Long-running books like Saga and The Wicked + The Divine NOT cracking our top 5 comics of 2017 has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of those books. No, in fact, Saga is as good as always, while Wic + Div is reaching new and awesome heights, propelled by epic twists that have changed this story of music and gods as we know it.
Those books didn’t make the top 5 because, as you’ll see when part 3 drops (hopefully tomorrow!), 2017 was a killer year for comics, at least critically (sales is another story). In our top 5, we’ll have a truly phenomenal Marvel series with a perfect ending, and we’ll have one of the industry’s best writers doing great things on multiple books and characters over at DC. But hey, we’re getting ahead of ourselves! Let’s save it for the next post.
Besides, the crop we have here is pretty great. So, let’s quit fiddling around and check out 6 - 15!
15. Doomsday Clock by Geoff Johns / Gary Frank
We predict Doomsday Clock will end up higher on next year’s list once it's get further into the story, but at the moment we’ve only seen two of the twelve issues. Those issues, however, were quite promising, setting up a tale likely to have ramifications throughout the DC Universe. With Geoff Johns and Gary Franks leading the way, we’re in for some real good comic booking.
14. X-Men: Grand Design by Ed Piskor
As with Doomsday Clock, X-Men: Grand Design will likely be higher on next year’s list. We’ve only seen one of six issues, but this might just be a masterpiece. Reading this book is like watching a perfectly-executed historical documentary, one informed by massive amounts of research. Ed Piskor, the auteur behind Grand Design, did the same thing on his last book, Hip Hop Family Tree, which traced the history of that music genre as Grand Design traces the X-Men. Simply put, this is an unprecedented and artful attempt to streamline decades of convoluted stories, and Piskor is nailing it. If he’s willing, Marvel should have Piskor produce similar books about Spider-Man, The Avengers, Hulk, Iron Man and so on and so on, etc, forever.
13. Secret Weapons by Eric Heisserer / Raul Allen
There was a cinematic quality to Secret Weapons, a Harbinger offshoot that ended up being the best Valiant book this year. That cinematic feel is likely owed to writer Eric Heisserer, who also penned last year’s excellent film Arrival. Secret Weapons is about a team of underdogs who learn to use seemingly useless powers to combat a threat that is hunting them. The plot doesn’t break new ground, but the characters’ powers are fresh, the script is compelling, and the art is top-notch. I'm becoming exhausted with Valiant not letting series grow into themselves, but this mini was satisfyingly self-contained.
12. Deathstroke by Christopher Priest / Various
Deathstroke has been a highlight of DC Rebirth. It's written by PRIEST, an all-time great creator who returned to monthly comics to helm this, and man, are we lucky he did. The plotting and character work in Deathstroke is more complex and nuanced than almost any other superhero title today, and PRIEST is consistently planting seeds that payoff later. His work here has been so good that DC allegedly offered him the Batman editor gig (which he allegedly declined) before giving him its flagship team book, Justice League. Smart moves, all around.
11. The Wild Storm by Warren Ellis / Jon Davis-Hunt
We’ve gone two whole spots without saying this, but The Wild Storm is yet another book likely to be higher next year. There is an incredible amount of complex track being patiently laid here by writer Warren Ellis. In fact, before this book launched, Ellis said he’d plotted exactly what would happen and when (and which books would spin out of the title), and this intricate planning shows. Also, Jon Davis-Hunt is one of the most underrated artists in comics. His facial expressions are almost photographically realistic, and The Wild Storm #9 had a samurai sequence that ranks as the best graphic action storytelling of the year. We can’t wait to see where this goes.
10. Royal City by Jeff Lemire
Royal City is a personal and introspective book, easily the most personal and introspective book appearing monthly in almost every shop. What’s especially impressive for such an introspective book is that the story here is also relatable, rich as it is with family dynamics, economic struggles, addiction, etc., and it's told with a really cool ‘90s grunge vibe, super familiar to readers of a certain age. Also of note is that Royal City is written AND drawn by Jeff Lemire, whose Google Calendar must be INSANE because he’s writing a half dozen other books always.
9. Supergirl: Being Super by Mariko Tamaki / Joelle Jones
Supergirl: Being Super gives the titular character the reimagined out-of-continuity origin story treatment, a concept that has previously resulted in great stories about more prominent characters, mostly Superman and Batman, over and over and over. It's nice to see it now applied to Supergirl. All four of the glossy oversized issues that make up the run of this book were killer, and Joelle Jones’ art was so good it often felt like watching a great teen drama that was heavy on emotion.
8. Saga by Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples
Saga has been a favorite throughout its run, and we’ve given it to friends and co-workers who don’t read comics (harshly judging any who did not respond with praise), and we never miss an issue. Recently, @SageTerrence described this book on Twitter as “Star Wars and Romeo and Juliet combined,” which is a good starting point for explaining Saga. Taking it further, this is also a book about a family fighting to survive a galactic conflict that is so polarized and entrenched many of those engaged in it have lost sight of the cost, becoming blinded to what's productive and only focusing on whether they're right. This, sadly, was a tragically-relevant theme for 2017, a drag-ass year if ever there was one. Here’s to a better 2018, in which Saga continues to be this good.
7. God Country by Donny Cates / Geoff Shaw
Donny Cates was a talented up-and-comer when 2017 started. Then God Country dropped. Now, as 2017 ends, Donny Cates is a bonafide comics star. If you’ve read God Country, this makes total sense. The book was so good, my LCS now orders all of Cates stuff, marking the first time this particular shop has stocked AfterShock Comics or Vault Comics titles (because of Babyteeth and Reactor, respectively). Like all of Cates’ best work, this book is powered by a mix of unique concept and clever scripting, with a healthy coat of pure Texas, Cates native state.
6. The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen / Jamie McKelvie
It’s been easy to forget The Wicked + The Divine in recent years, not because the book hasn’t been good or memorable, but because it’s been so reliable. It’s like the friend you take for granted because he or she is always there. This year, however, Gillen and McKelvie took the story to new places with a blockbuster arc that paid off events from the first issue that pretty much anywhere realized would come back to be relevant. This year's incredible arc was easily Wic + Div’s best, no minor feat for a story that’s 30-some issues old. The end game is coming for this book, and while we're sad to see it end, we have total faith that the finale will be spectacular.
SPECIAL NOTE: The exciting conclusion, complete with the Top 5 Comics of 2017, is coming tomorrow!
Pt. 1, #16 - #25