It’s been a great year for comic book readers and a momentous one as well. DC’s ‘New 52’ branding came to a close while their line of ‘Rebirth’ titles made a big splash in stores. Some said it’s a bad sign that DC has rebooted yet again within a 5-year span. Others say it’s not a reboot at all, just part of DC’s master plan. Either way, it was one headline in the industry that certainly made a lot of noise. Marvel made their own waves with the release of Civil War II and let’s not forget that Valiant’s lead-off title came to a fitting end. Yet amidst all the titles on store shelves, there can only be one in each category that rise above the rest. Read on to see who takes the cake this year.
In all fairness, this one isn’t actually finished yet. Still, what is forthcoming in this series would have to have blank pages to lose its spot here. Plus, I would be doing the title a disservice if I did not acknowledge it. Fortunately, this isn’t just some passer-by mention of the Dark Horse/IDW joint venture as Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens has been a great romp from issue #1 to today. For Dredd, it’s not the first time he’s crossed paths with a Predator. That mini-series occurred nearly 20 years ago and was rather well done. The 2016 rematch with the Aliens thrown in is even better. Is it deep? No. Will it win a Pulitzer? No. It’s just an absolutely fun read with a mad scientist added for good measure. Issue #4 concludes the series and will be out December 28th.
Best New Series
There has been no shortage of inaugural titles released this year. For me, one stands alone at the top of the hill. Valiant Comics debuted their new ongoing series Generation Zero in 2016. Make no mistake, the series is still young, but one of its greatest achievements thus far is how much mystery writer Fred Van Lente keeps bubbling just beneath the surface. Think of the book as a fraction of young X-Men and some really creepy, seemingly indestructible bots that speak in riddles. It’s a little Bloodshot-esque too considering the groundwork that’s been laid for some of the characters’ backgrounds. Focusing around a very kind-hearted and individualistic girl named Keisha, she finds more questions than answers after the very sudden and curious death of her boyfriend. Soon after, she encounters a group of kids with powers that’ll shake the earth. Obscured realities, a sheriff with an unknown agenda and a group of extraordinary high schoolers make this series a “don’t miss.”
Best Graphic Novel
In the intro I said it was a great year for comic book readers, and it has been. The graphic novel front, however, was leaving me feeling rather high and dry in 2016. Wonder Woman: Earth One was released with much anticipation, though to my dismay, it really didn’t offer anything new…then October happened. Some people swear there are treasures buried in the desert. I found one in my mailbox.
There are days when I live on Kickstarter. The crowd-funding website is an outlet for innovative people to launch their ideas, acquire funding, and watch it become a reality. I have backed numerous projects on there, with some having been real duds, while others have been pleasant surprises. One gem in particular is the 2016 work from Michael S. Bracco, The Creators.
First off, this thing is a breath of fresh air. No contrived dialogue and no superheroes revived from the grave for the tenth time. It is absolutely overflowing with imagination. In short, there are a handful of teens around the world who have the inexplicable ability to bring their drawings to life. These adolescents have been dubbed ‘The Creators’ by society. The book itself is a cornucopia of attention-grabbing talent. It takes stress of growing up, the responsibility of an uncanny gift (or curse), plus some really inventive beasts, which all equate to quite a story. The writing guides the book at a drama-building pace and the coloring is worth noting too. This visuals are mostly black and white with a subdued shade of violet that brilliantly paints a detail or character here and there. I don’t remember the last time I finished a read so anxious to discover what happens next. Check out www.creatorscomic.com to see more.
Best Ongoing Series
And without further ado, we arrive at the best ongoing title of 2016, however, there’s a great deal of irony here. Why, you ask? X-O Manowar, the flag bearer of the Valiant Universe, came to a close this autumn as it wrapped up at issue #50. If you’re not familiar with the series, let me fast-forward you. A Visigoth named Aric, determined to seek revenge on the Romans for atrocities against his people, is suddenly kidnapped by an alien race known as the Vine. In the midst of his contact with them, he acquires a living suit of armor that makes him indestructible.
This title exceeded my expectations for the last 4-plus years for a number of reasons. For starters, even my favorite comic book series often have an issue here or there that’s not really all that great. It’s to be expected. We’re all human. So are comic book writers…except Robert Venditti. This guy doesn’t know the meaning of writer’s block. His brain must be a waterfall (as in the Niagara scale) of creativity. It is not normal for one single writer to helm a series from start to finish, yet that is exactly what Venditti did for all 50 issues of X-O Manowar. I never came across one issue of the title where it faltered. It takes a lot to write about a character who’s practically invincible and still make it interesting. Venditti excelled at it. I compare X-O’s closure to how John Elway left the NFL; he went out on top. No one overstayed their welcome here, and quite honestly, I could go for another few years of the series, but Valiant made their decision and a beautiful ending it was. Mission accomplished.