Comics can be a tough nut to crack for anyone looking to figure out where to start. Do you go for the big publishers and buy the most recognizable heroes and hope for the best? Do you grab a handful from a pull list at your local shop and add and drop over time? There really is not an easy way to dive into comics as a neophyte. Equally as difficult is diving back into the comic fray after being out of the loop. To help smooth the transition back, or introduction to comics, the following list is a collection of some of the best comics of year.
Comics are a wonderful medium that has tastes for everyone and hopefully a few of these will be a good fit for your sensibilities. These comics are in no particular order, and really all should be explored if possible because they are some of the best in the medium right now. Although this list focuses more on smaller books that may not be on the radar of the average person walking into a comic shop, by no means should you shy away from superhero comics. There are some great mainstream superhero comics being published by Marvel and DC Comics which should be explored, but also take time to check out some of the lesser known books which made our list of the best comics of 2017 (so far).
My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
Writer/Artist: Emil Ferris
Set during the 1960s, the book draws heavily from EC Comics, monster movies, and detective novels to create a story that asks questions about what/who are monsters, if they are real or not, or if they are even the ones we should fear. Reflecting parts of our current world in the work helps bring added depth to the book which never offers easy answers. Ferris packs the story with atmosphere and style while intertwining a strong moral that resonates with the reader.
Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Gallery 13
Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
If you are unfamiliar with the work of Jeff Lemire, he has made a career out of capturing the unnerving calm of rustic environments and its inhabitants. Roughneck is a massive book that allows for him to spread his wings and really dig into the story, building atmosphere and themes that really color the story. The basic premise revolves around a former hockey player and his sister which take shelter in an abandoned hunting lodge while being pursued by an abusive ex. This is a deep dive into these characters and the haunting character of the woods that surround them.
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
For those who like a little more action in their comics, Extremity will sate that appetite in a big way without sacrificing any of the emotional beats. Johnson tells the tale of Thea, an artist who loses her drawing hand as well as her mother when her people are attacked by a rival clan. Mixing sci-fi elements with a post apocalyptic wasteland similar to Mad Max, the series plays out as bloody revenge tale lead by a strong female lead.
Everything Is Flammable
Publisher: Uncivilized Books
Writer/Artist: Gabrielle Bell
Gabrielle Bell tells the tale of her mother’s house burning down in California, across the continent from her Hudson Valley home. She walks through the story with tone that rides the line between deadpan humor and dismay as along with her independent and quirky mother look to rebuild relationship that is equal parts strained and loving. A deeply personal story that touches on many of the parts of life we sometimes gloss over or avoid in our own lives. Sometimes holding a mirror up to ourselves through a story can be the greatest gift comics can give us.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
The second book coming from Jeff Lemire on our list! Yeah, that Lemire guy, he’s pretty great. Moon Knight has always been an interesting character in that he has multiple personalities. By throwing Moon Knight into a mental institute it adds more layers to the character as the narrative is not something you can trust as fact. With Moon Knight being such an unreliable narrator, the reader is forced to discover the truth for themselves, parsing out what is real and what isn’t. So often in the “big two” publishers there is a reluctance to take chances and experiment with characters. Moon Knight proves that given the freedom to color outside the lines, creative teams can make magic.
Publisher: DC Comics/Young Animal
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
While Gerard Way has been a presence in every Young Animal line from DC Comics as editor, his writing in Doom Patrol is a standout. The book can at time be challenging for new readers, and frustrating for long time readers, it provides just enough to both to really hook both groups. Derington’s art is on another level with expressive faces and body language that can tell a story in itself. The story is filled with strange, bizarre, and crazy concepts, but at the end of the day it is as solid as you can get and one of the best comics being published by DC Comics.
Bitch Planet Vol 2.: President Bitch
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist/Cover: Taki Soma, Valentine De Landro
After a long wait for Volume 2 to arrive, happily we can say that the wait was worth it. Volume 2 builds out the story with more understanding while bringing up more questions that push the story forward. Volume 2 gives more backstory on the prisoners from Volume 1; and that they were not the first ones who were locked up. One of the most intriguing concepts that the book alludes to is that once you look past the sci-fi elements of the story, our reality starts to mirror the authoritarian world inside the story.
Publisher: Black Mask
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Eric Zawadzki
The Dregs takes place in Vancouver where revitalization and gentrification have come calling. Along with the improvements comes a solution to the homeless problem, cannibalization. The story follows a would-be detective as he searches for answers to a mystery at the core. The story treats the concept in a serious manner, that challenges the reader. It urges the reader to see that the faceless masses we pass on the street are people. Despite the sensational story, the core of the story resonates long after reading an issue is done.
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Giant Days tells the tale of being an adolescent, without the angst that can often accompany those stories. Framed with humor, wordplay and character arcs the story stays upbeat. One of the strengths of the book is that it is welcoming to new readers. Each issue feels is a self contained character piece on one of the ensemble cast. Those character pieces show off their individual personality. While the book is very funny and charming, some arcs will hit you deep down as they can often point out our own pasts, or personality traits that we sometimes like to forget. Giant Days is a relaxing fun read that never lacks deeper meaning even when told through a humorous lens.
Shade, The Changing Girl
Publisher: DC Comics/Young Animal
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Another Young Animal book that has a strong direction and feel. The book focuses on Loma Shade’s journey as she is thrown into the body of an adolescent high schooler. Exploring the teen psyche of fitting in while trying to find oneself the book is surprisingly emotional.Shade, the Changing Girl is a book that combines a captivating lead with experimental writing. In the right hands, it is no wonder that it is one of the best comics of the year.