Despite the paper issues that popped up later in the year, 2021 was a great year to be a comic book reader. Especially if you love indies — if you aren’t reading them, hopefully the GWW’s Best Comic Books of 2021 list illustrates just how much you’re missing out. The one rule given to this list’s contributors: the first issue of your selected series had to be released in 2021.
Here are the GWW comic book reviewers’ top comics of 2021:
Best not to begin this entry with the claim that this is all you could “wish” for in a comic. Not when you’re talking about a comic that deals with the concept of wishes gone wrong. From Blackbox Comics, the team of Jay Sandlin and Fabrizio Consentino have created a mystical marvel, set in a reality where magic is governed by a powerful council if Djinn. A member of the council, Abyss, betrays the others and begins to grant wishes against the rules of the other council members. This leads to the decision to release an imprisoned magehoud, one with the ability to hunt down wayward and haphazard wishes and magic. Introducing the world to Mara the magehoud this series combine action and emotion, presented with dazzling art designs and dialogue, as this powerful warrior attempts to bring order back to the realm. — B Ferg
The Many Deaths of Laila Starr
Ram V is one of the best in the business. Filipe Andrade is beyond magical. The Many Deaths of Laila Starr is my favorite Comic Series of 2021. It’s a transcendent comic book story that breathes life into death. Through the eyes of Death, we see how life begins. We see ourselves in the magical way spirits and humans coexist. It’s a complicated tale but one that through the medium of comics is told beautifully. Filipe Andrade’s art is sublime and often understated. Care and thoughtfulness was taken in creating this series. A series that is ironic and hopeful. All in the face of Death. No other comics this year comes close to the storytelling or the art. — Emmet Davis
I Am Not Starfire
The best comic that was released in 2021 was the original graphic novel I Am Not Starfire by writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Yoshi Yoshitani. The series focuses on Starfires daughter Mandy and her struggles with insecurities and living up to expectations.
What made this my selection for the best comic was how it showcased how difficult the life of having a superhero parent could be. Joining Mandy as she traverses complicated high school dynamics, sexuality, and an absent parent. The balance taken to address those serious themes shows the tender and nurturing approach taken to the story.
Everything works well, including the cameos and implied suggestions that Nightwing is Mandy’s father. I Am Not Starfire is the perfect balance of humor, personal struggle, and relatable experience that is enjoyable and thought-provoking. That is why it is my choice for the best comic of 2021. — Brian Villar
The Me You Love in the Dark
For my top series of the year, I’m going with The Me You Love in the Dark. Every single issue felt so atmospheric, so disturbing but in a classic enchanting sort of way. The characters and the artwork set that tone so perfectly. It felt so animated and stylized, but with such rich and immersive coloring equally making it so full of life, looking smooth and calm but with so much detail in every scene. I was constantly enthralled by the emotive atmosphere created. The dark blues felt so cold, distant and lonely, making you really feel for Ro. Then the oranges felt that much more emotive, you can practically feel the fire as it overtakes and drowns out the deep blue. Just simply incredible. One of the best series of the year, absolutely check out the trade when it comes out! — Joe Loves Comics
Harley Quinn: The Animated Series Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour
Out of all the series that started January 2021 or later, it’s no contest for me that Harley Quinn: The Animated Series: Eat. Bang! Kill. Tour is my favorite series of the year. Yes, I am a fan of the animated series, and I was initially worried that this book would not be like the show at all. However, this book not only perfectly matches with the show, but in many ways it’s BETTER! The entire team does an amazing job capturing, in both words and visuals, this chaotic world. It’s one of the funniest series I’ve read all year, and each time a new issue was released, it was my top book of that week without fail! I can’t say this enough: pick this line up. You will not regret it! — friendlynbhdbi
The Plot Holes
It was very difficult to pin down one book for this list. King Spawn has been amazing and finishes at No. 2 on my list. Shadecraft and Lucky Devil both came out of nowhere and blew me away. Only two issues of both Gunslinger Spawn and Nita Hawes’ Nightmare Blog have been released, but those have been immensely promising. And Scott Snyder came out guns blazing with his first three ComiXology titles.
But I ultimately landed on a book that, to this point, has only been made available to those who backed the Indiegogo campaign (and only in digital form at this stage). My favorite book published in 2021 was Sean Murphy’s The Plot Holes. Murphy is one of my favorite comic book creators, and there’s always something special about a story that’s written and drawn by the same person. This five-issue series is what comics are all about — a cast of questionable characters with diverse backgrounds is brought together for a bizarre task. There’s comedy. There’s action. And there’s just the right amount of meta.
This was one of the many books impacted by the printing issues this year. If there’s a plan to print this through a publisher after backers get hard copies, you’ll have to wait a while longer for that update. (While you’re waiting for that, catch up on the other books I mentioned above.) — Nick Friar
Enjoy the GWW’s Best Comic Books of 2021 list and want more comic book content? Go check out the latest episode of Geeks WorldWide Radio‘s TLDR podcast, where Joseph Gilmore and Nick Friar discuss comics weekly and talk to creators from the industry — available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify!