Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Hickman’

My Top 10 Favourite Comic Books of 2015

December 29, 2015

Now that the year is almost over, it’s a good time to look back at the comic books I most enjoyed this year. Usually I like to do an all new Top 10, focusing on my new favourites, but so many books stayed ridiculously good this year that my pull list hasn’t changed a lot. So we’ll go for a split, with half returning favourites and half new books that I’m all about. We’ll start with the former!

MY FIVE FAVOURITE COMIC BOOKS

It’s been a fantastic year for comics, and several of my best books from 2014 remain at the top of my list here at the end of 2015. My top books, in order, are:

 bestCRIMINALS

5) Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky: The book is hilarious and great and surprisingly heartwarming, but what I love more than anything is the letter column. It’s the funniest thing I read each month, comics or otherwise.

 bestTHOR

4) The Mighty Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman: The series was a blast all year as Thor, and now that it’s been relaunched as The Mighty Thor the fun continues. I liked the initial mystery aspect of the book, but the reveal of Thor’s identity has led to some interesting angles and new storylines that are even more compelling.

 bestODYC

3) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward: It’s a gender swapped take on The Odyssey in space. This concept could not be more up my alley, and the execution has been fascinating and gorgeous. And also informative! The essays in the backmatter are great, and are a fantastic compliment to the trippy main story.

 bestBITCH

2) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro: Feminism in space again. What can I say, I have a type. The Mighty Thor sort of fits that theme too, now that I think about it! Last year, I compared the first issue of Bitch Planet to a punch in the stomach but in the best way, and the series has continued as such throughout the year. While it’s often brutal, there’s a fury to the book that I love and that is much needed.

 bestMSMARVEL

1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and others: This was my top pick last year, and it’s my top pick this year too. It’s just so good! I LOVE Kamala Khan, I love the world they’ve built around her in Jersey City, and I love that the book is classic superhero fun in a very fresh and new way. And now, Kamala’s made it through Secret Wars and is back in a relaunched title that continues her story in enjoyable new ways. Plus she’s an Avenger! 2015 was the year of Kamala, for sure.

MY FIVE FAVOURITE NEW COMIC BOOKS

The year also saw a bunch of new great books, from multiversal destructions to gals across various eras to a modern day crime lord. These were my favourite new books/revamps of 2015:

 bestSECRETWARS

5) Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic: This book is bananas, and I love it. I’ve been following Hickman since he relaunched Avengers and New Avengers a few years back, and while the buildup was impressive, the payoff is epic. This is the first event series in ages that I’ve really enjoyed, plus it’s also led to some great tie-ins, including A-Force, Captain Marvel and the Carol Corps, and Runaways.

 bestCATWOMAN

4) Catwoman by Genevieve Valentine, Garry Brown, and David Messina: This storyline began in 2014, but it ran for most of this year and it was ridiculously good. Selina Kyle took over a crime family and tried to keep Gotham from falling into a gang war, with often tragic results. It was dark and tense and an absolutely fascinating new take on the character, and I was so disappointed when DC brought in a new creative team at the end of the year.

 bestPAPERGIRLS

3) Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang: It’s just so gorgeous. Regular readers will know that Cliff Chiang is my favourite artist, hands down, and he doesn’t disappoint here. Plus that Vaughan fellow is pretty good too, and he’s crafted a weird, mysterious story; we’re a few issues in, and I’m still not 100% sure what’s happening. I just know that it’s rad.

 bestLEGEND

2) The Legend of Wonder Woman by Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon: The print edition of the book doesn’t start until January, but the digital version has been coming out for weeks and it’s GREAT. It’s a classic take on Wonder Woman and the Amazons but with several new, fun twists, and the first few issues have spent a lot of time establishing Themyscira and introducing us to a young Diana. Simultaneously cute and ominous, this is the best Wonder Woman book in years.

 bestBOMBSHELLS

1) DC Comics Bombshells by Marguerite Bennett, Marguerite Sauvage, and more: When DC did their World War Two era “Bombshell” variant covers a while back, I thought it was kind of silly and unnecessary. But they were a hit, and now this series fleshes out the story behind the new designs, reimagining the war with scores of DC’s female heroes in the mix, and nary a male hero in sight. It’s so much fun and delightfully bad ass to see DC’s ladies working together to bust up Nazis, and I love how Bennett and her team of artists have added so much depth to what began as a line of pin-ups.

And those are my favourite books of the year! It’s all so much awesome. The comic book industry is an embarrassment of riches right now.

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My Top 11 Comics Of 2014

December 31, 2014

I’ve been brainstorming my top comics of the year for a few weeks now, making notes when I thought of a book I really liked, and I’ve been slowly amassing a really decent list of titles. Then I sat down to figure out my top ten (which turned into a top eleven because there were too many good books!), going “Okay, I like this one the best, then this…” until I had a definite list. I did this entirely on gut feeling, based on how much I liked these books, with no agenda whatsoever. Here’s what I’ve ended up with: Seven of my top eleven books feature female writers and/artists, while my top eight books star female characters. I know I run women in comics stats and talk about increasing female representation in the industry all the time, but this gal-filled list was entirely unintentional. Ladies, real and fictional, have just been killing it this year.

So here are my top eleven comics for 2014. Now, I didn’t read everything, but I sure read a lot, and it was a great year for comics all around. Also, a quick note: I like to pick new books rather than just reiterate all of the things I liked last year. So Saga and Sex Criminals and everything else I talked about last year are still great, but this is an all new list of my favourite comics. Let’s get into it:

11) ODY-C by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward

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Gender-swapped mythology is pretty much everything I could ever want in a comic book, and I’ve been really looking forward to this series, but I wasn’t prepared for how impactful it was to read a female Odysseus. I found it weirdly powerful to see her, and so many other women, at the center of such a legendary story. On top of that, it’s a really cool, crazy comic book. The first issue was a blast, and I can’t wait to see where it goes in 2015.

10) The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

 10encyclopedia

This is the history of the world before our world, and it is big and bizarre and brilliant. I picked up this book on a lark at my local library, and I’m very glad I did. Technically it came out in late 2013, but the rules for this list aren’t terribly hard and fast. This book is hilarious, clever, fun, and most of all unique, and I highly recommend it.

9) East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

 10eastofwest

Okay, so this is a Western, but it’s also science fiction, set in an alternate version of the United States and starring the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If you think that sounds awesome, you and I could probably be friends. And it IS awesome. It’s violent and bonkers and embraces all of its inspirations while doing completely new and fantastic things with them. It’s also absolutely gorgeous. I just grin from ear to ear when I read this book.

8) Thor by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman

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I fell out of the Thor loop a couple years ago after being a regular reader during Matt Fraction’s tenure, but I jumped back on board out of curiousity about the new female Thor and am loving it so far. The new Thor trying to figure out how to be Thor in the midst of battles with Frost Giants is all kinds of fun, and I’m enjoying the slow burn on the big mystery of who this new Thor actually is. Plus that costume is super cool. The writing and art are both solid, and it’s been a guaranteed good time each month.

7) Batgirl: Futures End #1 by Gail Simone and Javier Garron

 10batgirl

I was not at all a fan of the “Futures End” event, and I didn’t really keep up with Gail Simone’s Batgirl, but this issue promised the return of both the Stephanie Brown AND Cass Cain Batgirl, so I was all over this issue. It did not disappoint. It was so much fun to have both characters back, along with a new Batgirl, however briefly. While it was just a one-shot set in a hypothetical future, this comic had loads of heart and humour along with some much-missed characters.

6) Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro

 10bitchplanet

There’s only been one issue of Bitch Planet thus far, but oh wow what a first issue it was. It was a total punch in the face, in the best way. The book is set in a not too distant future where non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet. It’s a feminist riff on exploitation films with sharp, cutting writing and gritty, beautiful art. It’s brutal but thought provoking, depressing but hilarious. If you haven’t read it yet, you absolutely should.

5) Edge of Spider-Verse #2 by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez

 10spidergwen

This should have been awful. I generally hate Spider-Man, so an event with ALL of the Spider-People was the last thing I was interested in. And bringing back Gwen Stacey just seemed ridiculous. Then I saw the amazing costume, and that Gwen was in a band called the Mary Janes, and I was intrigued. I loved the book, loved the character, loved the writing and the art. Everything about it was fun and great and I’m so excited for the new ongoing series. No one was cooler this year than Spider-Gwen.

4) This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki

 10thisonesummer

As someone who spent their summers at a family cottage, This One Summer was totally up my alley to begin with. The engaging story and lovely artwork perfectly capture everything that’s weird and wonderful about summers at the cottage, and on top of that it’s a beautifully told story of friendship and adolescence. It’s no wonder that it won a Governor General Award; it’s richly deserved.

3) Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen

 10lumber

Friendship to the max! Lumberjanes is an absolute blast to read, every single month. You’d think that gals in a summer camp getting up to whacky hijinks might get a little bit stale after a while, but each issue is more fun than the last. The book is chockfull of hilarious adventures, but the core of the title is the friendships of all the girls and their commitment to each other. If this book doesn’t make you happy, then you just don’t have a heart.

2) Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl

 10gothamacademy

The Bat-line has been mixing it up in fun ways this year, with a fantastic new team on Catwoman and a wonderful revamp of Batgirl, but Gotham Academy is my favourite thing to come out of DC this year. The book is basically Harry Potter set in Gotham City, but somewhat less magical. Not entirely un-magical, though; something is definitely afoot! Olive Silverlock is a great protagonist, but her optimistic, adventurer pal Maps Mizoguchi gets my vote for best new character of the year. The cast is great, the writing is awesome, and the art is spectacular. Gotham Academy is killing it on every single level.

1) Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

 10msmarvel

I think it’s fantastic that Ms. Marvel exists. It’s a mainstream comic with a star who is a Muslim-American, non-white, female teenager; ALL of these demographics are massively underrepresented in superhero comics. Even if it sucked, I’d be happy they tried it. Luckily, it’s amazing. It was no contest for me to pick my favourite comic of the year. Ms. Marvel has been killing it from its very first issue, telling kick ass superhero stories in new and exciting ways. It’s ridiculously fun to read every month, and instantly goes to the top of my pile every time I get comics. It’s “important”, yeah, but more than that it’s just epicly good comic booking. If you aren’t reading this book, do yourself a personal favour and go check it out.

So there you have it, my top eleven comic books for 2014! Feel free to disagree and list your own favourite books in the comments. I’m always glad to hear about what cool stuff I may have missed over the year.

My 10 Favourite Comic Book Things Of 2012

December 27, 2012

“Things” is rather vague, I know, but this isn’t a list of my favourite books or creators or moments of the year.  It’s all of those things at once!!  I could do a Top Five of various categories, but the overlap would be huge, so I’m just going to pile it all together into one big Top Ten list.

It was an odd year for comics, with a lot of big events you’re not going to see on this list, but there were a bunch of cool things too.  Let’s get to listing:

10) Gail Simone’s Rehiring on Batgirl

2012simone

I’m not naïve enough to think that Gail Simone’s rehiring on Batgirl signals some kind of big change at DC Comics where they suddenly care about fan reactions and female creators, but it was still a great moment.  Firing Simone was just absolutely ludicrous, and the reaction was strong, to say the least.  I can’t think of another creator who has as much of an association with a company owned character as Simone does with Barbara Gordon.  Simone doesn’t own Barbara, but Barbara IS Simone’s character, really.  And even more so now.  Her return to the book after her inauspicious firing was one of my very favourite moments of the year.

9) Marco Checchetto

2012checchetto

I honestly couldn’t care less about the Punisher, but I checked out the first collection of new series because Greg Rucka is pretty great.  I might have come for Rucka, but I stayed for Marco Checchetto.  While his art is gritty, as befits a Punisher book, it doesn’t have that muddled sort of effect that a lot of gritty, noir style artists have.  Checchetto is a cool hybrid of grit and crisp detail, and I absolutely love it.  I think this dude is going to be big.

8) Noelle Stevenson

2012elk

Noelle Stevenson, aka. Gingerhaze, is a ridiculously good time.  Her webcomic, Nimona, is fantastic, and her “Broship of the Ring” is an internet classic.  My absolute favourite thing she does, though, is her mini-strips after she watches a movie or TV show she’s particularly enthused about.  Right now, I’m loving her Hobbit-inspired Thranduil as an elk-riding dad embarrassing Legolas strips.  Noelle is hilarious and great.

7) Goliath by Tom Gauld

2012goliath

Sometimes you randomly check out a book from the library and it turns into one of your favourite things of the year.  I ADORED Tom Gauld’s Goliath.  I’m always up for a good riff on a Bible story, and Goliath is both super clever and well drawn.  Gauld’s art style fits the tone of the book perfectly.  I usually talk about the Big Two on this site, but do yourself a favour and go grab a copy of this book.

6) Scott Pilgrim IN COLOUR!!

2012scottpilgrim

The first two volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series came out in bigger, coloured editions this year, and they’re just amazing.  The Scott Pilgrim books were already one of the absolute best books of the past decade, and they’re even better oversized and in colour.  Nathan Fairbairn, in close consultation with O’Malley, really takes the books to a whole new level of awesome with his colouring, and they’re an absolute pleasure to read even if, like me, you’ve already read the first editions like fifty times.

5) Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers

2012avengers

This book just launched a few weeks ago, and when I read the first issue I thought “Wow, I REALLY dig this… this might even sneak in at tenth in my Top Ten list!”  The second issue is out now, and here it is at fifth.  Avengers is great storytelling, but even more than that it feels SO epic.  You can tell that Hickman is building something massive and cool and I’m ridiculously excited to get in on the ground floor of what will be years of crazy stories.  Jerome Opena’s art is great, and Marvel’s got lots of other cool artists lined up to meet the book’s bi-monthly schedule.  It’s loads of fun already, and it feels like it’s just going to keep getting better.

4) Diana’s Coat in Wonder Woman #11

ww11thejacket

I liked this so much that I now own this page!!  While I’ve had my share of problems with Wonder Woman in 2012 (the Amazons as rapists and murderers, in particular), Cliff Chiang is still killing it on every level with his art.  I spent a full third of my Wonder Woman #11 review going on about this coat and how it represents everything good about this new take on Wonder Woman in terms of modernizing the character with respect for what came before.  This may not have always held true for me with the story, but it absolutely does with the art.

3) Captain Marvel, the Book and the Reaction

2012captain marvel

I’ve been following comics for a long time, and I’ve never seen such an enthusiastic reaction to a redesign of a character.  There was tons of fan art and various custom items months before the first issue even hit the newsstands!!  And when the first issue did hit, it was fantastic.  Kelly Sue DeConnick had a HUGE year, and has done an excellent job relaunching Captain Marvel, while artists Dexter Soy and Emma Rios make the book look great and distinct from the usual superhero stylings.  While a year ago I knew barely anything about Carol Danvers, I’m very glad that she’s now one of my favourite characters starring in one of my favourite books.

2) Saga

2012saga

I was over the moon excited for a new Brian K. Vaughan book, and then even more excited that Fiona Staples would be drawing it.  As a huge fan of BKV, I had a rough idea in my head of what the book might be like, and then I got the first issue.  Saga was NOTHING like what I expected, in the absolute best way possible.  It was bigger and more bizarre and more interesting and enjoyable than I ever imagined.  I think it’s the best thing BKV’s ever written, and Staples’ art is a perfect match for the story.  Even the letter column is fun.  Saga is an absolute blast to read each month.

1) Hawkeye

2012hawkeye

When Marvel announced that Matt Fraction and David Aja were teaming up to do a Hawkeye book, I was kind of upset.  They’re two of my favourite creators so I HAD to pick up the first issue, but I didn’t give a hoot about Hawkeye.  At all.  There were SO many characters I’d rather have seen them work on.  So I begrudgingly bought the first issue, and it was AMAZING.  Far and away the most enjoyable, amusing, kick ass superhero story I’d read all year.  Then Hawkeye #2 was even better, as was the next issue after that.  It just keeps getting more fun every month, and I’m astounded to love a book about Hawkeye as much as I do.  It’s unequivocally the best comic out there right now, and I can’t recommend it enough.

So those are my favourite things from this year, but let’s take a peek into the crystal ball and see what I’m looking forward to in 2013:

  • Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark.  A dystopian response to the Occupy movement?  Sign me up.
  • Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios.  Anytime DeConnick and Rios get together, it’s a good time.  I’m very excited they’re doing a Western.
  • Man of Steel by Scott Snyder and Jim Lee.  Snyder is doing a great job with Batman, and Jim Lee is always a good time.  I’m jazzed to see what they come up with for Superman.
  • New Avengers by Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting. As I mentioned above, I LOVED Avengers, and New Avengers is poised to be a sort of companion book more than a direct tie-in.  I’m going to be all over it.
  • Movies!!  Iron Man 3!!  Thor 2!!  Man of Steel!!  It’s going to be another big year for cinematic superheroes, and all of these movies look great.
  • Amazon, Allan Heinberg’s Smallville-esque Wonder Woman show for the CW.  It’s still in the early stages, but it would be really fun if this ended up happening, and doubly so if it was good too.  Arrow’s been pretty enjoyable, and Heinberg has skills.  It could be really great, if it happens.

Before Watchmen Begins Tomorrow OR Five Comics To Try Instead

June 5, 2012

It’s dumb to make a big deal about something you’re not buying, but seeing as Before Watchmen starts tomorrow I got to wondering what else is coming out that people could get instead?  And if not instead, than in addition to… it’s always good to be inclusive, even when those you’re including are clearly evil fiends who hate creator’s rights.  I jest, of course.  I don’t care if you buy Before Watchmen or not, but seeing as it’s going to get folks in the shops tomorrow, in outrage or excitement, here are some other books that might be worth checking out:

Fairest #4 by Bill Willingham and Phil Jimenez

There are a few DC books worth picking up tomorrow (Dial H #2 and Earth 2 #2 especially), but recommending DC books seems a little contrary to my theme here.  However, Vertigo isn’t so bad.  Here’s the solicit:

What is it with the Snow Queen and her love of/addiction to stories? And how does that little blue bottle imp plan to take advantage of her weakness? Can he really spin a tale so compelling that the evil queen of ice and sorrow will willingly let them all go in peace? Let’s find out as we hear the rest of Sleeping Beauty’s tale, and learn how Ali Baba ended up stranded in this bleak and snowy world.

It’s a super good book, and so very pretty with the Jimenez art.  Plus it ties into Fables, and EVERYBODY loves Fables.  So give it a look, and pick up the first three if you haven’t yet.  You’ve been missing out.

Secret #2 by Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim

You can never go wrong with a Hickman Image book.  His Marvel stuff is weird and cool, but he definitely kicks it up a notch on the crazy scale when left to his own devices.  Check out the solicit:

We learn the secret past of the Steadfast Security’s chief operator as clues begin to appear regarding the mysterious KODIAC protocols. Someone gets out of jail, someone gets divorced, someone comes home dead. Check out the next chapter of the most thrilling new series of the year, SECRET #2: NEVER GET CAUGHT!

Plus it’s only the second issue, so you can grab the first one too and get caught up!!  It’s worth a read… this Hickman kid is going places.

Creator-Owned Heroes #1 by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Steve Niles, Phil Noto, and Kevin Mellon

What’s more hilarious than buying a book called Creator-Owned Heroes the day Before Watchmen starts?  You can laugh at the irony of that all day.  Plus it features a bunch of fantastic creators, and you get TWO stories in one book.  Some info for you:

The world ended a long time ago. How it happened exactly and what exists in the wasteland have always been a mystery. Now Chloe, Gil and a gang of rebels have escaped the last human stronghold and are blazing across Post-Apocalypse America in search of paradise.

And it’s a first issue, so there’s no catching up needed.  Who doesn’t love a post-apocalyptic story?

Extermination #1 by Simon Spurrier and Jeffrey Edwards

The post-apocalypic theme continues with this new first issue from Boom!, on sale tomorrow for only a dollar!!  That’s a sweet deal.  The solicit:

We Lost. They Won. In the wake of an apocalyptic alien invasion, the world’s greatest super-heroes and deadliest super-villains must form an alliance to prevent their own extermination. Two arch-enemies, Nox, a driven hero, and Red Reaper, a ruthless villain, form a volatile partnership for the greater good. The enemy of your enemy is your friend – but will they be able to ultimately put aside their bitter past to prevent global genocide? What happens when all the battle lines are redrawn and foes become unlikely allies in a desperate war for the fate of the very planet – and the outcome of a species? Written by Simon Spurrier (X-Club, Fear Itself: The Home Front, Wolverine: Dangerous Games), Extermination is a superhero survival story by an author that boldly explores the dark crevices of an entire genre.

Enemies becoming friends!!  Alien invasion!!  Dark crevices!!  That’s got to be worth a buck. 

Higher Earth #1 by Sam Humphries and Francesco Biagini

This is a reprint of the sold out first issue that premiered a month ago, written by the man poised to be Marvel’s newest superstar, Sam Humphries.  And it sounds COOL:

You Are Illegal On This Earth. Space is dead. Why conquer other planets when there’s a perfectly good Earth in the universe next door? Heidi, a girl born in garbage. Rex, a soldier gone rogue. The only thing between them and their destiny is an empire of a hundred different Earths, across a hundred alternate timelines. One majestic planet dominates them all: Higher Earth. Created and written by Sam Humphries (Fanboys Vs. Zombies) Higher Earth is his sci-fi follow up to last year’s indie hit Our Love Is Real, a fast-paced epic of infinite possibilities.

If you think a post-apocalyptic earth is fun, wait’ll you read some stories about the multiverse.  And again, it’s sweet irony getting a book about multiple Earths when Before Watchmen literally takes place on another Earth within the DC universe.  Plus it’s only a dollar too!!  How can you pass up these bargains?

So if you’re at the shop tomorrow, shamefully buying Before Watchmen: Minutmen #1 (again, I jest) or protesting it’s existence and annoying the staff, take a look around and check out these books.  And all of the other ones too.  There are a lot of great creators out there telling cool stories and building their own worlds, so track some down and try a few!!


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