Saturday, December 31, 2016

Donist World 2016 Year-End Roundup - Part 1!

(Sung to the tune of The Sound of Music's “My Favorite Things”)

Stone Age bullies want to punch you in the beef
Black science jerk-wads turn over a new leaf
Lethal boy robots and evil Mud Kings
These are a few of my favorite things

Trash talking paper girls fighting off weirdos
Cibopath agents eating god only who knows
Works by Remender dominate listings
These are a few of my favorite things

Hazel has grown up, Luke Cage gets all retro
Thanos and Warlock and Universe! I love so
Some great series ended high praise it sure rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Diamond misships
Then my beer spills
When I'm feeling sad
I simply remember my favorite things
And then I don't feel so bad

Slice of Heaven For the Year!

Happy Holidays, denizens! Y’know, come to think of it, this year’s holiday season was pretty chill. Uncle Billy Joe Jim Bob (or UB-J2B as I like to call him…yeah, I just saw Rogue One) stayed away this year — he was thankfully too hung over to make the drive — so we did not have to suffer through any of his “Make ’Murica Great” nonsense. We were also spared any diatribes on how the “illegals stole his job.” We all know that UB-J2B was actually fired two decades ago from his job after a “wardrobe malfunction” left him exposed to participants in his work’s “Bring Your Daughter to Work Day.” He also hasn’t even looked for a job during that time, but that’s neither here nor there. Anyhow, holiday horrors were at a minimum, and the Reverse Obie (my friends’ Boston terrier, whose surly attitude changed for the better after his fur colors swapped when a corrupt businessman’s curse backfired) and Tulip (my dog, and Donist World marketing director / administrative assistant / party planner / gingerbread house connoisseur) and I are having our own little holiday party at the corporate office (Mom’s basement).

Not only have we been having a blast putting this post together, we’ve been spreading the cheer with some winter warmer beers, gingerbread cookies, and whiskeys and ryes by the fire as we reminisced about the comics that captured our hearts over the course of 2016. So, if you have your own “forced family togetherness” making things unbearable, then by all means you owe it to yourself to swipe an innards-warming beverage and abscond to your place of peace to enjoy some fantabulous comic books. Oh yeah, grab some of them there Christmas cookies on your way out, especially the ones with the crunchy frosting, as you check out the list.

***Probably NOT Spoilers Below***

If you have a moment, check out our past FSoH/SitW Year-End Roundups for 2015201420132012, and 2011 to see all things heavenly from the past. For the comic series listed below, I provide a linked image of the best way to experience the comic if you have not yet read it. Basically, I will try to show an omnibus, then a hardcover, then a trade, and finally, if no trade is yet available, the first issue of the series. We at Donist World thank you for reading and hope you enjoy these comics as much as we do.

Donist World 16 (+1) Favorite Comic Series of 2016 (In no particular order)

Read More!

1)  Descender

Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, published by Image Comics. I know I said in “In no particular order,” but just like in 2015, Descender is the Donist World Darling to end all darlings. We love this dang comic something fierce, Denizens, and that love just gets stronger with each issue. Lemire’s take on the space opera is emotional and captivating and can make you smile, cry, laugh, or gasp in horror, oftentimes all within the same issue. Nguyen’s watercolored art is lovely whether we experience the vast reaches of space or the confines of a spaceship or witness a wide range of emotion on a character’s face. Story and art are masterworks on their own, but the combination of the two deliver what is still my favorite comic on the stands. The story takes place in a distant universe where the nine worlds of the UGC (United Galactic Council) are simultaneously attacked by monstrous robots that vanish as quickly as they appeared. 10 years later, a robotic boy awakens to find his human family gone and to a universe where robots are hunted to near extinction. I am leaving sooooo much out. As of this writing there are three trades available, and I am eager for a hardcover collection to come so I can proudly display this fine series on my favorite shelf. You REALLY need to be reading this fantastic comic book.

2)  Seven to Eternity

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Jerome Opeña, published by Image Comics. In this fantasy series by the creators of the phenomenal indie sci-fi comic Fear Agent, we follow the dying Adam Osidis as he attempts to save his family from the wrath the God Whispers, a being who sees through the eyes and hears through ears of those who have succumbed to his promises. Adam resists, but the God of Whispers has something the man desperately wants. At only four issues in, Seven to Eternity is neck and neck with Descender for my favorite comic currently seeing publication, and were another issue to have been released in 2016, we might just have a tie. Bizarre magic and fantastic creatures flesh out this rich, vibrant world that is unlike any I have seen. Remender does not spoon feed the reader information, instead he thrusts us into the middle of things and it’s up to us put the pieces of this rewarding story together. There’s no better way to experience a new world than with Opeña’s outstanding artwork. As I have said in the individual reviews, Opeña’s art has always been lovely, but this is truly next level stuff. Creatures, costumes, character designs, buildings, backgrounds are all beyond explanation and must be seen to be truly appreciated. A trade collecting the first five issues comes out in February, but I don’t recommend waiting…you need to be reading this in issues, and you need to be reading this now!

3)  The Flintstones

Written by Mark Russell, illustrated by Steve Pugh, published by DC Comics. No, Denizens, I’m not kidding. The best book DC is currently publishing is The Flintstones. Who woulda thunk it? But once you realize that Russell, writer of the Donist World Darling Prez — sadly cancelled before its time — is continuing the same satirical social commentary he started in that wonderful series, only with cartoondom’s favorite Stone Age family. This hilarious and at times touching comic looks at science, consumerism, bullying, elections, war, work, pyramid schemes, and many other subjects, but is never preachy. Pugh gives us big beefy cavemen for Fred and Barney, while Wilma and Betty are rather lovely, and the dinosaurs are either a crackup or terrifying depending upon circumstances. I honestly can’t believe DC is publishing this comic, but it is honestly one of the funniest, most intelligent, and most important comics they are currently releasing. A trade comes out in late March. Read this series or I’ll punch you in the beef. POWERGOAT, BIZNATCH!

4)  Chew

Written by John Layman, illustrated by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics. <sigh> All good things must come to an end. Thus it is that Chew came to its grand conclusion. I have always touted this comic series as the most unique comic on the stands, and I kind of think it will retain that title for years to come. I mean, c’mon, tell me you know of something comparable to a book where the lead character is an FDA agent with the power to gain psychic impressions / memories of the things he eats…including crime scene victims. The thing is that Tony Chu is not the only character with food-based powers, and there’s a cybernetic partner, a murderous luchador rooster, strange alien fruit, and that is only the tip of the ol’ iceberg lettuce wedge. This is a series that you need to read more than once: you read for the story the first time through, and then go back for seconds to find all the crazy sight gags you missed on the first read. Chew might have ended, but it’s never too late to check out this terrific series whether you opt for the hardcovers or the trades. Just give it a chance and read it, already!

5)  Saga

Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples, published by Image Comics. You seriously didn’t think I would leave Saga off the list did you? No way, Denizens. This comic still manages to thrill and shock and break our hearts on an issue by issue basis. With this sci-fi, fantasy, comedy, drama, war, romance, space opera epic, you can still count on Marko, Alana, Hazel, Prince Robot, and the other ever-evolving cast of characters to charm, frustrate, and worry you every bit as much today as they did back in the first issue. For those of you living under a rock, Saga is essentially a NSFW Romeo and Juliet in space, that succeeds in making you fall in love with its complex characters and will leave you desperate to see what happens next. You can catchup with the hardcovers (the second one comes out sometime in 2017) or the trades.

6)  Cage

Written and illustrated by Genndy Tartakovsky, published by Marvel Comics. This four-issue limited-series (one issue left!) was set to come out years ago, but for some reason known mostly only to Marvel, it was allowed to languish in a void. In fact, I read that Tartakovsky had all but given up on seeing the mostly-finished series from ever seeing release. Thankfully – most likely because of the fantastic Netflix Luke Cage television series — this visual feast of a madcap story finally sees the light of day. At times a love letter to the Bronze Age of comics, at others a representation of what happens when indie comics meets the mainstream, this outside-the-norm series from the creator of Samurai Jack ends up being one my favorite comics released by Marvel Comics this year. A trade is set to release in May, but can you really wait that long for something this great?

7)  Thanos: The Infinity Finale and The Infinity Entity

Written by Jim Starlin, illustrated by Ron Lim and Alan Davis, published by Marvel Comics. Okay, the OGN should probably show up on the “Year-End Roundup - Part 2” section, but since it is all new material, and I bought it right when it came out, I’m lumping it in with The Infinity Entity series that led up to it. Longtime Denizens might remember that I did a hefty reread of the Starlin Thanos / Warlock stories leading up to these books and it was well worth becoming reacquainted with two of my favorite Marvel characters. If you like space opera, gorgeous near-psychedelic visuals, and trippy storylines then you owe it to yourself to get reading so you can work up to these two outstanding 2016 releases.

8)  The Sixth Gun

Written by Cullen Bunn, illustrated by Brian Hurtt, published by Oni Press. Oh whoa is me…another great series wrapped in 2016, but at least it was on the creators’ terms and it was done exactly as they intended. We’ll just ignore the lengthy delays in actually getting the exceptional conclusion to what is the best supernatural Western I’ve yet to read. The Sixth Gun is essentially Lord of the Rings with cowboys, yet so much more. If you are late to this rodeo, you can also pick up the trades of this fantastic series. Becky, Drake, and all the rest of the cast will be sorely missed…until I begin an epic reread from the very beginning.

9)  Universe!

Everythinged by Albert Monteys, published by Panel Syndicate. Okay, Denizens, you aren’t gonna find this treasure at your LCS. Nope. You’ll have to click on the link to go to Panel Syndicate’s site where you can download the five available issues by paying whatever the heck you want. This includes nothing. But why would you not kick down something to ensure Monteys makes enough money to ensure we keep getting such phenomenal sci-fi goodness? The cartooning is bright, vibrant, and lovely with a story that might make you laugh, or it might make you cry, but most of all Universe! is a series that will leave you thinking for days after. This is as creator owned as it gets, folks, and with no middlemen in the picture, nearly every bit of your contribution goes to where it can do the most good: right in the creator’s pocket. This series might take a while to come out, but each installment is worth the wait.

10) Paper Girls

Written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, published by Image Comics. In my “Year-End Roundup - Part 2” post next week you can expect to see an entry for the phenomenal Stranger Things television show on Netflix. It’s a show set in the ’80s about a group of kids who experience some really bizarre things. The same can be said for the thoroughly entertaining Paper Girls, which debuted late 2015. In true Vaughan fashion, you immediately identify with the lead characters as you experience the weirdness of aliens and monsters and time travelers mixed with the rigors of growing up. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll cry, you’ll cheer, and all the while you’ll be clamoring for more more more. Two trades are available to date, and I cannot wait for the third story arc to continue in 2017.

11) Rachel Rising

Everythinged by Terry Moore, published by Abstract Studio. Criminy, man! What the heck. Okay, yet another great series wrapped up this year, and talk about a great ending! Moore is another master of getting readers to love his characters including the secondary ones. Every issue of this series had me deeply concerned for the wellbeing of Rachel, Zoe, Jet, Aunt Johnny, Lilith, Earl, and the rest. Moore’s written characterization is enough to promote such levels of caring, but it is his beautiful (and I mean beautiful) artwork which seals the deal. It is amazing how much emotion a simple tweak to a smirk, or the squint in an eye can convey, but Moore does so with a mastery that few can match. Rachel Rising falls squarely in the horror genre, but it is so much more. There’s humor amidst the thrills and the chills of this great series, but there are also times you’ll need a tissue for when a gut punch surprises you along the way. Although the series seemed a tad rushed toward the end, it still stands as a Donist World Darling that every fan of horror and Twin Peaks-esque intrigue can appreciate. There are also seven trades available if the Omnibus is not your style.

12) The Fade Out

Written by Ed Brubaker, illustrated by Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics. Enough! Dagnabbit! Here we have yet another completed series that just barely managed to sneak into the 2016 year. The Fade Out is quite possibly Brubaker and Phillips’s crowning achievement, which is saying something given their previous work on Sleeper and Criminal. This twelve-issue limited-series is a murder mystery, crime, noir drama set in the ’50s, where all characters have something to hide. As a period piece this series is great. As a crime book this series is great. As a showcase for Phillips’s storytelling and character acting this series is great. In fact everything about The Fade Out is great whether you are a fan of old Hollywood dramas or crime series in general. The hardcover is definitely the way to go for this one, but there are three trades out there if that’s what you want.

13) Lazarus

Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark, published by Image Comics. Oh, geez. Remember how all along I’ve been saying how great this series is despite — or because of — how much it terrifies me? No? Well, it has a little something to do with despite being set in the future, this post apocalyptic world where nations are not divided by political lines, but rather financial ones of ruling families, is one that I can scarily see coming to pass. Given the shitty 2016 election of Donald Trump, the world of Lazarus just took one step closer to reality, but let’s not go there. This sci-fi, political thriller gets its name from the Lazarus Forever Carlyle, a genetically modified / enhanced being who is almost impossible to kill. As long as she is under the family Carlyle’s control, all should be well…but she is starting to question her mission in life and slip from her family’s influence. This comic unnerves me, it upsets me, it keeps me desperately clamoring for more; I wouldn’t have it any other way. There are four available trades to date. If you are into a thinking person’s comic, and you feel like losing some sleep, then this stressful series is just what the doctor ordered.

14) Future Quest

Written by Jeff Parker, occasionally illustrated by Evan “Doc” Shaner, published by DC Comics. Okay, I’m not totally certain what is going on with the ever rotating artists on each issue, but I am loving this series thus far, especially after the latest kick-ace issue I read a few days ago that left me hungry for more. This comic is a mishmash of a ton of Hanna Barbera properties in one book: Space Ghost, The Herculoids, Jonny Quest, Birdman, Mightor, and many more. All the characters slowly come together to take on the terror of the dreaded Omnikron, which threatens to devour the universe. Parker deftly navigates the delicate matter of juggling a monstrous cast of characters into an exciting story with high stakes that is certain to thrill fans of the old animated series, and those just starting out in the world of comics. This one is both fun and thrilling, and the first trade drops in February of 2017.

15) Black Science

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Matteo Scalera, published by Image Comics. This sci-fi roller coaster ride never fails to throw its twists and turns at the reader, and always manages to keep you guessing as you learn to love the once loathsome main character more with each passing issue. There are oftentimes brutal admissions of past family mistakes that come with character revelations all while dealing with fish-men, bug-men, ape-men, ghostlike beings, jealousies, crazy people, and traitors in the midst in this gorgeously illustrated series that rarely gives you a chance to catch your breath before sending you on your next adventure. This is the book for all you parallel universe, anarchist scientist types. Five trades are currently available.

16) Deadly Class

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Wes Craig, published by Image Comics. The third Remender series to appear on our “Year-End Roundup” is about a high school for assassins and set in the ’80s. The first year comprised the first 21 issues of the series and let’s just say I was stunned — still am, actually — by the gnarly gnarly GNARLY things that go down. Now, after barely recovering from that gut-punch of an issue, issue 25 just socked me in the face to the point that my heart starts racing just thinking about it. Deadly Class is an action-packed thriller that will keep you on your toes. Craig’s kinetic page layouts with their oftentimes dense panel counts are stunning while they keep your stress levels firmly set to “11.” Four trades are readily available.

17) Low

Written by Rick Remender, illustrated by Greg Tocchini, published by Image Comics. “Wait a minute, Donist! Four Remender books on one list?!” you say. You bet your sweet patootie, Denizens. If I had room, I would also include the ten-issue Tokyo Ghost, but whatchagonnado. Low is everything I want in a comic series: sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, underwater, family-driven, hope-against-all-odds, monsters, lush worlds, and so much more. The story is that the above water world crumbled before the sun’s radiation, and humanity had to flee deep into the ocean to survive, but their days are numbered as recycled oxygen diminishes. All hope rests on Stel Caine recovering a satellite that might hold the key to another inhabitable world. I love the Caine family — those that survive — and I want to see them come out ahead despite the tons of obstacles the creators throw at them. Tocchini’s art is gorgeous, and I can’t wait for the day I get an oversized hardcover of this tremendous series. Don’t expect to find many happy moments in Low, it’s rather heavy, but definitely expect to be completely immersed in this haunting world.

But wait, I’m sure there's more...

There were a ton more comic books that I read and that were released in 2016, and I'm sure there are plenty of other comics I somehow forgot to mention or have not yet bought or read. If there are any glaring omissions, please let me know. There's plenty of room at the Donist World corporate offices for more comics and...hold on a sec...actually, Amy the intern (my wife) has corrected me and said that "No, there is not plenty of room here." <psssttt...hey denizens, let me know anyways. I can totally sneak more comics in on the down low. Just let me know. We can do this…>

Stay tuned next week for the “Donist World 16 (Times Two) Heavenly Things!”


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