2016 was another year filled with comic book events. From the return of Wally West and pre-Flashpoint Superman to Marvel’s superheroes fighting one another in another Civil War this was not a quiet year for comics. For myself 2016, specially the end of the year, mark my full return to the comic book industry. There was a good period of the year where I wasn’t reading comics at all and that break helped me revitalize my love for comic books, that before was waning. Now revitalize there were 10 comic books that specifically helped me rediscover my love for the industry. Below is a breakdown of the Top 10 comic books.
10) Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artists: Hendry Prasetya, Thony Silas and Jon Lam
Probably the biggest surprise of 2016 is Mighty Morphin Power Rangers by Kyle Higgins, Hendry Prasetya, Thony Silas and Jon Lam. Kyle Higgins was able to take the Power Rangers franchise, known for its campiness, and turn it into a serious comic book that added depth to the franchise. Starting his run right after Tommy Oliver joins the team after they saved him from Rita Repulsa’s control was an excellent choice. Now we enter 2017 with a brand new addition to the mythos with the introduction of a Green and White Ranger hybrid character. This all added up to Power Rangers finding a second life in comic book form and another for fans to enjoy the characters as we know them leading into however the movie turns out. (Please let it be good Zordon!)
9) Black Widow
Writers: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
Artists: Chris Samnee
When I heard that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee were returning to collaborate on Black Widow I did not hesitate to buy this new series immediately. The trust between the two creators is on full display in Black Widow as Samnee continues to show his ability to tell stories with his artwork alone. Black Widow has also benefitted from the fact that it has not been dragged into any other story going on at Marvel. This has made it so Waid and Samnee can keep their stories exploring Natasha Romanoff’s history and current status without interruption. And as this latest Black Widow series has shown, there is a lot of potential in exploring Natasha’s history and adventures outside the Avengers.
Writers: Tim Seeley and Steve Orlando
Arists: Yanick Paquette, Javier Fernandez, Roge Antonio, Marcio Takara and Marcus To
Grayson was one of the best comic books during DC’s New 52 era. And we were lucky to have Tim Seeley, one half of the Grayson team, return to write Nightwing. With Seeley on board he has been able to continue Dick Grayson’s adventures as Nightwing while bringing in elements of his spy life. In merging both Dick’s superhero and spy lives Seeley has transformed the character into a global hero. At the same time, Seeley is now exploring who Dick Grayson’s is in and out of his superhero life. This has all led the character to return to Bludhaven, which is back thanks to DC Rebirth. Now we get to see how Dick Grayson moves forward in his life as he continues to create his own legacy outside his mentor’s shadow.
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Veronica Fish, Jack Morelli, Andre Szymanowicz, Jen Vaughn and Joe Eisma
I never thought I would be reading an Archie comic but that is what happened in 2016. Mark Waid’s Archie comic is the exact pallet clenser needed in a world filled with superheroes and dark stories being told all over the place. Waid has been able to modernize these classic characters so that they aren’t just stuck in the same pattern from the 1940s. The structure of the series has allowed the characters to grow as Archie, while the main character, doesn’t always have to appear. Instead, Betty, Veronica and Jughead are also given the spotlight to grow as characters, making the world and the stories told in it a fun reading experience.
6) All-New Wolverine
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artists: David Lopez, Marcio Takara, Ig Guara, Nik Virella and Djibril Morissette-Pha
While 2015 was the start of Laura Kinney becoming the new Wolverine, 2016 was the year she made the role her own. Over the course of this year writer Tom Taylor has shown us how Laura is not setting out to be Logan. Instead she is looking to honor his legacy by being the hero that protects those around her. In making Laura embrace her role as Wolverine, Taylor has been able to explore the character’s history once again and use to help grow the character both in and out of the Wolverine costume. The current arc “Enemy of the State II” is a great example of that as Laura’s history is now catching up to her, creating a sense of danger for the character and the Marvel Universe as whole.
Writer: Jason Latour
Artists: Robbi Rodriguez, Bengal, Chris Brunner, Chris Visions and Jason Latour
From her breakout appearance in Spider-Verse to getting her own series Spider-Gwen has been a force to be reckoned with. As the second volume in the Spider-Gwen franchise, Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez have continued Spider-Gwen’s momentum into 2016 by taking away her spider powers. With a villainous Matt Murdock taking full advantage of the young Gwen Stacy’s lack of powers Latour has explored new shades of grey with the character. It’s also opened up the door to see how Gwen’s relationships with characters like MJ and Harry Osborn are different from the Peter’s relationship with them in the main Marvel Universe. All of this has made Spider-Gwen’s Earth-65 a world that I look forward to reading about every month.
4) Old Man Logan
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Andrea Sorrentino and Filipe Andrade
What’s made Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino’s Old Man Logan so great is that they have brought back a sense of mystery to the Logan character. And unlike the Logan we’ve know this version of the character’s pain comes from all the memories he does have thanks to coming from a world where the villains won. This was on full display with Lemire’s recent “The Last Ronin” arc. With this arc we got to see how Logan’s history in another clashed with the one he is currently on.
Making Old Man Logan an even better comic has been the fantastic artwork by Andrea Sorrentino. There are very few artists that match Sorrentino in storytelling ability. The way he is able to frame his pages is beyond wonderful. Each time we get a double page splash image it is something special as Sorrentino is able to frame it the entire sequence in a unique way. There is no better example of this then when he framed an entire sequence taking place in two time periods within a body of a dragon. Sorrentino’s art alone makes Old Man Logan a must read, Lemire’s fantastic writing just seals that deal.
3) Superman: American Alien
Writer: Max Landis
Artists: Matthew Clark, Nick Dragotta, Tommy Lee Edwards, Mark Buckingham, Joelle Jones, Steve Dillon, Jae Lee, Francis Manapul, Jonathan Case and Jock
When it comes to definitive Superman comic books American Alien is amongst the best. Clark’s personal journey throughout the series made him a much more grounded character that elevated what it means to be Superman. The fact that we had a Superman that needed to show even greater control over his powers for his own benefit made the battles much more intriguing as Kryptonite wasn’t the only thing that could take him down anymore. It also gave us the opportunity to see what would happen if Clark posed as Bruce Wayne for a day.
The line-up of artists Landis had to work with each issue was equally impressive. Each artist from Tommy Lee Edwards to Jock brought something different to the table and they each maximized the time period in Clark’s life that they were given to explore. Hopefully Landis gets the opportunity to give us a sequel to American Alien as the details of ideas he has in mind sound incredible.
2) Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artists: Freddie Williams II
When it comes to dream team-up comics that I never thought we would get is Batman and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But that is exactly what we got in 2016 and it was magical. James Tynion IV delivered on everything we could want from such a crossover from Batman battling the Turtles to Shredder transforming Batman’s villains into animal creatures.
At the same time, through all of the fan service moments there was equally touching character moments. Batman explaining his backstory to Raphael in particular is one of the best moments of 2016 in comics
Writers: Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Artists: Doug Mahnke, Patrick Gleason and Jorge Jimenez
From the moment DC Rebirth started Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason’s Superman has been a pure joy to read. While the title says Superman this is very much a series about Clark Kent, Lois Lane-Kent and Jonathan Kent’s lives together as a family. Tomasi and Gleason have done a wonderful making the Kent’s a strong family unit who would do anything to keep each other safe.
At the same time, this series has perfectly evolved Jonathan into becoming Superboy by having Superman do something we’ve never seen him do, mentor someone. The fact that they are father and son has made their relationship even better. And if you need the best example of how great this series is read Superman #7. That issue alone is the example as to how Superman is the gold standard amongst today’s comic books.
Those are my Top 10 comic books of 2016. What are your personal Top 10? Let us know in the comment section below.