Best Comics of All Time :: The portal of the largest rankings on the Internet!

This is a comprehensive list of the top 11 comics and graphic novels of all time, based on aggregated opinions of critics, as well as personal preferences.

The 11 Best Comics of All Time

Comic name
1 Watchmen


Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Heralded as one of the most captivating comic book stories of all time, Watchmen is the rich and complex story of outlawed superheroes pulled from the shadows, and coaxed into an unconventional mission to save humanity.

Watchmen is set in an alternate timeline, split from our reality just before the outbreak of World War II. Superheroes came to prominence during the 1940s, but after falling out of favour amongst conventional crime fighters and the public at large, they were banned. In the Watchmen universe, the USA won the Vietnam War, Watergate never happened, and by the mid 1980s, Richard Nixon is still occupying the White House.

Prompted by the murder of Edward Blake, a former superhero who went by The Comedian, vigilante Rorschach begins an investigation. Rorschach soon realises that a plot to kill ex-superheroes is underway. He alerts past associates, including the supernaturally-gifted Doctor Manhattan, of his suspicions, and they reluctantly begin working together to unpick a tangled plan.

Watchmen is not a conventional comic book superhero story. It flips the genre on its head and asks probing questions about contemporary society. Even thirty years since its publication, it leaves the reader exquisitely haunted. This is the root of its brilliance.
2 Maus


Art Spiegelman
The Holocaust may not seem like the most appropriate subject for a graphic novel, but when approached with the care, respect, and integrity shown by Art Spiegelman, the format becomes precisely the correct way to explore such complicated issues.

Maus is a personal history weaved within the context of a shared horror. It tells the story of Spiegelman’s mother and father; their origins in southern Poland, the impending march of German occupation, and the pain of loss and separation as the Holocaust is inflicted upon them.

Spiegelman uses different animals to express the ethnicities and nationalities of characters within the story. The title of the book refers to the everlasting conflict between cats and mice; Germans are drawn as felines, whilst Art, his family, and other Jews are represented as mice. Not only is this an effective way to guide the reader throughout the narrative, but it adds an allegorical layer that feeds into the complexity of the story.

One of the most interesting themes explored in Maus is the long-lasting effect of such a catastrophic period in history. The Spiegelmans’ struggle extends far beyond liberation; Art, who was born three years after the end of World War II, suffers the consequences in the suicide of his mother, the distance between himself and his father, and the absence of his brother. Tragedy leaves an indelible stain on the family, and we receive a glimpse into Art’s attempts to find answers through therapy.

Maus is not always an easy read. Given the subject matter, it shouldn’t be. But it’s honest, beautifully challenging, and deeply moving. A masterpiece.
3 Batman: The Dark Knight Returns


Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley
Ten years after the death of Jason Todd, masquerading as his sidekick, Robin, Bruce Wayne has stepped away from crime fighting and embraced a life of solitude. In his absence, crime has taken hold of Gotham City and a gang, known as ‘The Mutants’ are in control. Prompted by the escalation of attacks, coordinated by Two Face, as well as his perpetual boredom, Wayne decides to resume his life as Batman.

On his first night back on the streets, Batman intervenes in the attempted assault of Carrie Kelley and her friend. Kelley subsequently takes a keen interest in Batman’s vigilante activities, buying herself a Robin suit and unexpectedly aiding Batman whilst he unsuccessfully attempts to reprimand the leader of The Mutants. Batman formalises the appointment of a new Robin, and defeats the Mutant Leader, earning himself a new band of namesake vigilantes, splintered from The Mutants. The ‘Sons of Batman’ take it upon themselves to deliver an especially brutal brand of retribution, which catches the attention of President Reagan. Superman is tasked with apprehending Batman, in an attempt to end the violence.

The Joker emerges from catatonia and manipulates his way out of custody, whilst the Soviet Union launches a nuclear attack that is intercepted by Superman, causing his near-death. Tensions continue to escalate, until Batman and Superman finally come face to face in Crime Alley.

The Dark Knight Returns is a triumphant addition to the Batman storyline, and ranks as a perpetual fan favourite.
4 V For Vendetta


Alan Moore and David Lloyd
The connoisseur’s dystopian graphic novel, and an everlasting inspiration for Halloween costumes, V For Vendetta is an astoundingly intricate story of justice and retribution in post-apocalyptic England.

The story begins on Guy Fawkes’ Night in an alternate 1997, with the attempted assault of Evey Hammond by agents of the secret state police. They are violently intercepted by V, a mysterious anarchist who blows up the Houses of Parliament later that night.

Evey, enraptured by her enigmatic saviour, becomes V’s protégé, and shares her life story with him. Evey’s tale of struggle and personal loss is interwoven with the broader national and global context. After a catastrophic international nuclear war, England is under the control of the neo-fascist Norsefire Party, which uses a variety of brutal methods to stamp out resistance.

Meanwhile, the authorities are investigating V’s continuing spate of rebel actions, and it soon becomes clear that there is a link between V, a ‘resettlement camp’, and sadistic medical experiments.

V For Vendetta is simultaneously sprawling and complex, with a narrative that keeps the reader hooked all the way through. The most poignant aspect of the story is the speed and ease with which society can disintegrate; a reminder of our never-ending proximity to chaos.
5 All Star Superman


Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Following an audacious solar rescue mission, Superman discovers that his powers have been radically enhanced. It soon becomes clear that the event was surreptitiously organised by Lex Luthor to deliver a deadly dose of radiation. Superman discovers that the source of his boosted powers has also shortened his life, and he has just one year to live.

Superman begins making preparations, particularly for Lois Lane. He provides a serum that allows her to experience his super powers for one day, and together, they put an end to an attack taking place in Metropolis. After a romantic celestial embrace, the serum wears off, and Superman returns Lois safely to Earth.

Lex Luthor, meanwhile, has been arrested for his actions and sentenced to death. Having covertly acquired a similar serum to that used by Lois, he escapes and launches an attack on Metropolis. After collapsing and seemingly meeting death in his worldly form, Superman is restored to apprehend Luthor and prevent destruction of the solar system.

All Star Superman has an emotional depth that is sometimes missing from volumes of this franchise, and indeed other superhero stories. The apparent conclusion of Lois and Clark’s romance is perhaps the most poignant, but there are also aspects of Superman’s mortality that leave a lasting impression on the reader.
6 Nimona


Noelle Stevenson
A charming and beautifully-crafted story with the titular character at its core, Nimona follows the escapades of a young shapeshifter who finds herself as the sidekick of the seemingly iniquitous Lord Ballister Blackheart. Ballister used to work for the Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics, but was expelled after a fight with a colleague and friend, Sir Ambrosious Goldenloin, in which Ballister lost one of his arms. Since that incident, Ballister has held deep resentment towards Goldenloin and the Institute, and vows to overthrow both.

Ballister discovers Nimona’s unique powers, and utilises them to help him in his mission. Upon the discovery that the Institute is developing a deadly weapons program, Nimona reports this information to the general public, whilst Ballister creates and disperses a non-lethal poison to direct suspicion and anger toward the Institute.

Goldenloin is tasked with bringing Nimona and Ballister to justice. He is reluctant to kill them, and a deal is struck to spare Ballister’s life, but not that of the more powerful Nimona. After two inadvertent deaths from the poison, Ballister attempts to deliver the antidote, but both he and Nimona are captured. In a desperate attempt to escape, Nimona splits herself in half, with one side becoming a violent dragon. The remainder of the story deals with the difficult decisions that must be made to restore order.

Nimona is an enchanting tale that captivates the reader all the way to its bittersweet conclusion. A modern classic.
7 Through The Woods


Emily Carroll
A visually stunning graphic novel, Through The Woods takes the reader on a terrifying journey through a series of mini ghost stories. There are no jump scares, but a more powerful sense of terror that builds steadily throughout the book. It’s beautifully haunting; a feeling that remains embedded in the mind, long after the final page has been turned.

The most extraordinary aspect of Through The Woods is its artwork. Every page has been curated with an exquisite level of care, which helps to create the immersive experience demanded by the content of every tale. It’s not simply a case of reading each story, but becoming a part of it; finding oneself under the cover of a starlit sky, running from an unknown threat. It’s the perfect Halloween read!
8 Wonder Woman


Gail Simone and Amanda Deibert
Strong, confident, and intelligent, Wonder Woman is the ultimate symbol of female empowerment. The alter ego of Diana Prince, a native of the remote Themyscira (also known as Paradise Island), Wonder Woman journeys to America in the name of love and begins to develop super powers.

She uses her abilities to fight injustice and crime, and stamp out evil wherever she encounters it. Wonder Woman has formidable allies in Batman and Superman, as well as her colleagues in the Justice League.

Wonder Woman is not a token character in a shiny outfit. She’s a strategist, a nurturer, an ambassador, and a warrior, with compassion and integrity at her very core. Her enduring presence is testament to the quality and relevance of her story.

Wonder Woman has had a long and illustrious run, which makes it a challenge to select which phase of her timeline is the most iconic. Ultimately, it’s the work of Gail Simone that stands out. Simone wrote the series from 2008 to 2010, during which Wonder Woman takes on The Olympians, fights off the Black Horizon, and comes up against the terrifying Genocide. She remains an inspirational character, whose influence extends beyond the franchise.
9 Black Panther


Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Born into the royal family of the secretive African nation of Wakanda, T’Challa has experienced immense emotional suffering, due to the death of his mother in childbirth, then the brutal murder of his father, King T’Chaka. T’Challa is first in line to the throne, and so, is destined to take on the title of Black Panther after his father’s death. His uncle, S’yan, accepts temporary conservatorship of Wakanda, allowing T’Challa to grow and prepare himself for the challenges of leadership.

Once he reaches adulthood, T’Challa takes his place as the new Black Panther, and is immediately tasked with confronting internal divisions, corruption, and the clandestine sale of Wakanda’s precious resource, vibranium, to outsiders. In order to prove his mettle, the Black Panther invites the Fantastic Four to Wakanda, planning to demonstrate his burgeoning abilities by defeating them. He is unsuccessful, but explains his circumstances and receives their support. Subsequently, he joins the Avengers team, playing an instrumental part in the defeat of the second Sons of the Serpent.

As the Black Panther, T’Challa must respond to domestic issues in Wakanda, as well as international threats. He is a complex character; a physicist with a PhD from Oxford University, a successful politician, a skilled fighter, and a master negotiator, with an unshakable commitment to his homeland. It is this multi-faceted personality that makes the Black Panther’s story so absorbing.
10 Daytripper


Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
The visual splendour of Daytripper is matched only by the bittersweet complexity of its narrative. Written and illustrated by twins Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon, Daytripper tells the story of Brás de Oliva Domingos, an obituary writer and son of a famous author. Each chapter represents a day in the life of Brás; the timeline jumping around to provide an interesting, non-linear account.

Jaded from the nature of his work, Brás complains that he would rather be writing about life than dwelling upon death. His friend Jorge argues that death is an intrinsic part of life. This gives Brás food for thought, and the story twists and turns through the most memorable moments of his life; his first kiss, meeting his one true love, witnessing the birth of his son, and so on. The reader begins to piece together the making of Brás, through glorious illustration and an innovative plot.

Without giving away any spoilers, be prepared for unexpected jolts. Allow yourself to suspend your usual expectations of logic, and simply go with the flow. Daytripper is poignant, emotional, and thought-provoking; most of all, it is life-affirming. Precisely as Brás would want it to be.
11 Ghost World


Daniel Clowes
Sometimes dark, often hilarious, and always enthralling, Ghost World tells the story of two teenagers, Enid Coleslaw and Becky Doppelmeyer, who have recently graduated from High School in their unnamed, generic American town. It’s set in the early 1990s, but the portrayal of adolescent apathy is timeless.

Enid and Becky have a close, long-term friendship, but the strain of impending separation, due to Enid’s plans to attend college, is having a detrimental effect. The girls are united in their indifference toward popular culture, as well as the people around them. Their only other friend of note is the shy and quiet Josh. Both girls have developed romantic feelings for Josh, which only serves to creates further tension between them.

As the story develops, it explores many of the challenges of early adulthood, including love, friendship, conflict, identity, growth, and indecision over choosing ‘the right path’. It’s a deliciously complex blend of themes, delivered through a visual narrative that is genuinely engaging.

Ghost World has been hailed by critics for its realistic depiction of the modern teenage experience. Some have compared it favourably to JD Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; whilst that is praise indeed, it’s best to go into Ghost World with an open mind. You won’t be disappointed.

comic book

Exploring the evolution of visual storytelling

Visual storytelling is as old as human communication. From cave drawings to elaborate tapestries, humans have always had a knack for expressing themselves through pictures.

It was only in the 1930s, however, that the comic book format came to prominence. Starting with Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics in 1933, the golden era of comic books was ushered in. From the early 1930s until 1950, some of the most prolific comic characters were introduced, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Captain America, Aquaman, and Captain Marvel. Throughout this period, artists and writers also began experimenting with different genres in a comic book format, such as comedy, drama, crime, horror, and romance.

In the early 1950s, American concern over the perceived delinquency of the nation’s youth led to a crackdown on the content that could be included within comic books. This brought about a lull in the creative development of comics, from which the industry began to emerge after 1956.

Superhero stories
Superheroes have always been a huge part of the comic book format. The popularity of characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, as well as the competing super groups, has driven continuous advancement, both in terms of artistic value and storyline complexity.

Superhero stories remain popular, and have transcended their comic book beginnings to include films, TV series, video games, toys, theme park rides, and countless amounts of merchandise. A good superhero tale has the power to inspire generations.

The emergence of graphic novels
Although illustration and literature have always had a firm friendship, it wasn’t until the 1960s that the term ‘graphic novel’ was coined. This format bridges the gap between the completeness of traditional prose and the serialized nature of comics.

Graphic novels have exploded in popularity, particularly since the format entered the mainstream in the mid-1980s. Some writers and illustrators have pushed back against the perceived elitism of separating graphic novels from comics, arguing that there is no tangible difference between them. Still, the emergence and sustained popularity of visual storytelling in a novel-length format is to the credit of all contributors, whichever term they use.

Digital narratives
Web comics sprang to prominence in the early 1990s, in tandem with the expansion of the internet. Whilst the original wave of web comics were simply replicated from paper publications, soon a specific industry began to surface. From the mid 1990s through to the early 2000s, the format rapidly evolved, becoming more artistically complex, critically acclaimed, and financially lucrative.

Although the popularity of the format has since waned, committed artists and dedicated fans remain loyal to one another. There has also been significant growth within the Asia-Pacific markets.

The future of comics
Some analysts have expressed concern over the long-term viability of the comic industry, citing oversaturation, limited budgets, and competition from other forms of media. It is the duty of publishers, they argue, to keep pace with evolution seen in other media formats, without compromising artistic quality. This is certainly a challenge, but it’s worth remembering the consistent popularity of visual storytelling. As such, it’s a narrative format that will surely continue to endure.