My Favorite Books and Comic Books of 2017
Click the book cover for my full review of each book.
Hoopla is a digital media subscription service for public libraries that made a huge difference in my comic book consumption this year. While Marvel has their all you can read platform Marvel Unlimited, DC Comics has yet to launch anything similar. Hoopla though has a deal to host a multitude of digital collections, including all of the current Rebirth titles as they come out. Additionally, there is a massive back catalog of DC’s collections that will take me quite a while to work through. One of the best resources out there if your local library subscribes.
Batman by Tom King
I was a pretty big fan of Scott Snyder’s run on Batman, but have been blown away by Tom King’s take on the character. This iteration of Batman exists somewhere between Grant Morrison’s far out interpretation and Snyder’s slightly more grounded approach. I love these big bold takes on the character, particularly after the 1990s where he seemed to become an incredibly bland figure. King is doing one of the most in-depth character examinations of Batman we’ve ever had, and I suspect it will be hard to go back on this character when he’s done.
Justice League of America by Steve Orlando
It took me awhile to warm up to this second Justice League title, but I think I came around in the end because Bryan Hitch’s run on the core JL book is so incredibly dreadful. Steve Orlando has done a remarkable job in blending new ideas with classic DC canon to create a book that feels akin to Geoff Johns’ Justice Society run. The team line-up is not your heavy hitters like Superman or Wonder Woman. Instead, it’s Batman leading a slightly lower tier of heroes. But because these are not headliners, Orlando is able to do a lot of in-depth, rich character development. The big arc of the year was focused on The Atom traveling to the Microverse to recover his lost mentor Ray Palmer. It blended elements of classic DC with lots of new ideas.
Batman: Metal by Scott Snyder
Scott Snyder took on a new role with Batman in the wake of Rebirth. While Tom King was given the writing job on the main title, Snyder launched All-Star Batman which only made it for a few arcs before ending. I assumed he was done, but then out of nowhere comes Batman: Metal, a significant line-wide event centered around the Dark Knight. It is hard to explain Metal because it takes familiar elements of a DC event with breaches of the multiverse, but it is so weird and strange it has left me surprised at every turn. Snyder manages to bring in the major elements of his Batman run and work towards a story that reaches back to Grant Morrison’s work on the title as well. A comic book mini-series crossover that has managed to shock me at every turn.
All-New Guardians of the Galaxy by Gerry Dugan
After the popularity of the film franchise, I was growing a bit tired of the comic book. When the Starlord driven take on Guardians launched back in 2008, I was onboard. I loved cosmic Marvel stuff. The films had an influence on the tone and style of the comics, and frankly, I just didn’t enjoy what Brian Michael Bendis did with them. Cue Gerry Dugan coming off a run on the teen space hero Nova. Duggan has managed to incorporate old elements from the cosmic arm of Marvel to create an intriguing story. The Guardians have to go undercover as Novas to suss out infiltration from the Sh’iar Talons. A lot of character-centered compelling storytelling.
The Mighty Thor/The Unworthy Thor by Jason Aaron
I’ve gone back and forth on Jason Aaron’s run on Thor since he started in 2013, but right now he is hitting his mark. The Unworthy Thor checked in on Odinson post-losing the hammer to Jane Foster. It was a remarkably engaging story that featured The Collector as its antagonist and merged the fallout of Secret Wars and the death of the Ultimate Marvel universe into its framework. Over in the main Mighty title, Aaron continues his War of the Realms epic with artwork that is insanely good delivered by Russell Dauterman. The last year and a half of Thor have had some of the most colorful, alive artwork I’ve seen in any title.
Secret Empire by Nick Spencer
The Marvel comic surrounded by the most annoyingly pointless controversy turned out to be an excellent, well-told story about the state of things in America. I am a big Nick Spencer fan, despite his proclivity for being incredibly on the nose with his politics (he is a liberal btw). It made sense to me that more conservative-leaning readers would get annoyed with his work but was truly shocking was the supposed “progressive left” who acted as though his twist on Captain America was a hate crime. It seemed somewhat evident that Cap as a Hydra sleeper was a commentary on America in the Trump years. Cap has always been a malleable symbol that could say a lot of things about this country and Spencer was in that tradition. There are some remarkable moments from this crossover, notably when Cap is interviewed by a journalist who isn’t into Hydra’s brand of fake news. It’s chilling, horrific, and authentic. The real Cap is of course back now, but I hope we see more from Spencer shortly.