75. Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival
Editor: Diane Noomin
Introduction: Roxane Gay
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams
Description: Inspired by the global #MeToo Movement, Drawing Power: Women’s Stories of Sexual Violence, Harassment, and Survival is a collection of original, nonfiction comics drawn by more than 60 female cartoonists from around the world. Featuring such noted creators as Emil Ferris, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, MariNaomi, Liana Finck, and Ebony Flowers the anthology’s contributors comprise a diverse group of many ages, sexual orientations, and races—and their personal stories convey the wide spectrum of sexual harassment and abuse that is still all too commonplace. With a percentage of profits going to RAINN, Drawing Power is an anthology that stokes the fires of progressive social upheaval, in the fight for a better, safer world.
Why It Made the List: Full list of contributors: Considering its subject matter and purpose saying this involves emotionally moving work would be an understatement but what makes it more is an underlying desire to inspire and empower. How we can break this cycle of abuse and harassment so a book like this would not be needed in the future. Also with the large amount of creators you can see just how many talented female comic creators there are in the industry today–many of which I was not familiar with prior. Comics have had a lot of great anthology books like this over the years sadly due to so many horrific events that have occurred from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. What these types of books can do is help greatly in the healing process along with bringing attention to important issues.
74. Holy Hannah
Writer/Artist: Will Dinski
Publisher: Uncivilized Books
Description: Holy Hannah is a graphic novel about belief, selfhood, and indoctrination into a religious cult. Loosely based on the life of the notorious Jim Jones, Will Dinski’s Holy Hannah is a close look at the thin line dividing religious belief from cult worship. The 550 page massive tome is the apotheosis of Dinski’s go-to themes where he explores ways in which people’s lives become intertwined in unexpected and frequently toxic ways.
Why It Made the List: A book about that forever long search for connection and that insane path people will travel down to find them whether it is a random online anonymous app or a good old fashioned cult. This consists of two concurrent stories featuring individuals who on the outside seem to be on the opposite end of the connection spectrum but as their stories intertwine are both suffering in similar ways.
At first, it seemed like a harmless memoir of a person recounting her story about how early life success pushed her away from life but being a completely fictional tale it goes in strange and disturbing directions. That unexpected path kept it quite captivating.
73. New World
Writer/Artist: David Jesus Vignolli
Description: As cultures collide with the discovery of the New World, an unlikely trio of heroes work together to combat a supernatural force.
The discovery of the Americas forever changed the landscape of the world as cultures collided with violent consequences. New World weaves the stories of three characters from unique backgrounds—a Native Indian seeking revenge against those who invaded her land, an African musician fighting for freedom against those who enslaved him, and a Portuguese sailor in search of redemption. These three unlikely heroes, connected by fate, will work together to free the New World from the darkness of the old.
Why It Made the List: This reads as a recently unearthed folk tale about the struggle to fight against the colonization of the New World. Partially a story of redemption, as well as someone who profited from those horrors, looks to right those wrongs. The art is the right type of simple. The use of limited lines and the reliance on primary colors enhance the sense this was taken right from a lost culture’s forgotten history. Colors, in general, are quite luscious especially the use of red and yellow to punctuate important moments.
Writer: David Andry
Artist: Alejandro Aragon
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: A decade has passed since the first Waves hit, unleashing humanity’s darkest impulses and plunging the world into chaos. Paxton, a single father of three, must venture from the secluded haven they’ve built to restock the medicine his chronically-ill youngest son needs to survive. When the somewhat routine trip goes awry, Paxton and his children-now separated-will battle everything in their path to reunite.
Why It Made the List: I love what Vault comics does but when I heard they were coming out with another series set in a post-apocalyptic future I was a bit apprehensive. Comics and media, in general, are filled with so many different ways for humanity to fail. Why Resonant works though is due to where the threat is coming from being as much as an internal struggle as external. Alejandro Aragon has a sketchy look with a lot of visible lines which leads to this feeling of everything being on a slight edge. Almost as if these characters have this constant itch they can’t scratch and it can get to the point where everyone is set to explode.
71. Road of Bones
Writer: Rich Douek
Artist: Alex Cormack
Description: Horror, history, and Russian folklore collide in this brutal survival tale, where the worst prison in the world is merely the gateway to even darker terrors.
In 1953, the Siberian Gulag of Kolyma is hell on Earth-which is why Roman Morozov leaps at the chance to escape it. But even if they make it out, Roman and his fellow escapees still have hundreds of miles of frozen tundra between them and freedom. With the help of a mysterious being straight out of his childhood fairy tale stories, Roman just might make it-or is the being simply a manifestation of the brutal circumstances driving him insane?
Why It Made the List: Road of Bones depicts the brutal and unforgiving world of the Siberian Gulag in the 1950s. A place where humanity has long been absent and all that is left are the listless men longing for relief. Isolated with a frozen wasteland the only escape is to become like the malnourished corpses the prisoners bury in the frozen ground that lays beneath their feet. Still, as is quickly demonstrated fleeing to certain death may be a better option than living on frozen hell on earth. Artist Alex Cormack is largely responsible for making the atmosphere of this series as effective as it is. Starting with how he renders the faces of the men that make up this hopeless venture. These are people that have lived their lives as the weight of the world is written into the fabric of their features. Wrinkles, scars, and misshapen peculiarities make them appear like people you would expect to see in the world’s worst prison. Also love how the book differentiates day and night. During the night scenes people and objects are nearly all blacked out except for highlighting some of their outlining features. It is as if even light finds this world too challenging to exist in.
70. White Bird
Writer/Artist: R.J. Palacio
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Description: A Wonder story. In R. J. Palacio’s collection of stories Auggie & Me, which expands on characters in Wonder, readers were introduced to Julian’s grandmother, Grandmère. This is Grandmère’s story as a young Jewish girl hidden away by a family in Nazi-occupied France during World War II told in graphic novel form.
Why It Made the List: A story of a grandmother recounting how she survived the Holocaust to her grandson. It is a pointed tale on how society can quickly crumble into the worst humanity has to offer but also the forces of good that can still maintain in that chaos. Friendship is not often a trait highlighted in stories about the Holocaust but it is here along with the importance of forgiveness when the world around you is so cruel.
It is a fictional tale that doesn’t necessarily shy away from that but also works to stick to the reality of what happened. Along with a direct message of the importance of speaking out against injustice with a purposeful line to many of today’s issues such as immigration. It may not be the most nuanced take but you can’t say a point wasn’t made.
69. Batman: Curse of the White Knight
Writer/Artist: Sean Murphy
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: In this explosive sequel to the critically acclaimed blockbuster BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT from writer/artist Sean Murphy, The Joker recruits Azrael to help him expose a shocking secret from the Wayne family’s legacy—and to run Gotham City into the ground! As Batman rushes to protect the city and his loved ones from danger, the mystery of his ancestry unravels, dealing a devastating blow to the Dark Knight. Exciting new villains and unexpected allies will clash in this unforgettable chapter of the White Knight saga—and the truth about the blood they shed will shake Gotham to its core!
Why It Made the List: Batman: White Knight was one of my favorite books last year so it makes sense the sequel series would show up on this year’s list. Part of me was worried that a sequel coming so quickly after the original would seem rushed or not as fully thought out as the first run. Sean Murphy was clearly playing the long game as this progressed right out of the ruins of the past arc. I love how he basically takes what he wants from DC lore whether it is from cartoons, comics, TV shows, or movies and puts his own spin in out. I can see this world being one that gets revisited again and again.
68. Making Comics
Writer/Artist: Lynda Barry
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: For more than five years the cartoonist Lynda Barry has been an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin–Madison art department and at the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, teaching students from all majors, both graduate and undergraduate, how to make comics, how to be creative, how to not think. There is no academic lecture in this classroom. Doodling is enthusiastically encouraged.
Making Comics is the follow-up to Barry’s bestselling Syllabus, and this time she shares all her comics-making exercises. In a new hand-drawn syllabus detailing her creative curriculum, Barry has students drawing themselves as monsters and superheroes, convincing students who think they can’t draw that they can, and, most important, encouraging them to understand that a daily journal can be anything so long as it is hand-drawn.
Why It Made the List: I read and discuss a lot of comics but still find it hard to fully quantify what this is in a way that does it justice. By breaking comics down to their most rudimentary elements and gradually building in complexity it demonstrates the language as an art form. It studies the relationship between the written word and the visual image and how this artform can strengthen both. One of the more inventive approaches to how to create and construct a comic I read this year.
Writer/Artist: Rob Guillory
Colorist: Taylor Wells
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Jedidiah Jenkins is a simple farmer. But his cash crop isn’t corn or soy. Instead, he grows fast-healing, highly customizable human organs-a miracle cure for all manner of ailments and injuries. Or they were, until his former patients began to transform into something not quite human.
Now, these pour souls are coming to the Jenkins Farm searching for answers. But a dark figure lurks in their collective shadow-one with sinister plans for Jedidiah, his family, and the world.
Why It Made the List: : You have to give Rob Guillory major credit as he has called and shot and so far hit it. On each issue of Farmhand he has indicated the release date of each issue and unless next months gets delayed has not missed a date. While that has no impact on the book’s quality, considering how often series can be late it takes a lot of gall to do something like that. Being the writer and artist nearly everything is on him, and that pressure also gives him full control massive creative teams do not have. If there is one benefit to being a writer and artist it is in control of the book’s tone. This series walks so many tightropes being a part family drama, part horror story, and part comedy that a misstep in any direction could lead to the entire thing collapsing. By never diving too deep into one direction it moves fluidly from one moment to the next. Some of the body horror elements are horrific in design but not overly gruesome in execution. Everything always ties back to the family dilemma as well and instead of going the obvious way Guillory does something better. For example, there is a sequence here where Rob forgets to call his wife leading to a confrontation, however, instead of playing up the melodrama it plays out in a real way. It is small touches like that among all the chaos that keeps this book grounded.
66. Something Is Killing The Children
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’edera
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: When the children of Archer’s Peak begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories-impossible stories of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to see what they can see.
Why It Made the List: Boom! Studios is perhaps having the best year of their existence and books like Something Killing the Children are a big reason why. James Tynion IV is probably best well known for his work with DC superheroes but has also had great success with horror titles, and to be honest his best work tends to be when he writes within the genre. When right in your title you are killing kids you would assume these creators have a strong faith in their work. Only a few issues in so far you can see why. Like Stephen King by way of Manga that will make you scared to comfort those things that go bump in the night in the middle of the woods.
65. Giant Days
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: The third (and final!) year of university is finally here, and BFFs Daisy, Esther, and Susan are in for some surprising upsets in their first semester. Between Halloween run-ins with Daisy ‘s dreaded (dreadful) ex, part-time gigs at a shady pop-up Christmas market, Esther dating a tech-bro, and Susan attempting to be romantic, there’s still plenty to learn and more than enough misadventure to squeeze in before it ‘s time to don caps and gowns!
Why It Made the List: Death, taxes, and Giant Days being one of the best comic books of the year. That has been the norm since the book debuted in 2015 and this year is no different. There are a lot of reasons why it stands out but one of the biggest is what it is not. There are no monsters, superpowers, and anything supernatural whatsoever. Just great stories built upon human drama and development into adulthood. If you have been reading this series from the beginning you have been able to see these characters grow together, apart, and back again. It is an enigma of a comic series in today’s market that will be greatly missed as it sadly ends its run.
64. No One Left to Fight
Writer: Aubrey Sitterson
Artist: Fico Ossio
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Description: They’ve saved the planet countless times, but what happens after the final battle has been won? Creators Aubrey Sitterson (The Comic Book Story of Professional Wrestling, G.I. Joe) & Fico Ossio (Spider-Man, Revolution) take inspiration from the legendary Dragon Ball to tell a story of regret, resentment, and growing older, one that asks, ‘What does a fighter do when there’s no one left to fight?
Why It Made the List: As mentioned I do not have a lot of attachment to manga or anime, however even I can understand and appreciate how much of a love letter this series is to things like Dragon Ball Z. As the title indicates this is not an over the top action brawl between characters. This is looking at who these different archetypes are beyond the fisticuffs. Fico Ossio’s art is phenomenal and the colors are downright superb. It is this blending of different influences making it look like nothing else being made today.
63. Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Harleen is a tough, outspoken, rebellious kid who lives in a ramshackle apartment above a karaoke cabaret owned by a drag queen named MAMA. Ever since Harleen’s parents split, MAMA has been her only family. When the cabaret becomes the next victim in the wave of gentrification that’s taking over the neighborhood, Harleen gets mad.
When Harleen decides to turn her anger into action, she is faced with two choices: join Ivy, who’s campaigning to make the neighborhood a better place to live, or join The Joker, who plans to take down Gotham one corporation at a time.
Why It Made the List: As someone who is indifferent to the character of Harley Quinn when not written by Paul Dini, I was not expecting to embrace this as much as I did. For one enjoyed this take on the Gotham mythos within a High School framework.
Tamaki and Pugh built a strong supporting cast around Harley especially with the characters of Ivy and Momma. It was a world different in more ways than just concept changes. Harley’s quirkiness can be a bit much to bear and the narrative boxes do perhaps push the issue too much but the interstitial pieces of Harley’s past along with how the narrative developed in the final moments lessened that annoyance.
It was the type of book with a point of view and aware its voice would annoy some and took satisfaction in that fact. Of the all-ages line DC did this year this is on the more mature end of the spectrum. This is geared moreso geared toward High School than the Middle School YA crowd.
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Abel’s journey to deal with his family legacy continues as his newfound sense of stability slips through his fingers. Writer SKOTTIE YOUNG (I HATE FAIRYLAND, Deadpool) and artist JORGE CORONA (NO. 1 WITH A BULLET, Feathers) take Abel and his companion, Fox, to a few familiar places, and to others that are both wild and new. The journey across Middlewest has shown these travelers that their homeland has more hidden away than they could have ever thought.
Why It Made the List: In my opinion, this is the best thing Skottie Young has ever written. I have loved I Hate Fairyland and even Bully Wars was fun. Plus his Marvel stuff has been solid. This though has a tragic core to it that is extremely well developed. The metaphor of child abuse and anger is obvious and that is part of the point. How it is handled is what makes it special. By creating conflicting moral dilemmas like what do you do when someone is a danger to others despite themselves also being a victim? You can argue it is a callous move to protect others from their outrage in such a way, but at the same time, it may be irresponsible to do otherwise. Nothing is easy making each tragic moment well earned and each moment of relief that more heartfelt.
61. Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America
Writer/Artist: Box Brown
Publisher: First Second
Description: From the nineteenth century to the twenty-first, cannabis legislation in America and racism have been inextricably linked. In this searing nonfiction graphic novel, Box Brown sets his sights on this timely topic. In Cannabis, Box Brown delves deep into this troubling history and offers a rich, entertaining, and thoroughly researched graphic essay on the legacy of cannabis legislation in America.
Why It Made the List: Reading this I cannot help but think Box Brown is the Errol Morris of comics in how he captures the historical nature of a story with an information-based approach that is continuously enthralling.
For Cannabis he demonstrates the sheer idiocy of what occurred but also the racially motivated roots of criminalizing a substance that no way deserved the vicious scorn laid upon it. How quickly misinformation can spread and maintain long after being proven wrong.
Some could argue this is one-sided however the facts both historically and scientifically are what drive the context of this comic. It is an aggravating read as despite how much has changed misinforming citizens to drive public opinion is as easy as ever. This is a tale of caution on not listening to what the facts say.
60. The Follies of Richard Wadsworth
Writer/Artist: Nick Maandag
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: The Follies of Richard Wadsworth showcases Nick Maandag’s signature blend of deadpan satire and exceedingly unexpected plot twists. In “Night School,” a Modern Managerial Business Administration and Operational Leadership class goes awry when a fire alarm brings the Chief to school and he decides to stick around to teach the students a thing or two about leadership—and discipline. “The Follies of Richard Wadsworth” follows the title character, a professor of philosophy, as he begins work as a contract instructor at yet another university. When Wadsworth finds himself smoking reefer at his student’s party and discovers she works at a rub ’n’ tug, an off-kilter plan is hatched. And in “The Disciple,” a yarn about a coed Buddhist monastery, Brother Bananas, the resident gorilla, isn’t the only one having difficulty keeping his lust tucked safely under his robe.
Why It Made the List: Nick Maandag is to satire of the collegial philosophy scene as Armando Iannucci is to modern-day politics. Highly intelligent with a dry wit and sardonic tone but also leaves room for some great low brow humor to keep things above reproach. I am always impressed with stories that actively try to make you dislike its main character yet everything remains compelling. Richard Wadsworth may not be the type of character you want to be friends with but you can at least enjoy the new ways he finds to be awkward and offputting to everyone around him. It is a special skill for sure.
59. Red Sonja
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak, Robert Carey, Bob Q
Description: No man knows the place of her birth, nor where she learned to wield a sword to shame many a male. They know only that she is called The She-Devil of The Hyrkanian Steppes. That, and RED SONJA.
MARK RUSSELL (The Flintstones) and MIRKO COLAK (Conan) bring a savage tale of metal and blood. A world conqueror possesses a massive army and a fatal prophecy. A bastard sorceress craves revenge. And a fearsome red-haired warrior is made wartime ruler of a homeland set for decimation.
Why It Made the List: Red Sonja was never a character I cared a great deal about. So I am unsure how well this series fits into the lore of the character. The only reason I started reading this was knowing Mark Russell was taking over writing duties. He has proven to be one of the best writers on comics today. Red Sonja would not be my first choice of properties for him to tackle but that is also what made it exciting. You can certainly see Russell’s sense of humor with the character of Dragan, but for those who fear this would turn into a joke fest should know that is nowhere near the case. Red Sonja is examed fully as a person and a leader. She has that commanding presence and her ability to outmaneuver her opponents makes her more than a skillful warrior in a skimpy costume. Mirko Colak art is also strong and vital to this book’s success. Along with other artists like Bob Q who have come on to assist and draw key flashback scenes that help fully develop the characters and this world. You have to also credit editorial at Dynamite because they keep putting on intriguing creators that may not seem like the obvious choice. That has lead to them producing a lot of the best books of the year thus far.
58. Deep Breaths
Writer/Artist: Chris Gooch
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
Description: A space bounty hunter tracks down a frog princess, a woman finds a condom where it shouldn’t be, and a spoiled art student works his first freelance job. Deep Breaths is a collection of short comics about tension, violence, monsters, and moments… including the award-winning story “Mooreland Mates” and nine other tales, rarely or never before seen.
Why It Made the List: A collection of short stories that cover four years of work. Some are ultra surreal while others more slice of life. The one I found to be the strongest was ‘One to Make Him Grow’ as it disturbed me to no end. All I’ll say is it involves a drill…sorry had to pause for a moment as thinking about that scene sent shivers down my spine. Short stories are hard to do right so the overall consistency is impressive. Chris Gooch had a knack for character and love the use of color. You can easily use this as a teaching tool to demonstrate how important color is to setting tone.
Writer/Artist: Jen Wang
Publisher: First Second
Description: When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
Why It Made the List: A story about two young girls from varied backgrounds coming together in a way that leads them to learn more about the world and themselves. What struck me about this book is how the conflict sneaks up on you. Based on the setup it seems like where things will clash are obvious but it holds back and ends up being this delightful read of kids enjoying being kids. Eventually, though problems do surface and in fact escalate quickly. I was taken aback by home much the climax hit me on an emotional level but the book succeeded at getting me to really cared about these characters. Where it does go does come off as a little extreme and nearly contradictory to what came before however knowing it came from a place of reality and how the book resolves makes it all work. Jen Wang has become quite the comic creator.
Writer/Artist: Nina Bunjevac
Description: The jumping-off point of this graphic novel is the myth of Artemis and Siproites, in which a young man is turned into a woman as a punishment for the attempted rape of one of Artemis’ virgin cohorts. Bunjevac’s retelling follows Benny, who, when he comes across a former classmate, concocts a disturbing rape fantasy. In her stippled, illustrative style, Bunjevac crafts a gripping noirish, Nabokovian tale, by turns sensual, surreal, and harrowing, that turns the male gaze inside-out.
Why It Made the List: This was one disturbing read as Nina Bunjevac enters the deranged mind of a sexual predator to see the world as he sees in an emotional stillness obsessed with his own desires and lust. Haunting with visuals that have this coldness to despite the horror occurring. The approach here is almost like a very limited prose style with one still image on each page and the corresponding dialog to go along with it. Holding so many of the details away from the story gives you this unease knowing what you are seeing cannot be at is seems despite how convinced the main character is. When you go back and reread this a second time it is even more disturbing when you know the full truth behind what you are seeing.
55. Spider-Man: Life Story
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: In 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, fifteen-year-old Peter Parker was bitten by a radioactive spider and became the Amazing Spider-Man! 57 years have passed in the real world since that event – so what would have happened if the same amount of time passed for Peter as well? To celebrate Marvel’s 80th anniversary, Chip Zdarsky and Spider-Man legend Mark Bagley unite to spin a unique Spidey tale – telling an entire history of Spider-Man from beginning to end, set against the key events of the decades through which he lived! Prepare to watch Peter Parker age through 57 years of groundbreaking history – and find out what happens to him, and those he loves the most!
Why It Made the List: Chip Zdarsky and Mark Bagley did something I did not think was possible. They took elements from the infamous Spider-Man ‘Clone Saga’ and made a story that not only made perfect sense but had a level of earned sentimentality I was not expecting. Comics often revisit the great stories everyone loves, and chances are if something was good a remake is coming shortly after no matter the medium. However, there is something more impressive about revisiting a story most wish was forgotten and improving upon what did not work and embracing what did. This mini-series accomplished both as it also revisited all-time great stories like Kraven’s Last Hunt. Comic fans have often asked for characters to age with the times and this series did just that. I like the choice of Mark Bagley as an artist as well due to how timeless his style can be. He has drawn Spider-Man for decades now so unlike other artsts his style does not speak to a certain time and place as much. That versatility was key in keeping this book together.
54. King of King Court
Writer/Artist: Travis Dandro
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
Description: From a child’s-eye view, Travis Dandro recounts growing up with a drug-addicted birth father, alcoholic step-dad, and overwhelmed mother. As a kid, Dandro would temper the everyday tension with flights of fancy, finding refuge in toys and animals and insects rather than in the unpredictable adults around him. He perceptively details the effects of poverty and addiction on a family while maintaining a child’s innocence for as long as he can.
King of King Court spans from Travis’s early childhood through his teen years, focusing not only on the obviously abusive actions but also on the daily slights and snubs that further strain relations between him and his parents. Alongside his birth father committing crimes and shooting up, King of King Court lingers on scenes of him criticizing Travis and his siblings. Dandro gives equal heft to these anecdotes, emphasizing how damaging even relatively slight traumas can be to a child’s worldview.
Why It Made the List: The best graphic memoirs tend to be those that feel like their construction aided in the creator processing of the past events which is the case here. It leads to a straight forward yet intimate tale of a life faced with struggle with effective imagery. One of my favorite comics last year was Hey, Kiddo that dealt with similar issues. Addiction is an ailment that is affecting so many people today and it seems like the medium of comics is one of the best at approaching the longing and devastating effects.
53. Old Souls
Writer: Brian McDonald
Artist: Les McClaine
Publisher: First Second
Description: Chris Olsen has a good life. He has a regular job, a wife and daughter who love him, and a promising future. By any measure, this is a good life, but it isn’t his first.
When a troubling encounter with a homeless man triggers something inside Chris, memories of his past lives bubble to the surface. A lost Chinese boy, a wailing grandmother, and a love so powerful it never left his soul—all compete for his attention.
Chris sinks deep into the seedy and seductive world of “grave robbers,” vagrants known for their ability to relive their former lives. But can he find closure to a tragic episode in his past without losing himself in the process?
Why It Made the List: A story about reincarnation and the endless void one can fall into when chasing their past lives. Looks into how obsession even born in reason can lead to self-destruction as the answers sought are often in the connections we already formed. Memory is such a powerful tool and one of those resources we do not realize how important it is until we start to lose it. I loved how this showed how vital memory is to our emotional state both good and bad and the attachment we can form to an idolized and mysterious past.
52. The Green Lantern
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: The legendary Grant Morrison continues his groundbreaking take on the universe’s greatest space cop. Hal Jordan has always believed in upholding the law. But after recent events he may be forced to break his own code in order to protect the universe itself! Familiar faces return as Hal reunites with both Green Arrow and Star Sapphire. Plus, prepare to meet the Green Lanterns from 12 parallel worlds!
Why It Made the List: What I adore about this series is the sheer audacity of it. How each issue reads as a bigger and bigger challenge in how weird things can get. Grant Morrison is not a writer that always works for me but with a character like Green Lantern and the world he inhabits taking things back to a more Silver Age style works. Also, Liam Sharp was born to draw this book. He can draw anything with immaculate detail. Imagination is an underrated element when it comes to storytelling and his levels overflow. I do not see this title working nearly as well without his art bringing everything to life.
51. Thor/The War of the Realms/King Thor
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Michael del Mundo (Thor), Russell Dauterman (The War of the Realms), Esad Ribić (King Thor)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: Asgard. Alfheim. Heven. Jotunheim. Muspelheim. Niffleheim. Nidavellir. Svartalfheim. Vanaheim. All of the Ten Realms have fallen to Malekith and his army, except one: Midgard. Home to Thor’s beloved humans. Home to heroes and gods alike. Now, at last, Midgard burns. All hell breaks loose in New York City as Malekith and his allies begin their invasion — and our greatest heroes watch as Earth falls! With Thor trapped in the land of the Frost Giants and Earth’s forces overwhelmed, Black Panther, Jane Foster and Doctor Strange undertake a desperate gamble. What can possibly stop Malekith and his army? Spider-Man, Daredevil, Punisher, Ghost Rider, Blade, Hulk and more join the fray as Jason Aaron’s epic Thor saga explodes across the Marvel Universe in an event for the ages!
Why It Made the List: So as you can see I cheated a bit with this one and basically combined all the different Thor titles. Although the series name may be different they are all telling the same story that has been going through Jason Aaron’s Thor run for years now. I do like how each chapter this year had its own distinct tone and purpose. Thor was a bit more lighthearted and allowed Thor to work back to being a hero. The War of the Realms was the massive battle that had been building and paid off in a way no Marvel event has in years. Lastly King Thor works as the classic Mise-en-scène finalizing everything a completionist manner by going back to where things ended.