Tuesday, April 4, 2017

My Fave Comics of 2016.

One of my last real posts on here was about the Year I Got Real Into Comics (2015). 2015 really isn't that long ago, but looking back at that post, I remember how insecure I felt walking into a comic store, like someone was going to call me out for not belonging there. Now, my comic store is one of My Places. And while it's an extremely irresponsible part of it, picking up my pull list now feels like an essential part of my monthly budget.

I know we're well into 2017 already, but I do what I want, so here are my top five comic reads of 2016.

5. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Ryan North & Erica Henderson

Goddamn, Squirrel Girl is delightful. She is the goofiest, most lovable, nerdiest, most truly all-age comic there is right now, all due to the goofy, nerdy, lovably Canadian Ryan North. I would read anything Ryan North writes, because it's hard to be in a bad mood while reading anything Ryan North writes. 

If you didn't know, the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is half girl, half squirrel, which gives her the power to EAT NUTS AND KICK BUTTS. She is also a computer science major college student, with an amazing best friend and roommate, Nancy, and an adorable squirrel sidekick named Tippy Toe. While she does, as aforementioned, have the power to kick butts, the truly lovable part of Squirrel Girl is that she almost always takes down her adversaries through logical conversation, empathy, and non-violent persuasion. 

I do admit that sometimes I put off reading my issues of Squirrel Girl these days if I'm looking for a quick read, because reading all the footnotes North includes on nearly every page requires more time and patience, but at the same time, the footnotes? Best part.

4. Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat!
Kate Leth & Brittney Williams

The first thing you need to know is that Kate Leth and Brittney Williams = DREAM TEAM, so there is no way you can go wrong with this comic.

The second reason that I like this comic, about a superhero who's trying to go low key in life by starting a temp agency for reformed superheroes (but who obviously gets caught up in a lot of superhero-ing anyway), is because of her gang. I just really love a good ensemble cast. After all, Buffy is nothing without her Scoobies. And the ensemble of Hellcat is particularly strong, and also particularly queer and feminist! I am OBSESSED with Ian and Tom (PARTICULARLY TOM), who are pretty regularly at her side, but her BFF is She-Hulk, and Jessica Jones is there a lot, and as illustrated in the cover above, a bunch of other amazing Marvel Universe ladies show up from time to time, including America Chavez (swoon). Plus, cats are the best.

Kate Leth has announced that this current revival of Hellcat will be coming to an end this year, which breaks my heart a little, but alas, such is the world of comics. 

3. Goldie Vance
Hope Larson & Brittney Williams
Boom! Box

Goldie Vance, and how much I loved it, was my biggest comics surprise of 2016. There are no superheroes here, just the charming antics of Goldie, a mischievous, sleuthing teen who works as a valet driver at a resort hotel in Florida in the 1960s. I've learned I really dig the hotel-as-primary-setting storyline set up (see also: Jane the Virgin), and there's something about the shiny, clean art style of Brittney's in this one that's really satisfying. This was originally just going to be a one story, few issues arc, but I am so glad it was successful and Boom! Box kept it going. 

This comic is all about Goldie solving mysteries and living her best life. The first arc involves solving a mystery for a hotel guest, and the second arc delves into the life of her best friend, Cheryl, who works the front desk at the hotel and dreams of being an astronaut. The third and current arc is all about cars, which I'm not as into, but it's still great having a comic out there about a girl who really loves cars. Goldie also has total googly eyes for side character Diane, which makes sense because Diane is a stone cold fox. 

This happens to be my only non-Marvel comic on this list, which is a little misleading because I increasingly love almost everything Boom! Box puts out. Their books are all-age gifts of goodness with huge heart, and I can't wait to keep following their work. Thank you, Shannon Watters, editor lady!

2. Ms. Marvel
G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona/Takeshi Miyazawa/A Whole Buncha Artists

While I still read most of the comics I included on my 2015 list, Ms. Marvel is the only one that's making a reappearance on this one. And that's because Ms. Marvel continues to be, simply, the best. Issue after issue, arc after arc, I am still in love with Kamala Khan. She had a real rough year this year, especially with all that Civil War II junk, and my heart wishes that she could go back to just hanging out with Bruno at the Circle Q and superhero-ing, you know, sometimes. :\ And honestly, I forget all the different superhero leagues that she's supposedly a part of now. But it's her continuing, mounting struggle between who she is as Kamala Khan and who she is as Ms. Marvel that makes her story, like so many superhero stories before her, compelling and heart-wrenching. Still. Bruno. :\

I particularly liked the issue last year where she went to Pakistan, and wish they had made that a full arc instead of a single issue story, but perhaps she'll return one day. My only complaint about Ms. Marvel is that while G. Willow Wilson has held steady for a few years now, I feel like they've rotated through guest artists A LOT, and it throws me off sometimes. I don't mind a guest artist now and then, but when it's too often, it really does affect the consistency of the reading experience.

1. Spider-Woman
Dennis Hopeless & Javier Rodriguez

I jumped into Spider-Woman without knowing much about her, but I'd heard such good things and was intrigued by the pregnant superhero storyline. Many issues later, I am just consistently blown away. It's the most stereotypical superhero comic I read (although in many ways, not, because again, the pregnancy thing), but man, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez just know what they are doing. I'm still relatively new to the world of comics, but after a few years in, reading this comic feels like watching the work of masters. 

Jessica Drew is so deeply flawed, and so deeply stubborn, but you still love her to death anyway. She is fiercely independent and fiercely resilient at the same time that she is deeply human. And, she is sexy af. At all times. I love her friendship with Captain Marvel (ALSO SEXY AF) and I love her friendship with Roger. (ROGER! ~heart eyes~) The balance of action and character development is just right.

I also read and enjoyed the Spider-Women crossover event last year, which involved picking up some copies of Spider Gwen and Silk, and getting to know them and their back stories was enjoyable, as well. Silk in particular I could potentially read more of. But egads! So many comics, so little time. And money.

Honorable Mention this year goes to the Lumberjanes/Gotham Academy crossover by Chynna Clugston Flores and Rosemary Valero-O'Connell (Boom! Box/DC). It took me a while to get into the art and concept of these two similar yet very different books coming together. Like, it makes total sense to put them together, but at the same time, it's hard to actually execute. Seeing all the characters together still felt a little clunky and weird throughout because it is just a goshdarn LOT OF CHARACTERS to put together. But I ended up really digging the storyline, which made it all worth it in the end.

Already in 2017 there are so many new series that I'm jazzed about (America! Lady Hawkeye going solo!) that I can't wait to make this list again next year. COMICS! ~flexes bicep like Jessica Drew~

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