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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.

The 2020 Harvey Award Winners Have Been Announced

The Harvey Awards

Ahead of the official ceremony later this week, the winners for the 2020 Harvey Awards have been announced. The award ceremony has gone virtual this year with the initial group of nominees announced in August and then the winners chosen by vote.

The 2020 winners are:

Book of the Year: Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang (First Second)
Digital Book of the Year: The Nib edited by Matt Bors (thenib.com)
Best Children or Young Adult Book: Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang and Gurihiru (DC Comics)
Best Manga: Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama (Kodansha Comics)
Best International Book: Grass by Keum Suk Gendry-Kim, translated by Janet Hong (Drawn and Quarterly)
Best Adaptation from a Comic Book/Graphic Novel: Watchmen by HBO, based on Watchmen (DC Comics)

The Harveys will also be inducting Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy), Jill Thompson (Scary Godmother), and the founding members of Milestone Media which includes Denys Cowan, Derek T. Dingle, Michael Davis, and the late Dwayne McDuffie into this year’s Harvey Awards Hall of Fame.

The virtual ceremony will be broadcast on October 9 at 4:50 pm as part of New York Comic Con’s Metaverse. The ceremony will be hosted by Vivek Tiwary and will feature Gene Luen Yang, Neil Gaiman, Jill Thompson, and Damon Lindelof.

(via The Hollywood Reporter)

Around the Tubes

Disaster, Inc. #1

It was new comic book day yesterday! Who went to their shop? How’d it go? Let us know! If you got any of the new comics, what’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments. While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

The Hollywood Reporter – “It Will Be an Entirely New Thing”: Zack Snyder’s $20M-Plus ‘Justice League’ Cut Plans Revealed – Sounds like the film isn’t finished and nowhere near completed unlike what his stans have claimed.

Deadline – ‘Snowpiercer’ Series Premiere Tops Sunday Cable Programming, Marks Largest TNT Debut Since ‘The Alienist’ – Huh, didn’t expect those sort of numbers.

Newsarama – STARGIRL Tied for CW’s 2nd Highest Rated 2020 Premiere – It’s a really solid debut. Check out our review!

Minneapolis Star Tribune – Treasured comic book collection found in Drake Hotel rubble reunited with owner – An interesting story.

Reviews

Newsarama – 2020 Ironheart #1
Newsarama – Disaster, Inc. #1
Newsarama – Hawkeye: Freefall #5
Geek Dad – Superman Smashes the Klan

Review: Superman Smashes the Klan

“Amazing,” that’s the simplest way to describe Superman Smashes the Klan, the graphic novel collecting the three-issue series.

Out now from DC Comics, it’s “Best of the Year” material with an additional essay from author Gene Luen Yang.

Fantastic story, beautiful art, this graphic novel is a must get.

Story: Gene Luen Yang
Art: Gurihiru
Letterer: Janice Chiang

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.

Amazon
Kindle
comiXology
Bookshop.org

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Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

DCeased: Hope at World's End #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 Wednesday. It’s been almost two months since the last time we’ve done this and we’re excited to be able to start again!

Disaster, Inc. #1 (AfterShock) – A new series from writer Joe Harris and artist Sebastian Piriz takes us on a tour of some of the worst places on earth while digging up trouble. The concept of disaster tourism is a new one for comics and we’re excited to check this one out. – Check out our exclusive preview.

The Goon #10 (Albatross Funnybooks) – Consistently one of the funniest and fun comics out there. It’s a spooky take on Popeye that’s beyond entertaining and a must for us each month.

In Vitro (Humanoids/Life Drawn) – A sweet, funny French graphic memoir by cartoonist William Roy about him and his wife’s quest to have a child via in vitro fertilization. – Read our review

Ludocrats #1 (Image Comics) – Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol, Tamra Bonvillain, and Jeff Stokely is a murderer’s row of creators. The series is described as “A collision of the ornate fantasy of Dune and an M-rated Asterix & Obelix! Baron Otto Von Hades and Professor Hades Zero-K are here, and they’re going to save us all have a nice time.” We already have a very positive review. – Read our review

Plunge #3 (DC Comics/DC Black Label/Hill House Comics) – Amazing horror from writer Joe Hill and artist Stuart Immonen. The third issue is beyond creepy.

Star Wars Adventures: Clone Wars #1 (IDW Publishing) – We’ll take more Clone Wars!

Superman Smashes the Klan (DC Comics) – Writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Gurihiru’s amazing series is collected and is beyond amazing. This is “best of the year” material that has Superman fighting the Klan in a story that riffs off of the classic radio serial.

Year Zero #1 (AWA Studios) – AWA has been a publisher to keep an eye on and this zombie series feels a bit weird to read considering the world but we’re still a sucker for the genre.

Digital Releases

DCeased: Hope at World’s End #1 (DC Comics) – DC surprised everyone with this digital-first release. It was unannounced and unexpected. Another zombie genre riff but DCeased so far has been a fantastic take on the genre and we want more.

Youth #2 (comiXology Original) – A new take on the superhero genre with a LGBT spin on it all. The first issue was solid and we want to read more and even more intrigued as it’s being worked on as a show from Amazon Studios.

Around the Tubes

Justice League #44

It’s new comic book day… or it would normally be. There’s still lots of comics out digitally today, and some new ones yesterday too. We’ve got reviews and more lined up! While you wait for that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Kotaku – Marvel’s Iron Man VR has a new release date and it’s coming out July 3 – So excited for this!

CBLDF – Reading Resources and NEW Discussion Guide: Superman Smashes the Klan – An interesting guide for the amazing graphic novel.

Reviews

Newsarama – Justice League #44
The Geekiary – Superman Smashes the Klan
Newsarama – Youth #1

Brian Michael Bendis and Gene Luen Yang Talk Superman as part of WonderCon@Home

In honor of Superman Smashes the Klan’s release, DC Daily is debuting the ultimate Superman conversation between comics legends Gene Luen Yang and Brian Michael Bendis.

Tune in to the DC YouTube channel or the DC Universe app today (5/12) at 1:00 PM PT for Yang and Bendis’ epic one-on-one conversation about their work on the iconic Man of Steel. The conversation will also be a part of WonderCon’s WonderCon@Home programming.

Superman Smashes the Klan in a New Trailer

Superman Smashes the Klan – the acclaimed comics series from New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang and artist Gurihiru – is gearing up for its collection release in May, and today, DC debuted the book’s official trailer.

The year is 1946. Teenagers Roberta and Tommy Lee just moved with their parents from Chinatown to the center of Metropolis, home to the famous hero, Superman. Tommy makes friends quickly, while Roberta pines for home. Then one night, the family awakens to find their house surrounded by the Klan of the Fiery Kross! Superman leaps into action, but his exposure to a mysterious green rock has left him weak. Can Roberta and Tommy help him smash the Klan?

Superman Smashes the Klan is inspired by the famous “Clan of the Fiery Cross” story arc that aired on the 1940s Adventures of Superman radio show. The radio serial is widely praised for its impact in changing public opinion toward the Ku Klux Klan, and now, for the first time, Yang and Gurihiru put a fresh twist on the iconic story in graphic form. Geared for teen readers, Superman Smashes the Klan explores Superman’s own identity as an immigrant struggling to assimilate in America while also following the Man of Steel as he saves a Chinese American family from a local chapter of a national hate group called the Klan of the Fiery Kross.

The three-part comics series debuted in 2019 to rave reviews and beginning May 12, readers can enjoy Superman Smashes the Klan as a single volume graphic novel. It’s lettered by Janice Chiang.

The Superman Smashes the Klan official trailer is narrated by Yang. The graphic novel is available to pre-order now and will hit stores and online retailers everywhere books are sold May 12, 2020.


Pre-Order: AmazonBookshop.orgTFAW


Preview: Superman Smashes the Klan #3 (of 3)

Superman Smashes the Klan #3 (of 3)

(W) Gene Luen Yang (A/CA) Gurihiru
In Shops: Feb 19, 2020
SRP: $7.99

The Daily Planet is under attack! When the Klan invades the newspaper’s office, they kidnap Lois Lane, Perry White, and Inspector Henderson. The Klan’s attacks have separated our heroes, forcing Roberta and Jimmy Olsen to step up and help save the Daily Planet staff.

But the Klan has one more surprise to reveal. In order to save his friends and stop the Klan once and for all, Superman must face his own identity to unleash his full potential and ultimately accept who he really is.

Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” New York Times bestselling author Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) concludes his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan.

Superman Smashes the Klan #3 (of 3)

Preview: Superman Smashes the Klan #2 (of 3)

Superman Smashes the Klan #2 (of 3)

(W) Gene Luen Yang (A/CA) Gurihiru
In Shops: Dec 18, 2019
SRP: $7.99

Teenager Tommy Lee is missing, and Superman is on the case! It can’t be a coincidence that just last night, Tommy bravely confronted the Klan of the Fiery Cross when they surrounded the Lee family’s Metropolis house and told them to go back to Chinatown.

The year is 1946, and Clark Kent is so new to being Superman that he hasn’t yet learned to fly-so his search for Tommy is conducted in huge, gravity-defying leaps that make Tommy’s sister, Roberta, suspect the Man of Tomorrow may not be an earthling at all! But if this strange, young hero can adjust to his adopted home, perhaps she can, too.

First, though, they must stop the Klan from blowing up Unity House, which has welcomed the Chinese-American Lee family into their community. But could the real target be across town, where Superman’s friends Jimmy, Lois, and Perry work at the Daily Planet?

Inspired by the 1940s Superman radio serial “Clan of the Fiery Cross,” Gene Luen Yang (American Born Chinese, Boxers and Saints, The Terrifics, New Super-Man) brings us part two of his personal retelling of the adventures of the Lee family as they team up with Superman to smash the Klan!

Superman Smashes the Klan #2 (of 3)
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