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B E S T
G R A P H I C
N O V E L :
-MARCH: Book Three, by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell (Top Shelf) ⇧
Congressman John Lewis concludes his trilogy tracing his path through Civil Rights history.
Crucial and timeless reading.
B E S T
C O M I C S :
I M A G E
-SAGA, by Fiona Staples and Brian K. Vaughan ⇧ _______
Staples and Vaughan are creating a Space Fantasy for the ages. Their trademark blend of hilarity, surprises, heartbreak, and snark only gets better with expansion.
-PAPER GIRLS, by Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang ⇧ _______
Proving himself one of the most invaluable writers working, Vaughan teams with artist Chiang (coming off his acclaimed run on WONDER WOMAN) for this psychoactive time puzzle. Started well before the debut of STRANGER THINGS, they navigate the emprises of four paper delivery girls from 1988 colliding sideways into gods, the universe, and everything.
Heady stories, crack timing, bold color, and slippery text.
Image Comics continues its startling and unlikely renaissance with excellent titles like these.:
-ODY-C, by Matt Fraction and Christian Ward _______
The female Odyssey in cosmidelic galactiscope.
-MONSTRESS, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda _______
-THE AUTUMNLANDS, by Kurt Busiek, Benjamin Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire _______
Sharp Fantasy with great characters and art.
-THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie _______
The premise of gods as doomed rock stars gets deeper, louder.
-NOWHERE MEN, by Eric Stephenson and Nate Bellegarde ⇧ _______
After a four-year delay, Volume 2 arrives with more of the repercussions of a Beatlesque quartet of inventors on the world.
-DESCENDER, by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen _______
-BLACK SCIENCE, by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, and Dean White _______
Alter native realty with alternate realities.
-INVISIBLE REPUBLIC, by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman _______
Galactic revolution or false crusade?
-SEX CRIMINALS, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky ⇧ _______
Sex-Positive and positively sexy.
Also more intimate and explorative.
-SOUTHERN CROSS, by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger _______
In space no one can hear you scream.
-LAZARUS, by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark _______
LA FEMME NIKITA meets THE GODFATHER.
-PRETTY DEADLY, by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios ⇧ _______
Spaghetti Western gothadelic.
M A R V E L
-MIRACLEMAN: The Golden Age #4-6, by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham ⇧
With MIRACLEMAN, Alan Moore created the postmodern deconstructed hero.
After completely transforming and elevating the comics medium across the '80s, he then handed the pivotal series over to his friend Neil Gaiman to usher in the '90s. Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham completed one arc, "The Golden Age", before legal fiascos put everything on hold for two decades.
Thankfully, Marvel Comics has ended this cultural crime by restoring comics' greatest lost masterpiece. Over the last two years, they have reprinted the entire series with remastered art, new color and lettering, and guest-artist covers. Having restored Moore's work in MIRACLEMAN #1-16 (2015), they culminate with this 6-issue run of Gaiman's work.
Cross your fingers and let's hope that Gaiman and Buckingham can at last create and release their long-planned Second and Third Arcs which will finish the character's ultimate journey.
-THE MIGHTY THOR, by Jason Aaron And Russell Dauterman ⇧ _______
Lady Jane fights cosmic and internal struggles bigger than comprehension, and proves worthy every time.
-THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson _______
She has the powers of both squirrel and girl. She can't be beat.
-MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR, by Amy Reeder, Brandon Montclare, and Natacha Bustos _______
A delightful rethink of Kirby concepts from the duo behind ROCKET GIRL (Image).
-BLACK WIDOW, by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee _______
This is Marvel's second recent attempt to give the superspy Natasha spotlight.
Another fine Fleming/Ludlum-esque thriller that reads like the great film we keep waiting for.
-MS. MARVEL, by G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona ⇧ _______
Kamala Khan is one of the best characters of this decade.
-SPIDER-GWEN, by Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez _______
The plots are as loose as the art, held together mainly by the strong concept and by inspired additions like the alternate universe Captain America.
-PATSY WALKER, a.k.a., Hellcat!, by Kate Leth and Brittney L. Williams _______
Patsy Walker started out as a '40s Timely Comics response to ARCHIE, before becoming a superhero in '76.
This whimsical series bring back all the charms of the classic Archie style with all the forward thinking of recent Archie comics.
BLACK PANTHER, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze ⇧ _______
Coates, the award-winning author and social critic for The Atlantic, restores clarity, vision, and overview to the king of Wakanda.
THE VISION, by Tom King and Gabriel Hernández _______
An acclaimed 12-issue run that challenges what it is to be human or normal, as a slow-burn boils to conflagration.
DOCTOR STRANGE, by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo, + _______
The ubiquitous Jason Aaron is one of the most varied and interesting writers in current comics.
HOWARD THE DUCK, by Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones, + _______
With the brother book to SQUIRREL GIRL, Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) channels that classic Steve Gerber smartass sass.
SCARLET WITCH, by James Robinson and Vanesa Del Rey, Marco Rudy, + _______
A contemplative and stylish restoration of Wanda, akin to Azzarello and Chiang's Wonder Woman run.
-SILVER SURFER, by Dan Slott, Michael Allred, and Laura Allred _______
Rolling on a superlative Lee/Kirby wave.
W A R S
Marvel is making brilliant STAR WARS comics that read like movies between the movies.
Set between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, the STAR WARS book follows the rebel side while the DARTH VADER book counter-charts the Imperial side concurrently.
Note: At issues #13-14 for each, they converged into a cross-over event called VADER DOWN before diverging back into their own title arcs.
-STAR WARS, by Jason Aaron and John Cassaday ⇧
Everything fun about STAR WARS; heists, dogfights, curveballs, vistas, carping, duels, absurdity, family.
Plus Sana Starros, Han Solo's other half.
-DARTH VADER, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca ⇧
Everything edgy about STAR WARS; schemes, melees, treachery, dominion, discord, duels, tragedy, dysfunction.
Plus the terrific Doctor Aphra (above, left).
There are also excellent supplementary mini-series and one-shots, including these standouts.:
-STAR WARS: Han Solo, by Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks _______
A mini-series by novelist Marjorie Liu so spot-on and fun that George Lucas reportedly loved it.
-STAR WARS: Poe Dameron, by Charles Soule and Phil Noto _______
The least-developed character of The Force Awakens somehow takes on full-life here in this twisty and lively series.
The dialogue nails Oscar Issac's gung-ho swagger, and Noto's art is typically excellent.
-EMPRESS, by Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen _______
A STAR WARS-esque romp focused around a rebellious queen escaping an insidious empire.
-SUPERMAN: American Alien, by Max Landis, Nick Dragotta, Tommy Lee Edwards, and Evan Shaner
The upbringing of Clark Kent has been covered in many variations over the decades.
Writer Max Landis (the DIRK GENTLY tv series showrunner) brings a fresh perspective with these incisive short stories across his growing years, backed up by a cadre of artists.
- WATCHMEN (1986) is a graphic novel by writer Alan Moore and artist Dave Gibbons, with color by John Higgins.
- They are the sole creators of this original saga, despite a copyright swindle by the publisher.
- This is a self-contained story, period.
- Any other "before" or "after" supplements are a complete fraud perpetrated by the greedy and supported by the foolish.
V E R T I G O
THE SHERIFF OF BABYLON, by Tom King and Mitch Gerads ⇧ _______
A murder mystery during the aftermath of the Iraq War.
-ASTRO CITY, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, + Alex Ross _______
Stellar and expansive, true to its name.
The alternate universe of everything great about the varied Ages of Comics.
Y O U N G
A N I M A L
Young Animal is the new imprint of rock star/writer Gerard Way, carrying on the mantle of mid-'90s Vertigo Comics.
SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL, by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone _______
The more things change the more they stay insane.
Loma Shade is a puckish delight. Castellucci's wit is sharp and Zarcone's clean graphics flow.
-DOOM PATROL, by Gerard Way and Nick Derington _______
Gerard Way does a sterling job of channeling the spirit of his mentor, Grant Morrison, in this great reboot. Derington's art makes it a candy store of the senses.
D A R K
H O R S E
-HOUSE OF PENANCE, by Peter J. Tomasi and Ian Bertram ⇧ _______
It's true that the Winchester rifles widow built an endless mansion for twenty years to stave off death.
This horror fantasy imagines why, with spectacular graphics by Ian Bertram.
-HELLBOY IN HELL, by Mike Mignola _______
After a sprawl of years, the final saga of Hellboy at last comes to pass.
B O O M
Boom Studios is making a wide range of excellent All Ages and Teen+ comics that everyone should check out.
Roy Thomas once said, "The Golden Age of Comics is 8."
But what happens when youngsters have no way in? The Direct Market of the early-'80s, in which comic books shifted from newstands to private shops, was the best thing and the worst thing that ever happened to the medium: The best, because it liberated the creators to try every innovation in works geared for a mature audience; The worst, because it all left kids behind with no entry point. (This is why the new movies, reflecting the adult-oriented comics, are too rough for kids.) So where were kids and young teens to go for the last 30 years but to video games, cartoon channels, YA books, and tweenie TV?
Thankfully, some publishers like Boom, Oni, First Second, and Scholastic are starting to change that by bringing back smart all-ages comics and graphic novels for new minds to enjoy.
-JONESY, by Sam Humphries and Caitlin Rose Boyle ⇧ _______
The hip rocker and covert matchmaker for her school.
-GIANT DAYS, by John Allison, Max Sarin, Caanan Grall, and Lissa Treiman _______
Three young women in their first year of college.
-LUMBERJANES, by Kat Leyh, Shannon Watters, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, and Carolyn Nowak _______
The all-female scout troop comedy that everyone loves.
-STEVEN UNIVERSE & THE CRYSTAL GEMS, by Josceline Fenton and Chrystin Garland _______
Besides an array of original creator-owned series, Boom Studios has continuing original comics based on popular TV series like ADVENTURE TIME, THE DARK CRYSTAL, MIGHTY MORPHIN' POWER RANGERS, RUGRATS, and STEVEN UNIVERSE, including this graphic novel.
V A L I A N T
-FAITH, by Jody Houser and Pere Perez, + Marguerite Sauvage ⇧ _______
Faith is fandom itself if we ever got the chance to be a superhero. Whedon-esque fun for all.
I D W
-STAR TREK, by Mike Johnson and Tony Shasteen ⇧ _______
Since 2011, this sorely underrated TREK series helmed by Mike Johnson has rewritten the Original Series episodes in new outcomes with the Kelvin Universe/STAR TREK-Abrams crew.
Always reverential while fresh, with a clean and accurate art approach that blueprinted Marvel's current STAR WARS comics.
A V A T A R
-PROVIDENCE #7-12, by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Juan Rodriguez _______
Alan Moore completes his maxi-series prequel to NEONOMICON, his subversion and inversion of Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos.
B E S T
N O V E L :
-JERUSALEM, by Alan Moore ⇧ _______
Like Tolkien, Alan Moore's magnum opus -one of the 10 longest books in the English language- was ultimately published as three volumes.
The eclectic narrative uses the historied locale of Northhampton as a prism to refract all the odd angles of the universe, macro to micro. Plugging the mundane into the transcendental has been the underlying theme of Moore's career, from Miracleman and Swamp Thing and Watchmen to Big Numbers and Top 10 and Promethea. This intricate mosaic, which took a decade to write, is his ultimate statement.
B E S T
G R A P H I C
N O V E L S :
-PROVIDENCE, Act 1, by Alan Moore, Jacen Burrows, and Juan Rodriguez (Avatar) ⇧ _______
The first of three volumes compiling Alan Moore's maxi-series prequel to NEONOMICON.
-ROLLING BLACKOUTS: Dispatches From Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, by Sarah Glidden (Drawn & Quarterly) _______
Like Joe Sacco, Sarah Giddens is pioneering a new form of smart, sensitive, humane journalism probing the real world around us.
-5000 km PER SECOND, by Manuele Fior (Fantagraphics) _______
The brackets of a love affair, in lovely watercolors.
-THE ART OF CHARLIE CHAN HOCK CHYE, by Sonny Liew (Pantheon) _______
What seems like a retrospective of the varied art career of the subject is actually a masterful fiction by the talanted Liew.
-HIPHOP FAMILY TREE, Vol. 4: 1984-1985, by Ed Piskor (Pantheon) _______
"The rhymes we say shall set a trend/
Because a devastating rap is what we send!"
-WONDER WOMAN: The True Amazon, by Jill Thompson (DC) _______
Jill Thompson does some of the best watercolor art of her fine career in this take on Diana's origins and motivations.
-WONDER WOMAN: Earth One, by Grant Morrison and Yanick Paquette (DC) _______
Grant Morrison tangos his own angle about 'loving submission', frescoed by the stunning art of Yanick Paquette (Swamp Thing).
-DARK NIGHT: A True Batman Story , by Paul Dini and Eduardo Risso (DC) _______
The true story of how Paul Dini, famed writer for the lauded Batman animated series, recovered from a devestating assault.
-THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL Beats Up The Marvel Universe, by Ryan North and Erica Henderson (Marvel) _______
The monthly comic wasn't enough unconquerable goodness for you, so here's some more in this all-new graphic novel!
-GHOSTS, by Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic Graphix) _______
The bestselling author of SMILE and SISTERS spins another autobio' yarn for all ages.
-HILDA And The Stone Forest, by Luke Pearson (Flying Eye) ⇧ _______
The commended HILDA series stays on the case.
-THE SECRET LOVES OF GEEK GIRLS, by Various Artists (Dark Horse) _______
An anthology of female comics creators taking on all aspects of genre fandom from the angle of romance/heartbreak/connection.
Great work, and fun for all.>
-SERENITY: No Power in the Verse, by Chris Roberson and Georges Jeanty (Dark Horse) ⇧ _______
Following "Leaves On The Wind", this volume continues the winning streak of capturing the chemistry and dialogue of the FIREFLY/SERENITY series.
-ONE HUNDRED NIGHTS OF HERO, by Isabel Greenberg (Little, Brown) _______
The follow-up to the widely hailed "The Encyclopedia of Early Earth" expands here charm, wit, and craft.
A cleaver spin on Scheherazade with parables for the present.
-CARPET SWEEPER TALES, by Julie Doucet (Drawn and Quarterly) _______
Turning to collage, Doucet mashes up '70s fumetti and womens magazines into a critique of social norms with cut-up dialogue.
Like a wicked tryst between Barbara Kruger, William S. Burroughs, and Good Housekeeping.
-BLACK DOG: The Dreams of Paul Nash, by Dave McKean (Dark Horse) ⇧ _______
Dave McKean is one of the finest and most versatile artists in comics history, and every new work is an event.
B E S T
C O L L E C T I O N S /
R E I S S U E S :
-MIRACLEMAN: The Golden Age, by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham ⇧ _______
The commended HILDA series stays on the case.
The most essential and influencial modern supergod is at last back in print, better than ever.
All four volumes are crucial must-haves for any serious supporter of the graphics stories medium.:
- Book 1: A Dream Of Flying
- Book 2: The Red King Gambit
- Book 3: Olympus
- Book 4: The Golden Age
-TURN LOOSE OUR DEATH RAYS AND KILL THEM ALL: The Complete Works Of Fletcher Hanks, by Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics) _______
Fantagraphics combines their previous two collections of Hanks' surreal and unprecedented '40s comics into one vibrating strangeness.
-THE EC ARCHIVES: The Haunt of Fear, The Vault of Horror, Shock SuspenStories, Tales From The Crypt, Weird Fantasy, Weird Science, Two-Fisted Tales, Panic, by various geniuses (Dark Horse) _______
EC Comics were the adult revolution in comics in the early-'50s, the punk rock root of all the ones that followed.
-The Life and Legend of WALLACE WOOD, Vol. 1, by Wally Wood (Fantagraphics) _______
Wally Wood was one of the greatest EC artists, as well as the unacknowledged definer of Marvel's Daredevil.
-BATMAN OMNIBUS By Neal Adams, by Neal Adams (IDW) ⇧ _______
Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams brought adult relevancy to comics with Green Lantern/Green Arrow in the early-'70s.
Then they completely redefined The Batman for the modern era with hardboiled edge, moody darkness, and spectacular naturalistic art.
It's influence is incalculable: without these essential stories, the Miller or Bendis/Maleev Daredevil, the Moench/Sienkiewicz Moon Knight, the Rucka/Williams Batwoman, and the DARK KNIGHT films wouldn't exist.
-WONDER WOMAN: The Golden Age Omnibus, Vol. 1, by Charles Mounton and H.G. Peter (DC) _______
Like the clean-line fun of Captain Marvel, the original Wonder Woman stories were an alternate, better antidote to the '40s boy bash-ups.
Forward feminism and art nouveau style.
-PREZ: The First Teenage President, by Joe Simon and Jerry Grandanetti, + (DC) ⇧ _______
This late-coming and still timely volume collects every appearance of Prez, from his 1973 activist comic to cameos in Supergirl, The Dark Knight Returns, The Sandman, and more.
-PREZ: Corndog-In-Chief, by Mark Russell and Ben Caldwell (DC) ⇧ _______
The recent reboot of Prez with the first female teen president was the riotous satire of corporate tyranny, corrupt politics, and social media stupidity that we desperately needed.
Like the 1973 original, it was cancelled from public inattention.
Catch up here, now.
-KINGDOM COME: 20th Anniversary, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross (DC) _______
When Image Comics destroyed every last ethic and skill level of comics in the early-'90s, this epic and gorgeous direct riposte reset the standards for both, higher.
-The Complete WIMMIN'S COMIX, by Various Artists (Fantagraphics) _______
Underground Comix needed more co-mix, and this series was the female retaliation.
Trina Robbins, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, Lee Marrs, Melinda Gebbie, Phoebe Gloeckner, Carol Lay, and Dori Seda ignited their careers here.
-AL WILLIAMSON'S EMPIRE STRIKES BACK Artist's Edition, by Archie Goodwin, Al Williamson, and Carlos Garzon (IDW) ⇧ _______
This adaptation, led by EC artist Al Williamson, is legendarily brilliant, and was followed by similarly essential versions of BLADE RUNNER and RETURN OF THE JEDI.
-MOEBIUS Library: The World of Edena, by Moebius (Dark Horse) _______
All of Moebius' sprawling '80s saga, in which he moved from hyper-hatching to clean-line, in one handsome volume.
-THE INCAL, by Alexandro Jodorowsky and Moebius (Humaniods) _______
Jodorowsky and Moebius. Insanity ensues.
-CAGES (Second Edition), by Dave McKean (Dark Horse) _______
Dave McKean' timeless '90s masterwork, in one remastered volume.
-WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT: The New Adventures (Second Edition), by Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons + (Dark Horse) _______
In 1998, the finest creators in graphic stories did their heartfelt homages to "The CITIZEN KANE of comics", and every one was a winner.
-AMERICA'S BEST COMICS Artist's Edition, by Alan Moore, J.H Williams III, Kevin Nowlan, Chris Sprouse, Gene Ha, + (IDW) ⇧ _______
This reproduciton of the actual art pages at full size reveals all the naked glory of PROMETHEA, TOP 10, TOM STRONG, and TOMORROW STORIES.
-WALKING THROUGH THE LANDSCAPE OF FAERIE, by Charles Vess (Faerie Magazine) _______
This retrospective honors Fantasy artist Charles Vess, one the best modern heirs to the Golden Age Of Illustration.
-CHEAP NOVELTIES: The Pleasures Of Urban Decay, by Ben Katchor (Drawn & Quarterly) _______
The 1991 classic reprinted in all its sketchy precision and caustic scrutiny.
-R CRUMB'S KAFKA, by Robert Crumb (Fantagraphics) _______
1993 blend of bio, story adaption, and assessment of Kafta's work and influence.
-LAST LOOK: X-ed Out, The Hive, Sugar Skull, by Charles Burns (Pantheon) _______
Charles Burns' entire X-ED trilogy in one huge edition.
-PRINCE OF CATS, by Ronald Wimberly (Image) _______
The hiphop samurai gloss on "Romeo And Juliet" returns, verily.
-BAND FOR LIFE, by Anya Davidson (Fantagraphics) ⇧ _______
Hilarious street art about a punk band with no chance and all the attitude.
-MEAT CAKE BIBLE, by Dame Darcy (Fantagraphics) _______
All of Darcy's scandelous and berserk Meat Cake comics (1993-2008) in one unholy trove.
-SUNSTONE, Vol. 4, by Stjepan Sejic (Image/Top Cow) _______
Tightening the bonds of desire and romance.
WHERE WE COME FROM, Dept.
Explore the past to map the future.
Get with, get going.
-WONDER WOMAN: A CELEBRATION OF 75 YEARS, by Various Artists (DC)
All hail the queen.
-WE TOLD YOU SO: Comics As Art, by Various (Fantagraphics)
Fantagraphics is the Oxford of comics, knocking the dumb out of comicdom, with scholarly critiques of the entire medium in the pages of The Comics Journal.
This overview clues everyone in on how, since the '70s, they have sheparded the maturity movement into public awareness.
-THE 10¢ WAR: Comic Books, Propaganda, and World War II, essays by Various Authors (University Press of Mississippi)
An academic lens on the tropes, stereotypes, mtehods, and motives of American WWII comics.
B E S T
M O V I E S
a n d
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-DOCTOR STRANGE ⇧
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