Looking for a great comic to read? Not sure where to start? Thomas Trang (aka Chow Yun FACTS) got your back with some of the Top Storylines in Comics in 2017:
1. The Old Guard (Image Comics)
This is the comic I’m most excited about right now. It’s the story of seemingly immortal warriors cum modern day mercenaries, dealing with a double cross that threatens to expose them while taking a new member into their team. If you’ve ever read anything by Greg Rucka then you know what to expect: lots of action and tradecraft, plus whip-smart dialogue. With the centuries-spanning mythos behind it, there’s a lot of scope for incredible artwork and Leandro Fernandez delivers.
Panels and pages are given room to breathe, with locations ranging from Afghanistan to the suburbs of Paris as well as Feudal-era Europe. Imagine something like Highlander mixed with TheBourne Identity, and who knows where it will go from here.
2. Crosswind (Image Comics)
What happens when a frazzled housewife and a deadly hitman switch bodies? It sounds like the set up to a bad joke, but there’s a surprising amount of depth to Gail Simone’s story so far. The first issue alternates between the two main characters Cason and Juniper, drawing out some interesting parallels in their seemingly disparate lives. The transitions between the two narratives are handled nicely before it all goes Freaky Friday. That’s when the action really starts.
The way they both adapt to their new lives is cleverly handled with some intercut panels, and seeing Cason the hitman step into the shoes of put-upon housewife Juniper is satisfying as hell. Sure, you have to suspend disbelief a little, but did you miss the part where the housewife and hitman switched bodies?
3. Royal City (Image Comics)
Jeff Lemire is probably more well known these days for titles like Descender and AD After Death, but here he’s returned to the everyman world (give or take the occasional detour into the surreal). Without any genre trappings, the book reels you in on the strength of its characters. We are introduced to various members of the Pike family as the prodigal son Pat comes home amidst the implosion of his marriage and a stalling career as a novelist. The family history slowly unfolds, and we see how the earlier death of Tommy Pike comes to haunt them all (both literally and metaphorically).
The disintegrating industrial heartland town of Royal City – something straight out of a Springsteen song – immediately feels lived in, and it’s well suited to Lemire’s distinctive artwork. This one is a slow burner, but it may end up packing the biggest punch this year.
4. Black Cloud (Image Comics)
With both Jason Latour and the colorist from The Wicked + The Divine on board, I knew this was going to be something special. But I wasn’t expecting this. Wow. You’re unlikely to see anything this gorgeous outside of Saga in 2017. The earthy tones of the intro pages quickly give way to a vibrant eye-popping take on New York City before we’re plunged into a black and white world filled with anthropomorphic oddities. Like one of the characters says, “it was a hundred billion things all over the place”.
Confused? I was, but what a ride. Eventually, the story begins to take shape: Zelda is from a dream world scratching out a living in ours, selling the experience to trust fund brats. Gradually, the backstory of how she ended up here is revealed and the stakes are raised. It’s great to see a woman of color written as a complex character taking center stage, and the imagination let loose here is mind-blowing. This one could become a FanBros favorite.
5. Generation Gone (Image Comics)
Ales Kot is back with a new book that on first impressions comes off as a lot more mainstream and linear than previous work such as Material and Zero. Still, Kot being Kot, there’s plenty of digressions into art, philosophy and the modern world. If this sounds heavy going, it really isn’t. This oversized first issue basically amounts to a superhero origin story, with a trio of young hackers crossing paths with a shadowy government scientist hellbent on something called Project Utopia. You can bet that it’ll be anything but.
The speechifying is nicely balanced out here with some wordless panels that do a lot with little, helping to establish what drives our key characters. This one is off to a flying start.
6. Briggs Land (Dark Horse)
With DMZ, Brian Wood created one of my favorite comic books ever. While I’m enjoying Briggs Land just fine, it isn’t really pushing the envelope in the same way yet. AMC are already planning to bring this to the small screen, and you can see why: the story of a violent secessionist movement, their backwater enclave and the Shakespearean family dynamics has the familiar beats of a show like Sons Of Anarchy.
As far removed as it is from the futuristic dystopias of his earlier stuff at first glance, Wood is still mining familiar territory – an examination of US political ideals, and what happens when they reach their logical endpoints.
7. God Country (Image Comics)
This book impresses right out of the gate with gritty artwork that compliments the dusty southern setting. After a tornado hits town, dementia-stricken granddad Emmett Quinlan is transformed into a sword-wielding demi-God. That sword is Valofax, and its owner wants it back . . .
On the one hand there is the fantasy element, but the story is grounded in a solid family dynamic that rings true. The combination of Texas and the supernatural brings something like Preacher to mind, but so far it reads like Cormac McCarthy let loose on a run of Thor.
8. The Dregs (Black Mask)
You can’t fault this book for a lack of ambition. The first few issues deal with mental health, homelessness and gentrification, as our drug-addled and increasingly unreliable narrator Mister Arnold goes in search of a missing friend on the mean streets of Vancouver. The knight’s quest is a set-up with plenty of precedents, and there are various nods to Don Quixote and Raymond Chandler thrown in for good measure here.
The reader quickly gets pulled into the seedy underbelly of this world by the cartoonish realism of the artwork, which reflects the fractured and hallucinogenic mind of our hero, before things start to take a turn for the grizzly. Not for the faint of heart.