It’s time for Shawn Hoklas’ list of favorites as the regular contributors to the ComicSpectrum site each share their “Top 10” list for 2016.
We are not declaring our favorites to be magically the “best” things produced, but rather just what they are, our favorite things. We were not constrained to any specific categories this year. Each contributor was asked to pick 10 things they really liked that hit the stands in 2016. Whether they were individual issues, series, trade paperbacks, books about comics, comics related toys, whatever.
Take it away, Shawn!
1. DC Rebirth
Last year I had DC’s Convergence on my Top 10 list. It was definitely not on there for the story, but for the simple fact that it had all of DC continuity matter again. This year, we got Rebirth which acknowledged much of DC’s missteps while moving the DC Universe forward, and bringing back legacy. We got Wally West and Ted Kord back, but also have DC’s New 52 all working together, at least for now. The Watchmen tie in was a shocker for almost everybody and although that storyline remains to be played out, I’m excited for all the possibilities! I’m really enjoying most of what DC is offering right now and it all kicked off here.
2. Fade Out
This one may not “officially” count for comics that came out in 2016, but I read most Image Comics in trade and the final trade of The Fade Out came along right at the beginning of the year so I had to add it. The Fade out is a look back at the Golden Age of Hollywood and follows two Hollywood screenwriters looking to find a starlet’s killer while trying to live within a world where they truly don’t belong. Creators Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser may be one of the best teams in comics and it shows with their work here. This is definitely my favorite series these guys have created yet, and may be the best thing I read all last year.
Back in my 2015 list, I had commented that I was happy we had the original Clark Kent and Lois Lane back. Superman was my favorite series of 2016. For so long, both DC and Marvel have gone away from relationships and marriage, arguing that the character is more interesting when they’re not “tied down”, allowing more potential story opportunities. Superman has proven that theory wrong by showing Clark, Lois and son Jonathan as a family team, not just a heroic team with Superman and Superboy, but a team for everyday life. The issue where the family spends a night at the carnival was just as strong as the multi-issue battle against the Eradicator. This is what I’ve missed about DC for so long and can’t recommend this series enough.
I have to agree with Adam’s choice of Thor this year. For all the reasons he mentioned, but also for Russell Dauterman’s art. Dauterman fills each and every page and panel with characters and backgrounds that are each as beautiful as the next. I also love the fact that for the most part, Thor stayed away from Civil War II and allowed Jason Aaron and Dauterman to maintain their vision for the series and spend the time growing Jane Foster as a character.
5. Wonder Woman
It’s been a while since I’ve read and enjoyed Wonder Woman. The last time was probably when Greg Rucka was writing the character so it’s no surprise that I’m loving the character again. Rucka definitely has a handle on the character and artists Liam Sharp and Nicola Scott are a powerful one-two punch on the visuals. As much as I’ve enjoyed the storyline in the present, it’s Rucka and Scott’s take on the character’s origin that I love! I really can’t say enough good things about their take on the character from her learning how to speak the language, to her innocence in a modern world. This is a DC series that really shows the potential a rotating creative team can have on a series, and could be a model for other DC books that can’t pull this off as well. I’m happy I’m reading a Wonder Woman book again…it’s about time!
This may be my surprise pick for 2016, I was surprised at just how much I loved this series. Dennis Hopeless didn’t have Jessica Drew’s biggest battle be fighting Hydra or some cosmic baddie alongside the Avengers. Instead her biggest fight was raising a baby on her own. With gorgeous and colorful art by Javier Rodriguez, Spider-Woman at times was my favorite looking book in certain months this past year. While at times, crossovers like Spider-Women and Civil War disrupted the book’s simplicity, it still did its best to remain true to focusing on Jessica and how her whole life has changed now that she’s a different type of hero…a mom.
7. Eternal Warrior
This past year I caught up on most of what Valiant has to offer and Eternal Warrior was my favorite of them all, and that’s saying a lot. Writer Robert Venditti made me love this character as he showed just what happens when an immortal character dies, and how he keeps coming back. Not only that, but there was an exceptional storyline called Labyrinth with stunning art by Raul Allen that shows how a villain attempts to trap an immortal, killing him over and over agin to try and find the secrets to eternal life. All of this while showing a softer side of the character I hadn’t seen before. Although I’m saddened to see this series end in 2016, I can’t recommend it enough. It’s fourteen fantastic issues that you need to read and I’m sure it will be back with a new #1 soon enough.
8. Sideshow Aquaman
I was beyond pleased when Sideshow picked up the license for DC a few years back. Since the Bowen and Marvel partnership seems to be over, I’ve been buying more and more statues and figures from Sideshow and Aquaman was my favorite this past year. He’s part of their “premium format figure” line so he’s a pretty big piece (that’s a normal apple next to it). Although these carry a hefty price, they’re worth it for collectors since this statue has plenty of detail from the scales on his shirt, to the intricate waves on the base. You also get multiple heads, including one with a beard and a harpoon hand if you’re a fan of Peter David’s run on the character. I prefer the classic version though, and hope to have the entire Justice League soon.
It was hard to limit myself to just one Jeff Lemire book this year. Moon Knight, Bloodshot, Thanos…all great and that’s not even counting Black Hammer which I loved! I was going to choose just Jeff Lemire as a “favorite thing”, but I forced myself to pick one book and that would have to be Descender. Tim-21 is a robot boy living in a world that has rebelled against robots and it’s a visual treat with art by Dustin Nguyen. With Sony picking up the rights to this comic, I feel as though this could make an amazing movie. Jeff Lemire is firing on all cylinders right now, and this is probably my favorite work of his this year…or maybe it’s Black Hammer, or maybe it’s Bloodshot….or… well the list goes on and on.
As surprising as Spider-Woman being on my list was, I was even more surprised that Carnage made my list! Carnage? It’s a fun and smart comic that doesn’t take itself seriously and embraces some wonderful and quirky characters from Marvel’s past. Gerry Conway is writing a modern day bronze age Marvel horror book that always surprises me with just how much I enjoy each issue. I know that a Carnage book may be a turn off for most fans just because of the titular character, but it isn’t anything you’d expect…it’s better!
Thanks for sharing your favorites with us, Shawn! We’ll wrap up this series of ComicSpectrum contributor favorites next time with what tickled Bob’s fancy in 2016!
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