Alrighty here we go!
Kicking off List Season with the "Top 17 Comic Books of 2017"!
Important to keep in mind that while these are reviews, and I will try to highlight as many concrete reasons for my choices, these lists will be largely subjective.
Taste varies person to person and I can only hope to wear my sensibilities on my sleeve so that you can decide if what I like jives with what you like.
SO. With that in mind, think of these lists as "Antonio's Favorite Comics of 2017", there were plenty of amazing comic books this year and to say I read them all would be ridiculous, but here are 17 books that caught my attention and managed to hold it!
Written by Geoff Johns
Art by Gary Frank
Colors by Brad Anderson
With only three issues out at the time of this list, Doomsday Clock doesn't have much to go on. Luckily the little out there propels this 12-issue "maxi-series" into epic territory from the get-go.
The premium format series is held together by the superstar talent of legendary DC writer Geoff Johns (Flashpoint, Green Lantern) and the insanely detailed art of Gary Frank (Superman: Secret Origin, Batman Earth One).
Following the massive reveal in 2016's Rebirth #1, Doomsday Clock explores the surprise connections between the DC Universe and Alan Moore's Watchmen.
Working as an impressively effective sequel to the comic classic, Johns really captures the vibe of the original award winning graphic novel while also adding to the mythology, introducing brand new characters that while completely original, feel right at home in the gritty world of Watchmen.
This brazenness pays off in major ways when the crossovers between iconic characters elevate the book above the initial fan-service and into modern-classics territory.
John's co-pilot, Gary Frank makes expert use of the 9 panel grid system, popularized by Dave Gibbons during the original Watchmen run. The rigidity of the layout forces Frank to utilize bold and engaging compositions and gives Johns great control in how the narrative plays out panel to panel.
Doomsday Clock is a masterclass in how to write a sequel and a crossover. Considering the controversial decision of connecting the Watchmen canon to DC's multiverse, it impressive how well this team has managed to pull it off.
Not only is this one of the best comics of 2017, but definitely one to look out for in 2018 as we have 9 more issues of this premium format mini-series to look forward to!
If you ever wanted to see what would happen if Rorschach ate Batman's breakfast (Yes Really), well then this is the book for you!
You can find Doomsday Clock #1-3 in a comic book store near you!
Star-Lord : Grounded
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Kris Anka
Colors by Matt Wilson
One of my favorite new trends in superhero-comics as of late is taking a character: placing them entirely out of their element and using this change of scenery as an excuse to go entirely introspective, examining the characters philosophy and what their character is when everything else is stripped away.
Star-Lord is a great example of this, as Peter Quill has both literally and figuratively been ripped from his ideal of normal, and plunged into the most unnatural and bizarre place imaginable for the cocky-space-pirate:
New York City!
Grounded and currently estranged from his former teammates, Quill has to deal with the largest struggle of his superhero career: finding a job.
Chip Zdarsky is known for his irreverent sense of humor (Sex Criminals) but where Star-Lord stands out is in its unexpected heart. This six issue mini-series wears its heart on its sleeve, and while this series has to end with things back in a status quo, its effects still feel long-lasting for the reader. if not for future Guardians comics.
Paired with the extraordinary talent of up-and-comer Kris Anka (Captain Marvel, Uncanny X-Men) and colorist-powerhouse Matt Wilson (The Mighty Thor), the trio provide plenty of fan-service, both in the form of some truly kick-ass and hilarious cameos (Ms Marvel, Old-Man Logan, Daredevil and Abigail Brand!), and with Anka's patented...ahem..."appreciation" of the male figure. This book is definitely a visual treat.
Thanks to a stellar team, this book has plenty of laughs and PLENTY of abs.
Star-Lord: Grounded is available now in a trade collecting the entire 6 issue run.
Written by Rainbow Rowell
Art by Kris Anka
Colors by Matthew Wilson
The Runaways are back!
I'm as surprised and as delighted as you are! The original Runaways run was a seminal comic for me in a lot of ways, it influenced a lot of the comics I would go on to read in my teenage years and was one of my first windows into Marvel Comics.
With the groundbreaking success of the original title and the team's members scattered to the winds, writer Rainbow Rowell (Elanor & Park) had her work cut out for her from the get-go. Lucky for us, she has shown that she is more than up to the challenge.
In the original comic, we met 6 teenagers (and a dinosaur), brought together by their shared discovery of their parents true-identities as super-villains. The book was a perfect entry point to the Marvel-Universe as these were all new characters with little-to-no ties to comics continuity, as the book went on, those ties became a little tighter and the Runaways found their footing firmly in the Marvel mythos as a whole.
Since the last series end, the team has disbanded and its members have been put through some pretty harsh emotional turmoil. Where this book excels is Rowell's, willingness to address this growth head on. This isn't a reboot, these characters have grown, they cant be who they were before, not truly, their scars have molded them into a newer version of themselves.
Where the original book dealt with the anxiety and stress of being a super-powered-teenager, this book jumps head first into the anxiety and stress of being a super-powered-young-adult (well with the exception of Molly). While the group has experienced a lot, they are all still very young, and are still trying to find themselves everyday.
Kris Anka and Matt Wilson reunite to bring some of the best art of both their careers. With crisp lines, fresh colors and some truly great fashion, Runaways is as gorgeous as it is fun to read.
The book with the most Looks of 2017.
Runaways is an on going monthly series and issues #1-5 are currently available at a comic book store near you.
Dark Nights: Metal
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo
Colors by FCO Plascencia
DC has found great success with their Rebirth initiative, and where Rebirth focuses on revitalizing the old, Dark Nights: Metal is all about the new.
Scott Snyder (American Vampire, Wytches) has become one of my favorite DC Comics writers of all-time. His New 52 run of Batman is quite possibly my favorite interpretation of the character and has introduced some of the coolest new ideas to the Batman mythos in decades.
Along with Snyder, Greg Capullo (Spawn) and FCO Plascencia (Invincible) have created a tone for Batman truly unlike any creators prior. Drawing on body-horror and heavy metal, the trio has coined a visual style for the Dark Knight that revels in absurdity while never feeling unauthentic.
Dark Nights: Metal serves as the apex for these three creators vision of Batman. Serving as both a massive crossover event and the grand-finale of Snyder and Capullo's storied Batman run: Metal is, to put it mildly, Fucking Bonkers.
The Multiverse has always been an endless well of storytelling potential for DC Comics, but after years of comics, it too has begun to grow stale, enter: The Dark Multiverse. An entirely new spectrum of twisted nightmare worlds and cast-aways that present an infinite amount of new story potential. This Dark Multiverse is here, and its appearance may foretell the end of our heroes world as he know's it.
Barbatos, the immortal bat-demon introduced in Batman RIP has finally revealed his long-game, allied with a group of twisted-nightmare Batmen from doomed worlds, he is planning on annihilating our multiverse, but first he has one last key to completing his plan: Batman.
Determined to thwart Barbatos' multiverse-ending-plan, Batman and just about every other superhero imaginable must uncover the mystery of the titular "Nth Metal" and understand its purpose in saving not just their world, but all worlds.
Metal, quite literally, has everything you could ask for. Gladiator fights, giant mechs, dream dimensions, demonic-zombie-Robins, hypnotic-alien-starfish, doesn't even come close to cover the scope of the insanity present in this book.
While some of the plot suffers from the sheer amount of exposition to accompany the new concepts introduced, Snyder manages to keep the ship on course and ultimately Dark Nights: Metal is a non-stop thrill ride.
Along with the main title, Metal introduced a series of one-off tie ins, each detailing the origin of one of the seven nightmarish off-shoot batmen. These one-shots each contain art from some of the best DC Comics has to offer and while some I enjoyed more than others, there really isn't a bad one in the bunch.
Capullo is right at home with the off-the-walls nature of the designs this book requires. His art has always felt kinetic but here it feels down-right hyper and the story is better for it. Some of the coolest shit he's ever drawn is in this book, and considering his resume, that's saying something.
The books presentation is also a sight to behold, each issue has a glossy cover with metallic detailing and raised chain-link lettering, making every chapter feel like a track on the most hardcore heavy-metal album of all time.
...This book is a TRIUMPH.
Dark Nights: Metal is a 6 issue crossover-event with multiple tie-ins.
Issues #1-4 are available now, I strongly suggest looking up a reading order before checking it out though!
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme
Written by Robbie Thompson
Art by Javier Rodriguez
The Sleeper Hit of 2017!
Wow did this book take me by surprise! Doctor Strange has enjoyed an extremely good run with Jason Aaron at the helm and spinning out of the "Last Days of Magic" arc of that book comes a new series centered around Stephen Strange and a group of time-displaced Sorcerer Supremes.
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme boasts one of the coolest ensemble casts I've seen in a comic maybe...ever?
United by Merlin, Doctor Strange must team with:
1. A youthful version of his own master, The Ancient One.
2. Kushala, a native american sorcerer who is also host to the Spirit of Vengeance.
3. Nina, an pulpy adventurer who is just as good with a weapon as she is with a spell.
4. Billy Kaplan, also known as the young-avenger Wiccan, however this future version has taken over Stephens mantle.
5. Sir Isaac Newton himself, along with a Mindless One he has enchanted.
Brought together to fight an ancient evil, the group struggle to work alongside one-another while dealing with a source of magic more powerful than any they've ever encountered: The Word of God.
The book finds its charm with its uniquely fun cast of characters who each feel fully-realized despite most of them being brand-new.
In its short run, the series weaves an impressively epic adventure with weighty stakes that feel very real.
While the series as a whole is fantastic, issue #6 is particularly special.
As Stephen and his team-mates are captured in a time-distorting magical field, he must decide who to help first in-order to effectively save the others. The entire issue is presented as a "Choose Your Own Adventure" tale, complete with page markers informing you of wear to go next and when to return to start. While it does inevitably have to move the story forward, it is one of the most innovative ways I've seen a chapter of a comic presented and was a pure joy to read and experience.
While I suggest picking up the entire run, issue #6 is a must-have comic and should not be missed.
This book was a pure delight and a happy surprise. It's short run, while unfortunate, makes it very easy to jump into and does have a satisfying "ending". I strongly recommend it to anyone who has yet to read a Doctor Strange book and is looking for an entry point, this comic does a great job of exploring Stephens world while also introducing plenty of new concepts.
Seriously PLEASE read issue #6 it's the coolest thing ever.
Doctor Strange and the Sorcerer Supremes is a 12-issue mini-series that is currently available in 2 volumes.
Written by James Robinson
Art by ACO
Colors by Rachelle Rosenberg
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Possibly the best looking book of the year. I don't think there's another comic out there that oozes this much pure-unadulterated style. James Robinson (Fantastic Four, Starman) pens an impressively compelling spy-thriller that takes our hero to the far corners of the world (and in some cases, off-world). While the writing is extremely solid, it honestly all just serves as a platform for it's superstar artist to work his magic.
And WOW does he preform. ACO (Midnighter) has created some of the most impressive visuals I've seen in a Marvel comic. Drawing heavy inspiration from Jim Steranko and his Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. run, and utilizing his expert knack for composition and fashion, ACO has put together something unlike any other comic on the stands.
There is some truly great character work done in this series by Robinson who brings a sense of gravitas and charisma to the young Fury jr that sets him starkly apart from his grumpy grizzled father. This is a welcome addition and its a shame that since this book's end, we really haven't seen this revitalized Nick Fury Jr pop up in many other books.
The book is a cornucopia of classic spy tropes, yet it takes each of these tried and true ideas and turns them on their head, changing the setting, upping the ante and creating something new and innovative for the spy-caper genre.
Robinson and ACO make an amazing team, as the book is filled with absurd spy gadgets, colorful villains and strange and interesting environments. Each issue follows a new mission for Fury and each mission has new parameters, new tools, new targets and new challenges. Its this constant change that makes the book so fun to come back to every chapter, you never know what crazy threat Nick is going to have to face next.
Really though, not enough can ever be said for how well ACO conquers every page of this comic, the entire book is an amusement park of violence. Rachelle Rosenberg and Travis Lanham serve as the colorist and letterer, respectively and their contributions cannot be overlooked, the vivid Pop-Artesque colors and the typographic design are both essential to giving this book the extra step from great to Masterpiece.
Every page in this book belongs in a museum.
Nick Fury is a 6 issue mini-series that has been collected into a trade, available wherever comics are sold.
The Wicked + The Divine
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie Mckelvie
Colors by Matthew Wilson
The Genre-Defying Superhero-Teen-Drama-Murder-Mystery reaches its fever pitch!
The first comic to make my list two years in a row! From the minds of Kieron Gillen (Young Avengers, Darth Vader) and Jamie Mckelvie (Young Avengers, Phonogram), The Wicked + The Divine continues to be a stellar exploration into youth culture and the philosophy behind fame and worship.
Finishing out the "Imperial Phase" arcs, 2017 is a year of plot-twists, upheaval and of course: lots of sex and death. As the book matures, it's moved away from its pop-culture roots. This year TW+TD really grew into its own, capitalizing on the rich lore it's established to move the over-arching plot forward much farther than previous chapters.
Mckelvie's sleek art continues to have a knack for capturing authentic emotion and his sense of style helps continue to give the book its stand out aesthetic. This artistic competence paired with more chances to illustrate epic fight scenes, gory violence and some cool high-concept sci-fi make for a very excited year of comics.
Gillen has really taken the gloves off with the recent arcs. While the threat of assured death has always been looming, it still always shocks me when a character bites it, and never does a character death feel unweighted. The finale of the Imperial Phase II especially took me off guard and I cannot wait to see what 2018 holds for TW+TD.
Last year they gave us the absolutely phenomenal fashion magazine issue and this year we get the extremely sexy Christmas Annual #1. Filled with fan-service from a variety of insanely talented creators, we get to see a collection of interactions between the gods in their early days of the current cycle. The standout for me is the first of these stories, a particularly saucy vignette of Baal and Inanna having some intimate time. It's a surprisingly sex-positive comic and it's very refreshing to see, and with art by Kris Anka, this book is both figuratively and quite literally packing!