It’s been awhile since I wrote a column with my “classic” moniker of “Silverwolf’s Den,” but I feel the time is right. I’ve battled writer’s block on a topic related to the comic industry and, finally decided to give in and take the easy way out: a Top 10 List. I’d been intending to write such a list for awhile anyway, given a reader suggestion and my own desire to point out some of the better series released recently.
Among my friends, I’m without a doubt the biggest comicbook fan; as a result, I’m occasionally asked for recommendations. These conversations usually take two forms:
- “Hey, I like (insert name of superhero movie or comicbook property-based TV series). Is there a graphic novel or series starring the character(s) I should read?”
- “I want to read comics, but I don’t know where to start. What would you recommend?”
Particularly when I get questions of the “2” variety I try to pick things that are similar in nature to other properties that friend enjoys (TV series, movies, video games, books, etc.). However, today’s list is simply based on series I like, though I think are well worth reading. To narrow down my list, I’m only including series that have come out in the past year (i.e. they would’ve had to have started between August 2015 and August 2016); as much as I’d love to expound on my love for Transformers: More than Meets the Eye and Saga, those kinds of discussions will have to wait for another day. Anyway, let’s get to it!
10. Doctor Strange (Marvel Comics)
With his own movie coming out later this year, it’s no surprise that the Sorcerer Supreme Doctor Strange would receive a new ongoing series from Marvel. The team of Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo take Strange on a wild journey as he battles The Empirikul, an extra-dimensional force dedicated to eradicating all magic. The series combines high concepts and wild art into a thoroughly enjoyable package.
My only real complaint about the series is that the opening arc mirrors Aaron’s opening arc from his Thor run back in 2012 (Thor: a monster is killing deities across the universe; Dr. Strange: an army is killing all magic users across the universe), but it’s nevertheless an engaging story. With the first trade out and a new arc starting next month, it’s a great time to dive in.
9. Clean Room (Vertigo)
Gail Simone is one of the best creators in comics today, and thus I knew I couldn’t miss her latest creator-owned series. Joined by Jon Davis-Hunt, the creative team takes us on a journey to learn about Astrid Mueller, a woman who started her own cult that seems to have nefarious ends. Of course, there’s much more to this cult than it first appears, and as our heroine Chloe delves into the depths of the Honest World Foundation, she learns there’s a lot lurking out there of which humans aren’t aware. Full of horror, philosophy, and dark humor, Clean Room is a great ride that gets better each month.
8. Wrath of the Eternal Warrior (Valiant Entertainment)
Unlike most series on this list, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior didn’t grab me at first. The series kicked off with a banner creative team: Robert Venditti and Raul Allen. The first arc had amazing action and great suspense, but felt as if it dragged a bit long for my tastes. However, come issue #5, this series rocketed to become one of my favorites.
Wrath follows Gilad Anni-Padda, known as The Eternal Warrior. Gilad has fought and died numerous times across uncountable wars in service to the Earth itself, but now things have begun to change. Readers had previously seen Gilad across other Valiant titles, but for the first time we learn about what exactly happens each time he dies, as well as more about his past wives and children. A series chock-full of superb action and great one-liners, this is a high octane title I heartily recommend.
7. Superman: American Alien (DC Comics)
Superman’s origin seems to get retold once every five years or so. While every origin contains its own unique elements, there are always some commonalities: rocketed from the doomed Planet Krypton, found and adopted by the Kent family, raised on a farm in Smallville, moves to Metropolis and becomes a hero. This past year, Max Landis and a cadre of wildly talented artists (Nick Dragotta, Joelle Jones, Jae Lee, Francis Manapul, Tommy Lee Edwards, Johnathan Case, and Jock) decided to tackle Clark Kent’s origin.
American Alien tells seven stories at various points in Kent’s life, from learning to fly as a child through a climactic battle over Metropolis with the bounty hunter Lobo. Each issue has an entirely different feel, and exposes you to a different aspect of Clark’s personality and evolution as a hero. It’s a gripping series, and definitely worth your time.
6. Power Man and Iron Fist (Marvel Comics)
I swore, several years ago, that if Marvel ever released a series with Luke Cage as Power Man again I’d be first in line to buy it. Luckily, Marvel not only released such a series, but also gave us the superb creative combo of David Walker and Sanford Greene. Luke Cage and Danny Rand are together once again (somewhat to the former’s chagrin). The duo returns to their life of adventures, though this time they have to balance other responsibilities, such as Luke’s new baby daughter.
The series is fun and full of action. Best of all, Walker and Greene bring back all sorts of D-list and below villains, including the likes of the Hypno Hustler. Power Man and Iron Fist is pure fun, and is a hilarious read month after month.
5. The Flintstones (DC Comics)
You did it DC. Pat yourselves on the back. You made a Flintstones comic that, after only two short issues, has proved itself to be one of the most enjoyable and socially relevant series released in the last year. Whether you’re a fan of the series or don’t even know who Pebbles and Bam-Bam are, it’s in your best interest to give this series a shot. Seriously, Mark Russell and Steve Pugh have captured lightning in a bottle and, with only a couple issues out, it’s easy to catch up.
4. Sheriff of Babylon (Vertigo)
Writer Tom King used to work for the CIA in Iraq and, this past year, wrote a fictitious comicbook series about a murder mystery in Iraq in 2003. Aided by artist Mitch Gerads, the series tackles not only the murder itself, but also tension existing between Americans and Iraqis in the aftermath of the fall of Saddam Hussein. The story is gripping, poignant, and more than a little grim. This series is mind blowing, and addresses and suite of complex ideas in a clever package. Though the series ends at #12, there are rumors of a second season…
3. Criminal: The 10th Anniversary Special (Image Comics)
It may only be a single issue, but dang it’s a good one. If the names “Ed Brubaker” and “Sean Philips” are on the front of a comicbook, you should definitely buy it. That said, I really wanted to add their series The Fade Out to this list, which concluded within the last year but actually started in 2014. But I digress.
Criminal is the Brubaker/Philips Magnum Opus. The series, which started back in 2006, explores the lives of various people touched by crime. It’s an amazing series that looks at the depths of the human condition, and possesses beautiful art. The recent special, which came out this past summer, is an amazing package. The story follows young Tracy Lawless and his father, Teeg, as they take a road trip on a mission for Teeg’s boss. Teeg is a criminal, and Tracy is dragged along on the journey, forced to pass hours as his father engages in various illicit activity. As am small show a kindness, Teeg buys Tracy an old comicbook as a belated birthday gift: “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu Featuring Fang the Kung Fu Werewolf!”
The story is told in an amazing fashion, and Tracy’s daily activities and internal monologue are inter-cut with pages from “Deadly Hands.” This works as a great parallel, and it’s fun to see Brubaker and Philips stretch their creative muscles as they design a comic in the style of 70s Kung Fu magazines. Best of all, the story is entirely self-contained in this single issue, with a clear beginning, middle, and end. This issue rewards fans of Criminal, but doesn’t require any prior knowledge to dive right in.
2. The Vision (Marvel Comics)
Tom King makes the list again, this time joined by artist Gabriel Hernandez Walta!
To put it bluntly, I couldn’t care less about the Vision until a few months ago. Sure, I was familiar with the character from appearances in various comicbooks, movies, and even a few video games, but I never found the whole “android who wants to be human” angle all that interesting. Until now.
Once again, King proves the adage that any character can be great with a solid writer behind him or her. The series follows The Vision and a new family he’s built for himself: his wife, Virginia and two children, Viv and Vin. The family moves to a quiet suburb in Washington, D.C. and tries their best to live a normal life. The series deals with a plethora of complex themes, including what it means to be human and the nature of different choices people make every day. This comic is going down in history, mark my words. You owe it to yourself to pick up the first trade which is out now; I’m convinced you’ll love it.
1. Green Arrow (DC Comics)
All right, I’m cheating a bit here. Green Arrow has existed as an ongoing series for years, but DC renumbered most of their titles with the Rebirth initiative in June, and Green Arrow was one of them. The series retains scribe Benjamin Percy from before Rebirth, and adds a rotating art team of Otto Schmidt and Juan Ferreyra. The story brings back a lot of GA’s core elements from his history: his desire to stick up the the little guy, his relationship with Black Canary and, best of all, his trademark goatee. The new series has given us a deep and fast-paced story, aided by the fact that Green Arrow is a title DC is shipping twice monthly. This is the happiest I’ve been as a Green Arrow fan in a long time.
Anyhow, that’s my list of the Top 10 comic series that started within the past year. What are your favorite recent series? Are there any comicbooks I missed that you think should be included? What do you think of these titles?
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