2020 was definitely an interesting time to live through, to say the least. Due to outside circumstances the comic book industry took about a three-month hiatus during the spring and summer months. But even only about nine months in the 2020 publishing schedule there were a lot of great comic books produced. There were five series that stood out most when thinking about the best comic books of 2020. To celebrate the excellence of these titles and creative teams I want to take the chance to talk about why they are all must reads.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Jorge Fornes, Marco Checchetto, Francesco Mobili, Manuel Garcia, Chris Mooneyham, and Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Victor Olazaba, JP Mayer, and Le Beau Underwood
Colorist: Nolan Woodard, Mattia Iacono, Rachelle Rosenberg, and Marcio Menyz
Issues Released In 2020: Daredevil #16 – Daredevil #25; Daredevil Annual #1
There is a very good reason that Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil has appeared on all my “Best Of 2020” lists for comics thus far. This current creative run on Daredevil is truly special. As has been done before by the likes of Brian Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Mark Waid, Zdarsky has made every event in Matt Murdock’s life matter. Zdarsky shows great respect to everyone that has worked on Daredevil and progresses Matt Murdock’s life forward, whether that means good or bad things for the Man Without Fear and the world around him.
2020 provided the biggest challenge for Matt Murdock as his return to being Daredevil after his near-death experience did not go as smoothly as one would like it to be. Zdarsky did such a good job building our expectations that things would get back to what normal is for Matt when he is Daredevil. His return to wearing the mask was one of triumph as he was able to save the people in Hell’s Kitchen while being a one man army with how he took down Marvel’s most well-known mercenaries. It was one big spotlight that loudly announced that the real Daredevil was back.
But as things normally go for Matt this return to being Daredevil wasn’t simple. Because just as he made his triumphed return as the Man Without Fear, Zdarsky had Matt as Daredevil turn himself in for the murder of the guy that kicked off this entire run. It was a shocking moment that made the twist that it was Daredevil, not Matt Murdock, who would stand trial over the murder case so fascinating to see play out.
This decision launched so many different reactions from not only the supporting cast of Daredevil but other heroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man. Zdarsky has appropriately used these heroes to enhance his story and makes you further understand how Matt Murdock’s decisions as Daredevil does not only impact him. The outcome of Daredevil’s trial is something that can reverberate in other Marvel comics as we enter 2021. The ending of Daredevil #25 with the big surprise that issue had for us points to Zdarsky moving into the next stage of the greater plans he has for his run.
Further strengthening the incredible writing by Zdarsky is the great artists that have worked on Daredevil throughout 2020. Marco Checchetto has been a constant as the most frequent artists who has worked on this series. Checchetto’s art has improved with each issue he draws and gets over how big the events going on in Hell’s Kitchen are even though the story is only happening in one neighborhood in the greater New York City area.
Jorge Fornes art for the end of the ‘Through Hell’ arc was just as great. Fornes brings a great grounded style that works well in the street-level world that Daredevil exists in. The action was all smooth, which is all further heighted by how different characters react to what takes place in the story.
Writer: N.K. Jemisin
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Issues Released In 2020: Far Sector #3 – Far Sector #9
DC Comics’ Young Animal line has produced some of the best comic books the company has published in the last decade. Far Sector is arguably the best comic book to come out of the Young Animal line. N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell have taken full advantage of the Green Lantern Corps concept of being the DC Universe space cops to quickly explain why the newest Green Lantern, Sojourner Mullein, is off on her own. This has allowed Sojourner Mullein first mission as a Green Lantern to exist within the current DC Universe continuity without other stories going on in other titles impacting Far Sector.
The way that Jemisin and Campbell have paced Far Sector’s story throughout 2020 has been an example of how to properly introduce a new character to a well know legacy. Jemisin has made sure to take her time in exploring Jo Mullein’s backstory as the story in Far Sector progresses. The balance between learning who Jo Mullein was before becoming a Green Lantern and her current mission has been masterfully handled. They feed into one another as the detective work Jo Mullein has had to put into the mystery she is working on solving has strengthened her as a character.
The world that Far Sector takes place in, the City Enduring, also captures all the imagination you expect from visiting a completely different place that is not on Earth. Even when there are human-like characters that live in this world they aren’t treated as just other versions of Earthlings. The entire cast has their own unique personality. Which works in well with how Jemisin brings a political element to the way Jo Mullein has to navigate the mission she is on. You never lose the excitement of finding out more about the City Enduring and how the politics of this world work.
Jamal Campbell’s artwork on Far Sector has just been stunning. Seeing what Campbell draws next in Far Sector and the City Enduring immediately creates excitement when picking up the next issue of this series. You do feel like we are visiting a unique world within the DC Universe that can’t be found anywhere else. And with Jo Mullein being a new character Campbell has been able to establish what her style is as a Green Lantern. Which works well to further show how while Green Lanterns will normally create similar constructs, each Green Lantern brings their own style to the role. With Jo Mullein we get to see how her past makes her constructs have differences to how other Green Lanterns like Hal Jordan and John Stewart form them.
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Simone di Meo
Colorist: Walter Baiamonte and Igor Monti
Issues Released In 2020: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
Having grown up watching the various Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoons and movies there was no doubt that a crossover between the two franchise would be something that would catch my interest. The fact that both BOOM! Studios and IDW’s comics for both franchises have been fantastic and Ryan Parrott was writing Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there was no doubt I’ve be buying this crossover comic immediately. And boy did Ryan Parrott and Simone di Meo not disappoint.
This crossover did not disappoint as every issue of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had a moment to geek out over. Whether it was the clash between the Power Rangers and TMNT teams or Shredder literally becoming a version of the Green Ranger with his armor adopted into the costume, there was not a time I did lose how hyped I got reading the story. Parrott and Meo clearly knew what fans wanted to see from this crossover between the franchise.
In the middle of all these geek out moments there were also a ton of great character focused developments that occurred. Parrott did a good job using his experience writing BOOM! Studios’ Power Rangers comic to tell a story that had a lot of heart to it. The interactions between the two franchise, especially once they got on the same page, led to a lot of cool team-ups in various types of scenes.
Meo also did a great job merging the style from BOOM! Studios Power Rangers and IDW’s TMNT comics so that both franchises felt like they existed in the same universe. The geek out moments were perfectly drawn by Meo with Walter Baiamonte and Igor Monti enhancing the impact of big moments like the new Megazord we got in this series.
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
Issues Released In 2020: Strange Academy #1 – Strange Academy #6
Of all the new comic book series’ that were released in 2020 Strange Academy stood out from the pack the most. This new series immediately expanded the magic corner of the Marvel Universe. Skottie Young and Humberto Ramos did that by introducing fans to a whole new cast of young magic users that Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, and other veteran magic users took under their wing.
The concept of creating a magic school similar to Hogwarts set in the Marvel Universe is one of those things I can’t believe hasn’t been done. Young maximized the potential of this concept to not only expand the magic corner of the Marvel Universe but grow new characters that fans can invest in. Every kid that makes up the main cast of this series brings something different to the table. They each show us that there are a lot of different areas of Marvel’s magic corner that can be explored. Having a young girl, Emily Bright, who is brand new to this world has made exploring and discovering all the things magic has to show us even more fun to see developed.
Given how crazy things get in Strange Academy, Humberto Ramos is the ideal artists for this type of title. Ramos is able to go all out with different types of character designs and settings. Ramos does such a good job quickly flipping the switching between giving us horror-style to fun adventure scenes. The diversity in the cast helps magnify how we have a lot to learn about the way magic works in the Marvel Universe.
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein and Aaron Kuder
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Issues Released In 2020: Thor #1 – Thor #10
Donny Cates did not waste any time beginning his run on Thor in the biggest way possible. Reading Cates’ Thor getting a big event every month. That big event tone was set with the fact that Cates immediately brought in Galactus to be Thor’s partner for the first arc. This pairing set the stage for how there was going to big things happening in the Thor series every month.
Cates accomplished this big event feel for Thor by showing great respect for everything that Jason Aaron did before him on this franchise. Cates immediately uses the fact that Thor has become All-Father of Asgard at the end of Aaron’s run to create all new storylines. This new status quo for the character has led to developing Thor in a way that has you questioning if the God of Thunder can still be an Avengers-style superhero. Thor has all new set of responsibilities that require his full attention, which we are seeing emphasized in the current arc involving Donald Blake.
The pairing with Galactus from the beginning also set the stage for how there are bigger things at play that Cates will be developing over the course of his run. Even with how powerful Thor is shown to be when taking on Galactus and Black Winter we are ending 2021 wondering if he can survive what is to come. The future vision that Thor has been vague about fully detailing to Silver Surfer and Beta Ray Bill has created greater intrigue into what Black Winter showed the God of Thunder means.
Both Nic Klein and Aaron Kuder have further elevated the big event feel to Cates story with wonderful artwork. Klein makes every action taken by Thor, Galactus and other characters have the maximum impact. Whether it is on a physical or emotional level, everything Klein draws hits hard. For his arc about the current status of Thor’s hammer, Kuder does a good job switching the tone to be more fun without losing the major implications of the story.
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