When we’re not seeing comic-adaptations on the big screen, we’re delving into the pages of what will (hopefully) be some of of the biggest cinematic tales of the future. These are the comics, both new and long-running, that push the narrative boundaries and the artistic capabilities of one our most exciting storytelling mediums. From a cannibalistic FDA agent, an infamous dark lord looking to prove himself, a pair of gay superheroes with a lust for violence equal only to their love for each other, a caped crusader on the road trip of his life, and superstar gods challenging the notions of stardom, these are the best comics we read in 2016!
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by John Romita Jr.
After his celebrated Batman run with Greg Capullo, Scott Snyder continues to push the caped crusader to new territory with All-Star Batman. Teamed with superstar artist, John Romita Jr., Snyder’s first arc, “My Own Worst Enemy” sees Batman on a cross country trek to fulfill his promise to Harvey Dent and rid him of his alter-ego Two-Face. The only problem is that Two-Face has promised to release the darkest secrets of every citizen in Gotham if Batman isn’t stopped. Set upon by Gotham’s worst crime lords, assassins, and citizens willing to break the Bat’s neck to save theirs, Batman finds himself using every gadget at his disposal in an effort to save Dent and maintain what little goodness there is left in Gotham. Influenced by Mad Max, Snyder takes Batman out his familiar city-setting (which doesn’t happen often enough) and Romita Jr. adds a splash of color that we don’t normally get in the darkness of Gotham City. Best of all is Snyder ability to add a level of black humor to the proceedings by giving Batman a sense of humor, a nice and necessary departure from the shadow of Frank Miller. All-Star Batman isn’t just fun and games, as Snyder, in typical fashion, adds a layer of social themes when examining Two-Face and his damaged view of the world at its worst. “My Own Worst Enemy” is the perfect Batman story for a post-election America, and it’s sure to only get even better after this arc as Snyder’s plans to pit Batman up against his rogue gallery in new ways that challenge both the character and the comic reader about what Batman means. – Richard Newby
Written by John Layman
Art by Rob Guillory
I’ve written about Chew on these pages before and 2016 saw the series reach its conclusion with issue 60. Now that the series is complete, I would wholeheartedly advise you to pick it up and read from the start. Chew is a funny, gross, heartfelt, fun, and inventive series. Chew tells the story of Tony Chu, a detective who finds himself experiencing the memories of anything he eats (except beets). If he eats an apple he sees how it was grown, if he takes a bite out of a dead body he sees how the person died. Chew takes place in a world full of these types of people so there are people who get stronger when they eat or smarter, there is a food critic who can write about food so vividly that you’re able to taste it, a mute cook who communicates with food, and a man whose head takes on the appearance of anything he eats, among others. The series began as a case of the week type cop story but by its end it had become more sci-fi with a vast scope. I was sad to see Chew finish, but it went out with a bang and an ending that was incredibly satisfying. – Sean Fallon
A Dark Night
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Eduardo Risso
Paul Dini is a titan in the Batman world. As writer of the acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series he helped to shape Batman into the character we know him as today. The show is responsible for a lot of stuff that is now considered Batman canon like Mr Freeze’s backstory and the character’s of Harley Quinn and Renee Montoya. The show also jump started Mark Hamill’s career and gave him a second life as a voiceover artist, something that he is nearly as famous for as being Luke Skywalker.
A Dark Night is the story of how one night Dini was walking home from a date and he got accosted by two men in the street and beaten within an inch of his life. From there we follow Dini as he deals with his fears and paranoia as the Batman follows him around trying to get him to stop avoiding work and to fight, while the Joker whispers in his ear that he’s pathetic. The book is a raw and honest look at Dini’s life as he lays himself and his insecurities out for us to see. An added bonus is Risso’s art. Risso has been a favourite of mine since 100 Bullets and seeing him draw all of the iconic Batman characters as they appear to Dini was delightful. – Sean Fallon
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Salvador Larroca
Marvel’s Star Wars comics have all been fantastic. The long-running Star Wars series by Jason Aaron, which depicts the time between A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back is a rip-roaring adventure with lots of derring-do, spaceship fights, prison breaks, bounty hunters, and chases. Kieran Gillen’s Darth Vader series takes place during the same time but follows Vader as he consolidates power following the destruction of the Death Star. It’s easy to forget that in A New Hope Vader is a lackey to Peter Cushing’s Tarkin before he’s the big dog in Empire. This comic shows how he did that and the machinations involved with removing the other players from the board. Gillen introduces fantastic new characters like archaeologist Doctor Aphra and her murderous droids, 0-0-0 and BT-1 (think evil R2D2 and C3PO). He also manages to keep Vader as an interesting mystery, not delving too much into his feelings or motivations, and also keeps him as the most badass person to ever stalk the galaxy.
Midnighter and Apollo
Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Fernando Blanco
Easily filling the void of its short-lived predecessor Midnighter, writer Steve Orlando’s Midnighter and Apollo is a welcome return to these great characters. Just like before, Orlando pulls off a perfect balancing act between an almost cartoonish tone, intense ultra-violence, and a touching love story between the two men. The series starts with Midnighter and Apollo living as a superhero couple. The share an apartment, the go on dates, and the regularly fight crime together (even if Midnighter’s idea of crime-fighting is a bit more lethal than Apollo’s). All is good until circumstances lead to Apollo essentially being dragged to Hell, thus leading Midnighter on a quest down there to save him. It’s a fun story so far (at time of this writing, we’re only about halfway through). The series never fails to deliver on the excitement, augmented by the gorgeous art design and dynamically conceived action sequences. The insane violence is just the cherry on top. Hell, within the first two pages of the first issue, Midnighter has already broken a guy’s jaw, decapitated another guy, impaled two guys at once, and crushed a guy’s head under his feat. This is just the opening scene! It only escalates from there. As well, it’s refreshing to see a healthy, happy gay relationship in the genre. If you’re looking for a bloody good time, check this series out. –Ryan MacLean
The Wicked + The Divine
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie
Ever since its launch in 2014, Image Comics’ The Wicked + The Divine has been among the highest quality of all comic series throughout each year of its publication and 2016 was no different. The story follows a group of people who discover that they are part of a 90-year cycle of reincarnation deities who are granted fame and supernatural powers, but only have two years to take advantage of them before they die. 2016 featured the most dramatic arc yet as we find the Pantheon divided in Civil War, led by the newly awakened Persephone on one side and Ananke, a powerful old woman who guides (and mysteriously kills) the gods, on the other. The series maintained its gorgeous, distinctly colorful artwork which consistently wowed throughout some of the massive action scenes. The writing is melodramatic in the best way, full of huge emotions, tons of mystery and intrigue, and surprising alliances and betrayals. It also boasts an awesome cast of diverse main characters of many different ethnicities, sexual orientations, and gender identities. All have wonderfully varied personalities that play off each other in engaging ways. In 2016, The Wicked + The Divine remained one of the most refreshing and exciting comic series out there. –Ryan MacLean
Featured Image: DC Comics