The comics world is big and varied — and never more relevant, as comic book adaptation after comic book adaptation arrives to every movie theater, console and streaming service under the sun. It can be hard to know where to start and what to read next, but that’s where we come in.
Here are the comic books of 2019 that made the Polygon staff lean in and lose ourselves, or sit up and go, “wow.” From the grandest stories of the fantastic to the most relatable works of nonfiction, these are the best comics of 2019.
Polygon Essentials is a collection of persistently updated lists of the best of the best games for each platform — from the hardware’s launch to its end of production — as well as the best entertainment across virtually every medium. For folks new to a platform, think of this as a starter kit. For long-term fans, consider it a list of what to play or watch next. We’ll be updating these lists often, with entries listed in reverse chronological order. To see a collection of other titles we recommend that might not have made the Essentials lists, check out Polygon Recommends.
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Writing: Tom King, Art and colors: Mitch Gerads, Letters: Clayton Cowles
Mister Miracle is the greatest escape artist in the universe. Mister Miracle is about becoming so accustomed to escaping that we forget when to stop.
The twelve-issue miniseries, collected for the first time in 2019, begins with its title character surviving a suicide attempt, and goes many places from there: war, sex, show business, renovating your condo, governing a planet. A baby’s first birthday party is planned. A god tears out his own eye.
From an outside-of-comics perspective, Mister Miracle is a barely-third-tier superhero. From the vantage point of comics history, he’s a can’t-miss character, a whole cloth creation of Jack Kirby, one of the medium’s greatest talents, at a time of peak creative freedom. King and Gerads weave layers upon layers of meaning into the series, allowing it to unfold more meaning the deeper you’re willing to look.
For everything else that it is, Mister Miracle is an ode to the form and history of comics. A love letter to Jack “Comics will break your heart” Kirby and the work he did when most disillusioned with the industry.
Mister Miracle will show you it’s possible to put a heart back together again.
The New World
Writing: Aleš Kot, Art: Tradd Moore, Colors: Heather Moore, Letters: Clayton Cowles
If a dystopian state where police brutality is manufactured into must-see reality TV can be as colorful as The New World, well, reality has a lot of catching up to do.
Stella Maris and Kirby Miyazaki are an unlikely Romeo and Juliet. She’s the hard-partying, drug-swilling televised state-sanctioned bounty hunter in the post-nuclear war New California; he’s the “straight-edge, gluten-free militant atheist” revolutionary who wants to tear her grandfather’s police state to the ground. But their romance will be just as destabilizing to the society around them.
I first knew Aleš Kot as the writer who expertly wrestled Bloodborne to the page in a form that said as much about video games as comics, and watching them tackle a completely original setting in The New World does not disappoint. Tradd Moore’s art is so pregnant with motion it feels like I could press play on it, his characters so expressive I would buy the iTunes season pass. Psychedelic would be the easy way to describe Heather Moore’s colors, transcendent might be more accurate to the emotion they create.
Just when I think I’ve had enough of The New World, I find myself paging through it again — and that it’s hard to stop.
Read more: Polygon