his year was particularly difficult to choose the best comic book writers, with great work coming from all major publishers, including Valiant, DC, Marvel, BOOM!, Aftershock, IDW, and Image.
To make this easier on ourselves, we’ve decided this year to limit our list to writers of serialized comics and not include writers who only released bound books (which we love, by the way; we just had to create someboundaries).
Here we go.
Doing double duty as writer and artist, James Stokoe has created the best Alien chapter since James Cameron took the series into plurality with Aliens: Dead Orbit, as our hero Wascylewski must traverse a universe far bigger than he can ever conceive. Xenomorphs and facehuggers abound in this highly detailed series that often makes Wascylewski’s fate seem hopeless. There’s no better horror story this year, and this is a worthy addition to the groundbreaking franchise.
After her incredible run on Kim & Kim, Magdalene Visaggio brought Kim Quatro and Kim Dantzler back for Kim & Kim: Love is a Battlefield. Visaggio creates brilliant chemistry between the bounty hunters and a lot of ridiculous fun as well, including some great one-liners and snappy dialogue. This is the first must-read in Black Mask’s line.
Every year has a comic that was just canceled too early. A few years ago it was Charles Soule’s She-Hulk, followed by Chelsea Cain’s Mockingbird, and for 2017, it is Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey’s wonderful Black Panther & The Crew, an awesome — and timely — story about the mysterious in-police-custody death of Harlem community pillar Ezra Miller. Misty Knight led the way on the investigation, with Luke Cage, Black Panther, Storm and Manifold joining over time. The fact that Marvel pulled this comic after only two issues created a lot of debate. It had the weight of Pulitzer Prize winner Ta-Nehisi Coates behind it, and the sales numbers weren’t all that bad — the comic beat out Spider-Man, Doctor Strange and The Avengersthe month it debuted.
Combining both the mythologies of Batman and the Sandman, Dark Knights Metal flips the board and goes into the upside-down with all our favorite DC Heroes. Scott Snyder’s work with Greg Capullo has always been legendary, a perfect blend of writing with art that created the Court of Owls and the most recent Mr. Bloom, and with Metal there’s a gritty nature that works incredibly well. Scott Snyder has been writing Batman for over seven years and it’s incredible that he’s found ways to introduce storylines that continue to be as compelling and engaging as when he first started. This time with the whole Justice League (and Green Arrow) at his disposal, Snyder is able to draw out what looks to be an epic story that will be read and re-read as part of the canon for many years to come.
Relationships and the trials of living together have been at the center of the brilliant Giant Days as Esther, Susan, Daisy, and, yes, even Dean Thompson have had to deal with the ways love can muddle up life in college. It’s interesting to see the evolution of these characters who, at one point, were so fun and flippant about life, to have to deal with major life issues. This is a testament to how John Allison, Max Sarin, and Liz Fleming have let the characters grow and evolve as the series progressed while keeping their quirky personalities intact. This one of the best and most fun series about growing up in college.
Taking influences from movies like Bottle Rocket and Goodfellas, 4 Kids Walk into a Bankquietly became one of the best comics of 2017 as we follow a group of kids that must not only deal with bullies and school but also important family circumstances that involve, well, pulling off a bank robbery. The difficult part of being so excited about this title was the slow method in which it was produced (the first issue of the five-issue run came out in April 2016), but the comic in its completed form became a critical darling. Rosenberg, who previously wrote We Can Never Go Home for Black Mask and is now at Marvel doing The Punisher, does incredibly well with combining quirky and heartfelt situations.
The biggest breakout star of 2017 was Donny Cates with his awe-inspiring story of Quinlan, an old grandfather who has dementia, and a majestic sword that grants him his life and dignity back. This is arguably the best limited series of the year, taking the reader on an adventure through battles with gods and demons while showing how memory is connected to identity. If Emmet gives up the sword, his dementia returns and he loses all his memory. The battles are incredible; the father-son moments are heart-wrenching.
SLAM! is a tale of how roller derby can change your life. Pamela Ribon is so good at developing rounded characters and creating a sense of place that it’s easy for the audience to get obsessed with derby as well (I must admit the comic pushed me out to see the Gotham Girls in New York City and it was everything I hoped it would be). Having a comic transport the reader to another world/dimension/parallel universe is incredible, but when a comic book introduces you to a world that’s in your town, it’s even more magical.
Matt Kindt has not only taken the reins from Robert Venditti with Valiant’s X-O Manowarbut also has developed incredible new series at Eternity and BOOM! with Grass Kings. It’s his continuing series at Dark Horse, though, that makes for one of the most surprising and amazing comics on the shelves. Dept H starts out as a murder mystery in which a girl is looking to find the killer of her father, a Jacques Cousteau-type of character who hired some, well, very complicated characters to be on his ship with him. It’s these characters that are the lifeblood of this wonderful series as, issue by issue, we are introduced to more of their backstories and motives amidst spellbinding images of the deep. Not since The Wake has a comic explored the ocean in this type of mysterious manner and, while the mystery is still looming after 20 issues, the characters continue to keep readers intrigued.
In 2016, Faith had a lot going for her. She broke free from the Renegades into her own series, which turned into a critical hit. And in 2017, Jody Houser showed how high Faith could really fly. Houser’s storylines center on the Faithless, a Sinister Six-ish group of supervillains, and a trip into the Time Stream. Each story this year has showcased a hero that’s one of the best in all of comics.
From man-eating tigers to a really scare bunch of bees, Animosity might ruin the zoo for you forever. What’s interesting is that Marguerite Bennet has taken the well-trod trope of talking animals and drawn out a world rich with relationships and complexity.
It’s hard to get one hit a year, but Hope Larson has hit a stride during her 2017 season with excellent runs on both Batgirl and Goldie Vance. Larson’s Batgirl has a lot more punch than you’d expect, with Barbara Gordon indulging in adventures with Nightwing despite their relationship status. And Goldie Vance, which may be adapted into a movie by Kerry Washington and Rashida Jones, maintains a mystery that is not only fun and perplexing but continually enjoyable. This arc also provided a lot more personal growth as the mystery surrounding the secret saboteur dealt with relationships close to Goldie Vance and the crew. For a young adult getting into comics, I can think of no better book than Goldie Vance.
Even though Kill or Be Killed takes place in a city, there’s a claustrophobic sense of dread in the pages that follow Dylan from his depression and into what is either madness or a type of hell. And as Dylan narrates, jumping forward and backward within the story, the reader slowly begins to question his reliability. After all, a demon is telling Dylan that he must kill one person every month or else he himself will be killed. Are the people that Dylan pinpoints as evil actually deserving of death? This is one of the best collaborations in a series of excellent comics by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
Redlands is a story about three witches in a small town that entices the reader, the way that best horror stories do, with more questions than answers. Enhanced by Vanesa Del Rey’s gorgeously creepy paintings, this chilling story shies away from conventional morality stories, grabbing the reader by the hand and pulling them into a bloody and unsettling environment. Jordie Bellarie, who was previously known for her amazing work as a colorist, has written one of the best horror comics of the year.
The Rebirth titles brought forth many excellent storylines into the DC Universe this year but none are as enjoyable and smile-inducing as Super Sons. It’s the story of Robin and Superboy (Damien Wayne and Jon Kent, respectively), two very different kids, as they work together in the shadows of their parents. Tomasi does something incredibly hard in this book: he creates a kid-friendly comic that’s also enjoyable for adults. Damien is more of a bad kid, utilizing trickery and craftiness as compared to Jon Kent’s good-natured straightforward approach, and there’s a sense that the two kids being friends make both of them better people. Super Sons takes the very contrasting personalities of Batman and Superman and gives them a sense of childhood ridiculousness, resulting in the sweetest treat of the year.
Master comic book writer Gail Simone is back telling dark tales with her new Image series, Crosswind. Its premise is sort of like an ’80s movie in which two people switch bodies to find out how life is for the other person, yet a bit darker than usual as the two people are a Seattle housewife that gets pushes around by her husband and kid and a ruthless Chicago hit man. The concept really works as the dark humor applies to the photo-realistic, blood-soaked storyline (Juniper though has great ways of cleaning up blood) makes for an original and well-made story.
There’s something wonderful about a comic book that excels at the weird, and Gerald Way’s incredible Doom Patrol does just that. Each issue is more wacky and ridiculous than the one before it, and that’s why we all love Doom Patrol: it’s creative and different without being self-indulgent and, well, dumb.
The incredibly voluminous Jeff Lemire, who this year alone has done wonderful work on Dark Horse’s Black Hammer, Image’s Descender and Royal City, Marvel’s Moon Knight and Thanos, and Valiant’s Bloodshot: Salvation, also made the time to deliver one of the year’s best graphic novels in Roughneck, the story of hockey goon who gets a chance of redemption when his sister comes back into town. The man is a beast, and an incredibly talented one, at that.
One of the best new series this year has been Gabby Rivera’s amazing America. America Chavez, who previously worked as leader of The Ultimates and was featured in the Young Avengers, is a student at Sotomayor University (yes, that Sotomayor) and is Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero. While at the beginning of the series there were a lot of crossovers — America goes through time and meets Peggy Carter, runs around with Kate Bishop, gets visits from The Ultimates, and has a really fun reaction when she meets Nightcrawler — the heart of the story has always remained with its title character, one that definitely deserves her own solo series.
The surprise hit of the Young Animal series has been Shade the Changeling Girl, the absurdly weird and fascinating story of Avian, a bird-like alien obsessed with Earth that invades the comatose body of 16-year-old Megan Boyer. Most of her (their) adventures deal with learning about our culture from the eyes of outsider, allowing Cecil to use comedy and satire in creating one of the best series on the shelves. There’s a lot that Avian has gone through this year, including meeting with Honey Rich, the star of the I Love Lucy-style TV show she’s obsessed with, making for a moving examination of fame and aging.
Mariko Tamaki has been able to take two hallmark characters from both DC and Marvel and create innovative approaches to both of them. In Marvel’s She-Hulk, Jen Walters is a woman who must traverse the loss of Bruce Banner with her job and her powers, and in DC’s em>Supergirl: Being Super, Kara Danvers also has to deal with loss after a horrific earthquake tears her high school asunder. Both series deal with identity and character building through a traumatic event and both find their strides through the interactions with characters around them. Tamaki does an excellent job at examining grief with maturity and resolve, and both stories are excellent examples of how character-centric comics can bring considerable depth and emotion.
Whether fighting a Blanka-looking virus that exposes people’s secrets online or exploring how people in groups can take advantage of people who feel alienated or alone, G. Willow Wilson’s wonderful Ms. Marvel series always has a social agenda behind it. It’s in that fashion that Ms. Marvel really is a bi-product of Jersey City, especially in its political and cultural makeup of the town. Ms. Marvel faces issues, like online information and high school relationships, with a care and understanding that are not only refreshing but also incredibly clever in how they permit the reader to think about cultural movements at large. It’s a difficult thing to tell a bildungsromansuperhero story while also commenting on the world without seeming preachy or judgmental, but Wilson does this month after month.
In 2017, Greg Rucka ended one of the best runs on Wonder Woman in quite a long time. Pairing with the timing of her landmark film, Wonder Woman hopefully gained a new set of followers that went from the movie theaters to the comic book shop to learn more about the characters. And DC did well by putting such a master storyteller as Rucka with such incredible artists as Liam Sharp, Bilquis Evely, and Nicola Scott. Rucka’s story focused on truth, self-exploration and discovery, culminating in the greatest of all the celebrated DC Rebirth stories. Wonder Womanwas the best storyline to come from DC, both in movies and comics, in 2017.
While the comic book world was wondering how Tom King was going to follow up his award-winning run on The Vision with Batman, little did we know that he would make the biggest hit of 2017 in a little-known character named Mister Miracle. King paired up with his artist on The Sheriff of Babylon, Mitch Gerads, to create a story that was deep in philosophy and inner conflict, making for one of the best comic debuts of the year.
Remender stories thrive on brilliant characters that throw readers into the car and take them on the biggest hell ride possible. Buckle up, because while Remender may not be for the faint of heart, they’re always worth the journey. Oh, and Deadly Class is currently shooting a pilot for supreme comic (look at Remender’s Twitter account for some great cast photos).
There’s nobody in comics better than Kelly Thompson when it comes to witty dialogue. And 2017 has been a great year for Thompson as she’s highlighted some of Marvel and IDW’s best titles in Hawkeye, Star Wars: Captain Phasma, Ghostbusters, and Jem and the Holograms: The Misfits. I’m especially a fan of the new Hawkeye, Kate Bishop. She’s opened up Hawkeye investigations in Los Angeles and has had some of the most awesome mysteries with Jessica Jones, America, and Laura Kinney. Hawkeye has found its way from B-list star to one of the best in the Marvel line and Kelly Thompson is proving herself as one of comic’s greatest writers.
If you want to get someone into comics, the best thing you can do is give them a title by Brian K. Vaughan, who has changed comic writing with his visionary stories, including Paper Girls and Saga. You get giant robot fights, abortion planets, and creatures… oh so many creatures. But really, they’re both all about family. Truly.
While comic book fans flocked around Wonder Woman, Becky Cloonan secretly made history again as the first female writer to write The Punisher for Marvel. Cloonan is not a stranger to making history; she was previously the first woman to draw the Batman title for DC and her incredible Southern Cross is frequently referred to as Image Comics’ best series. She’s easily a comic book hall-of-famer with a Spotify playlist that has enough metal in it to keep you head banging for days. And her Punisher has been exemplary as Frank Castle takes on Condor and one of its crazy psychos named Face who likes to skin the faces off his victims and peg them to the wall. This is a series that not only kept the blood flowing brutality for all Punisher fans but also introduced a character in Face that is every bit as good as Jigsaw and worthy of the Punishercanon.
Advancing on his excellent All-New Wolverinerun at Marvel, Tom Taylor has done 36 astounding issues of DC’s Injustice 2 that has been plain revolutionary. Using basically every character in the DC Universe, Taylor has created a fanboy dream of a storyline that, week by week, brought some of the best action sequences in all of comics. While previously envisioned as a sidekick to the video game, Injustice 2 is the main attraction and comic book lovers have proclaimed it as one of the best series on the shelves today.
Hailed by many as a masterpiece, Michael Allred and Dan Slott’s wonderfully meditative and endlessly charming Silver Surfer had emotional depth alongside moments of beautiful absurdity. This series was all about the interaction between Norrin Radd (the Silver Surfer) and Dawn Greenwood (a woman who becomes involved in his life and adventures) and how their interaction allowed them to learn more about themselves. It’s an incredible story arc by a master storyteller and one of the most monumental in the Silver Surfer canon.