I did it to myself.
I limited these lists to five (!) issues. Well, here goes nothing. I've got two recently launched #1 titles featured near the top, and I promise it has nothing to do with them being fresh in my head.
Here goes nothin':
Jacked #1 (Vertigo) by Erik Kripke and John Higgins: I didn't pull any punches when I reviewed this book exactly a month ago today. It had everything from crude and relatable humor, fantastic art and "some of the best single-page panels I've seen in a long time." Kripke presents a solid take on the bore being a 40-year-old white dude with bad knees can be sometimes and makes a goddamn comic book out of it.
This book is hilarious while being somewhat thought provoking. Main character Josh is a sad man and does a very sad thing after a chat with his overachieving brother -- and after he watches "Cockman and Titgirl" while pleasuring himself -- he searches the internet for "Nootropic" and stumbles upon the "Jacked" pills. The pills give this average Joe some sweet powers and the story takes off from there.
Get this book. It's my favorite single issue of the year and I'm not even ranking this list.
Sheriff of Babylon #1 (Vertigo) by Tom King and Mitch Gerads
Tom King is a former CIA operative. Mitch Gerads is the top artist in the war game. They were made to create and illustrate this story.
Yes, another Vertigo #1 and, also yes, another fresh December release. So, if you think I'm just making this list based off of my short-term memory I will literally throw down in fisticuffs. This book freaking rules and it's thanks to a narrative that is dripping with darkness and grit and art that will make you examine a page so closely that you're studying chunky brain matter like you're trying to read the year on a old dirty coin.
Mitch Gerads was already one of my artist darlings, but he cemented himself as an artist that if I see his name on a book, then dammit, I'm buying it. Sheriff of Babylon is hardcore. The plot, set in Iraq shortly following the fall of Baghdad, revolves around the lives and happening in three different main characters. Christopher a military man training Iraqis in an opening scene that shows you right off the bat that this first issue in an eight-issue miniseries is not messing around.
Chewbacca #1 (Marvel) by Gerry Duggan and Phil Noto:
I had this issue on my short list when I started drafting this about a week or so ago. I felt weird about it, but then noticed I wasn't alone. Gerry Duggan -- you know, the guy who wrote Deadpool for what seems like an eternity -- knocks this story about a Wookiee who can't speak English out of the goddamn park.
How does this story work so well? Well, let me tell you. Chewbacca has always been the hairy loud bridesmaid and never the bride. He guides a young hero in this miniseries and shows that even he can be smart, witty and resourceful when the pressure is on. While Duggan does a solid of showing us a side of Chewie that we've never seen before -- you know, a personality -- the real star is Noto.
My god, this guy should illustrate everything on one whole page. It's beautiful art paired with an interesting story that offers a new take on an old favorite. If Marvel did anything right this year, it was it's extremely high quality Star Wars character-focused miniseries.
The Wicked + The Divine #13 (Image) by Kieron Gillen, Tula Lotay and Jamie McKelvie:
I admittedly have never been able to sink my teeth into this series as consistently as I have wanted, but No. 13 was the issue that made my jaw hit the page. This is a hell of a heavy issue.
The line between real world and plot is gone in this issue. The main character is outside of the "good ole boys" club looking in as creativity from the female's perspective continues to be drowned out. From the body language to facial expressions to full page conceptual illustrations, I am now the ringleader of Tula Lotay's FanBoy club.
This book is a statement. Not just for feminism, but for equal rights in the workplace and on the streets. It's not bogged down with an unnecessary story, but held up by an extremely tight script with some of the most impressive I've seen as a reader in not just 2015, but throughout my life as an avid comic book person.
Felt good to have something other than a No. 1 issue on this list.
Shit, another No. 1:
Justice League: The Darkseid War, Green Lantern #1 (DC) by Tom King and Evan "Doc" Shaner:
Tom King had a decent year, eh? I love that he worked with Doc Shaner on this. Don't you dare even talk to me about event tie-ins, nearly everything is a tie-in now so I have started to train myself to judge on an issue-to-issue basis. I love how King takes this story to show us just how important and impactful The Green Lantern is and can be in the DC Universe. How powerful he is and the relationship between the gifted and the normal.
Shaner's ability to set the scene while presenting characters in a simple yet insanely intricate manner never gets old and it -- as it nearly always does -- pairs with the writer's story. While Comic Book Resources didn't love the book nearly as much as I did, they captured my feelings about it and Shaner's work in the issue perfectly:
"Shaner's art, which we don't get nearly enough of, is clean and attractive. I like how the Kirby-inspired outfit for the God of Light is both different from the typical Green Lantern uniform while still being very recognizable as a synthesis of Lantern and New God. The best scenes in the book aren't the superhero moments, though; it's those in the church. Shaner draws an archetypal Hal Jordan with a flight jacket and a young face but an older expression. These scenes are beautiful and, while the story in that part feels a little stretched out, Shaner brings them to life with a soft touch that makes them feel welcoming and gentle."
This book found a way to be impactful while setting the stage in a tie-in, it was a unique take and viewpoint on a classic character. It did what it needed to do and then some.