The 25 Best Comic Books of 2017

From Superhero Social Commentary to Deeply Personal Memoirs, These are the Best of the Best

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The 25 Best Comic Books of 2017

We’re not ashamed to admit that we had a beast of a time narrowing down our 25 favorite comics of 2017. While mainstream comics underwent tectonic shifts (Marvel’s Legacy initiative, DC’s dual explosions of Metal and Doomsday Clock), independent and original releases flourished from all corners—a clear development when you note that 13 different publishers and imprints are represented among our 25 picks. How do you rank a long-running and reliably excellent science-fiction family drama against an intimate memoir about loving and leaving dreams? Do you penalize a series for shipping sporadically if each issue to hit stands in 2017 landed with an utter gut-punch that left us reeling for months to come? The result of reconciling our various tastes is a mélange of superhero social commentary, immigration memoirs, meditations on monstrousness and caveman satire all occupying the same countdown. These comics, however far-reaching in their themes, styles and executions, are, quite simply, the best comics of 2017.


25. The Flintstones
Writer: Mark Russell
Artists: Steve Pugh, Rick Leonardi
Publisher: DC Comics
Paste is still mourning the loss of Mark Russell and artist Ben Caldwell’s Prez—could there be a better time for a spunky political palate cleanser?—but at least Russell had 12 full issues of The Flintstones (and soon Snagglepuss) to broadcast his subversive, socially skewed wit. Alongside artists Steve Pugh and Rick Leonardi, Russell has tackled commercialism, monogamy and race in this comic continuation of the classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon. This year has also introduced the goofy green alien, The Great Gazoo, as he grades humanity an “F” while the town of Bedrock grapples with the local church’s use of indulgences. Russell addressed similar territory in his hilarious prose Bible remix, God Is Disappointed in You, resulting in plenty of scholar-grade vitriol. Sean Edgar

24. Shade the Changing Girl
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artists: Marley Zarcone, Marguerite Sauvage
Publisher: DC Comics/Young Animal
Like most of the Young Animal lineup, Shade fills the void left behind by ‘90s mature-comics staple Vertigo, a weird and wonderful adventure that feels like a gem from an indie publisher. A play on Steve Ditko’s Shade, the Changing Man (better known from Peter Milligan and Chris Bachalo’s long Vertigo run with the character), Shade would be captivating if it only focused on the titular character’s alien origins and her adventures as she explores a foreign planet. But what really makes the book shine is the balance of the fantastical and mundane, recognizing that being a teenage girl isn’t all that different from being a super-powered alien with a magic coat that allows you to possess other people. Our teen years are marked by a youthful drive to escape the known and safe alongside curious shock at the behavior of others.

Marley Zarcone’s crisp but flexible art and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick’s palette are vital to making Shade into something both psychedelic and familiar, melting the reality around protagonist Loma even as she manipulates it to her will. This kind of introspective, kaleidoscopic jaunt isn’t unheard of in comics, but it is rare, if not completely unprecedented, to have it star a young woman. Loma is allowed to participate in all of the behaviors for which society often derides young women: she’s mean to her friends, obsessed with her social standing, constantly reaching for something new and unique. But this doesn’t make her any less compelling of a protagonist, or her journey of self-discovery any less important and enjoyable. It’s the perfect bridge to more adult comics for fans of shows like Adventure Time and Steven Universe, rife with complicated characters and exciting adventures, but rooted in the desire to know both the world and oneself. Caitlin Rosberg

23. The Best We Could Do
Writer/Artist: Thi Bui
Publisher: Abrams
A genre with clunky names including autobiographical novel and visual memoir, the ever-growing library of comics designed to encapsulate real lives is bringing a wide range of important stories to entirely new audiences. Following in the footsteps of authors like Gene Luen Yang and Lucy Knisley, Thi Bui’s The Best We Could Do presents the story of the cartoonist’s family as it travels from Southeast Asia to America, and the position Bui finds herself caught in as she becomes sandwiched between her child and parents. As with many immigration stories, Bui’s book revolves around identity. The Best We Could Do has been a long time in the making, and its author sold early chapters online, but this printed volume collects all 15 in one place. Born in Saigon, Bui and her family came to America after the fall of South Vietnam, and her story offers readers a particular insight into the life of a family fleeing violence and fear in a time of political upheaval—a reminder of the micro consequences of macro political actions. Caitlin Rosberg

22. Aliens: Dead Orbit
Writer/Artist: James Stokoe
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Like fellow precision artists Geof Darrow and the late, great Bernie Wrightson, James Stokoe doesn’t stop drawing until nearly every millimeter of canvas is shaded, hatched and/or stylized. As seen in Orc Stain and his Godzilla runs, a microscope is required to appreciate his images in their hyper-articulate, chiseled depth. In Aliens: Dead Orbit, Stokoe uses his talent to shape a cosmic graveyard of space junk, dwarfing in scope and mind-numbingly vast. Zoom in tightly enough, and one lone space engineer sits stranded in the wasteland. Though this miniseries utilizes one of the most iconic horror franchises in film history, it builds on its foundation by imposing a sheer sense of scale and futility. Yes, protagonist Wascylewski matches wits with Xenomorphs and facehuggers, but Stokoe’s art begs him what’s the point? in a celestial vacuum of hope, light years from any aid. Aliens: Dead Orbit is a Venn diagram of awe, depression and the ghost of salvation, all splayed on 6.63” x 10.24” paper that feels as big as the universe at its most indifferent. Sean Edgar

21. Saga
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
If Saga’s 48 issues have confirmed anything, it’s that writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples are in this for the (very) long haul. At the end of this winding expedition of family, loyalty, sex and bananas sci-fi, grad students will write their thesis on this landmark comic and upcoming writers will avoid the genre, woefully sighing, I’m not touching that shit after Saga. The first act witnessed two star-crossed alien lovers give birth to a hybrid baby, united in an us-against-the-universe struggle as two amoral armies pursued them. The second act showed how the greatest battles—drug addiction, infidelity and doubt—can emerge in the most peaceful lulls. The third struck a personal blow against parent heroes Alana and Marko midway through. Reading Saga is experiencing an obsessive simulation of a family’s life-span, far more real than any comic with preying mantis school teachers should ever be. The creative team hasn’t stopped melding sucker-punch creativity with gut-wrenching drama, and not one issue has failed to warrant our endorsement. Sean Edgar

20. God Country
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Publisher: Image Comics
Plenty of comics deal with religion, including the pop-star cosmology of The Wicked + The Divine, the apocalyptic prophecies of East of West, the blasphemous absurdity of Battle Pope and the John Wayne-flavored sacrilege of Preacher. Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s classic series about a wayward holy man imbued with the power of a minor deity had a lot to say about Texas and God, two huge entities that also figure into the new Image series God Country, written by Donny Cates and illustrated by Geoff Shaw with colorist Jason Wordie. Cates and Shaw have crafted a take on religion and family that’s personal and compelling, and it’s little surprise that Marvel reunited the pair on Thanos. Despite its larger-than-life scale, God Country feels like a very personal story about sticking by family members, even when all logic would say it’s time to let go. Mark Peters

19. Spy Seal
Writer/Artist: Rich Tomasso
Publisher: Image Comics
Spy Seal cartoonist Rich Tommaso made headlines after lamenting low orders for his vibrant new book. It’s a shame as the cartoonist is clearly talented and funneling a cool aesthetic—the clean, ‘60s Franco-Belgian all-ages fun of Tintin—in his marine mammal mystery. It marks the third visual pivot from Tommaso at publisher Image, first with the pot-boiler noir Dark Corridor and then the watercolor ‘80s horror of She Wolf. As with those previous entries, Tommaso embraces every aspect of his adopted aesthetic. The benign, simple font, an adherence to color fills instead of gradients, and an overall devotion to clarity make Spy Seal look more like a relic that exists inside of Wes Anderson’s head instead of a comic from a mainstream publisher. Fortunately, it is, and it is damn delectable. Buying this series is cultivating a marketplace willing to breach house styles and stretch the color palette range a few shades beyond the customary, and allowing yourself to be surprised by artistic legacies that shouldn’t belong solely in history books. Sean Edgar

18. House of Women
Writer/Artist: Sophie Goldstein
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Alternately spiky and luscious, House of Women draws you in by receding. Cartoonist Sophie Goldstein writes with economy about an interstellar commune of ladies, but the resulting story isn’t irritatingly arty or hard to follow; it’s not drawn by a comics artist only for other comics artists who speak the lingo and can read the subtext. It’s no surprise, in fact, that Margaret Atwood (restless, relentless experimenter, unafraid to leap into any genre that grabs her interest, including comics) is an inspiration for this female-centered and complexly feminist story of colonization and controlled social dynamics. Goldstein provides no easy answers—the book is thematically driven rather than focused on plot first and foremost—but she knows how to be just difficult enough. Hillary Brown

17. Sticks Angelica
Writer/Artist: Michael DeForge
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Sticks Angelica is not Michael DeForge’s most serious work. Rendered in black, white and magenta, it’s a vehicle for play. That’s not to say it doesn’t have melancholy moments. The plot is full of missed connections between characters and places, the meaning behind an utterance failing to jump the gap from one brain to another. All of these scenes are faintly sad, but they also have some sweetness to them. The geese, fish, deer, bears, humans, insects and rabbits who populate the book keep trying to reach one another; sometimes, but not frequently, they succeed. The ideas are interesting, and the individual strips, with their delicate patterns and intelligent use of color, produce a mindful, existential experience. Is there meaning in the world? In the wilderness? In the universe? Who knows. But there is art, and DeForge is making it. Hilary Brown

16. California Dreamin’
Writer/Artist: Penelope Bagieu
Publisher: First Second
Pénélope Bagieu’s California Dreamin’: Cass Elliot Before the Mamas & the Papas offers a daunting proposition. The era of ‘60s flower-child music is over-romanticized, the outlines of Elliot’s life are well known and the subject is primarily auditory, which makes it difficult for a medium that doesn’t cater to that sense. But Bagieu clears those hurdles with style while depicting the life of a woman who made huge musical contributions, despite struggling with her body image and substance abuse. The cartoonist works in pencils, with no color, but the graphic novel doesn’t need bright hues to roil with life. Bagieu’s line feels personal, as though the reader puts it down on the page with their eyes as they read it. Instead of being cleaned with ink and Photoshop, the aesthetic has an organic quality that fits the story of a woman defined by rough and soft contrasts. It’s a wary love song to a complicated artist who provided the world with moments of flowery joy. Hilary Brown

15. Everything Is Flammable
Writer/Artist: Gabrielle Bell
Publisher: Uncivilized Books
Gabrielle Bell’s comics arrive from unexpected angles. Whether her stories are dream-like fiction or drawn from life, Bell avoids the predictable, leading the reader to sucker-punch emotional truths that emerge organically from words and pictures. Her work is subtle in its execution and grand in its scope, and never quite goes where one might expect. Over the decades, the focus of Bell’s work has shifted slightly: the off-beat surrealism of her shorter works collected in 2009’s Cecil and Jordan in New York has given way to the nuanced nonfiction of books like 2012’s The Voyeurs. Bell’s latest confessional, Everything is Flammable from Uncivilized Books, chronicles her experience after a fire consumes her mother’s California house. The graphic novel experiments with structure, telling Bell’s story along with several other narratives that serve as counterpoints. It’s a deft narrative, a moving story with a tactile sense of place throughout. Tobias Carroll

14. Boundless
Writer/Artist: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn & Quartery
At its core, Jillian Tamaki’s Boundless is a series of short stories examining concepts of connection—the ever-constant search for purpose. What makes the book feel simultaneously so contemporary and yet time-capsule specific is the pervasive lens through which this theme is explored: a chronicling of modern interactions with technology and culture, often with a focus on how the former has impacted the latter. In the age of tech, connection comes via consumption, relationships with culture defining relationships with people, and defining the individual self.

But people don’t change. As much as the means, modes and dressing may alter, human nature remains constant. People want belonging, place, fulfillment, to feel part of it all, or part of something. In “Body Pods,” a woman charts her partners in relation to their enthusiasm for a cult film. Developments in the actors’ lives and the production of a remake parallel events and meaning in her own. “Jenny” posits a mirror Facebook, where information gleaned from the site is used to create another “you.” The titular character becomes fixated on the differences between her and her mirror self’s lives—the possibilities of alternative, better paths. “Sex Coven” is an internet fable about a strange music file that takes on mythic qualities. At first it’s overlooked, gaining a small following, an object of popularity and misunderstood hysteria, before becoming a thing around which commercialism and “irony” arise. In “Darla!” a retro sitcom finds a new life on the internet, giving its director renewed relevance as he makes the convention circuit rounds, even as he worries he’s part of a joke and that people aren’t “getting it” the way it was intended. Boundless is many things: contemplative, cynical, amusing, surreal, but mostly it anchors Tamaki as a formidable essayer of modern life, and undeniably one of the finest cartoonists of this generation. Zainab Akhtar

13. Paper Girls
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: Image Comics
After encapsulating the nostalgia of Midwestern ‘80s youth in its first year, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang’s sci-fi bildungsroman has only gotten weirder and better as its mysteries unfurl. Image’s latest blockbuster takes four girls on a Cleveland paper route and thrusts them into a time-space conflict between the aging establishment and youthful disruptors. And though golden-era Spielberg may have served as a starting point, Vaughan’s excellent characterization and rising stakes ratchet the tension past escapism: what does a kid do when she learns that she won’t survive into adulthood? And worse: how does a kid respond when she learns she’ll age into a mediocre, uninspired adult? These existential buzzkills loom over a candy-colored topiary of giant, warring water bears, dinosaur-mounted authoritarians and analogue robots. Artist Cliff Chiang and colorist Matt Wilson immerse the fantastic around adolescent girls who look and react like adolescent girls, a seriously impressive feat in comics. Sean Edgar

12. Extremity
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound
Paste named Extremity one of its most anticipated comics of 2017, and for good reason: Space Mullet’s Daniel Warren Johnson has long been one of the comic industry’s best-kept secrets, an “artist’s artist” who hasn’t quite broken through to the wider readership. Extremity, his violent, bizarre Skybound debut, finally rectifies that travesty. Like an outer-space Fury Road, Extremity is a bloody, fast-paced tale of tribal warfare in a sci-fi world that never conquered class stratification. And like Fury Road’s George Miller, Johnson thrusts his readers right into protagonist Thea’s revenge-driven conflict at breakneck speed, making for one of the most purely exciting comics in recent memory. Steve Foxe

11. The Abominable Mr. Seabrook
Writer/Artist: Joe Ollmann
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
In his introduction to The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, cartoonist Joe Ollmann writes movingly about what attracted him to the globetrotting scribe: his honesty and his insecurity. (Ollmann also notes that both he and his subject have struggled with alcohol, and both blended/blend a desire to believe in the supernatural with an inherent skepticism.) Above and beyond, this volume, which encompasses the scope of a life, makes the case for Seabrook’s continued relevance as a writer, and charts an unsettling decline and fall. Ollmann has been involved with continuing Seabrook’s legacy in other ways as well, helping facilitate the release of new editions of Seabrook’s books Asylum (about his efforts to get sober) and The Magic Island (an account of his visit to Haiti). Before reading Ollmann’s clear-headed and empathic account, the name William Seabrook may have been foreign; by the end of it, readers will likely want to order one of his books—the mark of a comprehensive and compelling literary biography. Tobias Carroll

10. Songy of Paradise
Writer/Artist: Gary Panter
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Following his cover version comics of Dante in Jimbo’s Inferno and Jimbo in Purgatory, legendary punk artist Gary Panter now completes his trilogy (sorta) with Songy in Paradise. In many ways—its title, its dimensions, its less-than-100-percent reverential approach to canonical literature—it’s a continuation of the project. In others, it’s a departure. Rather than featuring Jimbo, Panter’s alter ego with a buzz cut, it takes Songy, a simple hillbilly, as its protagonist. And, despite the book’s title, which seems to suggest the last third of The Divine Comedy, in which Dante ascends through the celestial spheres, it tackles Milton’s Paradise Regained. It’s a Protestant tale rather than a Catholic one, written in blank verse that sets its sights on majesty rather than Dante’s nimble concatenations.

It’s also a lot to take in, and although it’s partially a joke, it’s also partially not. If Panter were only making the case that Songy is a moron, you might be able to file the book under parody, but Songy in Paradise is as serious as it is goofball, as awesome (in the original meaning) as it is entertaining, as much of a tribute to Milton’s vision as it is a testament to Panter’s own. Hillary Brown

9. The Mighty Thor
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics
“What’s the best Thor run?” used to have an easy answer, or rather two easy answers: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby did more than create Marvel’s version of the Norwegian thunder god in the ‘60s—they crafted a sprawling epic that was often more creative than their Fantastic Four run. Then in the 1980s, a long creative drought ended when Walt Simonson brought a cosmic scale and sense of humor back to the title, along with his gorgeous, dynamic art. But these untouchable runs are in touching distance, thanks to Jason Aaron and a string of talented artists. Since taking over the Odinson in 2012, Aaron has been crafting a multidimensional, multi-Thor saga that’s more ambitious and fun than anything else Marvel’s been putting out in the same time frame, or maybe any time frame, even under the latest Legacy banner with the milestone 700th issue. With the Jane Foster Thor saga, Aaron has incorporated a meta-element into the comic seamlessly, as Odin’s rejection of female Thor represents comic fans who can’t handle change, especially change involving women. Odin—the ultimate old white man—stands for male domination at its worst, and he’s supported by dumbass followers who hang “False Thor” signs that mirror the complaints of change-hating and/or misogynist fans. When Foster clobbers Odin with Mjolnir, it’s a beautiful moment. As she puts it, “…when you’re a ninety-pound woman dying of cancer…it does feel pretty good to punch god in the face.” Mark Peters

8. Hostage
Writer/Artist: Guy Delisle
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Guy Delisle’s library has largely stemmed from the cartoonist’s international ventures through exotic geographies including Jerusalem, Burma, North Korea and China. His intimate, stylized lines escorted readers through the areas via travelogues, volleying exciting bits on culture and history with each new panel sequence. Hostage is a jarring departure in both tone and approach. The 436-page doorstop relays the trials of Christophe Andre, a Doctors without Borders employee who was tossed into solitary confinement for 100 days while working in North Caucasus. Instead of the breakneck parade of culture clash and architecture, Delisle now traps readers inside four grim walls alongside his protagonist for a very, very, very long time. This book is an exercise in brutal empathy, a meditation on the sparsely worded monotony and terrifying ambiguity of human captivity. The result is simply intense, a crystalline example of what sequential storytelling is capable of communicating. Sean Edgar

Davis Bike Koyama front cover.jpg
7. You & a Bike & a Road
Writer/Artist: Eleanor Davis
Publisher: Koyama Press
In March of 2016, Eleanor Davis decided to ride her bicycle from her parents’ house in Arizona to Athens, Georgia, where she lives. Here and there, she drew things she saw and put them on Instagram. Followers received little dispatches as she made her way from Southwest to Southeast. Sometimes she was discouraged. Other times she seemed overcome at the beauty of the world or the kindness of strangers. The story unfolds slowly, without a classical narrative structure or predictable spikes of drama, but it is fascinating. You & a Bike & a Road collects those drawings and captures the journey, while compressing the time that it took. It’s easily one of the year’s best books; The sense of immediacy and unfiltered emotion—its most notable features—are rare and difficult to do well. Hilary Brown

6. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Tyler Boss
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss’ wildly inventive and fearless tale of adolescents facing adult realities shipped just two of its five issues in 2017, but we can’t deny how well the creative team stuck the landing. The book thrives off sharp characterization, coupled with Tyler Boss’ pin-point facial expressions and hilarious fantasy sequences, and an impending darkness lurking behind it all. Within this mini-series from publisher Black Mask, childhood friends Paige, Pat, Berger and Walter hatch a plan to steal cash to pay off a group of thieves intimidating Paige’s father. The inherent clever oozing out of these panels is breathy and rhythmic, probably obscuring the fact that this work was meticulous labor that took years to complete. Like a gorgeous remix of ‘80s nostalgia art directed by visual icon Saul Bass, 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank ultimately ventured into our hearts. Sean Edgar

5. Black Hammer
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artists: Dean Ormston, David Rubin
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Black Hammer is Jeff Lemire’s remix of every Silver-Age superhero beat he’s ever concocted. Lemire and artists Dean Ormston and David Rubin jet into a post-modern buffet where Adam Strange is a wily, nonsensical hermit and Mary Marvel is an alcoholic middle-aged woman stuck in the super-powered body of a child. These characters are inexplicably trapped in the rural town of Rockwood, caged in by an invisible fence that kills them if they pass through. The series’ second year has only hinted at the cavernous depth waiting to be explored; the relationships, careers and decades hiding behind each player. As fun as it can be to watch the creators revel in their laissez faire capes sandbox, Black Hammer’s haunting characterization—conveyed with subtlety by Ormston—is what elevates it to excellence. Only in these pages does a shape-shifting alien’s acceptance of his sexuality feel just as epic as a battle with a cosmic anti-god. Sean Edgar

4. Spinning
Writer/Artist: Tillie Walden
Publisher: First Second
Tillie Walden is a marvel of empathy, a cartoonist who can dive into emotions at a molecular level through dynamic panels with shifting perspectives. That talent has funneled the journey from youth to adulthood in works including I Love This Part, A City Inside and The End of Summer. Spinning glides over similar truths in Walden’s memoir of competitive ice skating. The 400-page journey feels intimate and personal without straying into self-important extremes, diagramming the treasured epiphanies that spur kids to abandon defunct dreams and embrace new ones. Walden renders the taut calfs and frozen pools with a devotion that underlies the 10 years she spent practicing the sport. The door-stop book offers the same breathless humanity as Craig Thompson’s Blankets and the Tamaki cousins’ This One Summer, and a perfect palette cleanser to segue into the colder months. Sean Edgar

3. Doom Patrol
Writer: Gerard Way
Artists: Nick Derington, Mike Allred
Publisher: DC Comics/ Young Animal
In a not-altogether-surprising turn of events, it took Young Animal architect Gerard Way and illustration sensation Nick Derington a bit longer than anticipated to wrap the first arc of their psychedelic Doom Patrol reinvention, although fans of the franchise will be hard pressed to argue that initial arc “Brick by Brick” wasn’t worth the wait. Way and Derington, with ample assistance from colorist Tamra Bonvillain, distill the gonzo appeal of Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s storied run—as well as Rachel Pollack and company’s oft-overlooked follow-up—with genuinely new ideas, a feat that’s rarer than it should be in the modern comic climate. During an era of reboots eager to trash previous continuities, Way, Derington and Bonvillain (with a reliably great guest assist from Mike and Laura Allred) folded years of reality-jettisoning storytelling into a fresh story of an EMT in over her head, and a gyro that’s more than just tasty street food. Doom Patrol didn’t ship as many issues as expected in 2017, but every long-awaited installment proves the vital need for Young Animal’s thesis statement: Comics for Dangerous Humans. Steve Foxe

2. Mister Miracle
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Publisher: DC Comics
With the Mister Miracle maxiseries, Tom King and Mitch Gerads attempt to build a new literary touchstone in comics. Just as Watchmen channeled the Cold War nihilism of the ‘80s, Ghost World tackled the isolation of the ‘90s and The Ultimates straddled post-9/11 patriotism and the unchecked military force, this book aims to reflect the pre-apocalyptic dissonance of now—a toxicity that gave King an anxiety attack so severe it landed him in the ER. It’s a lofty goal, but after reading the first four issues, damn if they’re not on the right track. The series catches a zeitgeist of discord in its pages, confining Jack Kirby’s messianic escape artist in a cage of his own malaise. Like his pencil work in The Sheriff of Babylon—also written by King—Gerads’ subtle facials expressions and body language harmonize with naturalistic dialogue, lending each sigh and quip a new gravitas. This isn’t just an immaculately produced comic, but a comic designed for relevance. Sean Edgar

1. My Favorite Thing Is Monsters
Writer/Artist: Emil Ferris
Publisher: Fantagraphics
The first volume of Emil Ferris’ debut comic, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters, was scheduled for release in October 2016, timed to coincide with Halloween. But the company that owned the ship carrying the printed books went bankrupt, leaving its cargo in a terrible limbo that delayed the book until February of this year. In some ways, the hiccup was fitting. Ferris’ book has been anticipated for much longer and undergone multiple iterations. It’s the sort of achievement that requires a certain sense of mission to complete. But it’s here now courtesy publisher Fantagraphics, and it was well worth the wait.

Oversized with a paper binding, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters feels heftier than if it had a board cover, yet ephemeral at the same time. The story draws on EC Comics, Holocaust literature, detective fiction, monster movies, children’s literature à la Harriet the Spy and more, weaving a complex tapestry through the 1960s that surprisingly parallels our current era. Are its monsters a metaphor or a reality? And are the people in it who look like monsters the ones we need to fear? Ferris doesn’t supply simple answers. Instead, her work fuses the style and atmosphere of noir godfather Raymond Chandler with the passionate moral intensity found beating beneath a good episode of Tales from the Crypt. Hillary Brown

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