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Top 100 Comics of 2016

40. Unfollow

Author: Rob Williams

Artist: Michael Dowling

Publisher: Vertigo

Unfollow is the forgotten book by Vertigo this year. All the love for the Young Animal line and other books from Vertigo that may come up on this countdown have all overshadowed Unfollow. Maybe it is the name, how closely tied it is to social networking, or perhaps because the premise sounds like a trope that has be done to death. Whatever the case, more attention needs to be paid to this very trippy story that subverts expectations over and over again.


39. Deadly Class

Author: Rick Remender

Artist: Wesley Craig

Publisher: Image Comics

A big part of me thought this was the beginning of the end for Deadly Class. After some major events took place this year I wondered how this comic could go on with the new status quo. Everything the book was working towards was up ended in one key issue. Somehow not only has the book continued it has gotten better. I have loved this comic since it starts, but at times the over melancholic tone does become a bit much. With a fresh bash of characters added that has been replaced with a much more entertaining dark sense of humor.

38. Terminal Lance: The White Donkey

By:  Maximilian Uriarte

Publisher: Hachette Book Group

Over the last decade or so there has been a great deal of fiction that covers the Iraq war in one shape or another. So in order to standout from that ever increasing crowd you need to do something different or unique. For Terminal Lance: The White Donkey what makes it work is that is messy and does not provide easy answer to complex problems. Maximilian Uriarte’s personal experience is evident in the way his portrays his charters in all their faults and doesn’t let them off easy. This is a treacherous journey for all, especially when many are not even sure what they are looking for.

37. Harrow County

Author: Cullen Bunn

Artist: Tyler Crook

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

A lot has been said regarding the horror renaissance that has been occurring with movies like It Follows and The Witch. What should be talked about on equal footing is the same type of renaissance that is occurring in horror comics, and what is leading the influx of great horror stories is Harrow County.  Terrifying in the best of ways Harrow County is Cullen Bunn’s inspired story of the terrifying effects of guilt. When reading I may throw on a couple extra lights just to be safe.

36. Doctor Strange

Author: Jason Aaron

Artist: Chris Bachalo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Doctor Strange marks the second Jason Aaron book on this list. This does share some common qualities with The Mighty Thor. With both Aaron has taken characters that can be challenging to get into and made them more palpable for general audiences. Aaron took what is usually an abstract concept with magic and gave it real world stakes and consequences.  Now Dr. Strange is not just a random guy with funny sounding incantations he is an actual warrior. It takes a special kind of writer with a special set of skills to redefine a character in the way Aaron has with this series. I never thought a Dr. Strange series could work beyond a short mini, but leave it to Jason Aaron to prove me wrong.

35. Giant Days

Author: John Allison

Artist: Max Sarin

Publisher: Boom! Studios

As a 31 year old male Giant Days is not a comic written for the likes of me, yet despite that I find myself enjoying it a great deal. Great writing is great writing and that is what Giant Days is full of in each issue. John Allison has created a comic full of fully realized diverse characters that all provide something very different. If you are like me and think this comic is not for you I implore you to give it a shot. It at the very least will give you insight to a world outside of your own.

34. Tetris: The Games People Play

By: Box Brown

Publisher: First Second

Tetris: The Games People Play reads like a fascinating court room drama with all the insane twist and turns, heroes and villain, and just play crazy legalease it makes you wonder just how in the world does anything ever get done when something as simple as a video game could cause so much complexity. Reading this I could not help but think this has all the makings of a great documentary. Outside of the legal story was an mind binding investigation into what exactly makes Tetris just so darn appealing to so many. It was like finding the answer to a lifelong mystery you did not ever existed. There has long been a debate over the legitimacy of video games as an artform and this spins a compelling case. By looking into all aspect of game play whether it is the way our mind interrupts gameplay in fractions of a second to how game designers can manipulate players with mind bending tricks, all show there is much more to creating games then just having fun.


33. The Omega Men

Author: Tom King

Artist: Barnaby Bagenda

Publisher: DC Comics

We forget that at their core superheores are telling a Science Fiction story. The Omega Men is a reminder of that. King and Bagenda are masters at the classic nine panel story telling method. People will be using this as a teaching example of how to properly pace a comic for years to come.  This if course is not the first nor will it be the last time Tom King’s name shows up on this countdown. I give DC credit for allowing King and  Barnaby Bagenda to finish this series despite the low sales. If you have not read it change that now as you can get the entire thing in one solidly packed trade.

32. Southern Bastards

Author:  Jason Aaron

Artist: Jason Latour

Publisher: Image Comics

Southern Bastards was my number one comic of last year so you may see its placement here and think the quality has declined over the past twelve months. In  no way is that the case. With only three issues coming out this year it was difficult for me to rank it much higher than this. Output does matter to some extent Those three issues were expediently great as we are getting to storylines that have been teased since the forth issue. Anytime this book is out I can pretty much guarantee it would be the best book of that week.

31. Spider-Woman

Author: Dennis Hopeless

Artist: Javier Rodriguez,, Joelle Jones, Tigh Walker, Veronica Fish

Publisher: Marvel Comics

You know when a comic book is working when it can make you actually care about the death of a character. This year some of the biggest characters in comic book history were killed and none of them affected me the same as the death a D list character in Spider-Woman did.  Javier Rodriguez deserves a special award for some of the inventiveness he showed in this series. I don’t think I saw better artwork than what he did in issue number four this year. Spider-Woman was never a character I cared much for and now after this series she is one of my favorite Marvel characters. This book needs so much more love than it is getting.

30. Dark Night: A True Batman Story

Author: Paul Dini

Artist: Eduardo Risso

Publisher: Vertigo Comics

Paul Dini is a name that any Batman fan is well aware of, but this isn’t just another tale about the caped crusader. Here Dini depicts a real life incident that occured to him that forever changed his life and nearly drove him out of the business for good. What works here is Dini’s brutal honestly and wiliness to open up some of his deepest and darkest secrets and fears. It is a story of redemption, but also in some instances complete redemption is a fallacy. For thsose who wonder why character like Batman are important a story like this demonstrates how comics and cartoons can be vehicles for more than simple entertainment. If you have ever enjoyed any of Dini’s work you owe it to yourself and him to read this book.

29. Paper Girls

Author: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Cliff Change

Publisher: Image Comics

If you are someone who liked Stranger Things but thought it relied too heavily on nostalgia pick up Paper Girls. Do it now. I will wait. Great, now you will see that Paper Girls has that throwback adventure without feeling derivative of other famous properties. For everyone one question it answers it may ask three more, but never it an annoying sense.  Brian K Vaughan lets you comprehend without completely understanding everything going on allowing the mystery to remain exciting.

28. Irmina

By: Barbara Yelin

Publisher: Reprodukt

Released for the first time this year in English Irmina tells the tale of a young German woman looking to start her adult life in London in the Mid 1930’s. Author Barbara Yelin indicated this book was inspired by the diary and writings of her own grandmother, which explains the personal touch the entire narrative holds. This story works as a cautionary tale of how personal determination can easily become halted by factors we never considered happening. How dreams are forgotten as we settle into what is comfortable. There are an endless amount of stories about WWII but none I can think of follow this trajectory. We see a person who not only accepts the disfranchised but will fight for them morph into follower of the Nazi regime. What was perhaps most shocking was the little amount of effort that went into that change. Fear is a powerful tool. That is part of what makes Irmina such a compelling character. Yes there elements to her story that you will surely feel sympathy towards, but mostly her life was set off course due to her own decisions.

 

27. Black Science

Author: Rick Remender

Artist: Matteo Scalera

Publisher: Image Comics

Last year Black Science did not make my list and that was criminal. I was rightfully called out for that and spent a lot of time this year catching up with it, and a big part of me was glad I waiting to read this series because I could easily become lost if I read this by month by month. The lazy thing would be describe this as the comic book version of Sliders, but that does not begin to describe it. Tragic does not begin to describe the group of characters. Remender seems to enjoy finding new ways to tear down these characters only to slowly build them back up.


26. Divinity II

Author: Matt Kindt

Artist: Trevor Hairsine

Publisher: Valiant Comics

It is a common theory when it comes to superheroes that it is impossible to tell a great story with a character with god like powers. That often gets thrown at a character like Superman (someone we will be getting to shortly). Divinity last year showed that was not the case, and Divinity II is a far better story.  Matt Kindt uses these characters insane power levels to his advantage crafting a story that travels through time and space like no other. Kindt realized he had no limitations and used that to his advantage.

25. The Spire

Author: Simon Spurrier

Artist: Jeff Stokely

Publisher: Boom! Studios

The Spire is fantasy with a capital F. Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely worked hard to create a world filled with its own unique lore, rules, and characters. They juggled the world building enough see it never got in the way of the story being told. Not since Saga debut have I been this impressed with the handling of both of those elements.

24. Hot Damn

Author: Ryan Ferrier

Artist: Valentin Ramon

Publisher: IDW Publishing

“Well that is messed up!”—words I said aloud many a times while reading Hot Damn. As a writer Ryan Ferrier is not afraid of big concepts with off the wall ideas. Here it takes on the afterlife in a way that has never been seen before. His take a God alone is something I am surprised did not call riots in the streets. As a person who loves it when people are not afraid to push buttons, this was a book I ate up completely.

23.  Lady Killer 2

By:  Joelle Jones

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

The Lady Killer series takes the period style of Mad Men and mixes it with the bloody violence of Dexter. It is delicious it the way it sensationalizes.  What impressed me was how Joelle Jones reshuffled things with the second addition, because he had a setup that could have lasted him some time. Instead of playing it easy he took this series a very new direction keeping it fresh and exciting.

22. Moon Knight

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Greg Smallwood

Publisher: Marvel Comics

I am starting to feel bad for Jeff Lemire because this is his second comic on this list of his and the first thing I am going to talk about how great the art is again. Similar to Old Man Logan the art here is so good you do not even need to read any of the words on the page to enjoy the book. It certainly helps and you do have to give major credit to Lemire because he has two great books on this list that are vastly different in concept, tone, and style. With Moon Knight he explores the fractured mind of Marc Spector in some truly creative ways, and if the most recent issues are any indication he is only getting started. Moon Knight is not a character many people take all that seriously, but the truth is he has yielded some really great comics in recent years. This being no exception.

21. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

Author:  Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

Artist: Robert Hack

Publisher: Archie Comics

As someone who grew up in the 90’s when I think Sabrina the Teenage Witch the thing that comes to my mind is the TGIF show staring Melissa Joan Hart. This is not that. Not even close. This is not even similar to the recent Archie reboot that somewhat modernizes the world of Riverdale. Although a number of classic Archie characters due to a surprisingly pivotal role. I have a hard time fully describing the tone of this book. It takes the idea of Sabrina being a witch much more seriously and does not shy away from the satanic connection that brings. At the same time it is a true period piece of the 1960’s. Keeping to the lifestyle and mindset of that time without ever being ironic or cynical about it. The mythology it creates is fascinating and within that a lot of complex family drama that haunts Sabrina in more ways than one. This is one of the best reinventions of a classic character in some time.

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