10. Joe the Barbarian
It would maybe be a little higher on the list had it not dropped off the map like so many other forgotten series with terminal lateness. But regardless, Sean Murphy brought the artistic heat this Grant Morrison tale of a young boy's struggle with his own subconscious. Just to flip through the pages of one of these issues is to dip your eyeballs in wonder.
There's a lot less fantasy in comics than you'd think. But Skullkickers from Image, written by Jim Zubkavich and drawn by Edwin Huang is just that and more, with a modern sensibility to boot. A couple of adventurers make their way through a crazy barbaric land, and axe-wielding hijinks ensue. It's all good fun.
No one saw this coming from Brian Michael Bendis. It's a revolutionary tale of a character with her mind on some revolution of her own. With art by Alex Maleev, and a crazy fourth-wall breaking narration technique, you've got to give Bendis credit for stretching his creative muscles. Even now, it's not really clear where the story is going to go, but it's definitely creators pushing themselves, and entertaining at the same time.
7. Pale Horse
This western tale from BOOM! went largely unnoticed, but it combined the rough and violent world of the old west with the ugly racial politics of the post Civil War era, all the while mixing the events up in a good chunk of historical fiction. If gunslinging westerns and Civil War history, you need to check out this story from writer Michael Alan Nelson, and artist Christian Dibari.
6. Baltimore: The Plague Ships
Every issue of this post WWI vampire hunting adventure crawled with creepy and haunting dread. Lord Baltimore has been quite grizzled. His family is dead, and the vampires are all out to get him. He's down a limb or two, but he's not gonna let that stop him. From Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden, with moody and perfect art by Ben Stenbeck, this was one of the best best mini-series of the year.
Cops and crime in the post-flood city of New Orleans is what Sweets brings to the table. Written and drawn by Kody Chamberlain, this book was criminally underappreciated, and deserves as many eyeballs as we can throw at it. The word "authentic" springs to mind as you leaf through the pages, staring at depictions of a city that almost smell like the read Big Easy. Throw in a whodunnit and you've got a very interesting and unique series.
4. Orc Stain
It was hard to ignore the chants of Orc Stain fans this year. James Stokoe brought the orcish thunder to this one-of-a-kind book, with his unmistakable style and sense of humor. Maybe there haven't been enough phalluses cut off in your normal comics lately? Orc Stain has you covered. But to boil the whole thing down to that one unforgettable aspect would be a mistake. This is a comic book symphony.
3. Time Bomb
Time travel, a commando force, and Nazis getting killed should, by all rights, make for a great comic book. And they do! Writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray team up with artist Paul Gulacy to deal some extra fictional payback. With action, twists, turns and plenty of 'splosions, this is the sci-fi adventure you've been waiting for.
2. Mystery Society
I never knew I needed this book until it was gone. From Steve Niles with art by Fiona Staples, Mystery Society just nailed the perfect tone on all levels for a crazy romp, and the search for Edgar Allen Poe's skull, by one hell of a unique team of individuals, including a robot body housing Jules Verne's brain, among others. Never too heavy, and always with a bit of a wink, Mystery Society promised and delivered the fun on every page. Do not miss it.
1. The Sixth Gun
I had no doubt that Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt would produce a fantastic book, but what's more is that it gets better with every issue. On the surface, you've got a typical western, but soon you learn it's much more than that. They've created an entire world, and both writer and artist have grown creatively since their last collaboration, The Damned, which was pretty damned good to begin with. It feels like we've only scratched the surface of the story behind the The Sixth Gun, not to mention the other five, and with any luck, and your making sure to buy the book, we'll get to see a lot more of this world. If the thought of cowboys, shootouts, and cursed ancient demonic weapons sounds good, The Sixth Gun is even better.