It's no exaggeration to say that media has been an escape for a lot of us this year; we can lose ourselves in the pages of stories as a comfort, a boon, a balm to help ease the pain of a lot of the garbage that occurs in the world on the regular.
But comics are also pushing the boundaries of what we even thought was possible, telling stories and lifting up narratives that are long overdue — and sometimes giving us a much-needed spin on characters we've grown up loving.
There are many reasons that comics will always be a defining part of our nerdverse, but as we look back on the past year, we're recognizing some of the creators — writers, artists, letterers, editors, and more — who remind us of all the things we love about the medium. These are some of SYFY WIRE FANGRRLS' favorite comics of 2019.
Cosmoknights (Hannah Templar)
Cosmoknights is a standout comic that appeared both as a serialized webcomic and as a graphic novel in 2019. Hannah Templer’s “space gays,” as she calls them, are determined to dismantle the patriarchy one princess at a time. The story centers on Pan, a young woman from a small planet called Viridian, and her newly found friends — a couple who pose as cosmoknights to compete against men trying to win princesses for marriage, or to sell to their sponsors. When Pan runs away from home to join Cass and Bee on their adventure, she realizes life might not be as bleak as she once thought. Templer’s colors are a queer fever dream of pastels, neons, and metallics all brought together in striking balance — and the writing, particularly the dialogue, is truly outstanding. Cosmoknights is one 2019 fan-favorite you won’t want to miss. - S.E. Fleenor
Deadpool (Writer: Kelly Thomspon, Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino, Penciler: Chris Bachalo, Color Artist: David Curiel, Inkers: Wayne Faucher, Tim Townsend, Al Vey, Jaime Mendoza, Livesay, and Victor Olazaba)
Kelly Thompson’s Deadpool run opens with our favorite mouthy merc having been torn in half. Again. Wade Wilson has been hired to take on the King of the Monsters and getting bisected is just one hazard of his work. But when Wilson devises an explosive plan to finish the King once and for all, he’s not prepared to face the consequences of success. The first issue is filled with hijinks, political turmoil, danger, and yes, a lot of blood as is typical of Deadpool stories. Thompson’s pages are filled with the hilarious and the heartbreaking, the winning Wilson combination that many writers miss when depicting the sad clown that is Deadpool. A host of cameos by the likes of Elsa Bloodstone (swoon), Gwenpool, Jeff the Land Shark, and Kraven the Hunter set the stage for a dramatic and delightful series. Thompson is the first woman to write Deadpool’s flagship series in a long time, and she’s off to a promising start. - S.E. Fleenor
When I Arrived At The Castle (Emily Carroll)
Emily Carroll has been releasing bizarre, surrealist horror comics that look unlike anything else on the stands for years with no signs of slowing down. When I Arrived At The Castle is a quintessential Carroll story, featuring her trademark merge of loosely-themed fables over the backdrop of her incredible artwork. Standard comic structure is adhered to only as a starting point and is quickly abandoned for sprawling, panel-breaking double-page spreads. Following the journey of a girl who seeks to kill the mysterious vampire who lives in a castle in the woods, horror tropes are established only to quickly give way to something far more profound. Beginning in classic Hammer horror fare and ending up as a commentary on the nature of storytelling itself, Carroll’s ability to creep readers out while opening up a greater understanding of the purpose stories serve in our lives gives us a book that is full of chilling, unforgettable imagery. Fans of Carroll’s seminal short story collection Through The Woods are in for a treat, while When I Arrived At The Castle will appeal to the larger horror community due to its captivating subversion of what is already a subversive subgenre. - Sara Century
While a handful of recent runs certainly set our girl up to make a big mark this year, with her 50th anniversary hitting in July, 2019 truly brought it beyond our greatest expectations. With a new primary series written by Christopher Priest as he was coming off his iconic Deathstroke run, as well as the return of Tom Sniegoski’s Vengeance of Vampirella after a 25-year hiatus, Vampirella is being redefined for modern readers by some of the best in the business. As always, Vampirella remains the queen of the crossover. The incredibly fun Vampirella & Red Sonja Meet Betty & Veronica by Amy Chu is showing us what it looks like when a vampire and a warrior collide head-on with Riverdalian occultism. The other Vampirella/Red Sonja crossover book, written by Jordie Bellaire, has given us a mystery to mull over while absolutely nailing the character beats between these two often difficult to easily define flagship characters. All in all, this was a banner year for Vampirella, with a slew of iconic moments, and we’re beyond stoked for what’s next to come for Drakulon’s most beloved child. - Sara Century
Strikeforce (Writer: Tini Howard, Artist: German Peralta, Colors: Jordie Bellaire)
Tini Howard is one of those writers who makes it difficult to choose which of her many books to put on a year-end list. Having wrapped her creator-owned Euthanauts in early 2019 then throwing down the gauntlet alongside the rest of the X-line with the Excalibur relaunch, this has been a big year for her. Yet the book that brings us here today is Strikeforce. A handful of Marvel’s strangest and most unpredictable antiheroes team up to take on a threat that even the Avengers can’t beat. Led by Blade the vampire hunter and incorporating such disparate characters as Angela, Hellstrom, Wiccan, Winter Solider, Monica Rambeau, and Spider-Woman, Strikeforce reads a bit like a Marvel comics take on Suicide Squad — full of the same character beats over violence and dark humor, but through the lens of Marvel’s epic, cosmic universe. To say the least, this book is a heck of a lot of fun, and it’s giving readers a lot of great moments from characters we just don’t see enough of. - Sara Century
Queen of Bad Dreams (Writer: Danny Lore, Artist: Jordi Perez, Colors: Dearbhla Kelly, Letterer: Kim McLean)
Vault Comics published a lot of potential entries for a best-of 2019 list, but one of the most ingenious concepts of the year came from the mind of Danny Lore. The central premise of Queen of Bad Dreams asked, “what if figments of your imagination could escape from your dreams and take on lives of their own?” When a politician’s son loses a figment, the protagonist must find her and determine whether to send her back or allow her to achieve personhood in the real world. Of course, this only leads to a deeper puzzle as she must figure out why the figment escaped, and why it’s so important to the people in power that she is returned. Commenting on the power of dreams while walking us through key elements of a classic action-packed sci-fi comic book, this story packs a lot of heady, ambitious storytelling into a small package. QoBD manages to balance all the trappings of a standard genre story while encouraging metacommentary that urges its readers to question the powers that be. - Sara Century
House of X and Powers of X (Writer: Jonathan Hickman, Artists: Pepe Larraz, R.B. Silva and Marte Gracia)
In discussing House of X and Powers of X, it's important to remember that both books go hand-in-hand — making it hard to talk about one without the other, so I won’t. I enjoyed them much more than I initially thought I would. The X-Men and mutantkind are doing the thing I love the most: working together. Non-mutants can either get in line or face the consequences. There are a few standout moments in both series that I will forever cherish. Moria MacTaggart actually being a mutant and the key to getting Charles and Erik on the same page. Emma Frost showing up to court furred up, Gucci’d up, Chanel’d up, and diamonded up. Mr. Sinister being an absolute stunt queen. Storm leading an all-mutant resistance gathering to welcome back some of the fallen X-Men. HoX and PoX bring mutantkind to where they need to be in 2019: refusing to take any more sh*t from their oppressors. - Stephanie Williams
Female Furies (Writer: Cecil Castellucci, Artist: Adriana Melo)
This series gives some additional backstory to Granny Goodness and her Female Furies. The Furies we know have been raised to be the baddest b*tches on Apokolips and beyond. The story picks up during a time when Granny Goodness is starting to think a change is needed — but at a great cost to her Furies, because the game is rigged. The series has a few uncomfortable moments, like when we find out the true nature of Granny Goodness and Darkseid’s relationship, or lack thereof. The relatability of what Granny deals with while trying to operate within an organization that has absolutely no respect for its female-identifying members hits a little too close to home. How Granny internalizes it adds another dynamic to her relationship with the Female Furies. It doesn’t justify her behavior towards them but it shows how deeply flawed she is, and not just because she turns children into lethal soldiers. - Stephanie Williams
Quarter Killer (Writers: Vita Ayala and Danny Lore, Artist: Jamie Jones, Letterer and Designer: Ryan Ferrier, Editor: Adrienne Lopes)
Quarter Killer is set in the future in which some hackers are actually on the right side of history. The comic follows a hacker named Quentin who refused any jobs that involve working with criminals or cops, and he only accepts quarters as payments. There have only been three issues of Quarter Killer since its release in September, but those were strong enough to earn it a spot as one of my favorite comics from this year. Quarter Killer may be set in the future, but there are situations relevant to today infused in the storytelling that I love the most. There's a ton of action, a dirty cop who gets what he deserves, corporation conspiracy, and the exploitation of residents in a housing project. Quarter Killer feels like multiple comics in one but it just means you’re getting more bang for your support. This series is a great addition to the growing Comixology original catalog. - Stephanie Williams
Lois Lane (Writer: Greg Rucka, Artist: Mike Perkins)
In a world full of superheroes with incredible powers and skills (and oh so many tropes), it could be easy to overlook Lois Lane. However, in this series, Greg Rucka puts her front and center in a role that showcases her ability to tackle complex situations and real-world issues through her job as a hard-hitting journalist. It’s a grounded story, for all that it takes place in a fantasy world, and it’s the little, human moments that make her story feel warm and real and alive.
In the first issue, Lois tackles a story on child separation policy and detention centers that clearly parallels the current climate in the United States. And while it could have made for a depressing read, it gives the reader hope that you don’t have to have superpowers to make a difference and help bring about change — which is a message we sorely need right now. - Sarah Brown
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (Writer: Kelly Thompson, Artists: Veronica Fish, Andy Fish, Jack Morelli)
In her second appearance on this list, Kelly Thompson skillfully skips right from raining chaos down with Deadpool to making magic with Sabrina without missing a beat. This new mini-series smartly pivots away from the darker and grittier version of Sabrina we saw in the Archie horror comics and returns to the character's light-hearted origins. Between her relationship with her aunts, the potential love interests, and new friendships, this series shows why Sabrina has always resonated with teens and adults alike.
It's a treat to watch Thompson skillfully blur the line between what's real and what's fantasy in Sabrina's world, even allowing her to go toe to toe against a dragon and come out victorious! And the best part? The same creative team returns next spring with a sequel series, titled Sabrina: Something Wicked. I can't wait! - Sarah Brown
Witch Hat Atelier (Writer and Artist: Kamome Shirahama, English Translation: Stephen Kohler)
Witch Hat Atelier is a deliciously magical story that Kamome Shirahama skillfully brings to life through her words and her art. It follows Coco, a young girl who is as new to this world of magic as we are, making her the perfect point of view character to follow on this journey. Coco is determined to be a witch, despite not growing up in a magical family. Her sheer stubbornness and drive to succeed are what brings her to the atelier and eventually open up doors and pathways in life that she only imagined.
Kamome Shirahama forgoes the traditional idea that witches are evil and should be feared, instead making them out to powerful and kind heroes. It's a treat to dive into her world to discover the many secrets, intricacies, and possibilities that exist in the magical community right alongside Coco. - Sarah Brown