Top Ten: The best issues of 2017

When all is said and done, twenty-seventeen has been one hell of a year for comic books in general. We saw the one-year anniversary of DC Comics’ REBIRTH as well as the transcending dawn of “the” METAL, [both] the end of Marvel‘s SECRET WARS and the start of LEGACY, and many things from the extremely diverse selection that is Image Comics. This year was truly one of the better in recent years in-regard to quality of stories.

I’ve said [a few times] before how over the last five years my consumption of comics has changed. I went from a straight up DC Comics; I bleed blue; DC ’till I die guy to now [as I said] reading more than just the “measuring stick.”

So with the year concluding, here’s my Top 10 List of Comics for 2017:

10. MARVEL LEGACY #1 by Jason Aaron, Jim Cheung, Russell Dauterman, Stuart Immonen, Mike Deodato & Joseph L. Quesada

Cover by Joe Quesada, Kevin Nowlan & Richard Isanove

Coming in a number-ten on this countdown of the best comics of 2017 is… MARVEL LEGACY #1, a book to a degree [and in varying ways] a “reboot” spawning out of Marvel‘s SECRET WARS. I essentially had high– eh, wouldn’t necessarily say “high,” but I had hopes that this would reignite Marvel, because as a fan of anything, you know that competition does in fact produce a better product. And I don’t want; whether it’s DC Comics or Image Comics to fall asleep at the wheel.

Something I had said going into this title was that Marvel needed to come back to the heart of their characters, and understand what made them who they were. The universe overall had lacked quite a bit of direction and what made the fans love their characters (ie. Captain America,) which is honestly a killer to comics and we saw that. This one-shot seemed to turn the boat around. It felt a bit like it gave the universe a point to go to– a direction.

You could say that MARVEL LEGACY #1 was a ray of hope, and definitely an attempt to accomplish what DC Comics had with DC UNIVERSE REBIRTH #1. It just narrowly makes my list, and at the least is worth giving a read for the art.

9. DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1 by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Jonathan Glapion & FCO Plascencia

Top Ten: The best issues of 2017

Absolutely smashing the countdown’s door in at number-nine is THE most “metal” event’s premier issue… DARK NIGHTS: METAL #1, which saw the “rebirth”– WINK-WINK, COUGH-COUGH, NUDGE-NUDGE– of the it team in comics, Greg Capullo and Scott Snyder.

After being hyped for what seemed like a year, this first issue [not including the prologues] was one of the best starters to an event I’ve recently read out of DC Comics. It definitely ranks atop of the likes of; FOREVER EVIL, FUTURES END and DARKSEID WAR. This issue had a strong leg-up by laying out the basic groundwork for what was to come, and plays on that by allowing us to get the gist of what was to come while letting there be enough “wiggle room” to throw in twists and turns.

I’ve been pretty consistent on saying that I’ll read any book Capullo is on, and well, METAL is all frosting after him as far as I’m concerned. And this issue was definitely some of the best work Snyder has put out since his “Court of Owls” days, as he introduces a whole new level to the DCU, which will surely [and hopefully] last for years and years to come.

8. SAGA CHAPTER FORTY-SIX by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples


Here at number-eight we’ve got what I would say is arguably the most consistent title out on the shelves… SAGA, CHAPTER FORTY-SIX! I’ve come to find that Brian K. Vaughan (writer) and Fiona Staples (artist) are hands down one of the best creative teams out in the industry, and could easily give any out there a run for their money. Every issue of SAGA is proof of that, and this issue being this years’ prime example.

Staples always manages to capture some of the best imagery in her work, and that’s always true come every issue, but here we saw her locking onto varying degrees of emotion and driving them home. From the interactions between Hazel and Kurti to the intense passion of Sir Robot and Petrichor; this issue could’ve been silent and I feel it would’ve been just as impactful as it was with Vaughan’s dialogue.

That being said, Vaughan is a master wordsman as he has a firm grasp on how to intertwine real world philosophy and ideology with the fantastical of fantasy. He managed to tell a story in this issue [and the overall arc] around a very hot button topic like abortion and that which comes with it. Vaughan did so in a tasteful manner by presenting both sides to it, and while leaning more so Left than Center on doing such, it wasn’t insulting or demeaning to those who line up on the Right side of the aisle.

You can always find intelligent insight in this title, and this particular issue managed to do it best for me this year in whole.

7. GREEN ARROW #33 by Benjamin Percy & Jamal Campbell

GREEN ARROW #33 Cover; Art by Jamal Campbell

Zip-lining in at number-seven we have an issue of the best title out of last year’s mega event REBIRTH from what I would consider a Top 10 Creative Team… GREEN ARROW, #33!

Despite this issue not having its core artists; Otto Schmidt (artist) or Juan Ferreyra (artist,) it does have a substantial artist in Jamal Campbell (artist) who brought it to the table and kept the quality right up there with the formers. His style definitely enhanced Benjamin Percy’s (writer) story, and played well with Oliver’s character. You could feel a jolt of life; of fresh air– not saying that Schmidt and Ferreyra are stale, because they’re not, but it did feel nice to see a different perspective with Campbell.

One thing I’ve been very vocal about with GREEN ARROW is how much I love Percy’s making the Ninth Circle his run’s main antagonist. It gives a fine level of consistency through the encompassing story, and a degree of reality with how difficult it can be rooting out a criminal infestation. This issue continues that, and adds another layer to the ever stacking depth that makes the title the measuring stick for REBIRTH [as far as I’m concerned.]

6. PAPER GIRLS #16 by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson & Jared K. Fletcher

PAPER GIRLS #16 Cover; Art by Cliff Chiang, Colors by Matt Wilson

Moving through time and coming into focus at number-six is the always impressive, and never predictable… PAPER GIRLS, #16!

Issues like this are the very ones that always make me happy that I listened to a friend — thanks Troy — for encouraging me to jump on this title. Brian K. Vaughan (writer) puts on display his diverse storytelling ability to jump from the amazing sci-fi journey that is SAGA (#8 on this Top 10) to this absolutely mind-blowing temporal odyssey.

This particular issue shows an uncanny amount of foresight in understanding where and how he wanted his [Vaughan’s] story to unfold, as we’ve gone through three arcs to get to this point. It functions as a perfect callback to various characters we’ve met over the course of this title’s run [thus far,] and manages to continue enhancing upon the direction it’s headed as we get a firmer grasp on what’s going on.

Whenever I get a chance, I always make a point of shouting out to Cliff Chiang (artist) who has been a favorite of mine since his WONDER WOMAN days with Brian Azzarello (writer,) and to give him props for pumping out some of the best art in comics today. I don’t know how, but he always manages to give us [the readers] beautifully done issue after issue. And here he captured what every sci-fi fan has ever pictured “Y2K” to look like.

I’m not a bowing guy, but Vaughan and Chiang have definitely earned my admiration as they continue to produce solid work.

5. BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1 by Peter J. Tomasi & Francis Manapul

BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1 Cover; Art by Jason Fabok and Brad Anderson

Breaking the glass ceiling of this Top 10, and moving into the elite class taking the number-five slot is a spawn of “the” METAL… BATMAN: THE MERCILESS #1, which in my wholehearted honest opinion is the best book out of this event thus far.

One of the most consistent and underrated writers in the industry is Peter J. Tomasi (writer.) He’s a word-master, and from everything I’ve read of his, he can literally write any character. This issue was a prime example of how Tomasi is capable of transcending characters and story; here he tuned in on the general idea that is METAL and specifically this Bruce Wayne/Batman, as we watched the character be shaped and molded into what I truly believe is the most interesting of the seven.

The character arc of the MERCILESS was quite intense, as it’s heavily from his perspective with inner dialogue and sets him up to be extremely relatable. Tomasi played at our [the readers’] heartstrings by intertwining Bruce and Diana as a couple, and that he “watched” her die as they were attempting to topple Ares once and for all. The twist that occurs at the end of this issue was– dare I say perfect? Yes, yes I do. It was exactly how a twist should be done, as I [personally] didn’t see it coming and it only enhanced the story and character for me.

4. DESCENDER #26 by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

DESCENDER #26 Cover; Art by Dustin Nguyen

Warp-driving into slot number-four is the best “robot” story I’ve read in the last five years… DESCENDER, #26!

When it comes to my Top 5 creative teams, Jeff Lemire (writer) and Dustin Nguyen (artist) are firmly on that list. The two play exceptionally well off of one another, as Nguyen corners the industry [in my opinion] when it comes to a water-color style. His work really is under the spotlight in this specific issue, as you get this overwhelming feel of all the issues built to this one and he’s reached a degree of perfection.

For the longest time, I felt Lemire was either a “hit or miss” writer. I quite enjoyed his time on DC Comics‘ JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK, but wasn’t much a fan of Marvel‘s HAWKEYE or Valiant‘s BLOODSHOT REBORN. So when I finally jumped on the DESCENDER train, [which I was late to if I’m being honest,] I found a book of his that I couldn’t put down. This issue, despite not being the end to the “Rise of the Robots” arc, was something [a couple of] notches above a lot of the previous issues. The final page was what really knocked it out of the park for me, as he brought a lot of the strings together that were laid throughout the run thus far.

Overall, this issue definitely is a pinnacle to the title and a measuring stick as far as I’m concerned going forward.

3. BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #3 by Sean Gordon Murphy & Matt Hollingsworth

BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT #3 Cover; Art by Sean Gordon Murphy, Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Gliding through a glass window and into a warehouse full of thugs to beat them to a bloodied pulp is what I’m willing to say is the best “Bat” book out in twenty-seventeen… BATMAN: WHITE KNIGHT, #3, as Sean Gordon Murphy (writer) proves he’s not only a phenomenal vehicle artist, but an artist who climbed to the top of the mountain where he taken a place beside the “God of Art” himself, Greg Capullo (artist.)

Up until this issue came out, the premier issue (#1) was the issue that made it onto my Top 10 for this mini-series, but this [one] definitely managed to take the world Murphy has created to the next level. The introduction to a new [Neo] Joker managed to be accomplished with tremendous character development strides in [only] three issues. It displays a solid grasp on the characters, and writing capabilities on how to transcend an idea enough to give birth to a new character.

Murphy’s art, as I had already alluded to, is quality work worthy of the level to pick up any book he’s drawing solely for his art. I call this the Capullo Effect. A definite rounding out of this issue was the colors by Matt Hollingsworth (colorist) whose work always manages to impress me. He’s able to adjust his style so it caters to and bolster the artist he’s working with. It’s something that not many colorists are capable of, but the ones who are tend to be the best in the industry.

2. SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9 by Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña & Matt Hollingsworth

SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9 Cover; Art by Jerome Opeña, Colors by Matt Hollingsworth

Coming in at number-two is one from one of my absolutely favorite titles… SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9, which was a perfect payoff to an amazingly built arc!

From the inaugural issue to this, Rick Remender (writer) cumulated a well written journey tackling the trials and tribulations of a son (Adam Osidis) cast in his father’s shadow. This title caught my attention in the original solicits of it, and quickly became a favorite. Remender, who in his own right, is a top-tier writer whose mastery of world building goes well beyond what most [writers] are capable of doing, and this issue managed to display the lengths a father will go to “save” his family.

Jerome Opeña (artist) was born to draw the world of SEVEN TO ETERNITY. His style brings to life this fantastical place, and the horrors that call it home. Though, it wouldn’t be right not to give Hollingsworth credit where it’s due– yeah, [Hollingsworth] twice in the Top 10, really shows how great of a colorist he is… but he really shines in this issue. It’s not often enough that those outside of the writer and artist of a book get their names out there in the spotlight, and he really makes it clear [in this issue] why he deserves his name in lights. Every panel pops with saturated color, and that breathes “life” into each character.

I normally wouldn’t recommend someone to read an issue so far into a run/arc, but SEVEN TO ETERNITY #9 manages to be quite contained enough to be read alone [if one wanted.] It truly deserves the number-two slot, and speaks for itself.

1.  THE REALM #1 by Jeremy Haun, Seth M. Peck, Nick Filardi & Thomas Mauer

THE REALM #1 Cover
THE REALM #1 Cover; Art by Jeremy Haun, Colors by Nick Filardi

Taking the number-one spot, and effortlessly so, on my Top 10 is the undeniably great… THE REALM, as it turned out to be everything and more than I was expecting it to be as a title thus far.

This premier issue was what I believe every number-one should strive to be. Seth M. Peck (writer, co-creator) and Jeremy Haun (artist, co-creator) managed to successfully introduce us to the gigantically fantastical world that it’s set in, as well as to a few of the key characters in its cast in a fashion that didn’t overwhelm us [the readers.] This level of story forging is rarely found in current comics, as most creators either go overboard and introduce [far] too much, or just not enough to hook readers.

Haun’s art is one of the prize points of this issue [and the series as a whole,] as his consistently crisp and clean lines/art pulls you into the world. It puts it on display in a way that separates it from any other book out on the shelf. Being able to hook readers with the art of a title is a key factor to its success since the first thing you see is the art, and Haun always succeeds at this. His style is top-tier, and if I had a list of Top 10 artist in the industry, he’s easily make it in the top five.

Another spectacular selling point and separating from the pack highlight is Peck’s storytelling through strong dialogue. You get an instant feel to each character’s individuality. His writing is of different characters through the story differs in [good] ways that allows your mind to form a sound to their voice as you’re reading, which can sometimes be missed in other books and creates an almost monotone quality.

From start to finish, this issue came out of the gate [for me] with its foot on the pedal and plenty of fuel in the tank to cross the finish line and go the distance to being my favorite title of the year.

It’s been a hell of a time keeping up with the industry as the definite “pop culture” surge of comics has increased [both] attention on it and the quality that goes into the titles. When that occurs and you can see the horizon growing wider, and the figurative world that it is getting bigger, as a comic book fan you can only sit back and smile.

After an absolutely phenomenal year of comics in all forms; books, TV, movies and etc.– I can’t wait to see what twenty-eighteen has in store for us!

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