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James' Top 10 Horror Comics of 2019

Written by James Ferguson

The end of the year is upon us where we can once again look back at all the crazy and often horrifying things that have happened over the past twelve months, but also highlight the best of the best when it comes to the media that came out. Since I'm the resident comic book guy, my focus is only on the spooky stuff of the four-color variety. I've read thousands of comics this year and as always, it was tough to get this list down to just ten entries, as there were so many to choose from.

This year saw a change in the horror comics landscape with the Big Two publishers getting more into the spooky stuff in a major way. I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of horror coming out of Marvel and DC. Some of the smaller publishers have shifted focus to more sci-fi and fantasy efforts, but there's still a vast array of horror titles from the indie scene and many more coming as we head into 2020.

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 10 – Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)

Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Letterer: Justin Birch

Just in case I needed another reason to avoid the outside world, here's Road of Bones to scare the crap out of me. A few men escape from a prison camp in the harsh Russian wilderness during the dead of winter only to turn on each other in increasingly brutal ways. They may have gained their freedom, but at the expense of their humanity. This is a stunning examination of isolation and what it can do to a man's mind. There are elements where we're forced to question reality. Is there a monster lurking out here with these men? Or is it all in their heads? That uneasy feeling is spread throughout this entire book creating a nail-biting thriller mixed with bloody terror. There is a crazy amount of blood in this book.

Reviews: Road of Bones #1 | Road of Bones #2 | Road of Bones #3

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 9 – Cult Classic: Creature Feature (Vault Comics)

Writer: Eliot Rahal
Artist: John Bivens
Colorist: Hannah Jerrie & Iris Monahan
Letterer: Taylor Esposito

Cult Classic returned with a bang this year, wrapping up its initial arc and then expanding its mythos among the strange town of Whisper. As much as I dug Return to Whisper, its follow up, Creature Feature, is edging it out with some of the most terrifying monsters on the stands today. There's something otherworldly and deadly lurking deep beneath the lake at the outside of town and it just woke up. The people nearby have no idea what's coming for them, but many of them won't make it out alive or even in one piece. Seriously, one time this thing ripped a dude's skin off. You can't come back from that. Cult Classic blends small town antics with pure, unbridled terror in a strong one-two punch of a horror comic.

Reviews: Cult Classic: Creature Feature #1 | Cult Classic: Creature Feature #2

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 8 – Hex Wives (DC Comics / Vertigo)

Writer: Ben Blacker
Artist: Mirka Andolfo
Colorist: Marissa Louise
Letterer: Josh Reed

Few comics were as relevant this year as Hex Wives. The book explores man's gross need to control women as a shadowy organization tries to prevent some witches from using their powers and just being themselves. You can imagine what happens when they find out they've been lied to for so long. Yeah, things get bloody fast. Hex Wives will steadily build the rage inside of you until you're begging for these jerks to get their comeuppance. When it's finally delivered, it is the sweetest dish of vengeance I've ever seen served. All the while, the book is showing how ridiculous it is for men (and by extension, the government) to control a woman's life or her body. The series ended far too soon and I'm certainly holding out hope for a follow up.

Reviews: Hex Wives #3 | Hex Wives #4 | Hex Wives #5 | Hex Wives #6

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 7 – DCeased (DC Comics)

Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Trevor Hairsine and James Harren
Inker: Stefano Guadiano
Colorist: Rain Beredo
Letterer: Saida Temofonte

Horror hit the DC Universe in a major way with DCeased. A deadly virus tore through the world's greatest heroes, turning them into mindless murderous monsters. This is unlike anything the Justice League has encountered before. It's one thing to punch a guy like Darkseid, but it's quite another to do that to your best friend who's suddenly trying to kill you. DCeased starts with a cool and frightening concept and it could have skated by on that. What sets this book apart is the emotional element it brings to every single interaction. There is a deep sense of pain, regret, and terror that courses through every page as friends and family are forced to come to terms with loss after loss. Few horror comics can bring a tear to your eye, but this one definitely will.

Reviews: DCeased #1 | DCeased #2 | DCeased #3 | DCeased #5

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 6 – Immortal Hulk (Marvel Comics)

Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit

How is the Hulk the biggest and most terrifying monster of the year? Well, that's the transformation that occurs in the pages of The Immortal Hulk, taking the Green Goliath on a path of destruction that goes from the deserts of North America to the far reaches of the cosmos. This book delivers incredible fight scenes with intricate detail that are worthy of a character like the Hulk, but more importantly (to us horror fans anyway), it has some of the most unsettling body horror to hit a comic page all year. The change from Bruce Banner into the Hulk is not a quick swap. It's now a painful, body-morphing experience, not unlike that iconic sequence in An American Werewolf in London. Bones shift, flesh tears, sinew rips. It's ugly and awesome. What's more, the story has taken on a more decisive yet destructive turn in recent issues, showing how the Hulk is perhaps the least monstrous among us. It's society as a whole that's far worse and the green guy brings up some pretty good points.

Reviews: Immortal Hulk #11 |Immortal Hulk #15 | Immortal Hulk #20 | Immortal Hulk #24

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 5 – Gideon Falls (Image Comics)

Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands

Few comics push the boundaries of the medium like Gideon Falls. It creates a truly unique – and often disturbing – reading experience as we delve deeper into the mystery of the Black Barn. Andrea Sorrentino's artwork is second to none and he is doing stuff in this book that you will not find anywhere else. This is truly a comic that will have your heart beating faster as you turn each page wondering what untold terrors await you. The best part is that you really have no idea. Every time you think you might have it figured out, Jeff Lemire flips the story on its head, taking it in bold new directions, each darker than the last.

Reviews: Gideon Falls #13 | Gideon Falls #14

small-cover 4 – Atlantis Wasn't Built For Tourists (Circle Pit Press)

Writer: Eric Palicki
Artist: Wendell Cavalcanti
Colorist: Mark Dale
Letterer: Shawn Lee

Small town horror is some of the best out there. It has the opportunity to fester and grow away from the prying eyes of the bright lights and large crowds of the big city. That's the place where Atlantis Wasn't Built For Tourists plays, revealing a wealth of potential for all kinds of scary possibilities. The town has next to no crime and for a good reason: It feeds its criminals to vampires. If that doesn't hook you, just wait until you meet Lucas Lewis and get some insight into his monstrous background. Each aspect of this book builds upon itself to create a solid mix of horror and drama.

Review: Atlantis Wasn't Built for Tourists - Volume 1

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 3 – Mountainhead (IDW Publishing)

Writer: John Lees
Artist: Ryan Lee
Colorist: Dough Garbark
Letterer: Shawn Lee

It's always impressive when a creative team can blend genres to make something stronger than the sum of its parts. That's the case with Mountainhead, pulling from horror, psychological thrillers, and just plain strange stuff to create something truly unsettling and so very creepy. The story of a young man who learns he was kidnapped as a baby and then reunited with his birth family is riveting enough, but then you add in the eerie qualities of his revisited hometown. The people there are a little...off, like the huge mountain that looms over the place is warping their minds. This poor kid's life was already off to a rough start and now he has to defend himself against a bunch of small town crazies, driven mad by a mysterious force in the mountains.

Reviews: Mountainhead #1 | Mountainhead #2

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 2 – Venom / Absolute Carnage (Marvel Comics)

Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Ryan Stegman
Colorist: Frank Martin
Letterer: Clayton Cowles

Yes, this is a bit of a cheat since it's two books, but it's my list. If you have a problem with that, go make your own. Venom has been cemented as a horror/action/sci-fi comic since it was relaunched last year and it is all building towards Absolute Carnage, an epic and chilling event that delivers some of the best scares of the year. The creative team had the benefit of working with characters that we've known and loved for decades, but that's not what makes a great story, nor is it what makes a great horror tale. They elevate these heroes and villains, adding new aspects to tell deeply personal stories that allow us to see them in a whole new light. Venom is no longer just a cool-looking Spider-Man offshoot that every '90s kid loves. He's got an extensive history that reaches out into the cosmos and could destroy the Marvel Universe. That's solid on its own, but then you add in Carnage, in his most unsettling form ever as he's literally eating people's spines and you've got yourself quite a party.

Reviews: Absolute Carnage #1 | Absolute Carnage #2 | Absolute Carnage #3 | Absolute Carnage #4

small-coverBuy from Amazon US 1 – The Replacer (AfterShock Comics)

Writer: Zac Thompson
Artist: Arjuna Susini
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Marshall Dillon

Horror has a number of different levels and sub-genres, ranging from jump-scare slashers to existential dilemmas. My favorite kinds are the ones that get under your skin and really stay there. The Replacer came out in April and right when I finished it, I knew it would be my top pick of the year. This book hits hard, mixing reality with the supernatural in a way that has you questioning the former while embracing the latter. It's the only way to make sense of the horrifying way Marcus' father acts after a stroke. Is there a demon lurking inside this man? Or is it just Marcus' way of coping with this tragedy? We don't know for sure and that's the beauty of The Replacer. It leaves just enough open to interpretation while delivering a powerful and terrifying read from beginning to end. It's personal, emotional, and definitely the best horror comic of the year.

Review: The Replacer

That's my ranking of the top terrors in horror comics for 2019. How does this stack up to your own list? Leave a comment below so we can compare notes.

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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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