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”

Top 20 Issues in 2010

For my Top 20 Issues, I did not include any issues from my Top 5 #1 Issues or my Top 5 Miniseries selections. Instead, I chose stories I loved and reviewed in 2010. It was hard, especially as I know there were stories that I loved that didn’t make it here because the art didn’t live up to the writing or vice versa. It was hard to choose because it’s one thing to make a beautiful arc and another to make a kick-ass issue and have it fit into a beautiful arc. All these tales were ones that I could tell you immediately what they were about and why I loved them.

Here are my Top 20 Issues in 2010.

Spider-Woman #520. Spider-Woman #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

I love the art in this. The scene where Jessica dives off the rooftop to land in a little puddle of water, the water coming off her body is brilliantly beautiful. I love the technique. Simply gorgeous. Oh, how I wish comic art was this pretty all the time.

Of course, Jessica tells herself that she was only going back for her stuff. It’s a good excuse that helps her feel hard inside. So she doesn’t have to feel partially responsible for those policemen’s deaths. Oh, the stories that Jessica tells herself.

Okay, now the Thunderbolts are after her. But why? Why do they care? Jessica’s just a rogue superhero in a place not under the rule of H.A.M.M.E.R. Not to mention it’s also full of corruption.

Read all my reviews for Spider-Woman and buy Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D..

Zatanna #319. Zatanna #3 by Paul Dini and Stephane Roux

This comic is becoming rather awesome. Zatanna knows what she’s doing and knows how to use her skills. I always love character who use their brains as well as their powers. Likewise, I enjoy her team-up with Dale, because while Zatanna is the one to take down Brother Night, Dale isn’t running and hiding from him and isn’t going to be manipulated into backing off.

For an action-filled comic, the scenes were nicely paced. Roux’s does a great job with the art. I particularly love his page-layouts. The diamond-shapes bring a nice little reminder about Zatanna’s magical powers.

Zatanna has a lot of heart, and it’s really apparent when she saves her crew first. And that she takes the time to turn Mickey into her twin so Mickey can pull off the show Zatanna’s going to miss due to her fight with Brother Night.

I love Zatanna saving her father. I love her tears, while she maintains herself and her powers. A lesser hero would’ve folded under the emotional pressure of her/his father reappearing. The scene Zatanna has with him as she frees him, once again, is just lovely and perfect.

Zatanna’s take-down of Brother Night is likewise fitting. I love that she turns a powerless Brother Night into Dale, but knows that Brother Night will suffer more for the bargain he made with the devil.

Read all my reviews for Zatanna and buy Zatanna: The Mistress of Magic.

The New Avengers Annual #318. New Avengers Annual #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Mayhew

Thanks for the awesome birthday present, Bendis. At least, the way I’m looking at all the comics that came out on my birthday week is birthday presents for me. Well, the good ones anyway.

Finally, an all-girl rescue team. Seriously, those are some powerful women. They completely were overdue to shine in the light. Plus, Jessica back in her uniform. Though she needs to loose the earrings when fighting. Mine fall off when I’m changing my shirt, much less pumbling the Dark Avengers. Well at least they’re all wearing flats.

I rather loved the scenes with Clint tied up naked and being tortured. But that’s just me. Not to mention I’m pretty sure he distracted Bullseye from his target by flashing him. Because for some reason they decided to take off all his clothes. Okay, it’s an approved torture method by the CIA/military, but still my birthday present from Bendis.

Bendis’ take on Bobbi and Clint’s relationship is endearing. However, really similar to Jessica and Luke’s. Except perhaps Jessica and Luke are better communicators than Bobbi and Clint, believe it or not.

Read my reviews for New Avengers and buy New Avengers: Siege. Continue reading “Top 20 Issues in 2010”

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..

Girl Comics #3 Comic Book Review

Girl Comics #3Erica Gives This Comic Four StarsGirl Comics #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.

Jo Chen’s cover is my least favorite out of all the Girl Comics‘ covers. First, I don’t think they’re all super tall. Like beyond supermodel tall. Nor do I think they are as skinny (or could be that skinny). With some minor adjustments, this would actually be a pretty cool cover. A very striking one.

The biographies this time were rather interesting. They focused on Louise Simonson, Ann Nocenti, and Glynis Oliver. With exception of Oliver, the other two women each had a story following their bio. It made me want longer biographies on the rest of the women featured in Girl Comics. Maybe an add-on for the hardcover anthology? Continue reading “Girl Comics #3 Comic Book Review”