Dark Horse Comics continued to build on its amazing catalog of comics throughout 2015. With a mix of fresh new series and iconic characters, Dark Horse Comics has continually put out some of the best comics in the last year. Here are just five that stand above all the rest from 2015, in no particular order.

FIGHT CLUB 2

FIGHT CLUB 2 had a lot to live up to when it was first announced for release in 2015. The author of the original FIGHT CLUB novel, Chuck Palahniuk, picks up a decade after his original tale. Ten years after the events of project mayhem, Tyler Durden is back. Mayhem is again the order of the day, and no one is safe. As twisted and mind-bending as before, FIGHT CLUB 2 is finally able to flesh out any questions that may have been lingering at the end of the original.

Sebastian, the main character of the tale, has been repressing Tyler for years through the help of copious amounts of drugs. After some time, his wife begins to replace his pills with placebos, and Tyler begins not only taken over his life again but his son’s as well. In a twisted tale, Sebastian must discover whether Tyler bred his son for his own sick future use or whether Sebastian has had any control over his life. Learning that his psychiatrist has been letting Tyler out for three hours a week for the last ten years, he realizes the military contracting company he works for is Tyler’s creation and the re-imagining of project mayhem. With Armageddon on the horizon and his life out of control, Sebastian must either gain control of himself or watch the world burn.

Fight Club 2

This is not a series solely for those who are fans of the novel or film either. Anyone looking for a book that questions the border between sanity and insanity need look no further than here. If you just want a fantastic comic book that makes you question who we are as people, this is a pretty good place to start for that too. Aside from that, the narrative really dives deeper into the world of FIGHT CLUB and flushes out the history of Tyler Durden in a logical way that the original did not have the chance to.

The best issue of FIGHT CLUB 2 is issue #6. It is in this issue that the mysteries surrounding Sebastian begin to potentially be revealed. The story creates a great sense of paranoia and tension because Sebastian is being told his past by both Tyler and his psychiatrist, each with a different tale, and neither is a trustworthy figure. With each having no good intentions for Sebastian at heart, it’s hard to know who, if anyone, is telling the truth. It is these events that are the driving force behind the remainder of the story in 2015. From this point, Sebastian’s life is never the same and begins to spiral completely out of control.

HARROW COUNTY

HARROW COUNTY does little in the way of blood and gore for its horror. Instead, this tale of the reincarnated children of a murdered witch creates an eerie atmosphere of genuine discomfort to create a horror book that is a pleasure to read but a nightmare to experience. The tale follows Emmy and the events of her life after her eighteenth birthday. It is on this day that she learns she is the reincarnation of a witch named Hester Beck. Raised on the land where the witch was hung, the town quickly turns on her and attempts to kill her after she begins to show powers. Through the help of the evil demons that haunt the world, she is able to survive and create some sense of normalcy in her life. That is, until her sister appears, more evil than Hester Beck ever was.

Harrow County

In a genre saturated with over-the-top violence, HARROW COUNTY is able to create a world of fright, while also creating a tale of a young woman trying to find herself as she comes into adulthood, through nothing more than brilliant psychological horror. The story of Emmy is much more than just simple horror, though. Larger ideas of coming to terms with yourself and those around you and accepting the differences in all of us are a driving force in the narrative. Far from a simple scary story, HARROW COUNTY deserves the attention of anyone who enjoys a good fright and wants one of the best horror stories in comics.

READ: Looking for other awesome Dark Horse Comics! Read our review of STEAM MAN #1!

The best issue of HARROW COUNTY in 2015 was issue #7. It is here that the slow, psychological horror of the series is at its peak. While Emmy begins to try and figure out whether she should be happy about her sister being around or follow her feelings of distrust, her sister Kammi begins to turn the monsters of the darkest corners of the land against her. The story is a slow burning pace where Emmy’s world is slowly crumbling around her without her even knowing. It is a tale that is hard to read but one that’s also hard to pull away from. Full of great character growth and chilling sequences that are genuinely uncomfortable at times, HARROW COUNTY #7 is the epitome of what makes the series great.

THE PAYBACKS

With only four issues, THE PAYBACKS has already established itself as one of the most original and refreshing takes on the superhero genre available today. Writers Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal ask a simple question, how do superheroes and villains afford all of the equipment required to… superhero and villain? The answer is taking out massive loans that none of them can pay off. That’s where the super repo-team of the Paybacks comes in.

Each member of the team is one of those heroes or villains that couldn’t pay back their loan. Forced to work off their debt by their benefactor, Mr. Pierce, the team soon discovers a plot where someone is killing off heroes and villains before the team can get to them. It is this mystery, and the mystery behind who Mr. Pierce is and why he is assembling so many heroes and villains under his employment, that is the heart of THE PAYBACKS story.

Filled with absolutely ridiculous and fun characters like Night Knight, Miss Adventure, and Doctor Blaqk just to name a few, THE PAYBACKS is full of hilarious moments. It is these character interactions that make this story something special. Each character is the extreme of either a superhero archetype, like Night Knight and Batman, or ones so ridiculous they never made it to hero stardom, like Napalm. Napalm’s skin unfortunately turns to Napalm whenever air makes contact with it so she has to roll around in a giant hamster wheel.

The Paybacks #1

THE PAYBACKS is an astoundingly smart satire on all the ridiculousness of the superhero genre. It pulls the curtain back into how outrageous the world of superheroes can be in between world-ending crises. It answers these questions and ones many of us have never bothered to ask. If you’ve ever wondered what happens when a group of superheroes hangs out in a break room (they form Popsicle club, that’s what) this is where you will find your answers.

With such a small catalog, there are no bad issue of THE PAYBACKS, but, the best is by far issue #3. In a series that thrives on hysterical characters and moments, no other issue is as funny as issue #3. Aside from the aforementioned Popsicle club, the response to the beat down Miss Adventure, our resident powerless hero, gives Night Knight is hilarious. In between these funny moments, who these heroes and villains are and were, becomes much more fleshed out. The history of Miss Adventure comes to the forefront. It is the revelation of her past, and the subsequent events that follow that really takes the narrative from an extremely smart premise to a very well-written tale of mystery and deception and one on the best Dark Horse Comics of 2015.

REBELS

A series that was introduced in April of 2015, REBELS takes a look at an often ignored aspect of not only comics but greater entertainment as a whole; American folklore. By focusing on the revolutionary years of the American colony, REBELS’ writer Brian Wood is able to portray aspects of American folklore in an exciting and refreshing way. From Native American relationships, slaves fighting for the British, and the pain that war not only has on soldiers but, the ones around them, REBELS creates very personal narratives that go well beyond a typical history lesson.

After a solid first six issues, REBELS really began to take off. It began by following a single soldier named Seth Abbott and the effects the revolution had on him for its first long arc. After that story, REBELS completely changed from long-form storytelling to single-issue tales and became something special. It is these single-issue tales that are the real highlights of the comic. In the latter half of the year, REBELS really begins to shine by not focusing on the perspective of one soldier, but rather giving a new and compelling view of all sides of the conflict in each subsequent comic.

Rebel #1

REBELS will never be confused with something that can be taken as historical fact. But, if you have ever wondered about the story of Molly Pitcher, the Daughters of Liberty, or just want a fun story where you might learn something along the way, there’s no better place to start than REBELS. The stories’ ability to take the sides of not only the American colonists but also slaves, Native Americans, and even the British separates it from being another tale led by blind patriotic bias. Instead, it becomes an honest look at our history through the eyes of characters living through it.

The one issue that really exemplifies this idea is issue #9. The narrative follows the life of a young Native American boy named Stone Hoof who at a young age helps the British in the Ohio valley region build a fort, only to be forced to take the fort back as an adult and kill those he was once friends with. Neither side is portrayed as a villain. In the poignant tale of the effects that time has on friendship and trust, the British soldiers are doing what they are told is right by holding the fort while the Native Americans are doing what they believe is right by fighting for the land they lost. It is this honest look at history that makes REBELS a fantastic read in 2015.

USAGI YOJIMBO

USAGI YOJIMBO is a long-standing Dark Horse Comics series that hit a milestone in 2015 with the release of its 150th issue. A simple story on the surface of a wandering ronin, or samurai without a master, traveling through feudal Japan, quickly becomes a much deeper tale of life, loss, and finding your way in the world. Whether learning about loss and regret in “The One-Armed Swordsman” or coming to terms with a new culture in “Death of a Tea Master,” writer Stan Sakai does a masterful job of creating breathtaking stories in both short and long-form storytelling.

Usagi Yojimbo 146

What really makes USAGI YOJIMBO special is the ability of the mythos to be deep and nuanced while still making each comic as accessible to new readers as issue #1. Even though there are repeat characters and moments, no issue is tied down so heavily to previous lore that it becomes overwhelming. Because USAGI YOJIMBO depends so little on creating a large epic and instead, focuses on single tales, the series has always been able to touch on a plethora of issues in an honest and thought-provoking way.

Many times, the moral of the story is blatantly obvious, like “The One Armed Swordsman” being about coming to terms with loss, but it does nothing to diminish the impact. On top of that, the stories are fun, light-hearted, and a very pleasant escape from much more dramatic and violent tales in many other forms of entertainment, comics included. On the surface, the story of a rabbit samurai seems silly and nonsensical, and, in a way, it is. But beyond the surface is a saga with as much heart and nuance as any comic on stands today and one that is only getting better with each passing year.

The one issue that really captures the power that USAGI YOJIMBO can have is issue #150. In the “Death of a Tea Master” single-issue story, Miyamoto Usagi comes in contact with western culture for the first time. In a story that explores ideas of cultural superiority and trying to understand the differences caused by living in different parts of the world, Miyamoto Usagi must avenge his murdered tea master. Bored with fighting countless samurai, the western traveler asks to witness the ritual suicide of the tea master for his amusement. The following tale is one of redemption and the value of life. It is a masterfully layered tale and one that not only belongs in the best of 2015 but the best USAGI YOJIMBO has to offer.  

READ: For even more Dark Horse Comics, read our reviews of MIRROR’S EDGE: EXORDIUM!

Dark Horse Comics spent much of 2015 strengthening their catalog with multiple new properties. This willingness to continue to try and create new stories, has led to some of not only the best Dark Horse Comics of 2015, but also some of the best comics of 2015, period. Alongside Dark Horse’s iconic USAGI YOJIMBO series, THE PAYBACKS, REBELS, HARROW COUNTY, and FIGHT CLUB 2 all represent the best Dark Horse Comics of 2015,

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