As alluded to in my previous article about the best of 2016, we are living in a golden age of comics in which there are so many great titles being released every month it is hard to keep track of it all. To help you navigate this avalanche of awesomeness, here is a list of the new comics I am most excited to read in 2017.
Note: As most comics can be pre-ordered three months before they are released, all of these books can be ordered through your local comic shop now ! If, unlike me, you actually have some patience and can wait until the release date, check with Comixology and other digital comics apps/sites on the day.
Darkness Visible, Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David (IDW):
The brilliant Mike Carey (Lucifer, Unwritten) is once again delving into the horror genre with this story of a police officer possessed by a demon. As always, Carey is creating – with artist Arvind Ethan David – a richly complex world in which his protagonist will fight demons both literal and metaphorical. In this world demons helped end World War 2, after being promised a home on Earth. In the eighty years since there has been a fraught détente, now shifting into a phase of terrorist attacks by demons. With such an interesting background and a track record of interesting characters, this is one comic which is a must buy ! Issue #1 is out on 15th February.
The Old Guard, Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez (Image):
This is another new book from another writer whose work I love. Greg Rucka had an amazing 2016, with his incredible work on Wonder Woman, the introduction of the cool witch in Black Magick and continuing to twist our minds with the sci-fi dystopia of Lazarus. All of these comics are continuing (in the case of Black Magick, returning) in 2017, so you would think Rucka can rest on his laurels just a little. Nope, luckily for us he cannot, and is releasing a new comic about immortals, The Old Guard. The Old Guard has immortal warriors fighting in the modern age, with flashbacks to their pasts. Rucka has described the book as a musing on mortality and morality, featuring a “badass woman with a sword”. He has teamed up with an artist whose work also impressed me in 2016, Leonardo Fernandez, who worked with Peter Milligan on the horror comic The Discipline. Fernandez’s art style uses shadows and thicker lines to great effect, and he is a great choice for a comic about a grim warrior. Issue #1 is released on 22nd February.
Baltimore: Red Kingdom, Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson and Peter Bergting (Dark Horse):
The saga of Lord Baltimore is my favourite story in the Hellboy universe, and this miniseries brings that story to what I am sure will be an epic conclusion. Baltimore has been seeking revenge for almost 40 issues now, and now that the major threat of the series has pulled the trigger, it seems he will finally have that revenge. However, Lord Baltimore is nowhere to be seen. How will the world defeat this apocalypse without its major hero ? Will the ill-fated Baltimore find the peace he seeks ? I for one cannot wait to find out ! Issue #1 of this 5 issue limited series comes out 1st February.
Death Be Damned, Ben Acker & Ben Blacker, Andrew Miller and Hannah Christensen (BOOM! Studios):
Whilst writing this article I have realised something about the way I choose which comics I want to read. Looking over the list I realise that what gets me excited about comics are the people involved in creating it – not who the character is, or by whom the book is published. If they are creators I like then I will be eager to read their comic. And read is the important word here. All of the comics on this list feature writers I love doing new work. I love comic art, and the artist does influence my choice, but it seems it is the writer who draws me in. Having said that, it will come as no surprise I am intrigued about this book because it is being written by the Ben’s Acker & Blacker (who wrote the best story-based podcast “Thrilling Adventure Hour”). They once again play with the Western genre, this time by adding a supernatural element. The protagonist, Miranda Cole, seeks revenge on the bandits who killed her family. This vengeance drives her even beyond death, as she cannot be killed. Yet each time she is resurrected she forgets more of her previous life, thus threatening her chance to find redemption via violence. This limited series has its first issue released on 8th February.
Super Sons, Peter J Tomasi and Jorge Jimenez (DC):
I was surprised at just how great many of the DC Rebirth comics were (see my 2016 retrospective for more on this). The Superman title, in particular, won me over in a big way. It featured the “original” Superman and Lois Lane, with new addition Jon, their super-powered son. Peter Tomasi has done a great job charting the growth of Jon, especially in the two issue story featuring Jon and the similarly aged – yet completely differently skilled – Damian Wayne. So a comic written by Tomasi featuring both of these characters was always going to score highly on my patented excite-o-meter ! #1 out on 15th February.
X-O Manowar, Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello (Valiant):
Similarly, this comic has the perfect blend of a writer I am in awe of and a character who is interesting (not to mention kick-ass). Matt Kindt has been writing clever books for both Valiant (4001 AD,Divinity) and other publishers (Dept H, Mind MGMT) and the recently concluded volume of X-O Manowar brilliantly evolved the role of an already interesting character. So, when Valiant announced this second volume would be written by Kindt I was adding it to my standing order before I could say “Aric the Barbarian” ! Kindt has said he has plans for the character which will play out twelve months, leaving him in positions which will make him the most important character in the universe. To quote the great sage Fry, from Futurama: “Shut up and take my money !” The first issue will be released on 22nd March. You can order a special bundle with extra content at your local comic shop, but must do so by January 26th.
Tales of Beanworld Volume 4, Larry Marder (Dark Horse):
There are only two comic series which I will buy on sight, on release day regardless of how long it takes for each issue to appear. They are the masterpiece which is Love & Rockets and this one: Tales of Beanworld. This is the most unique comic you will read, as it doesn’t just follow the life of a hero character and their companions. Instead, Larry Marder creates a new world with its own rules, processes and environments. We examine these features while we watch the antics of Mr Spook, Professor Garbanzo and Beanish as they lead expeditions to obtain food, invent better ways of eating and creating new works of art, respectively. To reveal plot and character does a disservice to Larry Marder’s magnum opus; it is a comic which must be experienced. As always, I cannot wait to explore Beanworld again. Come with me, and you too will joyfully shout “Hoo Ha Ha !” and “Hoka Hoka Hey !” when this book is released on 8th March.
American Gods: Shadows, Neil Gaiman & P Craig Russell and Scott Hampton (Dark Horse):
The American Gods multimedia blitz reaches comics in March with the first issue of the ongoing series, based on the novel by Neil Gaiman. P Craig Russell is breaking the novel into comics, in much the same way he did for many Gaiman stories over the years (most recently The Graveyard Book). Once again Russell is handing the art to someone else (which is a shame, I love seeing his fine-line illustrations), this time the amazing painter Scott Hampton. The plan appears to be to break the story down into three arcs over thirty issues of comics and while it sadly is not a new story, any further collaboration between Neil Gaiman and P Craig Russell is worth your time ! The first issue is out on 15th March, but there is a David Mack cover – shown in the title image above – you may want to pre-order (I already have ! Lack of patience strikes again !)
Royal City, Jeff Lemire (Image):
Jeff Lemire has proven to be one of the best writer of multi-faceted and interesting characters in comics history. Even when playing in different genres like sci-fi (Trillium), post-apocalypse (Sweet Tooth) or super heroes (Moon Knight) Lemire imbues his protagonists with subtle personalities. These personalities tend to drive the story, even when a bigger plot surrounds them (see his excellent work on Bloodshot Reborn for a great example of this) . This year he returns to a more grounded setting in his family drama Royal City. On his blog Lemire describes the story as a serialized graphic novel charting the loves, lives and losses of a troubled family and vanishing town across three decades. The description has me thinking of Twin Peaks, in which an initial mystery reveals more than the town and it’s people are comfortable with. I reckon this will be the comics equivalent of the Great American Novel. Issue # 1 is unleashed on 22nd March.
Cloak & Dagger Volumes 1 & 2.
Shadows & Light (Volume 1) by Bill Mantlo, Al Milgrom, Chris Claremont and Ed Hannigan, Rick Leonardi, Ron Frenz, Tony Salmons, Kerry Gammill, Bill Sienkiewicz. Released 21st February
Lost & Found (Volume 2) by Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi, Terry Shoemaker, Marc Silvestri, Mike Mignola, Art Adams, Bret Blevins, June Brigman, Larry Stroman. Released 21st March
Okay, you’ve caught me. This one is a cheat, as it is not a new comic ! These two volumes collect all of the Cloak & Dagger stories of the 1980s. The first volume, Shadows & Light, collects the Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man issues which introduced the duo and explained their origin. Without spoiling too many details, the pair are teenagers who were forced to take a drug which gave them powers. Tandy Bowen gained light-based powers, including “daggers” which dealt damage and purified the target, while Tyrone Johnson became at one with a dark dimension which flowed out of his body to hurt others. Thus the duo became Dagger and Cloak, heroes fighting against drug dealers and the disadvantages of their powers. Volume Two – Lost & Found – collects all of the issues from the Cloak & Dagger series along with other stories not previously collected. As well as these collections showcasing stories I adored when I first read them way back when, they have some of the earliest work of superstar artists such as Marc Silvestri, Rick Leonardi, Art Adams and Baltimore’s own Mike Mignola ! These volumes are well worth a read, whether you are revisiting the characters (and catching up on stories which were hard to find) or meeting them for the first time.
GS Blogger: Brett Harris