With 2020 about to wrap up it is time to look back at the year we’ve had in the comic book world. To kick off the celebration of 2020’s comic books we are starting out with the single issues that stood out most this year. There were a lot of great comic books that stood out and could easily lay claim to be added to this list. But I’ve made the difficult decision of choosing the ten single issues that released in 2020 that stood out most as my favorites. As with previous years there this Best Of 2020 list is done in alphabetical order. All of these comics stood out from the releases in 2020 as must reads.
CAPTAIN MARVEL #17
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Francesco Manna
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Some of the most fun comic books are the ones that simply have a group of superheroes having fun with each other. That is exactly why Captain Marvel #17. Kelly Thompson took the concept of another poker night between members of the Avengers and X-Men and just let magic happen. With how many big events all these characters were involved it was just cool to see Carol lead her friends in having a night that was about having fun.
Adding in Ms. Marvel as the newbie to this Marvel superhero tradition added to the fun dynamic Captain Marvel shares with all the heroes that are in this issue. Given the way they are closely tied with each other it was fun to see how Captain Marvel looked out for Ms. Marvel so she felt included with the older heroes. Its not something that we see often and Thompson showed that there is a lot of untapped potential with Carol and Kamala’s relationship.
Everything that happens in Captain Marvel #17 is capped off well with the final page with how our heroes decide to end the night. I won’t spoil it here but let’s just say Captain America is involved in his own unique way.
Full Review: Captain Marvel #17
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Mattia Iacono
When it comes to Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil any issue that he wrote in 2020 could make it on this list. But the issue of Daredevil that stood out most in 2020 is Daredevil #20. With how long Matt Murdock has battled with himself about it being right or wrong for him to return to being the Man Without Fear. While Matt certainly has his own life as a lawyer being Daredevil is who he is. No matter how much time he gives himself to figure things out he will always return to being Daredevil. The Man Without Fear is who he is. And Daredevil #20 pays that off in spectacular manner.
Having the backdrop of Hell’s Kitchen becoming a warzone that no one outside this district of New York City knew was going on added to how big Matt’s return as Daredevil was. With the likes of Bullseye, Rhino, and Crossbones terrorizing Hell’s Kitchen, Matt needed to return to being the one-man army he is. Which is what we see him become once again as he uses all his skills to overcome the odds.
The way Wilson Fisk factored into the climax of this story was a surprising twist that furthered how bad things were getting in Hell’s Kitchen. The fact that we get the visual of Daredevil and Wilson Fisk standing back-to-back is not something you expect. But with what was going on this was the only thing that could happen even though the animosity between them still existed.
Zdarsky’s story was wonderfully brought to life by Marco Checchetto, who is building a legendary portfolio with his work on Daredevil. The chaos in Hell’s Kitchen jumps off the page. Checchetto elevated the level of concern you feel as a reader with how he uses the citizens of Hell’s Kitchen to show how bad things were getting. It all added to how Daredevil had to constantly be moving and on guard in order to protect everyone in Hell’s Kitchen while figuring out how to defeat some of Marvel’s most deadly villains.
Full Review: Daredevil #20
DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL – THE LAST STORIES OF THE DC UNIVERSE
Writers: Joshua Williamson, James Tynion IV, Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire, Mariko Tamaki, Gail Simone, Christopher Sebela, Cecil Castellucci, and Mark Waid
Artists: Travis Moore, Rafael Albuquerque, Daniel Sampere, Meghan Hetrick, Christopher Mooneyham, Mirka Andolfo, and Francis Manipul
Colorists: Tamra Bonvillain, Ivan Plascencia, Adriano Lucas, Marissa Louise, Enrica Eren Angiolini, and Andrew Dalhouse
It’s easy to forget how long we have been with this current DC Universe continuity but it has been almost a decade since everything was reset with New 52. While DC Rebirth brought many elements back from the previous DCU continuity the core of what we have been reading from DC Comics since 2011 is based on the New 52. From all the positive and negative memories of stories that have taken place in the last decade they all came rushing into my head while I read Dark Nights: Death Metal The Last Stories Of The DC Universe one-shot.
Having all these memories of the last decade of the DC Universe be brought back into mind is where all the incredibly talented writers and artists that worked on The Last Stories Of The DC Universe deserve a lot of credit for tapping into. Each story in this anthology built on one another to provide a goodbye to a DC Universe that I’ve spent a decade of my life reading stories about. I was honestly not prepared to be as emotional as I got the further got into The Last Stories Of The DC Universe. It really hit home that Dark Nights: Death Metal is marking an end to this chapter in DC Comics history.
The obvious standout story in The Last Stories Of The DC Universe was the “Together” story that both started and ended this one-shot. The reason this stuck out so much for me was the confrontation with Donna Troy and Wally West. With everything both characters have been through, particularly Wally, in this DCU continuity their final conversation was needed. The last words from Donna to Wally were particularly powerful as it was not only what Wally needed to hear, it was selfishly what I wanted to hear as a Wally West fan. While it does not undo what has happened it was good that in the end we got this moment between Donna and Wally.
That was just one of a one-shot filled with great final moments between different characters. The stories involving Nightwing and Batgirl, Green Arrow and Black Canary, and Superman all had specific reasons for me as a fan as to why I will remember them. It all speaks to the incredible talent involve that The Last Stories Of The DC Universe would invoke all those feelings in me. So I cannot thank everyone involved in this one-shot enough.
Full Review: Dark Nights: Death Metal – The Last Stories Of The DC Universe
DCEASED: HOPE AT WORLD’S END CHAPTER 3
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist: Rex Lokus
For as dark as things have gotten in the DCeased Universe it is also a place where a lot of fantastic character focused moments have occurred. DCeased: Hope At World’s End Chapter 3 is a strong example of this as Tom Taylor and Carmine Di Giandomenico spotlight the Flash Family in this issue. The sense of escalation as Wally West, Bart Allen, Jesse Quick, and Max Mercury pushed their Speed Force powers to their limits to save as many people as possible was a spectacle.
Through that Speed Force spectacle we got treated to an great example of the history that exists within the Flash Family. Taylor and Giandomenico played into all the relationships within the Flash Family to make the reader feel connected to the four Speed Force users. Whether it was Wally West acting like the veteran Flash or Max Mercury mentoring Bart Allen in the past, every element of these characters was used.
Having this strong sense of these characters’ histories made the way it was used in the DCeased Universe setting work so well. You felt the race against time Wally, Bart, Jesse, and Max were in. That all culminated in a final page that was just an emotional punch to the gut.
Full Review: DCeased: Hope At World’s End Chapter 3
INJUSTICE: YEAR ZERO CHAPTER 8
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Cian Tormey
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Over the years the relationship between Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy has been brought further into the spotlight. That has led to their relationship having be a big part of the recent Harley Quinn cartoon. And in the comics we see their relationship be paid off in a big way in Injustice: Year Zero Chapter 8.
This comic book does a great job showing how much Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy care about one another. The way Poison Ivy confronts Joker over what he has done to Harley Quinn was a fantastic character moment. That set the stage for how Injustice: Year Zero Chapter 8 finally gave us the wedding of Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy that has been building up for so long. The joy they both have in those final pages really worked well to make this comic book be one of the more memorable comics of the year.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Matteo Lolli
Colorist: Edgar Delgado
X Of Swords was an X-Men crossover that had its fair share of ups and downs. There have been no higher heights that the crossover reached than the events that took place in Marauders #13. A spotlight issue on Storm’s journey to obtain her sword as one of Krakoa’s Champions turned into an examination of her history with Wakanda. Vita Ayala went all in on re-establishing the fact that there was a time when T’Challa and Ororo Munroe were married and ruled Wakanda together.
That sense of history in Marauders #13 really helped it stand out as Ayala opens the door to how connected the X-Men have been with the rest of the Marvel Universe over the years. The respect that Storm commands and that she has for Queen Ramonda and Shuri was well used. Every word that each character speaks gets over how deep of a connection that Storm still has in Wakanda even though she hasn’t been part of the country in a long time.
All of that made the actions that Storm had to do not only be badass but speaks to how she understands the bigger picture. Even as her claim to the Skybreaker sword put her at odds with T’Challa, Shuri, and Ramonda it was something that Storm knew she needed to do. The way it was all handled both spotlighted why Storm is such a fantastic character and built what could be a bigger storyline down the road between Krakoa and Wakanda.
Matteo Lolli did a fantastic job bringing Ayala’s Storm story to life. The way it was decided how Storm’s classic white costume and her current black and yellow costume were used was awesome. It added to how we saw different aspects of Storm’s character be brought out in Marauders #13.
Full Review: Marauders #13
POWER RANGERS: RANGER SLAYER #1
Writer: Ryan Parrott
Artist: Dan Mora
Colorist: Raul Angulo
Since being introduced there has not been a character that has gone through more change in the Power Ranger franchise than the Coinless Universe version of Kimberly Hart. From being Drakkon’s right hand as the Ranger Slayer to helping the current Mighty Morphin Power Rangers save the multiverse, Kimberly has been through it all. Given all of that you would think that when Kimberly returned to the Coinless Universe she would have a bigger welcome back as she was no longer under Drakkon’s control.
But that was not to be as shown by the Ranger Slayer #1. Ryan Parrott continued Kimberly’s arc as Ranger Slayer by having her face all the consequences that came from her time serving Drakkon. Because unlike us or the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team from the Prime Power Rangers Universe everyone in he Coinless Universe only remembers the evil actions Kimberly did as the Ranger Slayer. Parrott shows that can’t be forgotten simply because Kimberly tells everyone she is back in control of herself.
Exploring the weight of all the actions Kimberly has done, both good and bad, gave the Ranger Slayer version of the character a much deeper arc. From how all her interactions with friends and enemies went to the final decision she makes that impacts the entire Coinless Universe, all of the character’s history was properly used to tell a full story in this Ranger Slayer one-shot.
The story in Ranger Slayer #1 is beautifully brought to life by Dan Mora. If you want an example of the great artwork you should expect to see in both Future State: Dark Detective and Detective Comics #1034 just pick up Ranger Slayer #1. Mora name is just going to be even more well known as one of the best comic book artists around. The way he draws both character focused moments and action heavy scenes is just phenomenal, as Ranger Slayer #1 showed.
SUPERMAN: MAN OF TOMORROW #17
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: V Ken Marion
Colorist: Emilio Lopez
When it comes to my favorite Superman stories they are usually the ones that focus more on the person rather than the superhero that the Man of Steel is. Superman: Man Of Tomorrow #17 is a perfect example of why as we see Superman save the day because of how his able to empathize with others. Stephanie Phillips does such a fantastic job showing what makes Superman such an enduring superhero who is the benchmark is because of how he connects with the world around him. Having been raised by parents who were able to instill in him strong core values around caring for those around him make Clark Kent the superhero he is as Superman.
Because of how Superman is able to use his empathy to resolve things we are able to better sympathize with why this guy who is the antagonist of the story. Superman recognized that the best way to resolve things is to talk to the guy as a person. This entire story in Superman: Man Of Tomorrow #17 is a strong example of how a memorable story can be told within a single issue that leave a strong impact on the reader.
Full Review: Superman: Man Of Tomorrow #17
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE LAST RONIN #1
Story Writers: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, and Tom Waltz
Script Writers: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Artist: Kevin Eastman, Esau, Isaac Escorza,and Ben Bishop
Colorists: Samuel Planta and Luis Antonio Delgado
When it comes to debut issues there is no better example of how to kick off a big story than The Last Ronin #1. This single issue was everything that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fans want from the franchise. From the opening to the final page The Last Ronin #1 is an issue that is pure hype as we see the surviving TMNT Turtle go on a final suicide mission against The Foot, who at this time have full control of New York City. The way the action escalates is just fantastic as the Ronin Turtle makes his way through the city.
The way the entire story in The Last Ronin #1 is told does come across as if we are reading the final Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story. Having both original TMNT creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird reuniting for this project and working with Tom Waltz, who has had phenomenal run on IDW’s TMNT comic, just added to how special this comic book is. There are a lot of classic elements from Eastman and Laird’s original run on the Mirage comics and Waltz’s work in the IDW comics that all help The Last Ronin #1 find a way to stand on its own. I won’t spoil everything about this first issue but I will say the revelations of who the surviving Turtle is adds to the how impactful the story becomes when reading it again with that context.
Kevin Eastman also does a great job working with an art crew made up of Esau, Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Samuel Planta, and Luis Antonio Delgado to deliver a phenomenal looking issue. The artwork throughout The Last Ronin #1 blends the classic black and white art style from the original Mirage Studios comic with the more contemporary art style. It made the entire issue pop as the action continued to escalate the further we got into the story.
Full Review: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #1
THE OTHER HISTORY OF THE DC UNIVERSE #1
Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli and Andrea Cucchi
Colorist: Jose Villarrubia
The Other History Of The DC Universe #1 is one of the best comic books DC Comics has published. Telling the story through Black Lightning’s eyes as Jefferson Pierce witnesses the birth of the hero age with the arrival of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and other heroes to himself becoming a superhero this entire issue is top notch. We get fantastic insight at how Jefferson views everything that takes place between 1972 to 1995 as he not only witnesses but becomes part of how the DC Universe evolves over time.
One of the pages that stood out most from The Other History Of The DC Universe was Jefferson’s reaction to John Stewart replacing Hal Jordan as Green Lantern. John Ridley takes the time to show how that event impacts Jefferson’s life and leads to many things that go on. That includes how Jefferson as Black Lightning views what the Outsiders represent in comparison to other superhero teams like the Justice League.
In the middle of all that we see how the choices that Jefferson makes throughout his life impacts his world view. From being a Olympic gold medalist to how his community is impact by different civil movements going on, Jefferson is someone who is shaped by all these events that go on around him. It all gives greater insight into not only what motivates Jefferson to become Black Lightning but how he understands how it is more than just a superhero name.
Adding to how special The Other History Of The DC Universe #1 is how John Ridley, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and Jose Villarrubia used the unique oversized format DC Comics uses for their Black Label publishing line. They make full use of the format to present a layout for how the story is told that is unique to this comic book. The layout for both the dialogue and artwork makes you feel like you are ready something special that you won’t find in any other comic book. It all makes me more excited to see how this format will be used to tell the stories of the characters in the future issues of The Other History Of The DC Universe.
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