From The Black Monday Murders #2 by Jonathan Hickman

This Years Finest 2016: The Ten Best New Series

It’s December again which means another month of year end list and pontificating. Cosmo kicked things off with his best new character list yesterday, now it’s time for the ten best new series.

Honorable Mentions: Empress, Civil War II: Kingpin, Nighthawk, Animosity, Faith, New Superman, Han Solo, Aliens: Defiance, Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, Betty & Veronica, Generation Zero, The Flinstones, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Moonshine, Glitterbomb, Snotgirl

black-panther-8-brian-stelfreeze10. Black Panther by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Laura Martin

As one of the most anticipated comics of 2016 by the sheer star quality of it’s writer and new found popularity of it’s main charachter; Black Panther has continued to defy expectations at every turn. Acclaimed journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates fully immersed himself into the seires and with the expanded art team of Brian Stelfreeze, Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Laura Martin; has made Black Panther and Wakanda their own with lush and detailed world building , a complex and engrossing political narrative along  with Coates superb gift for prose. While this is the first time Coates has written in the medium, he and his artistic collaborator’s have created a series unlike any other with a comic that’s a must read with every new installment-Pat

Dept H 3 Matt Kindt9. Dept.H by Matt Kindt & Sharlene Kindt

Matt Kindt is one of the most talented creators working today. After gifting us the magnificent MIND MGMT, his next series was hotly anticipated, and he surely did not let us down. Murder mystery, claustrophobic character study, tense story human of deception; these are all appropriate descriptions of Dept. H. The thing Kindt does so well is keep us consistently compelled by each individual issue, all the while like a puppeteer he’s guiding us exactly where he wants. Revealing just enough to make us second guess things we were certain of only days prior.
As always his stunning watercolor pages show us the world he’s building in such a unique manner, wonderfully colored by his wife Sharlene. The artwork provides the mood, and it just wouldn’t be the same if it were standard pencil and inks. The watercolors have a tactile quality, and it makes each page feel more like we are seeing a dream rather than a drawing. The set up is simple enough, an underwater whodunnit, but it’s the way Kindt has been executing it that makes this series so special, and worthy of a place on this list-Tyler

Mirror 3 Hwei Lim8. Mirror by Emma Rios & Hwei Lim

Emma Rios and Hwei Lim’s creator owned collaboration Mirror was one of the freshest new books of the year. Rios and Lim created an alien world which had the feeling of being half futuristic technology/half sorcery. On a distant asteroid, humans have spliced together people and animals, giving birth to a new breed of species, dismissively labeled “hybrids.” In the tradition of the best speculative science-fiction, Rios employs this premise as a window onto social issues such as ecology and racism. At the same time, she gives her characters an emotional depth which allows readers to become invested in them. There is an air of melancholy which inhabits this series from beginning to end. Much of this ambiance is conveyed through Lim’s lovely art. Lim’s style has a semi-abstract feel to it, allowing for an open flow between panels and occasionally, time periods. Her evocative figure work emphasizes the mood of the moment. It is beautiful imagery which brings to life Rios’ thoughtful script. Working together, they have produced a distinctively memorable comic book-Creighton

7. Powerman & Iron Fist by David Walker, Sanford Greene, Lee Loughridge, Faviano Armentaro & John Rauch

In many ways, Powerman & Iron Fist is like most Marvel NOW titles. Singular vision, emphasis on humor, loose continuity and new reader friendly. Even though these characters may not match their previous iterations, or even their solo starring brothers, this is still Luke Cage and Danny Rand in every way that matters. David Walker gives a youthful but subtle voice to these characters that manages to be NOW, while at the same time respecting the important aspects of the characters’ histories. Sanford Greene  imbues the art with an exaggerated and abstract style giving a spiritual nod to the era that spanned the original series. Just as important, this is a damn fine book despite the treatment of Jessica Jones. It’s everything a series starring Power Man and Luke Cage should be, and everything the last attempt years ago wasn’t. An excellent showcase for two of Marvel’s best streetwise heroes for hire-Josh

6. 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank by Mathew Rosenberg, Tyler Boss, Clare Dezutti, Thomas Mauer & Courtney Menard 

It was clear a year ago that Matthew Rosenberg was going to be a name we were going to hear more and more in the coming years. The writer behind the great BlackMask series We Can Never Go Home, it became clear that Rosenberg had this talent of being so in tune with his characters, using nostalgia and life experiences to make them feel deep and their “big moments” feel real. Now he has teamed up with Tyler Boss to bring us 4 Kids Walk into A Bank. Another tale of childhood. I’m not sure anyone does this teen dialogue as well as Rosenberg. He is so good at making the reader really connect with the story through interactions. 4 Kids is witty and charming. Rosenberg is subtely improved from We Can Never Go Home, but what really puts this book over the top is the art of Tyler Boss. He creates such interesting panel structures while utilizing  remarkebly creative story telling. He’s a valuable asset to this book’s style and a great match for Rosenberg as they highlight the best qualities in each other. 4 Kids is definitely one of the best comic books you will read this year. If you had a childhood you will love this comic. If there was a trade paperback out I would be buying this for everyone on my Christmas list, unfortunately there isn’t so I have 8 copies of The Fix-Dean

Fix15. The Fix by Nick Spencer, Steve Lieber & Ryan Hill

Oops, they did it again! The hilariouslycreative minds behind The Superior Foes of Spider-Man are at it again, but this time at Image comics with more profanity and less *$#@ing censorship.  The Fix is a comic about crime, corruption, lies and double crossing to name a few.  The growth of Spencer and Lieber is clearly seen in this book. While Foes was excellent as a change of pace book, The Fix is next level and has become a must read. Both of these guys are locked into the zone and this opportunity at Image has allowed them to let loose and really allow their talent to bleed through. This is one of the few books that will actually make you laugh out loud. Spencer is locked in writing constant jokes you just never see coming while Lieber is mastering the comedic visual storytelling at Chip Zdarsky levels. Don’t take my word for it though, The Fix is a book you have to read for yourself to understand just how great it really is. If you liked Superior Foes there is no doubt you will love The Fix. Just look at it this way, in a post about how awesome this book is I haven’t even mentioned the drug sniffing Beagle named Pretzels because that’s how good this shit is!-Dean

FutureQuest14. Future Quest by Jeff Parker, Evan “Doc” Shaner. Ron Randle, Jordie Bellaire, Steve Rude, Jonathan Case, Hi-Fi Colors, Karl Kesel, Aaron Lopresti, Steve Buccellato, Craig Rousseau, Veronica Gandini, Jeremy Lawson & Steve Lieber

There is no current comics series that comes anywhere close to being as fun as Future Quest. Helmed by writer Jeff Parker & artist Evan Doc Shaner, Future Quest is a straight jam for the creative team and their many collaborators who range from legends in the game such as Steve Rude to contemporaries like Steve Lieber who have joined forces for a supherhero comic that is singular in the pure enjoyment it is to read. Future Quest is a comic where almost anything can happen; you never know who will be contirbuting on art or what you’ll be getting but it’s never anything less then pure comics goodness through and through. Of the many great superhero comics coming out of DC & Marvel right now, Future Quest stands out for being the most joyful of them all-Pat

BlackHammerLemire3. Black Hammer by Jeff Lemire, Dean Ormston & Dave Stewart

Black Hammer, like any Jeff Lemire series, is weird with a decidedly humanistic bent. While the ‘heroes’ of Black Hammer may be odd, the town they are trapped in is every bit it’s equal in that regard. Black Hammer takes the familiar inspiration from the Gold and Silver age of comic characters, most of them DC archetypes, and pushes them one step further. Amidst all of these quirky protagonists is the friction between the surreal and solidly mundane small town, where being normal is imperative for the cast. Some embrace it while other cautiously explore it. It’s a layered series that has yet to disappoint, with its moody artwork by Dean Ormston and Lemire’s flair for the strange in a stranger setting, Black Hammer is one of the best new series of 2016 for a reason-Josh

BlackMondayMurders12.The  Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman, Tomm Coker & Michael Garland

Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker’s new series is a hefty one. While that’s not too surprising coming from Mr. Hickman, it still manages to exert itself more than the average comic. Occult cabals running the conglomerated financial world is a wonderfully insane concept, and Hickman has wasted no time dumping us right into the thick of it. I’ll happily admit to being overwhelmed at times with the amount of intellectual discourse going on in this book, but the story and subject matter is handled so masterfully that I don’t care. Hickman’s world is so well planned out that I find myself questioning when I’m reading absolute fiction versus stuff Jonathan has researched and woven into the narrative.
Tomm Coker’s gritty, unkempt style is completely in sync with the story. Dark, underground caverns for satanic ritual or the superficially clean and uber modern office skyscrapers of the financial empires in the book; Coker’s style fits perfectly. I love the details such as our hero’s fedora and trench coat, or the cluttered desk in a professor’s office, it all works in an ancillary manner to place us in this world rather than viewing it from the outside.
I don’t know where this story is headed, and that’s a great thing. I do know it will be disturbing, thrilling and enlightening. Hickman is one of my favorite writers and I place my complete trust in his storytelling abilities and talent, add to that Tomm Coker’s fantastic and visceral artwork, and you get one of the best new comic series of 2016-Tyler

1. Kill or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips & Elizabeth Breitweiser

When the staff was discussing what new series in 2016 we were most excited for, it was suggested that we have one entry for “whatever Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do next.” It started as joke until we realized how apt it was. After Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, Fatale and The Fade Out; Brubaker and Phillips had pretty much established themselves as one of the most reliable collaborative teams in comics. Mix in their current colorist Elizabeth Breitweiser and how could whatever was next not be worth a look? Still, I don’t think that any of us were prepared for just how damn good their next project would be. From the first pages, Kill or Be Killed grabs readers by the throat and never lets go. In protagonist Dylan, Brubaker has created a sympathetic, disturbed and increasingly unreliable lead. Dylan is equal measures fascinating and scary. At times he is repulsed by his violent actions while at others he draws strength from them. Phillips does an excellent of portraying these various mental facets through art. His work has always highlighted mood, but here he does so even more strongly. Part of this is related to how Phillips evokes the city of New York, crafting a lived in vibe which allows the city to be another character in the story. It can be oppressive, yet it can also be carefree. It all depends on Dylan’s mood. Indeed, so much of the ambiance of Kill or Be Killed is determined by the vagaries of Dylan’s emotions. In this way, the series is a sharply drawn psychological study. Brubaker, Phillips and Breitweiser are all working together in creating a compelling narrative based around a complicated character. Brubaker’s script is full of nuance which is translated into subtle visual hints by the artists. It is masterful work. Their previous collaborations set the bar quite high and yet Kill or Be Killed gives every indication that their standard is about to be elevated once again-Creighton

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