One-shot comics are a great way of telling a good, complete story without much need for background reading. One-shots can also be used as prologues or epilogues to bigger events. It’s a very broad term but for the purposes of this award, I refer to “One-Shots” as comics that are listed as the only issue of their series, so single issues of a comic series won’t be mentioned here.
Runner Up #1: Hulk: The End by Peter David and Dale Keown
I’ve talked about this before so I’ll be brief. Hulk: The End is a dark, post-apocalyptic tale that sees the Hulk alone at the end of Earth. Bruce Banner is still alive but only wishes for death, but the Hulk will not let it happen. The ending of this story is a real gut-wrencher and it’s all beautifully drawn.
Runner-Up #2: Superman Annual #11 by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
Superman Annual #11 aka “For The Man Who Has Everything” is a well-regarded classic and there’s a reason for it. Moore and Gibbons tell an amazing tell where Superman is trapped by the villain Mongul inside of a false reality. Batman, Robin, and Wonder Woman battle Mongul while the Black Mercy flower keeps Superman trapped. The writing here is so amazing. Moore wrings a lot of complex emotions out of Superman’s time back on Krypton. There’s a bit of good comedy from Batman and Robin to lighten the mood. Gibbons puts in amazing work as always, it’s super expressive and detailed.
Runner-Up #3 Countdown to Infinite Crisis by Geoff Johns, Greg Rucka, Judd Winick, Rags Morales, Jesus Saiz, Ivan Reis, and Phil Jimenez
This one is a personal favorite as it is a long story about Ted Kord, the second Blue Beetle that ends in his death. Ted is a very likable, relatable protagonist here as everyone thinks of him as a joke and ignores him. Ted’s narration allows for some insight as we see his thoughts about the big heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman. They’re larger than life but also they are shown to be some of the kindest people. As Ted’s life goes to Hell throughout the story he never gives up and stands defiant right to his death. It’s a great character-focused issue and sent off one of my favorite heroes in a respectable fashion.
Winner: The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin
This shouldn’t surprise anyone as in my Thanos marathon I really raved over this issue and put it as the best comic of the marathon. The Death of Captain Marvel is definitely Jim Starlin’s greatest work as it’s the most relatable comic I’ve read from him. I’m sure everyone has lost somebody or something due to something unavoidable like Cancer. Starlin took something like that and made a story that doesn’t take that lightly. Mar-Vell’s cancer may be because of a supervillain but it’s treated with the seriousness it deserves. There are so many great moments throughout the issue like the Skrull medal Mar-Vell is given and the final sequence with Thanos. It’s a brilliant, well-drawn comic that hits hard every time and I have no problem calling it the best One-Shot comic I’ve read this decade.