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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!

We Live #3

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.

Black Cat #1 (Marvel) – The previous volume of the series was a lot of fun so that alone has us interested. The fact that it immediately ties into King in Black has us a bit nervous. But, crossing our fingers!

Blade Runner 2029 #1 (Titan Comics) – The cult series gets a new volume.

Canuck Beyond #1 (Chapterhouse Comics) – Captain Canuck has been a bit more of a wholesome superhero series and this new series throws the Canadian hero into another dimension!

The Expanse #1 (BOOM! Studios) – The television series comes to comics. The new limited series takes place between season 4 and 5 of the Amazon series.

Post Americana #1 (Image Comics) – The elite are who have made it to survival bunkers and there’s one person standing in the way of their attempt to subjugate the survivors.

Power Rangers #2 (BOOM! Studios) – If you’re new to the property, it’s still a great time to dive in! The first issue was a lot of fun with some great art.

RAI #10 (Valiant) – One of the best monthly comics coming out right now. It’s never too late to find out why!

Red X-Mas #1 (Scout Comics) – When Mrs. Claus dies in a tragic toy accident, Santa vows to make all those little brats pay!

Sam & His Talking Gun #1 (Scout Comics) – A tale of revenge. Brother vs. brother!

Second Coming: Only Begotten Son #1 (AHOY Comics) – The first volume of the series was fantastic mixing humor with enough to make you think. We’re hoping for more in this new volume.

Sh*tshow #1 (Scout Comics) – A mysterious force destroyed the world’s heroes and when it returns, one of the remaining must get sober to stop it.

Taarna #1 (Heavy Metal) – The classic Heavy Metal property is back!

Taskmaster #2 (Marvel) – The first issue was a lot of fun mixing action and humor.

We Live #3 (AfterShock) – One of the best new series of the year continues! Amazing art, great storytelling, this is one to catch up on if you haven’t.

Wolverine: Black, White, & Blood #2 (Marvel) – An anthology series from Marvel, the first issue was fantastic and we’re expecting more of the same.

Around the Tubes

Taskmaster #1

It’s one of two new comic book days today! What are you going to get? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below! While you decide on that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

Kotaku – Naruto Creator Will Start Writing The Boruto Manga – Where should we start reading?

How to Love Comics – What’s The Difference Between Graphic Novels and Trade Paperbacks? – For those who have wondered.

The Beat – A Year of Free Comics: What is coming up from the DEEP? – Free comics!

iO9 – Spider-Man: Miles Morales‘ Biggest Conflict Is Achingly Intimate – Who’s playing and what do you think?

Review

Comic Attack – Taskmaster #1

Around the Tubes

We Only Find Them When They're Dead #3

It’s a new week and we’ve got reviews, interviews, and previews all lined up! What geeky things did you all do over the weekend? Sound off in the comments. While you wait for news to kick off, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

How to Love Comics – King in Black Reading Order Checklist – For those interested in the event, this is a handy guide.

Mirror Online – Superhero comic collector sells £1.5million haul after thieves nearly stole the lot – That’s a solid amount of money.

iO9 – Miles Morales Reforms Spider-Man’s Relationship With the Police When It Needs to Be Abolished – We haven’t played the game yet but for that have, what are your thoughts?

Kotaku – Spider-Man Remastered‘s Terrible-Looking Boat NPCs Now Hide A Fun Easter Egg – For those that are playing it…

Kotaku – DualSense Feedback Makes Marvel’s Spider-Man: Remastered Feel Legit Next-Gen – What do you all think?

Reviews

The Digital Fix – Delacroix
The Beat – Dethany and the Other Clique
ICv2 – Fangirl Vol. 1
But Why Tho Podcast – Planet Paradise
Laughing Place – Taskmaster #1
The Nerd Daily – Victor and Nora: A Gotham Love Story
Talking Comics – We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #3

Review: Taskmaster #1

Taskmaster #1

Taskmaster is one of those characters that deserves such a spotlight and generally has been underused through the years. Whenever he’s be used, he’s stood out and weirdly never became a huge hit. Even as a background character he’s stood out over the years and become even better in recent decades. From a generic villain with some cool powers to a smart-ass super villain with cool powers, it’s his personality that has been the focus. Taskmaster #1 nails the character down, mixing action, humor, and some intrigue.

Written by Jed MacKay, Taskmaster #1 has the character on the run after he’s possibly framed for the murder of Maria Hill. There’s now a price on his head and he’ll have to prove his innocence.

The comic is beyond fun with a great mix of action and humor. It kicks off with Taskmaster as a partner during a golf tournament to raise money for mobsters. It’s the kind of set-up that sets the tone so well. The duo he’s facing features Bullseye promising a gold game even I’d watch. But, what it really does is set the tone. The comments between the two are great and really let you know what type of character Taskmaster is. From there’s action, some more laughs, and a focus on what we can expect going forward.

It’s a solid opening that has such a firm grasp on its voice and tone. There’s little doubt as to what you’re going to get with the issue and now the series. It’s a comic that establishes itself and makes you ask why it’s taken so long to get something like this.

The art by Alessandro Vitti is great. Though Taskmaster features a skull mask, you’re still able to get a full feel as to what’s going on when it comes to emotions. The comic has an exaggerated aspect to it with the action having an almost Looney Tunes aspect of it. It’s just over the top as Taskmaster must deal with his would-be assassin having to use what he can to fire back and ducking the bullets flying at him. Guru-eFX provides colors while Joe Caramagna does the lettering and the art team just nails it all down.

Taskmaster #1 is a hell of a lot of fun. Not sure what else to really say. There’s a mix of action and humor and anyone can pick up the comic and enjoy it. It’s not deep. There’s no deeper themes. It’s a simple frame job that has the main character in the crosshairs of others who want him dead in revenge. It’s a simple concept but executed so well. I was hoping the comic would be entertaining and it exceeded my expectations getting me to laugh out loud and leaving me with a smile.

Story: Jed MacKay Art: Alessandro Vitti
Color: Guru-eFX Letterer: Joe Caramagna
Story: 8.75 Art: 8.75 Overall: 8.75 Recommendation: Buy

Marvel provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


Purchase: comiXologyKindleZeus Comics

Graphic Policy’s Top Comic Picks this Week!

The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott

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.

7 Good Reasons Not to Grow Up (Graphix) – Why would any kid want to be an adult? This graphic novel explores the challengese of growing up.

Great Naval Battles of the Twentieth Century (Dead Reckoning) – In this collection, Jean-Yves Delitte and Giuseppe Baiguera plunge you into the heart of three of the twentieth century’s greatest naval battles: Tsushima (1905), Jutland (1916), and Midway (1942).

The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott (Avery Hill Publishing) – Billie Scott is an artist. Her debut gallery exhibition opens in a few months. Within a fortnight she’ll be completely blind. Already getting tons of praise, read our early review here.

Miskatonic #1 (AfterShock) – Miskatonic Valley holds many mysteries – cultists worshipping old gods, a doctor deadset on resurrecting the recently deceased, a house overrun by rats in the walls – but none more recent than a series of bombings targeting the Valley’s elite.

Plutocracy (NBM) – 2051. The world’s largest company, The Company, has seized power on a planetary scale and runs the world as if it were a business. In a plutocracy, the richer one is, the more powerful one is. A citizen decides to explore how the world came to this situation.

Power Rangers #1 (BOOM! Studios) – A new era for the Power Rangers is here and it’s a perfect opportunity to dive in and see what you’ve been missing.

Punchline #1 (DC Comics) – The hit character gets a spotlight in a not so veiled exploration of Trump’s America.

Scarenthood #1 (IDW Publishing) – With the kids away the parents away in this ghost-hunting/demonic entity fighting twist of a story.

Terminal Punks #1 (Mad Cave Studios) – Mutant animals are unleashed at an airport and four punk teens take them on.

Taskmaster #1 (Marvel) – Framed for the murder of Maria Hill, Taskmaster is on the run attempting to survive and prove his innocence.

Preview: Taskmaster #1

Taskmaster #1

(W) Jed MacKay (A) Alessandro Vitti (CA) Valerio Giangiordano
Rated T+
In Shops: Nov 11, 2020
SRP: $3.99

TASKMASTER HAS MURDERED MARIA HILL!
Or at least that’s what the whole world thinks. Now the greatest spies in the business are hunting him down and won’t stop until Taskmaster is dead or clears his own name! Follow JED MACKAY (BLACK CAT) and ALESSANDRO VITTI (SECRET WARRIORS) on a globe-spanning adventure that will send ripples through every corner of the Marvel Universe’s espionage community!

Taskmaster #1

Diamond Select Toys In Stores Now: The Mandalorian, Bane, Black Panther & More!

It’s a big week for comic shops, as Diamond Select Toys and Gentle Giant Ltd. have delivered a treasure trove of new products across North America! With busts, statues, dioramas and action figures based on Star Wars, Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Ghostbusters, there’s something for every kind of fan!

DC Comic Gallery ‘90s Catwoman PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys Release! The 1990s were spectacular, and one of the many spectacular things about that decade was Catwoman’s costume! With her long black hair and purple leotard, Catwoman leaps straight off of the comic page and into a cluster of cats in this all-new Gallery Diorama. Measuring approximately 6” tall, this PVC diorama features detailed sculpting and paint applications and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Shawn Knapp, sculpted by James Marsano. (ITEM #APR202648, SRP: $49.99)

DC Comic Gallery ‘90s Catwoman PVC Diorama

DC Comic Gallery Diorama Bane PVC

A Diamond Select Toys release! The Venom-infused super-villain is coming for Batman, and he’s doing it in the Gallery Diorama line! This approximately 9-inch PVC diorama of Bane depicts the muscle-bound misanthrope clutching Batman’s cowl in one hand, with his Venom tube snaking down the other. Made of high-quality PVC, it features detailed sculpting and paint applications and comes packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Alterton. (Item #JAN202452, SRP: $49.99)

DC TV Premier Collection Justice League Superman Statue

A Diamond Select Toys release! The epic trinity of Justice League resin statues continues with the Man of Steel! Measuring approximately 12 inches tall, this animated-style statue depicts Superman hovering over a white architectural base and is limited to only 3,000 pieces. It comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Displays with Batman, available now, and Wonder Woman, coming soon! Designed by Barry Bradfield, sculpted by Varner Studios. (Item #JAN202451, SRP: $150.00)

DC TV Premier Collection Justice League Superman Statue

Legends in 3D Movie Ghostbusters Mr. Stay-Puft Half-Scale Bust

A Diamond Select Toys release! That’s a big Marshmallow Man! The Villain of the original Ghostbusters film gets captured in his largest scale ever, with this approximately 10-inch resin bust! Sculpted in half-human-scale, this portrait features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and comes packaged in a full-color, hand-numbered box. Limited to only 1,000 pieces! Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Rocco Tartamella. (Item #FEB202405, SRP: $175.00)

Marvel Comic Gallery Mysterio PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Is it real or is it Gallery?! We don’t need hypnosis to convince you that this diorama of Mysterio, master of illusion, is an amazing installment in the Marvel Gallery line! Depicting the Spider-Man foe rising out of a cloud of green smoke, this approximately 9-inch sculpture is made from high-grade PVC and features detailed sculpting and paint details. Packaged in a full-color window box. Designed by Caesar, sculpted by Alterton. Formerly a GameStop exclusive.  (Item #MAR202629, SRP: $49.99)

Marvel Comic Gallery Taskmaster PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys Release! The ultimate opponent is now the ultimate Marvel Gallery Diorama! Famous for his ability to mimic people’s fighting styles and soon to appear in the Black Widow movie, Taskmaster wields his sword and shield in this approximately 9-inch sculpture. Cast in high-quality PVC, it features detailed sculpting and paint applications, and comes packaged in a full-color window box. (ITEM #APR202654, SRP: $49.99)

Marvel Comic Gallery Taskmaster PVC Diorama

Marvel Comic Premier Collection Black Panther Statue

A Diamond Select Toys release! The Black Panther strikes a pose amid the greenery of Wakanda in this elegant statue. Measuring approximately 11 inches tall, this piece is made of high-quality resin and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It is limited to 3,000 pieces and comes packaged in a full-color box with a hand-numbered certificate of authenticity. Hand-sculpted by Clayburn Moore. (Item #JAN202456, SRP: $150.00)

Marvel Movie Gallery Captain Marvel Binary PVC Diorama

A Diamond Select Toys release! Captain Marvel goes higher, faster and farther in this new Marvel Gallery PVC Diorama! The star of the Captain Marvel movie hovers above the ground and glows with binary power in this approximately 11-inch sculpture. Featuring detailed sculpting and paint, and cast in high-quality PVC, the diorama comes packaged in a full-color window box. Sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. Formerly a GameStop exclusive. (Item #MAR202630, SRP: $49.99)

Marvel Select Thing Action Figure

A Diamond Select Toys release! It’s clobberin’ time again! The ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing is back in the Marvel Select line, in one of the most hotly demanded re-releases the line has seen! Measuring over 8 inches tall, this massive action figure features 14 points of articulation, and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. It comes packaged in display-ready Select packaging, with side-panel artwork for shelf reference. Sculpted by Digger. (Item #AUG202102, SRP: $29.99

Marvel Select Thing Action Figure

Star Wars™: The Rise of Skywalker Sith Trooper 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust

A Gentle Giant Ltd. release! Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker has come! The new Star Wars movie introduced the world to Sith Troopers, with their distinctive red armor, and this new mini-bust depicts one wielding a matching blaster rifle. Measuring approximately 6 inches tall, this 1/6 scale bust features detailed sculpting and paint applications and comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item #FEB202400, SRP: $120.00)

The Mandalorian™ The Mandalorian 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust

A Gentle Giant Ltd. release! People can’t stop talking about The Mandalorian on Disney+, and now the highly requested mini-bust is here! Measuring approximately 6 inches tall, this 1/6 scale bust depicts the bounty hunter with blaster and flamethrower at the ready, and features detailed sculpting and paint applications. Bust comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. Designed by Joe Allard, sculpted by Gentle Giant Studios. (Item #FEB202399, SRP: $120.00)

The Mandalorian™ The Mandalorian (Beskar Armor) 1/6 Scale Mini-Bust

A Gentle Giant Ltd. release! The Mandalorian gets an upgrade in this all-new bust of him in his Beskar-metal armor! Measuring approximately 7 inches tall at 1.6 scale, this piece is a must-have for any fan of the Disney+ TV show. Limited to only 3,000 pieces, it comes packaged in a full-color box with a numbered certificate of authenticity. A Gentle Giant Ltd. release! (Item #DEC198807, SRP: $120.00)

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