Last year I prioritized cutting back on cape books and diversifying the publishers and stories that I read. Though many of the comics I read weren’t published in 2016 (especially ones I read during Women’s History Month) I still found it hard to narrow down the list of ongoing series I particularly loved throughout the year.
Here are ten comics I couldn’t put down in 2016:
10. Goldie Vance by Hope Larson and Brittney Williams
This is a series I would have loved as a child. Goldie is the perfect mix of Nancy Drew and Eloise (of Plaza fame). Goldie Vance is great for a younger audience but doesn’t shy away from emotionally complex stories. Goldie and her friends are well-rounded characters with a wide range of interests who readers–young and not-young alike–will be able to relate to.
9. Elasticator by Alan C. Medina and Kevin Shah
Elasticator is the kind of smart, political superhero comic I wish was more prevalent. The writing is fresh and interesting and Shah’s art is lively and animated with great colors from Ross A. Campbell.
8. Snotgirl by Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung
Lottie Person is just about as far away from Scott Pilgrim as you could get, though they do, at times, share a similar self-absorption. Snotgirl quickly became one of my favorite series of the year, because while not many people can say they’re successful fashion bloggers, they can likely relate to Lottie’s personal problems. Leslie Hung and Mickey Quinn provide gorgeous, vibrant visuals and the best wardrobe in comics, to boot.
7. We(l)come Back by Christopher Sebela and Claire Roe
Reincarnation? Check. Assassins? Check. Shadowy organizations? Check. A+ fashion choices? Check. Reincarnated assassins in love running from other assassins who are trying to assassinate them? …Also check. What more can you want from a story?
6. Shutter by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca
Shutter is one of Image’s most underrated titles. The story follows Kate Kristopher, the daughter of legendary explorer Chris Kristopher, and her discovery of some little-known family history. The comic is consistently interesting not only because of its plot, but because del Duca and colorist Owen Gieni are constantly experimenting with narrative structure and using different techniques to influence how the story is read.
5. Clean Room by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt
Clean Room is a creepy psychological horror comic about journalist Chloe Pierce’s investigation of self-help master Astrid Mueller, who Pierce suspects is more cult leader than anything else. Or is she? Mueller is a fascinating character, and the unknowable question of which side she’s actually on only adds to the story’s suspense.
4. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
What if you could be a god, but you’d die within two years? Consistently equal parts entertaining and heartbreaking with consistently incredible art and color from Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. You’ve probably heard of this one.
3. Mockingbird by Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Sean Parsons, and Ibrahim Moustafa
One of the few superhero comics I read this year, Mockingbird was one of my absolute favorites. Cain writes Bobbi Morse as confident and smart, and the result was a fun mystery thriller with gorgeous art. The series also featured some of my favorite colors and covers this year, by Rachelle Rosenberg and Joelle Jones.
By the time I write my 2017 list, I might be over Mockingbird’s cancellation.
2. Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Val DeLandro
2016 was light on Bitch Planet–only four issues were released throughout the year–but continued to provide insightful and relevant commentary in what turned out to be a period of rapid change in the real-life political landscape.
1. Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
Monstress started strong in 2015 and only got better. The main character, Maika, is a teenage girl living with a monster inside, something she learns to live with and use to her advantage as the plot develops. Monstress is full of unrepentant female characters set in a stunningly rendered fantasy world.