The Top Spec-Fic Comics of 2017

It’s that time of year when everyone writes up lists of the best of the best and the worst of the worst. And Pull List is no exception. We’ve had a pretty great year for new comics, especially in the indie realm. DC’s Rebirth is still chugging along while Marvel continues to shoot itself in the foot then blame everyone else but themselves. As always, there’s lots of meh stuff cluttering up the market, but finding good quality series is pretty easy as of late.

Don’t think of this roundup as a “best of” but rather a list of “really cool titles you should be reading.” The only eligibility requirement was that it had to be released for the first time in 2017, including the release of the first issue, first time being published in print, or first time being published in English. No trades of series that premiered in previous years (which is why there’s hardly any Rebirth), and I’m not counting events either (hence no Legacy or Civil War II titles).

One last note. I tried to include as many of the regular creators as possible, but if I missed someone, know that it was not intentional. It’s hard to keep track of all the creators who rotate on and off.

What would you put in your top comics of 2017? Let me know in the comments!

 

Best of the Big Two

Some of my favorite contemporary comics are small stories with personal stakes, which is why America (Marvel: Gabby Rivera, Kelly Thompson, Joe Quinones, Joe Rivera, Paolo Rivera, José Villarrubia, Travis Lanham, Stacey Lee, Jordan Gibson, Ming Doyle, Ramon Villalobos) works so well. It’s a small stakes adventure that has more to do with America sorting out her personal life and dealing with her past than saving the world. Frankly, the AmeriKate mini-arc alone puts it in the Top 10.

Ellis’ return to the Wildstorm Universe with The Wild Storm (Marvel: Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt, Ivan Placencia, Simon Bowland, Steve Buccellato, John Kalisz) was unexpected yet welcome. It’s not necessarily the easiest comic to read, what with all the mysteries wrapped in enigmas wrapped in riddles and the “take it slow” mentality when it comes to parceling out information, but it’s worth the work.

On the DC front, Super Sons (DC: Peter J. Tomasi, José Luis, Jorge Jimenez, Scott Hanna, Hi-Fi, Alejandro Sanchez, Rob Leigh) is actually pretty good. TBH, a comic about the sons of Bats and Supes is, in concept, fairly uninteresting to me. Yet each issue is consistently engaging. Look, I’m as surprised as you are that I am willingly reading a comic featuring Damian Wayne and not totally loathing it, but here we are.

I’m not sure how to fully explain how impressive Mister Miracle (DC: Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Clayton Cowles) is. Simultaneously absurdist and existential, this series has brought some of the odder Jack Kirby creations into the modern age. What King did for Vision–exploring a psychological, personal drama against the backdrop of superheroics–he’s done again here…and it’s just as good.

 

Best of Image

Man, oh, man. Crosswind (Gail Simone, Cat Staggs, Simon Bowland) is one killer new series (zing!). An overconfident hitman swaps bodies with a put-upon housewife, and chaos ensues. Gail Simone’s dialogue kicks major ass and Cat Staggs’ artwork is superb and evocative. They can do no wrong, as far as I’m concerned.

Out of all the fantastic comics on this list, Redlands (Jordie Bellaire, Vanesa R. Del Rey, Clayton Cowles) has to be one of the prettiest. To quote myself, “It is, deep down in its blackened heart, a story about men who try to oppress women and the women who make them pay for their actions in blood and bone…Redlands is about the horror of humanity.”

Honorable mention goes to Extremity (Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer). This series isn’t my cup of tea, but even I can see how top notch it is. It’s a bloody, violent, and luridly gorgeous comic.

 

Favorite First Issues

Runaways (Marvel: Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, Matthew Wilson, Joe Caramagna) opens with Chase and Nico bringing Gert back from the dead and snooping possessed cats, and the series only gets more bananas from there. Rowell and Anka are the perfect fit for each other and for a series as fun and weird and YA angsty as the Runaways. Although it tells a different story, the comic also pairs nicely with the new Runaways show on Hulu.

Moonstruck (Image: Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, Clayton Cowles) makes me happy just thinking about it. I love everything about it. The first issue is a dreamy delight, a slice of life comic infused with queer romance and intersectional diversity. The story opens slowly–we don’t even meet Selena, Julie’s love interest–but it does enough place setting to leave the reader eager for more.

 

Marvelous Middle Grade and Young Adult

The YA fantasy miniseries Cloudia & Rex (Lion Forge Comics: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas, Daniel Irizarri) snuck up on me. I can’t remember how I stumbled on a review of the first issue, but it sounded so interesting that I consumed all three issues in one sitting. It’s an enchanting little tale with realistic teen characters and complex family dynamics. The story’s a bit tangled but the diligent research and emotional artwork more than make up for it.

I just reviewed The Witch Boy (Scholastic: Molly Ostertag) and M.F.K. (Insight Comics: Nilah Magruder), so rather than rehashing that I’ll redirect you there. TL;DR: they’re super great and wonderfully diverse. If you know a kid who digs comics, you’re doing them a disservice by not putting these titles into their hands right now.

 

Awesome Adaptations

Although Beowulf (Image: Santiago García, David Rubín) was originally published in Spain in 2013, this year it got its first release in English. It’s a gorgeous, harrowing comic filled with vicious dialogue and utterly spectacular artwork. Moreover, García and Rubín actually do something new with such an old tale.

Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation (Abrams ComicArts: Octavia E. Butler, John Jennings, Damian Duffy) successfully pulls off what few graphic novel adaptations manage: to both explore and enhance the original work. The adaptation should please long time Butler fans and newcomers alike.

 

Glorious Girl Gangs

In my review of Ladycastle (BOOM! Box: Delilah S. Dawson, Ashley A. Woods, Becca Farrow, Rebecca Nalty, Jim Campbell), I described the 4-issue miniseries as “a little bit Lord of the Rings high fantasy, a little bit Monty Python and the Holy Grail humor, and a little bit Tangled sing-songy feminism.” It’s a fun all-ages story about women forging their own paths and taking on the patriarchy. And since it’s penned by the great Delilah S. Dawson, you know the story’s cracking.

BOOM! Box is on fire right now, and, to mix metaphors a bit, Misfit City (Kiwi Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz, Brittany Peer, Jim Campbell) is just the latest jewel in their crown. This modern take on ‘80s adventure flicks is full of heart, excitement, and supernatural creepiness.

Kim & Kim: Love Is a Battlefield (Black Mask Studios: Magdalene Visaggio, Eva Cabrera, Claudia Aguirre, Zakk Samm) is the miniseries follow up to the stellar Kim & Kim from last year. Set three years after the first arc, Kim Q and Kim D are a little more mature but still very much punk rock. Rest assured, it most definitely lives up to its bad-ass, Mad-Max-in-Space predecessor.

 

Cancellations I’m Still Grumpy About

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! (Marvel: Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, Megan Wilson, Clayton Cowles) and The Unstoppable Wasp (Marvel: Jeremy Whitley, Elsa Charretier, Megan Wilson, Joe Caramagna) were lovely and funny series that highlighted the best of what Marvel had to offer. They were goofy, charming, compelling, and inclusively diversity. It’s a damn shame they were axed. If Marvel were smarter they’d get Elsa Charretier and Kate Leth back on their comics right quick.

Supergirl: Being Super (DC: Mariko Tamaki, Joëlle Jones, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte) wasn’t technically cancelled because it was just a miniseries. But it was so good that I’m pretty annoyed no one at DC upgraded Tamaki and Jones to ongoing. I like Steve Orlando a lot–Midnighter will always be one of my faves–but his current run on Supergirl pales next to this miniseries.

 

Kelly Thompson

Ha! Trick question! There is no “best of” for Kelly Thompson because everything she does is awesome. OK, so I’m a superfan, but hear me out anyway. Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi: Captain Phasma (Marvel: Thompson, Marco Checchetto, Andres Mossa, Clayton Cowles) kicked my ass from from the first page to the last. Phasma didn’t get much to do in The Force Awakens, but she’s on the hunt in the comics. Although you don’t have to read the Phasma comic in order to understand Episode VIII, why deny yourself more Star Wars goodness?

Jem and the Holograms: Infinite and Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits: Infinite (IDW: Thompson, Stacey Lee, Jen Hickman, Jenn St-Onge, Sarah Stern, M. Victoria Robado, Shawn Lee) is a fabulously glamorous addition to the Jem world Thompson already built. If she wants to keep dipping her toes into the Hologram playground, I’ll take it.

But my favorite new series of Thompson’s has to be Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (IDW: Thompson, Corin Howell, Valentina Pinko, Neil Uyetake). I loved the 2016 movie, like seriously majorly totally adored it, so the comic had a high bar to cross. And yet it did and then some. The debut was so good I very nearly put it up in Favorite First Issue. I smiled through every single page. It’s killing me knowing that it’s only a miniseries.

Alex Brown is a teen librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.

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