The past year has been a pretty bumpy ride, but looking back on the events of 2016, there have been some fantastic new comic series and a few returning greats. For most of the year I found myself attempted to ignore these event, and spend more time in the imaginary world of comics. Despite the total number of books I read this reaching an all time personal high, I am sure there are many series that I missed out on, and will have to catch up once they are printed in collection.
Enough with the rambling, and on with the lists! Here are my 5 favorite new titles that launched this year (in no particular order).
TOP 5 NEW COMIC TITLES
Black Mask Comics
Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, Clare Dezutti, Thomas Mauer, Courtney Menard
4 Kids Walk into a Bank is the perfect blend of adventure, mystery, and a healthy dose of nostalgia. There are currently only two issues on shelves (issue #3 is due out December 21st), but the amount of character development that happens in those first couple issues. I love the fact that I have a little in common with each of these characters even though they are 11 and 12 years old. The book visually stands out when compared to other comics published today. There is something very playful that Tyler Boss does with his design and art. The layout of the panels become as important to the storytelling as the art itself. It is not the easiest title to find copies of at this point, but if you do stumble on the early issues, do yourself a favor and give them a read.
Marguerite Bennett, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager, Marshall Dillon
Only a little over a year ago Aftershock Comics launched as a new publisher with a couple solid titles. Although these original title are good reads, it wasn’t until I picked up Animosity that cemented the brand as a publisher to pay more attention to. The first issue of Animosity really stands out to me because of the way Marguerite Bennett is able to convey emotion. It was the artist duo that really delivered the story, as there are many pages that do not include text and it is only the visuals that guide the reader. If you needed more convincing to read this series, the first issue has just gone through its fifth printing. Issue #4 is to be released December 21st, so be sure to pick it up and support this amazing series and publisher.
Dark Horse Comics
Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston, Dave Stewart, Todd Klein
Jeff Lemire has to be one of the hardest working comic creators currently in the business. The total number of comic project, both writing and art, somewhere in the double digits, for a variety of different publishers. Black Hammer is the work that really stands out to me. This series falls somewhere between the genres of sci-fi, mystery and action, while taking each of the super-powered characters attempt to come to terms with their current living situation. With each issue, Lemire dives into the deep pasts of one of the characters. For veteran comic readers, these identities are an homage to some well know superheroes, but its the focus on their secrets and the emotional weight caused by having these alter-egos that makes this story unique.
BLACK MONDAY MURDERS
Jonathan Hickman, Tomm Coker, Michael Garland, Rus Wooton
Black Monday Murders is the one title that really stood out to me when it was announced at Image Expo in early April this year. I am a fan of many of Hickman’s previous series, but it was how this book was described that peaked my interest. The book follows the idea that there is, and has always been, a dark, evil force behind the Power and Money of the world. Unlike other comics, Black Monday Murders uses other forms of visuals and design to accompany the main story. By doing this, this series really pushes the boundaries of what a comic can be.
KILL OR BE KILLED
Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Every new project this creative team comes up with, is a giant step ahead of the previous. Known for the many crime series, Kill or be Killed has a very simple premise of a young man, Dylan, being forced to kill. It is the details of who is behind this extortion, and how the main character learns to kill and justifies his actions that make this a great read. Even as a reader I find myself wondering if I feel like the decisions being made are the correct ones. The creators manage to make the normalcies of Dylan, very interesting. I question myself for enjoying a book this much, when it is about a characters exploration of becoming a murderer.
TOP 5 ONGOING COMIC SERIES
Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan, Tomas Giorello, Lewis LaRosa, David Baron, Dave Lanphear
The year started with “The Analog Man” story, which I found pushed the series forward too quick for my liking. However, with every issue after that the creative team did a fantastic job to make Bloodshot Reborn to be an action-packed comic. The addition of a few new characters in the “Bloodshot Island” story arc , helped provide insight into the history of the Bloodshot project created by the Project Rising Sun organization. There is a lot more story Jeff Lemire has to tell when it comes to this franchise, and he has some of the best artists to work with to bring these to life.
Brian K . Vaughan, Fiona Staples
This shouldn’t be too much of a surprise title to be included in this list. Year after year, Brian K . Vaughan and Fiona Staples bring some of the most amazing ideas to the printed page. The reason I continue to love this series is rooted in the deep fantasy of the world which continues to be revealed. You think you are getting comfortable with the characters or their currently location, and then it changes to something far beyond your own imagination. I don’t think I get that type of feeling from anything else I read.
Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Nick J. Napolitano, Travis Lanham, John Paul Leon
This series squeezed into this category since the first issue was release in December of 2015. This Crime-Drama book follows an ex-cop, Chris, who has been contracted to train the new police force in Baghdad. Chris is investigating a murder and has to get assistance from local authorities. Tom King’s sophisticated style of writing creates a great sense of tension and makes it hard to know who is to be trusted.
THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL
Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Rico Renzi
When talking about Squirrel Girl to other people, I consistently refer to the series as being “exactly what comics should be”. By this I mean that it is easy for anyone to pick up any issues and be prepared for an enjoyable read. Ryan North is a master of intelligent, comedic storytelling, and the art team of Erica Henderson and Rico Renzi perfectly match and convey the fun tone of the book. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is set just outside of the Marvel Comic Universe, which allows for creative use of characters, that might otherwise be off limits to most of Marvel series. Lastly, it’s Squirrel Girl’s approach to solving problems that really makes this book unique from every other superhero comic. Rather than in-your-face action, she uses innovative smart ways to rationalize what the “bad guy” is doing to find the ideal solution for everyone involved. A very positive message for children and adults alike.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE
Keiron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Clowes, Stephanie Hans, Kevin Wada
The Wicked + The Divine has really pushed the limits of both the story telling and visuals over the past year. After a series of amazing guest collaborators, many of the issues released this year had the art Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. This creative team continues to amaze readers with their genius craftsmanship. Additionally, the spectacular one-shot, 1831 AD, from Stephanie Hans and the magazine-esque editorial issue, #23, from Kevin Wada really stand out as experimental, working within the world which has been created. I have high expectations for what is to come in the next year from these Gods (the characters, not the creators) as their lives come closer to the 2-year lifespan.