The Top Seven Graphic Novels of 2016!
In what has been and incredibly busy year personally, my review posts have unfortunately been absent as of late. Regardless my love for reading comics remains and I felt the need to keep up my tradition of once again putting out my “BEST OF” list. Instead of several posts for each category, I’m taking a different approach this time. In what was another strong year for comics, and there were so many that deserve the recognition and need to be read, here are my personal favorites for 2016!
Best Limited Series – The Vision – Marvel (Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Jordie Bellaire) – Nobody has ever written a Vision story the way King did in this series, and as a result, readers were rewarded with one of the best comics to come out of Marvel so far this century! The artwork was amazing and totally captured the feel that the writing needed. It was as heartbreaking as it was groundbreaking, an obvious must read, and an immediate instant classic!
Best Ongoing – Bloodshot Reborn – Valiant (Jeff Lemire, Mico Suayan, David Baron) – Easily one of the best collaborative efforts in comics today, Bloodshot Reborn epitomizes everything that is right in comics today! With brilliant storytelling from Lemire, and eye-numbing visuals from Suayan and Baron, Bloodshot Reborn is a perfect blend of action and drama that for me, has redefined this classic Valiant character forever.
Best New Comic – 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank – Black Mask Studios (Matthew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, Thomas Mauer) – The best debut issue I read all year, 4 Kids introduces us to a group of rpg-playing, misfit, junior high tweens who set out on a quest to protect Paige’s father from a group of lowly criminals by plotting a bank heist. As far-fetched as that sounds, it really doesn’t matter because what Rosenberg is delivering here is smart, funny, and resonates well with the audience. His character building makes you start caring for these kids and has you totally cheering and believing. The art is absolutely fantastic and gives the story the perfect complement of visuals, and the end result is something we rarely see in comics these days. 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank was easily the best new comic of 2016 and one of the best overall comics period.
Best Series (Completed) - The Sixth Gun – Oni Press (Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Bill Crabtree) – 2016 brought an end to one of the greatest western comics ever, thanks to the creative team who brilliantly mixed supernatural horror into this fifty issue tale of heroes versus villains. In a review I did last year, I described The Sixth Gun as an epic Tolkienian-like quest and I feel even stronger about that now more than ever. This book for me is what put Cullen Bunn on the comic book map and catapulted him to a status that allowed him to do such titles as Magneto and Harrow County. I am one of Brian Hurtt’s biggest fans and was thrilled to meet him at MondoCon in Austin a couple of years ago. His work on this series was just amazing as he captured the action and battle scenes with an incredible suppleness and gave these beloved characters a face that will exist forever in comic book glory. I will miss this comic dearly.
Best Web Comic – Barrier – Panel Syndicate (Brian K Vaughan, Marcos Martin, Muntsa Vicente) – Much like what they did with The Private Eye, the groundbreaking founding/creative team of Panel Syndicate have launched another DRM-free, pay what you want web series with Barrier. The visuals from Martin and Vicente are glorious and Vaughan and Martin are delivering a bilingual script that brilliantly and symbolically challenges and puts the reader in a position to sympathize with the characters, Barrier is an unprecedented science-fiction story with a strong underlining social commentary that stands out as one of the best comics of last year.
Best Comic (Overall) – Saga – Image Comics (Brian K Vaughan, Fiona Staples) – The best written, best illustrated, best overall comic of not just 2016, but of the last four years! Saga continues to set the bar for all comic creators today. Brian K Vaughan is a master storyteller (see Paper Girls & Barrier) and the art from Fiona Staples is majestic! Together the two are producing one of the most beautifully told and poetic graphic novels in comic book history.
Best Horror Comic – Afterlife With Archie (Archie Comics) – (Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Francesco Francavilla) – I almost left this off the list because of a quantity concern I had, but then I realized this is the new thing in comics. The story and art that the creative team gives us in this series is so brilliantly constructed and so dark, it has redefined and led the way for the rebirth of Archie Comics that we have witnessed over these last few years. Aguirre-Sacasa is a genius and master storyteller of horror and Francavilla (have you seen all his brilliant covers) puts out a style that has made him one of the most sought out artist in the industry. Even if you have never read an Archie comic in your life, you will love this series, and if you are a longtime Archie fan like myself, this series will absolutely blow your mind!