The Best and the Worst of 2018 Comic Books

It’s the time of year for recommendations and best of lists. These are my favorites and least favorites of the comic books I published reviews of in 2018. The rankings are averaged from my individual reviews, and if there are ties, then I decide from there.

In 2018, I reviewed 93 pieces of individual media. Quite a bit less than last year, but I also did a book review challenge, which took a bit of my review time and reading focus. For the most reviewed series, I reviewed 15 issues of Lumberjanes, and 12 issues each of Bombshells: United, Giant Days, Ms. Marvel, The Wicked + the Divine, and Wonder Woman.

Going forward, I’m going to try to be reading more of my to-read shelves and spending time catching up again at the books I’m behind on.

The Best Series (reviewing 6+ issues)

23 different series eligible in this category.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #11. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles by Mark Russell, Mike Feehan, Sean Parsons, Paul Mounts, and Dave Sharpe
Average rating: 5/5 stars

Anyone who’s asked me about comic books in 2018 and what they must-read has heard me rave about Snagglepuss. My partner brought home this book for me, and it’s the book I never thought would be one of the most relevant stories for 2018. Set during the McCarthy Cold War era, Snagglepuss covers incredible personal and political territory for a story about a pink lion who walks on two legs, wears suit jackets, and writes plays. Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2018 Comic Books”

The Best and the Worst of 2017 Comic Books

It’s that time, to ring in the New Year with comic book recommendations. These are my favorite (and least favorite) comic books that I reviewed in 2017.

For 2017, I reviewed 368 individual pieces of media. (That’s 103 more than last year!) I reviewed 18 issues of Wonder Woman and 15 issues of Black Panther.

Yes, there may have been one day where I just sat down, read, and reviewed most of Rucka’s most recent Wonder Woman run. Mostly because my friend Kevin was so excited about it (rightly so) and wanted to chat.

Looking forward to 2018, I really want to get caught up on all the single “current” issues I have. They are occupying one, overly full short box.

Fall of 2016, I started culling my pull list, and there will definitely be more of that in 2018. Likely less superhero comics and less overall volume of single issues. I also have shelves of older issues and graphic novels to occupy myself with, so it’s not like I won’t have anything to read and review.

The Best Series (reviewing 6+ issues)

28 different series eligible in this category.

Monstress #111. Monstress  by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Average rating: 5/5 stars

This book continues to be my favorite comic. It is my “if I could only read one comic, it would be this one.” Monstress is a fantasy about a young woman who goes on search for her dead mother’s secrets. It turns out there’s a lot of past. The world both Liu and Takeda create is fascinating. This story does not hold your hand through its characters’ traumas or hand you to the mystery in one neat box with a bow.

Reviews issues #7-9 and #10-12

Ms. Marvel #182. Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Mirka Andolfo, Adrian Alphona, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Francesco Gaston
Average rating: 4.53/5 stars

Ms. Marvel continues to be a superhero book with a lot of heart. It’s charming. It’s real. It’s about the responsibility that comes with great power, the responsibility of being a citizen, the responsibility to your community, and the responsibility to your family. The book often ends up on my recommended lists because it’s that good and that relatable. So what are you waiting for?

Reviews issues #10-12, #13-15, and #16-18  Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2017 Comic Books”

The Best and the Worst of 2016 Comic Books

Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to (aka light on fire) 2016 and ring in 2017. Here’s a look back at the Best and the Worst of 2016* Comic Books.

I reviewed 265 pieces of individual media on this blog this year. Giant Days, Jem and the Holograms, and Lumberjanes had the most individual issue reviews at 12 issues each. Technically, I reviewed 16 Wonder Woman comics; but the New 52 and Rebirth comics are vastly different stories and one was close to the top 5 and the other at the bottom rating-wise.

I changed the format a bit as some stories start off or end strong, which might be my only reviews. But for series where I reviewed many issues, I can be tough even on series that I love, and I wanted this list to reflect consistency in storytelling.

The Best Series (reviewing 6+ issues)

26 different series eligible in this category.

Monstress #11. Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Average rating: 5/5

This book is gorgeous with its fantasy, art deco, and manga influences in Takeda’s pencils. It’s horrifying with plots of a post-war world and a land of broken people. Mostly women, it’s full of women and their stories. It’s a challenge read for the soul. But also for the mind, as Liu’s world building and plots build bit-by-bit. You are immersed in them. Your hand isn’t held. You figure out how to use your feet while running just like the characters.

Read all my reviews for Monstress. Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2016 Comic Books”

The Best and the Worst of 2015 Comic Books

Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to 2015 and ring in 2016. Here’s a look back at the Best and the Worst of 2015* Comic Books.

The Best On-Going Series

Bitch Planet1. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Val De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV
Average rating: 5/5

I love this blatantly intersectional feminist book so much. It packs a solid punch with each and every issue. Though it makes me sad that the book is late almost every month. However, the work and finesse that DeConnick and De Landro put into it make it layered, relevant, and scarily close to our reality. Not to mention the fantabulous essays in the back of every issue.

Read my reviews of Bitch Planet.

Lumberjanes2. Lumberjanes by Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen, Kat Leyh, Brittney Williams, and Carolyn Nowak
Average rating: 4.9/5

This series was a runaway hit. I’m so happy for the success Lumberjanes has had, both in making it an ongoing series and for its creators, who are doing other amazing projects too. At its heart, this is a book about female friendship and that critical friendship during adolescence. Sure, there are dinosaurs, magical gods, mermaids, etc., but the core is the relationships between the girls. My only wish would be that when I was a girl, there was a great book like this.

Love live Lumberjanes! Friendship to the max!

Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2015 Comic Books”

Contextualization and The Watchmen

This weekend, I read Moore’s The Watchmen, and I imagine I might have a few posts on it. I find myself saying a few posts, considering the effect the comic had on the genre and on turning comics into something besides ‘those funny books.’ In addition, to being on all those ‘must reads’ and ‘bests of all time’ lists.

I say it because I’m not quite that enamoured with The Watchmen and think that parts of the text are very problematic. My thoughts need to come forth because when I go hand back the book to my friend Steve, he’s going to demand to know my thoughts and, while he’ll never accept my arguments, they at least need to be sound in my head.

A lot of essays and arguments against some of the more common criticism of The Watchmen is rooted in contextualization or what would happen if I could magically transport myself back to 1986-87 and read it there. (Or perhaps my mother decided to read it to a 3-year-old me instead of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…. Oh, think of my dystopian nightmares.)

I’m perfectly alright looking at context. I think it fits nicely in the millennial and Cold War panics of the final years of the Regan administration. It goes great with Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and my Dead Kennedy CDs. I’m certainly not going to fault Moore that Cold War’s over and we have a new terrorist-based panic.

All that said, if this is supposed to be “the greatest comic ever” or even in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, I’m not sure The Watchmen would make it in. Not because it’s not a good read or fitting for its time, but because I’m not sure if it has the staying power to be the ONLY comic someone ever reads and the ONLY one to make these lists.

If we’re going to go for a Moore comic, I think V for Vendetta is a better comic, with longer staying power, and a stronger narrative/story,

(I do wonder if Persepolis won’t be added as a second comic, given the buzz and the film. (I have not read the text myself, so I can not make a good judgment call on this.))

Contextualization doesn’t save Moore from my wondering if The Watchmen will always be considered classic. If it’s enough of a universal story that readers will enjoy 100+ years from now.

You know, if a giant monster doesn’t eat us all first.

(Which wouldn’t you guess that The Watchmen as universal is what my next post might be about. Unless I write about Midnighter, because I think I love him.)