As digital comics become more and more prominent and affordable, there are often cries of ‘what will happen to print comics?’ While it is understandable to worry that your monthly floppy might go away, as long as companies are reprinting material in exciting ways, there will always be comics to hold in your hands and enjoy.
3. Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion Volume 1
We are living in the golden age of reprints, and every year we get a slew of titles to prove that. One of the most surprising this year was the first volume of the “Crisis on Infinite Earths Companion,” an oversized hardcover in DC’s Deluxe Edition line. The issues contained within, this volume focusing on “DC Comics Presents,” “All-Star Squadron,” “Firestorm,” and “Green Lantern,” collect rarely-seen storylines that provide a much stronger representation of the era than the actual “Crisis” series they tie into. Each series is preceded by an informative essay from a different creator who worked on the books, and the entire package is rounded out by an introduction that details the plan for the series and a timeline at the back so readers can follow along with their copy of the main “Crisis” series. The line’s projected scope, as explained in the introduction, is the most impressive: three volumes, all fully planned out, collecting every major tie-in while cutting any story that, while branded a tie-in, didn’t actually tie in at all. Adding in the fact that all of the pages have been lovingly, accurately recolored and are presented on a high-quality matte stock suitable for the material, there’s never been a more concise, accurate, and handsome way to read the “Crisis” tie-ins. DC’s collections department has been getting better and better lately, and for fans of their output in the 80s, you can’t do much better than this book. – Nicholas Palmieri
2. Black Hammer Library Edition Vol. 1
Dark Horse is the publisher that, most consistently, collects its own work in the best packages in a relatively timely manner. “Black Hammer” is not even three years old, and Dark Horse has already published this, a Library Edition, collecting the entire first volume of the series, as well as lots of bonus material. Dark Horse’s Library Edition is, perhaps, the best format in all of (non-Artist Edition) hardcover reprints. Oversized, with high quality paper stock, Library Editions instantly feel classic and important in a way that other collections simply don’t.
Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormstron’s series is a celebration of all things superhero comics, and this format takes the classic tone of the series and amplifies it through the sheer beauty and size of the volume. There are few series currently being published that feel as well thought out and complete as “Black Hammer,” and this is now the best way to read that series. – Brian Salvatore
1. On a Sunbeam
There’s a beautiful serenity to Tillie Walden’s work. “On a Sunbeam,” her most ambitious work to date, engages the curious mind with a gorgeously detailed but tantalizingly ambiguous universe in which her characters live and breathe. There’s no lengthy exposition about the ancient civilizations that must have built the spellbinding architecture we see. We are left, much like the cast themselves, to wander around the ruins of cosmic structures and dream about the scale of what once was and the beauty of what remains.
“On a Sunbeam” follows Mia as she joins the crew of the starship Aktis and works with them to restore old buildings that float untethered throughout the stars. As she gets to know her colleagues and gets to grips with her new job, we flashback to her early life in a boarding school, itself a fabulously magical building. Relationships build and Mia’s past and present come together as she embarks on a mission to find her lost love Grace. Originally a webcomic, “On a Sunbeam” is structured in a way that consumes your attention and your time until you eagerly turn the final page. Like meandering through an ancient building, you can easily get lost in Tillie Walden’s ethereal world.
Like all of Walden’s previous work, “On a Sunbeam” captures the importance of silence. Pages drift by without a word spoken, and the evocative, dreamlike imagery guides you through this gorgeous world. Walden’s expert pacing allows scenes to breathe and come to life without word balloons, and yet when there are words, the cast comes to life with realistic dialogue and deceptively complex artwork. By the end of the book, you’re noticing subtle emotions through the facial expressions of characters you’ve come to know so well. “On and Sunbeam” is a book to lose yourself in. It’s a magical, endearing journey that’s as beautiful as it is captivating, and while those who followed the webcomic will have loved the experience, there’s something comforting about holding the entire story in your hands. – Matt LuneContinued below
Matt: I love a giant reprint, as unruly as they can sometimes be. I also love when webcomics come to print because I just react better with paper. Our staff found some fun stuff to celebrate this year, from the classics to more modern work.
Brian: This is the first year of us doing this category that, more than likely, all three of these will wind up on my shelf in short order. While it is great to drool over Artist Editions and Absolute Editions, these are all way more affordable than those aforementioned books, and are all examples of why reprints are essential: to collect strays (“Crisis”), to celebrate greatness (“Black Hammer”), and to expand a reach (“Sunbeam”).