Let’s keep it simple this year. Instead of the usual list of best series and comics we’ve read in 2016, we’ve decided to go with a simpler format focusing on our favourite characters and stories instead.
It’s been a good year for superhero comics, as major blockbuster movies like Deadpool, Doctor Strange, Captain America: Civil War, X-Men: Apocalypse and (urgh) Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice and Suicide Squad raised the awareness of these characters further.
DC went big with its Rebirth event, completely revamping its entire universe by throwing out the mess that was The New 52 and adding a major connection to Alan Moore’s Watchmen.
Marvel also did some looking back of its own with the Civil War II crossover event, though it felt more like a cash-in on the Civil War movie and an excuse to come up with ANOTHER Marvel Now relaunch.
Outside the big two, Image Comics had another good year with the usual suspects like Saga and The Walking Dead staying strong, and a slew of brilliant new-ish ongoing titles like Paper Girls, Monstress and Southern Bastards. Also, a fond farewell to the long-running Chew, which bit off its last morsel of the comic book pie with its final issue in November. More of the smaller publishing houses like Dark Horse, Dynamite, Omni Press and Valiant also found a much surer footing with some really good titles.
Anyway, enough rambling. Here’s our 2016 comics roundup!
Kaleon Rahan: Moon Knight. Writer Jeff Lemire ups the mental stakes for the character, as Marc Spector wakes up in a mental institution and is told that his entire heroic career was a hallucination!
Michael Cheang: I’m finding it hard to pick between Squirrel Girl and Ms Marvel. The former is just such a left-field character and her solo title is a lot of fun to read; but Kamala Khan probably edges this for me for being perhaps the most well-rounded and well-managed character Marvel has had for years.
KR: Hydra-Captain America was a massive shot to its own foot for Marvel. What a way to coincide with (and stomp on) the success of the Captain America: Civil War movie!
MC: Truthfully? Most of the Inhumans, especially the new ones, and Crystal, who is probably the most boring lead in a team title ever.
KR: The Punisher. Thanks to the late Steve Dillon, who signed off in style with his best Punisher work ever.
MC: Dawn Greenwood, whose relationship with the Silver Surfer in his solo title (by Dan Slott and Mike Allred) gives Ol’ Chrome Dome a home for his heart.
KR: Archie Andrews, for choosing Veronica over Betty!
MC: Maria Hill. Because one woman with questionable moral ethics should never be given that much power.
Best new character:
KR: Riri Williams aka Ironheart. Marvel succeeded with James “War Machine” Rhodes three decades ago, now it’s Riri’s turn to wear the armour!
MC: Not a new “character” per se, but the Champions. Marvel’s new team of teen heroes is a brilliant antidote to the angst and predictability of the more “grown-up” hero teams.
Worst new character:
KR: Gwenpool, a blasphemous tribute to the late and original Gwen Stacy!
MC: Darn it, Gwenpool’s been taken. Ok, then it has to be Mosaic, an arrogant, selfish superstar basketball player turned body-jumping Inhuman who is arguably the most unlikable superhero to get his debut in a solo title ever.
KR: The Vision, through the seminal Vision miniseries, in which he got himself a family and lived in the suburbs. Finally, the most appropriate “re-vision” for the android Avenger!
MC: Doctor Strange losing all his magic and having to run around with a shoddy magical axe instead. Could have been a disastrous development, but it’s worked for the character so far. As if things couldn’t get stranger for the Sorcerer Supreme.
KR: Cyclops, for killing off the original and having a time-displaced younger version as an ever ready substitute!
MC: Captain America as a Hydra agent. At first it seemed liked a unique twist, but as the story dragged on, even into the Civil War II event, it just got tiresome.
KR: Death of Bruce Banner (Civil War II). I’ve always wondered why they didn’t kill the Hulk (while he’s still Bruce) from a distance. Now I wonder no more.
MC: Cyclops, not because it was a good story or even a good death, but because they finally got rid of a character who seemed like he was overstaying his welcome. Let’s hope he’s less of a jerk when he eventually gets resurrected.
KR: Cyclops, in Death Of X. Even Wolverine’s death by adamantium seemed more honourable.
MC: Everyone who got resurrected in the ongoing Amazing Spider-Man story, The Clone Conspiracy. Seriously, with something like this, is there any point to having characters die anymore?
Best crossover event:
KR: DC Rebirth. Finally the DC Universe makes sense!
MC: DC’s Rebirth was awesome, but I have a special place in my heart for IDW’s Revolution, which was a nostalgia-filled trip that brought together legendary Hasbro properties like the Transformers, G.I. Joe, and best of all, M.A.S.K.!
Worst crossover event:
KR: The Clone Conspiracy. What conspiracy, more like blasphemy to the Spidey mythos revisited.
MC: The Apocalypse Wars. Er … what was the point of that, and who even cared?
Best non-comic comic-book related news:
KR: “Superheroes” saving the day by washing windows outside of the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital!
MC: Malaysia-born Singaporean comics creator Sonny Liew’s graphic novel The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye, about the history of Singapore told from the perspective of a veteran cartoonist, making waves internationally.
Batman or Superman?
KR: Neither. Just like in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, it was Wonder Woman who stole the show this year. In the comics, check out Wonder Woman: The True Amazon graphic novel.
MC: I’m more of a Batman fan than a Superman fan, but the Rebirth return of the original pre-Flashpoint/New 52 Superman (the one married to Lois Lane) to the DC Universe made me realise just how much I missed this version of the big blue boy scout.
Story we would love to see become a movie:
KR: Dark Horse’s Black Hammer gets my vote, as the creative team of Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston exiles a group of heroes from their crime-fighting high to … become farmers in a timeless farming community!
MC: James Bond. Warren Ellis’ stories for the Dynamite series on the superspy are so much better than the last few Bond flicks combined.
Name one book you’d recommend to someone who is just completely sick of superheroes.
KR: Black Hammer.
MC: Oh gawd, so many. But if you’re talking about just books that were released in 2016, then it would have to be the gorgeously illustrated masterpiece of world building that is Monstress, from Image Comics.
If you could re-read just ONE comic-book series in 2016, what would it be?
KR: The Punisher series. In tribute to the late Steve Dillon.
MC: Silver Surfer was my favourite superhero title in 2015, and it still is in 2016. A fun, completely out of whack cosmic series that just gets better with every re-read.
If you could go back in time and erase ONE 2016 comic book moment from existence, what would it be?
KR: Death Of X. As if anyone would believe that an X-Man can permanently stay dead.
MC: Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Because the two greatest DC superheroes of all time deserve better than that deathly bore of a movie.