CBR's 50 Best Comic Covers of 2015

Wed, January 6th, 2016 at 11:58am PST | Updated: January 6th, 2016 at 11:58am

Comic Books
Kevin Melrose, Editor

Choosing the “best of” anything – comics, movies, television – involves personal tastes, employing criteria that can be impossible to pinpoint. The same, of course, goes for the best comic book covers of the year: Should the selections skew more toward the traditional or the modern, the humorous or the serious, the action-packed or the artsy?

This list of the 50 best comic book covers of 2015 (presented alphabetically) touches all of those bases, with a selection that ranges from color-soaked to black and white, from superheroic to supernatural, and from cartoonish to realistic (well, as realistic as a gorilla rocking out on the drums can be). They represent the work of 46 artists, plus inkers, colorists and designers, and nine publishers.

RELATED: CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2015: The Master List

While whittling down the massive number of comics released last year in the North American market to just 50 covers, some trends became apparent:

  • From “standard” and retailer incentive variants to custom variants and publisher theme months, there was staggering number of covers released in 2015. However, perhaps that’s not a surprise. Although a vast majority didn’t make their way onto the list, a handful did.

  • Homage covers were big last year, in part due to initiatives like DC Comics’ movie-poster covers and Marvel’s hip-hop variants. Three particularly clever (and humorous) ones made our Top 50: Sonny Liew’s recreation of Rembrandt’s “The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp” for “Doctor Fate” #7; Amanda Conner’s nod to “The Shining” for “Harley Quinn” #21; and Ben Caldwell’s ode to Nixon’s farewell for “Prez” #2.

  • Rigidly formatted cover designs seem to be gaining popularity, particularly among independent comics. Although that can establish an easily recognizable “brand identity,” it can also hamper creativity. But Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson broke from that mold in a brutal, startling fashion with “The Wicked + The Divine” when, after 10 covers featuring closeups of the series’ characters, they unveiled Issue 11, featuring the aftermath of a decapitation. (Yes, it made the list.)

8house3 Xurxo G Penalta
"8House: Kiem" #3, by Xurxo G. Penalta
Adventure Time With Fionna Cake Card Wars4 Rachel Saunders
"Adventure Time With Fiona & Cake: Card Wars" #4, by Rachel Saunders
adventure time38 Mahendra Singh
"Adventure Time" #38, by Mahendra Singh
adventure time46 Vivi Ng
"Adventure Time" #46, by Vivi Ng
all new hawkeye1 Ramon Perez
"All-New Hawkeye" #1, by Ramon Perez
aquaman44 manapul gl variant
"Aquaman" #44, by Francis Manapul
astro city24 alex ross
"Astro City" #24, by Alex Ross
astro city27 alex ross
"Astro City" #27, by Alex Ross
batgirl41 cameron stewart
"Batgirl" #41, by Cameron Stewart
batman europa3 DIEGO LATORRE
"Batman Europa" #3, by Diego Latorre
black canary1 annie wu
"Black Canary" #1, by Annie Wu
black widow15 phil noto
"Black Widow" #15, by Phil Noto
catwoman41 javier pulido joker variant
"Catwoman" #41, by Javier Pulido
daredevil13 chris samnee
"Daredevil" #13, by Chris Samnee
dead drop2 raul allen
"Dead Drop" #2, by Raul Allen
"Descender" #3, by Lesley Anne Green
detective comics39 yuko shimizu
"Detective Comics" #39, by Yuko Shimizu
doctor fate7 sonny liew Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicolaes Tulp
"Doctor Fate" #7, by Sonny Liew
doctor strange2 chris bachalo
"Doctor Strange" #2, by Chris Bachalo
fight club2 1 lee bermejo
"Fight Club" #2, by Lee Bermejo
giant size little marvel avx4 skottie young
"Giant-Size Little Marvel: AvX" #4, by Skottie Young
goon in theatre bizarre John Dunivant
"The Goon in Theatre Bizarre," by John Dunivant
harley quinn21 amanda conner
"Harley Quinn" #21, by Amanda Conner
howard the duck1 chip zdarsky
"Howard the Duck" #1, by Chip Zdarsky
howard the duck2 joe quinones
"Howard the Duck" #2, by Joe Quinones
island magazine2 emma rios
"Island Magazine" #2, by Emma Rios
leaf Daishu Ma jacob covey
"Leaf," by Daishu Ma and Jacob Covey
lucifer1 dave johnson
"Lucifer" #1, by Dave Johnson
lumberjanes16 kat philbin
"Lumberjanes" #16, by Kat Philbin
lumberjanes21 Rosemary Valero O Connell
"Lumberjanes" #21, by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
miles morales ultimate spider man10 david marquez
"Miles Morales: Ultimate Spider-Man" #10, by David Marquez
monstress1 SANA TAKEDA
"Monstress" #1, by Sana Takeda
ms marvel1 sara pichelli
"Ms. Marvel" #1, by Sara Pichelli
over the garden wall1 michael dimotta
"Over the Garden Wall" #1, by Michael DiMotta
planet hulk1 michael del mundo
"Planet Hulk" #1, by Michael del Mundo
prez2 ben caldwell
"Prez" #2, by Ben Caldwell
revival27 jenny frison
"Revival" #27, by Jenny Frison
rocket girl6 amy reeder
"Rocket Girl" #6, by Amy Reeder
silver surfer11 mike allred
"Silver Surfer" #11, by Michael Allred
spider gwen2 robbi rodriguez
"Spider-Gwen" #2, by Robbi Rodriguez
spirit6 eric powell
"The Spirit" #6, by Eric Powell
spongebob comics49 kelley jones
"SpongeBob Comics" #49, by Kelley Jones
star wars darth vader1 michael del mundo
"Star Wars: Darth Vader" #1, by Michael del Mundo
superman american alien2 ryan sook
"Superman: American Alien" #2, by Ryan Sook
the vision2 mike del mundo
"The Vision" #2, by Mike Del Mundo
the wicked and the divine11 jamie mckelvie matt wilson
"The Wicked + The Divine" #11, by Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson
this damned band4 Tony Parker
"This Damned Band" #4, by Tony Parker
we are robin1 lee bermejo
"We Are Robin" #1, by Lee Bermejo
wolf1 matt taylor lee loughridge
"Wolf" #1 by Matt Taylor and Tom Muller
wytches5 jock
"Wytches" #5, by Jock

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