Here are Nick’s opinions on the year that was in comics.
Best Ongoing Series – Wonder Woman
Greg Rucka is a great writer. I have never read anything from him that wasn’t amazing. His return to Wonder Woman is no exception. Rucka makes Diana relatable. Though she is a force to be reckoned with, she is also a good, loyal friend. Rucka is also the first person to make me care about Steve Trevor. I never disliked the character, but I also never felt attached to him in any way. The alternating past/present approach to each issue seems to service this even more. You get to know Steve as he was when he first met Diana, and how he is after their relationship (in the romantic sense) has ended. Also, this title features some top quality art to match the writing, with Liam Sharp covering Diana’s present troubles, and Nicola Scott flawlessly rendering Wonder Woman’s origin.
Best New Series – The Flintstones
This has quickly become one of the books I look forward to most each month. I enjoyed the Flintstones as a kid, but its comical juxtaposition of 20th century themes in prehistory largely went over my head. DC has now taken full advantage of this classic property, and now, as an adult, it isn’t wasted on me. Mark Russell’s writing scores huge points for genius satire and beautifully dark comedy. Steve Pugh’s re-rendering of Fred, Wilma, Barney, Betty and others is a great, cartoonish mix of realism and homage to the originals. As the world turns increasingly darker, the last thing we should give up is our sense of humor. Do yourself a favor and pick up this book.
Best Mini-Series – Civil War II: Gods of War
Oh, how I wish this book had been an ongoing. Greg Pak’s approach to Hercules struggling to rehabilitate himself was comical, heart wrenching, and inspiring. Herc and other ancient heroes are forced to adapt to the modern world while the new gods of the Uprising Storm aim to make them irrelevant. (Be sure to read Pak’s preceding run of Hercules for context.)
Best Writer – Nick Spencer
Love or hate the direction he’s taken with Steve Rogers, at least Nick Spencer is doing something different. Likewise with his approach to Sam Wilson as a new Cap. Spencer doesn’t shy away from America’s increasingly heated political climate. Instead, he uses Sam Wilson to address it head-on. Whereas his predecessor always attempted to remain apolitical, Sam lets everyone know exactly how he feels about the state of the union and those most threatened within it. As a result, he also has to face the flak from the new world order of alt-right fanatics. Superheroes may not be a reality, but the issues Spencer addresses unfortunately are. Thank you, Nick Spencer, for putting yourself out there and pulling double duty to put down the trolls on social media. You are a gentleman and a scholar.
P.S. If you are one of the aforementioned trolls, feel free to waste your time writing up a fiery response to my political opinions. It will be promptly ignored. J
Best Artist – Kenneth Rocafort
I absolutely love Kenneth Rocafort’s artwork and it was great to see him bring Al Ewing’s The Ultimates to life with his signature style. He also did a lot of great covers for Superman this year. I would love to see him stick with an ongoing throughout the upcoming new year.
Best Single Issue – New Avengers #18
Al Ewing’s New Avengers was a fun book, but it occasionally felt directionless. But, this could have been due to editorial control and the restrictions brought on by the larger events of the Marvel U. However, this book went out with a bang. This final issue was jam-packed with the hilarious shenanigans you’d expect from Ewing’s kooky cast of heroes, villains, and AIM lackeys. Which leads me to my final pick…
Most Anticipated – USAvengers
Al Ewing will be returning soon with Paco Medina to continue the adventures of Roberto DaCosta’s and his rebranding of AIM. I’m excited to see that Squirrel Girl, Toni Ho and Aikku Jokinen are still on the team, along with some other fun additions. And I can’t believe that the character appearance I’m looking forward to most is the (now mustachioed) Red Hulk. This book has lots of potential. Here’s hoping that Ewing and Medina both bring their A-game to make this a fun, long-running series.