Before I dig into entries #75-51 on my list, I want to briefly share some of the data behind my reading and ranking.
In reading as much of the American digital floppy market as possible in 2019, Marvel + DC represented 56% of issues and 47% of the series with >2 issues (my ranking criteria). Image was another 9% of issues and 11% of series, respectively.
That means EVERYONE ELSE was 35% of issues and 42% of series.
My Top 125 is based on applying both algorithms and gut feeling to my >2500 single issue ratings from 2019, without any quotas on publisher representation. Despite that, publishers are represented in my Top 125 ALMOST EXACTLY in proportion to the amount of material they released.
There were 4 notable outliers:
- Marvel slightly undershot its expected representation in the full Top 125, but slightly over-performed at the very top.
- Aftershock was under-represented compared to its issue/series.
- Image SLIGHTLY over-performed.
- Valiant over-performed a LOT.
Enough about the data, let’s get to the comic books! Here are another 25 comic series that I absolutely loved in 2019, which occupy spots #75 through 51 on my countdown of my favorite [American digital] comic titles of 2019! (Or, if you prefer a Twitter countdown, start here.)
#75 – Fallen World (Valiant)
FALLEN WORLD (Valiant) was an engaging entry into the far future of Earth. Each development felt rooted in Valiant’s past, but that never distracted from a thrilling adventure on multiple fronts as the Geomancer and rebel AIs maneuvered against the deposed all-seeing Father. Even having skipped several years of Valiant comics, it all worked for me.
#74 – Batman Beyond (DC)
BATMAN BEYOND (DC) struck the perfect balance for a future book. While it plays with some familiar characters and reimagines expected elements, Dan Jurgens also tells a unique tale of family, tragedy, and superhero action with bold, clean art from a bevy of industry veterans.
#73 – The Flash (DC)
THE FLASH (DC) is a book that never stops. It feels like Joshua Williamson’s plots have been a single ongoing relay race since Rebirth began, and not one of these 25(!) issues disappointed. Rafa Sandoval’s continuing evolution as an artist is incredible – he’s a powerhouse!
#72 – Immortal Hulk (Marvel)
IMMORTAL HULK (Marvel) snapped into focus in 2019, with Al Ewing steering the initial horror of the book into a deeper conversation about evil, identity, and justice. This title addresses so many facets of Hulk, and Joe Bennett & Paul Mounts render them all with sinewy horror.
#71 – The Stone King (Comixology)
THE STONE KING (Comixology) is a thrilling All Ages adventure about ambition and forgiveness. A small town thief steals something valuable from a stone colossus that wanders the countryside. Now she must reckon with the consequences… and a young guard determined to stop her.
#70 – Supergirl (DC)
SUPERGIRL (DC) sent Kara to unexplored territory as she traveled deep space seeking new clues to Krypton’s destruction. Her personality shines away from known characters in these Marc Andreyko stories abetted by a terrific run of artwork from Kevin McGuire and Eduardo Pansica.
#69 – Winter Soldier (Marvel)
WINTER SOLDIER (Marvel) dropped Bucky into a surprisingly small domestic story, which allowed Kyle Higgins to deliver sharp unexpected thrills. Rod Reis’s art gave the emotional through-line of this story considerable heft while delivering distinct, kinetic action sequences.
#68 – Killmonger (Marvel)
KILLMONGER (Marvel) seemed like a movie-fication of its titular villain, as it starts out by streamlining Erik’s origin to be more like the MCU. Instead, Bryan Hill & Juan Ferreyra used a tale fraught with broken trust to give Killmonger’s comic continuity more dimension.
#67 – Sonata (Image)
SONATA (Image) is Romeo & Juliet on an alien world where the threat of literal sleeping giants looms over star-crossed lovers and their indigenous guardian. Brian Haberlin’s photorealistic art shows off the intriguing depth of his world-building (with co-writer David Hine).
#66 – Deathstroke (DC)
DEATHSTROKE (DC) brought years of Priest’s plots to a culmination. Watching Slade Wilson react to the changes in the world around him was even better than his bursts of violence, but many of the best moments were for Jericho and Rose, both struggling in their father’s shadow.
#65 – Mystere (Zenescope)
MYSTERE (Zenescope) is an unusual character for Zenescope, as she doesn’t have a direct mythological analog. Ben Meares cements her unique voice and her struggle to maintain stability for herself and her community while spinning an engaging mystery she can’t simply overpower.
#64 – Psi-Lords (Valiant)
PSI-LORDS (Valiant) introduced an amnesiac Green Lantern Corps – four strangers trapped in space, where they might hold the key to saving Earth from imminent destruction. Renato Guedes artwork was bold and liquid, which sold both action and gallows humor from Fred Van Lente.
#63 – Green Arrow (DC)
GREEN ARROW (DC) was gone to soon, but this abbreviated run from Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly had fantastic artwork from Javier Fernandez & John Kalisz, inventive action sequences, and a wrenching reckoning with Black Canary as Ollie dealt with his grief over [you know who].
#62 – Red Sonja (Dynamite)
RED SONJA (Dynamite) is a delightful farce about what it means to be a monarch. Under Mark Russell’s pen, the focus was off of Sonja’s strength in battle, instead focusing on the consequences of winning all the time. The dastardly doofus of an evil king is a memorable villain.
#61 – Savage Sword of Conan (Marvel)
SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN (Marvel) was the place where Conan creators could stretch out their stories across brief arcs. The approach paid off with deliciously pulpy adventures that gave Conan more dimension from Gerry Duggan & Ron Garney, Jim Zub, Roy Thomas & Alan Davis, and more.
#60 – The Blackening (Amigo)
THE BLACKENING (Amigo) is a well-paced John Wick revenge story set in a cybernetic future. What seems like a simple kidnapping gets continuously deeper as our unlikely action hero (a gay happily-married family man) tries to maintain his humanity amidst escalating violence.
#59 – Wonder Woman (DC)
WONDER WOMAN (DC) kept the focus on Diana and her boundless compassion, including a glimpse of what the world would be like without it. G. Willow Wilson’s run was a slow burn, but her back-to-basics approach yielded a spectacular string of rewarding issues with beautiful art.
#58 – Bitter Root (Image)
BITTER ROOT (Image) could be subtitled “Harlem Renaissance Demon Hunters” and it’s as unique and stylish as that implies. David Walker & Chuck Brown establish the cast’s strong family ties and Sanford Greene & Rico Renzi’s world is addictively vivid (and has GREAT back matter!).
#57 – SFSX [Safe Sex] (Image)
SFSX [SAFE SEX] (Image) centers sex workers in a future dystopia obsessed with morality. The sex positive focus of this book might titillate some and shock others, but much of it is in service of characters who are often the casualties of stories like this one, not the stars.
#56 – The No Ones (Cave Pictures)
THE NO ONES (Cave Pictures) mashes X-Statix with The Boys, with reality TV heroes coming apart at the seams behind the cameras until their dissent causes their team (and reality) to snap. I loved the mix of familiar archetypes and novel powers, as well as the ink-heavy art.
#55 – Hawkman (DC)
HAWKMAN (DC) started the year by wrapping an epic story so large it felt like it could be its own event book, and ended the year taking a DC event and making it personal and specific to Hawkman. Robert Venditti took a character some found impenetrable and made him a must-read.
#54 – Ironheart (Marvel)
IRONHEART (Marvel) was like meeting Riri Williams for the first time all over again. Eve Ewing found a specific voice for this young genius and built on her tragic origin without defining her by it (and, in one way, reversed it). A star-making turn for artist Luciano Vecchio.
#53 – Aquaman (DC)
AQUAMAN (DC) saw Kelly Sue DeConnick give Arthur a fresh start… which felt jarring, but turned out to be a perfect way to broaden his horizons beyond Atlantis. Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, & Sunny Gho’s artwork make this run SING (and sometimes it sings heavy metal).
#52 – Meet The Skrulls (Marvel)
MEET THE SKRULLS (Marvel) is a spiritual successor to Tom King’s Vision with a dash of TV’s The Americans thrown in. Robbie Thompson & Niko Henrichon follow a family of Skrulls through their unease with a suburban double life. This brisk story is a PERFECT standalone Marvel read.
#51 – Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt (Dynamite)
PETER CANNON: THUNDERBOLT (Dynamite) is the sequel to Watchmen that doesn’t trod on Moore’s legacy that you never knew you needed. That’s because Kieron Gillen goes back to the Charlton Comics source for Ozymandias and uses him to explode Watchmen’s themes via deft formalism.
That’s it for Day 3 of my Top 125 Comics of 2019!
I surprised myself with the titles that wound up in this set. I remember reading some of them thinking “WOW this is surely one of the best comics of 2019!”
And THEY ARE. It’s just that there’re 50 MORE still to come. Stay tuned!