Read a book!
Both mainstream and indie comics have been great this year, and it was really, really hard to narrow it down to just 10, but VOILA! – if you want to go back and take a look at what 2017 had to offer in terms of great comic book storytelling, this is a great place to start!
#10: “Punisher: The Platoon”
Just in time for the new Netflix series, Garth Ennis returns to the character he helped define, following up the 2008 “Punisher MAX” story arc “Valley Forge, Valley Forge” with a prequel that details Frank Castle’s first tour of Vietnam. As you would expect, Ennis picks up right where he left off in terms of quality storytelling, with Goran Parlov’s dramatic pencils adding to the weight of the narrative, making this a must-read and an essential Punisher story.
#9. “Crawl Space”
A washing machine that leads to a colorful dimension sets the stage for this absurd and brilliant story about adolescence. Much like the magical appliance in the story, Jesse Jacob’s “Crawl Space” takes you on a wild journey to an entirely unique and imaginative plane of existence that is as colorful and inviting and it is mysterious and frightening.
#8: “Doom Patrol”
“My Chemical Romance” frontman Gerard Way made a name for himself in the world of comics with “The Umbrella Academy” in 2007 (which is now being adapted as a TV series for Netflix) so it’s no surprise that his take on “Doom Patrol” – which also deals with an ensemble cast of bizarre characters – is a great read. While it took a little while to find it’s footing, Way and artists Nick Derington and Mike Allred delivered something fresh and different, distinguishing themselves from the other incredible teams that have worked on the book.
#7: “Moon Knight”
Jeff Lemire takes an essential aspect of Marc Spector/Moon Knight and focuses in on it in a way that makes you question how no one has done this kind of story with the character before. But they haven’t, which makes this psychological exploration of an already deranged character all the more fascinating. The short-lived run concluded in May with #14, and what a conclusion it was.
#6: “Dark Nights: Metal”
From the creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, who brought you the critically-acclaimed New 52 “Batman” run, comes a story about a dark multiverse, and the Justice League facing off against 7 evil versions of the Dark Knight invading Prime Earth. The series began in June and is scheduled to conclude in March 2018, so we don’t have the full story as of yet. What we do have, so far, is quality comics from one of the premier teams in the industry.
#5: “Sticks Angelica, Folk Hero”
Drawn & Quarterly
Yes, sure, it technically ended in December 2015, and you can read the whole thing for free if you so choose, but Michael DeForge’s weekly webcomic has been beautifully presented in this hardcover collected edition. If you recognize DeForge’s signature minimalistic, cartoon-inspired art style, it’s likely because of his work as a character designer and storyboard artist on “Adventure Time” – if you’re a fan of the show, you can’t miss this brilliant story from one of comic’s most original auteurs.
#4: “Black Panther And The Crew”
Author, and MacArthur Fellow Ta-Nehisi Coates began his comic book writing career last year with his take on “Black Panther” and he hit the ground running. He’s teamed up with artist Yona Harvey to deliver a truly special book that was cancelled way too soon. The story sees T’Challa team up with Storm, Luke Cage, and Misty Knight to investigate the death of civil rights activist Ezra Keith, who was killed under suspicious circumstances while in police custody. It’s six issues of timely, poignant storytelling that delivers on all counts, and it’s a shame that low sales prevented the book from finding an audience.
#3: “Wonder Woman”
As if having a mega-blockbuster movie wasn’t enough, Diana Prince had a fantastic year on the page as well. Greg Rucka’s work on DC Rebirth’s Wonder Woman has introduced so many new and fascinating elements to a character who’s practically as old as the medium itself, which is saying a lot. The “Year One” arc in particular stands out as a story that will become a part of Wonder Woman’s mythology going forward, and Nicola Scott’s artwork brings Diana to life with a powerful energy that is wholly unique. If you liked the movie, for Zeus’ sake, pick up the trade paperback!
#2: “My Favourite Thing Is Monsters”
What is a “monster?” Drawn entirely in ball-point pen, you’ve never seen graphic storytelling quite like this – that probably has to do with the fact that this is the first published graphic novel by 55-year old Emil Ferris. It’s a dark story that takes place in late-60s Chicago and deals with some heavy themes, but it’s one of the most inventive books to come out of the comics scene in a long time.
It’s been a great year for the Caped Crusader. It’s not often that you get a new Batman story that enters the pantheon among Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns” and “Year One,” Morrison’s “Arkham Asylum,” Moore’s “The Killing Joker, and Loeb’s “The Long Halloween.” However, we may soon be hearing King’s “The War of Jokes and Riddles” mentioned in the same breath as those classics. Yes, it’s that good. Yes, you should read it right now.