Hey, this year is almost over. It has gone so fast and I’m hugely overwhelmed and I don’t know if I’m more relieved or terrified. I also don’t know how I feel about this year in general – a lot of stress and sadness, but also a lot of positive changes. I do know that it has been a pretty awesome year for comics, in my opinion. So let’s talk about that! I’ll do longer write-ups of my favorite discovery, new comic, and TV show, then do a quick awards list at the end.
Best New-to-Me Graphic Novel: Young Avengers Omnibus by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie
Get used to those creator names, they’re going to be on my best-of lists pretty much always.
I have no idea why it took me so long to read this comic, which was apparently published back in 2013. My favorite comics creating duo, Marvel, YA themed, queer as heck, baby Loki. It’s like they made it just for me. And that’s before you even consider America freaking Chavez, goodness. I needed this. Marvel made some gross choices with my former favorite America-themed hero this year, and America Chavez was like a ray of light directly from heaven coming to warm my jaded little heart.
I love her a lot, ok. We’ll come back to that later.
I think I had encountered both America and Hawkeye in other things and maybe even started their solo series by the time I read this, and I was already familiar with most of the others (though not Kate’s boyfriend, whose name I don’t remember even now, and also not Prodigy, who is completely amazing). So the major characters weren’t actually new to me, but I didn’t know them well and this gave me a much more complete understanding of them. And once I did, I loved them. So much fun here.
It reminds me a bit of Runaways, without any its shortcomings and with the strong characterization and emotional storytelling that make me love this duo so much. And music. Don’t forget music. There is a playlist at the back of the book and (at the time of my reading, at least) it is available on Spotify if you want to listen while you read. I did. Just adds a fun extra dimension and shared experience with the creators that you don’t normally get.
If you’re similarly behind in reading this, do it now. Or, you know, soon. And then let me know what you thought of it! I like talking to people about great things.
Best New/Current Comic: Hawkeye
Really, Zeph? Above The Wicked and the Divine?
Ok, obviously WicDiv is my favorite ever and I could ramble on about it for hours, days, years. But I don’t need this whole post to be about the same two creators and also it’s old enough now where, while I still love reading it and it’s the first thing on my reading list whenever I get a new issue, it’s a little too involved to tell people to jump in now with the current issues. Go back and start from the beginning.
Hawkeye, on the other hand, is new and easy to catch up on and also you wouldn’t lose too much if you just go pick up the most recent issue. It’s also short and ending soon because Marvel hates us and doesn’t want us to ever have nice things.
Moving on from that bitterness, Kelly Thompson is brilliant and I’ve loved everything I’ve read from her. Fantastic powerful girly stories filled with feelings and action that I can actually enjoy and just fantastically loveable main and side characters. Love love love. All of it .
It’s also one of the best superhero comics I’ve ever read. Most superhero comics go too far towards either the action/heroics side or the feelings side. I tend to read the feelings/story comics and often suggest them as the only hero stories worth reading, but I do have to admit they’re often light on action and might not actually interest superhero fans as much as they interest me. Hawkeye manages to do both very well and I honestly think it’s a good choice for fans of both.
It has been horribly under-estimated and under-promoted, and we’re losing a great book that could have been very popular and made Marvel a lot of money and fans. BUT WHATEVER, I obviously don’t know anything about comics, I just spend all my money on them and spend all my time thinking about them.
*cough* But anyway. Yeah, go read it.
Best Comics-Related TV Show: Legion
This has been such a great year for comics TV. Riverdale is in its second season and doing so much better than most of us expected, the CW shows had an amazing crossover that finally got me interested in the non-Supergirl parts of its universe, Runaways FINALLY got the TV (well, Hulu) adaptation I’ve been waiting to see and fancasting for about a decade, The Gifted finally did an X-Men TV show right and reminds me of all the best parts of Heroes…it’s just fantastic. Amazing time to be a comics fan.
But the absolute best of these, in my opinion, is Legion. It aired in the first few months of 2017 and completely blew me away. (I guess you could say this is the show that actually did X-Men right, but IMO it mostly did that by staying adjacent to them with a pretty big departure from the typical X-Men themes and aesthetics.) It’s a beautiful, trippy, fun show.
It hits you hard with adorable romance immediately followed by kind of horrific action followed by deep thoughtful themes followed by SO MUCH DRAMA. And it wraps it all up with a constantly changing look that makes it so you’re never really sure where or when it takes place or what is even happening or if anything is actually happening.
With all that fluidity, it’s probably not a big surprise that it blurs a lot of its typical story/character elements too. It features an amazing cast of characters that are fun and complex and fully developed, and lets you fall in love with all of them. There are no heroes or villains in this show, just deeply troubled people trying to make the world safe for themselves and their loved ones. And it’s interesting in that this complexity isn’t just for the viewer who gets to see both sides, the heroes and villains genuinely like each other even while they also fear each other.
The sympathetic anti-mutant character is something The Gifted seems to be trying to showcase as well, but in my opinion it’s mostly failing. This is a really hard thing to do well and I don’t think I’ve ever seen it done better than on Legion. Definitely give this one a shot if you haven’t already.
Best Reboot: New Riverdale
Oops, I added one. This definitely deserves its own mention even if individual titles from it might not show up in my “best” list much. Archie Comics has been doing some really cool things lately. Most of them didn’t actually start this year, but they’re still going strong and they keep coming out with more and it’s fascinating to me that right when DC and Marvel try to simplify their countless universes Archie is like “HEY, WE’VE GOT YOUR ALTERNATE UNIVERSES! LIKE A DOZEN. WANT MORE? JUST THROW SOME IDEAS AT US.”
Besides the main-universe series (Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica, Reggie & Me), there are several horror stories that are each their own separate thing. It started off with Afterlife with Archie, a zombie story that actually preceded the reboots, followed by a truly horrific take on Sabrina, a werewolf-Jughead story I am LOVING, and soon a vampire-Veronica series.
Not all my style, the Sabrina one in particular often goes a step beyond my comfort zone, but they’re all incredibly well-written and somehow both very true to the original characters while changing absolutely everything about them. It’s been really exciting to watch, they’re kind of re-defining comics and continuity and I can’t wait to see how that ripples through the rest of the industry. That’s kind of already started, with some unexpected DC crossovers including Betty & Veronica meeting Harley Quinn & Poison Ivy in a pretty cute but very silly current series.
Also, main-continuity Jughead and Sabrina are friends and it’s adorable and I would be totally happy with just them forever all the time. And I appreciate canon-asexual Jughead. Woo, representation.
Best Kids’ Comic: Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur
Best Pre-Teen Comic: Lumberjanes
Best Teen Comic: Jem & The Holograms (and tie-in series The Misfits)
Best Adult Comic: Mother Panic
Best Brand-New Comic: America
Best Horror Comic: Jughead: the Hunger
Best Team-Up: Batgirl Annual (Batgirl & Supergirl)
Best Fantasy Comic: The Wicked & The Divine
Best Humor Comic: Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl
Best Sci-Fi Comic: Motor Crush
Best One-Shot: Big Moose Special
Best “But-Boys-Read-Comics-Too” Comic: Super-Sons
Best Starter Comic: Supergirl: Being Super
Most Nostalgia-Inducing Comic: Generation X
Best Indie-ish Comic: Misfit City
Favorite Writer: Kelly Thompson, Mariko Tamaki
Favorite Artist: Jen Bartel
Observations & Goals for Next Year
I read a lot from the major publishers. Next year, more indie stuff. Although that’s a pretty vague term and a lot of things that I would have called indie before are pretty big now. Is Image indie? Boom Box? I’ll try to read more from those but also tiny publishers whose names I don’t even know yet. We’ll see. If Marvel keeps cancelling things I love, I’ll suddenly have a lot of openings!
I also want to catch up on things I’ve missed. Backstagers springs to mind, although that actually started in 2016. I’m a few books behind on Ms. Marvel, Squirrel-Girl, and Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. Love what I’ve read of all of them, it’s just…so many books, so little time.
What about you? What did you read and love this year? Plans for next year’s reading list? Recommendations for mine? Let me know in the comments (or wherever else you talk to me).
See you soon!