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C2E2 2017: Joëlle Jones Talks About Her Creative Process, Housewife Assassins, & That Moment from Supergirl: Being Super

Joellejones

My first interview at the 2017 edition of C2E2 was with the talented writer/artist Joëlle Jones. I first fell in love with her gorgeous lines, macabre sense of humor, and impeccable style in the 2015-2016 Dark Horse Comics miniseries Lady Killer that she co-wrote with current Vertigo editor Jamie S. Rich and illustrated herself. Lady Killer is about a seemingly stereotypical 1960s housewife named Josie Schuller, who raises her two kids and makes dinner for her husband, but is secretly an assassin. She was also the artist on the lovely slice of life graphic novel 12 Reasons Why I Love Her from Oni Press and a Mockingbird one-shot from Marvel Comics.

I got to chat with Jones about her work on Lady Killer and its sequel as well as her heartbreaking work on the DC Comics series Supergirl: Being Super, a modern retelling of Supergirl’s origin story, while she worked on a beautiful Catwoman commission. Read until the end for a cameo from another famous pop culture assassin.

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Graphic Policy: One of the first things that attracted me to Lady Killer were the styles that the characters were wearing, especially Josie. I was wondering what some of your style inspirations were for the series.

Joëlle Jones: I always try to look at the old Sears catalogues. There’s a lot of people who can them in, but mostly, I use the old sewing patterns.

GP: I think I remember seeing some of those at my grandma’s house. I really like the way you draw Josie’s kids in Lady Killer? Did you have any particular influences, like newspaper comics etc.

JJ: It was old Valentine’s Day cards from the 1950s that Pete Hawley did. They’re so cartoon-y, and they make me giggle. I just wanted to do an homage to him.

LadyKillerCoverGP: In Lady Killer 2, Josie is doing some sketchy things, like killing everyone and even teaming up with Nazis. Was there any particular things you added to your writing and art to keep her sympathetic in spite of doing all these deplorable things?

JJ: I wasn’t consciously trying to make people sympathetic to her. Hopefully, part of it is that I love [Josie], and I hope that’s enough to get across. Lady Killer is a kind of book that I would do no matter if people read it or not. I try to entertain myself and get me laughing or interested, and luckily it’s worked out that it’s successful.

GP: I was so glad when Lady Killer got a sequel. What were some of your favorite assassination scenes to draw in the either the first Lady Killer or the sequel?

JJ: I always like what I most recently did, but some of the scenes stand out over time. Like when she killed the stripper and strangles her. I wanted to draw that scene just so I could do the nipple tassels twirling around. The only purpose for that [splash page] was me wanting to draw that.

GP: The old school pasties. Very nice. So, in Lady Killer 2, the Schuller family moves from the Pacific Northwest to Florida so how did the shift in setting influence your work on the series?

JJ: I wanted to put them in a whole new place and shake everything up. I wanted to make them uncomfortable. The first series I kind of wrote with training wheels because Jamie [Rich] was there to help me. For the second series, I really wanted to do it on my own. I wanted to break away from what I did in the first series and put myself in that uncomfortable position. I did the same thing with the [Schuller] family to cover up the jitters.

GP: What have been some of the challenges of working with a co-writer to doing everything but the colors by yourself?

JJ: It’s actually been really freeing. I don’t like to sit down and write scripts. I start in with the art, and my scripts look like a mix between doodles and words. It was so much easier to not have to explain to anybody what I wanted to do. I just wanted to jump write in and do it.

GP: So when do you add the dialogue?

JJ: I add the dialogue at the very last minute when the art’s all finished.

GP: What can readers expect from the big finale in the upcoming Lady Killer 2 #5?

JJ: I don’t know. I haven’t written it yet. I do know where I wanna go and hopefully everyone will like it. Obviously, there’s gonna be a lot of blood. You can expect gore.

GP: That’s one of thing I love about the series: the over the top violence and black comedy. Like 60s housewife sitcom with a little Tarantino on top.

One of my favorite moments in Lady Killer was when you added a little flashback with Josie’s mother-in-law and set her up as a “lady killer” of the past. If you theoretically could do a spinoff of Lady Killer, what era would you set it in and why?

JJ: That’s my favorite too! Maybe it’s because of all the movies I’ve been watched, but I would really like to do a Great Depression/Dust Bowl one. That’s what I’m into now, but it could change tomorrow and be the disco 1970s.

BeingSuper

GP: That would be so awesome with the big afros and everything. Another series of yours that I’m a big fan of is Supergirl: Being Super. In issue 2, Supergirl’s best friend dies. It made me cry on my lunch break at work. How did you get in an emotional state to draw something so powerful?

JJ: Yeah, it’s heartbreaking. It’s all down to the way that Mariko [Tamaki] wrote it. The script is powerful on its own. It didn’t take much to get me there. She sent me the script, and I opened it up and started crying alone in my studio. It was so sad.

GP: It’s so unexpected because it was previously such a lighthearted book.

JJ: I had no idea that was going to happen.

GP: What is the difference in your creative process between Lady Killer and doing everything versus Supergirl: Being Super where you worked with inker, Sandu Florea? Do you draw differently?

JJ: I do a little bit. Sandu inked the first issue, and I took over on the inks for issues two through 4. It’s work as usual, I guess. I’ve been working off other people’s scripts for ten years so it’s back to the normal collaboration with someone else. It’s nice to get my foot off the gas for a while.

GP: My favorite character in Supergirl: Being Super is definitely Dolly. I love that girl. How did you come up with the design for her?

JJ: Mariko had an idea going in, and then we collaborated after a few sketches. I love drawing her clothes the best. She wears basically what I wanna wear all the time. She’s so fun to draw.

GP: She’s so comfortable in her own skin and is definitely style goals.

I have one last “just for fun” question. Who would win in a fight between John Wick and Josie, and why?

JJ: That’s tricky because Josie won’t use guns. Let’s say it’s hand to hand fighting. Josie’s got it. If he sneaks up on her, she’ll probably go down.


Joelle Jones is currently the artist on Supergirl: Being Super from DC Comics and the writer and artist on Lady Killer 2 from Dark Horse Comics.

You can find her on Twitter and on her website.

Dark Horse “Number Ones” Anthology in March for $6

Trying to decide what to read next and not sure where to start? Dark Horse Comics has the perfect offering for your next binge read! Join their all-star roster of creators in the value-priced collection Dark Horse Number Ones, which contains full debut issues of eight different comics series for just six bucks and is slated for release on March 29, 2017.

Whether you’re looking for science fiction, fantasy, horror, crime, or action/adventure, this affordable collection includes an issue for everyone, including entire first issues from some of Dark Horse’s most notable creators:

  • Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá’s The Umbrella Academy #1
  • Mike Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell #1
  • Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich’s Lady Killer #1
  •  Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer #1
  • Matt and Sharlene Kindt’s Dept. H #1
  • Brian Wood and Mack Chater’s Briggs Land #1
  • Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Harrow County #1
  • Kurtis Wiebe and Mindy Lee’s Bounty #1

This full-color, 224-page trade paperback retails at just six dollars!  Find your new comics muse or hero in the Dark Horse Number Ones collection!

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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

EtherWednesdays 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!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

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

Alex

Top Pick: Britannia #3 (Valiant) – The story of the first detective, a man armed with the magical powers of deductive reasoning and primitive CSI-type knowledge is facing what could be a threat from the netherworld. This is brilliant stuff, and Valiant’s prestige format publication make this comic well worth your money for a physical copy, but it’s the story and artwork that have been so utterly amazing. There’s only four issues in the miniseries, so treat yourself and read all three this week if you haven’t taken the plunge.

Amazing Spider-Man #21 (Marvel) – The only reason I’m excited for this is because Scarlet Spider is on the cover, and I can never have enough Kaine.

Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse) – I find that Jeff Lemire can be either really good or borderline unreadable. Here, he’s utterly fantastic, and his tale of superheroes trapped in a small town and being forced to live as normal people is fascinating as he explores the former heroes lives, and how they’re reacting to their new status quo. For some, it’s akin to paradise, and others it’s a living hell. Well worth a read if you want something different from your superhero comics.

Kill Or Be Killed #4 (Image Comics) – A vigilante tale that’s part Punisher, part Ghost Rider, and every bit as awesome as you’d expect from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

Old Man Logan #13 (Marvel) – Perhaps because of the trailer released this month (which I’ve seen more than I’ll admit too), but I can’t wait to get my grubby mitts on this comic. One of the few remaining Marvel books on my pull list, this is another example of Jeff Lemire at the top of his game.

 

Joe

Top Pick: Ether #1 (Dark Horse) – It’s like the amazing art work on the cover by David Rubin has been taunting me ever since I first saw it. I have been waiting for this book for what seems like forever. Matt Kindt is writing this quirky series about a scientist detective who can go between Earth and another magical world, Ether. If you love fun, quirky stories with beautiful unique art, then this is the book for you. The cast of characters are over the top, and the plot seems to be as well. This is easily my top pick this week.

Old Man Logan #13 (Marvel) – The Last Ronin storyline has been brutal, and beautiful. Sorrentino is a very underrated artist and has been killing it on this series. Lemire is no slouch here either, and I love the way he captures Logan. While people are saying they miss the Wolverine they know and love, they should be reading this. It’s Wolverine as a retired Samurai basically. He’s trying to live his life in peace, but keeps getting pulled into the darkness of the world.

Kill or Be Killed #4 (Image) – Things were really ramping up in the last issue, and with the confidence of our main character up, it is safe to say that things are going to get worse before they get better. Brubaker is no stranger to pulp crime, but there’s something more here. This is throwing the question back at the reader, what is the right or wrong thing to do? If you had to kill someone to stay alive, who would it be? And that is a very dangerous question, holding even more dangerous answers.

Reborn #2 (Image Comics) – After an awesome first issue by Millar and Capullo, I cannot wait to see more of this fantasy world that they teased in the first book. Millar and Capullo together should be enough to get people to at least check this series out. They are two heavyweights in their craft, and they really seem to have something special here. The concept is awesome, the artwork is fantastic, and there is so much mystery that I cannot wait to uncover!

Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse) – A Colonel Weird issue! I love the character driven issues of this series. We get to see a peak at our weird groups past, and really spend time to learn who each of them are now, and who they were in much happier times. So far, Colonel Weird has been floating (literally) in and out of the first four books, but this issue dives deep into exactly why he is the way he is, and gives us a peek at the Para-Zone he often references and visits. Lemire appears on my list for the second time, and it’s no coincidence, he is doing a fantastic job on this book as well!

 

Brett

Top Pick: SLAM! #1 (BOOM! Studios) – It’s the world of Roller Derby from Pamela Ribon and Veronica Fish. Two friends get drafted by two teams and have to navigate the world of Roller Derby and its impact on their friendship. The concept sounds great and the art I’ve seen so far is fantastic. This is one that sounds like a fresh concept and an interesting world to explore.

Infamous Iron Man #2 (Marvel) – The first issue which had Doom taking over the role of Iron Man was fascinating and this one too continues his exploration of becoming a hero. I have no doubt it won’t last long, but so far it’s been intriguing.

Thanos #1 (Marvel) – Jeff Lemire is an amazing writer and I had no idea what to expect when I read this first issue. It’s really solid and returns Thanos to being the badass that he is. I have no idea where it goes from here but it feels like it’ll be an epic.

Ether #1 (Dark Horse) – Matt Kindt, nuff said. 99% of what he does is amazing and this is no exception.

Lady Killer 2 #3 (Dark Horse) – We got a bit of a break between the last issue and this one, but I’m no less excited for it. 50s housewife who’s also a contract killer. It’s as dark and twisted as it sounds and it’s awesome.

 

Anthony

Top Pick: Ether #1 (Dark Horse) – Matt Kindt (Mind MGMT, Dept. H) and David Rubin (criminally under-appreciated The Fiction, The Rise of Aurora West) look to bring an intriguing tale of a man of science into a world of fantasy and magic. At this point, anything Matt Kindt has his name attached to should swivel more than a few heads. Plus, having David Rubin provide his flowing art style as well to the series is just about as great a collaboration you could ask for.

Black Hammer #5 (Dark Horse) Black Hammer may be the best superhero title on the stands. Each and every issue has dived into the backstory of a single character while also focusing on the present time and the various heroes’ dilemmas on being forced to be distanced from the very world they protected. This issue looks to focus on Colonel Weird.

Kill or Be Killed #4 (Image Comics) – This series has been unlike anything Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser have done thus far and has been getting increasingly more and more intriguing as it continues forward. This issue marks the end of the first arc. Dylan is a very conflicted character that questions a lot about the world around him, observations that correlate to the anxieties of the real world outside the pages of the comic. These inklings of Dylan’s thoughts alongside the justifiable murders he must commit are what makes him such an interesting character. Kill or Be Killed is also the most playful form wise for this creative team, making each issue a treat for the eyes that really reinforces the unexpected journey that Dylan has been going on.

Sunny Vol. 6 (Viz Media) – Taiyo Matsumoto’s wonderful manga about a group of orphaned children living under the same roof comes to a conclusion in this final volume. Matsumoto has juggled with so many different voices throughout this series, allowing for each and every one of them to have a voice that matters. He displays images that provoke a sense of loneliness through the multiple characters, frustrated with their present sense of abandonment but also captures a sense of wonder and curiosity about the future ahead that is fantasized within the comfort of an abandoned car next to the children’s housing. Sunny strikes many chords and is deserving of more attention than it has already received.

SDCC 2016: Joëlle Jones talks Lady Killer 2

Have you been reading Lady Killer from Joëlle Jones and Dark Horse Comics? The second volume debuts this Wednesday, August 3, and at San Diego Comic-Con I got a chance to talk to Joëlle about the series and what we can expect.

Check out what she had to say and catch up on the first volume before the second kicks off!

Preview: Lady Killer 2 #1

Lady Killer 2 #1

Joëlle Jones (W), Joëlle Jones (A), Michelle Madsen (C) Joëlle Jones (Cover)

Joëlle Jones multi Eisner award nominated series continues!

The killer housewife is back! The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where life carries on as usual. Josie continues to juggle Tupperware parties, her kids, and a few human heads. However, when someone from her past tails her on a hit, she may be in for more than she bargained for.

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Joëlle Jones’ Lady Killer Returns

After its original announcement at San Diego Comic-Con 2015, Dark Horse Comics has confirmed the release of Lady Killer 2, the long-anticipated sequel to Joëlle Jones’s best-selling series Lady Killer.

The killer housewife is back! The Schuller family has moved to Cocoa Beach, Florida, where life carries on as usual. Josie continues to juggle Tupperware parties, her kids, and a few human heads. However, when someone from her past tails her on a hit, she may be in for more than she bargained for.

Lady Killer 2 features Jones resuming her role as writer, artist, and cover illustrator, with colors by Dark Horse veteran Michelle Madsen. And to celebrate Dark Horse Comics’ thirtieth anniversary, artists Matteo Scalera and Moreno Dinisio are producing a special variant cover for issue #1.

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards 2016 recently nominated Lady Killer for Best Limited Series and Joëlle Jones for Best Penciller/Inker and Best Cover Artist.

Lady Killer 2 #1 (of 5) is in stores August 3, 2016.

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Brett’s Best Comics of 2015

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means I’m posting my “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2015. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2015, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read (and does not reflect what other contributors to this site might think). If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

This was a particularly tough year of choices with some categories easily having their own top ten or twenty-five. Check out below what made the cut!

Best Super Hero Comic – Captain Canuck

Captain.Canuck 1 cover2015 continued the diversification of the comic industry and we saw an explosion of new comic characters and series that looked a lot more like us, the readers. But, for all of that, many of those series brought with them over the top violence or were aimed at specific audiences. That’s why Chapter House Comics‘ relaunch of Captain Canuck was such a fresh series and hero in 2015.

The comic series and character seem to embody Canadian ideals well and the series is a perfect example of a superhero series that can be enjoyed by both adults and kids alike.

Within its pages, there’s action and fighting, but what’s shown isn’t over the top, taking on a more PG/PG-13 tone compared to a lot of what else is out there. The series also celebrates the diversity that is Canada with characters from numerous backgrounds, including First Nations, and regularly uses French (without translation) to great affect. Plus that design is badass.

Each issue also gives you two-for-one, with a back-up story of equally high quality and fun. A retro tale of a Captain Canuck of the past, I’ve enjoyed these stories so much, I’m hoping Chapter House spins them out in to their own sister series or a regular anthology.

This is a series where the hero is one who not only wants to stop the bad guy, but also won’t put innocents at risk and go out of his way to protect them. Add on to the fact that he’s surrounded by a diverse cast, with actual depth, and we have a comic that can be enjoyed by all. This is a series to watch in 2016.

Runners Up:

  • COPRA – There’s some arguments to be made that Michel Fiffe‘s indie series about a group of raftag characters should be the top pick, and there was long thought about if it should, it’s that good. Out of all of the series I read this year, this is one that delivered with every single issue. This is a comic that shows that superheroes aren’t the domain of just two companies anymore.
  • Midnighter – Writer Steve Orlando‘s series has gotten me interested in a character I seriously had little interest in before. He’s take a one note character and added tons of depth showing that superheroes can be more than just punching.
  • The Omega Men – Writer Tom King took this ragtag group of characters and has given us a maxiseries that explores revolution/terrorism in so many ways. This is one to read once collected if you haven’t started yet.
  • Plutona – Is it a superhero comic? So far I’d say yes. Jeff Lemire is a master writer and Emi Lenox‘s art is fantastic. This is basically Stand By Me with superheroes and it’s a series that I want to see what happens next. With just a few issues so far, it has completely sucked me in.

 

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – Southern Bastards

southern bastardsWelcome to Craw County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs football team…and more bastards than you’ve ever seen.

Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have created a Southern gothic noir series that once you think you’ve got it down, pulls the rug right out from under you.

This series was my top pick last year, and it has continued to show with each issue why it deserves to continue to be so praised. Each volume has given us a new twist and new perspective on the greater world they’ve put together and Aaron and Latour aren’t afraid to bring the violence and make us wince.

It’s a brilliant exploration of the Southern community, especially its focus on sports and football. This is one of my first reads with each issue that comes out, and I have never known where it was going next. An original in every way.

Runners Ups:

  • Archie – I care about an Archie comic!? Archie took a gutsy chance and reworked their entire line. While it has failed with two other relaunches this year, this series (as well as Jughead) has been a standout for it’s new take on the classic character.
  • Bitch Planet- The series continues to explore tough topics and continues to entertain while doing so. This is a comic with a message, and it pulls it off with every single issue.
  • Descender- Jeff Lemire makes it on the list again, but this time with art by Dustin Nguyen. This sci-fi series is so hard to describe revolving around an android that looks like a little boy. Every issue is a treat to read, and Nguyen’s art helps with beautiful visuals.
  • Fresh Romance – Romance comics are dead! Who’d read them?! Well Janelle Asselin (a some times contributor to this site) proved folks wrong Kickstarting this line of comics that’s a romance anthology. Every issue has delivered with fantastic stories and extras like advice columns. Expect this series to be copied (poorly) in 2016.

 

Best Limited Series or One Shot – Secret Wars: Secret Love

secret wars secret love 1 coverMarvel’s Secret Wars as a whole was an event that started off strong and then sputtered along the way. However it did give us at least one highlight, and that’s Secret Wars: Secret Love.

Four stories that vary in tone and look, this comic is a spotlight on so many creators that should have been at the forefront of the All-New, All-Different Marvel.

Secret Wars: Secret Love was so good, with so many varied talented creators, it was a reminder how much Marvel dropped the ball with its relaunch just a few months. Whitley not on a Misty Knight series? Cmon! Michel Fiffe not being given something! Marguerite Bennet, Katie Cook, Felipe Smith, Gurihiru, Kris Anka, this comic was filled with folks who are comic stars. This is the type of creative line-up I’d be building a line around.

It was just a one shot, but when I was done it was clear I want more of this!

Runners Up:

  • The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage – Valiant cranked out so many good series this year, their miniseries especially were good. This one took on the new Doctor Mirage in a series that had her going to the other side and exploring her own past. This was a miniseries that in a short time gave us lots of depth, entertained, looked so good, and did it all in a short period of time.
  • Justice League: Darkseid War: Green Lantern – DC Comics released a series of one-shots for “Darkseid War,” and one stood above all others. The comics were supposed to explore what happens when regular humans get godlike powers, and this one did an amazing job as Hal Jordan was presented withed difficult choices. A great read all on its own.
  • Lady Killer – A suburban housewife is actually a contract killer. The comics was entertaining with a kick-ass female lead. The miniseries was fantastic playing with so many stereotypes and genres. This is Mrs. Smith, without the Mr.
  • The Paybacks – Mixing superheroes and comedy this miniseries has delivered. This comic has gotten me to laugh with every single issue and one of the downer moments of the year was the fact this wasn’t an ongoing series.

 

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – Mike’s Place

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There was one graphic novel that haunted me for a good chunk of 2015, and that’d be Mike’s Place: A True Story of Love, Blues, and Terror in Tel Aviv.

Written by Jack Baxter and Joshua Faudem, Mike’s Place is a graphic novel spun out of their experience that you can see in the documentary Blues by the Beach. What was supposed to be a movie celebrating Israeli life, and the peace found between Israelis, Palestinians, folks of all different backgrounds, who come together in a bar, instead it captures tragedy, and perseverance.

The graphic novel grips and effects you at a personal level. Part of that is due to the fact it’s both tragic and uplifting. The lead up, and post event accounting of what happened shows strength in tragedy, it’s a mesmerizing, and in ways uplifting, story.

Beautifully haunting, Mike’s Place is a graphic novel that sticks with you for days and weeks.

Runners Up:

  • The Arab of the Future – A biography of Riad Sattouf’s life as he navigates between Libya, France, and Syria. The graphic novel originally came out in French in 2014 and was released in English in 2015. The graphic novel is absolutely fascinating, and makes Sattouf’s life entertaining.
  • The Fall of the House of West – The latest entry in Paul Pope‘s Battling Boy line of comics, this has the early years of the West family and everything from its pint sized hero to pint sized format is a win. This is fun pulp comics.
  • March: Book Two – The second volume of Congressman Lewis‘ biography recounting his life in the Civil Rights movement. Much like the first, the second volume will be taught in classes for decades to come.
  • The SculptorScott McCloud‘s latest graphic novel has its fans and haters. The graphic novel follows an artist who makes a deal with death and has a finite time to live. The story is haunting and one that’ll have you debating with your book club.

 

Best New Series – Monstress

Monstress01_Cover

Monstress kicked off with a triple-sized first issue (60 pages!), and even when you got to that last page, it didn’t feel like enough. The series is a magical world (pun intended) that mixes so many genres that there’s a little something for so many. Fantasy, steampunk, Kaiju, anime, it’s all here mixed together in an amazing combination that seamlessly flows together.

I think what’s more impressive is the inclusion of political and societal commentary within, and doing so in a way that doesn’t come of as preachy, and is almost not noticeable. The story at it’s core is about a woman, a minority, fighting against the oppressive majority. Choices to have what seems like a matriarchal society changes that context into something more than a woman fighting the patriarchy which the series could have easily been (and it still would have been great I’m sure). Instead it gives us women who are good, evil, and somewhere in between painting a broad swath that can be debated for hours on end. It’s this type of layering of ideas, themes, and concepts that has created one of the richest debuts of the year.

In two issues Monstress feels like a thought out world with a history that goes back decades. Battles are referenced, events mentioned, it all feels like its been thought out and meticulously put together. Add on top of that women (well character really) of all types, shapes, sizes, skin color, and you have what is a diverse, in many ways, debut. All of that together creates the best debut of the year.

 

Best Single Issue – Batman #44

Batman #44 CoverBatman has gone through a fascinating shift this year as Bruce Wayne lost his memory and James Gordon stepped in as the iconic hero in a new mechanized suit that’s more anime fighting robot than the great detective we’ve known.

The series has also brought us a new villain in Mr. Bloom who is a great addition to Batman’s rogues and feels like a worthy adversary.

Through all of that, this comic, which focuses on Bruce Wayne’s Batman, is the best single issue of the year of any comic as it shows us something we’ve never seen before in comics, a Batman who actually focuses on the interplay between institutional racism and economic injustice.

Titled “A Simple Case,” the issue was written by regular series writer Scott Snyder who was joined by Brian Azzarello, we find out the issues Batman faces here are anything but simple and more complicated than any villain he’s faced.

For an issue we see how superhero comics can address actual social and economic issues we face today such as gentrification, institutional racism and bank’s disinvestment in communities. But, more importantly, addressing those issues and entertain at the same time.

Add on top of that the usual beautiful art, this time by Jock, and you have a comic you can read on its own, and the best single issue this year.

 

Best Event of the Year – Book of Death

BOD_TPB_COVER_GILLWho has the best superhero universe out there today? That’s not the big two, the answer actually is Valiant who continued in 2015 to show off quality comics filled with quality writing and art.

Not only does the publisher put out great comics every month, but they also have figured out how to weave in major events in to their universe and make it new reader friendly.

Book of Death saw the Eternal Warrior with the newest Geomancer from the future on the run trying to both dodge and take on a great evil pursuing them. Along with the main series, we got a glimpse in to Valiant’s future along with the end of many of its heroes.

The battles felt epic, the use of characters were great, the story progressed at a nice pace with each issue being vital. Add on top a series of one-shots all of which were at least good, and you have the making of an epic tale.

But, what’s even more impressive is the fact that Valiant has figured out the outro in many ways with their events leading in to natural changes for their line of comics and characters.

They’ve consistently put out quality, and continue to do so with their events. I usually shudder when I hear some major comic event is coming, but with Valiant, I look forward to it in anticipation.

Runners Up:

  • Darkseid War – A good event should be epic, and DC’s storyline event currently running through Justice League qualifies. The story has been building for some time, but the Anti-Monitor has arrived to battle Darkseid, and many of the issues have left us with imagery that feels massive in scale. Hopefully the second half delivers as much as the first.
  • Secret Wars – So much good, and so much bad here. Delays and the second half that hasn’t quite delivered as much as the first has tarnished what started off as Marvel’s best event in some time. Still, there’s absolutely this world changing event hasn’t been absolutely huge touching every corner of the Marvel Universe. With one issue to go, the series isn’t perfect, but it does deliver a game changing event.
  • Transformers: Combiner Wars – This was a story that hit so much nostalgia, but what I think as really impressive was the synergy across platforms. Comics, toys, video games, they were all in sync and it all worked together very well.
  • The Valiant – Did you read about Book of Death above? Everything there can be applied here in what is the prequel that eventually led in to Book of Death.

 

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics/Small Publishers

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2015 was a year we saw major creators continue to shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that would fit our varied tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

We named Indie Comics “it” in 2013 and 2014, and nothing changed in 2015. There’s a massive opening for someone to step in and be a mainstream breakout, maybe 2016 will be the year we see it.

 

Best Surprise of the Year – DC Comics

dc-logo-252x3002015 was a year that it was cool to shit on DC Comics. But, for the bad, their best is some of the best. Batman, Batgirl, The Omega Men, Justice League, Midnighter, Prez, Bizarro, Doctor Fate, We Are Robin, Grayson, Black Canary, Constantine the Hellblazer, Cyborg, DC Comics Bombshells, Martian Manhunter, and lots more hit the shelves each week and show off the new quality of a publisher that has been in second place for so long. Add on top of that a resurgence and reinvigoration of Vertigo.

After sputtering for some time, the company shook up their line of comics with Convergence which saw the recreation of the multiverse and opened up the possibilities to tell stories out of continuity and with numerous versions of classic characters.

The company also decided to expand of the success they saw with Gotham Academy and Batgirl, trying new things with new series many receiving critical praise though middling sales.

The company continued to expand upon its digital first program, and has begun to look towards expanding its market with its DC Super Hero Girls line. 2016 sees the real launch of their new movie universe after dominating on television.

The company has really turned the ship around and 2015 was a stellar year that you can see them right the ship while continuing to be faced with criticism from armchair experts.

The dots are all there, now we’ll see if the company has the vision to connect them all.

 

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s disappointment continued to be so, as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existent only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so, no longer choosing comics to promote, as we feel some responsibility for things gone wrong and your dollars being held hostage.

Kickstarter continues to be tone-deaf, and it’s only a matter of time before someone stands up and challenges the platform with a system that’s fair to creators, and protects those who pledge.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

 

Publisher of the Year – None of the Above

This one I’ve thought about the most out of all of the categories on the list. I keep going back and forth between Image, BOOM! Studios, Valiant, Action Lab, IDW, First Second, and so many more. For each strength one brings to the table, they also have major weaknesses. Whether it’s a focus on a genre, pigeonholing themselves with adults, failure in digital, a mix of quality of comics, none of them are at least good everywhere. But, the comic industry has really grown in 2015 with no one breaking out as THE publisher to rival the big two. Partially that’s because so many have stood out with some of what they’ve done.

Both DC and Marvel have stumbled in 2015 (though DC has shown improvement in many ways, see above), and it’s everyone else that has stepped up in an attempt to fill the gap left by the big two.

Image has become of the home of amazing indie comics by big name creators, but they generally lack a kids line that gets the next generation of readers. BOOM! has had a great mix of comics, but they’re missing that ongoing series that goes on for 30 to 50 issues. Valiant is quality all around and have tried some interesting market tactics, but you have to like superhero comics, Action Lab is a solid up and comer with good consistent releases. IDW has shown its possible to do great licensed comics, while First Second has fantastic graphic novels of all sorts. The year also saw newcomers like 451 Media, Aftershock, and Double Take, but each are having issues getting the word out.

Out of all of that, where’s the standout above everyone else? They’re all good in their own ways, but each have some flaws, with some of those flaws being pretty big. After a lot of deliberation, I couldn’t decide on one, so I chose none.

Much like I said about DC, each publisher is close to going huge, it’s just taking someone to connect those dots. Or maybe no one will, and it’ll be up to the individual creators to fill up the gap.

Review: Lady Killer #5

Lady Killer 005Thus far this series has been an interesting balance between two stereotypes.  On one side there is the cold blooded assassin versus the other side which is the doting and dedicated housewife.  With this story operating between these two extremes, it was inevitable that the two meet somewhere, and they do here, although perhaps maybe not as much as expected.

After her betrayal of her handler and her life as a killer for hire, Josie confronts her former employers at the site of the World’s Fair in Seattle.  The only problem is that her family unexpectedly shows up as well, potentially ruining her undercover work as she tries to get closer to those that would have killed her.  It sets up an interesting dynamic as the two worlds seem ready to collide, but they are rapidly taken apart again as Josie goes on a rampage aided by the others that she has recruited for her cause.  What follows is primarily an action heavy plot, with the characteristic gruesome violence.  In the end the story is not wrapped up as much as one might think, but it is only because this final issue of the miniseries is only meant as the beginning of a longer series.

In the letter column, series writer Jamie S. Rich describes how he is moving on to other projects with other companies, and that this story is now Joelle Jones’ own, rightfully as it mostly has been all along.  Finally proving herself as a writer equal to match her artwork, this series’ ending is not as powerful as one might expect, although it is really with the main intention of setting up more of Josie for the future.  As it stands this is still a great series and this final issue has done it justice.  With more of Josie to come it would seem as though there are still lots of interesting stories to tell.

Story: Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich  Art: Joëlle Jones
Story: 8.7 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.7 Recommendation: Buy

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

 

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Thor_8_CoverWednesdays 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!

We’re bringing back something we haven’t done for a while, what the team thinks. Our contributors are choosing up to five books each week and why they’re choosing the books.

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

Brett

Top Pick: Rebels #2 (Dark Horse) – Brian Wood’s series takes us back to the beginnings of the American Revolution. Focusing on two young individuals looking to start their life, Wood not only gives us a touching action story, but also reminds us some of the principles that founded our nation.

Lantern City #1 (Archaia/BOOM! Studios) – A story about castes and a man who just wants a better life for his family.

Rise #2 (Northwest Press) – The series launched after lots of high-profile bullying stories, and while the publisher focuses on LGBT comics, the stories focus on more than just that. These are stories we can all relate to, and after reading you can realize things do get better.

Secret Wars #2 (Marvel) – The first issue threw us head first into a massive action story, taking us right into the thick of battle, and had no problems killing characters off. That only set us up to know anything is possible as Marvel relaunches its comic universe.

Space Riders #2 (Black Mask Studios) – The series’ first issue was a psychedelic space adventure. So, expect more of that… aka more awesome.

 

Edward

Top Pick: Thor #8 (Marvel) – Probably anyone who is even slightly interested in Marvel will be picking this up to find out who the new Thor is

Lady Killer #5 (Dark Horse) – This series sees its end here and we get to find out whether or not Josie is a one hit wonder.

Night Nurse #1 (Marvel) – The Daredevil television series renewed interest in this character, and this collection will give readers some background into who she is.

Silk #4 (Marvel) – There has hardly been a misstep in this Spider-associated book that gets none of the spotlight as its kin.

Wonderland #35 (Zenescope) – Zenescope’s best series continues here with another enticing story arc.

 

Elana

Top Pick: Convergence: Suicide Squad #2 (DC Comics) – Last issue had such a perfect twist by two classic lineup characters and I’m not even talking about the reveal at the end of issue 1. I can’t wait to see what happens next. This book features the REAL Amanda Waller, the most interesting anti-hero in comics and basically the only middle-aged black woman protagonist in super hero comics. When the New 52 made Waller thin & young I was indignant. Read my post “Waller Not Smaller” on why this matters.

I’m so glad to have The Wall back. I know writer Frank Tieri agrees because he told me so on Twitter.

Angela: Asgard’s Assassin #6 (Marvel) –  Sera, Angela’s more worldly and sharp-witted life partner/ bard/ “how awesome is her character design?!?” is the reason I read this book. What a revelation she is! I picked up this book for the creative team but I still stayed for this wonderful new character. And she’s a trans woman with dark skin & a non generic body type. More please. Many many more.

Fangirls Guide to Galaxy Handbook for Girl Geeks HC (Quirk Books) – This is going to be on recommended gift lists from now till the end of time. So why not buy one right away! That way you can read it before you regift it this holiday season. Buy one for all of your geek girl friends and supporters.

Storm #11 (Marvel) –  Why is this series getting cancelled? Are you guys not buying it? This book is super entertaining and it is staring Storm!!! One of my favorite long-lost characters from Generation Hope came back in last issue. I did not like his send off in that miniseries (even though it was a wonderful miniseries) so I’m hoping Kenji gets a more favorable resolution this time.

Thor #8 (Marvel) – Who is Thor? The Big reveal! Brett thought it was Roz Solomon (awesome Jewish environmental scientist of SHIELD), I thought it was Mockingbird. Now we will know for sure.  If you’ve been reading the series or any series that touches on sore at all and clearly you’ve got to be in it for this last issue. I know for a fact that there are lots of people who have only started reading store because they heard about the new female store. I just spoke to a woman was picking up comics for the first time because of the series. This must not be the end.

 

Review: Lady Killer #4

ladykiller004-covFor those that have been reading Lady Killer and thought to themselves that it was a pretty fun series but that more could be done with it, this issue will be the remedy to that.  The previous issues have introduced the cold blooded assassin who is passing as a loving housewife, but it was hard to figure out the direction of the series because the main character was shown to be one of contrasts and contrasts which were either easy to get behind or hard to root for.  The turning point for both the reader and the character came when Josie was given the hit on a young boy, and as she painstakingly went through the process of gunning him down, the series seemed to be losing its heart.  As she turned around and decided not to, the series also got new life, but her actions had consequences, and that is where they left off in the last issue, with Josie herself being the focus of a hit.

This issue deals with the after effects of her being driven off the road by her handler in the precursor to an assassination attempt.  As she manages to fight back and get away, the issue really picks up momentum.  As she was previously subject to the whims of her handler, she proves herself to be an effective espionage agent as she manages to track down another handler and his assassin.  From the moral low of the previous issue, Josie manages to come back in full force and even more so.  She is shown here to not only be competent and deadly, but she hasn’t yet been shown to be this feminine while doing so.

This issue marks the best thus far for the series, which can be either a good or bad thing leading into the finale (which should theoretically be the best).  The pacing is fun as the issue reads through seamlessly without a pause at all, and it works well.  The characterization is well handled, especially to have built up her own struggle as a character and how she realizes this in others.  This provides wonderful depth to characters that only showed up for a few panels.  There is really very little wrong with this issue, it only remains to be seen if it can be capitalized on for the next and final part of the story.

Story: Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich  Art: Joëlle Jones
Story: 9.3 Art: 9.3 Overall: 9.3 Recommendation: Buy

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

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