Image had 7 of my top 10 in this category, with Archie Comics sneaking one in and Marvel claiming the other two. There are also three more Image comics that didn't quite make the top 10. So yeah, it's pretty easy to call Image my favorite publisher. There are two superhero books in this list, 6 sci-fi/fantasy (fudging to include Rat Queens and Manifest Destiny in that latter category), 3 horror (fudging to include Fatale), 1 action/crime (Velvet) and then whatever category Chew is. I suppose you could call it sci-fi... or superhero. At any rate, it definitely fits in the category of comedy, as does Sex Criminals, Rat Queens and arguably Hawkeye.
Something interesting to me is how many books on this list are on the "also appeals to women" list. Notably Saga, Sex Criminals, Alex + Ada, Velvet and Rat Queens, but every book on this list has a strong female following. I don't know what that says about my tastes, but I think it says something for the health of the market that my top 10 contains a lot of female-friendly titles in genres other than superheroes and that unlike in past years, these are series that are doing well in the market. I'm used to loving series that get cancelled too early, and there was a lot less of that in 2014.
Interestingly, only one of the series in my top 13 published 12 issues this year, and that's Daredevil. The rest were at about six, eight at the highest. Maybe as a general rule, the monthly grind doesn't produce the best books anymore?
1. Saga #18-24 (Last year: #1)
Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples continue to tell the best story in comics. They've built up an expansive cast and fascinating setting, and feel free to screw with reader expectations, often to heart-breaking effect. Like Game of Thrones, Saga is not a series where you want to get too comfortable with any characters, because nobody is really safe. That sense of danger, along with deep characterization that gives a strong sense of humanity to these alien characters, Staples's lush and distinctive artwork and Vaughan's gift for clever dialogue make this the best comic on the stands.
2. Sex Criminals #4-9 (Last year: #1 on My New List)
Last year this was shiny and new and shocking and I didn't know where it was going. This year it was more familiar, but still outrageously funny, surprisingly smart and serious at times and still one of the best comics every month. The letters column is almost as good as the comic itself, and I'm glad they decided to collect those as well as the comics.
3. Daredevil #35-36, 1-11 (Last year: #2)
Waid wrapped up his run on Daredevil and then immediately relaunched a new series with Chris Samnee on board, relocating Daredevil to San Francisco, and the results have been terrific. Very strong use of a couple of traditional Daredevil villains in untraditional ways, the change of locale has worked out well... next year they're closing out the run, but that's a good long run of pretty consistently great comics.
4. Afterlife with Archie #3-6 (Last year: #3 on My New List)
The second half of this one was every bit as good as the first, and the single issue Sabrina vs. Cthulhu a surprising and entertaining change of pace. I sure wish the production was a little faster, as this is pretty much a quarterly book, but I'll take what I can get.
5. Alex + Ada #3-11
Didn't make the list last year because I'd only seen two issues. Now that I've seen more, this definitely ranks among my favorite series. Great speculative technology, meditation on the nature of A.I. and the nature of love and life and human emotions. Probably my favorite things the Luna Brothers have been involved with, I don't know if that's co-writer Sarah Vaughn or what, but this is a really great series. It also happens to be the first one in my top five that was closer to monthly.
6. Chew #39-44 (Last year: #4)
Big, big things happening in Chew this year. Family Recipes starts positioning the main conflict of Tony vs. the Vampire, and shows us a lot more about Olive Chu, not to mention bringing back Savoy in a major way. And Chicken Tenders just rolls on and builds that momentum. With a year and a half worth of issues to go, this book definitely feels like it's hitting the home stretch. Still plenty of mysteries, but the character arcs are dovetailing nicely, and there's still plenty of room for weirdness and humor, a lot of it in the form of the increasingly present Poyo.
7. Velvet #3-8 (Last year: #5 on My New List)
As always with Brubaker's work, I like this more in collected format where the stories and characters are easier to keep track of. I look forward to the first hardcover, maybe in 2015, maybe in 2016? At any rate, this post-Cold War spy thriller remains a favorite book.
8. Fatale #19-24 (Last year: #5)
Closing out in fine style... I can't quite rank it higher than previous Brubaker/Phillips collaborations like Sleeper, Criminal and Incognito, but it was an interesting ride that ended before it got too long in the tooth. I'll definitely be picking up the second hardcover.
9. Rat Queens #4-8
This one didn't make my best of last year because I hadn't read it yet. Now that I have, I love it for its attitude, its over-the-top humor and its perfect portrayal of fantasy adventurers from every RPG you've ever played, except with female leads instead of the guy-heavy dynamic.
10. Hawkeye #15-20 (Last year: #3)
Truthfully, this one has lost some luster with me. Only five issues this year, with a book that really needs to be read closer together to get the full effect, and it seemed like the creative team just kind of ran out of steam. Each issue is still good, but it doesn't have that great charge it had early on, perhaps because Fraction's Sex Criminals feels like a purer version of what it was doing in terms of quirky character-driven storytelling. Still really good, mind you, which is why it's in my top 10, but... not as amazing as it was, which is why it dropped out of the top 5.
Just outside the top 10: Manifest Destiny #8-12, Lazarus #6-13 (Last year: #6 on My New List) and Revival #17-26 (Last year: #6).