Best New Series:
Marvel has six of my top 10, three of which feature female protagonists (and only one of which has already been cancelled, although I wouldn't bet on Storm finishing out 2015 either). Image has two new series to add to the 7 in my "new" top 10 and Dark Horse has the other two (you can credit Dynamite for The Shadow, but it's the Grendel part that really got me.)
Unlike my ongoing series for the year, six of these books were superhero books, with Grendel vs. Shadow and Wayward arguably in that category as well, albeit more modern or deconstructionist superheroes. The Spread is horror, and Usagi is... well, Usagi. Sci-fi flavored this time, I guess.
1. Ms. Marvel #1-10 (Marvel Comics)
This book is amazing, as original and fresh as Runaways was at its time. It shares an artist with that fondly-remembered book, Adrian Alphona, whose work here is just stunning, even better than his previous work. And G. Willow Wilson does a great job of making the very specific story of a Muslim teenager accessible and fun to everyone. Then there's the addiiton of Lockjaw, which is like the perfect cherry on top of the sundae.
2. She-Hulk #1-11 (Marvel Comics)
Come and gone too quickly. She-Hulk has actually had two great series already, Byrne's fourth-wall-breaking weird '80s run and Dan Slott's equally weird She-Hulk in a legal office run from a few years back. Charles Soule and Javier Pulido have a run that stands right up there with those two, backed up by Soule's legal knowlege and full of weird and fun cases, notably the Latverian case and the run-in with Daredevil on behalf of Captain America. I'm sad to see it go, but glad I have two trades on my shelf to read and reread. (Yes, technically, there's one more issue to come out next year that will finish it, but it was more or less started and finished this year.)
3. Storm #1-6 (Marvel Comics)
I can't believe I wanted a solo Storm series, but Greg Pak has nailed what works about the character. From her punk days with Yukio to her relationship with Wolverine to her background in Africa to her relationship with Forge, in these six issues he hits everything while telling interesting, mostly self-contained stories. And the artwork, by Victor Ibanez, Matteo Buffagni and other folks I've never heard of before but will definitely follow from here, is top notch.
4. Usagi Yojimbo Senso #1-6 (Dark Horse Comics)
Again, didn't think I necessarily needed to see a match-up of Usagi and his friends in the future versus H.G. Wells's Martians, but... this is so good. As fun as Space Usagi, but dialed more into the characters and their ongoing story arcs, a potential future and finale for Usagi combined with a cross-genre masterpiece.
5. Amazing Spider-Man #1-11 (and Edge of Spider-Verse #1-5, Scarlet Spiders #1-2, Spider-Verse #1-2) (Marvel Comics)
Continuing the trend... if you'd told me I would love a story about interdimensional monsters trying to destroy all the Spider totems and Spider-people from every corner of the multiverse going to war against them, I would have said it seemed unlikely. But the sprrawling Spider-Verse story is a great read, with everything I love about Spider-Man, plus old favorites (Spider-Man 2099, Ben Reilly) and new favorites (Spider-Gwen). That's not even mentioning that Slott's return of Peter Parker to his own body, dealing with the trouble Doc Ock caused him, was highly entertaining as well.
6. Punisher #1-13 (Marvel Comics)
The Punisher is one of those characters I don't have an innate fondness for, but I've really liked a lot of the takes on him, from Garth Ennis's violent crime style Punisher Max to Ostrander's Punisher on the run from the '90s. This new take, setting up Punisher in Los Angeles taking on a vicious cartel and their super-powered muscle all while dealing with the spec ops team that is the modern-day Howling Commandos, is another great addition to the Frank Castle canon. Terrific art (mostly by Mitch Gerads with a few notable guest artists in the mix) and writing by Nathan Edmonson.
7. The Spread #1-4 (Image Comics)
"What if The Thing spread throughout the world, leading to a post-apocalyptic Lone Wolf and Cub type set up" is the easy pitch on this book from Justin Jordan, who is establishing himself as a unique voice with books like this and Luther Strode, and artist Kyle Strahm.
8. Spider-Man 2099 #1-6 (Marvel Comics)
They say you can't go home again, but with a boost from Dan Slott's Spidey stories, Peter David has proven that adage wrong, serving up a fresh and fun take on the Spider-Man of the future currently trapped in our present. The artwork, from Will Sliney and others, also has nicer colors and production than the original '90s run (which was still pretty solid, don't get me wrong, Rick Leonardi's stuff was great and he designed the memorable costume). A surprise treat that has proved an important cornerstone of the Spider-Verse event.
9. Grendel Vs. The Shadow #1-3 (Dark Horse Comics/Dynamite)
Matt Wagner's Dynamite work hasn't really had the spark for me of his creator-owned work on Mage and Grendel, so I wasn't sure about this one, but pitting a time-lost Hunter Rose against Lamont Crantson turns out to be just as perfect as when Wagner pit Batman and Grendel against one another many years back.
10. Wayward #1-5 (Image Comics)
A must-read for fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jim Zub and Steven Cummings are setting up a beautifully realized Japan that digs deep into the supernatural mythology and the real-world culture to make something that feels unique, authentic and fun. And did I mention that the artwork by Cummings is drop-dead gorgeous?
Just outside the top 10 are all Image books, notably Copperhead, Starlight, Nailbiter and Stray Bullets The Killers.
New Series That Are Too New To Judge:
These series are not quite far enough for me to judge them Best New Series yet, but I really like them all, and I can see any of them making my Best Continuing Series next year. Because I don't think it's fair to compare a single issue or a two- or three-issue run to the more extended runs above, I'm ranking these separately.
1. Batgirl #35-37 (DC Comics)
2. Birthright #1-3 (Image Comics)
3. Dungeons & Dragons Legends of Baldur's Gate #1-3 (IDW)
4. Sabrina #1 (Archie Comics)
5. S.H.I.E.L.D. #1 (Marvel Comics)
6. Superior Iron Man #1-3 (Marvel Comics)
7. All New Captain America #1-2 (Marvel Comics)
8. Rumble #1 (Image Comics)
9. Bitch Planet #1 (Image Comics)
10. Wytches #1-3 (Image Comics)
11. Fade Out #1-3 (Image Comics)
12. Shaft #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
13. Graveyard Shift #1 (Image Comics)
14. Deathlok #1-3 (Marvel Comics)
15. Hellboy and the BPRD #1
16. Gotham by Midnight #1-2 (DC Comics)
17. Kitchen #1-2 (DC Comics/Vertigo)