Hello, all you Turkey Toms and Turkey . . . Tammies? Tinas? Tiffanys? In the spirit of this fine American holiday of extortion and genocide, lets take a moment to think back on all the comics that made us happy this year to give thanks to those creators that took the time to make something wonderful for us to enjoy.
#1 Ms. Marvel Civil War II Tie-ins by G. Willow Wilson and Takeshi Miyazawa & Adrian Alphona:
I’m incredibly thankful that this comic even exists right now, but especially the Civil War II tie-in for not being an empty reference to an event book. Kamala’s journey in this arc is so relevant and necessary to her growth as a character and, in my mind, completes the coming of age narrative that has been central to her story (more of this coming in a future post). I’m incredibly excited to see where Wilson takes Kamala following the events of Civil War II.
#2 Dead No More: The Clone Conspiracy #2 by Dan Slott and Jim Cheung:
This issue adds a new and interesting development to the story that brings some much needed immediacy back to Amazing Spider-Man. Also, the events of Spider-Verse continue to be relevant and play an interesting role in the shape of the story to come, and that’s always fun.
#3 Spider-Man/Deadpool by Joel Kelly and Ed McGuinness:
Deadpool may be an even bigger Spider-fan than I am, which is saying something, and I absolutely love reading that play out. On top of that, this series makes some real gutsy moves. Not the least of which being actually killing (if temporarily) Peter Parker. Add to that the teasing references to one of the worst ret-cons in comics history (yes, I’m still pissed and will be pissed forever, Joe Quesada!), giving me a glimmer of hope for a course correction, and this just becomes an incredibly fun read.
#4 Civil War II by Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez:
Mostly, thank you for not being a complete redux of either Captain America: Civil War or the previous Civil War event.
#5 Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli:
Mostly, I’m thankful for this book not being a tired retread of Amazing Spider-Man. Miles Morales is an essential character with concerns that are fundamentally different from Peter Parker’s.
Honorable Mention: Secret Wars by Jonathan Hickman and Esad Ribic
The Whole event was largely useless; and, in my opinion, wasted the resources of the entire Avengers writing and editing staff, taking years to set up a reset that was pretty much unnecessary. However, it did mountains of good by bringing Miles Morales into the 616 universe. For that, at least, I am grateful. (editor’s note: Cheers to that! Miles is great. We like Miles Morales.)
#1 The Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta
A dark, somber and unsettling take on a relatively obscure Marvel hero (aside from his more recent appearance in the Marvel CU) that has a long and interesting history, King takes The Vision in a refreshing direction for this miniseries. What I love about this series is its willingness to let emotion and meaning permeate the page, forcing the reader to take in the artwork of each issue. Dialogue is minimal, and narration is often enigmatic and opaque, making it a story that forces the reader to pay attention. It is a wonderful example of what the old guard of the Marvel universe can do when creators are given the freedom to tell great stories rather than build toward another big event.
#2 Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
This should be of little surprise to anyone, as this book is pretty much universal praised as one of the best comics out there, but I’m still going to take the time to put it on my list because I have never been so affected by a book in my life. SC is both a wonderfully funny story about people exploiting their ability to stop time when they climax to outsmart a banking giant, and an honest look at the sexual complexities of everyday people. It is rare to have sexual preferences and what may be called fetishes treated with such humility, honesty, and care; but, this is one of the tenets of the narrative. As the protagonists fumble through their journey they meet a former porn star turned tenured professor, an anime . . . enthusiast? an asexual thrill seeker, among many others. There is nothing but love in this story, a lot of sweet, sticky love. And, that’s a good thing.
#3 The Fix by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber
Do you like laughing your ass off? Do you have political corruption? Do you like laughing at political corruption? I do. And boy does Spencer and company know how to twist the comedy knife in deep. There is literally, and I do mean that literally, nothing Nick Spencer will not address in this series. Like, really. The man is bold in the best way. The story follows to hapless criminals turned detectives who use their authority to continue being criminals. It’s great. Also, there is a dog. He’s great. Every issues is like reading a classic Tarantino movie. I love Quentin Tarantino. Do you see why I love this comic so much? Good.
#4 Moonshine by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
Not a comic that immediately came up on my radar, but one that I am so glad I picked up, Moonshine is another story that blends the real with the fantastic. It takes place in the 1920s South during prohibition, with the protagonist working to seal a deal with a Southern moonshiner and his New York City boss. Some spooky evisceration occurs, and some mysteries begin to crop up, and pretty soon you have me eating out of Brian Azzarello’s hand because I cannot get enough of this story.
#5 Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios:
I put this book on my list because it does what I think almost every great storyteller tries to accomplish, which is to bring the fantastic to the visceral. For DeConnick and Rios, this is presented through the commingling of the supernatural and the historical (ranging, so far, from the Wild West to WWI). As a fan of both of these genres, I was hooked from the start. But, more than that, I appreciate what DeConnick and Rios do with the comic medium, manipulating principles of comic structure to create a tapestry of beautiful narrative and artwork. Each page is like an elaborate visual story that requires a careful eye to navigate. Also, it has badass women doing badass sword work and gun slinging. Awesome!
(Dis)Honorable Mention: Chormp Zandusky (aka Chirp Zducky, Chomp Blamdansky, and Chip Zdarsky)
While this list is generally aimed at the specific comics that gave us thanks, I have to include this wonderful creator in my list because he has brought me so many great comics this year, and his Twitter game is . . .um . . . it’s acceptable. It’s fine. Whether it’s his amazing work on Jarhead, Howie the Drake, or Makeout Bandits, I always have something amazing to look forward to each month. Seriously, if you’re not reading Zderky’s books, you are doing yourself a disservice. While his ability to draw humor out of almost any situation (especially Spider-Man’s strangely resilient teen angst) makes every book a pleasure, I truly appreciate his capacity to find room for a poignant moment in all the laughter. Howie #11-12 were touching and uproarious; a tough mixture to master. So, I have to tip my hat to this dapper Canadian fellow. Thanks for what you’ve given me, Chirt!