Yearly Round Up: Highlights Of 2016

Now that 2016 is in the history books (thank the fucking gods), it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics and events that really stood out for me, personally. These comics were all released this year, and in the case of a limited series if had at least two issues released this year (if a mini series began late this year, then expect to find it on next years list – if it’s any good). Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.

First up there’ll be your standard Best Of categories of Ongoing Series, Mini/One Shot, Single Issue, Writer, Artist, and Colourist, then we’ll move on to a few other things I wanted to talk about.

Best Ongoing Comic

Last year I had a hell of a time with this one, so thankfully this year was much easier. Although I could have made a case for almost any of the comics listed below  (and, like last year I’m still wishing I had decided on a “top five” for this category without an overall winner), at the end of the day there really was only one comic that would end up here.

wrath of the eternal warrior_003 coverWrath Of The Eternal Warrior (Valiant) – The final issue came out in December, so technically this isn’t an ongoing anymore, and while I’ll miss the shit out of it in 2017, it sits in the top spot for 2016 (because it was an ongoing in 2016).  This was THE book of the year for me without question; although the first issue felt a lot slower than I expected, this quickly morphed into the one series I couldn’t wait to read. Robert Venditti has crafted fourteen of the most exciting, and compelling, issues about Valiant‘s immortal soldier I have ever read as he finds a way to have Gilad deal with death – and failure – in a way I haven’t seen anywhere before.

Venditti also built this series in layers as he dropped lines of dialogue and exposition in one comic that you’d be forgiven for missing, but once the inevitable pay off happened it was something special. For an action comic, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior made you think quite a bit, and I loved every fucking moment (even the first issue after a reread six months later).

Honourable Mentions:

  • Faith (Ongoing) (Valiant) Narrowly missing the top spot, Faith has had a fantastic cast of artists joining Jody Houser all year, with each one bringing something wonderful to the table. This is a series that every comic fan should check out.
  • All-Star Batman (DC) Scott Snyder proves once more why he’s my favourite living Batman writer, and I actually enjoyed John Romita Jr’s art for the first time in a while.
  • X-O Manowar (Valiant) Another Venditti penned series, this had arguably the best concluding arc of any long running series I’ve read in a long time.

Best Limited Series or One Shot 

Voracious_02_coverVoracious (Action Lab) I could tell you so many reasons why you should read this emotional tale about a time traveling chef who hunts dinosaurs, whether it’s Markisan Naso’s fantastic dialogue (and his recipes) or the wonderful artwork by Jason Muhr and colourist Andrei Tabacaru. I could tell you that comics like this are the reason you should pay attention to indie comics publishers, because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on some of the best stories  the year. But I won’t; instead I’ll tell you tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t  read this:

Honourable Mentions:

  • Klaus (Boom!But not The Witch Of Winter. That was fucking awful, and it’s better if you pretend it didn’t exist.
  • Divinity II (Valiant) 
  • Faith: Hollywood and Vine (Valiant) I have
  • Batman / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (DC/IDW) All my childhood dreams came true with this six issue miniseries that I  was expecting to suck. It didn’t! It was actually really good.

Best Single Issue

faith 3 coverThere’s no honourable mentions because there was nothing remotely close to Faith #3:  (Valiant) for me this year. from the Hollywood And Vine  miniseries, not the currently ongoing .series

There was never a question of this comic not being the best single issue of 2016, and its almost entirely down to the scene where Faith literally bursts from a closet. Everything about that sequence, from her internal monologue to the character’s reactions were just perfect. I still think about that moment nearly a year later, and it still sends chills down my spine.

Best Writer

Robert Venditti (Flash, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior, X-O Manowar)
I didn’t read a band comic written by this man all year. Obviously some were better than others, and I didn’t read everything that Venditti put out, but what I did read was always fantastic – and you’ve probably already noticed my love for Venditti earlier in this

Best Artist

Meghan Hetrick (Red Thorn, Faith) 
faith_005_cover-b_hetrickIn a year with some truly amazing artists putting out some beautiful work, from Juan Jose Ryp, Doug Braithwaite and Robert Gill for Valiant, to David Finch, Rafa Sandoval and Patrick Gleason for DC, it was relative newcomer Meghan Hetrick who made my jaw drop with every issue and cover that she drew. Her work on Faith is what sealed her in as my top artist of the year, although her cover to the 4001 A.D. Shadowman tie in is also superb, not to mention Red Thorn. There are few artists whose work I’ll buy regardless of the writer, but Meghan Hetrick is one.

Best Colourist

Jordie Bellaire (Pretty Much Everything)
If you read more than one comic a month this year then you have probably read a comic with Jordie Bellaire’s work. She is one of the most prolific colourists around, and yet her versatility shines with each and every comic. When Jordie Bellaire’s name is on a comic, then you know it’s going to look awesome – regardless of who drew it.

Most Depressingly Canceled Comic

 Red Thorn (Vertigo)
Every year comics are cancelled prematurely, but Red Thorn The series was great, but sadly the sales figures just weren’t there. Treat yourself when you have a chance and go check this out. You’ll find a wonderfully illustrated tale steeped in Scottish mythology quite unlike almost anything you’ll read this year.

The Comic I Wanted To Read But Never Did

 Vision (Marvel)
I have heard nothing but great things about the twelve or so issues of Vision, and yet for some reason I haven’t picked it up even though I’ve heard it said that this is Tom King’s finest work from 2016. but it was never on my radar because of the characters and setting involved. Maybe I’ll check out the trades at some point.

Biggest Surprises

I) Ben Affleck Was A Fantastic Batman
I hoped going into the movie that Affleck would be decent, and I suspected he would be, but I never expected him to turn in a performance that went right into my top three Batman performances – that took me completely by surprise. The theatrical cut of Batman v Superman wasn’t quite as good as Affleck’s Batman, but because of his acting (and Gal Gadot) I left the theater feeling I’d got m money’s worth.

bruce waye affleck

II) Marvel Actually Finished Civil War II
After the amount of delays this series suffered, I wouldn’t have been surprised had Marvel just quietly shuffled the final issue or two off their publishing schedule. When the next event (and it’s prequel) Inhumans Vs X-Men unintentionally start before your Big Summer Event is over, you have to ask your self whether anybody still cares about said summer event .

III) DC Rebirth Wasn’t A Stonking Pile Of Manure
I honestly had no faith the DC’s latest reboot would be anything other than a quick cash grab with at best mediocre titles. Thankfully, i was very wrong. While there were some average titles, good comics that weren’t for me and the occasional miss, for the most part I’ve enjoyed every comic under the Rebirth banner (and I’ve read them all for Graphic Policy’s Rebirth Review feature). In fact, the standouts for me came from characters I previously had no time for; Aquaman, Superman, Wonder Woman  and the Green Lantern Corp

The Moments That Had Me Grinning Ear To Ear

I) Bill Finger’s Byline. This was the single greatest thing to happen in the comics industry this year in my eyes; Bill Finger was finally acknowledged officially as having something to do with Batman’s creation, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Marc Tyler Nobleman.

moviescreen-grab
Regardless of my thoughts on the movie, seeing Bill Finger’s name here was fantastic.

II) Interviewing Marc Tyler Nobleman.  I don’t know what I expected when I reached out to the man who inspired me to write about comics, but talking to him about Bill Finger was an absolute joy.

III) Having My Reviews Quoted On Comics. This year was the first time I saw one of my reviews quoted on the cover of a comic, and it was a moment that I won’t forget any time soon (the comic was Red Thorn #3 if you wondered). Since then I’ve seen my reviews quoted on several Valiant comics, as well. It makes me grin every time.



 

Well there we have it; a look back at some of the best comics that I read over the year. Agree, or disagree? Let me know!

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