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Brett’s Favorite Comics of 2020 and a Reflection on the Past Year

The Recount #1

It feels weird writing a “best of” list for the past year since it’s been so difficult for so many. Writer Ron Marz Tweeted something like any comic that helped to get you through it is a favorite, and deep down I agree with that. It’s been a rough year for so many and it’s one where the comic industry was forced to mature and face reality in many ways.

Things shifted for everyone.

Publishers canceled projects, shifted schedules, and looked to go directly to the consumer. Creators looked for new ways to earn money and also go directly to the consumer. Stores were forced to market more taking to video, email, and social media to keep customers aware of the latest offerings and remind them of classics they might have missed. Some stores didn’t make it through the year. Others expanded. New ones joined the industry. 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 2020 looked bleak, it left the comic industry as a whole stronger than ever before.

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 and manga for me).

So, in a bit different spin I’ve split this list into three sections.

  1. Comics where I’ve only read one issue so far, because that’s what’s been released, but am excited to see what comes in the new year.
  2. Comics I enjoyed each month and are kind of a “silver medal” for me. I wanted to acknowledge them but also didn’t want this to be an overwhelming essay. They’ll get more of a nod when I do a video of this.
  3. The ones I was excited to read each month or had an impact on me. These are the ones that go into my regular suggestions of comics to read down the road. The art, the stories, the presentation, they’re all at that “top of the game” level.

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!

2020 gave us one, here’s ones I’m excited to read their second issues in 2021!

  • Batman: Black & White #1 – The first issue had some solid stories but it’s the art that really stood out. It was mind-blowing and one of the best comics visually released this year. Almost every story broke away from standard panels and was just amazing to look at. I have no idea if future issues will be like this but here’s hoping.
  • Black Cat #1 – The last volume was a lot of fun to read and this first issue continued that. Despite being a King in Black tie-in, the issue kept the focus on what Black Cat does best, steal things as everything collapses around her. There’s just a certain style and attitude that the creative team nails with this. It was a fun debut that you could just sit back, laugh while reading, and enjoy.
  • M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 – Marvel’s trying to make M.O.D.O.K. a thing. It’s kind of been his year between an upcoming HULU series, a popular miniature in Marvel: Crisis Protocol, and this comic. The first issue had me laughing and I’m hoping that continues.
  • The Other History of the DC Universe #1 – John Ridley is one of my favorite creators out there. His work in film and television have blown me away. It looks like DC has given him the opportunity to deliver a brutally honest take about the DC Universe from the perspective of people of color and the first issue is one of the best things I read all year. I can’t wait until the second and this man should be allowed to do whatever he wants.
  • The Recount #1 – The issue hit a bit close to reality. The President is a crook and assassinated and there’s an uprising to purge the country of everyone who supported him, from the Vice President down to voters. It was a hell of an opening issue and one that was chilling in so many ways.
Shang-Chi #1

Comics to check out…

These were all great reads and should go on your reading pile. These are ones I made sure to read every month and jumped at reading as soon as they crossed my desk. They’ll all get more love in my video version of this.

The comics that really stood out for the year.

All of these comics were ones that kept me thinking well after I read them and I’d be happy to read them again. Many are still ongoing while others have wrapped up their runs. Each stands out in its own special way.

Ginseng Roots #3
  • Black Widow – Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Jordie Bellaire, and Cory Petit are the main creators on what’s been released so far and every issue has been amazing. Black Widow has been captured and brainwashed into believing a domestic life is real and hers. There’s been a great mix of humor, action, in this spy thriller and it’s sure to ramp up now based on the latest issue’s final moments. This is a great mix of storytelling and visual coolness.
  • Dead Day – Man, I really want this to be done as a television series and absolutely need more comics. Ryan Parrot, Evgeniy Bornyakov, Juancho!, and Charles Pritchett deliver a masterclass in world-building. Not only do they deliver an interesting story but have crafted a bigger world. For one night, the dead return, and while the comic really told the story of one family, each issue fleshed out enough of what this event’s impact would be elsewhere to get you to think and imagine.
  • Far Sector – N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell, and Deron Bennett have breathed a breath of fresh air into the Green Lanterns with this series. We’re taken to an alien world where a new Lantern named Jo must solve a murder which takes her deep into a corrupt society. It does what science fiction does best, explore our real world. The visuals are stunning as well in what is a comic that’s timely capturing the current zeitgeist.
  • Ginseng Roots – Craig Thompson explores his childhood in what’s one of the most original comics this year. In a small format and with minimal colors, the comic tells us the history of ginseng and Thompson’s childhood.
  • Harley Quinn Black + White + Red – DC really shook things up this year and one way was a greater focus on digital releases. This series was an anthology that delivered a different creative team with every chapter. We got to see over a dozen different takes on Harley Quinn each of which was entertaining. If you want to see how much the creators matter when it comes to the storytelling, here you go. This is also a perfect example of where digital comics should be going from major publishers.
  • Kill a Man – This story focused on a gay man’s battles within the world of MMA was an updated take on the Rocky formula and done so well. You can come at it as a fan of MMA, as someone who’s LGBTQ, both, or just wanting good storytelling. Emotional with great action, it’s a home run from the team of Steve Orlando, Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Al Morgan, and Jim Campbell.
  • Superman Smashes the Klan – The miniseries was collected and it’s amazing. Gene Luen Yang, Gurihiru, and Janice Chiang deliver a comic that captures the heart of Superman. Based on the groundbreaking radio play where Superman takes on the KKK, this comic is amazing in every aspect, from the story to the visuals. Add in some extra material from Yang about his own experiences and it becomes a comic everyone should read and one that helps define Superman in one of his best depictions ever.
  • Vlad Dracul – Matteo Strukul, Andrea Mutti, Vladimir Popov, and Joel Rodriguez tell us the story about the very real Vlad, the inspiration for Dracula. I learned a hell of a lot and would love to see more comics like this. It’s a crazy read that can be enjoyed for the history and education and/or the brutal story itself that would fit any fantasy world.
  • We Live – The first issue was perfection and got me to choke up. Each subsequent issue has built upon the world. In this story humanity is almost over but a mysterious entity from space will save 5,000 children but first they must get to extraction points. This is a few kids’ stories and their journey of survival. By Inaki Miranda, Roy Miranda, Eva De La Cruz, and Dave Sharpe each issue is visually amazing plus there’s some awesome bonus music you can listen to while reading.
  • Yasmeen – Talk about an emotional gut-punch with each issue. Saif A. Ahmed, Fabiana Mascolo, and Robin Jones tell the story of Yasmeen who was captured and tortured by Isis and her attempt to deal with the PTSD while settling after in the United States. Just an amazing blend of storytelling and real recent history.

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Far Sector #9

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.

Batman/Catwoman #1 (DC Comics) – We read the first issue and mixed about it but this one is on a lot of people’s radars.

Black Widow #4 (Marvel) – This series has been fantastic so far. Full of action and humor, it’s just beyond entertaining, and this issue ups the “holy crap” factor.

Captain Canuck Season 5 #1 (Chapterhouse) – If you’re looking for superhero comics not from the big two, check this one out.

COVID Chronicles (AWA Studios) – Chronicling ten personal accounts from the frontlines of COVID-19. A perfect example of graphic journalism.

DCeased: Dead Planet #6 (DC Comics) – The series begins to up the action as numerous plot threads begin to come together for a hell of a battle.

E-Ratic #1 (AWA Studios) – A new superhero series staring a 15-year-old who can only use his powers for ten minutes at a time. The concept sounds interesting and it’s from the talented Kaare Andrews and Brian Reber.

Far Sector #9 (DC Comics/DC’s Young Animal) – Things become much clearer in this issue as we continue to question who we can trust.

Happy Hour #2 (AHOY Comics) – In a world where you can’t be unhappy, the state will go to horrific lengths to make that happen. The first issue was an intriguing concept and we want to check out more.

Hellboy & the BPRD: Her Fatal Hour (Dark Horse) – The follow up to “The Beast of Vargu”, Hellboy is always a good time to read.

Justice League: Endless Winter #1 (DC Comics) – The mini-event kicks off here and it feels like an old-school DC storyline.

Kill a Man (AfterShock) – The highly anticipated MMA graphic novel is here and it exceeds our expectations. A great mix of focusing on characters and grappling.

King in Black #1 (Marvel) – Marvel’s next big event kicks off here and it’s a hell of a start.

Knock Em Dead #1 (AfterShock) – A new series from Eliot Rahal who we’ll read no matter what it is. This is a supernatural horror taking place in the world of stand-up comedy. We’re intrigued.

Lumberjanes: End of Summer #1 (BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box) – The beloved series wraps up.

M.O.D.O.K.: Head Games #1 (Marvel) – We laughed multiple times during this issue that’s a lot of fun. We can’t wait for the second issue.

Overwatch: Tracer – London Calling #1 (Dark Horse) – The hit game comes to comics and it’ll be interesting to see how this one goes over with that crowd.

Red Atlantis #2 (AfterShock) – The election thriller continues and we really want to know where this one’s going. Very timely and not a direction we’re expecting.

Seeds of Spring #1 (Microcosm Publishing) – A Canadian teenage exchanges books and tapes with a pen pal. The series juxtaposes the main character’s life with that of 19th-century Russian anarchist Peter Kropotkin.

Strange Adventures #7 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – A hell of a reveal in this issue.

The Walking Dead Deluxe #4 (Image Comics/Skybound) – It’s been interesting reading these newly colored releases in the age of COVID. The context definitely has changed a bit since they were first released.

Preview: Strange Adventures #7

Strange Adventures #7

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads

Adam Strange was right! In this issue guest-starring Batman, the Pykkts have come to Earth, and they plan to claim the planet as their own. Earth’s greatest heroes have faced alien invasions before, but they’re about to learn that the Pykkts are more formidable, more determined, and more deadly than any invading force they’ve faced before. Only Adam Strange has ever defeated them, but it nearly cost him everything-including his own sanity! How did he survive? Mr. Terrific will need to uncover that secret if humanity is going to survive!

Strange Adventures #7

Preview: Strange Adventures Director’s Cut #1

Strange Adventures Director’s Cut #1

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads

Pull back the curtain on one of 2020’s most compelling new miniseries in this special Director’s Cut issue. This special gives readers a peek at the black-and-white art by Evan “Doc” Shaner and Mitch Gerads-highlighting how they switch back and forth, and showcasing their individual techniques-and also presents the script so you can see how writer Tom King lays it all out. It’s an unprecedented look at how a comic comes together.

Strange Adventures Director's Cut #1

Review: Strange Adventures #6

Strange Adventures #6

Strange Adventures has been an interesting comic series examining war and the lies we tell ourselves surrounding heroism. War is messy. It’s dirty. And, even when the reason is just, it involves horrors and acts that haunt those who commit them and may seem to be evil to those judging from the outside. History may be written by the victors but it doesn’t mean that those writers don’t feel guilt or know they’re spinning fiction from fact. Strange Adventures #6 examines the internal guilt of war and more in a haunting issue that’s emotionally raw.

Writer Tom King continues to explore his experiences in war through comics and this issue might be one of the most truthful and honest things written. Strange Adventures #6 features Mr. Terrific, Michael Holt, talking with Alanna, wife of Adam Strange. They discuss their actions and the loss they’ve both seen and suffered bonding to some extent over the loss of a daughter.

Through each character King examines different aspects of being a person. Alanna admits the actions she and Adam took during the battle with the Pykkts at times were over the line and horrific acts. Though their battle was “just” and in defense, they still went on to commit what was likely crimes. Alanna admits what they did was “cruel.” They were the “good guys who weren’t always good.” The cheering on of Adam and his adventures are tainted though the masses are unaware since Strange and his allies were the victors and the ones writing the history.

Through Holt, King explores fatherhood. We know he lost a child and his wife and here we get a stunning admission. We learn the truth about the loss of both and how they impacted Holt to become Mr. Terrific. To some extent the guilt drives him but the guilt isn’t of the loss, it’s the loss of the responsibility. Holt admits the coldness we’ve been seeing concerning the topic is real, he never wanted to be a father. The loss of his child was a relief to him. What’s interesting to me though is Holt’s slide in his discussion. In the beginning he refers to his child as “the kid,” then “the baby,” then back to “the kid,” and finally “it.” Not a “they,” he uses “it.” There’s an emotional distance to this event that King uses towards the end.

What King has put together is a dance between the two. As we get flashes of the Strange’s battles Holt and Alanna we get another battle, a battle of wits. Alanna hides her intelligence and we know Holt is one of the smartest individuals in the DC universe. In their sharing their scars they’re also playing a game with each other. Alanna is attempting to manipulate Michael while Michael is interrogating Alanna. That becomes clear with Michael’s final questions to Alanna as they depart from their get together. It’s a pointed question that takes an touching issue and delivers the cross-examination question that’s like a dagger.

As expected, Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner deliver gorgeous art also dancing between the two settings. The cold discussion between Alanna and Michael is juxtaposed with the heat of war. The colors reflect the flicker of the dance between reds and blues depending on the setting. The shift of colors are interesting as well as Michael and Alanna’s discussion goes from a warm yellow to eventually a cold blue. It’s all well worth examining and contemplating as each detail feels thought out as to their deeper meaning.

The lettering by Clayton Cowles continues to stand out too. The text changes between the civil conversation and the yelling of battle. The language of the Pykkts takes center stage too during one scene. Again, like the art itself, the lettering feels like it’s well thought out and every decision was thought of as far as how it fits into the greater meaning and impact to the story.

Strange Adventures #6 is the high point of the series showing of the cerebral nature of it all. Like discussed above, it’s a dance between two highly intelligent people as they figure each other out. The investigation continues as Michael still searches for the truth and we the reader are continued to be forced to question everything we’re shown in the past.

Story: Tom King Art: Mitch Gerads, Evan Shaner Letter: Clayton Cowles
Story: 9.5 Art: 9.0 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyAmazonKindleZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Commanders in Crisis #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.

Commanders in Crisis #1 (Image Comics) – The last survivors of the Multiverse live among us under new, superheroic identities, five survivors of doomed worlds…taking a second chance to ensure our world lives on. Our review was a glowing one, you can check it out here.

Concrete Jungle #1 (Scout Comics) – A rogue telepath hijacks minds to commit crimes. The conept just sounds awesome.

Rorschach #1 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – If you’re a fan of crime/noir comics, this is a must. Forget the Watchmen tie-in, it’s just a solid start to a crime mystery.

Seven Secrets #3 (BOOM! Studios) – The series has a been a lot of fun so far. The first two issues were not what we were expecting so very interested in seeing where this all goes.

Strange Adventures #6 (DC Comics/DC Black Label) – This issue is the best of the series so far. There’s some raw discussions here about being a parent as we learn more about the death of Adam Strange’s daughter and Mr. Terrific’s wife and unborn child.

Vain #1 (Oni Press) – Eliot Rahal is an amazing writer and we’re here for anything new from him. Add in Emily Pearson on art and we’re beyond excited for this new series about a robbery at a blood bank.

Villainous #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – A new superhero is working with her idols but her dreams turn to nightmares and she has to make a choice about standing with heroes or becoming… villainous.

Warhammer 40K: Marneus Calgar #1 (Marvel) – The world of Games Workshop’s Warhammer 40,000 comes to Marvel. A solid start that’s good for long-time fans of the property and new readers.

We Live #1 (AfterShock) – If you’re not in tears by the end of the issue, you have no heart. Just a heart-wrenching sci-fi series.

Yasmeen #3 (Scout Comics) – One of the best comics out there, it explores a young woman dealing with the trauma of being tortured by ISIS as she attempts to get settled in the United States.

Preview: Strange Adventures #6

Strange Adventures #6

Written by: Tom King
Art by: Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads

How determined is Mr. Terrific to find the truth? The answer becomes more challenging as the whole world starts to turn against him. Adam Strange is a hero who can save the Earth from alien invasion, and who is Mr. Terrific to say otherwise? The extent of the denial only makes the man more suspicious. Not that the warmongering Pykkts care one way or the other. If Strange is to be believed, they only have one thing on their minds: taking over the planet. Adam and his wife beat them back once before, and the key to doing it again is to dig into the past that Mr. Terrific is so hell-bent on destroying. Read the series IGN calls one of the most anticipated comics of the year!

Strange Adventures #6

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

Black Widow #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.

Baloney & Friends (Disney Hyperion) – A really cute graphic novel for young readers. Check out our review.

Black Widow #1 (Marvel) – Black Widow is back in her own series! We’ve read the first issue and we’re beyond intrigued by this spy/action series.

DCeased: Dead Planet #3 (DC Comics) – What’s in the “green” on the other side of the world? We find out and it’s interesting! A lot is dropped this issue about the real threat at hand.

Grendel Kentucky #1 (AWA Studios) – A small town has a monster they sacrifice a person to every season but, what happens when the town breaks that deal?

Inkblot #1 (Image Comics) – Emma Kubert and Rusty Gladd’s new high-fantasy epic series about a sorceress attempting to correct her greatest mistake.

Lonely Receiver #1 (AfterShock) – A horror/breakup story in five parts.

Marvel Zombies Resurrection #1 (Marvel) – A new volume and take on the popular Marvel Zombies series. It’s a familiar plot but well done and we’re excited to see where it all goes.

My Little Pony/Transformers #2 (IDW Publishing) – The first issue caught us off guard at how well it worked and how fun it was. We’re excited to see what else the series has up its sleeve.

Strange Adventures #5 (DC Comics) – The series is a long game in that each issue is just a slice of the bigger puzzle. A threat looms over Earth and Adam Strange may be the one who has to save it.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The latest BOOM! series with buzz. It’s already sold out before release.

Preview: Strange Adventures #5

Strange Adventures #5

(W) Tom King (A) Evan “Doc” Shaner, Mitch Gerads
In Shops: Sep 01, 2020
SRP: $4.99

Mr. Terrific is back on Earth, and he’s making things hot for Adam Strange-but he also might get a little burned himself! The conflict is out in the open now, and the court of public opinion doesn’t play fair. Mr. Terrific was picked to investigate the accusations against Adam Strange because he was the most impartial member of the Justice League-but can even he keep all of this from getting personal? Plus, as we witness more of Adam’s adventures in outer space, will his version of events jibe with the facts, or will they continue to drift further apart? Find out in the series everyone is talking about by one of the most acclaimed creative teams in comics!

Strange Adventures #5

Strange Adventures #1, #3, and #4 Get New Printings

Strange Adventures continues to be a hit with fans and critics, and today DC announces that the sold-out issues #1, #3 and #4 of the compelling sci-fi mystery series by Tom King, Mitch Gerads, and Evan “Doc” Shaner will all return for second printings!

Strange Adventures #1’s second printing will be offered with both of the issue’s original covers by Gerads and Shaner, now presented in card stock format with spot varnish, matching the subsequent issues of the series. Copies of Strange Adventures #1’s second printing will arrive in stores on September 15.

Strange Adventures #3 and #4’s second printings will feature recolored versions of the main cover by Gerads, and will also arrive on September 15.

Strange Adventures—from the Mister Miracle team of writer Tom King and artist Mitch Gerads, joined by fan-favorite artist Evan “Doc” Shaner with lettering by Clayton Cowles—is an epic tale in the tradition of Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns, and DC: The New Frontier: a story of blood, war, and love that readers will be talking about for years to come.

Adam Strange is the hero of Rann, a man famous throughout the galaxy for his bravery and honor. After leading his adopted home to victory in a great planetary war, Adam and his wife Alanna retire to Earth, where they are greeted by cheers, awards, and parades. But not all is as happy and nice as it seems, as the decisions Adam made during battles on Rann come back to haunt his family and threaten the entire DC Universe. And now a surprise DC hero will have to choose between saving Adam Strange and saving the world.

The next installment of the 12-issue limited series, Strange Adventures #5, will hit shelves September 1, 2020.

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