This year was filled to the brim with incredible superhero comics, from the classic to the experimental, the horrific to the hilarious. With plenty of major pop cultural touchstones to tie into and spring off from, Marvel and DC brought their absolute A-game to the mix with new and continuing ongoing series and limited runs that managed to encapsulate everything we love in cape-and-cowl stories.
With books that elevated the relatively obscure status of characters like Mister Miracle to the already classic likes of heroes like Captain America and the Justice League, this year was a veritable smorgasbord of stories for both genre newcomers and dyed-in-the-wool True Believers. If you just walked out of a theater after falling in love with Tom Hardy’s quirky Eddie Brock? We’ve got a title for you. If you’ve been a lapsed X-Men lifer trying to get back in the game? There’s a book for you, too. Just want to jump into some good old fashioned action or horror? That angle’s covered, too, don’t you worry.
Of course, these are only ten of the dozens and dozens superhero books that released or persisted through 2018–did your personal favorite make the cut? Let us know what your picks are for best superhero title of the year in the comments below, and keep checking back here at GameSpot for the rest of our year’s end coverage, from movies to tv and beyond.
Other Best Of lists to check out from 2018:
10. The Life of Captain Marvel
It may seem like low hanging fruit to give Carol Danvers her very own stand alone miniseries right on the even of her big screen debut, but Margaret Stohl and Carlos Pacheco’s The Life of Captain Marvel managed to go for anything but the obvious. Half an effort to give new readers an easy introduction to one of Marvel’s most popular–and most complicated–female heroes, half a complete reevaluation of Carol’s origin story from the ground up, The Life of Captain Marvel succeeded on every level for both Captain Marvel newcomers and veterans alike. If you’re excited to meet Carol for the first time on the big screen, this is one of your very best options as both a starting point and a springboard for the larger Captain Marvel mythology.
9. Immortal Hulk
On the surface and especially for fans who know the character exclusively through the MCU, it may seem like the Hulk isn’t all that complex a guy–he’s Bruce Banner sometimes, he smashes other times, he’s the strongest there is,and not much else to it, right? Wrong. According to Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s Immortal Hulk, there’s a lot more lurking just below the surface of Marvel’s not-so-jolly green giant, and it’s anything but campy and fun. Returning in the most literal sense to Hulk’s 60s roots of existential horror, Immortal Hulk posits that there’s a much, much darker side lurking just beneath the surface of Bruce Banner’s radioactive curse–and it’s delightfully creepy and deliciously ominous every step of the way.
8. West Coast Avengers
You’ve probably heard of the Avengers–you may have even heard of the West Coast variation on the team, but you’ve definitely never seen them quite like this. A team comprised of a perfect mix of classics Clint Barton, Kate Bishop, America Chavez and wildcards like Quentin Quire and Gwenpool, Kelly Fitzpatrick and Stefano Caselli have managed to perfect the perfect balance of hilarious character moments and over-the-top superheroic stakes–and it’s only just begun. With a gorgeous, vibrant look and the tone and punchlines perfect for off setting some of the denser, more die corners of the Marvel universe, West Coast Avengers is an absolute delight.
7. Justice League
Long-time Batman writer Scott Snyder left Gotham this year, and brought fan-favorite artist Jorge Jimenez with him as they took over the DCU’s heavy hitting core team, the Justice League. Spiraling out of the equally impressive, universe-shattering Dark Knights: Metal, Snyder and Jimenez’s Justice League has gone for broke from issue one, and shows absolutely no intention of slowing down. Weaving in cosmic catastrophes with offbeat humor and charmingly quirky gags (seriously, Starro is a baby kept in a jar, nicknamed ‘Jarro’–it’s a whole thing), the Justice League finally feels like the heart and soul of the DC Universe again, after a long post-Flashpoint absence from the limelight. What’s more, the book has also introduced the Legion of Doom–yes, the team from those vintage Saturday morning cartoons–into the mainline DCU for the first time ever, in case you needed any more reason to give this book a shot.
Everyone’s favorite pile of symbiotic alien goo has actually had a pretty great year, all things considered. Not only did Venom get his very own movie–which, despite some less than stellar reviews wound up being a major success–he also got a brand new ongoing comics series by Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman. The book, which focuses on Venom’s original host, Eddie Brock–who’s been sitting on the sidelines for a while–has done some serious legwork in updating and expanding Marvel’s symbiote mythology and fleshing out the weird and wonderful connection between Venom and Eddie himself. It’s horrific, over the top, and just a little romantic–everything a great Venom story should be.
5. Superman/Action Comics
The news that long time Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis was making the jump to DC last year sent major shockwaves out through the comics community, rivaled only by the announcement that he’d be taking over both Superman and Action Comics moving forward as part of his new contract. Having only dabbled in the DC Universe briefly, fans were anxious to see what Bendis would bring to the table with Big Blue–and were not disappointed by the results. Together with his co-creators Ryan Sook and Ivan Reis, Bendis has ushered in a new era of Superman titles for the Rebirth DCU, diving deep into Clark Kent’s multifaceted history, personal life, and family while providing plenty of classic cape-and-cowl goodness.
4. Rogue & Gambit
There’s nothing quite like a genre fusion, especially when those genres are superhero, romcom, and spy comedy. Kelly Thompson and Pere Perez took everyone’s favorite on-again-off-again mutant couple of, well, Rogue and Gambit (surprise!) and tossed them into a hilarious and heartfelt caper involving some tried and true tropes: couples retreats, messy break ups, misunderstandings, you name it. Rogue & Gambit managed to strike the perfect balance of sweet and spicy while playing to the duo’s strengths and providing laugh out loud gags, all in service of setting up one of the major X-developments of the year: Remy and Rogue’s eventual marriage (and subsequent spin-off) Mr. & Mrs. X. Clocking in at an easily bingable five issues, Rogue & Gambit is the perfect way for returning fans to jump back into the X-Men side of the Marvel Universe, or for new fans to get their foot in the door with a book that’s as approachable as it is charming.
3. Mister Miracle
On the slightly heavier end of the spectrum, Tom King and Mitch Gerads’ Mister Miracle brought twelve issues of philosophical and existential dread to the DC Universe. Diving deep into the dense, cosmic world of comics legend Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga, Mister Miracle examined the life and times Scott Free, a superhuman escape artist and god from the otherworldly dimension called New Genesis and his wife, Big Barda, a god from the hell-adjacent realm of Apokolips as they split their time between the endless war waging on their home planets and their mundane day-to-day lives in Los Angeles. Told almost exclusively in nine panel grids, Mister Miracle managed to be poignant, poetic, and surprisingly hopeful, shining a worthy and well deserved spotlight on corners of the DCU that have long since been ignored by the mainstream.
Writer Tom King has been on a roll with the mainline Batman title since the dawn of DC’s Rebirth era in 2016, and this year just continued the trend. From the (eventually ill-fated) marriage proposal of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle to Bruce’s subsequent emotional breakdown, 2018 in Batman has become a slow burning conflict with Bane complete with the looming threat of an even more dangerous puppet master lurking just out of sight. Bolstered by King’s trademark prose and his roster of all-star collaborators like Mikel Janin, Joelle Jones, and Clay Mann, Batman has become as much a superhero comic as it is an art piece, digging deep into the fractured and disparate pieces of the Dark Knight in ways that make it feel as classic as it does fresh. We’re half way through King’s planned 100+ issue run on the character, and things are showing absolutely no sign of slowing down.
1. Captain America
2017 was a bit of a controversial year for Captain America on the comics front, after the Secret Empire event rewrote a substantial amount of his history and ignited a global war, he was left in something of a lurch with little direction and a time travel follow up story that seemed to only take him further off course. Thankfully, 2018 saw a massive return to form with a creative team switch up and a new #1. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu have taken Steve Rogers down a path that has forced him to confront both the fallout of Secret Empire and the nature of his own identity in the climate of America today, making for what is sure to be a Cap run for the ages. Gorgeous, expansive, and unafraid to pick at the edges of Steve’s more dubious symbolism, Coates and Yu’s Captain America is our favorite superhero comic of 2018.