Tag Archives: Comics

Mini Reviews For The Week Ending 1/21

Sometimes, the staff at Graphic Policy read more comics than we’re able to get reviewed. When that happens you’ll see a weekly feature compiling short reviews from the staff of the comics, or graphic novels, we just didn’t get a chance to write a full review for.

These are Graphic Policy’s Mini Reviews.


Alex

Batman #15 (DC) What a pile of horse shit. This series is up and down the quality scale like deadpool_the_duck__2a fiddler’s elbow; when it’s good, it’s really good. When it’s not… man, I’d rather pluck my nose hair than read this again. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Deadpool the Duck #2 (Marvel) I’m surprised again by how much I’m enjoying this series. It’s a good laugh that doesn’t take itself too seriously (which is good, considering the subject matter), and yet hasn’t evolved into outright foolishness. Overall: 7.75 Recommendation: Read

Kill Or Be Killed #5 (Image) It’s been a couple of months since we last had an issue of this series, and I didn’t realize just how much I missed reading about Dylan, the every man who made a deal with a demon to keep killing people (most of whom deserve it). The narrative in this issue does bounce a little, but that’s more due to the style of the narration than a failing on Brubaker’s part; I loved it, but I understand why others aren’t as fond. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel) Much like an 80’s action movie, this is enjoyable enough. But there’s no real plot to speak of yet beyond what you literally get from the title. Personally, I’d hold off till the trade and find out if it’s worth giving a shit over then, because this isn’t exactly great. Overall: 6 Recommendation: Pass (for now)

Venom #3 (Marvel) The star of this comic has become the symbiote, not the union between man and symbiote the comic is named after, and I absolutely love the way that Mike Costa is bringing a healthy dose of characterization to something that was essentially just a costume change. By binding the symbiote’s fate to someone more comfortable living in the morally grey area than the previous host Flash Thompson was, we’re also getting a cracking story to boot. Overall:8 Recommendation: Buy

Joe

Monsters Unleashed #1 (Marvel) – Though I have not loved everything Marvel has done lately in their events (though I enjoy Clone Conspiracy and IvX so far), I was excited for monsters_unleashed_1_francavilla_variantthis, even if part of me was ready to be let down. First of all, I want to say the art, and the large page spreads of our heroes fighting these massive monsters as civilians run in fear is awesome. So is the idea that a kid is bringing these things to life by drawing them. But for an issue that costs $4.99, you don’t really get a lot. The entire issue is setup, and while first issues should contain that, I felt there should have been a lot more. We never get much time with any group of heroes. Instead the book spends its time hopping around and highlighting the current teams. It isn’t bad, but it also isn’t good. Overall: 5.0 Recommendation: Pass

Dept. H #10 (Dark Horse) – The wonderful slow burn or should I say flood of Dept. H continues. The art, as always in this book is fantastic. My anticipation is through the roof on finding out who did it in this who dun it. You won’t get that answer here, but you do get quite a big reveal as we look into another characters past, and their relationship with Hari. This is a solid entry in the series. The tension has been raised again, and the cliffhanger should make things even more interesting. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Justice League of America: The Ray Rebirth #1 (DC) – This is another weekly comic in the buildup to Steve Orlando’s upcoming JLA series. In this comic, we get a very tragic origin story for Ray, a boy who had to live his childhood locked away from everyone but his mother due to what she described as an allergy to light. Orlando does a great job showing the tough life The Ray lived as a child, and some of it is heartbreaking. By the end of the book, The Ray gets to know who he is, and is done hiding, both as a hero, and in his personal life. The comic does a great job echoing some of the issues in our country, and ties them in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Clone Conspiracy #4 (Marvel) – I have enjoyed this event so far. It has been crazy to see what Slott has done, and while some do not enjoy it (I understand why), I have. This issue really ramps things up, and actually surprised me in how far Slott went. It will be interesting to see the next issue and how this event ends, especially with Ben Reilly back as The Scarlet Spider, which Marvel just announced. Things get very dark here, but the fast paced story telling and awesome art really made it work. Overall: 7.5 Recommendation: Buy

Ryan C

Batman #15 (DC)** – Tom King and Mitch Gerads wrap up their little two-parter with another issue that’s visually stunning, but decidedly humdrum to read. “Bat” and “Cat” profess their love for one another while keeping plenty of things (though not their identities) secret. We’ve seen this done before, and we’ve seen it done better. Maybe we were all expecting too much from King, but it’s time to be honest — not only is this series massively disappointing, by and large it’s not even particularly good. Overall: 4 Recommendation: Pass

black_panther__world_of_wakanda__3Black Panther: World Of Wakanda #3 (Marvel)** – I give Roxane Gay a lot of credit for re-introducing modern readers to the notion of “thought bubbles” (which I still maintain can be very useful narrative devices), but here she inserts them into panels where it would be much better to let the visuals alone do the storytelling, and the result is a rather forced-feeling “quantum leap forward” in the love story between our two largely well-written protagonists. Alitha E. Martinez and Roberto Poggi continue to deliver art that I would classify as “average at best,” and Ta-Nehisi Coates gets top billing on the cover credits despite being nothing more than a “consultant” on the book, which is a real screw job to the people actually doing the work. I would expect better from a progressive writer/academic, but like a lot of people, it seems he can check his politics at the door when it comes to cashing a paycheck. Oh, and I trust we all saw that Marvel CEO Ike Perlmutter has “graduated” from merely being yet another onerous Trump supporter to actually being a part of the guy’s administration — how much longer can left-leaning creators continue to work for this company in good conscience? But I digress. On the whole I’ve enjoyed this series more than I was expecting to — and certainly more than the main “Black Panther” title — but this was a decidedly sub-par installment. Overall: 3 Recommendation: Pass

Lucifer #14 (DC/Vertigo)** – Richard Kadrey steps in as writer and not only doesn’t he miss a beat, he’s got these characters down cold. Sure, his scene transitions could use some work, but on the whole this installment gave me the old “Vertigo feels” that are getting to be in far too short a supply these days. I enjoyed the early issues of Holly Black’s run, but she seemed to be losing interest in the project as it wore on, and given that we’re stepping into a major new story arc that sees the Lucifer/God rivalry, as well as events in Hell, upped yet another notch, the change to a new scribe couldn’t have come at a better time. Lee Garbett’s been killing it on the art, so I’m pleased to see that he’s sticking around as visual continuity is a big plus for this series. Oh, and Mazikeen’s scarcely ever been better than she is here. Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Postal #17 (Image/Top Cow)** – Really good to see this book back on the stands after a couple-month hiatus, and it looks like Bryan Hill’s shifting his script into high gear with this issue, which sees Mark elevated (by his mother’s dictate, of course) to the office of mayor in Eden, Wyoming, while the mystery of what became of the town’s — and Mark’s — father accrues some intriguing new layers unto itself. Solid art from the always-reliable (and, crucially, always- improving) Isaac Goodhart rounds out another more-than-pleasing chapter in this continuing epic. And yes, it’s safe to call it that at this point, absolutely. Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy

Shean

the_mighty_captain_marvel__1Batman 66 Meets Wonder Woman 77#1 (DC)– Both the Batman TV show from the 60s and the Wonder Woman TV show from the 70s, captured the world’s attention in reruns as a kid of the 80s , this exactly how I found out about them. So when I heard that they were doing crossover between the two in a comic . Props goes out tot he creative team for including Eartha Kitt’s version of CatWoman and the involvement of Ras Al Ghul , as they have taken advantage of all the tools at their disposal. This comic more than sort a look , it deserves the world’s attention. Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy

The Mighty Captain Marvel#1 (Marvel)-when writers attempt to do meta in their stories , it can come off as superficial but thankfully this wasn’t the case with this book. In this issue, we find Carol Danvers in the midst of her celebrity as she on the set of a movie based on her life . As tongue in cheek this setup is, the story still finds time to setup allegory with refugees, instead of humans , they have aliens, some of who are Kree. By issue’s end, the reader realizes the stakes are high and a ELE might be on the horizon. Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy



Well, there you have it, folks. The reviews we didn’t quite get a chance to write. See you next week!

Please note that with some of the above comics, Graphic Policy was provided FREE copies for review. Where we purchased the comics, you’ll see an asterisk (*). If you don’t see that, you can infer the comic was a review copy. In cases where we were provided a review copy and we also purchased the comic you’ll see two asterisks (**).

Review: Angel Season 11 #1

stl029890In the final season of the Angel TV show, beloved supporting character Fred Burkle (played by Amy Acker) was animated by the Elder God Illyria after her death. In a similar manner, Angel Season 11 #1 has some familiar faces, like Angel, Fred, and even flashbacks to Angel’s earliest days as a vampire in Ireland, but the comic reads like popular licensed characters going through the motions of a run of the mill horror\mystery\time travel story. Piling up genres and setting the comic in Ireland doesn’t add much to a snooze of a read.

The best Buffy and Angel comics have nailed the ways characters have spoken as well as their relationships and motivations and making changes in line with this. For example, Christos in Angel and Faith had Faith helping Angel find redemption by raising Giles from the dead, and there just happened to be other dimensions along the way. Unfortunately, writer Corinna Bechko just throws Angel and Fred into a haunted hotel in Dublin, has middling artist Gerardo Borges throw up some creepy imagery when he can’t even get Angel’s expressions straight, and adds some gimmicks like time travel to give the plot forward momentum. It seems like there will be a conflict between Fred and Illyria, but Bechko and Borges just use the latter to get them out of any plot snafus. She is like Superman of the Silver Age and gains abilities to fit the plot’s needs with no consequences to speak of so far.

With the exit of Faith as a co-headliner, Angel Season 11 #1 has the task of building a supporting cast, which is a problem that its sister title doesn’t have. Except this whole issue is just Angel and Fred running around a hotel pel-mell, looking in a coffins, and following random spiders. There is no relationship building or real tension between our two leads, and it seems like they are just there to fill the quota of two leads in a supernatural themed procedural. (Mulder and Scully, they are not.) Even when Giles’ immortal aunts Lavinia and Sophie show up, the writing for them lacks its comic relief.

The one positive in Angel Season 11 #1 is Michelle Madsen’s color palette. She uses a grey screen print tone to give the demon that Angel and Fred (Later Illyria.) battle a kind of Wicker Man vibe and uses a similar effect in the opening page with some black to introduce a still brooding Angel. Borges’ character poses and action/magical movements are all over the place, but Madsen’s sparkles of energy are a reminder that the Buffyverse is a place of wonder even if the stories set in it sometimes aren’t the greatest.

Angel Season 11 #1 ends with Angel traveling back in time so maybe figures from his past will pop up and playing supporting roles and help this comic transform from Irish Supernatural-lite to the Buffyverse’s “Days of Future Past.” But, for now, it’s just a mediocre exorcism story with a time travel twist, two stiff lead characters, and uninspiring art. It’s definitely not the best way to launch a new season.

Story: Corinna Bechko Art: Geraldo Borges Colors: Michelle Madsen
Story: 4 Art: 5.5 Overall: 4.7 Recommendation: Pass

Dark Horse provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Underrated: Comics Not In Diamond’s Top 100 For December

This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: A list of underrated comics.


This week we’re going to be looking at a list of comics that are all fantastic, but don’t get the attention that they deserve. Now I’m not even going to pretend to have an definitively exhaustive list of underrated comics here, because we’re hoping  that you decide to check at least one of thee series out next time you’re looking for some comics and giving you a huge list to check out would be counter productive to that. Instead, you’ll find six comics that are worth your attention. You’ll notice that there’s only one comic from each publisher – this was done to try and spread the love around, because otherwise Valiant Voracious_TPB_Cover_Vol1would dominate the list below. Not one of the comics made it into the top 100 for December’s comic sales, which is why they’re Underrated.

All sales data comes from Comichron.


Voracious: Feeding Time
(Action Lab)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: Not listed/Unknown
It should come as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr’s creation,Voracious, and it’s sequel Voracious: Feeding Time. The writer and artist/letterer and joined by colourist Andrei Tabucaru, and the trio have produced one of the most consistently excellent comics on the racks. With a story that is on the surface built to be a comedy – that of a time travelling dinosaur hunting chef – but packs more of an emotional punch than you’d expect in such a comic. A truly compelling series that reinvigorated my love for comics, if you want to get hadrianswall_01-1caught up the first trade of Voracious is available now, and the second issue of Feeding Time just hit the shelves. This is easily one of my favourite comics from any publisher right now; if you’re looking for an original concept executed beautifully then you need look no further. Simply an amazing series.

Hadrian’s Wall (Image)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 257/5,265
The creative team  behind C.O.W.L. reunite to tell a fantastic murder mystery set in space. It’s a gripping tale that isn’t without it’s faults, but in comparison to where Kyle Higgins is taking this story they’re easy to over look. Sci fi isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this is one of the comics that I’ve become a big fan of. Don’t miss this.


faith_007_cover-c_tanFaith 
(Valiant)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 221/7,375
If Stan Lee were to have created Spider-Man in this century, then he’d probably have come up with a character like Faith Herbert. The high flying superhero has been a favourite of mine since I read the first miniseries Hollywood and Vine early last year, and the current ongoing – still written by Jody Houser – has been fantastic. Although the artist tends to change with each story arc, there is a visual consistency to the comic because of Marguerite Sauvage’s fantasy sequences that act to blend the differing styles of the artists across the issues. Faith is a series that almost every comic fan will find something to love, whether it’s the character’s unrelenting optimism or her love of being a superhero (come on, you can’t tell me you wouldn’t love to fly), there’s something here for those looking for an escape.

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK4 Kids Walk Into A Bank (Black Mask)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 198/8,675
You’d be forgiven for overlooking this comic, as there was a bit of a delay between the second and third issues being released. For the nearly nine thousand people who did pick up this comic, you would have found one of the most effortlessly charming stories about four kids about to rob a bank. Both the writing is the artwork is fantastic;I can’t recommend this enough to you. Whether you pick it up in trade form when it inevitably is released, or track down the three issues currently on the racks, be prepared to find a comic that you’ll fall head over heals in love with.

midnapo_cv4Midnighter and Apollo (DC)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 180/10,773
If you’re surprised to see a DC book on this list, don’t be. Midnighter has struggled to light up the sales charts as he should be with his previous series. This miniseries has Midnigher literally going to Hell to save the man he loves in one of the mot brutal sequences I have read in a long time, coupled with some fantastic dialogue between Apollo and his captor. Although I assume things will work out eventually, it’s been a hell of a ride (pun intended) so far, and with only two issues remaining in the miniseries I’m really excited to see how Steve Orlando brings this home.

Black Hammer (Dark Horse)
December Sales Rank/Comics Sold: 170/12,352
bkhmr-5-variant-fc-fnl-600x911Jeff Lemire is an incredibly prolific writer,and while I may not always like everything he comes out with, Black Hammer has spoken to my love of modern takes on distinctly Golden Age heroes. With a Justice League like group of characters locked in mysterious pocket dimension where they’re forced to live normal lives on a farm, we get to explore what happens to a hero on a forced retirement. Not everybody I know is a fan of where this comic is going, and how it’s been getting there, but every issue has been a win for me – which is another reason this appears in this issue of Underrated. But the tinges of something lingering just beneath the surface give a genuine sense of unease to the comic. Black Hammer is very much a slow burn, but it’s going to be incandescent when we get the pay off at the end.


 

Obviously there are many more comics that should be on that list, so look for a future installment of Underrated to cover more comics that aren’t selling as well as they should be.

Diamond Announces December 2016’s Top Products. Marvel on Top Overall, But DC Challenges in a Mixed Month

dollar-shareDiamond Comic Distributors has announced the top products and publisher shares for December 2016. DC Entertainment’s Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1 from Joshua Williamson and Jason Fabok was the best-selling comic book of December 2016, according to information provided by Diamond.

Marvel Comics was December’s top publisher with a 36.73% dollar share and a 40.50% unit share. That’s a slight dip in dollar share, about 1.35% points and an increase in unit share by 0.96% points. DC Entertainment was the month’s number two publisher with a 29.47% dollar share and a 29.04% unit share. DC also saw mixed results with their dollar share increasing 3.3% points, but the unit share decreasing by 2.26% points. At number three was Image Comics with an 8.81% dollar share and a 7.70% unit share. Image saw a down month with the dollar share decreasing 0.18% points and unit share decreasing 1.36% points. IDW Publishing was fourth with a 5.49% dollar share and a 4.10% unit share. IDW’s month was mixed with their dollar share increasing 0.26% percentage points and the unit share decreasing 0.49% points. Dark Horse Comics rounds out the top five with a 3.17% dollar share and 2.43% units share. Both of those are down from the previous month with dollar share down 0.58% points and unit shares down 0.42% points.

The top ten saw BOOM! Studios holding steady at #6, Dynamite Entertainment leaping from #9 last month to #7 this month, Titan Comics fell to #8, Valiant enters the top ten at #9, and Viz Media fell to #10.

Comic and graphic novel sales in December, a four shipping week month, declined by 9.69% from November, a five shipping week month, as well as by 14.84% from December 2015, also a five shipping week month.  Despite the decline, comics and graphic novel sales on the year finished up 0.30% over 2015.

unit-shareDC Entertainment had five titles in the top ten. In addition to Justice League vs. Suicide Squad, Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, and Klaus Janson’s Dark Knight III: The Master Race #7 ranked #3; Tom King, Mikel Janin, and Hugo Petrus’ Batman #12 ranked #4; King and Janin’s Batman #13 ranked #5, and Scott Snyder, John Romita, Jr., and Danny Miki’s All-Star Batman #5 ranked #10. Marvel Comics also had five titles in the top ten: Charles Soule, Jeff Lemire, and Leinil Francis Yu’s Inhumans vs. X-Men #1 ranked #2; Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez’s Civil War II #8, the final chapter of Marvel’s 2016 event, ranked #6; Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca’s Star Wars #26 ranked #7; Kieron Gillen, Kev Walker, and Salvador Larroca’s Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1, a new ongoing series spinning out of Star Wars: Darth Vader, ranked #8; and Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon’s Hulk #1, a new series starring Jennifer Walters, ranked #9. Among the premier publishers, Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead #161 was Image Comics’ top book in December at #11. IDW Publishing’s top book was Batman/TMNT Adventures #2 at #65. Finally, Dark Horse Comics’ Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #3, based on Joss Whedon’s film Serenity, was their top book of the month at #112.

IDW Publishing’s Love is Love anthology, a tribute to the victims of the Pulse Nightclub shooting, produced with the assistance of DC Entertainment and featuring dozens of writers and artists, was December’s best-selling graphic novel. DC Entertainment had two titles in the top ten led by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman Volume 9: Bloom at #2 for the month. Image Comics’ three titles in the top ten were led by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender Volume 3: Singularities at #3. Marvel Comics rounded out the top ten with four titles topped by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Wolverine: Old Man Logan at #4.

Penguin Books’ Doctor Who: The Death Riders, a Doctor Who novel starring the eleventh Doctor for young readers, was December’s best-selling book and one of three Doctor Who novels from the publisher among the top ten. IDW Publishing’s The Princess Bride: A Storybook to Color, an adult coloring book based on the beloved film, ranked #3 for the month. Dark Horse Comics had three adult coloring books among the top ten, led by the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Adult Coloring Book at #4. Also in the top ten, Image Comics’ The Walking Dead Adult Coloring Book ranked #10 for the month.

DC Collectibles’ DC Designer Series: Harley Quinn by Bruce Timm Statue was December’s best-selling toy product and one of their nine products among the top ten. Also among the top ten, Diamond Select Toys’ Marvel Gallery: The Hulk PVC Figure ranked #2 for the month.

Diamond Select Toys’ Back to the Future Monopoly, a custom edition of the venerable board game, returned to the top of the sales charts as December’s best-selling game product. IDW Publishing had two products in the top ten, led by the Machi Koro Card Game at #2. Also in the top ten, Dark Horse Comics’ Game of Thrones Playing Cards, a decorative deck based on the hit HBO series, ranked #7 for the month.

TOP COMIC BOOK PUBLISHERS

PUBLISHER DOLLAR

SHARE

UNIT

SHARE

MARVEL COMICS 36.73% 40.50%
DC ENTERTAINMENT 29.47% 29.04%
IMAGE COMICS 8.81% 7.70%
IDW PUBLISHING 5.49% 4.10%
DARK HORSE COMICS 3.17% 2.43%
BOOM! STUDIOS 2.40% 1.64%
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 1.99% 6.97%
TITAN COMICS 1.16% 0.99%
VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT LLC 1.10% 1.20%
VIZ MEDIA 1.09% 0.34%
OTHER NON-TOP 10 8.59% 5.09%

 COMPARATIVE SALES STATISTICS

  DOLLARS UNITS

DECEMBER 2016 VS. NOVEMBER 2016

COMICS -9.01% -1.79%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -11.19% 1.10%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -9.69% -1.56%
TOYS -12.28% -11.75%

DECEMBER 2016 VS. DECEMBER 2015

COMICS -18.84% -8.39%
GRAPHIC NOVELS -4.24% 18.44%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -14.84% -6.66%
TOYS -36.78% -46.07%

FOURTH QUARTER 2016 VS. THIRD QUARTER 2016

COMICS -7.42% -5.96%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 0.07% 1.88%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -5.36% -5.42%
TOYS -1.80% -11.85%

FOURTH QUARTER 2016 VS. FOURTH QUARTER 2015

COMICS -8.92% -0.53%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 1.53% 12.21%
TOTAL COMICS/GN -6.11% 0.30%
TOYS -22.29% -30.42%

YEAR 2016 VS. YEAR 2015

COMICS -0.11% 1.02%
GRAPHIC NOVELS 1.24% 2.10%
TOTAL COMICS/GN 0.30% 1.10%
TOYS -9.74% -14.18%

NEW TITLES SHIPPED

PUBLISHER COMICS SHIPPED GRAPHIC NOVELS SHIPPED MAGAZINES SHIPPED TOTAL

SHIPPED

MARVEL COMICS 89 42 0 131
DC ENTERTAINMENT 84 33 1 118
IMAGE COMICS 47 18 1 66
IDW PUBLISHING 42 17 0 59
BOOM! STUDIOS 26 12 0 38
DARK HORSE COMICS 26 10 0 36
TITAN COMICS 21 5 4 30
DYNAMITE ENTERTAINMENT 18 9 0 27
ARCHIE COMIC PUBLICATIONS 11 2 0 13
VIZ MEDIA 0 13 0 13
OTHER NON-TOP 10 114 133 25 272

TOP 10 COMIC BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 JUSTICE LEAGUE VS. SUICIDE SQUAD #1 $3.99 OCT160147-M DC
2 INHUMANS VS. X-MEN #1 $5.99 SEP160868-M MAR
3 DARK KNIGHT III: THE MASTER RACE #7 $5.99 OCT160259-M DC
4 BATMAN #12 $2.99 OCT160173-M DC
5 BATMAN #13 $2.99 OCT160175-M DC
6 CIVIL WAR II #8 $4.99 SEP161000-M MAR
7 STAR WARS #26 $3.99 OCT160988-M MAR
8 STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA #1 $4.99 OCT160975-M MAR
9 HULK #1 $3.99 OCT160788-M MAR
10 ALL-STAR BATMAN #5 $4.99 OCT160160-M DC

TOP 10 GRAPHIC NOVELS & TRADE PAPERBACKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 LOVE IS LOVE SC $9.99 OCT160480 IDW
2 BATMAN VOLUME 9: BLOOM TP $16.99 SEP160335 DC
3 DESCENDER VOLUME 3: SINGULARITIES TP $14.99 SEP160801 IMA
4 WOLVERINE: OLD MAN LOGAN TP $29.99 JUL100692 MAR
5 I HATE FAIRYLAND VOLUME 2: FLUFF MY LIFE TP $14.99 OCT160683-M IMA
6 INVINCIBLE IRON MAN VOLUME 1: REBOOT TP $17.99 OCT161021 MAR
7 STAR WARS: POE DAMERON VOL. 1: BLACK SQUADRON TP $19.99 AUG160999 MAR
8 DOCTOR STRANGE VOLUME 1: WAY OF WEIRD TP $19.99 SEP161127 MAR
9 BATMAN VOLUME 10: EPILOGUE HC $22.99 AUG160317 DC
10 BLACK SCIENCE VOL. 5: TRUE ATONEMENT TP (MR) $14.99 OCT160677 IMA

TOP 10 BOOKS

RANK DESCRIPTION PRICE ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 DOCTOR WHO: DEATH RIDERS SC $9.99 JUN158023 PEN
2 DOCTOR WHO: SYSTEM WIPE SC $9.99 JUN158025 PEN
3 THE PRINCESS BRIDE: A STORYBOOK TO COLOR TP $16.99 SEP160611 IDW
4 BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER ADULT COLORING BOOK $14.99 AUG160020 DAR
5 THE POKEMON COOKBOOK HC $14.99 OCT162035 VIZ
6 STAR TREK: THE ORIGINAL SERIES ADULT COLORING BOOK $14.99 AUG160018 DAR
7 STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION ADULT COLORING BOOK $14.99 AUG160019 DAR
8 DOCTOR WHO: THE GOOD THE BAD & THE ALIEN SC $9.99 NOV158049 PEN
9 THE SHADOW DOUBLE NOVEL VOLUME 112 SC $14.95 SEP162252 SAN
10 THE WALKING DEAD ADULT COLORING BOOK (MR) $14.99 FEB160615 IMA

TOP 10 TOYS

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 DC DESIGNER SERIES: HARLEY QUINN BY BRUCE TIMM STATUE MAR160333 DC
2 MARVEL GALLERY: THE HULK PVC FIGURE AUG162570 DST
3 DC TV: ARROW/THE FLASH ACTION FIGURE 2-PACK APR160456 DC
4 DC FILMS: ARMORED BATMAN PREMIUM ACTION FIGURE MAR160323 DC
5 BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES: NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES HARLEY QUINN ACTION FIGURE MAR160314 DC
6 HARLEY QUINN: RED WHITE & BLACK STATUE APR160452 DC
7 BATMAN ANIMATED SERIES: NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES CLAYFACE DELUXE ACTION FIGURE MAR160318 DC
8 DC COMICS DESIGNER SERIES BY LEE BERMEJO: BATMAN FIGURE FEB160280 DC
9 DC DESIGNER SERIES: THE FLASH BY FRANCIS MANAPUL STATUE JUL160449 DC
10 DARKSEID AND GRAIL ACTION FIGURE 2-PACK APR160448 DC

TOP 10 GAMES

RANK DESCRIPTION ITEM CODE VENDOR
1 BACK TO THE FUTURE MONOPOLY JUL152198 DST
2 MACHI KORO CARD GAME MAY142831 IDW
3 MOUSE GUARD ROLEPLAYING GAME BOXED SET (2ND EDITION) FEB151158 BOO
4 EXPLODING KITTENS CARD GAME NSFW EDITION OCT163224 EXP
5 EXPLODING KITTENS CARD GAME ORIGINAL EDITION OCT163223 EXP
6 PANDEMIC: IBERIA BOARD GAME AUG163183 ZMA
7 GAME OF THRONES PLAYING CARDS JAN120128 DAR
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Review: Aliens: Defiance #6

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When Zula and Davis’s plan to deny the Colonial Marines a xenomorph sample hits a snag, their only remaining course of action may be something they can never come back from.

Well, that was unexpected and slightly traitorous. Aliens: Defiance #6 and writer Brian Wood does a really solid job of showcasing Zula’s growing conflict as her decisions become more forced. Does she disobey orders, and make sure the Xenomorph specimen doesn’t get to Earth or does she follow her orders? We’ll find out in future issues!

Things get explosive as the story drives the art direction provided by Tristan Jones. That ups the excitement as the issue manages to have not one, not two but, three impressive explosions. And that’s in addition to the massive amount of firepower fired at any Xenomorph the characters find. I will admit the end of

The end of the issue is a nice surprise and makes me wonder how things continue as the story progresses from here.

Story: Brian Wood Art: Tristan Jones
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: Dept H #7

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TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

As the water rises inside their base, tensions rise among the Dept. H crew. They desperately try to stop the flooding of the headquarters, but a sacrifice hardly buys them any more time. They’ve got twelve hours to stem the tide.

With only three issues left of Dept. H, the crew seems to be facing imminent catastrophe from every angle. Writer Matt Kindt has made sure that the upcoming issues will make an interesting read as the series comes to a close. I’m curious to see if Mia can solve her father’s murder before everything goes wrong. Will the crew reach the surface alive or will they perish under the sea?

Compared to the colorful previous issues, this issue has a much darker tone. Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt use shades of black, and green mostly instead of the more vibrant color scheme we’ve seen in the past. Which, given the shift in the story, is a good move I think.

Story: Matt Kindt  Art: Sharlene Kindt and Matt Kindt
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Writer/Artist Geof Darrow’s Shaolin Cowboy Returns in 2017

Get a kung-fu grip on yourself as Geof Darrow’s blood-spattered killing machine the Shaolin Cowboy returns this April in a new four-issue mini-series to be published by Dark Horse Comics. The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign? will be written and illustrated by Darrow, who has won the Inkpot Award and won (and lost) multiple Eisner Awards, and colored by the Eisner Award-winning Dave Stewart. The first issue will have a main cover by Darrow and Stewart and a variant cover by the award-winning Frank Miller, Darrow’s co-contributor on Hard Boiled and Big Guy and Rusty The Boy Robot.

In The Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign?, the titular hero of the series finds that his road to hell is paved not with good intentions but old nemeses hell-bent on bloody revenge.

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The Comics Are All Right: Build Your Own Community

I began these articles last year to move some of the discussion surrounding the state of the comic industry away from “opinion” and “anecdotes” and towards facts and data. You can check out what I’ve written before but beyond looking at sales data, the goal is to also look at other data available such as analytics, Facebook demographics, and also talk to creators directly to see what does and doesn’t work.

For this new year, I felt it good to focus on at least one best practice for publishers and creators, building an email list and social networking presence, your own community. But, beyond just going over “how to’s’ as far as building a community or why it’s a good idea, I thought I’d take a different spin and see what we can learn from the data available and answer a question:

What’s the overlap of “fans” of publishers?

There’s no way to really figure out if the folks who purchase comics are loyal to one publisher, many publishers, or maybe a select few. “Sales” data reported is estimated sales from distributors to stores, we don’t know what stores sell directly to customers, whether it’s physical or digital sales.

So what can we look at to figure this out?

First, there’s Facebook data. Twice a month I report on data derived from Facebook looking at the demographics of those who “like” comics. But we can do more than just report on the age, we can also see how many people like two different pages, publisher a AND publisher b.

What I’ve done is look at the amount of US likes a publisher has (I’ve also included Amazon and comiXology because more on that below and why these particular publishers are explained as well) and then also looked at how many likes those two pages shared in the US. Below is the results in percent and I think the results are really interesting.

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To read an example 61.90% of comiXology’s Facebook “likes” also “like” Amazon. We can see the percents vary greatly, but what stands out to me tis that the overlap is not as much as you think. This isn’t the same fans liking a bunch of different publishers, it’s clear that in same cases some publishers have really built a niche and audience all their own.

One data point is nice, what about two?

Well, this is how this thought exercise began. My day job is working in email and monitoring deliverability, trends, spam, really boring stuff. But, this also gives me access to see how email programs are performing (opens, clicks) and also how much email lists overlap! So, what do we see when it comes to email lists?

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The above were chosen to start because they’re all publishers or platforms I regularly get email from and signed up for (I’m particularly fascinated by Amazon’s email program). So, at some point this will all expand, but you need to start somewhere. Amazon’s emails are impressive and they do at least one weekly email for fans of comics, that in particular is why I’ve watched them. But I digress…

What above represents is how many people are on each list. For example 38% of Valiant’s list is also on comiXology’s. Again, like Facebook we see that the overlap varies and that generally people aren’t signing up for everyone. Valiant’s percents are particularly high due to a smaller list size.

So what does this mean?

It means that each of these publishers have a captive and unique audience for them to talk to. They have people who clearly care about them to pitch their releases each and every week. It’s as simple as that. As a publisher, a creator, you should be doing everything to build your community, because from what we see above, that community is probably pretty unique and want to hear from you, and possibly just you!

So, here’s a resolution publishers and creators should be making this year, build your community! Then use it to sell some comics!

The Best Comics Of 2016 – Joe’s List

2016 was a good year for comics. Sure, there was some bad, but overall, it was a good year for the industry. A lot can happen in 365 days, so there is bound to be ups and downs, and this year was no different. As with every year, we saw good series end too soon, bad series go on too long, and new series, whether good or bad, enter the ring.

There were new series like Black Hammer, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank, and Animosity. Even existing characters were given new and fresh takes like The Vision by Tom King. Doom Patrol returned in a very fun and weird way. Both Detective and Action Comics continued their fantastic legacy. Superman, Wonder Woman and more DC books returned to great storytelling and adventures. We got two new characters taking the mantle of Iron Man in Dr. Doom and Riri Williams, and watched as a few more Marvel legends lost their lives.

Like every year, there were also big events. There were the good like fantastic events like DC Rebirth and disappointing ones in Civil War II. Inhumans fought with X-Men. Spider-Man started having a clone conspiracy. There were major controversies that crossed into mainstream media with Hydra-Cap. Sad moments like Chelsea Cain with Mockingbird.  And to close out the year, the release of the beautiful and emotional Love is Love.

We saw more diversity in comics, both in characters and creative teams. Moon Girl, Riri Williams, and Amadeus Cho all shot up the ranks of Marvel’s brightest heroes. New titles like Alters, and Black were released. Gay superheroes Midnighter and Apollo have a six issue run that is still going. Ta-Nahesi Coates joined Marvel to write Black Panther, as did Roxanne Gay on World of Wakanda. It is apparent the industry is changing, and there’s still a lot that needs to be done, but this year was an improvement, and a step forward.

We also lost famed Preacher and The Punisher artist Steve Dillon. 2016 was a year, like any year that saw comics released in it, so let’s give you another unnecessary ranking list based off of my opinions!

Best Superhero Comic – The Vision

 vision__12This could be in best surprises too. Tom King really took the comic world by storm this year, and this was one of the reasons why. He had other fantastic titles released as well, and they will be mentioned in this article, but The Vision was something so refreshing and so different for Marvel. A perfect run that didn’t feel too short, or too long, is something I don’t always say for Marvel books. The Vision truly felt perfect in almost every way.

It wasn’t just King that made this title so great, as Gabriel Hernandez Walta provided some wonderful art that captured some horrific and heartbreaking moments. It is amazing to realize that a book about synths had some of the most human moments of the year. That’s the power of an amazing creative team, and I bow to the both of them, and to Marvel for taking a chance on such an odd and awesome book.

Runners Up:

  • Detective Comics – As good as The Vision is, and as many lists it will sit at the top of, I was almost the guy to pick another title for my top superhero book. That book is Detective Comics. James Tynion IV has created a fantastic and classic run on the long running title. The way he captures the bat family is perfect. There was so many moments. Tim Drake. Batwoman and her father. Clayface being just awesome. Spoiler and her recent moment. Batman and his role as a leader and mentor. We also got some great art from Alvaro Martinez and others. What a fantastic book, and it just keeps getting better.
  • Wonder Woman – This is one of DC’s most consistent comics, and it does so by juggling two alternating storylines in different time periods. Greg Rucka writes a fantastic Diana. I have enjoyed going through the range of emotions she has been put through as we watch her learn of man and our world in one time period, and the lies she is being faced with and the struggle to keep her sanity in the other. Also her relationships with both Steve and Barbara are some of the best I have seen yet in her comic. The art by Nicola Scott, Liam Sharp and others was consistently awesome.
  • Superman – This is one of the other most consistent comics from DC. In my top 5 superhero books, I have three from DC, and there is a good reason. Honestly, Action Comics almost made it’s way into the list as well. Like the other books, this is another return to greatness after Rebirth for DC. Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason have proven before they know Supes, Jon, and others as they write them so well. There has been so much great art by talents like Doug Mahnke, and so many good moments throughout the series.  Yes, to one of my good friends, even Krypto being pulled from the chest of The Eradicator counts as one of those moments, that was awesome too.
  • Power Man and Iron Fist – I can say without hesitation that David Walker has done an amazing job on this series. Even when he had to do a Civil War II tie in, he made it work. What amazes me most is that the series just keeps getting better. Sanford Greene has such an incredible and original art style that you instantly recognize, and together these two creative powerhouses have easily made this one of my favorite comics of 2016. The return of that certain Runaways character as the big bad makes it even better!

Best Non-Superhero Comic – Saga

 saga_33-1While I struggled with picking my top comics since I love all of these, Saga takes the cake due to consistency, most memorable moments, and my deep investment Saga takes the cake due to consistency, most memorable moments, and my deep investment to this incredible series. This comic is the one I constantly cannot wait to read, and that is due to the amazing work by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. We all know how good they both are, but they just kept the ball rolling in my opinion this year. Sure we had some slower arcs, but the overall big picture to this book just keeps getting bigger, and crazier.

There were so many moments that made me smile, tear up, and cliffhangers that left me with my mouth hanging open. Not a lot of comics do that to me, and Saga did it countless times. There is a reason this series is so popular, and is still going. It is just fantastic storytelling, with awesome world building. You don’t just care about the mother, father, and daughter, but the prince, his child, the lying cat, and so many others. You truly feel invested in these people, their actions, and their lives. I cannot wait to see where it goes next.

Runners Up:

  • Animosity – This is such a brilliant comic. The premise seems simple. Have animals take over the world and dominate humanity. But it’s the execution and creativeness behind this title by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre that blows me away. The art is great, and the storytelling is brilliant. Sandor and Jesse have a fantastic and loving relationship, and each issue packs a ton of suspense. A great title from Aftershock Comics.
  • The Wicked + The Divine – What an original book, with fantastic art. I am a sucker for Jamie McKelvie on art and Kieron Gillen is no slouch on writing either. Together they have crafted a beautifully looking yet chaotic tale of vanity, arroagance, obsession, love, power, and so much more. When you have a book filled with pop star icon gods and godesses, I guess anything is possible.
  • Black Science – It is no secret that I am a big Rick Remender fan. He has done so much great work, and is only getting better in my opinion. This year alone he had so many good books going on at the same time, and delivered on every one. Black Science was the most consistent, and best work in my opinion. This is a crazy book that moves at a fast pace, and you truly never know what happens next. Now that is something you can say for any Remender book, but with the element of time and dimension hopping, he really goes there in this book. Fantastic series.
  • The Sheriff of Babylon – What a refreshing comic, and a reminder to people that no, comics aren’t just superheroes. Tom King had an amazing year this year, and is one of the best writers in general, and like The Vision, this is one of the reasons why. This is a gritty, violent, hard to look at book with some great art by Mitch Gerads. These two creators tell a tale of corruption, war, politics, and much more in a book that feels so deep and something that you’d see on tv or in the movies. This is a definite recommendation of mine.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank

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You know you’ve got something good on your hands when you’ve released three issues in 2016 and you’re making this much of a splash. Matt Rosenberg and Tyler Boss gave us those three issues and they were packed with awesome adventures and incredible nostalgia to my childhood era. This book is already a classic to me, and there’s a few issues still to come.

I have reviewed the comic, and gave it a ten across the board, and I am sure the final issues will earn those scores as well. Hats off to Black Mask Studios, to Matt Rosenberg, and to Tyler Boss for making something so special, so raw, and so damn good. Remember, this is just about 4 kids who catch one of their fathers doing sketchy stuff with sketchy people. This isn’t some deep time travel plot, or fantasy adventure. It is a simple premise executed with brilliant creative fashion. It is in the writing, the panels, and the lettering. I cannot wait for the last few issues!

Runners Up:

  • Civil War II: Kingpin – Yes, another Matt Rosenberg book, and for good reason. He has three Marvel series coming, with one, Rocket Raccoon, already beginning. This book was violent, raw, gritty, over the top, and featured Frank Castle. Every issue was fantastic, and I felt like he really gets Fisk’s character so well. The art by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz was loosely sketched and fit the series violent and chaotic tones so well. I cannot wait to read the ongoing beginning in February written by the man who wrote this miniseries so well.
  • AD: After Death – Two books into this fantastic series, and I am already crowning it one of the best of 2016. There is one book left, but remember, when I say book, I mean just that. The second book comes close to one hundred pages, and they are beautifully written by Scott Snyder and beautifully painted by Jeff Lemire. I still do not know all of the answers to the cure of death, and the world below, but I know enough to say this is one fantastic series, and something truly special for the medium.
  • Minighter and Apollo – Another series that only is halfway done, but that halfway point has been fantastic. Not only is it fantastic that we are getting a different kind of superhero book where the two male protagonists are lovers, but they aren’t cliche, or stereotypical, or offensive. They are three dimensional, like real gay people actually are, except one has a computer in his head and can take on an army, and the other is a god. Steve Orlando has done a fantastic job on this, and so has Fernando Blanco on art. I hope we get an ongoing after this!
  • Superman: American Alien – This was a really fun book. We get different chapters of Superman’s life, from his childhood where he is trying to understand who he is and what these powers are, to him meeting Lois and being a reporter. We get some fantastic moments with him hanging out with his friends, getting drunk, and learning how to live as a god among men. I love the parts with his parents, and seeing not just their stress, but their overwhelming love. Max Landis and a who’s who of amazing artists like Jock, Joelle Jones, Francis Manipul, and more make this one of the best books of the year.

Best Writer – Rick Remender

img_0408I could have gone with Tom King, or the other three excellent writers on my list, and none of them would have been wrong. Even someone like Rosenberg who made two of my favorite limited series could have been here. None of these lists are easy, as you see I keep saying, but if I had to pick just one writer this year, it would be Rick Remender. It isn’t just the quality of the content he made, which is very high, but the volume of it as well.

This year, we saw Black Science, Deadly Class, Low, Seven to Eternity, and Tokyo Ghost. The crazy part, is all of those comics were fantastic. You constantly hear that so many writers are taking on too many titles, and that their writing takes a major hit. I do not think that was the case this year for Remender, and actually, I think it was one his best years, which is saying a lot. The beautiful thing is that all of these series will still be going into 2017, as even Tokyo Ghost which will be returning.

Runners Up:

  • Tom King – What a phenomenal year Tom King had. The Sherrif of Babylon, The Vision, and Batman. Most writers would be proud writing one of those titles, and while his run on Batman isn’t everyone’s favorite, I am enjoying it quite a bit. I enjoy a different take on a character, and he is playing with the caped crusaders weaknesses, and making him human. As mentioned previously, both Sheriff and Vision are absolutely incredible, and I cannot wait to see what we get from him next.
  • Jason Aaron – I feel like Jason Aaron needs more love when it comes to the best writers of 2016. He was a beast this year. Southern Bastards, The Mighty Thor, The Unworthy Thor, Doctor Strange, Star Wars, and The Goddamned. I wish we got more Southern Bastards, but again as this list shows, you can see the guy is busy. He had a fantastic year, and because of that as a reader, so did I.
  • Brian K. Vaughn – There should be no shock that this name is on anyone’s list. He will probably be on most lists until the day he decides to stop writing. Both Saga and Paper Girls continue to be fantastic. I expect big things as these titles move forward, and hopefully we get another book. The more Vaughn, the better.
  • Jeff Lemire – Here is another writer that was a beast in 2016. Moon Knight, Old Man Logan, Descender, Bloodshot Reborn, Bloodshot U.S.A., Black Hammer, AD: After Death, and more. I am amazed at not only Lemire as a writer, but his work as an artist as well. I don’t know how he had time to do anything else this year but write and make art. A truly fantastic year for one of my favorite creators.

Best Artist –  Russel Dauterman

img_0409For the longest time, the background of my phone was The Mighty Thor #1. Now that I am typing this, I will be putting it back to that amazing artwork, because it is that good. Russel Dauterman is one of those artists in comics that you can just stare at his panels and pages for so long and see tiny details that just blow your mind. You will see me say things in reviews like, you are getting some real art here, as in pieces you could hang on your wall, and that is true of Dauterman’s work. The work is that good. Every panel could probably be framed and catch someone’s eye every time.

The way he draws his characters with such emotion is fantastic. Not to mention the way he draws frost giants, or the more modern version of Loki, or Jane, or Odinson, or Odin, or everyone in this comic! His work is fantastic, and he deserves to have it recognized. This is one of those artists, that when they take an issue or two off, you get sad. It’s that good.

Runners Up:

  • Andrew Maclean – Head Lopper was one of my favorite comics this year, and while the fun story was a lot of it, the art by Maclean was what caught my eye. It’s simultaneously violent and graphic, yet beautiful. The colors pop as our hero cuts the heads off of giant beasts.
  • FIona Staples – As I said early, Fiona captures her characters so well. Their emotions pour from the pages in her artwork, and I cannot imagine Saga without her. From Marko to Prince Robot to Hazel, she conveys who they are as people so well, as she always has with this excellent series. Also, her style is so original, that is is recognizable right away.
  • Jamie McKelvie – One of my favorite artists in general, and I would be happy if he drew ten more titles. The way he draws the Pantheon is so damn good. There is so much attitude and personality in The Wicked + The Divine, and McKelvie is a big reason why. Every character is drawn with such detail and life that they feel real, even if they are shallow pop star deities.
  • Andreas Sorrentino – Perhaps more than any artist this year, Sorrentino on Old Man Logan made my jaw hang open at the way he used splash pages. He is one of the most creative artists in the medium, and his work is dark and unique. There were so many breathtaking panels that he used this year on Logan, and it is one of the reasons that comic is as good as it is. Like Dauterman, I get sad when he isn’t on an issue or two.

Best New Series – Animosity

 bookanimosityMarguerite Bennett wrote one hell of a story this year in Animosity. This awesome title from Aftershock had one of the best first issues of the year, and the issues that followed kept that momentum up every time. Sandor is a hound protecting his owner, Jesse, a little girl who is scared when all of the other pets and animals in the world begin killing and targeting humans. We are only four issues in, and I feel like so much has happened. There is no doubt that this is one of the best new series of the year, and in my opinion, the best.

The art by Rafael de Latorre is fantastic, and the scenes in the book are filled with action, and keep you on the edge of your seat. The first issue alone had me yelling expletives in excitement, and the art as well as the storytelling is a big reason why. When a much scarier animal is trying to hurt Jesse, I love how protective Sandor is. He pulls no punches to protector his girl, and has the personality of an old and wise man mentor type. I think this is one everyone should check out, even if you have to wait for the trade, as it is hard to come by in many local comic shops.

Runners Up:

  • Seven to Eternity – What an awesome fantasy story from Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. Already we’ve seen some fantastic characters, an awesome big bad, an interesting protagonist with a deep legacy to his family name, and a plot that promises some crazy things will happen. Oh, and it’s only getting started.
  • Briggs Land – The comic that AMC wanted optioned as a show before most people had even heard about it. Brian Wood and Mack Chatter have given us a very raw and real look at a family that ran 100 acres of land the way they wanted to for years. Well now that the father is in prison, the mother, Grace, is taking things over, but has to deal with a few of her sons. It has been a realty good slow burn so far, with some intense scenes, and I bet it only gets better from here.
  • Dept. H – Matt Kindt is a very unique storyteller, and artist. His work is some of the most original in the business, and I always get excited when he works on a new title, especially when he does the art as well. This time he brings Sharlene Kindt in on watercolors and the final product is fantastic. They both do an excellent job bring this fantastic underwater claustrophobic adventure to life. This is an awesome whodunit comic and I cannot wait to see where it goes from here.
  • Kill Or Be Killed – This is a comic that is always at the top of my read list when it comes out. It shouldn’t be a shock that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips made an amazing pulp crime comic, but it is amazing that they make such a different one each time. This one follows a guy who is cursed with having to kill people, or lose his life in a deal he made with a demon who spared his life after an attempted suicide. I love this comic, and cannot wait to see where these creators take us.

Best Graphic Novel or Trade Paperback  – Love is Love

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Moments like these are why I love this medium. Comic books are just a platform. Just like television, books, movies, etc. You can make whatever you’d like, and this is a fantastic example of that. After the horrible Orlando Pulse shootings, getting a book like this where the proceeds are donated to the families of those lost that day won’t fix the horrors, but maybe it can help us grieve and understand a little better. It can put a face not to the evil person who did this to these people just living their lives, but it can be a voice for the people who died that day.

In this anthology book we get so many amazing creators, not just in the comic industry, but from other mediums as well. This book choked me up more than once while reading these beautiful stories, or the powerful images in them. I don’t want to single any of them out, as there are too many to mention that are fabulous, and Logan from our site already did a fantastic job of that in his review, but as a whole, this book is so important, and so incredible, and while it makes me sad it has to exist, it is necessary that it does.

Runners Up:

  • Dark Night: A Batman Story – What a painful yet beautiful telling of such a horrific true event in Paul Dini’s life. We get to see Dini working on Batman: The Animated Series, and help narrate the tale himself with the help from Batman, Harley, Two Face, Joker, and more as we get a very personal look at his life. This was a very sad, very brave, and very good book.
  • The Prince of Cats – Romeo and Juliet in a 1980s block party. That is basically what this book is, and it is a lot of fun. It is filled with hip hop, bright clothing, sword fights, love, and more. It captures the spirit of the Shakespeare classic, as Ronald Wimberly puts his own creative spin on it. This was a very cool retelling of a story most people already know, but told in a new way.
  • Muhammad Ali – This was an enjoyable way to look at the life of an American icon, and sports legend. Sybil Le Titeux and Amazing Ameziane give us Ali as a child, his work with Islam, his fighting techniques, and so much more throughout his life. The art varies as it uses the pages and panels wisely, and we get some fantastic cameos from important people throughout the champs life.
  • Wonder Woman: The True Amazon – We saw a lot of Wonder Woman stories this year, and that is never a bad thing. Jill Thompson does such a beautiful job on art in this book. Everything looks hand painted and we get another origin story, but an enjoyable one. This is a good book to recommend to any fan of Diana, as it does it justice.

Best Genre – Fallen societies

briggs-land-1Now while this may not be defined as a genre, I read many fantastic comics this year that dealt with societies that had fallen to different degrees. There are groups of people that live on their self governed 100 acres in Briggs Land from Dark Horse by Brian Wood and Mack Chatter. The animals took over the world from the humans in Animosity from Aftershock by Marguerite Bennett and Rafael de Latorre.  And there was the land of Zhal that was taken over and run by the God of Whispers in Seven to Eternity from Image Comics by Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña. We also saw titles like Shipwreck from Aftershock by Warren Ellis and Phil Hester, and Warlords of Appalachia from BOOM! Studios by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Jonas Scharf.

Maybe I am cynical, but I really enjoyed spending times in worlds that fell in some form. Some of these stories had the people choose to live off the land and govern themselves, saw their animals take their society from them, or saw them rise up against their government as their own militia. Either way, they provided some of my favorite moments in comics this year, and these were just a few of them.

Runners Up:

  • Fantasy – What a great year for fantasy titles. We saw Saga, Seven to Eternity, Lake of Fire, Green Valley, Reborn, The Mighty Thor, Klaus, Head Lopper, Monstress, and so many more. Most important, many of these were fantasy, but not in the traditional sense. We saw the fantasy genre mix with others, and it was a lot of fun. Keep them coming!
  • Crime drama – Another strong genre this year with Kill or Be Killed, Violent Love, Triggerman, and more. I love reading pulp crime stories, and this year brought some very solid entries.
  • MagicSure we got Doctor Strange which has been fantastic, but we also saw Ether, The Wicked + The Divine, Seven to Eternity, and more. Magic is always a fun story element, and we saw some good use of it this year.
  • The 1980s – Everything that was always comes back, and that is true of the 1980s. Whether it was popular properties like He-Man vs Thundercats, IDW’s Revolution event featuring Transformers, GI Joe and more, Escape From NY/Big Trouble in Little China, or The Lost Boys, we saw quite a bit of that generation this year. Even one of my favorite titles, 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank felt so reminiscent of The Goonies or Stand by Me, while still feeling original. 2016 was a great representation of the 1980s.

Biggest Disappointment – Civil War II

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I tried to defend the event after the first few issues, and the art by David Marquez is fantastic, but I can no longer defend this series. I like Brian Michael Bendis, even if I don’t like every series he has written lately. I think that Infamous Iron Man is very promising, and it was odd to me that one of my least favorite comics that released the week of Civil War #8 was written by the same person that wrote one of my favorites in Infamous Iron Man #3. So I don’t want to just make this about Bendis as a writer, because I know he is a good one.

But for whatever reason, be it delays, lack of editorial work or poor planning, this event did not do it for me. The way it ended felt wrong on so many notes, and leaves so much not settled. I also scratch my head at Captain Marvel being loved for what she did, and how they depicted her. I like her as a character, but I felt that this book really messed with who she was, and made her look horrible. While I enjoyed many things Marvel did this year, like Moon Knight, Power Man and Iron Fist, and Old Man Logan, this would be one of my least favorite.

Runners Up:

  • Death of X – If not for the awesome art by Aaron Kuder, this event is mostly forgettable. I didn’t hate the ending, I actually quite liked it, but the event as a whole felt so unnecessary, and a lesser version of the actual event that has had a really good first issue, Inhumans vs. X-Men. This could have been a one shot, but was hyped as something major for a long time.
  • Nighthawk/Mockingbird cancelled – Great books from great creators saw their run end way too soon. At least David Walker got Occupy Avengers and will be bringing Nighthawk into that book. Nighthawk was a gritty and fantastic book with a really interesting character. I look forward to seeing how he is used going forward. For Chelsea Cain, she got to issue 8 with a fun and original take on Bobbi Morse, but then chose to leave Twitter due to everyone getting upset over a comic book cover. Both of these things disappointed me quite a bit. Don’t get me wrong, I understand this is a business, I just wish there was a better way to support books like these aside from pre-orders at local comic shops.
  • Fanboyism – I know this is an every year thing, but as time goes on, I truly scratch my head over the constant fight between fans of the big two. We got some great comics from both publishers, and many others this year as well. It’s silly, and the growth of social media, clickbait journalism, and memes have only made it worse. It was one thing when it was kids busting each other’s chops as friends, but now it has taken on a whole new level of ridiculousness. Stahp!
  • Marvel legacy characters – While I am happy that Marvel has done a great job on adding diverse characters, I am not sure what they are doing with so many of their legacy characters. We saw three of them fall in eight issues of a comic alone. Another is now a super evil double agent. And more are dead or in some sort of coma. I am all for these new heroes, I just prefer the way DC is doing it with Rebirth. Bring the new characters in under the old ones and have them mentor them. Or at least give some balance. I am hopefully this improves in the new year, or at least soon.

Best Publisher – DC 

 DC_Logo_RGB_031816It is hard to give this award to one publisher, as multiple publishers had so many great books this year. Though I will pick one, and that is DC. From the fantastic launch of DC Rebirth as a title, and then the great books that came out of it, to Young Animal, and Vertigo, their imprints and the books that came out of those, they have had one hell of a year. Detective Comics, Action Comics, Superman, Wonder Woman, Doom Patrol, The Sheriff of Babylon, and so on were all such fantastic and consistent titles for them, and while they have always been producing get content, it is great to see them get back to such focus.

They signed some amazing talent with writers Tom King, Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV, and artists like Liam Sharp, and Mitch Gerads to exclusive contracts. Not that they are the only talented people working on their books, because there are definitely more. Mikel Janin and Riley Rossmo both blew me away with their art this year. I was pleasantly surprised by DC this year, and I hope that trend to continue. I hope Marvel is paying attention to them, and while I do not want them to copy them, I would like to see somewhat of a Rebirth type event that can tie their legacy characters to their newer characters a little better, and give fans the best of both worlds.

Runners Up:

  • Dark Horse – They nearly took my top spot with such fantastic books as Black Hammer, Briggs Land, Dept. H, Ether, Hellboy, Harrow County, Lady Killer, Aliens and so much more. Very impressive year.
  • Image – So many titles, and they just keep adding more. Even Skybound has expanded with a few new titles. Image just keeps getting better with age.
  • Aftershock – With Animosity, Shipwreck, American Monster and more, Aftershock has proven it can hang with the best of them. Even with the start of 2017 we are seeing more promising titles like Blood Blister and The Lifespanners coming from some top talent.
  • BOOM! Studios – This year we saw BOOM! really expand its horizons with titles like Klaus, Warlords of Appalachia, Slam, and more while continuing to release their all ages comics that so many love like Goldie Vance, Adventure Time, and more. I expect we will see more serious titles like the Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins project, Grass Kings coming in 2017, and I am excited.

Review: Aliens: Life and Death #2

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Leave no man behind!

Up till now, the Colonial Marines have been reacting to attacks by the Predators and the Engineers. But having escaped LV-223, they make the decision to return and fight—against the deadliest adversaries in the galaxy!

Aliens: Life and Death #2 shifts the story a bit from one about survival to a story about a rescue but writer Dan Abnett makes it work. It’s a pretty interesting change from previous issues of this story arc, which leaves me wondering if this will continue in upcoming issues or if there’s more twists and turns to expect. I’m eager to see how they manage to rescue Chris alive and unharmed, or if she’ll be impregnated by the Alien queen.

The dismissal atmosphere of the previous issues changes as well, given the new setting and artist Moritat makes it work. I will admit the ship is a massive shift from the bleak looking environments they used in previous issues of the “Life and Death” group of stories. The ship is a polished environment and has a vastly different inside look than the Xenomorph seen in previous parts.

Story: Dan Abnett Art: Moritat
Story: 8.5 Art: 8.5 Overall: 8.5 Recommendation: Buy

Dark Horse Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

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