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The Best Comics of 2016 – Brett’s List

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 2016. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2016, 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, they’ll hopefully have their own lists). 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 and some I struggled to even come up with one. 2016 was a year that ongoing, maxi-series, and limited floppies seemed to blend more and more and for me as a reader I found myself shifting away from one publisher to another and as a whole enjoying graphic novels and indie comics a hell of a lot more than I have in the past.

What stood out to me? Check out below what made the cut!

Best Super Hero Comic – The Paybacks

the-paybacks-3A new publisher, but still absolutely amazing. The Paybacks by Donny Cates, Eliot Rahal, Geoff Shaw moved from Dark Horse to Heavy Metal for its second volume, but it didn’t lose any steam in doing so continuing to deliver hilarity and upping the action.

The concept of the comic is that there’s a repo crew who have to deal with all the superheroes who can’t pay back the loans they take for all of their fancy gadgets. To pay off their debts those heroes then join the ragtag team.

A send-up of so many familiar characters and lets face it creators too, the comic has more jokes in each panel than some series have their entire run. It’s funny, action packed, and in this volume actually is somewhat timely with news with a focus on a data breach.

My biggest wish in comics for 2017 is someone is smart enough to invest in this series because I know it’ll pay off in the log run. Everyone who I’ve turned on to it falls in love and whole there were some issues with the second volume, it still is the one “superhero” comic I devoured as soon as possible.

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, especially due to how many issues have been released. I said this exact same thing in 2015 and it applies here.
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman – An absolutely brilliant max-series that went from digital to print. Renae De Liz and Ray Dillon delivered a Wonder Woman story that stands out in a year of solid Wonder Woman output. Fun to read. Beautiful to look at. Unfortunately, it looks like we’ll just get this one volume.
  • 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 and the ruminate on. It began in 2015 but wrapped up in 2016.
  • Tomboy – This series published by Action Lab: Danger Zone and by M. Goodwin is a comic that’s not on enough people’s radar. A mix of manga, Japanese horror, western vigilante stories, it’s a strange, creepy, haunting series featuring a teenage girl out for revenge against the people who killed her friend.


Best Non-Super Hero Comic – The Sheriff of Babylon

the-sheriff-of-babylon-12-coverI said above that 2016 was the year of Tom King, and guess who wrote this one! Tom King! The Sheriff of Babylon is another max-series that wrapped up, but we’ll get a second volume some time in 2017.

The comic is based on King’s experiences working for the CIA in Iraq taking place in the Green Zone after the recent Iraq war. The comic is brutally honest showing a world where there’s so little right and so much wrong and it all comes together in a muddied brown and gray.

That dirtiness of it all is helped by Mitch Gerads‘ art and the smart use of colors. The detail, every body movement, the framing of the panels, Gerads’ art adds so much to every issue. That’s saying something considering how amazing King’s scripts are!

This is a comic series that shows comics are political and can question the world we currently live.

Runners Ups:

  • Descender- Jeff Lemire has had a hell of year in general in comics and is one of my favorite writers of the year. This series features the stunning art of Dustin Nguyen. The 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. Seriously the art alone is a reason to pick up the series. We didn’t get an issue every month, but what we did get was fantastic.
  • The Fix – Two fuck up cops who are corrupt and get mixed up in a drug smuggling scam. The comic is absolutely hilarious. Written by Nick Spencer with art by Steve Lieber the comic is one of the funniest books on the market.
  • The Flintstones – Written by Mark Russell this series is some of the smartest and subtle political and social commentary in any writing going on today. The comic covers everything from religion to consumerism to the 2016 election. And like his writing in Prez no one is safe, the right and the left are equal fodder. Entertaining, smart, and elevating the classic characters to a whole new level.
  • Invisible Republic – A reporter investigates the truth of an uprising on a planet discovering fact from fiction in a series that bounces back and forth between the past and present. Each issue reminds us about the power of journalism and the need for good reporting. Myth can easily be twisted into fact and lies can replace reality. The comic series seems prescient in so many ways.


Best Limited Series or One Shot – 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK #1 CoverWe got three issues of this series in 2016 and holy crap do I wish we got more. In those three issues we did get some of the best storytelling in any comics. I’m assuming this is a limited series since it is a “crime caper in five parts” but hopefully we get more after this volume wraps up.

The series involves a bunch of kids that find out one of their dads is possibly a criminal and has some buddies who plan to rob a bank. Their idea is to rob the bank before them.

But, it’s not the heist that’s the drawn it’s the kids themselves. Each one feels so real with so many quirks their personalities jump off the page. Everyone is relatable and each feels like real people we knew growing up. It’s absolutely amazing.

The art by Tyler Boss is top notch and the writing is why Matthew Rosenberg is one of the hottest writers in comics right now.

More please!

Runners Up:

  • Black – This series was a Kickstarter phenomenon and the concept is what if only Black people had superpowers? Political. Daring. In your face. The comic is layered and will leave you debating what it’s trying to say.
  • Love is Love – A charity comic to benefit the victims of the Pulse nightclub attack, this comic is a prime example of what the comic industry can do when profits aren’t at the forefront. Bringing together publishers and hundreds of creators it’s a touching tribute.
  • Refugees Book One – A hell of a find at Small Press Expo, the comic is haunting taking us into the world of refugees as they attempt to find a better life. There’s definite issues with the comic as far as some of the writing, but the message is clear and brutally honest.
  • Superman: American Alien – Featuring a bunch of different artists, this maxi-series by writer Max Landis explored a different time in Superman’s life with a different take on the character. It’s a fun and fantastic read and somehow actually gives us something that feels fresh for a character that’s been around for over 75 years.


Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book Three

MarchBookThree-CoverThe best thing to be released in 2016 for comics. This is an absolutely amazing finish to the award winning trilogy. The winner of the National Book Award among other things the graphic novel focuses on Congressman John Lewis’ experiences during the Civil Rights movement.

Written by Lewis, Andrew Aydin, with art by Nate Powell this is the crown jewel of comics showing that they’re more than tights and has been adopted by schools to teach about this time in American history.

As I read the graphic novel from cover to cover, I found myself filled with emotions, as Lewis’ life was there in print for those to see and read. The story is a complicated one, but it’s presented in a way that feels honest and open, both good and bad. This is an inside look at one of the most important, and turbulent times in American history from not just someone that was there, but a leader of the movement. And that’s a fascinating part of this third book, is its focus on Lewis’ role as a leader.

This third volume somehow leapfrogs the other two. Whether it’s due to learning or the material within, something about it created an emotional reaction I haven’t felt by any media in quite some time. And most importantly it got me to think about where we as a people and nation have been, where we are, and where we’re going.

Runners Up:

  • The Attack – A man’s wife winds up being a suicide bomber. This story is about his attempt to find out why and discovering he knew so little about the woman he called his wife. A spiral into despair and madness the end will leave you speechless and heartbroken.
  • Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq – By Sarah Glidden this graphic novel is her experiences as she researches potential stories on the effects of the Iraq War on the Middle East, especially refugees. Beautiful to look at, the graphic novel is the second best thing I’ve read this year (behind March).
  • Soviet Daughter – Adapting her great grandmother’s journal Julia Alekseyeva provides an interesting look at someone who lived in Russia from 1910 to emigrating to the US in the 90s. The Revolution, WWII, the Holocaust, it’s all presented as Alekseyeva illustrates what is a diary. Between each chapter, Julia reflects on her own life and her closeness with her great grandmother. It’s an amazing piece examining women finding their place in the world. It’s also a reason you wait until the first of the year for your list, as this came out the last week of the year.
  • Tetris: The Games People PlayBox Brown takes what should be a boring story about the history of the video game Tetris and makes it really interesting! A fun graphic novel published by First Second that makes corporate maneuvering a bad business deals engaging.


Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics/Small Publishers

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2016 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.

I named Indie Comics “it” in 2013, 2014, and 2015 and nothing changed in 2016. There’s a massive opening for someone to step in and be a mainstream breakout, maybe 2017 will be the year we see it.


Best Surprise of the Year – DC Comics

DC_Logo_RGB_0318162016 was a year that had everyone shaking their head when they heard DC was shaking things up again and “rebooting.” Except, their reboot was anything but.

In “Rebirth” the publisher blended the old with the new bringing back legacy characters and also pushing forward some of the newer ones too. They even moved away from grimm and gritty and gave us a bit of hope and fun in it all!

While Batman has always been strong for the company, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more all all returned to greatness with a new positive energy about them that could be felt.

But even better, sales increased and while they’ve leveled off and dropped quite a bit from the initial launch, the publisher is stronger and in a better position than it has been in a long time.

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.

They also did this as their movie output was mixed and television output strong. Now to get everything to line-up and the DC brand as a whole could be unstoppable.

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 continue to fall.


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 2016 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, but none have stood out for their whole.

Of the big two Marvel has stumbled… a lot. Entire articles can be written in that department, but the company is not the juggernaut its been in quite some time and I’d expect their to be some big shake-ups in 2017.

DC on the other hand came really close to being named for this. They’ve done some amazing stuff in the year with Rebirth being a smash hit. There’s still something slightly off, but out of every publisher, they’ve gotten most improved.

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 and the sales just aren’t their in floppies. 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. Aftershock has quality and so has Black Mak Studios.

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.

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.

Preview: The Flintstones #6

The Flintstones #6

(W) Mark Russell (A) Steve Pugh (CA) Bill Sienkiewicz
In Shops: Dec 07, 2016
SRP: $3.99

Bedrock is gripped by panic at the news that an asteroid is heading straight toward Earth! The Flintstones fight the hysteria, but even more dangerous than the end of the world are the people preparing for the end of the world.


Preview: The Flintstones #5

The Flintstones #5

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Cover by: Lee Weeks
Variant cover by: Bengal

It’s time to “Bedrock the vote!” With the Bedrock mayoral race heating up, the local middle school decides to join in on the fun by holding their own election for class president. Will Ralph the Bully punch his way to victory? Or is there a new kind of candidate waiting in the wings to start a revolution? Meanwhile, Fred and Barney reminisce about their days fighting for their city as part of the Water Buffalo army.


Meredith Finch and Mark Russell Discuss the Catwoman: Election Special, Prez, and The Flinstones

Catwoman Election NightThis Wednesday sees the release of three election themed stories by DC Comics in two comics. Catwoman: Election Night Special features a special Prez back-up story while The Flintstones #5 also tackles the topic.

Written by Meredith Finch and Mark Russell the two stories skewer, satirize, and reflect the current Presidential election.

I got a chance to talk to both about their stories and a bit about the election itself.

Graphic Policy: Meredith, I read the Catwoman: Election Night Special. You’re clearly channeling a certain politican with Penguin. Is there any reason you went with that as opposed to having him do his own thing?

Meredith Finch: I think the whole idea of doing the election issue was to have, to be a charicature of the current election. I wanted it to be, at least on some level, play up the fact. He’s clearly not Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump is a politican who you wouldn’t expect to be a politician. That’s exactly what Penguin is. They have a similar background coming from business, never having done politics before, and being larger than life personalities that say what they’re thinking without any consequence of it actually sounds when its out there. I felt it was a good fit for Penguin to take on that role.

GP: Is there anything about Penguin in particular that makes him fit for that role? When you go through his history, he’s run for office a bunch of times, weirdly often in Presidential years. You don’t see that as often with Harvey Dent for example, and he’d have had to run for District Attorney. So what is it about Penguin that makes him perfect fo this type of story?

MF: When you’re looking at villains within the Gotham universe, in a lot of ways he’s the one that seems the most sane from an insane point of view. You couldn’t imagine anyone voting for the Riddler, the Joker, or any of these other characters which are much darker with a murderous undertone. People have an almost cuddly association with Penguin. He’s been made fun of a lot more in the Batman universe than any other character. People, I think, love him in a different way. He’s a fun character and works so well for this. Even though there’s some darker undertones to the story, it’s intended to be a fun take on the election. It’s supposed to be enjoyable and Penguin lends himself to that.

ctwen-8GP: How’d the issue come about? What was the genesis of the story and issue?

MF: I was talking to DC about some ideas I had for a Catwoman story. They threw out the idea to me about this election themed one-shot. I thought it was great. I thought it’d be a lot of fun. I’m Canadian, so it’s fun to sit back and look at what’s going on. We just had gone through a election, so I could look at what’s happening south of the border for the election, and bring a neutral bystander approach to the story and to the candidates.

GP: Is there any particular reason you used Catwoman for the story and the overarching murder mystery in it?

MF: I think Catwoman lends herself to this simply to the fact that whether it’s an election or not in Gotham, she has nothing to lose. She doesn’t care if Penguin is the Mayor. She doesn’t care if Hill is the Mayor. She doesn’t care if some ten year old kid is the Mayor. She does not care about anything but Catwoman. So it makes sense to do wat we’ve done with this election issue, she’s going to be the one perfectly willing to blow it all up because she has nothing to lose.

GP: With the end of the story, we get to see a certain character show up and proclaim she’s going to be President some day.

MF: We wanted to lead in to what was coming next.

GP: It’s as simple as that? Nothing more to it?

MF: It’s a dark story and it’s a challenging time in politics and you always want to know there’s hope and optimism. Putting that character at the end of the Catwoman issue is a way of saying “things may be really tough right now, they really suck, there’s always something new and positive coming up. There’s always a possibility of that.” Putting that character at the end of the issue is saying in Gotham there’s hope and optimism. In the DCU there’s hope and optimism. And hopefully at the end of the election cycle there’ll be some hope and optimism.

flint_5_maincover_cmyk_57b3aca7d7d0a2-70220519GP: Mark, at the end of the issue there’s back-up with Prez and Beth. Looking over the story as a whole, not just this one piece, everthing you’ve written with Prez has been prescient in many ways with this election. Looking back as a writer, how does it feel to see these satirical ideas brough to life?

Mark Russell: That was kind of chilling to discover how hard it was to make up something so far afield from how crazy things have gotten, to be constantly be outflanked by the reality of the political circus. But, it’s not just the politics, a lot of the inventions that populated Prez have become real. I was shocked, because I set this thing 20 years in the future. The taco drone and a lot of these things are coming out right now, happening sooner than later. I don’t feel very prescient so much as I feel that I’m writing about a reality that’s becoming increasingly incredible.

GP: The story in this issue is interesting in that you take on a lot of real world issues that are debated today. As a writer, how do you decide what you want to comment on? This issue deals with gun control and birth control. How do decide what you want to take on for each story?

MR: I think I have a lot of ideas that I write down notes for. I choose the ones that work best for Prez. I choose the ones that have the most fleshed out storylines or the ones that relate to each other the most. I have a hundred things I could write about, but only a small fraction of them I can write about in a story or makes sense in conjunction with a backstory about a similar issue. I think that’s what I do. I try to talk about two issues that dovetail in some way so they really resonate with the reader as opposed to writing a polemic in some way that’s divorced from any sort of story conencted to a human being or any other issues.

GP: What strikes me about this story, and much of what you’ve done with Prez, is that you take these issues, mix in some humor, but also have really intelligent solutions to them that seems like they could work in the real world. You present these realistic goofy solutions. It all makes sense in a messed up way. For you coming up with these solutions, what do you do as a writer to think this through and especially how two issues can come together? There’s some really interesting out of the box thinking and solutions you don’t see in real world politics.

MR: I feel like people who are cynical about politics and those that are idealistic are two sides to the same problematic coin. They expect perfection. And if they can’t be perfect then it’s not worth doing anything which I think is a problem in politics. That perfection gets in the way of improvement. I’m more of a pragmatist, I like improvement. I like gradual change for the better. And that’s what I try to write about. You might not get everything you want, but you might be able to coble together some sort of solution that pushes the human race forward a step or two.

Politics is not just about failure and cynicism. It’s also about coming up with solutions. The solutions are going to be practicle, incomplete, and not always what you want. I think that’s the one thing I tried to capture in the election special of Prez.

Gflintstones-1P: For both of you. It’s interesting in that both of the election issues, Catwoman: Election Night Special and The Flintstones #5, the main character is a bully that’s trying to get people to vote. It’s obviously a real world thing that’s going on. Out of everything that’s going on with this election, why focus on that in particular?

MR: For me it was the most obvious analog for Donal Trump. The idea of the cafeteria bully. And for me to examine why do people who have nothing, or who have been ripped off and kept down by people like Donald Trump, why they are so adamant about supporting him. In a lot of ways it felt best explained as to why people rally around the cafeteria bully who makes their lives miserable. I just wanted to make that allegory clear about Donald Trump.

MF: As for myself, I wanted it to reflect what was happening in the election. It’s something… bullying is an issue that seems to go from school yards up through the Presidential election and it was necessary to point that out because we need to continue to point that out. There’s other ways to get things done. We don’t need to bully and intimidate people to get them to change their minds. I wanted that reflected within the story.

GP: Both issues, in both of them, the main candidates in both are rejected by the voters. Each in a way gives a nod to third parties and reflects a lot of individuals not supporting either candidate and looking for alternatives. Was that on purpose?

MF: In Canada we have a different election system since we have three parties. I wanted to explore what happens when you have two candidates and neither are great options. Because, for us we always have a third option. In Gotham, they’ll have to re-run the election. I did want to explore that.

MR: For me, I wasn’t really trying to comment on the need for a third party in the American electoral system. I just wanted to say the only way to run against a bully is to call them out on it. Give themsevles enough rope and make it clear you’re not afraid of the bully. I want to make it clear America’s two party system, as flawed as it may be, is a natural outcome of the American electoral process. I think the two party system for better or worse is a result of how its set up. In other countries where there’s a parliamentary system, you have to build coalitions between the parties to form a majority and elect the President. Where in the United States all that coalition building is done within the parties themselves. You have two major parties with constituencies within the party that don’t necessarily have things in common but come together in common voting interests in hopes of getting a majority.

GP: This election is ludicrous on so many levels. As a satirist or story teller, how does that impact a writer? Do you say to yourself it’s so crazy or messed up, there isn’t anything more I can say or comment?

MR: Oh absolutely. And I think I’ve kind of given up on it. I just want to write and let it fall where it may where it might be too crazy or not crazy enough to comment on reality.

MF: I know for myself I really worried about going to far. And I have since learned that I could not have possibly gone far enough to match with what’s going on.

GP: With the election coming up, you’ve each got comics about elections. For each of you, why do you think it’s important for people to go out and vote in November? Or do you even think it’s important?

MR: I certainly do because voting has very real world implications. Depending on who gets elected this cycle, the fate of 22 million people who have healthcare under the Affordable Care Act will be decided. Two or three Supreme Court justices will be decided and will send the country’s legal system in one direction or another for the next 30 or 40 years. You will have massive implications for people not just in the United States but around the world based on who occupies the White House these next four years.

MF: I know for myself I agree with Mark 100% on that. As a woman, we fought so hard for the right to vote, shame on me if I don’t go out and vote. You really can’t sit back and complain unless you make your voice heard and you can do that by voting.

MR: It’s something you can do in the mean time while you work to make the bigger changes you want to see in the world.

GP: Thank you both.

Preview: The Flintstones #4

The Flintstones #4

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Cover by: Dan Panosian
Variant cover by: Dan Parent

What is this newfangled thing called “marriage” and why are so many people willing to sacrifice the traditional sex cave for exclusive partnerships? Fred and Wilma leave Pebbles and Dino with the Rubbles for the weekend and head out to a marriage retreat to find out all they can about this new fad they’ve bought into.


Preview: The Flintstones #3

The Flintstones #3

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Cover by: Ben Caldwell
Variant cover by: Bilquis Evely

A field trip to the planetarium unexpectedly results in an alien invasion. As interplanetary spring breakers overwhelm Bedrock, Fred, Barney, and the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalos are called into action.


Around the Tubes

all-new-all-different-avengers-14-coverIt was new comic book day yesterday! What’d everyone get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? 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.

Around the Tubes

The Comichron – Ignore the asterisks: Most returnable comics improve on their reported monthly sales figures – Boom. So returnable = bubble is a new myth that’s popped.

The Beat – Insight Editions launches Insight Comics imprint – The more the merrier!

The Beat – Is Nilah Magruder the first African-American woman to write for Marvel? – Anyone actual know this answer?

ICv2 – Reading Between the Lines of Pew’s 2016 Reader Survey — Favorable Trends for Comics – Some more info on readers.

Comics Alliance – The ‘Booster Gold’ Movie Won’t Be Connected to the DC Cinematic Universe – Interesting and with a character you could do that with.


Around the Tubes Reviews

Newsarama – All-New, All-Different Avengers #14

Comicosity – Batman #6

Newsarama – Doctor Strange #11

Newsarama – The Flintstones #3

The Beat – Frontier #12

Newsarama – Green Arrow #6

Newsarama – Justice League #4

Comic Vine – Moon Knight #6

Newsarama – Nightwing #4

Talking Comics – Silver Surfer #6

Comic Vine – Supergirl #1

Newsarama – Supergirl #1

Review: The Flintstones #3

flint_cv3_dsA field trip to the planetarium unexpectedly results in an alien invasion. As interplanetary spring breakers overwhelm Bedrock, Fred, Barney, and the Loyal Order of the Water Buffalos are called into action.

Writer Mark Russell continues to use The Flintstones has commentary of modern society in this issue that covers everything from how we treat veterans to science for show. Russell is a master satirist and this issue is sly when it comes to that and he does it with every small detail in the comic.

Most of the issue centers around a chimp being sent into space for the amusement of a visiting school group, which then signals aliens to come visit the citizens of Bedrock. We could get an issue talking about different cultures or immigration, but no, Russell goes after “bros” in a humorous Spring Break gone wild.

And the humor is throughout as I found myself both irritated by the alien bros as I was giggling at everything going on. The commentary isn’t super deep as far as that, Russell instead saves that for his focus on how we treat veterans, a sub-story that’s both said and entertaining. The less I say the better, but think Mars Attacks and you get a good idea as to what you can expect in this issue.

The art by Steve Pugh continues to be interesting. Generally, its been growing on me. I’m not the biggest fan of how Fred and Barney look, but I’ve gotten used to it the more I’ve been reading the series.

Russell gives us a funny take on the classic characters, and we get another familiar face debuting too. The issue is entertaining from start to finish as there’s the classic humor of The Flintstones mixed with a modern take on culture.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Steve Pugh
Story: 7.75 Art: 7.5 Overall: 7.7 Recommendation: Read

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Review: The Flintstones #2

FLINT_cv2_dsBone Depot, Tarpit, and other big box stores get Bedrock whipped into a buying frenzy while Fred gets trapped in a vitamin pill scam. Plus, Fred and Wilma experience a crisis of faith when they discover the bird god they worship also makes a great record player needle.

And the award for most subversive comic of the year goes too….

When I heard writer Mark Russell was taking on The Flintstones, I was gleeful over the possibilities he could do when it comes to needling modern society through the folks of Bedrock. The first issue had some of that, but it’s The Flintstones #2 where things go full steam with an issue that takes on religion, consumerism, and Flintstone vitamins. The latter I’m amazed got through.

The issue has the launch of television and the opening of a new mall, which means everyone needs to go out and get items to justify their existence. The visual jokes mount up as animals are brought in in Flintstones fashion to do the work.

Then there’s a plot line of their local church who brings in various animals for folks to worship. It’s clear Russell is trying to equate consumerism with false gods and the true modern-day religion. If you don’t believe me, it can’t be any clearer than when Wilma realizes they’re being asked to worship a vacuum cleaner.

Those two plots together tie in nicely with some fantastic commentary on both religion and the church to need to own things (which I count myself in). The visual jokes by artist Steve Pugh are fantastic and the comic nails the tone of the television series with small puns and riffs on modern day products and brands.

But if the above isn’t enough for you, the real amazing joke in the comic is the need for Fred and Barney to take on second jobs to pay for all of the junk. The job? Selling vitamins. Yes, the character who adorn vitamins that kids all over the world take, are making fun of selling vitamins. It’s a ballsy joke and one I’m amazed was allowed in the comic. It’s also a quick jab again at consumerism, but also society built on debt, and get rich quick schemes (with a nice drug joke thrown in there).

The Flintstones #2 is a comic who has ads to buy “crap” in between pages making fun of buying “crap.” It’s amazingly meta and beyond subversive. And this is also exactly what I was hoping we’d see in this series.

Story: Mark Russell Art: Steve Pugh
Story: 9 Art: 8.4 Overall: 9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Preview: The Flintstones #2

The Flintstones #2

Written by: Mark Russell
Art by: Steve Pugh
Cover by: Amanda Conner
Variant cover by: Emanuela Lupacchino

Bone Depot, Tarpit, and other big box stores get Bedrock whipped into a buying frenzy while Fred gets trapped in a vitamin pill scam. Plus, Fred and Wilma experience a crisis of faith when they discover the bird god they worship also makes a great record player needle.


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