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Brett’s Favorite Comics of 2021 and a Reflection on the Past Year

The Recount #1

Much like 2021, It feels weird writing a “best of” list for the past year since it’s been so difficult for so many. Comics, and entertainment as a whole, continued to be an escape from the rough reality of the year that was. Things struggled to get back to normal, whether you think it was too soon or not.

Comics have been an escape for me as I myself remained holed up at home, forgoing movie theaters and generally the public as a whole.

To pick one that stood out above all the rest doesn’t quite feel right as there was so much that was fun and entertaining.

The comic industry continued to shift in massive ways as creators figured out new ways to become independent or were lured by the promise of big paydays by venture capital. Publishers got bought out and some struggled to stay open. Stores opened. Stores closed. Distribution continues to shift. The industry continues to be disrupted in many ways. Some ways for the better. Some for the worse.

Things shifted for everyone.

Publishers canceled projects, shifted schedules, and continued to look to go directly to the consumer. Publishers faced distribution issues as ports backedd up and printing issues as paper became scarce. Creators looked for new ways to earn money and also go directly to the consumer. Consumers had more choices than ever before that made it easier to escape the world burning around them and find enjoyment in make-believe worlds where justice prevails in the end.

In the end, though 2021 continued to look bleak, it left the comic industry as a whole stronger than ever before with many challenges ahead and many answers yet to come.

It feels weird doing this “best of” but at the same time I feel like I want to “honor” and spotlight the comics that got me through the year and had me excited to read the next issues. This is what I’ve read so if you don’t see something mentioned it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I just might not have read it. Sorry, I can’t read everything (there was a massive glut in webcomics but more manga for me).

All of these are listed in no particular order (hell it’ll probably just be in alphabetical). Enough with the rambling… lets get on with some comics!

The comics that had me excited in 2021 and have me excited for 2022. It turns out maybe I enjoy horror more than I know?

  • Barbaric (Vault Comics) – The series caught me off guard with a classic fantasy barbarian story with a twist. I don’t want to go into it too much but if you haven’t read this one, definitely check it out. I can’t wait for more to come.
  • Black Panther (Marvel) – John Ridley taking over Black Panther, nuff said. The series has grounded the character in political paranoia and assassination attempts on undercover agents.
  • Blue, Barry & Pancakes (First Second) – I’ve been loving the releases focused on kids and this series about a trio of friends is one I enjoy reading each release over and over with my daughter. They’re goofy fun.
  • BRZRKR (BOOM! Studios) – I’ll admit I went into this series rolling my eyes as it felt like a pitch for a movie/television series for Keanu Reeves. But, while the series has a lot of action its focus on its main character of B and what makes him tick has been a welcome surprise. It’s surprisingly deep and more about the character than the action.
  • Dark Ages (Marvel) – In a year with so many “alternate takes” on classic characters this one of a world where technology is nerfed and the heroes and villains must bring it together is an interesting one. Here’s hoping we get more of these stand-alone miniseries from Marvel as this works so well.
  • DC vs. Vampires (DC Comics) – The premise of vampires rising up and attacking the DC Universe sounds simple enough. But, the series so far has eschewed simple fights instead going for paranoia where you don’t know who is a vampire and who will get killed.
  • Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? (Albatross Funnybooks) – The true story about Eddie Gein is haunting with art that walks the line of crossing over to gross out levels.
  • Fear State (DC Comics) – I wasn’t the biggest fan of the start of James Tynion IV’s run on Batman but when “Fear State” got rolling things quickly shifted. The story was intense and did an amazing job of folding in “Future State” as well. Speaking of which…
  • Fist of the North Star (VIZ Media) – The classic manga is back and being reprinted in beautiful hardback versions as part of VIZ Signature. Yeah, it’s martial arts Mad Max but it’s so good.
  • Future State (DC Comics) – A two-month event that took us to a possible future DC, the comics were mostly great with the glimpses of the future being used when the series returned. It was a great use of an event to breathe new life into a line and drive the narrative for months to come.
  • Glamorella’s Daughter (Literati Press) – A fun series about the daughter of the world’s superhero that has such a great sense of itself with great humor and fun characters.
  • Impossible Jones (Scout Comics) – A blast in every way introducing us to a new world of superheroes and villains and leaves us wanting more.
  • Karate Survivor in Another World (Seven Seas) – In a year that felt like every other manga was about someone getting killed and reincarnated in another world with some hook, this one stood out. With a grounded premise, the story is about Nozaki Hitoshi who is sent to another world where his only skill is karate. But, there’s a twist that’s teased out and works so well.
  • Kraken Me Up (Holiday House Publishing) – In a year where I read lots of comics geared towards kids I loved the art in this one and it had such a cute story about a pet Kraken and the girl who loved it.
  • Maniac of New York (AfterShock) – I’m not a fan of horror films but this take on the slasher genre had me hooked as it felt like an homage to the genre and something all its own.
  • The Other History of the DC Universe (DC Comics) – John Ridley delivers a blunt history lesson about DC from the perspective of characters who rarely get the spotlight. Amazing art added to the enjoyment in what felt like a college course in comics.
  • Robin & Batman (DC Comics) – Dick Grayson’s early years as Robin is explored with beautiful artwork.
  • The Recount (Scout Comics) – Talk about a series that was too close to home. The series focused on a nation split due to a corrupt government and an uprising after the assassination of the President. Coming out around January 6 made the first issue hit even more.
  • Serial (Abstract Studio) – The series has gotten better and better with every issue with a serial killer at the center of it all. It’s really done an amazing job of serialized storytelling and has my on the edge of my seat more and more to see what happens next.
  • Shadow Doctor (AfterShock) – The true story about a African American Doctor who can’t get money to open a practice and has to turn to Al Capone for funding. The story is just a great mob story but the fact it’s true makes it all the more amazing.
  • Solo Leveling (Yen Press) – 2021 saw me getting more into manga and manhwa and this series saw three volumes released. It’s about a world where dungeon crawling is an actual profession and the world’s worst, who actually has something a bit special about him. It’s just a great mix of comics and video game nostalgia with solid art.
  • Stray Dogs (Image Comics) – The miniseries was a murder mystery from the perspective of dogs. Did their master kill their former owners? Will the dogs make it to safety? Mix in amazing art and this was a miniseries that had everyone talking.
  • Task Force Z (DC Comics) – Red Hood has to lead zombie versions of Batman villains in a Suicide Squad like team. The concept is silly but works so well with a focus on the ethical aspect of it all and an amazing team dynamic. Mr. Bloom? Really!?
  • Timeless #1 (Marvel) – When it comes to end of year one-shots, Timeless is the best Marvel has put out. Its focus on a character and a real focus on him as a person. There’s some solid teases of what’s to come but it’s the story of Kang front and center that’s the real draw. It might be a tease of what’s to come but beside that, it’s a good one-shot anyway.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Marneus Calgar (Marvel) – The series shook up the character’s history in major ways and as a fan of Warhammer 40K I was all into it. It definitely pissed off “fans”, so bonus?
  • We Live (AfterShock) – The series has been an amazing apocalyptic adventure as kids attempt to make it to get to a ship to get off the planet. The series was a gut punch over and over and had me in tears.
  • Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 (DC Comics) – We just got one issue from Kelly Sue Deconnick and Phil Jimenez but this look at the history of the Amazons is amazing. The art was jaw dropping with the only flaw being the pages having a middle seam.
  • Yasmeen (Scout Comics) – The comic series about horrible events in Iraq and a young girl’s experience was an emotional punch with every issue. It shows the power of comics.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

A King's Vengeance #1

Wednesdays (and now Tuesdays) are new comic book day! Each week hundreds of comics are released, and that can be pretty daunting to go over and choose what to buy. That’s where we come in

Each week our contributors choose what they can’t wait to read this week or just sounds interesting. In other words, this is what we’re looking forward to and think you should be taking a look at!

Find out what folks think below, and what comics you should be looking out for this week.

A King’s Vengeance #1 (Scout Comics) – A warrior is brought back to life to avenge himself on the demons responsible for his death. That cover just looks so damn cool.

Avengers Forever #1 (Marvel) – Marvel is going all in with its multiverse as Avengers from across it are gathered to take on a massive threat.

Batman: One Dark Knight #1 (DC Comics) – Batman must escort a prisoner from Arkham to Blackgate as gangs descend on him during a blackout. The concept has been done before but this is a pretty solid and entertaining execution.

Black Panther #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was fantastic delivering espionage and intrigue, some politics, and action all grounding the series and character a bit.

Chicken Devil #3 (AfterShock) – The series feels like a throwback to 80s action flicks and we’re enjoying the over-the-top violence and humor.

Deserter: Junji Ito Story Collection (VIZ Media) – Junji Ito. Nuff said.

Fist of the North Star Vol. 3 (VIZ Media) – Collecting the classic series in beautiful hardback. If you’ve never read it, here’s your chance!

The Harbinger #3 (Valiant) – Peter Stanchek is back in the Valiant Universe and this series is paving way for the future of psiots.

Hawkeye: Kate Bishop #2 (Marvel) – With Kate in the spotlight as part of the MCU, the series shines a light on her in the comics as she heads back east to deal with a case… and family.

Impossible Jones #2 (Scout Comics) – The first issue was so much fun delivering a new entertaining superhero world that was a mix of homage, sendup, and its own thing. We’re excited to finally be able to read the second issue.

King Conan #1 (Marvel) – Conan grows weary in his old age and heads off on one last adventure.

Menopause: A Comic Treatment (Graphic Mundi) – Short stories about menopause in this graphic medicine anthology.

Nightwing #87 (DC Comics) – The series goes experimental with art that’s just one giant continuous image.

No Holds Bard #1 (Behemoth Comics) – When Queen Elizabeth I is kidnapped, only the dramatic duo of William Shakespeare and William Page in their superhero alter-egos, THE BARD and PAGE can save her! All written in iambic pentameter!?

Search for Hu #4 (AfterShock) – The series has been just solid mob action as two warring families/factions go after each other and a son attempts to figure out who attempted to kill his parents.

Serial #9 (Abstract Studio) – This series has been an amazing build with every issue and the last one left us shocked. Horror, serial killers, so much tension!

Review: Impossible Jones #1

Impossible Jones #1 is a blast in every way introducing us to a new world of superheroes and villains and leaves us wanting more.

Story: Karl Kesel
Art: David Hahn
Ink: Karl Kesel
Colors: Tony Aviña
Letterer: Comicraft

Get your copy now! To find a comic shop near you, visit http://www.comicshoplocator.com or call 1-888-comicbook or digitally and online with the links below.

Zeus Comics

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Review: Impossible Jones #1

Impossible Jones #1

Karl Kesel and David Hahn seem to be quite fond of 90’s cartoons. Their new comic, Impossible Jones, is often just a panel away from full motion and you can just see its world and characters being broadcast on TV screens, alongside the likes of Batman: The Animated Series and The Tick.

Impossible Jones isn’t just a love letter to those cartoons, though. It’s a comic with an edge that uses nostalgia as a springboard to come up with an inventive story about an accidental superhero that’s hiding a lot of bad under her secret identity.

Impossible Jones #1 kicks off the story of the titular character, a thief that acquires impossible powers—mainly elasticity, but also shadow manipulation and perhaps other skills yet to be revealed—and passes off as a superhero as she looks for her crew, the ones responsible for leaving her behind during the heist that led to her current predicament.

Kesel’s script does a great job of populating Impossible Jones’ universe with a well-rounded cast of characters that already feel storied, familiar enough to help the story move at a brisk pace without having to stop and dump copious amounts of exposition on readers. There’s a fair amount of fun poked at superhero conventions here as well, especially when it comes to character names (which include Holly Daze, Even Steven, and Polecat, all winners in my book).

Impossible Jones #1

The dialogue is kept snappy and agile, helping the story get to where it needs to without getting tangled up with specifics. It’s an economical approach not unlike that employed in individual cartoon episodes, in which the story bustles with activity but not at the expense of worldbuilding. It all unravels smoothly as the narrative progresses, providing just enough character development and plot to feel like a good chunk of story was provided. Fans of Kesel’s previous work, namely Section Zero, will find a lot to like here.

Hahn’s art is completely in sync with the grandiose aspect of the story and its pacing. His previous work on Batman ’66 makes this type of story play to his strengths and not a panel is wasted getting the most out of character interactions and action sequences. Tony Aviña’s colors make everything pop with a larger-than-life feel that captures the more fantastical elements of the story.

Hahn’s character designs also help with the fast and furious storytelling approach Impossible Jones brandishes. Each one wears a part of their story on their proverbial sleeves, another element that’s very present in cartoons given the short runtime the usually have per episode.

Something that surprised me from Impossible Jones’ origins, so to speak, was how much it reminded me of Dr. Manhattan’s in Watchmen. It’s a clever play on the character’s lab accident sequence that, whether intentional or not, made for a particularly memorable part of this first issue. It was good fun associating something as fast and furious as Impossible Jones with something as serious as the Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons book.

Impossible Jones #1

Impossible Jones #1 is a blast, in every sense of the word. It will satisfy readers searching for not-too distant nostalgia in their comics and readers looking for a creative alternative to the usual superhero offering on the shelves these days. To sum it all up, it’s a crowd pleaser.

Story: Karl Kesel Art: David Hahn Colors: Tony Aviña
Story: 9.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.0

Recommendation: Buy and then go dust off those 90’s cartoons you recorded on VHS.

Scout Comics provided Graphic Policy with a review copy

Purchase: Zeus ComicsTFAW

Impossible Jones is Coming in September from Karl Kesel, David Hahn, Tony Aviña, and Comicraft

A thief pretending to be a superhero? IMPOSSIBLE! That’s what IMPOSSIBLE JONES hopes people believe as she tries to convince citizens, cops—and fellow superheroes—that she’s New Hope City’s latest and greatest super-powered protector! But she’s also a damn good thief with no intention of giving up her criminal ways. You kidding—with these new powers? Pilfering and purloining have never been easier! Plus, cops don’t shoot at her, they gladly tell her exactly what they’re up to, and everyone’s happy to show her their security systems. But it’s a high-stakes, high-wire balancing act, and even shape-shifting superpowers can be stretched thin. One misstep and Jones will fall so far she’ll never bounce back…

Impossible Jones is written by Karl Kesel who provides the inks, pencils by David Hahn, colors by Tony Aviña, lettering by Comicraft. Out in September it’s edited by Nicole D’Andria, production by Joel Rodriguez, and published by Scout Comics.