Alex’s Best Of 2017
Now that 2017 is in the history books, it’s time to have a look back at some of the comics, movies and events that really stood out for me. These comics were all released this year, and in the case of a limited series if had at least two issues released this year (if a mini series began late this year but is scheduled to end in 2018, then expect to find it on next years list – if it’s any good). Remember that this is all based on what I’ve read, and if your favourite comic isn’t here, it may be because I may not have read it, not because I didn’t like it.
First up there’ll be your standard Best Of categories of Ongoing Series, Mini/One Shot, Single Issue, Writer, Artist, and Colourist. However, you’ll notice that the word “best” isn’t used, and that’s because I didn’t read everything this year – so I’ve gone with my favourites and subsequently awarded each at least one of either a Gold, Silver and Bronze medal.
Favourite Ongoing Series
The reason this is first is because honestly this was the easiest category to decide on as there really wasn’t a choice when it came to my most anticipated comic each month.
Bloodshot Salvation (Valiant) An absolutely gorgeously rendered series by Lewi Larosa and Mico Suayan, Bloodshot Salvation follows on from Jeff Lemire’s excellent Bloodshot Reborn series, with the writer being able to continue the story (after a bit of a time jump) while making the first issue very accessible for new readers looking to jump into one of Valiant’s flagship series. The reason I picked this series is because of how excited I am to read every issue; the themes may be deeper and more intricate in some of the other series I’ve been reading, but there is no other series I look forward to reading as much as this one when it arrives in my inbox (and then once again when I get to pick up the physical copy).
Aquaman (DC) Had you asked me last year what would be on this list, I’d never have said that Aquaman would even be in consideration… but here we are. A series about inherited obligation, predetermined destiny and the usurpation of a king and his subsequent realization that he wasn’t the best king for Atlantis. So when Arthur Curry finds himself fighting for those far less fortunate than himself it creates a very interesting situation where Arthur Curry refuses to acknowledge his former identity, and has become the Batman of Atlantis; the Aquaman. The king is dead, long live the Aquaman.
Ninja-K (Valiant) I wasn’t going to include this here because only two issues came out this year, but those two issues were phenomenal. Had there been more to read in 2017, I have no doubt this would have taken the gold. With no real prior knowledge of the character required to enjoy this, there’s no reason for you not to dive right in to this stylish action thriller starring everybody’s favourite British ninja spy.
Favourite Limited Series or One Shot
There were so many great miniseries released this year, that it hurt me to only choose three. Alterna had some wonderful series, as did Image and Valiant, but in the end I had to settle on just three, and so I went with three shining examples of comics in 2017.
Secret Weapons (Valiant) It’s no secret I enjoy Valiant’s comics, or at least it shouldn’t be. So when they put out a series based around a group of super powered rejects with powers that are effectively useless, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it wouldn’t work. And then you’d read it just to see the train wreck only to discover one of the year’s standout offerings. The second issue alone has a Sikh character, also with minor super powers, noticing people pointing at him and speaking in hushed whispers as he is attending class. Worried that people are mistaking him for a Muslim, and by extension a possible terrorist, he keeps his head down and leaves, only to be confronted by three thugs who don’t care about his appearance, only that he has powers. It’s a tense, and incredibly well written sequence that highlights just how much the creative team have to say. It’s a prime example of comics at their very best.
Voracious: Feeding Time (Action Lab) I could tell you so many reasons why you should read this emotional tale about a time traveling chef who hunts dinosaurs, whether it’s Markisan Naso’s fantastic dialogue or the wonderful artwork by Jason Muhr and colourist Andrei Tabacaru. I could tell you that comics like this are the reason you should pay attention to indie comics publishers, because if you don’t you’ll be missing out on some of the best stories the year. But I won’t; instead, once again, I’ll tell you tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t read this:
God Country (Image) A man suffering from Alzheimer’s becomes a god when he holds Valofax, the god of swords. The first issue of this series deals with the heartbreaking reality of watching a loved one suffering with this horrible disease, before adding in a dose of space gods. The familial theme never leaves this series, regardless of the setting, grounding this galaxy spanning story remarkably well.
Favourite Single Issue
The top spot was never in question for me here, but the other two issues could have easily have been different if I was in a different mood when I wrote this. There were so many wonderful comics released this year that choosing only three was, once again, painful.
Voracious: Feeding Time #3 (Action Lab) This issue set the bar very early in the year. The series was continually, and consistently, of a high quality in every aspect every issue, but it’s the third that was the high point with a superb interview sequence interspersed with one of the greatest two page spreads of the year, only to culminate in perhaps the most emotional scene in any comic as one character talks to another about his fears that due to the altered timeline he may forget his wife ever existed. Without the context of the preceding issues, one would that the emotional impact of the scene would be lost. I assure you, it isn’t.
Batman #36 (DC) When Tom King is good, he’s really good. This issue sees him at his very best as he explores the friendship between Bruce and Clark and the admiration each feels for the other in an oddly touching way with each man talking to his significant other, who also show just how much they understand their husband or fiance. The action is almost secondary to the characterization – and I’m very okay with that.
Ninja-K #1 (Valiant) What better way to start a new series about the history of MI6’s Ninja Programme than with a brief history taking up half an issue that doesn’t feel like a recap. Ninja-K #1 immerses you into its world with an effortless grace such as that you’d expect from the title character. As an introduction to the character, this is fantastic. Christos Gage doesn’t try to throw out the previous run, instead he briefly acknowledges that it happened in a way that doesn’t alienate new readers before plunging on with story itself. One of the very best first issues this year.
Three writers who produced the best comics of 2017, hands down.
Everything that Matt Kindt touched this year was a winner for me. I don’t think he penned anything less than a good issue in 2017, and his output reads like a recommendation list for getting people into comics. If you want to read a good comic, then grab anything by Matt Kindt. He will take you on an incredible journey no matter where you’re going.
Another writer with a stellar output this year, the only reason Lemire landed in Silver was that I just didn’t click with his run on Moon Knight. But plenty of people did, and the comic was very well received; it just wasn’t for me. That said, the work he did for Valiant this year was second to none, as was Black Hammer for Dark Horse. Honestly, Moon Knight aside, I loved everything Lemire put out this year (that I read).
He may not have been as prolific as other writers in comics this year, but he wrote the best issue I read all year. Pound for pound, he was the best writer in comics in 2017, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us for 2018.
Art is always subjective, but the following artists were, in my opinion, three of the very best. Next year, I may move away from the gold/silver/bronze because choosing only three sucks.
I… look I can’t tell you how amazing Larosa’s work has been this year, so I’ll show you a random page as an example. And when I say random, I took the first result of a “Lewis Larosa 2017” google search that was big enough to highlight what I needed.
Raul Allen & Patricia Martin
Their work on Secret Weapons alone earns them a spot on this list with a deliciously classic style and some incredible use of the page layout and the pacing of each issue they draw. This style is best experienced within a full comic, but there’s an example below.
Yet another incredible artist to whom words won’t do justice. Another random page, because everything Suayan touches is incredible.
Publisher Of The Year
Valiant Entertainment In terms of output, there was maybe three comics Valiant published this year that I didn’t love; they were still good, but weren’t ever candidates for this list. That’s three issues out of their entire line. On top of giving us the phenomenal Secret Weapons, Ninja-K‘s stratospheric debut and two other incredibly solid titles in Bloodshot: Salvation and the relaunched X-O Manowar the publisher also made headlines with their tongue in cheek homage to the mid 90’s with the Quantum & Woody #1 variants, the number of which is mind boggling. Including a single issue second printing that made $1600 or so for the CBLDF. When I asked Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani about that, he said that there were no spares created in case the second printing got damaged – had that happened then Valiant would have incurred costs to print another comic. This is a company run by people who are in it for the comics and the fans (and to make a buck), as is evidenced by the activity of Mr. Shamdasani and the Valiant staff on twitter with fans. Valiant genuinely seems to care about putting out quality over quantity.
Alterna Comics With a concerted effort to bring comics back to the masses, Alterna launched their newsprint line with prices topping out at $1.50. That’s all well and good, but if the comics aren’t any good, then they’re just selling kindling; fortunately, Alterna’s range of comics and miniseries were some of the most entertaining issues I read all year. You want stuff for an all-ages audience? Check. You want a creepy horror themed story? You’re in luck. Post apocalyptic survival? Yup. If you committed to Alterna this year then aside from saving your wallet a beating, you would have read some fantastic stories at an amazing price point.
Self Publishers No matter who you are, if you’ve decided to self publish your comics this year, then I tip my hat to you. I can only imagine the dedication it takes to ensure your story gets out to the public – whether that’s digitally or in print.
Movie Of The Year*
Hugh Jackman’s last hurrah as the Canadian mutant was better than I ever could have imagined. Not only was this movie my favourite of the year, but it’s probably my favourite movie of all time. I’m a huge Wolverine fan, and this was a perfect homage to the character without being bogged down by continuity or an attempt to follow a preexisting comic story to the letter. Everything about this movie was excellent; the acting, the story, the action and the finale. I couldn’t have asked for a better movie.
*for a list of my top five movies, check out an upcoming episode of Those Two Geeks.
The Moment That Had Me Grinning Ear To Ear
- The release of Batman & Bill on Hulu. An incredible look at the crusade of Marc Tyler Nobleman to give Bill Finger, the co-creator of Batman, the credit he deserves after Bob Kane screwed him over more than 75 years ago. This heartbreaking documentary is powerful watching, and is a must for any fan of comics.
Well there we have it; a look back at some of the best comics that I read over the year. Agree, or disagree? Let me know!