2021 was an incredible year in the comic book industry. There were so many different comic books released this year that we can choose from and enjoy different genres in this form of entertainment we love. Which makes choosing what the best of 2021 for comic books so difficult. There were so many creative teams that created great experiences for fans. But after much consideration I was able to put together what my 10 favorite comic books of 2021 were. Scroll down to find out what made the Best Comic Book Series of 2021.
BATMAN: WAYNE FAMILY ADVENTURES
2021 Issues Released: Batman: Wayne Family Adventures Episode 1 to Episode 18
Writer: CRC Payne
Artists: Maria Li, Lan Ma, Jean Kim, C.M. Cameron, Camille Cruz, Suzi Blake, and Paula “Polux” Fidelis
When we look back at important comic books released by DC Comics Batman: Wayne Family Adventures is arguably the biggest. This new Webtoons series is massive for multiple reasons. Webtoons is a huge market of readership, as you can see with 17 million view count for Batman: Wayne Family Adventures 18 episodes. Batman: Wayne Family Adventures also being free to read on the Webtoons platform is also important as DC Comics understood that is part of the market and gave them a chance to make this series as many views as possible. Which could translate well to whenever this series is collected in trade paperback form it could be one of DC Comics biggest sellers.
The success of Batman: Wayne Family Adventures comes down to the excellent creative direction. This series captures all the magic of the Batman Family and gives a new twist on it as we see these characters interact in a slice-of-life style way. CRC Payne has done an excellent job capturing the dynamic within the Batman Family as we actually get to see Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Duke Thomas, Damian Wayne, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Cassandra Cain, Jason Todd, Stephanie Brown, Barbara Gordon, and Kate Bishop interacting with each other.
While we have gotten a few multi-part stories CRC Payne along with artists Maria Li, Lan Ma, Jean Kim, C.M. Cameron, Camille Cruz, Suzi Blake, Paula “Polux” Fidelis, and Starbite are at their best with one-shot stories. They have shown how to tell complete stories in one episode. Episodes such as the Robins competing in a one-arm push-up contest, Damian Wayne’s birthday and meeting with Talia Al Ghul, and the Batman Family picking the cases they will take on are all excellent examples of he magic of the franchise.
2021 Issues Released: Black Widow #5 to Black Widow #12
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artists: Elena Casagrande and Rafael De Latorre
Inkers: Elena Casagrande, Rafael De Latorre, and Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Consistency is one of the important factors of what makes a great comic book series and Marvel’s latest Black Widow is a phenomenal example of that. From the excellent writing to the beautiful artwork Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Rafael Latorre, Elisabetta D’Amico, and Jordie Bellaire have created such a rich experience with their work on Black Widow. And with 2021 they took how this series started off at the end of last year and got to another level.
Starting out with concluding the first story arc Thompson, Casagrande, and Latorre were able recenter Black Widow’s character as Natasha was forced to let go of the one thing she never knew she wanted: a family. This tough chapter in Natasha’s that also helped launch her into a new direction for her life. That direction has moved Natasha into a direction where she is using both her super spy and superhero background to create a new organization with Yelena Belova as her partner.
Given that we are in a Marvel Universe where SHIELD has not been a thing for a while this is the perfect move for Natasha’s character. Starting off her organization small with Yelena as her partner along with having Bucky Barnes and Clint Barton in her close circle for this early beginning all makes great use of Natasha’s history. This launch makes the addition of an established character like Anya Corazon’s Spider-Girl and new character Marigold a good a way to show what the two Black Widows are building towards the future
The artwork for Black Widow is also arguably the best of any comic book that is out there. Elena Casagrande and Rafael De Latorre artwork is simply amazing. They’ve done such a great job with making the world grounded and larger than life at the same time. The action choreography is always a standout in every issue. Especially when Casagrande has drawn double page spreads of Black Widow taking out a room filled with assassins it is all breathtaking. Any of them could easily be made into art prints to be placed on a wall.
2021 Issues Released: Daredevil #26 to Daredevil #36
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Marco Checchetto, Mike Hawthorne, Stefano Landini, and Manuel Garcia
Inkers: Adriano Di Benedetto, Marco Checchetto, Cam Smith, Scott Hanna, and Victor Nava
Colorists: Marcio Menyz and Bryan Valenza
Daredevil’s 2021 started with Matt Murdock in jail as Daredevil after being convicted of murder. That left Hell’s Kitchen without its protector. But latter didn’t last long as none other than Elektra Natchios stepped up to take on the mantle of Daredevil with Matt in jail. And what better way for Elektra to begin her time as Daredevil than have to defend the world against Knull right in the middle of the King In Black event. While tie-ins are always tricky Chip Zdarsky was able to take what was going on in the King In Black event to set the foundation of Elektra’s era as Daredevil.
From there we saw how Daredevil became both Elektra and Matt’s title as they both were dealing with their own conflict. For Matt, his time in jail continued to tackle the internal corruption of the policing system as he got first hand experience as a prisoner. Then for Elektra, as Daredevil she was taking on the current state of New York City under the Wilson Fisk administration as he continued his term as Mayor of NYC.
As was the case for the previous two years of Zdarsky’s run he did a great job in maximizing Matt’s status quo as he continued to deal with the ramifications of his actions as Daredevil. But it was Elektra stepping up as Daredevil that really made this series one of the best of 2021. Zdarsky did a lot of great work in examining Elektra’s character as she had to balance her assassin tendencies with now fully accepting being a hero as she carried on Matt’s legacy as Daredevil. This created a new heroes journey for Elektra as she really did come into her own as Daredevil. It was to the point that by the time we do see both Elektra and Matt as Daredevil on screen together that you believe they should both be carrying the mantle.
2021 Issues Released: Demon Days: X-Men #1; Demon Days: Mariko #1; Demon Days: Cursed Web #1; Demon Days: Rising Storm #1
Writer & Artist: Peach Momoko
English Adaptation: Zack Davisson
Out of all the titles that I read in 2021 there is no one that beats the style and mythology explored in Peach Momoko’s Demon Days. This series is made up of various one-shots that are all part of the Demon Days Marvel Universe that Momoko is crafting. Each one of these one-shots are connected by the lead of Demon Days’ Mariko. It’s through Mariko that we experience all of these stories that start with a samurai story starring Psylocke to reimagining Storm to truly live up to her Goddess title.
What makes Demon Days so special is that you do feel the pure imagination that is going into everything Momoko is doing to craft this version of the Marvel Universe. Momoko taps into all forms of mythology from Japanese to Norse. She combines those mythologies with that of the Marvel characters to make each one-shot its own unique experience while driving home an overall narrative around Mariko’s own journey.
And if you have seen any of Momoko’s covers for other comic books you know her art style is absolutely stunning. Every issue of Demon Days is a fantastic showcase of how Momoko’s artwork is really the best around. As both the writer and artist of the series there are times that Momoko simply tells the story with no dialogue. This allows the characters expressions, actions, and other movement to tell the story. It is really a unique experience that if you are a Marvel fan should not miss out on discovering this new universe with reimaginations of the MU iconic characters.
2021 Issues Released: Nightwing #78 to Nightwing #87; Nightwing 2021 Annual
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: Bruno Redondo, Rick Leonardi, Neil Edwards, Robbi Rodriguez, Cian Tormey, and Daniel HDR
Inkers: Bruno Redondo, Andy Lanning, Scott Hanna, Raul Fernandez, and Daniel HDR
Colorists: Adriano Lucas, Rain Beredo, and John Kalisz
2021 was a return to form for Nightwing and Dick Grayson. After suffering from various editorial mandates that left Dick Grayson’s character in a state of confusion Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo turned things around. Refocusing the character to use his newly found fortune thanks to what Alfred Pennyworth left Dick Grayson in his will was an excellent first step. As Superman told Nightwing, the plan while appearing small will do a lot of good by setting an example for all superheroes and people to follow.
That was the foundation that was created by Taylor and Redondo as they also worked in the importance of Dick Grayson’s life in and out of being Nightwing. My favorite thing about the current Nightwing series is how the Batman Family are playing important roles in Dick Grayson’s life. Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake have both been constants in helping Dick out in what is going on in both Bludhaven and Gotham City. Even the brief moments where we see the Batman Family texting Nightwing is all a fun example of how well done this series is when it comes to the relationships Dick Grayson has.
Going into 2021 it’ll be very interesting to see how these elements along with the big surprise of the beginning of Taylor and Redondo’s run being that previously unknown Grayson family history. The way the revelation that Melinda Zucco is Dick Grayson’s half-sister made it a reveal was done with respect to these new characters introduced as part of the sub-plot. The personal story was told so you become invested more in what will happen next in Bludhaven.
2021 Issues Released: Robin #1 to Robin #9; Robin 2021 Annual
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artists: Gleb Melnikov, Jorge Corona, Max Dunbar, and Roger Cruz
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colorists: Luis Guerrero and Hi-Fi
One of my favorite types of storylines is when characters participate in fighting tournaments. Maybe its just growing up watching Dragon Ball and playing Street Fighter, but fighting tournaments have always been a thing that creators can do to get me interested in. Which is why Joshua Williamson and Gleb Melnikov immediately grabbed my attention with their new Robin series starring Damian Wayne. They mixed it all the cool elements from fighting tournaments seen in Dragon Ball and Street Fighter with the DC Universe.
Throughout this fighting tournament arc Williamson has done an excellent job exploring Damian Wayne’s character. After what turned out to be a failure as leader of the Teen Titans Damian was in a place where he just about gave up on being Robin and went back to the assassin path his mother, Talia Al Ghul, and grandfather, Ra’s Al Ghul, set him on. That quickly changed when a fighting tournament was created that would assemble the best fighters in the DCU. Damian once again assumed the Robin mantle and took part in this tournament.
And as with any good fighting tournament Damian wasn’t the only standout of this story. Along with Damian we’ve seen Rose Wilson and the returning Connor Hawke play major roles in how things have gone in the Lazarus Tournament. Tapping into how Damian gets along, or in some case doesn’t, with those participating has made this entire series so much fun to read. Even as we gotten the route of the storyline becoming more mystic it all has worked.
The artwork by Gleb Melinokv, along with Jorge Corona, Max Dunbar, and Roger Cruz, has tapped into the fun of fighting tournaments. The action is all dynamic with the anime tone that is taken. The action in particular has help with making each fight no matter how long they pop off screen.
2021 Issues Released: Strange Academy #7 to Strange Academy #14
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Strange Academy is a great example of how there can still be fascinating new characters created in the Marvel Universe. This series featuring a school created by Doctor Strange with fellow school staff members Doctor Voodoo, Zelma Stanton, Scarlet Witch, and Magik has been a great way to naturally expand on Doctor Strange franchise and magic corner of the Marvel Universe. With how long the Marvel Universe has been around it makes sense that the veteran magic users who have been involved with all sorts of crisis would want to help mentor the next generation. And a school setting is a perfect way to start integrate the next generation while introducing fans to all new characters in the process.
And it helps that the students of Strange Academy are all unique in their own way. Whether its how adept they are to using magic or their own distinct personality traits there is a strong balance in the cast. Even characters like Doyle Dormammu that I didn’t find any interest in when Strange Academy started has won me over with the issues of the series released in 2021. It all speaks to the strength of the cast with Emily Bright being a great central character as every issue you feel a sense of discovery along with her. Everything from a simple game of tag through the school to a magical school trip is just a blast to read see how Skottie Young uses all the settings at his disposal.
Humberto Ramos is the perfect artist for this series. His energetic, animated artwork is at home in the Marvel Universe’s version of Hogwarts. Ramos fills each issue with the sense of unlimited imagination that comes whenever a story around magic, that really has no rules, is told.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE LAST RONIN
2021 Issues Released: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #2 to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4
Writers: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Peter Laird
Artists: Kevin Eastman, Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza, and Ben Bishop
Colorists: Samuel Plata and Luis Antonio Delgado
Delays are never fun, especially when we go months in between new comic book issues. Which is what has made Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin such a interesting experience. After getting the first issue towards the end of 2020 we only got three of the remaining five issues for the 5-part Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin story. But with getting those three issues there was an understanding of how The Last Ronin was like no other comic. Each issue did a lot of work to use its oversize format to feel like we were actually getting two or three issues each time we got a new The Last Ronin comic book.
That all comes down to how as The Last Ronin has progressed we’ve been given deeper insight into how this future where Michelangelo surviving Turtle and the fight for the world that is in the present. Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, and Peter Laird have used the deaths of Splinter, Rafael, Leonardo, and Donatello to craft Michelangelo’s character to be one who is more mature while living with the guilt of being the last survivior. That survivors guilt has made the dynamic he has with the rebellion leading April O’Neil and Casey Marie Jones (April and Casey’s daughter) a great way to ground the entire story. Even if Oroku Hiroto, the son of Karai, isn’t the most compelling villain the history behind The Last Ronin TMNT Universe carries the interest in how things will turn out in this world.
The Last Ronin also becomes even more special with how we get to see Kevin Eastman return to the franchise. Eastman’s artwork for all the flashback scenes adds to the unique experience. Eastman’s classic TMNT artwork combined with the more modern style for the franchise that Esau Escorza, Isaac Escorza, and Ben Bishop bring with them has made The Last Ronin a great looking comic book for fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
2021 Issues Released: Thor #11 to Thor #19
Writer: Donny Cates
Artists: Nic Klein, Michele Bandini, Pasqual Ferry, and Bob Quinn
Inkers: Michele Bandini and Elisabetta D’Amico
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Thor’s 2021 started out with continuing to deal with the villainous Donald Blake reigning havoc all over the Marvel Universe. The entire “Prey” story really set the tone for how the rest of the year would go for Thor. Every issue felt like we were on a verge of a breaking point for the Thor franchise as Thor’s reign as All-Father of Asgard wasn’t going as ideally as one would hope. Donald Blake’s villain turn was just an example of how bad things are getting.
That made the big development that Thor is no longer wielding Mjolnir and someone ended up stealing it such a major deal. In the lead up to that Donny Cates explored how the pressures of not only being All-Father but having seen his own future is weighing heavily on everything Thor is doing. That made the big Odinson family reunion Thor, Odin, Freyja, and Angela had even more meaning towards the direction we were going for. The dynamic between the family made how Thor interacts with Lady Sif, Loki, Throg, and others even more intriguing as he is trying to act like the All-Father he believes he should be. And as we concluded 2021 we look to be heading into the biggest story of Donny Cates run thus far with the God of Hammers stealing Mjolnir.
The artwork in Thor throughout 2021 was also top notch throughout the year. Nic Klein continued to be stand out artists that is delivering the big event-level artwork you expect from Thor. Michele Bandini, Pasqual Ferry, and Bob Quinn also stepped up to create even more great looking issues of Thor. Everything felt larger than life that was going on in Thor and that is thanks to the work by all the artists Cates was working with on this series throughout 2021.
2021 Issues Released: Future State: Wonder Woman #1 to Future State: Wonder Woman #2; Wonder Girl #1 to Wonder Girl #6
Writer: Joelle Jones
Artists: Joelle Jones, Adriana Melo, and Leila Del Duca
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
2021 was an interesting year for DC Comics. This was a year that started with the main DC Universe taking a two month break following the ending of Dark Nights: Death Metal. This all set the stage for DC Comics to introduce both new and old characters in different roles. And when it comes to new characters Yara Flor by far stood above the pack. That is all thanks to the work Joelle Jones and her art team of Adriana Melo, Leila Del Duca, Jordie Bellaire put into crafting Yara’s story in both Future State: Wonder Woman and Wonder Girl.
Something I really appreciate about the work Joelle Jones has done with crafting Yara Flor’s journey is how much she is tapping into South American mythology. There is so many different forms of mythology that can help to further expand the Wonder Woman franchise. That is what is being done with Yara as we see her and the Amazons of the Amazon, known as The Esquecida. We’ve only started exploring The Esquecida, but what we’ve learned about them has been fascinating and I’m excited to learn more about them.
This all works well with Yara’s as her journey in Wonder Girl has started by tying her into the Greek mythology that is so closely tied to the Wonder Woman franchise. Her training and conflict with Hera has immediately given her character even greater importance. Jones is making the most of Yara being a new character in this world filled with mythology. Bringing in Cassandra Sandsmark, Donna Troy, and Artemis into the story further that grows greater excitement for how Yara will interact with other characters in the Wonder Woman franchise in 2022.
The style that Joelle Jones established with starting out Wonder Girl as both the writer and artist was well done. Slowly as the issues progressed Jones stepped away from the art duties and Adriana Melo took over. That transition between artists, along with Leila Del Duca stepping in for the most recent issue, allowed Wonder Girl to have her own look that is different from all the other titles DC Comics is publishing. Which given how deep into different forms of mythology that are being tapped into a cool look.
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