Bitch Planet #8
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick Art by Valentine De Landro Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick Letters by Clayton Cowles
This year there were a lot of comics addressing social issues, but none more hard hitting than Bitch Planet. With her unapologetic approach to feminism Kelly Sue DeConnick is writing one the most significant comic book series today. This issue was important as it sets up the climatic riot in the prison. De Landro’s art shines in this issue with creative panel layouts and stark imaginary.
Written by Marjorie Liu Art by Sana Takeda Letters by Rus Wooton
This is one of the most beautiful comic book covers that I have ever seen. I have honestly considered getting tattooed on my body. Sana Takeda is one of the most beautiful artists working today. However in this issue her art takes a scary turn with some very haunting images as Sana Takeda tells the origin story about the monster living inside of Maika. Also this issue includes an intense action scene. Making for a great climax to the first story arc.
Stray Bullets #14
Written and Illustrated by David Lapham
Stray Bullets is the most disturbing comic book series that I have ever read. I can’t read these comics in public since many of the issues have left me crying and I can’t read an issue before bed, because it will keep me awake. Unlike most quote dark comics that use graphic violence to shock the reader, David Lapham uses violence sparely, but delivers it in such a way to give you chills each time. This issue was one of the most unsettling of all of Stray Bullets as Joey aka Monkey Boy steals his mother’s gun and goes on an adventure to help a dear friend. This comic is like Pulp Fiction with kids.
Howard The Duck #7
Written by Chip Zdarsky Art by Kevin Maguire Colors by Joe Quinones with Jordan Gibson Letters by Travis Lanham
Much like David Lapham is the most disturbing comic book writer, Chip Zdarsky is the most funniest. I seriously wonder how he gets away with writing superheroes like he does. Poking fun in manner that is second to none as the best form of self parody. Sure you could say that the earlier Howard The Duck and Squirrel Girl crossover was the team-up of the year, but this issue includes: Spider-Man, She-Hulk, Daredevil, and Captain America before he got young again and became a Nazi all together fighting dinosaurs. What more could you ask for from a Marvel comic.
Jem and The Holograms #16
Written by Kelly Thompson & Sophie Campbell Art by Sophie Campbell Colors by M. Victoria Robado Letters by Shawn Lee
In a year of big epic events with superheroes battling superheroes and universe shattering reboots there was only one story arc that I cared about and that was Dark Jem. With Synergy infected with Silica, she forms the malevolent band called The Sickness. Now it’s up to the Holograms and the Misfits to team up together to make the perfect glam rock song to save the day and set things right. This is the issue that the fans had been waiting for since the beginning of the series. From what I understand when Tompson and Campbell were first hired on Jem this was the story that they wanted to tell. Their teamwork excelled and made for a perfect issue. Sophie Campbell’s art in this issue is amazing, showing the band members in stunning outfits and performing with a swirl of colors and lyrics. This issue is a great example as to why she is my most favorite artist currently working in comics.
Space Battle Lunchtime #1
Written and illustrated by Natalie Riess
This series was the sleeper hit of this year. I picked up the first issue on a whim not knowing what too expect and I was charmed by Natalie Riess’ creative writing and cute artwork. It wasn’t long before this comic became my favorite series that started this year. Honestly a story about a pastry chef being kidnapped by aliens and forced to compete on a cooking reality show didn’t seem like something I wanted to read, but this series is the comic that I never knew that I wanted. I am excited to see what Natalie Riess does next.
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #6
Written by Kate Leth Art by Natasha Allegri Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Marvel and DC can seem to produce nothing, but overdone event battles and cheesy muscle flexing. However if you check out the second and third tier titles with d-list superheroes you can find some really delightful comics that are outside of the main story line with creatures that are having fun. There is no comic writer that knows how to have fun more than Kate Leth. For this issue the series regular artist, Brittany Williams, takes a break and lets Natasha Allegri fill in. Just as Patsy Walker takes break from managing her temp business to go to Coney Island with her friends only to run into the dangerous villain Arcade. Allegri’s art is nice blend of cutie cartoons and manga. It’s not the conventional superhero style, but the style that needs to seen more often in superhero comics. I especially love the way she draws She-Hulk. I’m sure the new She-Hulk series by Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon will be great, but I hope they have her do a few fill issues. Just look at this panel from a short comic that she did in The All-New All-Different Avengers Annual.
The Sheriff of Babylon #5
Written by Tom King Art and Colors by Mitch Gerards Letters by Travis Lanham
This whole series has been fantastic. It’s hard to pick one issue from it to be best, but this issue did something that not many comics have done successfully. The full issue is one long conversation. Sure a comic with nothing, but talking may sound boring. However Tom King is able to keep it entertaining, showing why he is one the most talked about writers of the year. Two people from different walks share a drink and learn that they are more alike then they once thought. This issue a great example for aspirating writer on how to write dialogue and show character traits without being ham-fisted. Also the same goes for aspiring artists since Mitch Gerard is able to take dialogue scenes and keep them interesting by showing hand gestures, facial expressions, and body language.
Written by Tom King Pencils by Mikel Janin Inks by Mikel Janin and Hugo Petrus Colors by June Chung Letters by Clayton Cowles
As an unspoken rule I’m not supposed to pick two comics by the same author, but Tom King has become such a break out talent that both the #3 and #2 spots belong to him. This issue comes in the middle of a story arc that is not even finished yet, but it stands strong on it’s own. Artist Mikel Janin was creative and daring with issue as it is composed of all two page spreads showing Batman fighting his way through Arkham Asylum. Each spread is beautiful filled with energy that shows an intense battle. One image in the middle in-particular stuck with me and has since become my favorite image of Batman ever. It shows him from above as he is on all four with his cape sprawled out, and unconscious thugs all around him. I feel that this issue is the most essential Batman comic that has come out in years.
No Mercy #9
Written by Alex De Campi Drawn by Carla Speed McNeil Colors by Jenn Manley Lee Consulted with Felipe Sobreiro
As I was creating this list I had to ask myself the question “If someone could only read one comic book from this year, what does it have to be?” With America being how it is today. I realize that couldn’t judge a comic just on entertainment value alone. No Mercy #9 isn’t escapism. Instead it exposes issues that effect our nations youth that most would rather not talking about. Handling subjects such as gender identity, self harm, drug abuse, sexuality, and most of all abusive parents. Not physically abusive, but psychologically abuse with restrictions, punishments, and manipulation. This issue is a flash back focusing on Charlene as he is forced to go to a Teen Residential Treatment Center after coming out as transgender. There he faces physical and verbal abuse. This comic brings to light harsh conditions of Teen Residential Treatment Centers that have lead to hundreds of deaths. Despite being a crime against humanity these centers are most often seen by adults as ‘peaceful’ schools that teaches teenagers to think ‘correctly’. At the end of the issue is long list of names of teens that have died at these centers showing that this comic is not a piece of shock art, but rather a cautionary story of how adults avoid talking out problems and attempt to understand things that they can not experience.
Barrier #1 Written by Brian K Vaughan Art by Marcos Martin and Munsta Vincenta
Jughead #8 Written by Chip Zdarsky Art by Derek Charm Letters by Jack Morelli
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #3 Written by Ryan North Art by Erica Henderson Colors by Rico Renzi Letters by Travis Lanham (This comic has the best single page appearance of The Punisher ever)