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.

Bitch Planet #82. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and Taki Soma
Average rating: 5/5

My #1 choice from last year, and if you haven’t read this book, what are you waiting for? Intersectionally feminist. A what if every bit of patriarchy became policy and noncompliant women were shipped off to a place nicknamed Bitch Planet. A bit of sci-fi, but mostly a kick to the teeth.

Read all my reviews for Bitch Planet.

Midnighter #13. Midnighter by Steve Orlando, David Messina, ACO, and Hugo Petrus
Average rating: 4.67/5

One of two superhero picks in this top five, Midnighter was a slow burner for me. In that I couldn’t get it out my head eventually. Midnighter’s been one of my favorite comic characters for a very long time. He, along with Apollo, were some of the first queer superheroes I read about who happened to also be gay. Orlando continues to write Midnighter this way. Rarely in superhero comics do you see superheroes just living like normal people, including dating, including having sex with those dates, in between their superheroing. This book has that. This book is Midnighter kicking ass, going on dates, and hanging with his friends. And Dick Grayson and Midnighter in a spa.

Read all my reviews for Midnighter.

Since this review was posted, Warren Ellis was outed as an abuser. As comic books are a collective effort, this review will remain live, but I cannot in good faith recommend purchasing this book or other works by this person.

Injection #94. Injection by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey
Average rating: 4.67/5

Injection is basically a book about five weirdos who are trying to fight or fix a sentient computer virus that also can do magic. It’s irreverent and sharply on point. Witty and tacky. Horrific and absolutely childish in moments. It has everything I love about Ellis’ writing. The characters sing off the page, and I adore each of these weirdos and the tropes they subvert.

Read all my reviews for Injection.

Mockingbird #85. Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, and Ibrahim Moustafa
Average rating: 4.63/5

You can read the first five issues in really any order and arrive at the same place. That’s how much of a genius Cain is. Another superhero comic in a vastly different world, one that’s fun and irreverent. One that’s, dare I say, funny. Mockingbird is a super spy, a scientist, and an unreliable narrater. We only exist in her head with lots of corgis.

Read all my reviews for Mockingbird.

The Worst Series (reviewing 6+ issues)

Wonder Woman #52Wonder Woman (New 52) by Meredith Finch, Miguel Mendonca, and David Finch
Average rating: 1.13/5 stars

This is what happens when the two main creators (writer and main artist) think Wonder Women isn’t a feminist. For two years in a row, this is the worst comic I read. It’s over! And the replacement creatives at the relaunch are excellent!

Read all my reviews for Wonder Woman (New 52).

The Best Series (reviewing 5 or less issues)

15 different series eligible in this category.

Pretty Deadly #81. Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios
Average rating: 5/5 stars

What I noticed about both Pretty Deadly and Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis is that they are both books I read early in the year and then didn’t finish the rest of. But I really enjoyed them. Perhaps they’re just those books that you want to get lost in the story and never end.

Pretty Deadly is a story about myth and Death’s daughter.

Read all my reviews for Pretty Deadly.

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #12. Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis by Gail Simone and J. Calafiore
Average rating: 5/5 stars

A sequel to Leaving Megalopolis, Simone and Calafiore bring the survivors of a local apocalypse back to ground zero. With some military reinforces. The original premise is an island city (much like Manhattan) gets some kind of “virus” that causes all the superheroes to become villains. Then it follows a group of regular humans trying to escape. Simone soars with her original characters, and Calafiore knows how to draw for her books in a way that makes their collaboration incredible.

Read all my reviews for Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis.

Lazarus #193. Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Average rating: 4.67/5 stars

A post-apocalyptical world run by corporations as “families” seems like an accurate prediction of the impending future right now. And no, Rucka and Lark didn’t start this book this year. But this is also a book with compelling characters, espionage, sword battles, and more. It’s a bleak future, but a damn good story.

Read all my reviews for Lazarus.

Rat Queens #144. Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tess Fowler
Average rating: 4.67/5 stars

Tess Fowler really made Rat Queens come alive in a way that I didn’t know possible. The book, about four (rat) women who are marauders for hire, has always been entertaining. There’s battles. There’s sex. There’s magic. There’s drugs. There’s a whole lot of fun. But at the center, there’s four women who are best friends and better with each other.

Read all my reviews for Rat Queens.

Black Magick #15. Black Magick by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott
Average rating: 4.6/5 stars

Another Rucka book on this list. Black Magick centers around a cop, who also happens to be a witch. And not just one that cleans her house with a wiggle of her nose. Instead Rowan must solve supernatural mysteries that may have centuries old implications from witch hunters. This series ended on a cliffhanger, but Rucka and Scott have promised more in June 2017.

Read all my reviews for Black Magick.

The Worst Series (reviewing 5 or less issues)

Sleepy Hollow: Providence #1Sleepy Hollow: Providence by Eric Carrasco and Victor Santos
Average rating: 1.75/5 stars

I’d hoped for one more story with Abigail from Sleepy Hollow, given what happened last season. (Which has made me stop watching the show.) One more romp with her and Ichabod against evil supernatural beings. But this was awful. It was terribly plotted with surprise Amish and dead lesbians.

Read all my reviews for Sleepy Hollow: Providence.

The Best Graphic Novels

10 different novels eligible in this category.

Princeless Vol 11. Princeless Vol 1 by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin
Average rating: 5/5 stars

This is the bedtime story I want read to all kids. But especially little girls and little girls of color. Of course, Whitley and Goodwin’s work also makes an entertaining read for people of all ages. I read this as part of the ladies comic book club I’m in, and every single person loved it.

Read my review for Princeless Vol 1.

2. Tomboy by Liz Prince
Average rating: 5/5 stars

Tomboy is a story about gender, and not quite fitting in with your gender. This is another story that I wished I would’ve had as a kid. Prince walks through the sometimes complex world of thinking behind gender, framing it with stories about childhood. Liz and the Ghostbuster action figures in all their 90s glory.

Read my review for Tomboy.

Princeless Vol 2: Get Over Yourself3. Princeless Vol 2: Get Over Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and Emily Martin
Average rating: 4/5 stars

I enjoyed Princeless so much that I got the second volume too. The second volume introduces you to more characters and more types of people. Not just women, but also men in Whitley’s stories buck gender stereotypes and expectations. While I didn’t adore it as much as the first volume, it’s still a wonderful, must-read. I can’t wait to pick up the next volume.

Read my review for Princeless Vol 2: Get Over Yourself.

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 14. The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1 by Jen Van Meter and Roberto de la Torre
Average rating: 4/5 stars

This is another one I might not have picked up without the book club. I’m a fan of Van Meter’s writing (in fact, she’s also in the #5 spot on this list). However, the Valiant universe hadn’t previously been something I’d explored. And I’ve still only read this and Faith. Doctor Mirage is a widow who must go to a hell dimension to find herself again (and solve some mysteries). This book is part love story and part fighting demons with magic.

Read my review for The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol 1.

5. Hopeless Savages: Break by Jen Van Meter and Meredith McClaren
Average rating: 4/5 stars

I’ll never turn down a chance to be in the world of the Hopeless-Savages. This tale follows Zero in her first year of college and being away from her family. Perhaps it’s not as glorious as she expected. Especially when she decides to make it all better by touring. The Hopeless-Savages prove that they always better together.

Read my review for Hopeless Savages: Break.

The Worst Graphic Novel

Stumptown Vol 3Stumptown Vol 3 by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood
Average rating: 3/5 stars

This volume of Stumptown just didn’t do it for me between all the football (soccer) and Dex’s erratic actions. And no, it has nothing to do with the Timbers and Sounders rivalry as I don’t follow sports. It was just disappointing, especially considering how much I’d liked the other volumes. (Also, I didn’t review any graphic novels that I absolutely disliked.)

Read my review for Stumptown Vol 3.

*2016 being when the reviews appeared here on my site. Not necessarily when the book was published.

What were some of your favorite comic books in 2016?

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