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By Lee Roberts

2017 Top 5 of Best and Worst Comics of the Year

2017 BEST AND WORST OF THE COMICS I READ

BEST

1)PAPER GIRLS PUBLISHED BY IMAGE COMICS

Witten by Brian K. Vaughan, drawn by Cliff Chiang, and colored by Matt Wilson, Paper Girls remained one of my most liked comic books in 2017. When I first picked up the title it was because of the cover. I know, don’t judge a book by its cover, especially a comic book, but in this case I did and I’m so glad I did. The cover to issue #1 jumped out at me with its bright yellow full cover background, the pink title and Image logo, and the 4 main characters drawn in black but not filled in with any color other than the yellow background.

Then I opened the book to see the interior and was just as amazed by it as I was with the cover. The art work done by Cliff Chiang is simply amazing. I love the lines, the thickness of them, the use of sharp edges along with rounded edges give the girls the look they need, tough while also soft. Next to amaze me was Matt Wilson’s use of coloring for the book. It has this pastel look to it that looks more like a painting on each page instead of being a comic book page. I would have to say he’s my favorite colorist for the past 2 years. Side note, if you have the opportunity to meet Matt Wilson at a convention, do so. He is a great guy who is very cool with his fans and accommodating with them. So far I’ve had him sign all the Paper Girl issues released up to June 2017 as well as the Wicked + the Divine (by the way Matt Wilson makes it into 2 other of my top 2017 books).

Along with the colors and the artwork, this book has the trifecta effect with the writing of Brian K. Vaughan. He knows how to keep you or at least me, captivated with the story by giving me a mystery that I still don’t know what’s going on other that the base plot of the girls time traveling while having these people chase them, giant robot fights, and cultural aspects that make a connection with me. He’s also set the main characters home time in the 1980’s, and I love the 80’s, so I was hooked from that point on.

Rounding out what makes this book fun to have is more than just the art, story, and colors, but it’s the whole book. The paper it’s printed on is thick and gives the book a hefty feel to it. In each issue they put posters in it (not that I’ve taken them out, that would destroy the book but for kids it’s going to be great), and at the back of the issues they do different things. Some are contests, some are just questions, and in the early issues you could join the membership group (which I did).

 

2)THE MIGHTY THOR PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS

Written by Jason Aaron, drawn by Russell Dauterman, James Harren, and Valerio Schiti, and colored by Matt Wilson.

If you haven’t been reading Thor since 2014 then you have been missing out on some great comic books for the last 3 and half years. Back in October 2014 Jason Aaron made Thor become a woman, I should say, Jane Foster took over being Thor when Odinson became unworthy. Want to know more? Read the book, they have been collected.

What makes this book so good and on the list of best? Everything. Jason Aaron has been making Thor a very interesting book for years now and with a few minor issues, the book has been grippingly good. Not only has he turned this book into a must have, he’s kept it that way. Yes, what he has done has upset a lot of fans, but hey characters have to change and evolve or otherwise you just get the same story over and over again that will lead to the book being old and boring and canceled.

People have complained about Thor being a female and that it was just a publicity stunt done by Marvel but I think it’s one of the smartest moves that could have been done with the book since the Stan Lee Jack Kirby days. Jason Aaron has introduce new elements to the mythology of Thor that I don’t think could have been better if it had remained the Odinson as Thor. Not only is the character of Thor interesting and fun, but so is Odinson. He might not be Thor any longer but he’s still someone to watch out for. Which in this case you really do have to watch out for him because he’s not the focal point in this book. Odinson has become a supporting character where we want more of him but not much more than we are given. At least to me he is.

Right now the story is one that is called, “The Death of The Mighty Thor”, and if it is I’ll be more upset then all the naysayers are about Jane Foster being Thor. Jane Foster has been fighting cancer and is dying but while she is holding Mjolnir she is the god of thunder with no worries of cancer. Only problem, every time she turns into Thor the treatments for her cancer are cancelled out so that it’s like she’s never had any treatment. That means each time she becomes Thor she gets closer and closer to her death. Not only does she have to think about this but now the Mangog is back and wanting to do what the Mangog does, kill all the gods. She also has to deal with the hatred of Odin, (this is a symbol of the old ways and all the fans that oppose her being Thor), because Odin refuses to admit that Jane Foster is a great Thor. And if all that wasn’t enough, Thor also has a war to fight in all the realms that’s being lead by Malekith and Loki. Oh yeah, there’s also the little thing of War Thor with the use of Ultimate Thor’s hammer. Yeah, pick this book up.

3)THE WICKED + THE DIVINE PUBLISHED BY IMAGE COMICS

Written by Kieron Gillen, drawn by Jamie McKelvie, and colored by Matt Wilson (top 3 books for 2017 and he’s coloring all 3, he’s that good).

Here’s another book that the story focuses on mythology and divinity. The plot is a very intriguing plot where every 90 years normal humans will have the spirit/soul of a deity join them where they become that god. There are 12 different gods who can be either male or female, so don’t be thinking just because Lucifer is thought to be male that in this book it’s that way because it’s not, Lucifer is a female. Side note, the name of the girl before she became Lucifer is Eleanor Rigby, yes, the Beatles song. Cool huh.

A lot happens in this book where the gods are fighting each other, the world don’t trust them, some have followers, and you are left wanting to know what is going on. This is one of the reasons I really like this book, I’m left wondering what is going on. It’s not that I’m confused and don’t understand, it’s just that it’s a story that I’m not guessing what is going to happen next. I have ideas but there are so many of them that it’s basically an anything can happen scenario. I also like the idea of the gods being in the modern age acting like gods would in a modern age world. Also, the coloring and the artwork are so amazing that it’s a book that is just as amazing to look at as it is to read.

 

4)HULK/SHE-HULK PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS

Written by Mariko Tamaki, drawn various artists, and colored by Matt Milla.

Started off in 2016 with the title being just “Hulk”, this book took Jennifer Walters, aka She-Hulk, out of her comfort zone. Picking up after the events of Civil War II where She-Hulk was put into a coma while fighting Thanos and later wakes up to learn that her cousin Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, was killed by her friend Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye. Being a Hulk her anger took over and with the effects of Civil War II, She-Hulk is no longer who she used to be. Once she was green, beautiful, and in control of her Hulk personality but now she’s the complete opposite. Now she’s grey, scarred, not as beautiful, and has lost any control she once had. She-Hulk is now living up to the name of Hulk as she rages out with her anger becoming a monster.

However, why is this happening to her and what is it doing to her? It seems like when she is She-Hulk it is hurting her but why? Though being Jennifer Walters don’t seem to be much comfort for her either. She has to deal with the depression of losing Bruce, she has a new job, and she is worried about what is happening to her when she is She-Hulk.

This is one of those characters that I’ve always found to be a good one or even great as long as the book has a writer who sees the same thing. With this relaunch of the character, both titles of Hulk then turning into She-Hulk for the Marvel Legacy banner, the story has been interesting and fun. I have found myself flying through the pages wanting more and more of She-Hulk. Mariko Tamaki has done very well in writing a story that uses She-Hulk in minor bursts where I’m left wanting more of her but then I get the Jennifer Walters story and I’m wanting more of that story instead.

 

5)BATMAN WHITE KNIGHT PUBLISHED BY DC COMICS

Written and drawn by Sean Murphy, Batman: White Knight takes the character of Batman into the territory where he has went over the line. Batman now has lost control and is getting ruthless with his crime fighting. Is he just as bad as the criminals he’s fighting? The Joker believes so. Yes, the Joker thinks that Batman is now the criminal that has to be brought down but who can take down the Bat? Why, the Joker of course.

You read that right, it’s the Joker who is now the hero in this story and Batman is the one who is the possible villain. I love the gritty feel this book has and the back and forth given in the story. How did the Joker become what he is, why is Batman losing control, and wow wait a minute, what’s this about the double Harley’s? I don’t want to give anything away being that this book is now only at issue #4 (release Jan 3, 2018), but it’s one for any fan of Batman. If you ever read Batman and like him, then this is a book that should be read.

 

 

WORST OF 2017

1)BEN REILLY SCARLET SPIDER PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS

Written by Peter David, drawn by Mark Bagley, and colored by Jason Keith.

Is he a good guy? Is he a bad guy? Is he just annoying? I’ll answer one of those with a yes, can you guess which one I’m answering? I really wanted to like this book for multiple reasons. One Peter David and Mark Bagley are 2 of my favorite creators. Peter David is a great writer who has history with the Spider family and Mark Bagley is also a great artist who has a lot of history with the Spider family. Though I don’t have anything bad to say about how it’s drawn just that it shouldn’t be drawn.

Ben Reilly should have been left dead or at least as a new villain for Peter Parker to fight where when not fighting he’s not around. There’s no need to have him in a ongoing series of his own. Right now what do we get? A character who should be near unstoppable because he has the powers of Spider-Man and the knowledge and education of Peter Parker. Instead, we get the cliched fights between him and Kaine over who will be the Scarlet Spider.

 

2)SECRET EMPIRE PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS

I won’t try to name all the writers and artists, though Nick Spencer was the core title writer, on this story because I’m not keeping it at just the core title but with the whole story line that crossed over the whole of Marvel U. It started with 2 words spoken by someone that should have never spoken them, Captain America saying, “Hail, Hydra”. This was an outrage to so many people and I’m still upset about it. Then shortly after that was out Nick Spencer stated that this was the real Captain America, the real Steve Rogers, that this was not a dream nor was he being controlled or brainwashed.

So for most of the year we get stories of Steve Rogers being evil, characters being killed, the world being taken over, and Hydra changing everything. As the story progressed the statement made saying that it was the real Steve Rogers became misleading (that’s me being nice about it), because now we see that there is a Steve Rogers going around in some place where he’s confused and don’t know anything, including himself. It’s clear what’s going to happen and it does. And guess what happens? Yep, 2 Captain Americas. 1 is good and 1 is evil but which is the real one? If what was said is true, that the Captain America at the start who said Hail, Hydra and took control of the world as leader of Hydra, then he’s the real one. The one that’s good who appears and beats up the evil one is the fake one. But if that’s true then there’s a fake Steve Rogers/Captain America running around in the new title. It’s that or Nick Spencer lied when saying the Hydra Steve Rogers was the real one.

Even as bad as that was with Captain America, this “event” had so many problems that I could do a whole essay on it. Killing off Black Widow in a manner that felt like it was a stunt to get readers to buy the book and giving no respect to the character. There’s also the reason why the Champions team went to work with Black Window when they opposed her killing. She stated she would do it, they stated they wouldn’t and didn’t want her to, and they still were together. Everything about that seemed wrong and had no reason why they teamed up. Then there is Odinson and Punisher joining Hydra because of their friendship, respect, and loyalty to Steve Rogers. Wait a minute. They would never do that. Regardless of their feelings toward Steve Rogers, the moment they learned he was leading Hydra and was evil, they would have fought against him not join him to go terrorize people.

I don’t even know what to say about the Miles Morales story plot. He’s supposed to kill Captain America but he don’t even though it was forseen by Ulysses, who if you remember was someone that could predict the future that “would” happen and caused the Civil War II, the death of Bruce Banner, and so much more. Speaking of Bruce Banner, didn’t I just say he was dead? Yes, so what the hell is he doing back in this? Oh he’s resurrected, just temporally though. That’s right, they brought back a dead character just for these issues. There’s just so much wrong with this story that I want to continue to complain, like the space story with Captain Marvel and this new Quasar, that shield thing and how they are all just fine in space, the black bubble thing over NYC, and oh there’s the Vanishing Point and cosmic cube, and that whole death to Vegas thing. So much and nothing good. Don’t read this unless you want to hate on Marvel.

 

3)JUSTICE LEAGUE VS SUICIDE SQUAD PUBLISHED BY DC COMICS

Witten by Joshua Williamson and drawn by Jason Fabok, and some others as the tie in books.

UGH! Really? Justice League vs. Suicide Squad and the Suicide Squad is not only supposed to stand a chance of fighting the League but win? NOPE! This idea and story was horrible. Lets look at the team members. Justice League has an actual god with Wonder Woman, I want to stress that, an actual god, not someone who has a lot of power or has the power and thinks they are a god so goes around saying they are, but an actual god. Then there is Superman who has so much power he could be a god and has beaten actual gods in battle. The Flash who like superman has the power of a god, maybe not on those levels but it’s there. Aquaman who if you actually look up, you will discover that he has strength levels not too far below Superman. Cyborg, a half man half machine who has the power to change his body into weapons and connect to the world with his robot side. Green Lanterns, yes 2 of them, who have the most powerful weapon in the universe. And Batman who is human yes but still is Batman. So they are fighting the Suicide Squad who consists of Harley a human who is just a crazy, smart, acrobat. Bomerang, the other human who throws boomerangs. Deadshot, yet another human who has really good aim. Killer Croc, who regardless of his size and strength and how he looks, he’s still just a human that is really ugly. Killer Frost who has the power to freeze stuff. Enchantress is a witch so yes she might give them a slight headache but not for long. And rounding it out is El Diablo, the guy that sets fires.

So we got a team that has 6 of the 8 people that have near god level powers, stronger than god level powers, and an actual god going up against a team that out of the 7 of them, 4 are just humans with no powers. So how is this a fight? Let me put in in some realistic terms. This would be like taking a high school baseball team and having them play against the MLB world series champions and expect the high school team to win. Or someone with some fighting skills like a black belt to go up against Mike Tyson when he was in his prime. This book was just stupid.

 

4)CAPTAIN AMERICA SAM WILSON PUBLISHED BY MARVEL COMICS

Written by Nick Spencer and drawn by multiple artists.

I wanted to like this book and at the start of it in 2015 it was good. I already liked the character of Sam Wilson so the idea of him becoming Captain America was really cool. But then something happened in 2017 where this book started to step on itself, it became more of a political tool for Marvel then a cool fun comic, and before I knew it, Sam Wilson quit being Captain America. Like Steve Rogers, Sam Wilson is a character who was made to do things that goes against his character. He is a man the overcame the odds of being nothing to being the Falcon and then being Captain America that when it got tough he quit? Uh, no.

 

5)HARLEY & IVY MEET BETTY & VERONICA PUBLISHED BY DC COMICS

Written by Marc Andreyko and Paul Dini and drawn by Laura Braga.

This one I had to put on the list, even with my most loved character of Harley Quinn being in it, because it’s really a pointless story. If this didn’t have Harley Quinn in it, I would never buy this book. It’s on issue #4 and I can really just stop reading it because it really is pointless. It has a few moments but not many. As I said, the only reason I buy this book is because of Harley Quinn and there are covers by Amanda Conner and Adam Hughes but beyond that I could care less about this book.