We here at AiPT! have been reviewing comics for over seven years, but never had a traditional best-of, end-of-year list. This year, we’re changing that, with an official list of our favorite series. We didn’t run rankings, nor poll the staff, but we did open our hearts and let the entire staff decide by chiming in with their favorite comics of 2018. Told in three parts, we start with part 1 today as we unveil our favorites of “everything else.” That includes comics to show a lapsed fan, biggest surprises, and even biggest let downs.
There are seven categories below which express our favorites in the “everything else” kind of way. Stay tuned Monday, where we divulge our favorite comic book series of 2018. Then on Wednesday, come back for part 3 where we reveal our favorite creators of 2018!
Best Variant Cover
Venom: First Host #5, by Javier Garron and Dean White
Say what you will about Costa’s Venom run (I loved it, and you’re wrong not to) but no matter what, it’s hard to deny the sheer, visceral appeal of this variant cover for the final issue of the “First Host” mini-series. I love how gross and unflinching but also technically proficient this is, the line art and the colors – pinks, greens and black – working in a great tandem to display this grisly visage. It’s certainly not something you would want to see on the street alone, and that’s entirely the point.
- Forrest Hollingsworth
Action Comics #1000, by Joshua Middleton
Appropriately for a monumental issue, Action Comics #1000 featured a bevy of variant covers. But the one that consistently grabs my eye is Joshua Middleton’s 1980s variant. I love the use of color with the cool greens and blues contrasting with Superman’s iconic costume – it really helps the Man of Steel pop off the page. I also love the composition of Lex flying laterally on the cover, highlighting his movement and giving another element to the piece.
- Robert Reed
Best comic to show a lapsed fan
Deathstroke, by Christopher Priest, Carlos Pagulayan and others
How did it take this long for Christopher Priest to get back into comics? Deathstroke has been a wild experience, covering everything from violence in Chicago, to aliens in Arkham Asylum, to the outrageous levels of dysfunctionalism Slade Wilson continually puts his family through. Building upon decades worth of continuity and reinvention, Deathstroke has proven to be a wild ride. This definitely appeals to any classic Slade Wilson fans all the while firing 1000 rounds a second of plot into your face. This may go down as one of the best takes on the character in years. Thank you, Mr. Priest.
- Donovan Walls
Hawkman, by Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch
Hawkman’s been known to have a troublesome history and many have taken a crack at resolving the issues of history. But none have ever succeeded in the endeavor in the fashion that Venditti and Hitch have. Additively embracing the entirety of the character’s history in almost a Morrisonian fashion, the team have resolved the issue with but a word and they did it in the first issue. Since then they’ve built the rich legend of the Hawkman spanning the entire universe, consistently bringing fresh ideas to the table. No matter how jaded or lapsed, this is a book sure to recapture the charm of comics and the power of possibility they offer. Never has Hawkman been more accessible and rarely has he been more exciting or packed with imaginative potential.
- Ritesh Babu
Gone too soon – the best series that was canceled
The Unbelievable Gwenpool, by Christopher Hastings, Gurihiru
Gwenpoool was effortlessly written off as a shameless Deadpool rip-off when she first appeared in the Marvel Universe by many comic book readers, with many readers groaning at the announcement of an ongoing series featuring the character. To the surprise of, well, damn-near everybody, the ensuing series was an incredibly enjoyable and unique series for the entirety of its 25 issue run. Gwenpool’s fourth-wall bending powers and fan-like enthusiasm made all her adventures endearing, unique, and unforgettable. Thankfully, the character lives on in West Coast Avengers, but it’s still a shame The Unbelievable Gwenpool met its end.
- Connor Christiansen
The Vision, by Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan, Aud Koch
If you want to talk about canceled too soon, then this example of unrealized potential is easily the most upsetting for me! This miniseries from the creative team of Chelsea Cain, Marc Mohan, and Aud Koch was canceled a mere two months after it was officially announced. However, the team had been working on it for over a year and had turned in four completed issues before Marvel brought down the axe. The Vision was intended to pick up on story threads left over from Tom King and Gabriel Walta’s acclaimed run on the character, which was welcome news to fans fortunate enough to have read that series (another example of “gone too soon,” albeit one that got to finish the story it set out to tell). Marvel has stated that the series was canceled due to conflicts with current continuity and how the miniseries would have utilized Champions character Viv Vision. Hopefully some version of this story will eventually see the light of day, but the cancellation seemed to have soured things further between writer Cain and Marvel, so that seems doubtful.
- Nathan Simmons
X-Men Black: Magneto, by Chris Claremont
An X-Men book about Magneto written by Chris Claremont? I knew this was going to be a classic the second I heard about it. Then I read it. The issue isn’t bad — it’s just incredibly ordinary. Whereas the rest of the X-Men Black series had fun with its characters, Magneto was a somber affair that read like a Wikipedia entry. It was bland, mildly interesting, and repeated all things you already knew. In an otherwise excellent run, Magneto really stands out in a bad way.
- Nathaniel Muir
Vault of Spiders #1 and #2, by James Asmus, Cullen Bunn, Jed Mackay, Nilah Magruder, James Asmus
The best parts of big events like Spider-Verse and Spider-Geddon are smaller, usually quieter, but more inventive and creatively fulfilling tie-in series that explore interesting angles or directions for whatever series is under the microscope (see Infinity Warps). Spider-Verse gave us Spider-Gwen, one of the most earnest and beloved spider-characters in years. Vault of Spiders, a two part tie-in for Spider-Geddon offered up interesting premises to match, like a cowboy spider called The Webslinger, and a suit made of thousands of spiders under the impression that they were Peter Parker called Spiders-Man. Unfortunately? the execution in bringing them to life faltered at every step of the way. I want to say you should stick around for more than the story detailing the Emissary from Hell himself, the 70s Toei Spider-Man in the first issue, but the truth is you can, and might want to, skip rest. Bummer.
- Forrest Hollingsworth
Best book out in 2018 for the comic reader who has read everything
The Green Lantern, by Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp
The legendary Grant Morrison’s long-awaited return to monthly comics, accompanied by other veteran heavyweights, Liam Sharp, Steve Oliff and Tom Orzechowski is a stellar success. Bringing Morrison’s trademark all-encompassing treatment of history and mythology to forge something fresh and new, with Liam Sharp’s peerless worldbuilding talent, this is no regular series. Brimming with big ideas, wild visions and drawing from everything across Valerian, 2000 AD, Lensman and ’70s cinema, this is a special experience that delivers on its promise and surprises at every turn.
- Ritesh Babu
The Wild Storm, by Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt
Look, anyone who has watched Pull This! (RIP), knows I have a fierce and undying love for Warren Ellis and John Davis-Hunt’s revival of the Wild Storm universe. This series is the most underrated monthly release on shelves, and its intricate tale of corporate espionage, interstellar travellers, and human experimentation will make for a welcome fresh read to comic fans needing a break from superhero stories. Plus, nobody draws fight scenes better than John Davis-Hunt. Seriously, more artists need to emulate his style.
- Connor Christiansen
Best book to introduce younger readers to comics
The Kurdles Magazine, by Robert Goodin, Cathy Malkasian, Andrew Brandou, Cesar Spinoza
The Kurdles was a delightful read that anyone could enjoy no matter their age. The Kurdles Magazine #1 came out this summer and continued to be just as accessible. The magazine format suits the nonsensical and silly nature of these characters and allowed many creators to contribute to this strange little world. This latest
- Dave Brooke
Spidey: School’s Out, by John Barber and Todd Nauck
The Comixology original Spider-Man series Spidey: School’s Out collected in a single print volume this year, is a great example of how accessible hero books don’t need to punch down to make a good point. Relatable, funny, and tense all the same, it tells a great entry point story that captures a fantastic back-to-basics feel for both Peter and Spider-Man that toes the line between the energy of the MCU and the more storied Marvel comics’ character very well. If you have a kid in your life that was drawn in by Homecoming, or even if the kid in you was, this is the perfect place to get them started with a series comics collection. Read our review here.
- Forrest Hollingsworth
Immortal Hulk, by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
While it isn’t surprising that an Al Ewing and Joe Bennett project was going to turn out incredible, I’m not sure anyone was truly expecting or prepared for the phenomenon that Immortal Hulk has become. Ewing has long had the ability to deftly weave through Marvel continuity while reinvigorating smaller characters and obscure elements, pushing them forward in meaningful ways. But horror is very much where he began and once he tapped back into that alongside his passion for the Hulk in this project of incredible formalistic ambition, something truly unbelievable emerged. Moving Hulk back from superhero to horror, closer to old school EC material than a typical Big Two book, has proven to be the perfect angle to bring new life to Banner and the Hulk. Bennett has consistently produced terrific artwork at incredible speeds, maneuvering through multiple titles, going back to 52 and even the new Deathstroke, but this is the book where he stole the spotlight and absolutely made his mark. Granting these two talents a flagship and letting them loose has given us what is proving to be the most thoughtful, exhilitaring and horrifyingly potent book of the year.
- Rithesh Babu
Unnatural by Mirka Andolfo
When I saw the cover of Unnatural, I was not impressed. The art was beautiful but animal erotica is not my thing. When I read it, however, I was blown away. Along with beautiful art, the story is a deep examination at modern society filled with humor and heart. It is the perfect mix of head turning beauty and head shaking commentary.
- Nathaniel Muir
Venom, by Donny Cates, Ryan Stegman
For years I have been disappointed with the direction of Venom. First they killed off Flash Thompson and then they made Eddie Brock the “new” host. Now I have nothing against Brock, but Marvel threw out a great idea by taking out Flash Thompson. Flash had an interesting history with Spider-Man compounded by his modern reinvention as a guy who has made mistakes and was trying to set himself up as an adult. I am disappointed no more. Donny Cates has gone down swinging as one of the best symbiote writers in years, getting me not only into Venom again, but also to actually like Eddie Brock as a troubled loner with a past anyone can sympathize with. Cates has an uncanny ability to reinvent characters, simultaneously honoring both past stories while forging his own future. Plus the addition he has made to the lore surrounding the Symbiotes, their god Knull and the cosmic horror they represent has been fantastic. The obsidian lethal protector hasn’t been in hands this good since Todd Mcfarlane.
- Donovan Walls