SW Best Comics/Graphic Novel Picks of 2018!

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2018 remains a wonderful year for the sequential arts.

Yet, there was nothing largely interesting from the bigger publishers. DC had some Metal nonsense with some creative changes. Action Comics #1000 so far is the most ordered title, with more than 500,000 copies sold. Marvel had yet another rebooting titles phase. Amazing Spider-man #800 remains its best-selling issue, with over 400,000 copies sold. Dark Horse, IDW, Dynamite, BOOM Studios are putting a lot into their licensed properties. Image Comics still continues to push creator-owned and driven titles. Archie, Valiant, Lionforge, Titan, Aftershock publishers are still around with some good original stuff.

Yet for 2018, nothing fresh and newly created from comics impacted the grander stratosphere of big pop-culture, though some titles have their rights reserved for possible TV shows and movies. Time will tell on what’s planted now and may grow for the following years.

Meanwhile, many comic book readers still flock to their local stores or browse those comic apps. Sure, comics have now reached the $3.99 average for single issues, and that is not helping to draw new readers. But, when something great develops, more will come back eventually.

So below, are my picks and best of 2018, based on what I have checked out. Much here is from creative-driven works with mostly fresh material, with some crazy new concepts and ideas.  Such things lie in the heart of what I found as the most exciting on the comics racks for this year, and will not forget.

Take a look!

BEST NEW SERIES of 2018

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Skyward (Image) by Joe Henderson, Antonio Fabela, and Lee Garbett.

Monthly series published by Image Comics

One day, gravity on Earth suddenly became a fraction of what it is now. Twenty years later, humanity has adapted to its new low-gravity reality. And to Willa Fowler, who was born just after G-day, it’s pretty awesome. You can fly through the air! I mean, sure, you can also die if you jump too high. So you just don’t jump too high. And maybe don’t get mixed up in your dad’s secret plan to bring gravity back that could get you killed…

I thoroughly enjoyed each issue since its debut early this year. It’s got a bonkers concept of gravity run amok, then add deep mysteries, odd twists, and interesting characters. Yet, it’s got sweet balance and pacing that’s solid entertainment. Nothing too much or too little. With all that mixed with a touch of action, drama, humor, good art…is a hit I can recommend to anyone, and look forward to on future issues.

Skyward: Volume 1 trade paperback, via Amazon

BEST LIMITED SERIES of 2018

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The Highest House by Mike Carey and Peter Gross

Six-issue limited series published by IDW.

In the country of Ossaniul, there is a fortress that is as disproportionate as it is inaccessible: the Highest House. Its masters, the noble family of Aldercrest, reign over a veritable army of slaves. At the bottom of the ladder, young Moth performs the most thankless tasks and has little hope of living past childhood. Until the day he meets Obsidian, a mysterious prisoner of the House who whispers to him in his sleep. If Moth does what he asks, Obsidian will give him fortune and glory. And there’s every indication that Obsidian can make good on his promises. Will Moth accept the offer?

A very underrated hit from the awesome writer/artist team of The Unwritten. This mini-series is a tale brilliant drama told as a tale of magic in an almost familiar world revolved around a child-slave servant named Moth finding interesting opportunities to change things. The full series feels like a journey, with an end that feels satisfying and worthwhile as a great story.

Highest House, complete volume paperback, via Amazon

BEST ONGOING EPIC in 2018

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Saga By Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples

Long-running monthly series published by Image Comics.

SAGA is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults.

Still, the best series defining of comics sci-fantasy of this decade. While much has changed in the casting and continuous development of the Hazel, now grown up a little more and taking a central role, the overall story is still every bit surprising and interesting since its debut in 2012. Nothing feels stale or boring, with new characters and developments on the old. The cast is larger, but nothing feels ignored as fans of the series have plenty more to look forward to. Though, it’s still not for everyone as some situations are still meant for very mature and open-minded audiences.

Saga: Volume 1 via Amazon

BEST FANTASY SERIES of 2018

CODA

Coda by Simon Spurrier and Matias Bergara

Published monthly by Boom! Studios

In the aftermath of an apocalypse which wiped out nearly all magic from a once-wondrous fantasy world, an antisocial former bard named Hum seeks a way to save the soul of his wife with nothing but a foul-tempered mutant unicorn and his wits to protect him. But in the process, he is unwillingly drawn into a brutal power struggle which will decide forever who rules the weird wasteland…

Simon Spurrier has always been an amazing thinker when it comes to some crazy, far out concepts to building new worlds and expanding the limits of the imagination. Working with Matias Bergara has produced some amazing results, and shown some concepts and settings that are awesome and incomparable to anything else currently out there. The story from this combination takes on the purest form of escapism and fantasy, with its own rules and groundwork that a reader can enjoy digging into.

Coda: Volume 1 via Amazon

BEST RIDICULOUSNESS of 2018

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Farmhand by Rob Guillory

Published monthly by Image Comics

Jedidiah Jenkins is a farmer—but his cash crop isn’t corn or soy. Jed grows fast-healing, plug-and-play human organs. Lose a finger? Need a new liver? He’s got you covered. Unfortunately, strange produce isn’t the only thing Jed’s got buried. Deep in the soil of the Jenkins Family Farm, something dark has taken root, and it’s beginning to bloom.

I loved the hell out of Chew, with the art by Rob Guillory and writing by John Layman. Now, Rob Guillory does the writing here as well, and what a crazy insane result! His storytelling and twisted humor can be just as complex and detailed as his art. Farmhand mixes dark bioengineering science, mystery, into some horror shadowing family drama. There are some really original and creepy things going on, leading to some very unsettling ideas and twists. I love every page of it.

Farmhand: Volume 1 via Amazon

BEST HORROR SERIES of 2018

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Animosity by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre

Monthly series with spinoffs, published by Aftershock Comics

The world is plunged into chaos as the newly-intelligent Animals fight humanity, and simply fight each other, for their own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. In the midst of the turmoil is Jesse, an 11-year-old girl, and her dog, Sandor, who is devoted to her and her protection. One year after the incident, Jesse and Sandor begin a cross-country journey to find Jesse’s half-brother, Adam, who is living in San Francisco.

Animosity still remains a very underlooked gem on the comic shelves. It’s gleefully unsettling, sometimes disturbing, and much better and far more interesting than an overplayed zombie outbreak. The series continues with a couple spinoff miniseries and new ideas are explored on this crazy concept. The art makes it better, and sometimes very disturbing. Animosity is my go-to book for a good, dark story-telling with a horrific edge on a fresh nightmarish concept. Now in 2018, the story expands with two very good spinoffs (The Rise and Evolution) and a sourcebook, giving fans something more to get unsettled and excited about.

Animosity: Volume 1 via Amazon

BEST SCIENCE FICTION of 2018

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Upgrade Soul by Ezra Claytan Daniel

Published by Lion Forge Comics

For their 45th anniversary, Hank and Molly Nonnar decide to undergo an experimental rejuvenation procedure, but their hopes for youth are dashed when the couple is faced with the results: severely disfigured yet intellectually and physically superior duplicates of themselves. Can the original Hank and Molly coexist in the same world as their clones? In Upgrade Soul, McDuffie Award-winning creator Ezra Claytan Daniels asks probing questions about what shapes our identity—Is it the capability of our minds or the physicality of our bodies? Is a newer, better version of yourself still you? This page-turning graphic novel follows the lives of Hank and Molly as they discover the harsh truth that only one version of themselves is fated to survive.

A hard science fiction story for those who enjoy some Black Mirror, feeling both philosophical and challenging while raising some ethical, lingering reflections on the benefits of future tech and aging process augmentation. This result is a brilliant story with great art giving this very underrated work for 2018, a very high recommendation.

Upgrade Soul graphic novel via Amazon

BEST ARTISTRY in 2018

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Sleepless by Sarah Vaughn and Leila Del Duca

Monthly series published by Image Comics.

Lady “Poppy” Pyppenia is guarded by the Sleepless Knight Cyrenic but becomes endangered when an assassin threatens her life in the new king’s reign. As Poppy and Cyrenic try to discover who wants her dead, they must navigate the dangerous waters of life at court and of their growing feelings for one another. 

A great drama-focused series very underrated this year, but more-so captivating has been it’s very natural and moody colored schemes and sequential art perfectly framed and transitioned on every page. The varied flesh tones and costumes of characters also really stand out, depicting a time and culture of a post-medieval renaissance period. The overall approach enhances the storytelling, making this series something fresh a reader can really fall into.

Sleepless: Volume 1 via Amazon

BEST YOUNG ADULT STORY, and GRAPHIC NOVEL of 2018

Quantum Mechanics  by Jeff Weigel

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Published by Lionforge Comics

On a nowhere asteroid on the far rim of the galaxy, two young alien girls—Rox and Zam—spend their days tearing apart and repairing clunkers in a spaceship junkyard. These aspiring gearheads yearn for the chance to test their skills on something besides rusted old rockets and broken-down planet-hoppers. Their big chance finally comes when the captain of a mysterious ship called the Quasar Torrent enlists the kids for some repair work. But what initially looks like a golden opportunity quickly becomes a nightmare when the young friends find they’ve been kidnapped by what turns out to be a band of space pirates! Rox and Zam find themselves swept up in the astro-bucaneers’ vendetta against a huge intergalactic corporation that’s forced this motley band of working stiffs from across space into a life of crime. Now the girls must chose: do they want the comforts of home and family, or the glamorous adventure of a lifetime—to be part of a crew of colorful misfits intent on plunder, revenge, and excitement? Their lives, friendship . . . and maybe even the fate of a galaxy . . . hangs in the balance!

This is a fun story for all ages, even though it’s marketed as a read for young adults. The story focuses on friendship and adventure in a universe of danger and double-crossing. It’s brilliant and wholesome, with alien pirates and clunky ships. I wish the Star Wars Solo movie was more like this. Quantum Mechanics is a feel-good story that gave me a bigger smile than anything else I read this year.

Quantum Mechanics via Amazon

BEST REPRINTING OF COMICS HISTORY in 2018

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Cutie Honey: The Classic Collection by Go Nagai

Published by Seven Seas.

One of the most recognized super-heroines in manga history finally has her original story in print! Both volumes of Go Nagai’s 1973 cult classic are collected in this oversized hardcover tome. Beautiful but unassuming schoolgirl Kisaragi Honey has a secret–she’s actually an android! Through her father’s amazing technology, she can transform into the unstoppable Cutie Honey. It’s a power that the nefarious criminal organization known as Panther Claw will stop at nothing to possess, even if it means destroying that which Honey loves the most.

Finally, something for fans of Cutie Honey and manga creator Go Nagai (also known for Devilman and Mazinger Z) have been waiting for, myself among them; the original series reprinted, uncensored, and awesome in quality hardbound. Cutie Honey is definitely not for everyone, with heavy nudity, violence, and adult humor. But still, huge fun with campy moments and fast action fitting of Go Nagai’s style that helped shape a new genre in sequential art storytelling, and building of a cult heroine for generations forward. This is an essential part of the manga/anime history of Japan’s first magical girl heroine, long before Sailor Moon.

Cutie Honey: The Classic Collection via Amazon

BEST COLLECTED ISSUE VOLUME PRESENTATION of 2018

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Walt Disney Uncle Scrooge And Donald Duck, The Don Rosa Library Vol. 8, 9, 10 by Don Rosa

Published by Fantagraphics Books

Finally, what I have been waiting for over two decades is now finally complete (a 10-volume set); my complete reprints of all the Duck comics series by Don Rosa, including the awesome Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck. All on high-grade paper, quality hardbound, and beautiful color. Don Rosa adds plentiful new insight and commentary, making this a must for fans of his work.

The Don Rosa Library Vol. 10 via Amazon

BEST COMICS SOURCEBOOK of 2018

Official Berserk Sourcebook

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Published by Dark Horse Comics

Berserk has conquered the worlds of manga and anime, and now comes the essential roadmap to the sprawling Berserk universe, exploring the characters, creatures, settings, and stories of Berserk’s first 38 volumes. Profusely illustrated and including never-before-seen art (including an eight-page color section) and author notes by Kentaro Miura, the Official Guidebook is a comprehensive tour through the epic adventure, shocking horror, and graveyard humor that can be only Berserk!

Yeah, it’s manga but this is close enough. I am a huge sucker for sourcebooks and world-detailing guides to large-scale epics, and this had me clutching with glee. The journey of Guts spanned for decades and its time has come to present its many layers of politics, mystic planes, relation charts, plots, and much more. Even if never ventured into Midland and beyond, the art and ideas presented throughout are fun to go through. And for the hardcore fans, there are extra notes, interviews, never before seen art, and more treats by the Berserk creator himself.

Berserk Official Guidebook via Amazon

And, that’s all my favorites for this 2018 year. There was a lot I probably missed or overlooked. Please add to the list by sharing your best of 2018 in the comments below!

About Orion T (225 Articles)
Writer, photographer, editor, local traveler. Also, very engaged with the production and interactivity of creative work, especially in the realms of science fiction and fantasy. Follow my personal adventures at travelingorion.com, and reports of sci-fi/fantasy at strangerworld.com.

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