before I finally decided to sit down and read it. I know Hellboy's story does continue in the B.P.R.D. series, but for me this wonderfully macabre odyssey through that other land down under was the perfect place to end things.

By Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and various artists

DC's New 52 initiative, which saw the company relaunch all of its ongoing titles with a brand new continuity, is best remembered now for all the things that went colossally wrong with it, both on the page and behind the scenes. But there were some unquestionable successes and Snyder and Capullo's Batman was probably the biggest of them. I came to this series right after finishing Grant Morrison's run, which was a demented delight I can't believe I skipped first time around. Snyder and Capullo's series almost feels like a direct reaction to that run, rejecting its colourful lunacy for something halfway between Christopher Nolan and Frank Miller. The 'Court of Owls' gets the series off to a strong start, but I found the ending to be rushed and anti-climatic. I didn't enjoy 'Death of the Family' because I am just so done with the Joker. 'Zero Year', which is as far as I've gotten, reworked the character's origin to fit the new 52 continuity, but just went on way too long.

By Jonathan Hickman and various artists

I'm grouping all these together because Hickman's Fantastic Four and Avengers series all work as one big universe(s) shaking epic that reaches its crescendo with Secret Wars. The S.H.I.E.L.D. miniseries tells a (mostly) unrelated standalone story, but works a thematic bridge between FF and Avengers, with the final scene of the series mirroring the first scene of Avengers (which was probably due to the fact the final two issues of S.H.I.E.L.D. were delayed until years after Hickman finished Secret Wars).

By Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

Gillen is a writer you're going to see a lot of on this list because I've read so much of his work this year and loved practically all of it. The Wicked + The Divine follows Laura, a London teenager who get caught up in the affairs of the Pantheon, a group of twelve people who discover that they are reincarnated gods, many resembling pop culture figures like Bowie, Prince and Daft Punk. Gillen and McKelvie first melded together pop music and fantasy with Phonogram in 2006. I didn't enjoy that series much so I wasn't sure how I would feel about this one, but quickly fell absolutely head over heels in love with it.

By Alan Davis, Alan Moore, Dave Thorpe, and Jamie Delano

The weird and whimsical world of Captain Britain, which mixes Arthurian myth with whatever multiversal oddities the creators could come up with, is one of Marvel's underrated gems. Davis and Thorpe redesigned and revived the character in the early 80s, but it was when Moore came on board and replaced Thorpe as writer that the series really started to take off. The quality does dip after he left and Delano took over, but still remains a delightful read.

By Chris Claremont and Alan Davis

I started reading Captain Britain as prep for Excalibur, which was both a continuation of that series and a British based spin-off for a trio of popular X-Men characters (Shadowcat, Nightcrawler and Rachel Summers). What set Excalibur apart from all the other X-Books at the time was how utterly, unashamedly bonkers it was. This is a series where Kate Pryde is stuck in line with a Dalek and warns it not to try any funny business or it'll be exterminated. This comic was almost tailor made for me. Too bad that after Claremont and Davis both left it become nothing more than Generic X-Book #3.

By Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora

And now for a completely different take on Arthurian myth that kicks off with a trigger happy monster hunting granny strong arming her bookish grandson into helping her stop some English nationalist from resurrecting a xenophobic King Arthur to take back their country. Great stuff. The trigger happy monster hunting granny, that is. Not the nationalism and xenophobia.

By N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell

Sojourner “Jo” Mullein, a rookie Green Lantern with an experimental power ring, is sent to an alien world where emotions are suppressed to help investigate the first murder there in 500 years. This 12-part miniseries is by far the best Green Lantern story I've ever read and features some amazing artwork by Campbell.

By Ann Nocenti, Mark Waid, Charles Soule and various artists

After X-Men, Daredevil is my favourite Marvel comic and I made a big push this year to get through all of the famous runs I'd never read before. First up was the Ann Nocenti and John Romita Jr run from the late 80s, which got off to a strong start with the 'Typhoid Mary' arc before going completely batshit insane with the 'Inferno' crossover. I loved Mark Waid's more light-hearted and optimistic take on the character, especially once Chris Samnee came on board as full time artist. I was really disappointed with Charles Soule's run, which did away with the happy ending Waid gave Matt Murdock so he could do a complete factory reset and take the character back to a pre-Bendis era where no one knew his secret identity. I could've forgiven that if Soule at least did something interesting with the series, but his Daredevil was so depressingly generic, with a lot of rather bland artwork, that I pretty much gave up on it after the first few arcs.
11. DIE

By Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans

Die follows five middle aged friends who are forced to return to the deranged world of the fantasy roll-playing game they were trapped in for two years as teenagers. This series came about after a discussion Gillen had with some friends backstage at a con about the old Dungeons & Dragons animated series and how it never had a proper conclusion due to the final episode being scrapped. Teaming up with Hans, he turned that friendly chat into a gripping 20-part fantasy saga, even going so far to create a detailed RPG to go with it.

By Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

Set in an alternative America divided into seven nations, East of West is apocalyptic sci-fi, fantasy western full of Hickman's trademark big ideas and dense plotting. Like almost all of his work, I found this to be a very addictive read and burned through the entire series in only a few days.

By Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda

Despite sweeping the board at all comic, sci-fi and fantasy awards in 2018, I'd never actually heard about Liu and Takeda's epic fantasy series before a few months ago. I was just shopping online and something about it caught my eye so I decided to read the first issue to see what it was like. Next thing I knew the first omnibus was in the post. Yep, it is that good.

By Rick Remender and various artists

This was a bit of a disappointment for me. It wasn't a bad series, the issues focused on 'The Dark Angel Saga' were pretty great, but overall it just didn't live up to the hype. The quality of artwork was horribly inconsistent, there were too many side quest that got in the way of the main story (like the team's trip to the Age of Apocalypse that just dragged on too long), and the love triangle between Psylocke, Archangel and Fantomex was woeful.

By Kieron Gillen and various artists

This series picks up many of the dangling plot threads leftover from Gillen's all too brief run on Thor and is my favourite of all his Marvel work. It's a story about the power of stories that treats the Gods of Asgard not as powerful space beings, but as literal myths made flesh. It played a huge role in reshaping Loki, now reborn a young boy, from a somewhat one-note moustache twirler into a morally flexible anti-hero who is desperate to escape the villainous role that has been written for him.
16. WAY OF X

By Si Spurrier and Bob Quinn

There were a lot of new X-Men comics released this year and Way of X, which saw Nightcrawler dealing with a crisis of faith just as Krakoa comes under attack from an old foe, was by far my favourite. Sadly, like all the new X-Men comics released this year, Way of X did not last and ended after just five issues and one (rather rushed) special, although it does looks like Spurrier will continue the story under a new title next year as part of the Destiny of X relaunch.

By Jonathan Hickman, Valerio Schiti, Stefano Caselli, and R. B. Silva

Hickman's X-Men is what pulled me back into comics after a decade away and like many I was sad to hear he would be stepping down this year as Head of X. He spent his last few months on X-Men setting the stage for Duggan to take over as well as for his farewell miniseries. Despite the title, this Inferno has nothing to do with the 80s crossover, but is a culmination of various storylines Hickman has been playing around with since he first took over the franchise. It has been pretty great so far, but we're still waiting on the final issue to see if Hickman manages to stick the landing and say goodbye to X-Men on a high.
18. X-MEN

By Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz

Duggan succeeded Hickman as writer on X-Men, which was relaunched in the summer with a brand new team. These new X-Men re-establish themselves as New York based team of superheroes, doing all the usual stuff like fighting giant monsters, holding off alien invasions, and dealing with supervillains like the High Evolutionary and Nightmare. While all this is going on the Orchis arc from Hickman's run continued to simmer in the background. Five issues in and I'm really enjoying this run (especially Larraz's art), even if it isn't quite as good as Hickman's was.

Si Spurrier and Jeff Stokely

After finishing Way of X I took a look at some of Spurrier's other work and while I struggled to get through the first issue of Coda, I really enjoyed this series. Set in a Gormenghast-like city in a post-apocalyptic world, The Spire is a twisty murder mystery that follows Sha, the non-human Commander of the City Watch, as she investigates a series of gruesome murders just as a new Baroness of the Spire, who is not too fond of Sha or her kind, is being sworn in.
By Kieron Gillen and Esad Ribic

Like Inhumans, Eternals is one of those Jack Kirby creations that Marvel has kept trying to get right for decades without ever quite managing it. Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr came closest with their 2006 miniseries, but the regular series that followed it floundered without their A-List involvement. This latest series was originally meant to be released at the same time as the new movie, but instead came out first due to the pandemic. This turned out to be a blessing as it allowed Gillen and Ribic's wonderful work to standout on its own and not get overshadowed by the very mixed reactions to the movie.
21. THOR

By Jason Aaron, Esad Ribic, Russell Dauterman and various artists

There are some writers who I think only have one good comic in them and for Jason Aaron that was Thor (it certainly wasn't The Avengers). For nearly seven years Aaron dominated the title, first working with Ribic to create the classic Gorr the God Butcher storyline then teaming up with Dauterman for a great run that handed the hammer over to Jane Foster after the Odinson was no longer worthy.

Mark Greig has been writing for Doux Reviews since 2011 More Mark Greig


  1. I haven't been into comics in a long time, but that last X-men cover is making curious about that run, those are some of my favorite characters (save for Scott, who actually likes Cyclops).

    Interesting article, that's a lot of fun information.

    Thanks Mark.

  2. Thanks for mentioning Hellboy in Hell. It read so differently and I loved it, I still imagine what it would've been like if they made a stab at a movie centered around it. Just an entire movie of him meandering. I know why it wouldn't work... but still...

    Monstress looks really cool, I've always been a fan of the Berserk & Claymore manga and want more of that art style. I'll check it out.


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