In our last chapter of this look at my favorite comics of 2016, Brubaker and Phillips debut a new noir tale, Archie Comics continues to reintroduce the girls, DC Comics introduces a new imprint and much more!
Before you read through, make sure to read part 1, which covered January through April, and part 2, for May through August. In today’s part 3, we look at the last four months of 2016, September through December.
Earlier this year, Ed Brubaker’s and Sean Phillips’ The Fade Out ended, but now we have a brand new tale from the pair. I think, amazingly, this may be my favorite collaboration yet. Kill Or Be Killed follows a grad student in New York City who isn’t having the best time of things. He hates his roommate and is in love with his best friend… who happens to be dating his roommate. Dylan is a bit of a sad sack, and when he goes through a botched suicide attempt, changing his mind and begging not to die, his whole life changed.
No, he didn’t have a realization that life is too important to give up on. This isn’t a Frank Capra story. Instead, a demon offers him a deal: kill one bad person a month or forfeit your own life. Whether it was a hallucination or a new order of things, Dylan goes about trying to stay alive, and that means others have to die.
The first arc of the book is wrapped up, giving readers Dylan’s backstory, his complicated relationship with his best friend and his roommate and his first few kills under his belt. The story is a great noir tale of moral gray areas within the backdrop of New York City – and I love books where the City is a supporting character the way it is here. Phillips’ art is once again some of the best I’ve ever seen, with every panel exploding with expression. There never seems to be any wasted space on any page.
With the book’s next chapter scheduled to start in January, and the first collected edition scheduled for the same day, Kill Or Be Killed is a book that any fan of crime stories should be reading.
More Girls For Archie
The reinvention of the Riverdale gang continued into the end of 2016, as the publisher introduced a book featuring Josie and the Pussycats and brought everyone’s favorite witch into the pages of the new Jughead.
I had lost interest in the Jughead book, but bringing Sabrina the Teenage Witch into the mix definitely seemed to reinvigorate things there. While she has a pretty well-regarded horror title with Archie, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, her appearance in Jughead brings the character back in line with her classic interpretation, and the TV show with Melissa Joan Hart.
With the ninth issue of Jughead, Ryan North took over as writer and North added a new wrinkle for Archie’s best bud to deal with: a girl wearing a burger costume promoting Pop’s. Because Jughead is a human garbage disposal, he asks the girl out and ends up on his first date… with Sabrina. North’s take on what a date with Jughead would be like and the aftermath, with a jilted witch, was a great tale. Whether or not Sabrina sticks around after her three-issue arc, the Jughead book has become just as much fun as the main Archie book.
Another amazing book coming out of Archie Comics is Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio’s take on Josie & the Pussycats, which debuted in their own book in September. The band was brought together when Josie, always dreaming of a music career but unable to achieve stardom on her own, joins up with her friend Melody and Valerie, a veterinarian with a beautiful voice, to form a supergroup that impresses everyone in town.
The book’s three issues so far have been an absolute joy to read, as Bennett and Deordio write a fun and breezy book that often breaks the fourth wall and sucks the reader in to the story. The interactions between the girls is smart and witty and the situations the band has gotten itself into are wacky and wonderful.
With the new TV series just around the corner – which will feature a much darker version of Riverdale – its good to see the publisher making sure the revamped gang continues to have as much fun as possible.
A New Imprint
Some of the best books produced by DC Comics have come from the publisher’s various imprints – Vertigo, Wildstorm, Helix, Milestone Media and others – and in the back third of 2016, we got a brand new one. Headed up by Gerard Way, the frontman for My Chemical Romance, the Young Animal imprint has introduced some weird concepts back into the DC Comics world.
Of the four books that debuted under the imprint, three feature established DC Comics concepts revamped for new series – Doom Patrol, Shade, the Changing Girl and Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye (one of the weirder book titles of the year) – with one brand new concept in Mother Panic, which is rooted in the Batman mythos. The books have a very early Vertigo Comics feel to them, pushing the envelope a bit to establish itself.
While Doom Patrol – written by Gerard Way and considered the imprint’s flagship title – didn’t really appeal to me (I’ve never cared for the group), the other three books have been great reads that are engaging and intriguing. Shade, the Changing Girl follows an alien who takes over the life of a comatose “mean girl” who now must adapt to life as a teenager on Earth. Mother Panic features a celebutant seeking revenge for the horrors she’s experienced, with frequent guest appearances from Batman and his family.
But the real star of the line so far, in my opinion, is Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, which follows the noted explorer and archaeologist as he returns back to the subterranean world of Muldroog – his late wife’s homeland – to see what horrors the company he works for are enacting. The book is full of explosions, adventure and has featured a number of guest shots from low-level DC characters. Lots of fun and worth checking out.
By The Numbers
Keeping track of my purchases month-to-month in 2016, assisted by Comixology. Rebirth quickly upped the number of comics I’m picking up each month:
January – 35 Comics, 1 trade collection
February – 33 Comics, 6 trade collections
March – 38 Comics, 1 trade collection
April – 28 Comics, 3 trade collections
May – 33 Comics, 1 trade collection
June – 41 Comics, 1 trade collection
July – 44 Comics, 2 trade collections
August – 53 Comics, 0 trade collections
September – 48 Comics, 0 trade collections
October – 53 Comics, 0 trade collections
November – 52 Comics, 0 trade collections
December – 43 Comics, 0 trade collections
That’s all for 2016! Here’s hoping 2017 offers just as much fun in comics as the last 12 months have.