Year in review: Five favourite comics of 2017

It’s full steam ahead into 2018, but there’s still time for some 2017 reflections, yeah? Here are my five favourite comics of 2017. Good year for Image Comics!

Ground rules: As with my favourite movies of 2017, these are comics that I read in the calendar year 2017. They may actually be older than 2017! But I read them in 2017, and liked them, and that’s the point.

Let’s get to it then. Here are my five favourite comics of 2017, in no particular order:

Saga

By Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples; Image Comics
I’ve been reading Saga in collected form, and only one volume (#8) came out in 2017; that was fine because I hadn’t read #5, #6, or #7 yet. (And to refresh my memory, of course I re-read the whole run.) What Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have done is simply extraordinary: Crafted a wonderful and crazy sci-fi world with an incredibly rich history and backstory, but not allow that backstory to overwhelm the main story in the foreground. And they’ve populated it with down-to-earth, relatable, human characters (even though they’re all aliens). I say this not lightly: Saga is Star Wars for the 21st century, in graphic novel form (and my God, I hope they never translate it to film).

My Favorite Thing is Monsters

By Emil Ferris; Fantagraphics Books
A stunning, towering achievement, Emil Ferris’ My Favorite Thing is Monsters is what should appear in the dictionary next to “graphic novel”. I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything quite like it. Its tale of secrets in a an apartment building populated by immigrants in North Chicago in the 1960s, as told by a 10-year old girl who would rather be a monster than a kid, is simply extraordinary. You must read it. And if you want a teaser, and some background on the book, check out this illustrated article in Chicago magazine.

Kill or Be Killed

By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser; Image Comics
It’s not surprising that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ latest work would find its way to my list; they’re the best writer-artist team working in comics today and their latest—a Neo-noir tale of a young man who sells his soul to the devil, only to be forced to do that devil’s bidding—is an engrossing, engaging thriller, full of twists and turns. I’m 13 issues in and I have no idea where its going.

Descender

by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen; Image Comics
Canadian Jeff Lemire is a comic creator who just seems to get better and better. (You might know him from the Secret Path protect he illustrated with Gord Downie.) Here he writes, and Dustin Nguyen draws, a story of Tim-21, a robot companion designed for children, and his quest to survive in a world where outlaw robots are hunted down and destroyed. Nguyen’s dreamy, watercolor-inspired art isn’t what you’d expect on a hard sci-fi series, but the dichotomy somehow makes the story even more engaging.

Paper Girls

By Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang; Image Comics
Another Brian K. Vaughan project? Yep. The man is good! This Stranger Things-like story of a group of young girls in the 1980s thrust into a time-travel plot is fun, unpredictable, engaging, and full of characters to root for. Cliff Chiang’s art hasn’t always been my cup of tea, but it really works here, and the colours in particular work beautifully in the early-dawn hours in which much of the book takes place.

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Honourable mentions: Wonder Woman: The True Amazon by Jill Thompson, A.D. After Death by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, Jessica Jones by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos, Batman by Tom King, Rafael Janin and David Finch, Deadly Class by Rick Remender and Wesley Craig, Darth Vader by Keiron Gillen and Sal Larocca, Fantastic Four/FF by Matt Fraction, Mark Bagley and Mike Allred

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