New Year, New Comics, right? Well, obviously. The unending grind of comic releases continues ever forward. As we settle into 2018 hoping it won’t be a complete and utter nightmare, let’s take a gander back at the first month in comics. What stood out? What made an impact? What gives us some much-needed optimism in these times?
Best Issue: “Abbott” #1
Some writers that transition from one medium to another have a period of strain, where their words in one don’t feel as crisp as another, that it takes them time to acclimate to the new setting and conventions that dictate the quality of work. Some ungodly talented bastards can’t wait that long and take to the new medium like a fish in water. Step right up: Saladin Ahmed. The novelist who made “Black Bolt” one of Marvel’s best books right now has leapt into the creator-owned world and, as we here attest, it was a very strong debut. Ahmed, illustrator Sami Kivela, colorist Jason Wordie, and letterer Jim Campbell crafted a world of its time and incredibly timely. While it began to dip into the supernatural towards the end, this issue grips us with its protagonist, Elena Abbott. Already feeling fully formed, Abbott’s virtues and vices are on display taking on a openly and subtly hostile world. If the objective of issue #1 is to get the reader to pick up issue #2, then “Abbott” #1 passed with flying colors.
Best Writer: Joshua Williamson
Wait Wait! Listen! Okay? Why did I chose Williamson as Best Writer? Well, believe it or not, I have different reasons for things I do. Whereas Ahmed had a great launch to an interesting book, Williamson has been, and continues to, do something I didn’t think would happen: He’s gotten me to sorta-kinda like Comic Barry Allen. Okay, it’s more than that, as shown in “The Flash” Annual #1, the prologue to this Spring’s “Flash War” storyline. Williamson has shown such a deep knowledge of the last 25 years of Flash mythos without it feeling overbearing. He simultaneously shows a love for Barry, Wally, and Wally as we begin to see the breakdown between the two elder Flash’s and Kid Flash trying to stop it. Like “Abbott” #1, “The Flash” Annual #1 is about getting you to pick up the coming storyline, and I can’t wait now.
Best Artist: Sana Takeda
Perhaps it is a case of “Absence Makes the Heart Want Beautifully Detailed Art” but I missed “Monstress.” While story-wise issue #13 was not bad, it was Sana Takeda’s artwork that continues to shine through. Every page of this oversized issue just radiates quality, from the cover depicting the fusion of Maika and the Monstrum to the sweeping landscapes of the Tear Shed refugee camp to the gruesome ending. Every character feels unique both in physical build and visual personality (expressions, clothing choices, e.t.c.), which is good because this cast is getting really big. “Monstress” was one of the best books of its debuting year and Sana Takeda’s art shows there’s little slowing down.
Best Sigh of Relief That a Book Was Upgraded to an Ongoing: “Mech Cadet Yu”
We need more giant robot comics. We need more giant robot comics that are all-ages friendly. The first volume of “Mech Cadet Yu” was a real good adventure story, a pilot for a larger stories, and issue #5 introduces a bit deeper and murkier aspects to such a bright and vibrant looking series. Sure it has the Monster vs Robot action, but also an examination of classism and military ethics. Pak, Miyazawa, and Farrell are on to something with the story of Stanford Yu and it is good to see that it will get the breathing room it deserves.
Best Example of Harsher in Hindsight: “Detective Comics” #973
“Detective Comics” has had its ups and downs since DC Rebirth began. Even it’s recent arc, ‘Fall of the Batmen’ is not without its flaws. However, one thing that certainly wasn’t a flaw was James Tynion IV’s inclusion of Clayface. Basil Karlo tended to be a afterthought villain, one dimensional at the best of times. However, Tynion has produced a much more interesting villain through his interactions with characters like Batman and especially Cassandra Cain. It just makes it all the more tragic that it comes to this. I won’t spoil it, but it truly is heartbreaking. Damn you, Tynion.Continued below
Best Moment Where I Wonder if DC Is Gonna Screw Up: Brian Bendis Taking Over “Superman”
Not strictly a comic launched in January but announced in January but still. One of the best things in DC Rebirth has been a resurgence in quality of the Superman line. It provided Clark and Lois with a new dynamic which introduced their son, Jon, who is now the new Superboy and one-half of one of DC’s best books, “Super Sons.” Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason and the multitude of creators have instilled hope in the line after a long long long long . . . long time.
It’s why I’m nervous.
It has been announced long time Marvel alumn, Brian Michael Bendis will be taking over both “Superman” and “Action Comics” along with a “Man of Steel” mini-series retelling Clark’s origin. Bendis is . . . divisive, if putting it simply and you ask three different comic fans and you’ll get four different opinions on the man. Yes, creators move on. I get that. But this is the guy who made his name by utterly shattering a franchise (also while reinforcing the “women be crazy” trope) and the big fear is DC is about to throw away a great thing they have.