15. Darth Vader

There have been a lot of good Star Wars comics. There have been great ones. Marvel's “Darth Vader” is one of the best. For 25 issues, Kieron  Gillen and Salvador Larroca delved into Anakin Skywalker's latter-day life and revealing details and humanizing the Sith Lord while never robbing him of his intensity. Through his adventures, he was joined by archeologist Doctor Aphra, and the killer droids, 0-0-0 and BT-1, dark twists on C-3P0 and R2-D2. The trio added a lot of flavor to the book  and gave Darth Vader a crew for his private missions. Gillen has spun them off into Doctor Aphra's new title, allowing readers to further enjoy these great additions.

14. Divinity II

As Valiant's revivals of their original properties continue their high quality, the company has been expanding their scope with new concepts in titles as strong or even better than the established characters. The first series introduced us to a man-become-god, now we meet a woman with the same abilities, but a different worldview. Rather than succumbing to it merely becoming a high-octane face-off, the book explores psychology and remains as character-driven as the original, but with two gods to chronicle, the tension ramps up to give a superior sequel.

Negan has become the most nuanced and interesting that this series has ever seen. If you're reading, you know this. If you're waiting for the next trade, you're in for a treat. If you're watching the show, start writing in now for them to push through All Out War as fast as possible to get to the really good stuff.

12. Black Panther

Brian Stelfreeze's art continues to improve and the Wakandan juxtaposition of traditional and futuristic allows him a tremendous variety of subject and textures to explore with his remarkable linework. He was ably spelled by Chris Sprouse who maintained the artistic excellence on the title.

Ta-Nehisi Coates is killing it story-wise as well, as the crossover writer is adding great depth and nuance to T'Challa's already-rich history.

11. Deathstroke

Magic invades the real world as sisters Mae and Abbie, who have spent time and worlds apart, need to come together under the threat of otherworldly menaces. Fantasy portal fiction for a teen-and-up crowd, readers are treated to realistic family dynamics, a compelling story and fantastic art as Gene Ha moves from artist to solo creator. He proves to be quite apt in both plotting and dialogue delivering an engrossing story supported by his always-impressive illustrations.

13. The Walking Dead

Priest took a sabbatical from comics for, among other reasons, being typecast as "the black guy who writes black heroes" after his landmark run on the Marvel Knights Black Panther series.

DC offered him Deathstroke, and he became interested in the prospect writing the villain and exploring Slade Wilson's twisted family dynamic. Once again, Priest has reminded readers that the truly talented creators can bring their best to any character given the opportunity.

10. Mae

8. Ghosts

9. Betty & Veronica

Adam Hughes launched this book under the modern Archie, and with the flexibility of the current regime, has produced a title that is the most genuinely funny of the current offerings. Playing with Riverdale's small-town tropes, his own rep for good girl art and pop culture, Hughes weaves a highly entertaining narrative as Betty and Veronica battle over the future of Pop Tate's Chocklit Shoppe.

The art is beautiful--of course it is, it's Hughes--and it is great to see him return to interiors after spending so much of his career dedicated to producing covers and one-sheets.

This book blends all of Hanna-Barbera's adventure heroes into one dynamic, expansive world of adventure. Jeff Parker and Doc Shaner's work has a fantastic movie serial vibe as evidenced by last year's "Convergence: Shazam!" and joined by artists Steve Rude, Jordie Bellaire and Dave Lanphear; they are propelling Jonny Quest, Space Ghost, The Herculoids and more into a bold new era of adventure. The series features less reinvention the other Hanna-Barbera books, and it doesn't need it, the full toybox mash-up and the inherent strength of the characters gives this story the momentum it needs.

Raina Telgemeier is a torchbearer of a new era of comics. She outsells everything on the market because her stuff really is that good. If you haven't tried her work, it holds its own with the best of Young Adult literature. Here, two sisters move with their parents to Northern California in hopes that the climate will benefit the younger's cystic fibrosis. What unfolds is growing up mixed with family, legacy and ghosts all built around Dia de Los Muertas, and in stepping away from the autobiographical stories which garnered her acclaim, Telgemeier proves as deft with fiction as realism.

ilbert and Jaime Hernandez have been two of the most consistent comic creators for over three decades. This year saw both the final volume in the annual editions, and the return to the original magazine format. Jaime has reunited the Hoppers cast is a manner and setting that is comfortable, occasionally uncomfortable, and appropriately fun without being pandering. Beto continues to explore Fritz and her imitators, mixing fun with continually uncovered layers giving new nuance to established characters.

7. Love and Rockets

6. Future Quest

5. Oddly Normal

The third volume of Otis Frampton's all-ages tale about a young half-witch learning to adapt to the fantastic world of Fignation after her parents' disappearance, saw Oddly go through one of her darkest moments. The series improves with each installment, as Frampton's hones his narrative and stretches as an artist, capturing subtitles in moments big and small. It is a true joy to behold that swiftly draws you into Oddly's adventures through this weird world.

4. Batman (titles)

It is a bit of a cheat, but if only one was chosen, it would be a disservice. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's brought their run to a dramatic and poignant conclusion, and Snyder followed up alongside John Romita Jr on "All Star Batman." Tom King is delivering stories that expand the emotional depth of the character. James Tynion IV is reframing the Bat-family. Brian Azzarello and Frank Miller continue to weave a captivating chapter of "The Dark Knight," and while the series has fallen off schedule, the artistic improvements every issue make the wait more bearable. Miller, Azzarello and Romita's "The Last Crusade" filled in the backstory from "The Dark Knight Returns" that showed new nuance to Romita's pencils and is the strongest thing Miller has written in 15 years.

3. Paper Girls

Let's just get this out of the way. If you like “Stranger Things,” you will love “Paper Girls.” Almost every write-up of this series includes a variation of that quote, but more importantly, this comic is making just about every year-end list. Swap in an all-female core cast, and heavier sci-fi than horror, and this story captures the same zeitgeist as the popular Netflix series, as Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang deliver top shelf work.

2. Rolling Blackouts

Sarah Glidden traveled through Turkey, Syria, and Iraq in 2010 with friends of hers who are independent journalists, and this book chronicles that journey. Glidden shows debates, moral conflict, and the drive to deliver the stories of those affected by Middle East conflict. In a year where media of all forms, shapes, sizes and legitimacies has had the spotlight reflected back, this book tells the stories of those who share others' stories. The book is honest, sharing both objective and subjective asides to create a compelling piece of non-fiction.

1. Vision

 

The Vision decides he needs to continue on his journey to more fully understand humans, so he builds a family and moves to the suburbs. What follows is not what you expect, and by eschewing cliches, Tom King delivers a dark, compelling read. Gabriel Hernandez Walta delivers art that matches the intensity of the script, ultimately creating a tragic, dark, vulnerable work that will not only he heralded this year, but should earn its place as a landmark story for Marvel for years to come.