2020 was generally a shitty year; Covid-19, race riots, Wonder Woman 1984, an election. There were some high points though. You get a double does of comics. First are the 10 best arcs I read in 2020 (not necessarily released in 2020 though). I follow it up with the 5 best books that were released on Marvel Unlimited in 2020.
Here are the top 10 comic arcs I read last year…
Curse Worlds Vol 1: The Devil’s Devil (Charles Soule/Ryan Browne) – What if an evil wizard came to our reality and discovered he’d be a star? Soule makes him a pop star. It’s an interesting introduction book and I’ll be reading more.
Gotham Central Book 1: In the Line of Duty (Ed Brubaker/Greg Rucka/Michael Lark) – This is an interesting take on Gotham, seen through the cops eyes. You get the love/hate relationship between the cops and Batman (from the cop perspective at least) and how they have to deal with the mad men running around the city. If this is what the Matt Reeves’ TV show will be like, I’m in.
iZombie Vol 1: Dead to the World (Chris Roberson/Mike Aldred) – A functioning zombie and a ghost investigate the paranormal. I probably should have picked this up sooner. It’s well written and would not have worked so well without Aldred’s art style.
10. Hellboy Omnibus 2-3: Strange Places/The Wild Hunt (Mike Mignola/Various) – I’ve played around with random Hellboy titles for year, but I’ve never really sat down and read it all in chronological order. And I’m regretting it now, as it’s been a great story. Hellboy’s journey has as a character has added a lot more depth than I expected. I was just disappointed that I didn’t get to see Abe or Liz back after the first volume.
9. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills (Chris Claremont/Brent Anderson) – Everyone knows the gist of the story by now…mutants hated, Striker leads a religious cult against them, mutants fight back, mutants win. While that’s the story on the surface, there is a lot more depth to it. I don’t know if another writer will ever get the X-Men like Claremont did; Hickman is pretty close right now.
8. Unwritten Vol 1: Tommy Taylor and the Bogus Identity (Mike Carey/Peter Gross) – This Vertigo book took me by surprise; I picked up a used copy for $3 and was blown away. Tommy Taylor is discovering that the books his father wrote may be more non-fiction than he thought, with him as the main character. The first book set up a lot, so I need to go back and read more.
7. Batman: White Knight (Sean Murphy/Matt Hollingsworth) – This Batman book is a Black Label story, so it’s outside of normal continuity. Joker wants to prove the Batman is the real issue in Gotham and allows himself to be cured of his madness. We discover there are actually 2 Harley Quinns – the original based off the Animated Series costume and the new based off the Suicide Squad costume. The newer Harley doesn’t like the cured Jack, and goes on a crime spree to get him back. It’s an awesome story that has 2 follow up series (which I haven’t gotten to yet).
6. The Old Guard Vol 1-2: Opening Fire/Force Multiplied (Greg Rucka/Leonardo Fernando) – Thanks to the guys at the PC Bombcast, I picked up Opening Fire before Netflix released the movie. There were some differences, but both were amazing. Think Highlander meets the Expendables. Force Multiplied was even better, making Andy question who she really is and forcing Nile to take charge. I’m very excited to see it on the screen.
5. Fear Agents: Final Edition 1-2 (Rick Remember/Tony Moore) – When I initially read the first volume of Fear Agents, I assumed it was a creator owned Green Lantern like book (without the ring and with lots of alcohol). I was wrong. There is a lot of depth to Heath that explains why he is an alcoholic reluctant hero running from his past. There are some twists and turns that keep you guessing about what happens next.
4. Batman Vol 1-2: The Court of Owls/The City of Owls (Scott Snyder/Greg Capullo) – I was told that the Owls storyline was probably the best of recent Batman and I have to agree. A secret society in Gotham is ready to retake the city from Batman and will stop at nothing to take him out. Snyder does a great job of messing with Bruce’s head and keeping the readers in suspense about who is pulling the strings of the Owls.
3. Channel Zero: The Complete Collection (Brian Wood/Becky Cloonan) – Brian Wood knows how to get you to question society and what is going on around you. Channel Zero is about a pirate radio host who is fighting against the extreme censorship in a dystopian America. There are parallels to today, which really stand out since the book was written over 20 years ago. It’s almost as if Wood knew where the country was headed (see his DMZ book too).
2. Couriers: The Complete Series (Brian Wood/Rob G) – Another Wood book. This kind of dystopian America follows 2 couriers – agents that do everything from drug drops to gun running, to the occasional assassination – on a few of their jobs. There is more action then Channel Zero but Wood pulls it off. He also makes some not nice people likeable. Well worth checking out.
1. The Life and Death of Captain Marvel (Jim Starlin) – I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. Captain Marvel is losing his battle with Cancer. Starlin writes an epic tale about the effects of cancer on the patient and those left behind. It’s a good story for anyone, especially younger people, dealing with the disease. It’s a book that will get you choked up.
And for a bonus, the top 5 books from Marvel Unlimited in 2020, with shorter rundowns.
Black Cat – It’s a shame this series ended, but I believe they start a new title and pick up where they left off.
Doctor Doom – Doom is trying to find his future wife, who he’s seen in visions. Along the way, Kang the Conqueror will show up to try to understand Doom’s motives. It humanizes the villain and makes for an interesting story.
5. Guardians of the Galaxy – There is a large cast here that split over 2 teams; those 2 teams are not getting along right now. The rivalry makes the story.
4. Black Panther – A future story takes Black Panther to new areas – specifically new characters, new settings, and a new timeline.
3. Strange Academy – Marvel Unlimited has only had 3 issues released, but they have been a lot of fun. Magic users in the Marvel Universe are teaching the next generation of magic user. It’s pretty much a new cast and reminds me of Runaways when it was first launched.
2. Darth Vader – Vader is hellbent on out who hid the birth of his son; it takes him on a trip through some prequel scenes and reintroduces some long forgotten characters.
1. Marauders – Kate Pryde’s crew of mutant smugglers is easily the top title that came out of Dawn of X. The Hellfire Trading infighting is very amusing and seeing their company get built out has been fun. There are some offbeat characters in play with the series, especially on the human side.
Tomorrow I’ll have the best movies of 2020.