Saturday, January 07, 2017

Top 10 Comics of 2016

Just like every year, there are a lot of comic book titles I enjoyed in 2016.  But here are my ten most favorites.  (First, some honorable mentions: Green Valley, Detective Comics, DC Universe: RebirthWeb Warriors, Future Quest)

After the tragic events of Civil War II, the teenage Avengers became disappointed of the actions and decisions of the adult Avengers, and decided to form their own superhero team.

In 2016, I enjoyed this comic more than I did any of the Avengers titles, since it’s more energetic and upbeat.  I also like the layer brought by this new generation of heroes becoming disillusioned of their superhero predecessors, whom they looked up to for a long time, and deciding to do some back-to-basics superheroism.

This awesome series ended this year.  During its run, Darth Vader effectively added more to the lore and essence of its already celebrated titular character.

It had been years before I was last this interested on Superman’s ongoing comics.  Indeed, there was some extremely interesting stuff going for the character in 2016.

The year started off seeing the death of the New 52 Superman, who just got his full powers back, and the pre-New 52 Superman, who was secretly living in the New 52 universe after the events of 2015’s Convergence, deciding to take his place.  Lex Luthor, who got some serious upgrades from his stint in Apokalypse after the events of The Darkseid War, also decided to take the role of Superman for himself, while a Clark Kent (not the New 52 one, nor the pre-New 52 one) mysteriously surfaced claiming to be the real deal.  Pre-New 52 Superman’s young son, Jonathan Samuel Kent, decided he wanted to go superheroing, too, becoming the new Superboy (and has recently showed an amusing dynamic with Damien Wayne a.k.a. Robin).  New 52 Lana Lang and Lois Lane gained powers and became Superwomen, but Lois died, leaving Lana as the sole Superwoman.  New 52 Lois Lane’s demise allowed pre-New 52 Lois Lane to take her place.
Pretty confusing?  Maybe, but all of these really made Superman, Action Comics (hence, let me give one spot for these two titles), and other Superman-related titles very interesting reads in 2016.  And the new multiversal Supermen storyline that recently kicked off is a sure indication that it’ll only get more interesting for Supes in 2017.

After making my list last year just for the merit of its first issue, its continuation in 2016 legitimized it as the best comic book crossover in recent memory.
After its initial six-issue run, a spin-off called Batman/TMNT Adventures is made, this time featuring the animated incarnations of the characters.

The Spider-Man/Deadpool series exactly went as you would expect from such a premise: plenty of smartass bantering and goofy antics from Marvel’s best wisecracking characters.  As a huge Spidey fan, I find this more delightful than Amazing Spider-Man in 2016.

2016 saw the return of Bruce Wayne as Batman, after Commissioner Gordon in an Iron Man-y power armor assumed the role for a stretch.  The manner of which Bruce returned to the persona of Batman through a sort of brain washing machine was done in a powerful manner.

The fantastic, emotional “I Am Suicide” storyline also ran in 2016, which saw Batman assembling his own Suicide Squad; attacking Bane’s lair; getting his back broken by Bane once again, but this time around, he had already devised a painful makeshift procedure to set it back; and the poignant revelation that Batman once had attempted suicide.

Superman’s origin has been told and retold a million of times already.  But Max Landis still managed to create a fresh, worthwhile way to do it once more.  While giving a new spin to Superman’s early years, the mini-series did a masterful deconstruction of Superman while bringing a rich sense of humanity to the character, a feat that hasn’t been done since Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman.

Brian K. Vaughan is already doing great comic book work on Saga, but in 2016, he also began delivering another great science fiction adventure in the form of Paper Girls.  It’s packed with fun, delightful weirdness, intriguing sense of unpredictability, and fast-paced action.  It works best when one goes in it without knowing what’s it all about, so I’ll avoid writing any story detail here.  Let me just say that it has the kind of charm that Stranger Things has, but instead of boys, its ensemble is made up of girls.

In 2016, DC Comics started several series based on some beloved Hanna-Barbera cartoons that put some respective twists in them.  Among them, I had fun with Future Quest – which features an eclectic teamup between Johnny Quest and other Hanna-Barbera action heroes like Space Ghost, Birdman, and the Herculoids – and The Flintstones the most.  Of the two, the latter is clearly superior.

This brilliant reimagining of the iconic “modern Stone Age family” not only added a layer of weighty complexity to its mythology (especially to the origin of Bamm-Bamm, and the torment that the universe’s “appliances” undergo), but also delivered hilarious but thought-provoking commentary on a variety of meaningful topics, including faith, commercialism, war, and politics.

1.) SAGA

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