The Best Movies of 2015

Hi. Here they are. According to me.

40. Hard To Be A God – Directed by Aleksei German

 

39. Crimson Peak – Directed by Guillermo Del Toro

38. Buzzard – Directed by Joel Potrykus

37. Creep – Directed by Patrick Kack-Brice

36. Everly – Directed by Joe Lynch

35. Nightingale – Directed by Elliott Lester

34. Mistress America – Directed by Noah Baumbach

33. Dope – Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

32. The Martian – Directed by Ridley Scott

31. Star Wars: Force Awakens – Directed by JJ Abrams

30. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation – Directed by Christopher McQuarrie

29. A Pigeon Sat On A Branch Reflecting On Existence – Directed by Roy Andersson

28. Predestination – Directed by Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig

27. Sicario – Directed by Denis Villeneuve

26. Tangerine – Directed by Sean Baker

25. While We’re Young – Directed by Noah Baumbach

24. Faults – Directed by Riley Stearn

23. White God – Directed by Kornél Mundruczó

22. Carol – Directed by Todd Haynes

21. Z For Zacharia – Directed by Craig Zobel

20. What We Do In The Shadows – Directed by Jemaine Clement & Taika Waititi

19. Duke Of Burgundy – Directed by Peter Strickland

18. The Revenant – Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

 

 

17. Creed – Directed by Ryan Coogler

16. Clouds Of Sils Maria – Directed by Olivier Assayas

15. Overnighters – Directed by Jesse Moss

14. Anomalisa – Directed by Charlie Kaufman

13. Green Room – Directed by Adam McKay

12. World Of Tomorrow – Directed by Don Hertzfeldt

11. Me & Earl & The Dying Girl – Directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

10. Slow West – Directed by John McLean

09. Inside Out – Directed by Peter Docter & Ronnie Del Carmen

08. The Big Short – Directed by Alex Garland

07. Victoria – Directed by Sebastian Schipper

06. Ex Machina – Directed by Alex Garland

05. The Similars – Directed by Isaac Ezban

04. ‘71 – Directed by Yann Demange

03. Hateful 8 – Directed by Quentin Tarantino

02. Lobster – Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

01. Mad Max: Fury Road – Directed by George Miller

 

Best non-superhero comics of all time: 2-10

Yikes. It took me over a year. Well over a year in fact. But I finally finished this project. Well, almost. You’ll see.

Any regrets? Like Sinatra, I’ve had a few. I wish i had put more older works in, and that the list hadn’t ended up being “The Best non-superhero comics of the last 30 years, with a few others added on”. I wish I had figured out how to get EC comics in the list, considering how many of them are among the greatest comics of the 20th Century (Other than just having one line item for all EC comics, which I didn’t think was fair either).

I wish more people had read this, considering how much work I put in. Can’t do much about that I guess. I was originally going to do a “Best superhero comics” list next, but so few people read this that I don’t think I’ll be doing that now.

Anyways, I still enjoyed the hell out of doing it. Let me know what you think of my list, and what you think I missed.

10. Everybody is Stupid Except For Me by Peter Bagge (2009, Fantagraphics)

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Purists will probably choose Hate as the best example of Bagge’s work. But I’ve chosen this collection of his work for the libertarian magazine Reason, because I think it showcases a seriousness that Bagge isn’t always given credit for. In Everybody, Bagge follows his subject matter wherever it takes him, despite the ideological bent of the magazine he’s working for. His exaggerated, hyper-kinetic art style belies the utter seriousness of the subject matter he’s tackling.

9. Clyde Fans by Seth (2000, Fantagraphics)

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Seth’s thick, brush-style cartooning is familiar to most serious Canadian comic aficionados, and nowhere does it get utilized more effectively than in Clyde Fans, arguably the best comic book about air conditioner manufacturing ever created.

8. Bone by Jeff Smith (1991, Scholastics)

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When I just want to unwind, have fun, and read comics just for the hell of it, Bone is always among my two or three top picks. Smith pays as much attention to character development as he does to his carefully laid out action sequences, which makes Bone basically the best Disney epic never made. Probably the best book to guarantee that your kid will love comics as much as you do.

7. From Hell by Alan Moore & Eddie Campbell (1989, Top Shelf)

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From Hell is Moore’s version of how the Jack The Ripper killings could have taken place. Unlike most Ripper stories, Moore’s version isn’t a whodunnit, it’s a whydunnit. Moore tells you within 20 pages who he thinks killed those women over a hundred years ago. He then spends the next 500 pages telling us why. And the why is absolutely bat-shit crazy. Or not, if you believe in the illuminati and love conspiracy theories and hate jewish people. Eddie Campbell is the MVP here, with his dense, claustrophobic cross-hatching being the perfect foil for Moore’s endless paragraphs of descriptive prose.

6. Asterios Polyp by David Mazzuchelli (2009, Pantheon)

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I was hesitant to place something so recent so high, and there’s no doubt that if Polyp was 20 years old it would have a fair shot at taking the top spot. But Polyp more than holds it’s own with the other books on this list, and was being considered a classic almost immediately upon publication. Mazzuchelli is as highly regarded in the mainstream superhero world as he is in the “indie” world, and Polyp very much feels like a master reclaiming his rightful place at the top of the heap, after years out of the spotlight. Very few comics showcase the storytelling potential of narrative art the way that this one does.

5. Palestine by Joe Sacco (1996, Fantagraphics)

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Joe Sacco didn’t create comics journalism, but with Palestine, he might as well have. Based on various visits to Palestine & Israel that Sacco took in the early 1990’s, it’s the documentation of the systematic destruction of a people, done in a time where such a viewpoint was not only unpopular, it was almost unheard of. Utterly polarizing to this day, Sacco’s work takes the 100 years worth of storytelling tools comic artists have taught themselves, and applies them to the most important story of all: The story of us.

4. Love & Rockets by Los Brothers Hernandez (1982, Fantagraphics)

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How do I sum up the plot of Love & Rockets?

Let’s see. It’s the story a group of people (mostly women, mostly Mexican), and….actually, that’s kind of it. Some of the comics are part of the Palomar storyline, which is the name of the fictional Latin American town that these stories are set, and some of them are part of the Locas storyline, focussing on Maggie & Hopey, two Mexican-American women whose destinies are often entwined. And some of the comics feature characters from both, and some of them are stand alone, and some of them are set in the future, and some of them have the characters dressed as superheroes, and so on. What Love & Rockets, is the single greatest arthouse movie ever done in comics form. To read these characters is to love them wholly, and to root for them whole heartedly.

3. Hellboy by Mike Mignola (1993, Dark Horse)

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Probably the entry I most fretted about. I added it to the list, and then took it off. Then added it again,  and so on. Not because of it’s quality, but because of it’s subject matter. The question: Is Hellboy a superhero book or not. The answer? Probably. It is at the beginning of it’s run, at least. However, relatively early on in morphed from a monster of the week narrative, into a vehicle for Mike Mignola to explore the mythology and fantastical stories that he loves. Though definitely more mainstream than many of the books here at the end of the list, Hellboy for me will always be the comic I read when I want to feel the pure joy that the medium of comics gives me like no other. It’s got everything; Action, pathos, and plenty of monsters, all by one of the most amazing artists that comics has ever known.

2. Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid On Earth by Chris Ware (2000, Pantheon)

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“The first formal masterpiece of the medium”. That’s how The New Yorker described Corrigan when it was first published, and they weren’t wrong. The shadow that Ware created with Corrigan has loomed over comic books ever since. Ware uses complex design, alternate storylines, and flashbacks, to create an intensely personal story that is extremely small in scope, yet threatens to overwhelm in effect. If you love comic books, but haven’t read Corrigan yet…I’d argue that you don’t actually love comic books.

Yet.

On a personal note, it’s also the first comic book that ever made me cry as an adult (Don’t worry Crisis on Infinite Earths #7, you still get the overall win).

What? No Number one?

Agh! Cliffhanger!

I’ll post my top pick in the next day or so, but feel free to tell me what you think it is, or what you think it should be.

The Best Non-Superhero comic books of all-time: 61-70

70. Kane by Paul Grist (Dancing Elephant Press, 1996)

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Not sure how this happened, but these 10 additions to my list seem packed with excellent crime comics like Kane. Paul Grist is woefully under appreciated on this side of the pond, but his work hits the sweet spot between mainstream & indie, and no artist outside of Mike Mignola uses shadow & lighting as effectively as he does.

69. Perry Bible Fellowship by Nicholas Gurewitch (Dark Horse, 2001)

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I don’t think anyone has ever crammed so much story into 3 panels as Nicolas Gurewitch. Each strip feels like just a 3 panel peak into a 350 page epic that we’re just getting a taste of. Quite possibly the funniest comic strip ever made.

68. Phonogram by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie (Image, 2006)

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It’s easy to label this as the best comic about music ever made, but in reality, it’s the best comic about passion ever made. Because that’s what Gillen is working with here: Love. Love of music, to be sure, but love nonetheless. Gillen & McKelvie have evolved into one of the strongest creative teams in the business right now.

67. Battlefields by Garth Ennis & various artists (Dynamite, 2008)

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Garth Ennis gets way more attention for works like Preacher, or more recently, Crossed. But Battlefields really showcases that combination of action & character that makes Ennis such an important writer, and tones down the dumb attempts at toilet humour that he seems convinced needs to be part of much of his work. War & Comics have always been a well matched pair, and Battlefields is one of the better recent examples of that.

66. Fell by Warren Ellis & Ben Templesmith (Image, 2005)

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While Ellis & Templesmith continue to be harassed as to when the next issue is coming out, I’m content with what we’ve got: 9 issues of detective comic weirdness. In some ways Fell is a great companion piece to Kane, at least tonally, though Templesmith’s moody collages couldn’t be more different than Grist’s cartoony expressionism.

65. Mister X by Dean Motter & various creators (Vortex, Dark Horse, 1983)

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Impossibly dense, impeccably stylish, and perfectly crafted, Mister X is a truly timeless comic book. Motter’s art deco illustration combined with his twisty noir approach to storytelling, make Mister X one of those rare comics that you can learn new things from, every time you revisit it. Motter drew inspiration from Bauhaus art & Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, and Mister X’s influence can be felt on everything from Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, to everything that was influenced by Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

64. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso (Vertigo, 1999)

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Yep, another crime comic. But 100 Bullets isn’t just any other crime comic. In fact, more than a few people consider this to be the best crime comic ever made. I’ll beg to differ, but there’s no arguing that Azzarello & Risso are a phenomenal creative team, who seem to produce their best work when creating together. 100 Bullets is one of the great epics of modern comics.

63. Petrograd by Phillip Gelatt & Tyler Crook (Oni Press, 2011)

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Historical fiction is an overly used genre in comics, but it’s usually used as an excuse to add fantastical elements to familiar stories (What if JRR Tolkien fought dragons? What if Napoleon was a zombie?). Petrograd resists that temptation, and grounds it’s speculation firmly in fact; Namely, the fact that British spys were in Russia at the time of Rasputin’s death during WW1, and may have been responsible for said death. Phillip Gelatt deftly plots this supposition to it’s logical conclusion, and Tyler Crook became a comics art superstar immediately upon publication due to his incredibly confident pencil work. A real gem.

62. The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (First Second, 2014)

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The only book on this list that hasn’t actually been released yet. I’m hesitant to talk about this one too much, but if this doesn’t end up being my favourite graphic novel of the year, I’m going to eat my hat.

61. The Creep by John Arcudi & Jonathan Case (Dark Horse, 2011)

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A modern noir classic, that didn’t get nearly enough attention when it came out a few years back. Our hero is Oxel Karnhus, a private detective with advanced Acromegaly. It’s a debilitating condition in which excess growth hormone causes sometimes deforming growth. Oxel’s college sweetheart calls him to help solve her son’s suicide, and so John Arcudi spins up 4 issues of some of the best noir ever put to page in modern comic books. Jonathan Case is a superstar in the making. I can’t recommend this one highly enough.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best Comic Books of 2013

I’m a filthy cheater. After years of doing massive comic book best of lists, I cheated. I’m doing one list, and one list only this year. BUT, I’m cramming so many titles into this list that it’s going to hopefully FEEL like I did numerous lists, and so you hopefully feel like you’re getting your money’s worth (Which considering you’re paying nothing to read this, isn’t going to amount to much). You’ll notice that I did a lot of ties this year, mostly when a writer is responsible for more than one great book in the same year.

Here you go.

40. The Massive by Brian Wood & Kristian Donaldson (Dark Horse)

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39. (Tie) Lose Vol. 5 by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

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39. (TIE) Very Casual by Michael DeForge (Koyama Press)

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38. (Tie) Change by Ales Kott & Morgan Jeske (Image)

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38. Zero by Ales Kott & various artists (Image)

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37. (Tie) Julio’s Day by Gilbert Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

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37. (Tie) Marble Season by Gilbert Hernandez (Drawn & Quarterly)

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AND

37. (Tie) Love & Rockets: The New Stories Vol. 06 by Los Brothers Hernandez (Fantagraphics)

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36. Unknown Origins & Untimely Ends edited by Emi Gennis (Hic & Hoc)

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35. Copra by Michael Fiffe (Independent)

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34. The Black Beetle: No Way Out by Francesco Francavilla (Dark Horse)

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33. (Tie) Sheltered by Ed Brisson & Johnnie Christmas (Image)

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33. (Tie) Comeback by Ed Brisson & Michael Walsh (Image)

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32. The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn & Brian Hurtt (Oni Press)

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31. March Book 1 by John Lewis, Andrew Aydkin, & Nate Powell (Top Shelf)

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30. 2000AD Edited by Tharg (Rebellion)

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29. The 8th Seal by James Tynion & Jeremy Rock (Thrillbent, web)

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28. Black Science by Rick Remender & Matteo Scalera (Image)

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27. Dark Horse Presents edited by Mike Richardson (Dark Horse)

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26. Demeter by Becky Cloonan (Independent)

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25. Fatale by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips (Image)

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24. Nemo: Heart Of Ice by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neil (Top Shelf)

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23. (Tie) Breath Of Bones:  A Tale Of The Golem by Steve Niles & Dave Wachter (Dark Horse)

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23. (Tie) Transfusion by Steve Niles & Menton (IDW)

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22. Six Gun Gorilla by Simon Spurrier & Jeff Stokely (Boom)

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21. (Tie) Daredevil: Dark Nights by Lee Weeks, David Lapham, Jimmy Palmiotti, & Thony Silas (Marvel)

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21. (Tie) Daredevil: End Of Days by Brian Bendis, David Mack, Klaus Janson, and Bill Sienkiwicz (Marvel) 

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20. (Tie) Fury: Max by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov (Marvel)

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AND 

20. (Tie) Battlefields: The Fall & Rise Of Anna Kharkova by Garth Ennis & Russ Braun (Dynamite)

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19. (Tie) Baltmore: Infernal Train by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, & Ben Stenbeck (Dark Horse)

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19. (Tie) BPRD: 1948 by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, & Max Fiumara (Dark Horse)

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19. (Tie) BPRD: Vampire by Mike Mignola, Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá (Dark Horse)

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19. (Tie) Sledgehammer 44 & Sledgehammer 44: Lighting War by Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, & Jason Latour (Dark Horse)

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18. (Tie) Red Handed: The Fine Art Of Strange Crimes by Matt Kindt (First Second)

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18. (Tie) Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)

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17. Boxers & Saints by Gene Yang (First Second)

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16. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (IDW)

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15. (Tie) Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra (Image)

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15. (Tie) East Of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta (Image)

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14. Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story by Peter Bagge (Drawn & Quarterly)

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13. Science Fiction by Joe Ollmann (Conundrum Press)

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12. Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1 by Ed Piskor (Fantagraphics)

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11. 47 Ronin by Mike Richardson & Stan Sakai (Dark Horse)

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10. Catalyst Comix by Joe Casey (Dark Horse)

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9. Daredevil by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee (Marvel)

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8. Trillium by Jeff Lemire (Vertigo)

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7. Double Barrel by Zander Cannon & Kevin Cannon (Top Shelf)

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6. Hellboy In Hell by Mike Mignola (Dark Horse)

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5. (Tie) Lazarus by by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark (Image)

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5. (Tie) Lady Sabre And The Pirates Of The Innaefable Aether by Greg Rucka and Rick Burchett (Web)

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4. (Tie) Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan & Marcos Martin (Independent, web)

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4. (Tie) Saga by Brian Vaughan & Fiona Staples (Image)

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3. (Tie) Multiple Warheads: Alphabet To Infinity by Brandon Graham (Image)

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3. (Tie) Walrus by Brandon Graham (PictureBox)

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3. (Tie) Prophet by Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, & Simon Roy, and others (Image)

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2. Battling Boy by Paul Pope (First Second)

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1. (Tie) Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja, & Annie Wu (Marvel)

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1. (Tie) Satellite Sam by Matt Fraction & Howard Chaykin (Image)

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1. (Tie)  Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (Image) 

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