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Top 100 Comics of 2016

20. The Nameless City

By: Faith Erin Hicks

Publisher: First Second

This is one of those rare young adult comics that doesn’t really bother pandering to any age range. One of those books that children and adults can enjoy equally. Good storytelling has no age restrictions. This is my first Faith Erin Hicks book but it clearly won’t be my last. I was halfway through this and already thinking I cannot wait for the next novel. The prologue is greatly effective in establishing this world and the story takes off from there with some wonderfully colorful characters and thrilling adventures. The narrative is very tightly woven keeping the pace steady and consistently moving.

19.  Patience

By: Daniel Clowes

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Daniel Clowes doing a time travel story seems strange at first. The man that brought us Ghost World does not seem like the type of mind that would shy away from genre tales. However, what he does is add a level of relatable into the other worldly. Yes it involves some common tropes associated with time travel. Such as the inevitability of events and how we can be the cause of our own demise.  Also the artistic style of Clowes is fantastic with its retro look and coloring.

18. Saga

Author: Brian K. Vaughan

Artist: Fiona Staples

Publisher: Image

What more can I really say about Saga at this point. I feel bad for not ranking it higher than this. Saga has become that kid who gets nothing but straight A’s all the time. You become to expect excellence to the point you take it for granted. Saga will most likely be look at as the greatest comic of this generation. If you are a fan of enjoying things read it as soon as possible. I love that Brian K. Vaughan has purposely written a story that would be impossible to adapt. It is this giant middle finger to those who think comics are not on the same level as TV or movies.

17. Panther

By: Brecht Evens

Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly

Unsettling is the word that dominates my mind when I think of this book. A story about a girl who is visited by a magical Panther after her pet cat passes away has the makings of classic fairy tale, but as the story progresses it is clear something sinister is going. Through its wonderful art and brilliant color pallet Brecht Evens demonstrates that people and things should not be judged solely off of face value. Although this book hits on some major adult themes it could be shared with children under strict guidance of an adult. It broaches a subject that is difficult to discuss but absolutely vital to talk about. Evens never makes it fully clear if the events are meant to be an allegorical representation or the metamorphosis of a young mind trying to understand true physical horror, and in a way that is a question best left unanswered. It causes the book to end with a devastating thud of uneasiness and tragedy. This book will be sticking with me for a long time to come.

16. The Black Monday Murders

Author: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Tomm Coker

Publisher: Image Comics

Black Monday Murders is dense for a Jonathan Hickman story, which is like saying that movie is violent for Quentin Tarantino movie. I would be lying if I said I understood everything that is going on in each page. Still Hickman’s craftsmanship is second to none. The use of secret emails and memos give it a unique feel, and the heart of it is just a great murder mystery.

Superman #6

15. Superman

Author: Peter J. Tomasi

Artist: Patrick Gleason

Publisher: DC Comics
No character benefited more for DC’s Rebirth than Superman. Despite the changes made to his character he simply did not work in the New 52. So smartly DC brought up back to his routes and added a little extra. When Superheros become dads it tends to halt their development and ruin their character. However, with Superman it made sense. He’s always been the dad of the Justice League, this just puts it on a more relateable character. It also helps that Jonathan Kent is a great character in his own right. Something we can’t say about the son of Batman.

14. Briggs Land

Author: Brian Wood

Artist: Mack Chater

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Comic fans often talk about series that would make great AMC or HBO shows. When the success of Walking Dead and others it is hard not to see why. Well with Briggs Land you have a comic that has already been picked up by AMC. That may seem too soon considering this series has just started, but reading it is easy to see why. Brian Wood creates this intriguing story taking that is difficult to pin down. It oddly has methodical pacing yet never feels slow.

13. Demon

By: Jason Shiga

Publisher: First Second

Jason Shiga has one sick sense of humor, and apparently I do as well because I found this book flat out hilarious. I would advise reading this knowing little as possible because it makes the slow reveal that much enjoyable. Shiga knows how to handle a high concept without getting caught up in needless exposition. This world and its creative rules are built in an organic way the serve the overall narrative. My only concern as this series continues is the fading sympathy for the main protagonist. Here I am infested in his story despite how truly horrific of a person he becomes, but if you push that aspect too far it could lead to becoming apathetic to his plight. Considering the creative nature of this first volume I have a sense there is a lot more to be revealed so my hope is that concern will turn out not to be a problem as the narrative progresses.

12. Power Man and Iron Fist

Author: David F. Walker

Artist: Sanford Greene

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Power Man and Iron Fist is like the recipe that calls for ingredients that do not seem like they go together. The directions seem simple enough from far away but the closer you look the more you realize the simple genius that went into make all these factors work in tandem. You have a style that is reminiscent of the throwback history of these characters while still remaining modern enough to keep it timeless. There is a unique sense of humor, but at the same time this series has approach some heady material regarding race and societal norms. With one wrong move this could go up in smoke and be a complete disaster, but so far it has come together to be one of the most refreshing comics Marvel has published in some time.

11. The Fix

Author: Nick Spencer

Artist: Steve Lieber

Publisher: Image Comics

The Fix may end up being Nick Spencer’s magnum opus. Looking back at his career it appears he has bee working towards this exact comic. Those who enjoy the classic buddy cop stories akin to Shane Black will see a lot in common with this series. The difference is Spencer really pushes the morality of his characters. They may be reprehensible people but they surely are fun to read about.

 


10. Rolling Blackouts

By: Sarah Glidden

Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly

There is something about the stripped down demeanor of this comic that I found supremely endearing. Despite the fact the book opens with the acknowledgement that conversations were adjusted to better fit the book’s structure never does it feel that way. Obviously based on the title this book depicts a story more people need to know about—what life is like for refugees in some of the most war torn places on Earth, but it is so much more than that. It is an investigation into ethics of journalism and how you find a story in utter chaos. How prejudices affect all of us in different forms despite our best intentions. How seeking answers does not always lead to resolution, and sometimes can leave you more lost than you started. By the end it becomes this microcosm for how the war in Iraq has affected those home and abroad without ever trying to be that story. By simply telling this story in a matter-a-fact way it accomplishes all of this. Day to day life doesn’t fit in a neat box that contains your classic three act structure. I could see some being turned off by its mundane approach, but if you can settle in to its plotting progression there is so much to absorb.

9. The Flintstones

Author: Mark Russell

Artist: Steve Pugh

Publisher: DC Comics

I remember when the teasing images for The Flintstones came out and the backlash that immediately came with it. To be fair this is a very different version of The Flintstones.  Mark Russell and Steve Pugh took the basic framework of the classic cartoon and morphed it to tell one truly dark tale full of biting commentary. They made a vacuum one of the most empathetic characters of the entire year. I can not think of a bigger surprise than this. What many thought was going to be plainly awful turned out to be one of the best comics of the entire year.

8. The One Hundred Nights of Hero

By:  Isabel Greenberg

Publisher:  Little, Brown and Company

You are setting yourself up for failure when the story you are writing is centered on the effectiveness of great storytelling. If one element does not work the entire house of cards you book is built upon will quickly come crashing down. That fact makes the success of this book that more impressive. The One Hundred Nights of Hero has an Inception like concept with this story within a story within another story, that to its credit never gets confusing. The bulk of it tells the tale of a woman who attempts to save the woman she loves by telling great stories as a way to distract the man attempting to destroy their lives. Obviously a take off of classic similar stories but here each story centers on strong female characters that are forced into some form of tragic sacrifice. I was memorized by this comic and how each tale was brilliant at evoking great emotion in only a short amount of time. Each individual story works well on its own but within the framework Isabel Greenberg’s designed each becomes stronger due to the interlocking themes she places throughout.

7. Kill or Be Killed

Author: Ed Brubaker

Artist: Sean Phillips

Publisher: Image Comics

Ed Brubaker is my favorite writer in comics today. I love the Noir genre and no one knows that genre better than him. Last year Brubaker and Sean Phillips gave us The Fade Out, and this year they do it again with a very different story in Kill or Be Killed. To start I was little concerned about a story revolving around a man pushed to murder by a demonic presence. It is somewhat of a contrived idea at this point. I should have more faith in this team because my worries have yet to be proven valid. What is also notable about this series evolving murder and devilish creatures is that it has one of the best love stories in comics today. So  much going on and this comic is only getting started.

6. Black Hammer

Author: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Dean Ormston

Publisher: Dark Horse Coimcs

 

Looking at this list Jeff Lemire’s name comes up a great deal, and when you look at the types of comics he is currently writing it is easy to be impressed by their diversity in style, tone, and story. It is clear what the best comic he currently writing is and that’s Black Hammer. There have been a lot of comics that reflection on the style of the Golden Age of comics, and after this year Black Hammer should be added to the list of the best of them. The mystery is captivating without being overpowering. What sets it apart is the character he crafted, all of which are strong enough to hold their own comic.

5. The Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks: Life and Death Under Soviet Rule

By:  Igort, Jamie Richards (translator)

Publisher: Simon & Schuste

Igort’s Ukrainian and Russian Notebooks stories of the survivors and witnesses to Soviet rule. It is basically a documentary in graphic novel form and although the stories involve horrors that took place decades ago it still ends up being extremely timely. This is more than a book it is a service to helps ensure some very important voices are heard and maintained. When you read about stories like this in history books it is easy to become detached. It’s factual text with no emotion.  Igort reminds us there are humans behind those words. I was grateful after reading this. Grateful for Igort’s work, and grateful for how easy my life is compared to what these people went through.

 


4. The Vision

Author: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Publisher: Marvel Comics

 

When it was announced that Tom King signed an exclusive deal with DC my first concern was this comic would now not get its proper finish. Luckily for the world he was allowed to bring it to a proper conclusion. Part of me wishes this series was allowed to go on past twelve issues because I loved it so much. In reality though it is a type of story that was more effective with this definitive end–well as definitive as a Marvel comic could get. Vision is one of the best horror comics ever written, and one of the most insane. How Tom King convinced Marvel to let him do what he did I will never know. Also it a world where artists change ever three issues it is great to see a complete series with the same team throughout.

 


3. Muhammad Ali

Author: Sybille Titeux

Artist: Amazing Ameziane

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

 

Muhammad Ali  is written with elegance and drawn with grace to the point it elevates the medium as a whole. This is the type of book you can give to someone who views comics as a lesser medium to show them graphic novels are capable of telling stories on the same level as any other artistic form. If you are comic book fan, sports fan, fan of US history, or simply someone who enjoys experiencing master work this is a must read.While Sybille Titeux and Amazing Ameziane’s original graphic novel Muhammad Ali is not packed with new details, it does tell the his story in such a beautiful and original way even the most knowledgeable Ali fan would get something new from this experience. For those who have ever wondered why Muhammad Ali was such a polarizing and important figure this give you the complete answer.

2. The Sheriff of Babylon

Author: Tom King

Artist:Mitch Gerads

Publisher:Vertigo Comics

There have been a lot of movies, TV shows, and now comics that center on the Iraq and Afghanistan War in some way. Most are mediocre as their political agenda takes precedent over telling a good story, but occasionally we get some master work whether it be something like the thrilling Hurt Locker or Tom King and Mitch Gerads The Sheriff of Babylon. I had the pleasure of hearing Tom King speak at the Baltimore Comic Con to discuss this book and his artistic process and it made me more than a fan than ever. With this series, which is an adaption of his written novel, King uses his past experience in the CIA to tell a classic crime story drenched in the political and social climate of this war without ever having agenda.

1.March: Book 3

Author: John Lewis, Andrew Aydin

Artist: Nate Powell

Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

The March trilogy may go down was one of the most vital of this time, and perhaps one of the most powerful artistic works of any medium. This series not only as add a level of legitimacy to the artform of graphic novels, it shows they are not only on equal footing but at times the combination of written word and stunning imagery gives the reader something not even movies can accomplish.. With this being John Lewis’s story you get to hear what he is feeling, thinking, and get a perspective that would not be possible if the words were not his. When you accompany those words with artwork that details the horrors, the faces, the anguish, and the spirit of the time it brings you into historic moments unlike anything else before.

100 – 8180 – 61 60 – 41 ⌈ 40 – 21 ⌈ 20 – 1

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