Making a “best comics of the year” list is stupid because we live in an age of way too many awesome comics. So here are my favorite comics I read this year. Please let me know in the comments what I’m overlooking!
10. Infamous Iron Man and Invincible Iron Man
Now that Tony Stark is probably dead and James Rhodes is definitely dead, two heirs to the Iron Man armor have presented themselves. One is Riri Williams, a black teenage girl. The other is Victor von Doom. Both comics have only just begun (which is why they’re so far down the list), but they’re both interesting and fantastic – and completely different from each other. We’ll learn Tony Stark’s ultimate fate (probably) when Civil War II finally ends, but if he really is gone, let’s hope its for good. Because it looks like his armor is in good hands.
Slam is a roller derby comic written by someone who clearly knows roller derby. My wife, who skates as Mother Terrorista, finished the first issue with a giant smile on her face. “That’s exactly what it’s like!” she exclaimed.
Anything Scott Snyder writes, I’m going to read. Plus it’s drawn by Jeff Lemier?! AD is an extra-large, extra-long comic (seriously it won’t fit in my bags and boards) that is a meditation on the immanence of death. Only one of three promised issues are out, but if it keeps up this quality (and it’s Snyder so duh), we’re in for a new classic.
7. Black Panther
If you only just heard about Black Panther because you saw CIVIL WAR, then Ta Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther is a great way to get to know the character better. The comic is set in his nation of Wakanda, where rebellion has been fomenting. The whole comic is a meditation on power and identity, and it’s just terrific.
6. New Super-Man
After Superman’s death in the New 52 (sort of), his power is shared all over the world. Meet Kenan Kong, the Super-Man of China. Writer Gene Luen Yang inverts the American hero’s journey (ordinary nobody learns he’s somebody) to fit Eastern sensibilities (cocky kid who thinks he’s somebody learns to put the good of others above himself). Kenan is a likeable brat, and his character grows along with his powers such that he stays likeable. Plus the Chinese Wonder Woman and Batman are there to keep him in his place.
The Vision has a family and lives in the suburbs. Um… what? When I first heard the pitch for this series, I rolled my eyes hard. Then I kept hearing the buzz about just how good it is and I dove in. Each issue is a treasure. Each issue is a meditation on existential despair. Each issue aches with longing for something more. This is at once science fiction and suburban horror and superhero comic. It’s astounding and singular – just like the Vision.
4. The Goddamned
How bad must humanity have been for God to destroy the world with flood? Pretty bad. Much worse than today, if that’s imaginable. Well, writer Jason Aaron imagines for us, and it’s genuinely horrifying (and brought to life by R. M. Guera’s gut-wrenching art). Cain, bearing the mark of God, becomes the closest thing to a hero this world has. And now that he’s met Noah… well I think we all know how this story ends. The question is just how much worse it will get before we get there.
3. Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl
Squirrel Girl is without question the most consistently hilarious comic I read each month. Doreen Green is relentlessly kind, positive and encouraging – that’s her real superpower. And lest you think that makes her weak, watch as Squirrel Girl goes toe to toe with none other than the fearsome Doctor Doom and emerge victorious. What did you expect? The title says she’s Unbeatable!
2. Doctor Strange
Jason Aaron pits the Sorcerer Supreme against a race of technocrats who hate magic, delivering a fascinating tale of faith-vs-science. And with that storyline concluded, Doctor Strange confronts the role of Sorcerer Supreme with less magic at his disposal than ever before. If you only know Doctor Strange from his excellent movie, check out this run of the comic to witness the man at the height – and depth – of his powers. And Chris Bachalo’s art is tremendously good.
I was worried when Scott Snyder left Batman. But then they announced Tom King – the writer of Vision – was taking over, and my fears were assuaged. King’s Batman is the most mortal we’ve seen in quite a while, and that’s not a bad thing. Batman is always most compelling when his humanity is at the fore, demonstrating exactly why he’s so super.