Now that it is fully over, it’s pretty clear that 2017 was a giant blazing smell garbage fire of a year on multiple levels. From a political and societal level down to a personal level for many. There is no telling if 2018 will be overly better at this early point, but while we wait to find out we can look back at the bright shiny parts of 2017. Despite the doom and gloom, there were certainly many areas that were fantastic in the year we have now left behind. Before the feeling of a fresh new year overtakes us, we’ll take a look back at some of those moments or things and share our favorites.
Over the last few years, comic books have been in a sustained golden age where both the so-called “big two” and the other publishers of various levels have been putting out a ton of amazing books. A fan of the medium can’t turn any direction without running into another stellar book from another amazing creative team. That’s the kind of problem most of us love to have honestly. That’s what made making this kind of list so hard to do. There are so many books and being left off this list does not dimish the quality or the amazingness of the books that didn’t make the cut. The only reason they aren’t here is that I had to cap the list off somewhere and twelve seemed like a good solid number of entries that would not cause readers to begin to wander away.
So check out the list of my favorite comic series of 2017 and share whether you agree or disagree or what your favorite books were in 2017!
Super Sons (DC Comics)
By: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Jorge Jimenez, Alejandro Sanchez, Alisson Borges, Rob Leigh, ALW’s Dave, Carmine di Giandomenico, Ivan Plascencia, Jose Luis, Scott Hanna, Hi-Fi, Ryan Benjamin, Richard Friend, Gabe Eltaeb, Paul Pelletier, Cam Smith, Carlos M. Mangual and Travis Lanham
If anyone had told me at the start of last year that a book featuring Jonathan Kent and Damian Wayne as the central stars would be one of my favorite books, I likely would have believed them. Damian has been a pretty great character that has grown so much over the years since his mid-2000s debut, and Jonathan Kent is one of the parts that makes the main Superman title so great (the rest of it just being the great family dynamic that has grown there). So putting the two together, bickering best friends that refuse to admit they are best friends at first, was sure to be golden and it definitely has been.
Watching the older but also more reserved & too much like his father Damien and the more free and happy and ready to save the day like his parents Jonathan butt heads but also enjoy spending time with one another is the easiest selling point of the book. The crazy out there adventures they go on is just icing on the already delicious cake that this book is. Don’t believe me that this series is that good? Just go ahead and read the Annual issue. The majority of the issue features Krypto the Super Dog, Titus the Bat-Hound, Streaky the Super Cat and other super animals butting heads and saving tons of other animals from an alien that has taken them from their humans. There is no dialogue for many pages just sound effects of the ways that animals communicate and thought bubbles. If the fantastic issue doesn’t sell you on this book right away, then it just might not be for you.
Hawkeye (Marvel Comics)
By: Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire, VC’s Joe Sabino, Michael Walsh, Travis Lanham
Last year I sort of cheated when I featured this series on my list after only just one issue had come out, but that is just how good the book is. Everything that was said about that one issue last year to get it on the list is what got it back on here again. Kate Bishop deserved a title a long time ago, because she’s just a fantastic character, and the creative team has given her a title that fits her perfectly. The wit, snark, wisdom, self-confidence, and awesomeness that is Kate Bishop is on display from the very beginning as she starts her new life in Southern California and right away runs into a variety of trouble as she tries to be a hero and private investigator. Teaming her up with Jessica Jones and Wolverine (Laura Kinney) were great moves and did not take away from this being Kate’s story, their presence just enhanced stories. Wisely the team kept Clint away until the recent beginning of the Marvel Legacy storyline, in order to give Kate plenty of time to fly solo without the other Hawkeye cramping her style.
Sadly the series is coming to an end this year, but that’s okay. All good things have to come to an end, and there are several more issues of Kate-awesomeness on the way before we have to say goodbye for the time being. I doubt this will be the last we see of Kate or this creative team.
X-O Manowar (Valiant Comics)
By: Matt Kindt, Tomas Giorello, Diego Rodriguez, Dave Sharpe, David Mack, Zu Orzu, Doug Braithwaite, Clayton Crain, Renato Guedes, Khari Evans
Before this year, Valiant was something that I had heard about (the reboot in 2012 and subsequent stories along with some bits about the original run) but had never really delved into. I was intrigued by a lot of stories but kept telling myself that I didn’t have time to dive into such things. That all changed when I began to watch an RPG series from Hyper RPG focused on the Valiant Universe called Vanquished, in a partnership with Valiant, and I became intrigued by the world. Since it was the perfect jumping on point I picked up X-O Manowar #1, and it was one of the best decisions in 2017 by far.
Despite not having read all the books that came before (something I’m currently rectifying), Kindt and company do not make that a minus. The series is a back to basics approach for the character and also invites in both readers new and old for a type of adventure that we’ve seen tons of times through comics and science-fiction in general but does it in its own unique way. Using the arcs as the way to chronicle the story as Aric rises up the ranks of an alien army is a perfect choice for the story, as is bringing in rotating artists for each of the stories. This easy entry point is helped by the gorgeous art that fills the pages of the series, making one feel like they could actually visit these alien worlds on the pages before them. Along with Bloodshot: Salvation (featured further down this list), this series instantly made me a fan of Valiant and you can bet I’m now making time to go back and read what I missed over the years.
Captain America (Marvel Comics)
By: Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Matthew Wilson, VC’s Joe Caramagna
Much as one might have considered adding Hawkeye to last year’s list with just one issue out as a cheat, some could say the same about this series with it only having two issues out before the year ended. That doesn’t matter though. The reason that this makes the list is that it is probably one of the best Captain America books in quite some time. That’s not to say that the rest have been bad, as personally I really enjoyed what Nick Spencer and company were putting down for both Sam Wilson and Steve Rogers the last few years, and what Remender did before that, and Brubaker before that. I was not upset about the evil Cap storyline because honestly going bad at some point is part of the tropes of superheroes. That being said, this series works so well with just two issues because it gets to the core of Steve Rogers as he travels the nation trying to piece his life back together after Hydra Cap and Secret Empire.
In one issue we get to see how Steve affected a small town years ago after thawing from the ice, and that his lessons of the strong stepping up to protect the weak has resonated through the years. The second one delves more into his trip but it’s worth picking up just for the battle with Swordsman in the dam alone. Waid, Samnee, Wilson, and Caramagna are an amazing team and just like they did with Daredevil and Black Widow, they are getting to back to the basics for Captain America and building back up a hero for us all to cheer. Something we need in these darker times for sure, both in fiction and reality.
Batman (DC Comics)
By: Tom King, David Finch, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann Mikel Janin, Danny Miki, Trevor Scott, Sandra Hope, Seth Mann, Jordie Bellaire, Gabe Eltaeb, Deron Bennett, John Workman, Clayton Cowles, John Livesay, Hugo Petrus, June Chung, Lee Weeks, Michael Lark, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Joelle Jones,
Honestly, in 2016 I wasn’t sure what to make of the Rebirth Batman series. It started off with Batman prepared to die to save the city and finding some Superman-like powered people and got pretty crazy from there. Yet, the thing that turned me around on the book rather quickly was that these were not just crazy stories pitting Batman and company against Bane or monsters or such, all of them were leading somewhere and were looking at the human side of Batman. At the core of Bruce Wayne. Sure he’s the guy with all the gadgets to save the day and is smarter than most people, the world’s greatest detective and all that, but within he’s a broken man that is just barely hanging on to try and protect the city and those he cares about.
Recently I just finally watched The LEGO Batman Movie and it made me think of this run because both are about the mask (both literal and figurative) that Batman puts on to hide his pain, and what it takes for him to finally open himself to others. Building an actual relationship with Catwoman, another broken individual that completes him was the thing that fully made the series click. If you read any Batman story from last year definitely check out the War of Jokes and Riddles as the flashback story is a definitive Joker/Riddler/Batman story along with the tragic tale of the usually a joke of a villain Kite-Man. Seeing how far Batman goes to protect Gotham and the lines he almost crosses is riveting and chilling at the same time.
Bloodshot Salvation (Valiant Comics)
By: Jeff Lemire, Lewis Larosa, Mico Suayan, Diego Rodriguez, Brian Reber, Simon Bowland
As was mentioned up in the entry for X-O Manowar, Valiant was an area I was lacking when it comes to knowledge and experience. Since this was another fresh start relaunch of a series I decided to dive in (it helped that I won a copy of the first issue from the previously mentioned Hyper RPG Valiant Vanquished series, signed by the super awesome cast) and I did not regret it. Just like X-O, this series builds upon what came before but does not expect you to have all that knowledge if you are a first time reader. They say that writers should treat each issue of a comic like it’s someone’s first, and sometimes that’s hard to do in the bigger companies that have decades of continuity and history to bring up at times. In this case, it was not hard to do at all for each of the issues.
It takes a special touch in order to be able to tell two stories, taking place at different time points where the reader knows that someone didn’t make it to the later time point or something bad happened, and make them both engaging. This creative team hits it out of the park in that regard. In present day Ray Garrison/Bloodshot is trying to live a normal life with his wife Magic and their daughter Jesse, until both their pasts come into play leading to the second storyline set in a future where Ray seemingly died during the storyline in the past and Magic and Jesse are on the run from a nanite empowered mysterious guy named Rampage who is seemingly the evil counterpart of Ray/Bloodshot. Both artists styles are gorgeous and similar but also different enough that the time periods appear distinct.
The Walking Dead (Image Comics)
By: Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, Cliff Rathburn, Rus Wooton, Dave Stewart
Even after almost fifteen years & 174 issues, The Walking Dead is still going strong. While the television series adaptation might be going through some growing pains, the comic book series from which it sprang is firing on all cylinders lately as it explores the conflicts that arise in a world that is trying to build itself back up after the fall of society oh so so so many years before. What set this year of issues of the long-running series apart is that there were so many gut-wrenching and emotional moments along with some fantastic character growth moments from characters most would never expect to like or want to see more of. In the span of a couple issues Kirkman, Adlard, and company made me tear up (usually most fiction doesn’t touch me in that way) and then scream and then actually care about Negan of all people.
Reportedly Kirkman is beginning to move towards a point of wrapping up this series, just like his other long-running one Invincible, and while I’ll be sad to see the stories in this world end, the creative team will be going out on a pretty high note. It’s not often that something that has been telling continuous stories for fifteen years remains as good as it’s youthful times, usually becoming bloated and a shell of their former selves after enough time, but somehow The Walking Dead team has found that spark. Can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.
Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers (Boom! Studios)
By: Ryon Parrott, Dan Mora, Raul Angulo, Ed Dukeshire
In 2016 BOOM! Studios launched the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series that picked up on the original 1993 TV series and modernized it while focusing on the aftermath of Tommy becoming the Green Ranger and breaking out of Rita’s evil spell to become a hero. The series took the show and made things bigger and darker but also more in-depth in many places, and it was great. This year brought this brand new companion series which focuses on the original five rangers in the time right after they got their powers, and it’s fantastic. Most of the time the show only gave us glimpses of the Rangers regular lives when it fit into the plot of the episode, there wasn’t’ a lot of time for the more in-depth family or dating or friend moments on the show. That’s not the case for this series.
What makes this book shine is that the five Rangers that we know and love, feel like more fleshed out people. They had other friends or associates outside of their core group before, even significant others in some cases. What we get to see is how becoming the Power Rangers truly began to change their lives not just because they were heroes, but the way they interacted with the world had to change. It’s hard to keep a relationship of any kind with others when you are dashing away at any moment to stop Rita’s latest evil plan. Alongside this, the creative team also has given us a Ranger team that is not the polished works well together team that we knew. There are backstories that are built and shown various relationships among the five, and a previous sixth member of their friend group, that were never shown or explored previously. How Kimberly fit into the group originally is one of the very intriguing backstories that is explored. If you love Power Rangers, this book should definitely be on your reading list.
The Mighty Thor (Marvel Comics)
By: Jason Aaron, Russell Dauterman, Matt Wilson, VC’s Joe Sabino, Valerio Schiti, Mat Lopes, Veronica Gandini, Rain Beredo, James Harren, Dave Stewart, & more for issue #700
Thor was a character that at one point was considered somewhat of a hard sell for the movie-going crowd, and the first two films definitely had some issues. This was a character that was a hard sell to many comic fans too, despite how long the character has been around. Previously many looked to the Lee/Kirby days and Walt Simonson’s run as the definitive runs of Thor that people should check out. Jason Aaron and his rolodex of collaborators that have been writing the God of Thunder since 2012 have already made an amazing case to be the third entry on that list. That case was made even more in 2017 as Jane Foster’s journey as Thor continued and pitted the Goddess of Thunder against the Shi’ar and their Gods, the Phoenix, born out of blood War Thor and now pit her and everyone else against the threat of Mangog as the War of the Realms manipulated by Malekith the Accursed still rages all around them.
Russell Dauterman & Matt Wilson, with Valerio Schiti and others filling in wonderfully for some of the issues, continue to present a gorgeous book that goes hand in hand with Aaron’s writing to create the epic series that Thor deserves. Whether the story is in the depths of space with the Shi’ar or in any of the nine realms, it’s a sight to behold every page that the various art teams have crafted over the last year and really the last few years that Aaron and company have been on the Thor related books. While Jane’s time as Thor is close to an end as her battle with cancer is about to reach a climax, it’s clear that Aaron, Dauterman, and others aren’t going anywhere as they used issue #700, coming from the recent Marvel Legacy renumbering, to give glimpses of the amazing things that are to come both in their book and beyond in the Marvel Universe as a whole. This is a series that I hope makes it to my lists for years more to come.
Extremity (Image Comics)
By: Daniel Warren Johnson, Mike Spicer, Ros Wooton
Most times sci-fi and fantasy style epics sort of ease people into the narrative and spend a lot of time focused on the protagonist before they are drawn into whatever quest or event that will define them. That isn’t the case with Extremity. Right away Johnson plunges his characters and the readers into the thick of things as tribal warfare has taken over a planet where some event has caused much of the land mass to float skyward where the different tribes live. Thea and Rollo are children of the Roto clan and everything they had was taken by the Paznina clan, including their mother and Thea’s right hand which was precious to her because it was through that hand that she was able to be an amazing artist. These siblings are plunged right into a vengeance-driven mission to bring down the Paznina clan, and their different approaches to the violence and the cause are what defines the story.
Extremity is the perfect blend of science-fiction and fantasy as well as being a great character study as a father tries to seek revenge while also confronting the fact that his children might not be fully what was expected in this cause. Thea is dead set on seeking the vengeance, easily doing what needs to be done after what she lost while Rollo, the assumed future leader of the clan isn’t so keen on all the violence being asked of him. This is truly a very exciting comic with each issue and definitely makes me want to check out the past work of Johnson and whatever else he might have in the future.
Redneck (Image Comics)
By: Donny Cates, Lisandro Estherren, Dee Cunniffe, Joe Sabino
Vampires have circled in and out of pop culture forever, each time being done in a different way. In recent years there was the trend to make them sparkly and super sexy boyfriends and the like. That’s not the kind of vampire story that I’m into, that’s why I found Redneck so refreshing. It’s not that aforementioned story but it’s also not just a typical vampire story. They don’t want to kill people. These are vampires that have lived through a lot of stuff and at the start of the story prefer to just stay to themselves in their Texas home, drinking cow blood to get by as they just smoke ribs and have a good life after being hunted down in previous times. That is until everything gets turned upside down.
As Cates writes in the afterword of the first issue, this is not just a book about vampires and the blood they take but about people that have evil in their blood, monstrous hate in that blood, trying to no longer be monsters. Trying to do better for themselves and those that come after them that will carry on the name. Estherren & Cunniffe’s art perfectly fits the dark mood of this book, and still comes off as grim (with some of the subject matter) but is not overly graphic at the same time. Just the right horror vibe that is needed as this story unfolds.
Jughead: The Hunger (Archie Comics)
By: Frank Tieri, Michael Walsh, Dee Cunniffe, Jack Morelli, Pat and Tim Kennedy, Joe Eisma, Matt Herms, Bob Smith,
If there is one thing that Archie Comics began to prove as the new decade began, it’s that they are not afraid to take chances anymore with their iconic characters. That was fully proven when they launched the horror books like Afterlife with Archie and then instituted a full-on reboot of all their classic long-running series like Archie, Jughead, Betty & Veronica and more. The year of 2017 continued that expansion and taking chances as they unleashed a handful of one-shots that with enough fan interest would become ongoing series. One of those was Jughead: The Hunger which saw the food-obsessed teenager become a werewolf who killed familiar Riverdale characters because he comes from a long line of Werewolves. Turning Jughead’s usual comedic humor into something darker and more painful for both him and others was a brilliant move. So was the reveal that Betty Cooper descends from a long line of Werewolf hunters, but she had failed at her job because unlike others she ended up becoming friends with Jughead long before he first turned.
While the one-shot kicked things off in a great way, the ongoing series that spun out of it has not let up on the gas. Another familiar Riverdale resident becomes a werewolf as well, throwing a wrench into things as Betty and Archie are on the move trying to hunt down the fleeing Jughead. Michael Walsh and Dee Cunniffee set up the perfect creepy atmosphere in the one-shot and Pat & Tim Kennedy, Matt Herms, Bob Smith and others continued that beautifully with the new series. It’s still a young series at this point, but there is so much room for it to grow and bring the horror line of Archie comics back to prominence after Afterlife with Archie and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have run into multiple delays over the years. Makes me even more excited for the Veronica as a Vampire Vampironica series coming this year.
That wraps up the list my favorite comic books from 2017. There were so many more that I wish I could have added to this list, but it would have ended up way too long. Did I miss any of your favorites from this year? Let me know what your favorites were by commenting below, through Facebook or on Twitter!