Neil's favourite Comic reads of 2018

2018 became the year that indie comics dominated my pull list. But much like 2017, my pull list took an enormous hit due to financial circumstances (we haven’t even had Brexit yet!). First to succumb were numerous Marvel titles. I have nothing against Marvel but I have fallen out of love with ongoings (if this is even still a thing) and tie-ins. Preferring today to settle down with a select batch of indies. 5 - 6 issue runs are perfect for me but this may also change in the near future. Currently deciding if next year I will move to trades. My only argument against is do I have the patience to wait when all around me are praising new stories.

That being said I do have an enormous backlog of digital trades to get through. Which in turn could lead to me reviewing trades that have been out for some time. Retro reviews are a distinct possibility for my future on Panel Patter.

Below you will find a brief but I hope interesting take on my favourite reads of 2018. Indie heavy but gives a pretty good view on what genres I am all about.

10. Venom

Written by Donny Cates
Artwork by Ryan Stegman, JP Mayer, Frank Martin
Published by Marvel Comics

Being a huge fan of Cates indie work I knew Venom/Eddie Brock was in safe hands. Creating a new origin for the symbiotes, Cates crafted a highly charged, moving and gripping story. One that saw Eddie and Venom's relationship brought closer than ever. Stunning detailed artwork by Ryan Stegman truly added to this book. One single page alone sees Venom standing above a bruised and battered Miles Morales (Yep, Miles has a brief yet excellent cameo), shows the pure horror in Miles' eye. It's the tiniest of details but it really sets the scene. Easily one of the best Marvel books out this year.

9. Bone Parish
Written by Cullen Bunn
Artwork by Jonas Scharf, Alex Guimaraes
Published by BOOM! Studios

Cullen Bunn is one of my all-time favourite horror comic writers. Throw that guy any horror genre and he will give you a story that is unlike anything you've read before. Bone Parish is no different and follows the Winters family as they bring a new illegal drug to the market. A drug that allows users to relive the life of someone who has died. How this drug is created could only have come from the mind of Bunn. Family drama, drug lords, corrupt cops, Bone Parish has it all.

8. Abbott
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Artwork by Sami Kivela, Jason Wordie
Published by BOOM! Studios

On seeing fellow Panel Patterer Kirk share the above cover in a tweet full of praise for Saladin Ahmed's book, I had to pick this up. Thankfully I waited for the trade on this one and it read so well from cover to cover. While investigating cases of police corruption and brutality, journalist Elena Abbott stumbles across a supernatural society that is powered by the city's elite. Giving off a huge retro 70's noir vibe, that shows the horrid state of racism and sexism during those days (which sadly is still with us today), Ahmed writes a story that is part mythical fantasy, part historical fiction. Sami Kivela's art is full of vivid inks and colours which adds depth to the "dark" noir feel of the book.

Bitter Root
Written by David F. Walker, Chuck Brown
Artwork by Sandford Greene, Rico Renzi
Published by Image Comics

Bitter Root is one of a few books in my picks that released towards the latter half of the year. Only two issues in but incredibly unique. Monster Hunting may not be a new thing within comics, but when set during the Harlem Renaissance with a metaphor about racism and how racist beliefs turn people into monsters, then YES you have a unique book. You can tell from the off that Walker, Brown and Greene are incredibly passionate about this story and especially when it is set. Fantastic characters, witty, action-packed, huge attention to detail and some beautiful nods to Kirby style monsters.

6. Friendo
Written by Alex Paknadel Artwork by Martin Simmonds, Dee Cunniffe
Published by Vault Comics

This is where the Vault love-in begins. The first of four Vault releases in my top ten reads of the year.

Friendo is a cautionary tale of what could happen to society if we spend too much time on social media, or obsessing over the latest technology. Set within the not too distant future of Los Angeles, Friendo follows Leo, in his pursuit of fame and fortune. Gifted by his girlfriend with what can only be described as a terrifying version of Google Glass (which I can see happening!), Leo is soon confronted by his own personalized marketing avatar Jerry. Is Jerry here to help or to add to the madness that is the near future?

Paknadel's story is chilling but at the same time a wonderful critique of our societies obsession with technology and consumerism.

5. Wasted Space
Written by Michael Moreci
Artwork by Haydan Sherman, Jason Wordie
Published by Vault Comics

On completing the first issue of Wasted Space I was somewhat surprised because I didn't enjoy it. This didn't seem right to me as I have always been a fan of Moreci's work. It dropped from my pull list but was not forgotten as my Twitter feed kept informing I was missing out. With the trade being released in October I bit the bullet and got myself a copy. Holy crap was I wrong. Wasted Space in trade is a pure delight. Billy Bane the once voice of The Creator is on the run from everything and everyone. After once being the voice that everyone listened to, Billy is now one of the most hated people in the galaxy. With political wranglings and a narrative that could be set in this day and age, Wasted Space is a refreshing take on a futuristic story.

Sexy space opera at it's best and with added Fuqbots.

4. Fearscape
Written by Ryan O'Sullivan
Artwork by Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov
Published by Vault Comics

Don't think I ever expected to have a comic in my top five where the main protagonist is a complete arsehole. Henry Henry is a washed up, struggling writer who wants nothing more than the success he believes he deserves. And he will lie and cheat in his endeavours to achieve that success.

Ryan O'Sullivan has crafted one of the most intelligent and interesting fantasy stories of 2018. Allowing readers to have a love/hate relationship with the main character, while at the same time following him on his fantastical quest.

3. Death or Glory
Written by Rick Remender
Artwork by Bengal
Published by Image Comics

Rick Remender is a master when it comes to engaging stories, Tokyo Ghost, Seven to Eternity, Deadly Class and now Death or Glory.  Title character Glory is in need of money, money that will help fund the surgery her dying father figure needs urgently. Once her plan is in motion, things go from bad to worse and her list of foes grows from issue to issue. Crooked cops, human organ dealers, mexican cartels and drug kingpin ex-boyfriends, each one putting a major stumbling block into Glory's plan.

Bengal's art on Death or Glory is some of the best this year. Beautifully laid out car chase scenes that get the blood pumping and seriously over the top characters that you can't help but be invested in.

2. These Savage Shores
Written by Ram V
Artwork by Sumit Kumar, Vittorio Astone
Published by Vault Comics

This was a hard choice to put at number two. These Savage Shores would have probably been first if it wasn't only two issues in, but those two issues are spectacular both in writing and in art. The first issue alone has one of, if not thee standout uses of panels this year.

Vampire titles seem all the range currently but Ram V has created a refreshing take on that genre. Tapping into a mythology of faraway shores that most of us will have no prior knowledge and that excites me. Sumit Kumar's ink work and Vittoria Astone colours capture the mood of each setting like no other comic this year. From the blistering climes of India to the gloomy streets of 18th Century London. This comic is quite plainly beautiful.

1. Infidel
Written by Pornsak Pichetshote
Artwork by Aaron Campbell, Jose Villarrubia
Published by Image Comics

In my eyes, Pornsak Pichetshote's Infidel is the best original work of 2018. A modern-day haunted house story set within a New York apartment block, where a supernatural presence feeds off the racist/xenophobic feelings of its tennants. I really don't want to go into too much detail on this and would rather people just went out and picked this one up.

If like me you've never gotten a jump scare from a comic then pick up Infidel, it will have you cautiously turning the pages.

A few honourable mentions that only just missed my list, Evolution (Image Comics), Pumpkinhead (Dynamite), The Black Order (Marvel Comics), Cold Spots (Image Comics).