Over the last few years Dark Horse and IDW have gifted us a number of outstanding graphic novels. When it comes to the horror genre, these are two publishers who stand tall above all others. That’s had me constantly contemplating an interesting question: Who is giving us the greater material, Dark Horse, or IDW?
In 2015 the answer to that question is astoundingly clear. While IDW is still pumping out some killer books (D4VE2, October Faction, Ghostbusters, and Zombies vs. Robots are a few favorites) Dark Horse has really run away with the ball. It’s their game, and there is no longer any question as to who’s in the lead… so to speak. These studs are pumping out riveting horror at an unparalleled rate.
Around these parts, we love you, IDW – but Dark Horse stomped a mud hole in every publisher’s rear end this year, yours included.
Below you’ll find 10 of the absolute best graphic novels to be released by Dark Horse in 2015. We suggest you look into each of these beauties, as they all qualify as genuinely amazing books. If you love horror, you’re going to love this lineup!
Alright, there’s a little bit of cheating going on here, as technically, this hasn’t been released as a graphic novel (in its entirety) just yet. The thing is, it was such an awe inspiring read I had absolutely no choice but to include it in the lineup. It’s a spellbinding piece of work, which doesn’t necessarily come as a surprise; at this point, not a single issue of Colder (read our Bad Seed review here) has disappointed. It’s almost too good to be true, that’s how good it is. Paul Tobin is a monster storyteller and Juan Ferreyra is the perfect yin to Tobin’s yang. While there is no real opposing factors of these two’s craft (I just wanted to clear that up), they complement each other perfectly. Perfectly. Given the fact that it isn’t an official graphic novel yet, this one occupies the list in the number 10 slot, just to be fair to the official graphic novels you’re about to read about!
A top flight combination of vintage horror and pulp noir, Eric Powell’s creative tale, The Goon is now recognized as one of the strongest books available today. That’s a fair assessment and seeing Powell’s development over the years has been a true treat. From the earliest Out of the Cellar Comics days to Avatar to Dark Horse, Powell has done nothing but refine his skills as both a writer and an artist. And it shows in a major way. Dark Horse’s The Goon Library: Volume 1 is a great way to catch up on some of the man’s earlier efforts. It’s also highly rewarding and stuffed full of nearly 500 pages of awesomeness.
Josie is a wife and mother who moonlights as a cold blooded murderer. That alone should be enough to pique your interest. If it isn’t know the following: Lady Killer (read our review here) is stuffed full of colorful characters, their personalities surprisingly organic; Joelle Jones does a top notch job of writing a strangely engaging story with co-scribe Jamie S. Rich; and her artwork is to die for. This is arguably the most unorthodox book on the list. It’s got an Archie meets the Stepfather vibe to it, and that can’t be said of many books out there. Lady Killer breaks a lot of rules, and that’s precisely what makes it so damn great. You should definitely, definitely be reading this one!
While Jack the Ripper (read our review) is no From Hell, it’s a mighty fine read. Author Francois Debois goes above and beyond to make the story feel unique, building and affixing new ideas to an age old story. Jean-Charles Poupard’s artwork is designed to appeal to fans of vintage fare, and that’s very appropriate given the material we’re talking about. Although we’re more than familiar with Jack the Ripper and his mysterious story, this is a graphic novel that proves engaging and enlightening in equal measure. We recommend you check this monstrosity out!
Growing up I wasn’t a big fan of Archie Comics. But when I was growing up Archie was a lot safer. There was no Afterlife with Archie. There was no Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and there sure wasn’t any Archie vs. Predator (read our review here) floating about. Back in the 80s and early 90s Archie was a little too… soft for me. That’s not the case these days, and Archie vs. Predator is a fine example of what happens when you take a risk with a cultural icon who’s long been known to be as PG as it gets. This is a character (along with Jughead, Betty, Veronica and the rest of the gang) that deserves to be featured in a broader scope of story selections and Dark Horse is finally helping to make that happen. It’s working; more people are talking about Archie today than they have been in years.
Paul Tobin, as you’ve probably noticed, makes more than a single appearance on this list. He’s one of the greatest active writers in the horror field. And Plants vs. Zombies is one of the greatest books you’ll track down today. A terrific mixture of comedy, action and light-hearted horror, Plants vs. Zombies works for all audiences. Earlier this year Dark Horse released a boxed set that features hardcover collections of Bully for You, Lawnmageddon and Timepocalypse, and each book is stellar. You want a comic that’s going to work for your spouse, your teen and your 10-year old? You want this gorgeous boxed set.
This book has it all. From Hellboy’s sharp humor to the myriad of crazed monsters (we get a little bit of everything in this book, including murdering monkeys, insane zombies an enormous nod to Lovecraft and even a brief look at the awesome Rasputin), there’s no shortage of the terrific elements of Hellboy’s world. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi craft another engrossing story and Alex Maleev gives us the Hellboy imagery we all crave. One of the many amazing series’ to feature our popular heroic red man with a punch and attitude, Hellboy and the B.P.RD.: 1952 is mesmerizing material!
An absolutely gorgeous book penned by the great Mike Mignola, Frankenstein: Underground doesn’t subject us to the tired origin story. It doesn’t recycle familiar material at all, in fact. Given how famous Frankenstein’s monster is, and how many countless books and films we’ve seen dedicated to the iconic Universal monster, this is something of a surprise. It’s a welcomed surprise, as Mignola and artist Ben Stenbeck stir up something aesthetically pleasing, emotionally impacting and really, really memorable. The book looks and feels like a Hellboy (who actually has a cameo!) book, but it’s quite different. Gratifying is the greatest word to describe this stellar graphic novel. Don’t sleep on Frankenstein: Underground, it’s one of the finest collections released in 2015.
Along with Paul Tobin, Cullen Bunn has emerged as one of the greatest creators of modern day horror fiction. He’s a well-rounded dude who can tell far more than terrifying stories, but he’s got a real knack for the dark side. When coupled with the uber talented Tyler Crook, who brings a gorgeous vintage look to the book, Bunn feels unstoppable. Harrow County is definitely dark, but it also incorporates a brilliant innocence and that’s what separates it from the vast majority of books on the market. Countless Haints (read our reviews here) brings the first four issues of this amazing ongoing story together in one tidy package and it is must-read material if ever there was must-read material.
Anyone who enjoys the Alien franchise, or got a kick out of Ridley Scott’s return to the world of the unknown in 2012’s Prometheus is going to love Fire and Stone (read our review here). It’s an expansive tale, crafted by some of Dark Horse’s absolute finest, that brings together the dreaded Xenomorph, the newfound foe to fear, the Engineer and the always entertaining Predator. These three collide in a mesmerizing piece of work that sucks humans into a war they’re not necessarily fit to survive. It also speeds along as some of our favorite cinematic monsters get down and dirty. A stellar, sprawling epic that plays it a bit edgy for the older crowd, Prometheus: Fire and Stone is a book that shouldn’t be overlooked.