Last year was a good year for comics. DC’s Rebirth relaunch settled in, allowing creators to tell some truly amazing stories with strong reimaginings of the company’s characters. The Young Animal imprint mostly stayed strong throughout, really coming into its own. Marvel took a page from DC’s book and is trying to recapture what it thinks fans miss from their universe (something I have mixed opinions on, but here’s not the place for that). And during all this you have some excellent series not from the Big Two either maintaining their excellence or just coming out of nowhere and surprising everyone. 2017 was a good year for comics.
I’ve been away from blogging for a long time, but that little sidebar ranking current ongoing series I’m reading? That is completely up to date. I’ve just fallen really behind on monthly ongoing comics, which made me question whether or not I should do this list. However, I think that this list has been determined for a while now. Nothing that I haven’t read will likely really make a difference to this list. To qualify for this list, the series had to have had at least one issue released in 2016, and one in 2017. Anyway, let’s get on with it. These are the best continuing series of 2017.
Warning: mild spoilers.
Note: Please forgive the weird formatting on some entries when it comes to art. Comixology is bad about this and is where I get my information.
10. Kill or be Killed
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips
Colours by Elizabeth Breitweiser
Ed Brubaker’s Kill or be Killed has been consistently great since it began, and that might be why it’s so low on the list. With such consistent quality, it never has any great highs that end up standing out. Sure, there are moments that are just excellent examples of storytelling, but as a whole, the series has been a straight line. That’s not to say the series isn’t good, because it is. Brubaker has built on the story well over time, with a deep dive into the main character’s mental illness, as well as his relationships with his interesting supporting characters, and even some cool world-building in one issue. The mental illness subplot was slowly built up over time, inviting tons of theories and speculation about the nature of Dylan’s demon, and his relationship with his family. The series does tend to eventually outright explain these things, which I’ve got mixed opinions on, but how those explanations come about and how they’re executed is rather elegant.
Kill or be Killed is still a great portrayal of one man’s descent into self-destructive vigilantism and how it affects the world around him. It hasn’t really faltered at all, and is reliably good every month.
Written by Christopher Priest
Pencils by Carlo Pagulayan, Joe Bennett, Cary Nord, Denys Cowan, Roberto Viacava, Diogenes Neves,
Inks by Jason Paz, Julio Ferreira, Belardino Brabo, Mark Morales, Cary Nord, Bill Sienkiewicz, Norm Rapmund, Sean Parsons, John Trevor Scott
Colours by Jeromy Cox
Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke is a series that grows on you over time. Initially feeling rather convoluted, you eventually get in the groove, just like with Priest’s Black Panther. Characterisation and plots have obviously been carefully planned, and subtly build over time, and when Priest has these things pay off, it is amazing. Not only that, but Priest, to me, has created the definitive version of the Wilson family. Priest’s Slade Wilson is a twisted, manipulative man who can definitely be called a villain. There’s no incredibly transparent attempt to position him as a victim of circumstance — he’s just a bad person, who just happens to have some standards and loved ones. In contrast, his daughter Rose is written as a young woman looking for her place in life, whether that be by having her father’s approval or by embracing her Hmong heritage. Slade and Rose are just compelling characters, taking part in interesting stories that reward readers who pay attention. While some arcs are better than others (“Twilight” is easily the weakest) and it was obviously the series that launched the truly terrible “The Lazarus Contract” crossover, Priest knows how to write complex plots that escalate over time.
Deathstroke is an incredibly rewarding and thoughtful read, with compelling characters and stories, with the social commentary you’d expect from Christopher Priest. While it can get a bit too heavy, that just gives the series immense re-readability.
8. Mother Panic
Written by Jody Houser and Jim Krueger
Pencils by Tommy Lee Edwards, Phil Hester and John Paul Leon
Inks by Tommy Lee Edwards, Ande Park, Shawn Crystal and John Paul Leon
Colours by Tommy Lee Edwards, Trish Mulvihill, Jean-Francois Beaulieu and Dave Stewart
Mother Panic can easily be dismissed as the most “mainstream” Young Animal title. It takes place in Gotham City, has more traditional superheroics, is easily the most coherent of the line, and even its name sounds like it’s meant to appeal to young adults (as opposed to hipsters like Shade, the Changing Girl and Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye). But Jody Houser has managed to make the series stand out, with a darker approach to a typical Gotham vigilante, one that can appeal to everyone — she’s a likeable jackass. But unlike, say, Jason Todd, whose jackassery feels like it’s trying too hard to be cool, Violet Paige’s behaviour is an expression of how damaged she is as a person and written as such. Houser writes stories that force Violet to explore her lack of humanity, both with some interesting villains that fit in with Gotham’s A-listers and with a compelling approach to the mysterious Gather House. The result is a series that feels remarkably at home in Gotham City, while also feeling entirely distinct from the typical Bat-antics.
While Mother Panic doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it does tell a good, self-contained story set in the DCU. Providing an alternative take on Gotham City with a very different type of protagonist, Mother Panic tells interesting stories with a main character whose journey of vengeance reveals an interesting origin for an equally interesting character.
7. Doom Patrol
Written by Gerard Way
Pencils by Nick Derington, Brandon Bird and Mike Allred
Inks by Nick Derington, Brandon Bird, Mike Allred and Tom Fowler
Colours by Tamra Bonvillain and Laura Allred
And here’s the other great Young Animal ongoing. This run of Doom Patrol has done an excellent job of modernising the team, while obviously taking the best parts of Grant Morrison’s seminal run. In fact, the series is very obviously meant to be a follow-up to Morrison’s work, but just happens to have to sweep some of the post-Morrison stuff under the rug. While this could’ve been done with a very typical superhero comic retcon, Way instead opts for an in-universe reunion of the Morrison-era DP, capturing the spirit of the team while moving them forward. It would have been very easy to fall into a stagnant nostalgic throwback, but Way instead ops to move the team into new territories, exploring the strangeness of the DP in new and interesting ways, from Crazy Jane running a cult of people who will become one with her, to Niles Caulder obsessively wanting the team to return to their Silver Age roots. These type of strange and metatextual stories, all grounded by the humanity of Casey Brinke and her journey of self-discovery, make Way’s Doom Patrol stand out from the series’ past iterations, while still feeling like an extension of them.
Doom Patrol is an excellent series, with themes of self-discovery and parenthood, with a focus on the importance of relationships. And all of this is wrapped in a quirky, even profound package.
As an aside, the one big problem with this series? Its lateness has become hilarious! Not since Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye have I experienced this type of lateness! When I’m calling out your lateness, you know you’ve messed up!
Written by Tom King, Scott Snyder, Paul Dini, Ray Fawkes, Steve Orlando, Scott Bryan Wilson and Mikel Janin
Pencils by Mikel Janin, David Finch, Ivan Reis, Riley Rossmo, Neal Adams, Bilquis Evely, Declan Shalvey, Mitch Gerads, Stephanie Hans, Jason Fabok, Clay Mann, Davide Gianfelice, Joelle Jones, Michael Lark, Lee Weeks and Alvaro Martinez
Inks by Matt Banning, Danny Miki, Sandra Hope, Oclair Albert, Scott Hanna, Joe Prado, Riley Rossmo, Hugo Petrus, Neal Adams, Bilquis Evely, Declan Shalvey, John Trevor Scott, Jason Fabok, Jay Leisten, Mitch Gerads, Clay Mann, Seth Mann, Davide Gianfelice, Hugo Petris, Joelle Jones, Michael Lark, Lee Weeks and Raul Fernandez
Colours by Jordie Bellaire, Marcelo Mailo, Ivan Plascencia, June Chung, Brad Anderson, Mitch Gerads and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Tom King’s Batman run is… uneven, to say the least. The initial “I am…” saga was mixed at best, with some fairly unremarkable stories taking centre stage. However, what they were actually doing, and what makes them worth reading, is exploring Bruce Wayne’s character. Tom King’s Batman is more flawed than previous depictions, and much more human. At the same time, his being Batman is presented as something that prohibits him from acting truly human, or even happy. This is all set up slowly over the “I am…” saga, which itself is obviously only the first act of King’s planned story.
His run really hits its stride once the “I am…” saga concludes, first with a curveball in the form of “The Button”, a crossover with The Flash largely written by Joshua Williamson (and probably an uncredited Geoff Johns), then with the brilliant “The War of Jokes and Riddles” arc. “The Button”, with the meeting between Bruce and the Flashpoint version of his father Thomas, expertly plays off the established version of King’s Batman introduced in the “I am…” saga, while also throwing in a curveball that follows up on the ending of that story. “The War of Jokes and Riddles” tells the new origin of the brilliant character Kite Man, while also building off the verson of Batman introduced in the “I am…” saga, while also opening the door for new stories with Batman’s proposal to Catwoman. All of these connecting threads are expertly woven throughout King’s run, which manages to tell these introspective stories about Batman while still having fun.
Tom King’s Batman run is a divisive, uneven beast unlike anything he’s previously written. While it can draw things out and feel a bit unfocused, the moments where King assembles all his pieces make the series well worth a read. A subtle reinvention of Batman and his villains, King’s Batman is the most exciting the franchise has been in years.
Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art by Leslie Hung and Rachael Cohen
Snotgirl has really defied my expectations since it started. What seemed like it would be a fairly generic commentary on the pitfalls of social media instead became a hilarious drama centered around terrible people. Initially centered around Lottie Person, O’Malley has built up a dynamic cast of interesting and funny characters. From the enigmatic Cool Girl, to the deeply troubled Charlotte, all the characters feel distinct, and how O’Malley has the characters play off each other creates some hilarious moments. At the same time, there’s a plot around an attempted murder after an attempted murder, which itself was brought on from the side effect of drugs, and… it sounds like a bad soap opera, but the humour and self-awareness make the series a joy to read. Even if the drama doesn’t land for you, the larger than life characters and over the top reactions will.
Bryan Lee O’Malley has made Snotgirl one of the comics highlights of my month. It’s immensely funny and dramatic, with just enough self-awareness to not come off as annoying or pretentious.
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Rafael de Latorre and Juan Doe
Colours by Rob Schwager and Juan Doe
Last year, Animosity surprised me with how great it’s world-building was. Marguerite Bennett seemed to be bursting with interesting ideas, but could only use enough of them to world-build, as she place more importance on the story of Jessie and Sandor. This meant that the series had amazing world-building, but a generally limited scope. While it meant the story didn’t meander, it also meant a world brimming with potential for stories that weren’t told. Now, after a year has gone by, Animosity has truly hit the sweet spot between exploring its fascinating world, and telling a deeply personal story about a girl and her dog. Moral questions are brought up more often, the effect of animals’ lives before the Awakening play a larger role, and more interesting ideas are thrown in. Whether it be because Animosity: Evolution is able to further explore concepts, or because Bennett is just getting better with follow through, Animosity has become a much more satisfying read.
Animosity has really come into its own to deliver a heartfelt story with complicated characters in a deeply interesting, and original, setting. After a year of growing pains, the series has become Aftershock’s best ongoing series.
Written by Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez
Art by Ramon Perez and Scott Hepburn
What can I say about this series that I haven’t already said? I am still torn up over its cancellation! Nova was pretty much the perfect Marvel comic for the Legacy era, having a deep respect for the past while bringing it to the present. It was hilarious, while using its humour to highlight the differences between the two Novas. It knew how to balance humour and drama. It had two likeable, but very different leads. It had potential to set up an interesting status quo. It had everything going for it! But people didn’t buy it. So the two human Novas developing a father-son dynamic to make up for their lost relationships? Never fully realised. The use of humour to juxtapose the weathered, Cosmic-fairing Richard Rider with the the optimistic, grounded Sam Alexander? Probably never showing up again. The idea of Richard joining Sam’s family? Hasn’t been brought up since. Richard’s reunion with the rest of the Nova Corps? Never happened. All these great stories that were clearly set up never had the chance to be, and it’s just… sad. When awful, cynical series like Red Hood and the Outlaws get to have over 60 issues, while works crafted with enthusiasm and passion like Nova get cancelled, you know the industry isn’t right.
It didn’t last long, but Nova made its mark on me with its six issues. Loveness and Perez have created the standard by which I judge all “legacy” comics (using both an older character with their newer equivalent), and that they didn’t get to continue this series still upsets me. As it is, Nova was a perfect way to bring back Richard Rider and establish the new status quo of the Nova franchise.
2. Supergirl: Being Super
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Pencils by Joelle Jones
Inks by Sandu Florea and Joelle Jones
Colours by Kelly Fitzpatrick
I usually don’t read limited series. Well, I don’t read them unless they’re tied into something I’m already reading. But a self-contained, out of continuity story? Yeah, that stuff is usually trade-waited. I can’t remember why I picked up Being Super, but I am so glad I did, because it is my new favourite Supergirl — and Superman — story. Mariko Tamaki places Kara in a familiar setting — that of an alien who landed on Earth as a baby and was raised by a kindly couple. Yep, this Kara has Clark’s origin. But the focus isn’t on her parents, nor her alien heritage — this is a coming of age story. Tamaki emphasises Kara being a teenage girl, with uncertainty about life after high school, and a wayward sense of her place in the world. Rather than huge fights with people who will be her future supervillains, we have Kara going out for burgers with her friends, discussing future careers and relationships. Tamaki’s dialogue is just so authentic, yet carefully crafted, and her story so simple that it truly does create these incredibly relateable characters, despite the superpowers. Everything in this series — aside from a few art hiccups — just works so well together, and the result is a story that strikes a cord with anyone who even faintly remembers what it was like to be a teenager.
Being Super is the quintessential comic for anyone who wonders how a superhero can be relateable. Tamaki has expertly crafted a story that is, simply put, one of the most grounded depictions of superpowers ever. That it stars an alien isn’t what makes it worth reading — this series isn’t about Kara Danvers being super; it’s about her being a girl.
1. Silver Surfer
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Mike Allred
Colours by Laura Allred
Dan Slott and Mike Allred’s Silver Surfer has been an amazing ride. From that initial spark of sheer joy in 2014 to the heartfelt goodbye of 2017, Silver Surfer has covered the entire spectrum of emotions. From a chance meeting between strangers, to a declaration of love, to the death of a loved one, Silver Surfer has, in three years, charted the development of an entire relationship. When Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood set off on their journey among the stars, no one could have predicted the sheer magnitude of what this series would be. Bursting with creativity, Slott and Allred have used the comic book medium to tell larger than life stories about sentient concepts and the rebirth of universes, but it all comes down to the bond between two people.
Silver Surfer is a beautiful, fun, heartfelt comic about two people developing their relationship. Dan Slott uses the superhero genre perfectly to give this relationship a sense of scale and adventure. While this series has ended, the way Slott concluded this series will leave a lasting mark on the Silver Surfer going forward, while cleaning up the toys for the next team — and how I feel bad for them, because this run of Silver Surfer was brilliant.
And there you have it. Those are my top 10 continuing series of 2017. Also, that’s a lot of tags.
Also, no, I was not thinking when I made that first image. Just pretend I meant for it to be a guessing game!