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”

Hopeless Savages: Break Graphic Novel Review

hopeless-savages-breakErica Gives This Comic Four StarsHopeless Savages: Break by Jen Van Meter
Art: Meredith McClaren

Hopeless Savages remains a super cute book about this punk rock family through the lens of Zero. One of the most interesting aspects of Zero’s point-of-view has been how she seems her family history. She sees her parents as super accomplished. Zero only knew them as their sober, more together selves, who’d already figured out how to raise children. Same with how she views her older siblings.

Of course, this also means Zero has high expectations about what it means to tour.

All those expectations are soon to fall down, which makes for an entertaining book. Continue reading “Hopeless Savages: Break Graphic Novel Review”

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1 Graphic Novel Review

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1Erica Gives This Comic Four StarsThe Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1 by Jen Van Meter
Art: Roberto de la Torre

This book was very much hit or miss for me. There were aspects of Shan Fong’s story that I greatly appreciate and other parts that were muddled and seemingly without direction. This was the first Valiant title I’ve ever read so I’m completely unfamiliar with the universe and its rules. However, from what I’ve seen, they’ve been relaunching it and the stories are supposed to build the world for readers.

Van Meter did a wonderful job at showing the story between Shan and Hwen. About explaining how they met and how he died. I bought their epic love story which continued beyond Hwen’s death. I felt Shan’s pain over losing him and her depression and self-imposed isolation and how she locked herself away in the house they built together.

Torre’s art was somewhat of a miss for me. The scratchy and sketchy nature of it sometimes complimented the story and in other cases made it more muddled. With the otherworldly creatures, I wanted more definition. Torre’s art also didn’t lend itself to a wide variety of facial expressions. I would’ve loved to see more emotion from Shan’s face, especially since so much of this book’s narrative rode on emotions. Continue reading “The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1 Graphic Novel Review”

The Best and the Worst of 2011 Comic Books

Yes, the time has come to say goodbye to 2011 and ring in 2012. Here’s a look back at the Best and the Worst of 2011* Comic Books.

The Best On-Going Series

Echo #261. Echo by Terry Moore
Average rating: 4.7/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

Moore’s Echo finished with a bang (or did it?) this year. A story of Julie, the unlikely superhero, and stopping the end of the world, Moore’s work is consistently great and on-point. For those scared of the tome that is Strangers in Paradise, check out this much shorter work.
Read my reviews of Echo.
Purchase Echo.

Punisher #52. Punisher by Greg Rucka, Marco Checchetto, Matthew Clark, and Matthew Southworth
Average rating: 4.3/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

I never thought I’d like a Punisher book as much as I love this one from Rucka. Dive into the gritty world of Frank Castle, his mission, and the fall-out of villains, reporters, cops, and victims. With some beautiful art to accompany it.
Read my reviews of Punisher.
Purchase Punisher.

Batwoman #23. Batwoman by J.H. Williams, W. Haden Blackman, and Amy Reeder Hadley
Average rating: 4.3/5 stars
Reading rating: Teen

The most anticipated comic (for me) ever. Anyone reading my blog is probably not surprised that I love Batwoman. Kate Kane is probably one of my favorite characters ever, and in combination with Williams’ art, this title has been making me very happy. I only want more.
Read my reviews of Batwoman.
Purchase Batwoman. Continue reading “The Best and the Worst of 2011 Comic Books”

Hopeless Savages (Vol 1): Greatest Hits 2000-2010 Graphic Novel Review

Hopeless Savages (Vol 1): Greatest Hits 2000-2010Erica Gives This Comic Four Stars

Hopeless Savages (Vol 1): Greatest Hits 2000-2010 by Jen Van Meter
Art: Christine Norrie, Bryan Lee O’Malley, Chynna Clugston Flores, Ross Campbell, Andi Watson, Vera Brosgol, Becky Cloonan, Mike Norton, Tim Fish, Catherine Noorie, Meredith McClaren, and Terry Dodson

I’d been looking forward to reading Hopeless Savages for a long time. In fact, I’d spent a few years collecting the single issues when I’d find them in bins at comic shops before this handy-dandy trade came out. So when I had the chance to choose it as the July 2011 book for GeekGirlCon’s book club, I decided now was the time to read it. (It just took me a little longer to actually sit down to write my review.)

I pretty quickly fell in love with the Hopeless-Savages. Perhaps because part of me still has my punk rock heart and the other part of me loves a story about a caring, if odd, family.

Book 1: Hopeless Savages

I thought Van Meter did a wonderful job at introducing the family here. I have to say that just reading the description for this book, a tale about a family of punk rockers, Continue reading “Hopeless Savages (Vol 1): Greatest Hits 2000-2010 Graphic Novel Review”

GeekGirlCon Date and Venue Announced

Jen, Erica, and Marissa with the signed contract
Jen, myself, and Marissa with the signed contract for the Seattle Center Northwest Rooms for GeekGirlCon.

GeekGirlCon, a celebration of geeky women, will happen Saturday and Sunday, October 8 & 9, 2011 in Seattle. Get your passes now.

Also, there have been four guests announced: Bonnie Burton, Trina Robbins, Jen Van Meter, and Greg Rucka.

I’m so excited. Myself and the GeekGirlCon staff have worked long and hard to secure our date, and we’ll be continuing to work a lot to make the convention fully come together. We are so excited to have a place. Hope to see you all there!

Top 5 Miniseries in 2010

One thing I really appreciate about a miniseries is that there’s going to be a short, self-contained story to tell. The big two companies (Marvel and DC) also tend to take some chances in giving backgrounds to lesser known characters or spotlighting up-and-coming artists and writers in miniseries. All of these miniseries I read as single issues, not collected. Sadly, my favorite miniseries on this list was not intended to be a mini, but an on-going, before it was cut off at the knees.

Without further ado: My Top 5 Miniseries in 2010.

Gorilla-Man #15. Gorilla-Man by Jeff Parker and Giancarlo Caracuzzo

Parker certainly excels in writing Ken. It’s clear, he’s having a lot of fun. I love how we’re pulled in with an action story and how that story ties into a deeper one about Ken’s origins. Specially who Ken was before he became the Gorilla-Man. We know he was a mercenary of some-sort, looking for immortality, but we don’t know a lot more about him otherwise.

The battle with Borgia Omega and his henchmen of art was fun. And that’s what I was expecting when I bought this comic. I love the steampunk sensibilities of how Caracuzzo depicts Borgia Omega. And finding hidden treasures and heads inside sculptures and behind paintings is perfect, classic Agents of Atlas. I also loved Ken recruiting some of Borgia Omega’s henchwomen, and Jimmy lecturing Ken on how they don’t need more people on the payroll.

I love little Ken the orphan, and how yes, in the 1930s, rich people could basically buy children like J. Avery Wolward does with Ken. Everything about Parker’s presentation of Wolward says that he’s a collector. A collector whether it’s a collector of orphans to mold to his ideals or whatever else he’s going to send Ken after.

The little bit of humor with Bob’s holo-projector wristwatch work well to keep it light. As does Ken’s brief knife fight with Ji Banda, who never learned the secret password to prove Ken’s on his side.

I’m really looking forward to finding out the connection between Wolward and Mustafa Kazun and their snake-headed canes. Because you know, snake-headed canes are a short-cut for evil.

Read my review for the entire miniseries and buy Gorilla Man.

Girl Comics #14. Girl Comics by Abby Denson, Adriana Melo, Agnes Garbowska, Amanda Conner, Ann Nocenti, Carla Speed McNeil, Christine Boylan, Colleen Coover, Colleen Doran, Cynthia Martin, Devin Grayson, Emma Rios, Emma Vieceli, Faith Erin Hicks, G. Willow Wilson, Jill Thompson, Jo Chen, June Brigman, Kathryn Immonen, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Laura Martin, Lea Hernandez, Louise Simonson, Lucy Knisley, Mariah Benes, Marjorie Liu, Ming Doyle, Molly Crabapple, Nikki Cook, Ramona Fradon, Robin Furth, Sana Takeda, Sara Pichelli, Sho Murase, Stephanie Buscema, Stephanie Hans, Trina Robbins, and Valerie D’Orazio

#1: I really loved this comic. I loved being the audience. I loved that it showcased women writers, artists, and editors. Yes, not every story knocked me out the park with awesome. A few did though. I appreciate the spirit and the ability to discover writers and artists I might not have otherwise read stories by.

#2: I love the concept of this series. I love this as an anthology of women authors and artists. I love the spirit, even if not every story rocks my world. Say what you will, but it matters that Marvel Comics took the time to do this.

#3: I think I’m rather sad that this series is ending, and it’s taken me longer than normal to put together my review, post-reading it. I hope Marvel continues to make an effort in hiring talented women to write, draw, color, ink, letter, edit, etc. their comic books. I would hate to see this “marketing stunt” turn just into that.

Read all my reviews for this miniseries and buy Girl Comics.

Chip #13. Chip by Richard Moore

After reading Moore’s Boneyard, I really wanted more of his wacky horror-humor mix. Even though he writes about vampires, ghosts, gargoyles, etc., they’re never scary. And that’s the basis of Chip. Chip’s a 4 1/2 inch gargoyle who isn’t scary. But he really wants to be. He lives on a farm in upstate New York where chipped gargoyles are put out to pasture. But Chip’s not chipped, he’s just not scary.

His best friend Ash is a pixie, and there’s a cat Burble, who’s in love with him and always rubs against Chip. Interestingly enough, Burble cannot speak and is just a cat.

After all the other chipped gargoyles make fun of him and give him a demonstration of their scaring power, Chip sulks away. He finds Ash and starts hatching a plan to learn how to be scary. Chip decides they must go to the haunted farm house to find ghosts, which can then teach him.

Of course, Chip himself is scared of about everything in the house and the wild. This book is really cute and well worth the read.

Read my entire review for this miniseries and buy Chip. (OMG, there was a second miniseries. I must buy it.)

Amazing Spider-Man Presents: Black Cat #12. Spider-Man: Black Cat by Jen Van Meter, Javier Pulido, and Javier Rodriguez

I love that this is a comic book about a woman’s job. Sure Felicia has friends and some co-workers, but this is all about her. I treasure that in a comic book about a female character.

The thief tone of this book felt perfect. Pulido did a wonderful job with the art and making it a great read. It adds to the fun. I do think fun best describes the comics I’ve read by Van Meter. They’re delightful and fun, and I’m so glad she’s getting writing gigs with one of the big two. She’s definitely very talented.

I love that Felicia the thief goes after what she wants no matter what. That she’s worried more about her reputation than her safety. That she could dress up in her Black Cat costume and steal the faberge egg, but instead, she steals it in daylight. Steals it while in her civis and talking on her cell phone.

I’m really looking forward to reading more of this comic.

Read my review of the entire miniseries and buy Spider-Man: Black Cat.

S.W.O.R.D. #51. S.W.O.R.D. by Kieron Gillen, Steven Sanders, and Mike Del Mundo

I’ve had my ups-and-downs with Joss Whedon over the years, but if there’s one thing he can do, it’s create an interesting character. Agent Brand’s a good one. I’m so happy she gets her own comic, because really out of all the Marvel comics, there needs to be a human (or half-human in Brand’s case) in space story. Plus, I’ve really enjoy Gillen’s creator-own comics.

The bits that play with gender roles in the Beast-Brand relationship work really well. Gillen doesn’t forget that Beast’s a scientist or that Brand does have a soft spot for Beast. He’s just her blueberry muffin. Adorable. But in all seriousness, it does take a special kind of mind to be able to work day-in and day-out with your significant other, especially when you’re in life-threatening peril.

I like Brand’s background being explored not just in dialog with Beast, but actually having her half-brother show up. There’s more of that showing, not telling.

This comic’s really great. I highly recommend it for anyone wanting to pick up something new and awesome.

Read my entire review for this too short-lived series miniseries and buy X-Men: S.W.O.R.D..