Tag Archives: ms. marvel

Superheroes and Supernatural Romances: What I Read Over My Vacation

I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t you just take a vacation, Nancy? To that I’d say, yes! How observant of you. I did take a vacation back in July! This odd schedule is mostly due to having a new job. I wasn’t allowed to take any time off for the first six months. Now, if I don’t take a certain portion of my vacation, I’ll end up losing that by the end of the year. So I figured, why not take it now, while the weather is still nice?

Of course, my favorite thing about vacations is having the time to catch up my reading. I did this by consuming one novella, one novel, and three graphic novels. Read on for my thoughts on each.

How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger (Paranormal/Romance)– These Parasol-verse novellas are perfect way for fans to see more of their favorite side characters. This time around it’s gamma werewolf Channing. In How to Marry a Werewolf we learn about his past and future when Channing finds himself drawn to Faith, an American geologist who’s been sent to England under strict instructions to find a werewolf husband.

There’s a lot to enjoy about How to Marry a Werewolf, not the least being Faith herself. Being an American, she brought a unique outsider perspective to the story. I also enjoyed the fact that much like Channing, she had secrets of her own. The novella makes a really good case for why the two make suitable partners to each other and the HEA is very much earned. As of the writing of this review, this is the last of the novellas that Carriger has written in the Parasol Protectorate Universe, and I look forward to reading any future releases.

Black Panther: Long Live the King by Nnedi Okarafor (Superheroes)- I’m going to be up front with on this one. Black Panther: Long Live the King just didn’t work for me. Which is unfortunate as I’ve enjoyed other Black Panther books, and other works by Nnedi Okarafor. Long Live the King collections three different stories of various lengths about around Black Panther and other related characters. The one I like the best focuses on a giant beast appearing in the middle of Wakanda, creating a massive power outage. This is the longest story in the collection and felt like the most complete to me.

Unfortunately, the other two stories felt like they needed a little more to them. As a whole, Long Live the King felt like it was there to tell fun adventure tales, almost in a classic comic book sense. And (much like Black Panther comics and Nnedi Okorafor stories) while this normally works well for me. It just didn’t this time around. Too bad.

Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland (Paranormal)- Oooh boy, things are really getting interesting in this urban fantasy series. In Sins of the Demon, demon summer and homicide detective Kara Gillian finds the tables turned on her when someone is tries to summon her to the demon world. At the same time, a series of seemingly natural deaths pop up in her terrotiry. When Kara discovers that all of the victims are connected to her, she knows that something is up. But will she manage to solve the mystery before she’s ripped from this dimension?

I must admit, that I feel a little cheated with this one. Why give me cover like THAT with a book that provides the least amount of demonic sex scenes in the series thus far? In all seriousness, this was a really enjoyable addition to the series that does a great job of balancing the paranormal, mystery, and romantic elements. It also ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I know I’ll need to check out the next book, Touch of the Demon, soon.

Ms. Marvel, vol 9: Teenage Wasteland by G. Willow Wilson (Superheroes)- I actually already reviewed this one in detail in my Best Books of Summer Post, so I’ll just touch on this one lightly. Teeange Wasteland is another fantastic volume of Ms. Marvel, albiet one where Ms. Marvel herself is absent for several issues. Much like the previous volumes in this series, Teenage Wasteland manages to be fun, yet poignant at the same time. I will be a sad reader when G. Willow Wilson moves on from this character.

Batman, vol 2: I am Suicide by Tom King (Superheroes)-. Batman had cobbled together his own mini suicide squad in order to locate Psycho Pirate, currently a guest of the nefarious Bane. Will he manage to be successful or will the villains he fights alongside stab him in the back?

A lot of people (but not everyone) seem to enjoy Tom King’s run on Batman. I liked the first volume well enough, but it wasn’t until I am Suicide that I really started liking it. And I must admit, that mostly has to do with Catwoman. She and Bruce share a fierce connection, built on a strong emotional bond and steamy chemistry. At the same time. she is a trickster, which makes her wonderfully unpredictable. While I am Suicide has it’s faults, I was pleased with it overall and I will be continuing this particular run.

So that’s it! Everything I read over my vacation. A paltry list, I know, compared to some other super readers out there, but for me, this was pretty good. I hope you find something interesting as a result.

Advertisements

Best Books of Summer 2018

By the time this entry goes up, summer will feel like a distant memory. But it will be a positive one, as I read so many great books over the past few months! Below, you’ll find a thought provoking essay collection, a steampunk fueled F/F romance, the tales of a young caped crusader and more! Please read on for reviews of the best books I read in July, August, and September.

Romancing the Inventor by Gail Carriger (Romance, Steampunk)– Over the summer, I read all four of Gail Carriger’s Parasol-verse novellas, and this one is my favorite. Romancing the Inventor tells the story Imogene Hale, who has recently taken on the job of a parlor maid for the local vampire hive. Here, she encounters Genevieve LeFoux an eccentric French inventor. Imogene’s mind and heart are drawn to Madame LeFoux, but does Genevieve feel the same?

Madame LeFoux is a character that has seen a fair amount of tragedy and struggles throughout the various novels in the Parasol-verse, so I found it incredibly satisfying to see her get her HEA in Romancing the Inventor. Imogen was also a really likable and smart character. And on top of that, there are cameos from a couple my favorite Parasol-centric characters. If you’ve enjoyed Genevieve’s adventures through The Finishing School and Parasole Protectorate series, then do yourself a favor and catch up with her here.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris (Historical Fiction)– I talked about this one already in my What I Read Over My Vacation post, so I’ll keep things brief. My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a wildly inventive graphic novel that grapples with weighty topics, and plays homage to pulp horror, under the structure of a coming of age story and murder mystery set in Chicago in the 1960s. If you’re looking for something truly a unique, then give My Favorite Thing is Monsters a short.

The Geek Feminist Revolution by Kameron Hurley (Essays)- The Geek Feminist Revolution is a collection of essays that covers a wide variety of topics including books, movies  fandom, and feminism, as well as some more personal selections that reveal Hurley’s own history. I was surprised to find that I had already read a number of the essays found in here (they had been previously published online), but they were so damn good that it didn’t bother me at all. The concepts and ideas that can be found in this book are worth revisiting, time and time again. When it comes to my favorite feminist nonfiction, I’d place this right at the top, next to Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal (Science Fiction)– A meteor has struck the earth, setting earth on course to an extinction level event. Mankind must find a way to colonize the stars, but in the 1950s, societal prejudices turn out to be a bigger impediment then technological barriers. Mathematician, engineer, and former WW2 pilot, Elma York knows that there are smart capable women out there that are just as qualified to be astronauts as men, but will she be able to convince the world?

Words cannot express how much I loved this novel. The writing was effortlessly smooth, the characters so rich. Elma was both admirable, due to her strength and poise, yet painfully relatable due to her vulnerabilities. If I could recommend just one book to anyone that I have read so far this year, it would be the The Calcuating Stars.

The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal (Science Fiction)- Of course when you’re done with The Calculating Stars, you have to dig into the second book in the Lady Astronaut sequel, The Fated Sky. Some spoilers for The Calculating Stars can be found below. The second book in the Lady Astronaut series jumps ahead to the 1960s. Mankind has already made it to the moon but the real challenge is Mars. With the chance to be one of the first ones to visit the red planet, Elma York finds her personal life at odds with her professional ambitions, but that pales in comparison to the challenges she finds in space.

Set almost entirely in space, The Fated Sky is a dramatically different book than The Calculating Stars, but thanks to Kowal’s strong writing, complex characters, and firm grasp of the social issues or the era, it’s just as compelling. I am so happy to hear that there will be two more books set in this universe, because I so desperately want to spend more time with Elma and the other characters.

Batman: Nightwalker by Marie Lu (Superheroes)- When eighteen-year-old Bruce Wayne interferes with a police investigation-destroying an expensive vehicle in the process-he ends up facing community service at Arkham Asylum. Here, he finds himself drawn to one of the inmates, who reveals more information to him that she ever did to the Gotham City police officers investigating her case. Bruce believes that he can question her, solving the mystery, but is he the one manipulating her? Or is she manipulating him?

Batman: Nightwalker is part of the fantastic DC Icons series, where established YA authors tackle iconic DC superheroes and villains. Author, Marie Lu clearly knows Bruce Wayne, and does a great job giving the audience a glimpse of what he may have been like before embracing the cape and cowl: less experienced, but no less driven. There’s also an appealing psychological aspect of the novel as you deal with the power play between Bruce and the prisoner Madeline. If you’re a Batman fan, then you need to check this out.

Attack on Titan, vol 25 by Hajime Isayama (Science Fiction)– The latest arc of Attack on TItan hits a pivotal turning point in volume twenty-five. Eren reveals himself to Reiner after years of separation. But what are his real intentions?

I’m keeping my summary intentionally vague, because the twenty-fifth volume of Attack on Titan is something you need to really experience for yourself. Attack on Titan is at it’s strongest when it depends on three things: character drama, titan-fueled action, and punch-to-the-face plot twists. These are elements that volume 25 has in spares. I’m really exited, based on some of the reveals in this volume, to see what will happen next,

Rogue and Gambit: Ring of Fire by Kelley Thompson (Superheroes)– Gambit and Rogue are a pair with a lot of emotional baggage, baggage that they will have to sort through when their latest mission places them undercover as a couple going through marital therapy! The pair will have to stay the course if they want to locate a group kidnapped mutants, but will they be able to stomach the truths that they unearth in the process?

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that I have a real weakness for superhero romances, so when I heard that Rogue and Gambit were going to have a graphic novel based around their relationship, I was intrigued. The result is just what I wanted, a story that takes a deep dive into a decades-old emotional bond between two loveable characters, while not skimping on the cool, show stopping action sequence at the end. I loved this book to itty bity pieces, and would highly recommend it.

Ms. Marvel, vol 9: Teenage Wasteland by G Willow Wilson (Superheroes)- In the latest volume of Ms. Marvel, a disillusioned Kamala Khan has walked away from her superhero identity, leaving her friends to fill her place. But what happens when they find themselves up against a genuinely villainous threat?

I love the Ms, Marvel comics so much, and will be genuinely devastated when writer G. Willow Wilson moves on to other projects. She has a real talent for blending super heroics with teenage drama, not to mention incredibly clever/socially relevant humor. This is why Teenage Wasteland, a comic where it’s titular hero is absent for several issues, works so well. The comic has more than one strength, and it can stand just fine on it’s own when one element is removed. Given how things end, I’m very intrigued to see where things go in the tenth volume, which comes out in January of 2019.

Honorable Mentions: Black Bolt, vol 2: Home Free by Saladin Ahmed, How to Marry a Werewolf by Gail Carriger, The Bride was a Boy by chii, Jane City by Fonda Lee, No Time to Spare by Ursula LeGuin, Sins of the Demon by Diana Rowland, Agent to the Stars by John Scalzi

Silent Superheroes, Grimdark Comics, and Alternate Histories: My Most Anticipated Reads

As per usual, I have fallen behind on my reading. Sure, there are plenty of recent releases (Tamora Pierce’s Tempests and Slaughter, Seanan McGuire’s Tricks for Free) that I haven’t gotten around to yet, but there are still plenty of forthcoming titles that I am itching to add to my ever growing TBR. Below, you’ll find a list forthcoming books and graphic novels that I am really jazzed about checking out. Every one of them has a 2018 release date.

Garrison Girl by Rachel Aaron (Science Fiction)– Tie in fiction is something that I’ve started to get into over the past year, which makes the timing of Garrison Girl, Rachel Aaron’s take on the Attack on Titan universe, pretty opportune. The summary promises plenty of action, and romance, two topics that Aaron has done very well with her original fiction in the past. Not to mention that cover art is just awesome. What’s the saying, again? Take my money! Release Date- August 7th.

Black Bolt, vol 2: Home Free by Saladin Ahmed (Superheroes)– The first volume of Black Bolt was such a pleasant surprise. I had never been a fan of the Inhumans before, never mind their silent leader, but Saladin Ahmed found a way to make his story, focused around a prison break, so compelling. Hell, he even made me care about Crusher Creel. I hope his second outing with the Midnight King will be just as intriguing as the first, now that we’ve left the prison setting behind. Release Date- June 19th

Competence by Gail Carriger (Steampunk/Paranormal)– The third book in the Custard Protocol switches perspectives from Prudence to Primrose, and I am jazzed to see what the results will be. Will we see a romance involving a particular werecat? This series (and it’s predecessor, the Parasol Protectorate) does a wonderful job mixing steampunk, humor, romance and paranormal elements. I’m glad it’s returning for a third outing. Release Date- July 17th.

Attack on Titan: Vol 25 and 26 by Hajime Isayama (Science Fiction)– I must admit, the Marley arc caught me a little off guard at first, but by volume 24, I was totally on board. The secrets behind the titans have been revealed, and it’s clear that things are winding down for a final encounter. I am very curious to see how that will end up. Release Dates- July 3rd, and December 4th.

The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal (Science Fiction)– These two titles are, without a doubt, my most anticipated releases of 2018, period. Written by one of my favorite authors, The Calculating Stars and The Fated Sky take place in the same universe as the novelette “The Lady Astronaut of Mars,” where humanity starts it’s race to Mars in the 1950s. The novels focus on the women behind the space race, including the former WASP pilot/mathematician destined to become The Lady Astronaut. If these alternate history books are even as fraction as moving as the novelette it’s based on, I know I’m in for a real treat. Release Dates- July 3rd, and August 12th.

Monstress, vol 3 by Marjorie Liu (Fantasy/Horror)– Monstress is a series that’s received a lot of praise, and it’s earned every penny of it. Sana Takeda is my favorite artist working in comics right now, and the deliciously dark storyline is perfect for people who like their fantasy grim. Where does Maika Halfwolf’s journey take her next? We’ll find out soon. Release Date- August 14th.

Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, vol 8: My Best Friends Squirrel by Ryan North (Superheroes)– Now, for the lighter side of comics. When it comes to comedy series, nothing can dethrone the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. The next arc takes things up to a cosmic level and brings back Loki- a character that writer Ryan North handle so wonderfully. Sadly this may be the final arc to feature art by the amazing Erica Henderson, who is moving into other projects. I suspect she’ll get a good send off. Release Date- June 26th.

Lies of the Beholder by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)Lies of the Beholder is the third book in the Legion series, which will be released as a stand alone novella, as well as part of a collection of the entire series entitled The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds. This series, which focuses on a man who hallucinates multiple personae for himself, that then teach him specialized skills, is one of Sanderson’s most unique series, and I’m glad that we’re going to get a proper ending to it. Release date- November 2018 for the stand alone, and September 18th for the collection (weirdly enough)

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (Science Fiction)– Speaking of Brandon Sanderson, he’s also releasing the first book in a brand new YA series this year, Skyward. According to his blog, it’s his take on the classic “boy in his dragon” storyline, only instead it’s a “girl and her Starfighter” which sounds all kinds of awesome. Sanderson is traditionally an adult fantasy author, but I have enjoyed both his YA work and sci-fi in the past (especially the Steelheart trilogy) so I suspect that this will be my type of read. Release Date- November 6th 2018

The Consuming Fire by John Scalzi (Science Fiction) The Consuming Fire is the second book in Scalzi’s Interdependency series, of which the first book was one of my favorite reads of Winter 2018. However, it wasn’t a stand alone book by any stretch of the imagination, and I am really eager to see how things develop in book two. The summary doesn’t give too much away, but I predict (being a Scalzi book) that The Consuming Fire will involve fascinating sci-fi concepts, great characterization and snappy dialogue. Release Date- October 16th.

My Brother’s Husband: Vol 2 by Gengoroh Tagame (Contemporary)– Speaking of favorites, volume one of these wonderful manga series will be showing up on my top books for Spring post (whoops. Spoilers?). My Brothers Husband tells the story of a stay at home dad named Yaichi. When his deceased brother’s husband comes to visit, Yaichi must confront his own hidden homophobic feelings. is a really touching about family and love and I can’t wait to see how things turn out in this concluding volume of the series. Release Date- September 18th.

Saga vol, 9 by Brian K. Vaughan- So many favorites! The wonderfully weird Saga continues its story about a family on a run this fall. I love how volume 8 dealt with the aftermath of a miscarriage (such a grounded subject from a comic that’s literally out of this world), and really like the family portrait-style cover that artist Fiona Staples did for volume 9. Release Date- October 2nd.

Ms. Marvel, vol 9: by G Willow Wilson (Superheroes)– The eighth volume of Ms. Marvel was another one of my favorite books of Winter 2018, and it ended on a bit of a cliffhanger with (spoiler alert!!) Kamala Khan apparently stepping down as Ms. Marvel! What will happen to Jersey City next. Apparently I’ll find out this summer (on my birthday, no less!). Release Date- July 31st.

And that’s it! Those are my most anticipated readers for the rest of 2018! Any thoughts on the titles above? Is there anything I missed? Please let me know in the comments!

Nice Dragons, Collapsing Empires, and Musical Holograms: My Favorite Books of Winter 2018

A while back I ran a book blog called Temporaryworlds over on livejournal (which should give you an idea on what I mean by “a while back”). And although it’s been some time since I’ve felt the urge to review every single book that I read, I still come across a lot of great books that I want to talk about and recommend to others. So, I figured why not do that here on a quarterly basis? Below you’ll find my top reads for Winter of 2018- or January, February, and March. Selections include both novels and graphic novels, as I read plenty of both.

Last Dragon Standing by Rachel Aaron (Fantasy/Science Fiction)- The fifth and final book in Rachel Aaron’s wonderful Heartstriker series combines the vastness of epic fantasy, the fast moving plotting of urban fantasy, and the worldbuilding of post apocalyptic sci-fi. Julius, once shamed for being a nice dragon, has gained plenty of allies and BIG responsibilities over the course of multiple books. And he’s going to need all the help he can get if he’s to face his biggest challenge yet: the literal embodiment of the end of the world. This is one of my favorite series, filled with lots of action, great humor and compelling relationship dynamics (both of the romantic, and platonic variety). I was so happy to see it end on a high note.

Lady Killer, vol 2 by Joelle Jones (Horror)– The second volume in this story about a housewife who moonlights as a contract killer doubles down on both the gleeful violence of the first, as well as the nail biting suspense. I don’t know what I find more impressive, the skill in which Josie’s double life is brought to page on a visual level (the colorful fashions of the 60s against all the bloody carnage is an interesting contrast), or how Jones creates sympathy for a protagonist who does such awful things. We’re going to get a volume three, right? You just can’t leave things on that cliffhanger! Artwork also by the writer, Joelle Jones.

Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson (Fantasy)- The third volume in the Stormlight Archives delves deep into the character of Dalinar Kholin, and brings our heroes face to face with some hard truths about themselves, and the world around them. If you’re a fan of massive fantasy tomes, no one is dong the genre better right now then the master of magic systems, Brandon Sanderson. Filled with high stakes, sympathetic characters, and worldbuilding that you can really delve into, Oathbringer earns every one of its 1200+ pages. The only bad thing about finishing this book is knowing that I will need to wait years before the fourth volume hits the shelves.

The Collapsing Empire by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)– The first book in The Interdependencey series has everything you could want from a John Scalzi book: humorous dialogue, eye opening sci-fi concepts, and characters you can really fall in love with. The fact that the audiobook version is narrated by Wil Wheaton makes it even more impossible to put down. As you may have guessed from the title, The Collapsing Empire tells the story of a large inter-planetary empire, and what happens when it’s discovered that the intergalactic channels that connect its many pieces are about to collapse. I am eagerly looking forward to book two, which is set to come out later this year.

Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi (Science Fiction)–  Fuzzy Nation is actually a book that I’ve owned for a while now, having purchased the audio version in a sale YEARS ago. Despite being a fan of the author’s work, I put off reading it because it was a retelling of a classic sci-fi novel-Little Fuzzy-which I had yet to read. But after enjoying the shit out of The Collapsing Empire, I decided to it was time to dive in, regardless of how familiar I was with the source material. And you know what? I really enjoyed it. Fuzzy Nation tells the story of a prospector on an alien planet who comes across adorable cat-like creatures that he dubs “Fuzzies.” Only when he introduces his latest find to a local biologist, he discovers that these creatures might be more than just animals, but sapient beings who rightfully own the planet they are currently mining the shit out of. Fuzzy Nation combines adorableness with genuinely interesting ethical dilemmas, and the suspense of a court room drama. It was a fast read (I flew threw it in just a couple of days), but a really worth while one.

Jem and the Holograms, vol 1: Showtime by Kelly Thompson (Contemporary)Showtime is the cartoon Jem rebooted in comic book format, and boy is it great. Think about everything you loved about the cartoon as a kid, only less soap opera-y, and updated for a modern audience. They even make the music performance aspect really work, despite the fact that it’s not an auditory medium. Unfortunately, my library does not have access to any of the other volumes in this series, so I’m going to have to go through other avenues if I want to continue the series. Artwork by Sophie Campbell.

Saga, vol 8: by Brian K Vaughan (Science Fiction)– Here’s a great example of a comic book series that’s still going strong, years after its debut. While previous volumes of Saga have taken things to epic sci-fi heights, volume eight takes a smaller route by examining the very real tragedy that comes with a miscarriage. We see this on a practical level, as Alanna and Marko struggle to find a place that will perform a late-term abortion on the dead fetus, as well as a more emotional one, as Hazel must come to terms with the loss of the brother she never had a chance to meet. Really strong stuff this time around. Artwork, as always by Fiona Staples.

Ms. Marvel, vol 8: Mecca by G. Willow Wilson (Superheroes)– Ms. Marvel remains one of Marvel comics most consistent offerings, and the latest volume Mecca really shows you why. Author G. Willow Wilson uses the storyline of people targeting super powered individuals in Jersey City as a metaphor for examining prejudice and radicalization. There are some pretty big twists this time around, and things end on a bit of a cliffhanger. I can’t wait to see how things are resolved in volume 9, which is supposed to come out on my birthday (!!!) July 31st.

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang (Historical Fiction/Romance)– This has to be the strongest stand alone graphic novel I’ve read in years. The Prince and the Dressmaker is a love story, set in France, between a poor dressmaker with big dreams, and a prince who sometimes likes to wear dresses. This book is filled with lovable characters that you can route for, and wonderful artwork (especially when it comes to the dresses!). If you have any interest in graphic novels and historical romances, I’d recommend picking this up ASAP. Artwork done by the writer, Jen Wang.

Geek Actually: Season 1 by Cathy Yardley, Melissa Blue, Cecilia Tan, and Rachel Stuhler (Contemporary/Chick Lit)– Now here’s something a little different. Geek Actually is a Serial Box Production, meaning that it’s basically a television series in fiction form. Each serial is written in “seasons”, and the story is broken down into episodes that roughly take the same amount of time to read as it does to watch an episode of television. Geek Actually is my second serial that I’ve experienced through Serial Box, and I’m really impressed with the results. It focuses on the story of five different nerd women from different walks of life, each struggling with the challenges related to their professions, love lives, sexualities and more. I think the thing I like the most about Geek Actually is the variety of perspectives presented, covering everything from the gaming industry, to publishing, to cosplay. The characters themselves are both complex and diverse, each one having a significant arc. The story starts off lighthearted and fun, but it’s not afraid to examine with some of the darker struggles that women have to deal with- including stalking and sexual assault. It’s clear from the finale that there is more story to tell, and I look forward to seeing where our five leading ladies will go in season two.

Honorable Mentions: Desperate Hours by David Mack, Black Bolt: Vol 1: Hard Times by Saladin Ahmed, Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant, How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn, The Rise of Io by Wesley Chu.

So that’s it! What books have you fallen in love with lately?

Do you think Ms. Marvel deserves her own movie?

Then check out this coulumn I just posted over on Speculative Chic! Now is clearly the perfect time for Ms. Marvel to enter the MCU.

The future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has never looked brighter. With the incredibly cool-looking Black Panther and the much hyped Avengers: Infinity War set to hit the screen before the summer, the short term is sure to be filled with excitement. And the long term looks just as good, thanks to Marvel’s acquisition of…

via 5 Reasons Why Ms. Marvel Needs Her Own Movie — Speculative Chic

Top 10 of 2016: Comics and Graphic Novels

This is part four in a series of top ten lists. For movies, television shows, and books, check out their respective posts.

Out of all of the lists I made, this was the trickiest, because my comic book reading is pretty much all over the place. I read single issues, graphic novels, and the occasional manga series. Oftentimes, I read current releases, but I also dig into older runs. As a result, this list is kinda chaotic. I’ll try to be as honest about what I actually read without diving into information overload.

Without further ado, here are my top ten comics and graphic novels of 2016, leading up to my number one favorite.

10. Daredevil. Written by Mark Waid. Illustrated by Chris Samnee– This year I finished off the longest run on Daredevil by reading the final two trades, and even those last few issues were pretty freakin’ fabulous. The Waid/Samnee run on Daredevil was exciting, and fun, but not afraid to get serious as well (they gave Foggy Nelson CANCER!). The artwork was dynamic and unique, and the characters were oh-so-lovable. I have yet to dive into the Charles Soule run, which follows this, but it has some sizable shoes to fill.

9. The Private Eye. Written by Brian K Vaughan. Illustrated by Marcos Martin– The Private Eye is a self published webcomic by Vaughan and Martin that has been collected into this ENORMOUS hardcover collection. And I don’t necessarily mean enormous page count. The panels here are some of the largest I’ve seen. The Private Eye has a singularly unique concept. In the future, The Cloud bursts, sending everyone’s private information out to the wild. To protect themselves, everyone takes on a secret identity, complete with costumes and masks. Take this cool worldbuilding and combine it with a noir-esque storyline and you have a comic that’s really worth your attention.

8. Wonder Woman: The True Amazon. Written and Illustrated by Jill Thompson– In this graphic novel, Jill Thompson re-imagines the Wonder Woman origin story in a rather surprising way. Sure, it involves amazons, and ends with Diana leaving Themyscira, but it also suggest that maybe growing up as a spoiled princess had some… adverse effects on Diana’s personality. As a result, Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is less about Diana discovering her powers, as much as it’s about what inspired her to become a good person. What brings this to the next level is the fact that the hand-painted style artwork is so gorgeous, almost more like a storybook then a comic. Not all existing fans will appreciate this portrayal of Wonder Woman, but if you’re looking for a good place to start with the character, then this would be a great choice.

7. Monstress. Written by Marjorie Liu. Illustrated by Sana TakedaMonstress is a grimdark fantasy that takes place in a gorgeously illustrated matriarchal fantasy world, involving Lovecraftian level horrors, and chibi-style sidekicks. And if that description sounds like your type of book, seriously, why haven’t you read this yet? Writer Marjorie Liu has really hit her sweet spot with this one, and Sana Takeda is one of the best artists currently making comics. I’ve only read the first trade, but I am so ready for volume two.

6. Saga. Written by Brian K. Vaughan. Illustrated by Fiona Staples– This is one of the comics I read in single issue form- although I am a couple issues behind due to holiday shenanigans. It says a lot about the quality of Saga given that this year produced the storyline that I’ve been the least fond of (the prison storyline) yet it’s still this high on on my list. So instead of falling in love with every issue, I merely enjoyed the crap out if it. Saga remains the perfect place to go for a wonderfully weird sci-fi adventure that’s not afraid to step on your heart every now and then. I’m really looking forward to catching up on this one.

5. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat. Written by Kathe Leth. Illustrated by Brittney Williams– I’m also reading this one in single issue format, although it couldn’t be any more different than Saga if it tried. Patsy is a wonderfully relatable protagonist. She’s trying to help out people with superpowers who don’t necessarily want to become superheroes or villains, AND juggle her complicated past, while dealing with the crazy machinations of the Marvel universe. The fact that this comic feels so grounded while totally embracing the crazy-cakes backstory of the protagonists is a real testament to the writer, Kathe Leth. This is a great selection for those looking for a light, fun read, starring a female superhero.

4. Ms. Marvel. Written by G. Willow Wilson. Illustrated by Adrian Alphona. This year, I read the 4th and 5th trades for G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel and damn it’s still good. Kamala Khan is everything I want my superheroes to be. Admirable, yet flawed. Well intentioned, yet still learning about herself. This year, Kamala dealt with her newfound fame as Ms. Marvel as well as the massive crossover event, Civil War II. As someone who usually despises crossover events, I’d like to hold up the Ms. Marvel comics as an example for how to incorporate crossover events while still keeping the storyline personal. Too often, crossovers feel like useless filler that detract from the protagonist’s current journey, but that was not felt here. Civil War II brought some massive changes to Kamala’s life, and I can’t wait to see what happens to her next.

3. Attack on Titan. Written and Illustrated by Hajime Isayama. This year, I’ve been keeping up with the manga, Attack on Titan, reading volumes 17-19, as well as the spin off, No Regrets. Last year, the manga, while still good, was caught up in a political arc that didn’t always play to Isayama’s strengths. Now, the emphasis is on character drama and action, which is where Attack on Titan shines the most. Attack on Titan is one of those series that 100% worth all the hype it gets. The spin off, No Regrets, which focuses on Levi’s backstory, is also really great, despite the fact that it wasn’t written by Hajime Isayama. I am both excited (and dreading) to learn what will happen to our cast of characters next.

2. Wonder Woman. Written by Greg Rucka. Illustrated by various. Now this is going to be the most confusing item on my list, because while everyone else is reading Greg Rucka’s current run on Wonder Woman, I’m reading the one he wrote ten years back. And why am I doing that? Because it’s awesome. I still have a few more issues to go, but time and time again, I have been impressed at how well Rucka manages to capture Diana. Wonder Woman is a peacekeeper, but also a warrior. A diplomat, but also someone that will kill when necessary. A woman who isn’t bound by traditional women’s roles, despite being from an ancient society. It can be difficult to capture a character who wears so many hats, and is seemingly full of conflicts, but Rucka always portrays her with dignity and grace. I can see why they invited him back for a second run.

1. Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Written by Ryan North. Illustrated by Erica Henderson– Please. You know me. What else could I pick for my number one? I only wrote an entire column praising Squirrel Girl, and this run specifically. There’s just something so lovable, so perfect, about Doreen Green. She’s feisty, strong, smart, and compassionate. The artwork by Erica Henderson is just suits the story so well. And it’s so nice, that in a world where humor is so often devalued and looked upon as lesser, that you have a comic that’s not afraid to put the lighthearted first, and is pretty much universally praised for it. Squirrel Girl is my favorite superhero of 2016, and my favorite comic book (I’m reading it in trade paperback form). I can’t wait to see what she gets into next.

Honorable Mentions: Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello/Cliff Chiang Run- last two trades), Paper Girls (current issues), Lazarus (current issues), Black Widow (Mark Waid/Chis Samnee run- current issues)

Anything I miss? I’d love to hear what everyone else has been reading for comics this year.

Next, for my final top 10 list, I’ll be talking about my random favorites. Think music, podcasts and anything else that didn’t fit into the previous categories. Hope to get that up soon!