Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017.

Runaways 110. Runaways 1

(Rainbow Rowell & Kris Anka)

It’s almost unheard of to find a first issue that feels this urgent. There’s immediate, life-and-death stakes to Nico and Chase’s mission to save Gert that propels this tense, taut issue, but this mission also provides a framework that allows writer Rainbow Rowell to reintroduce her cast and explore how they’ve changed since their last series ended without ever feeling overly expository. Rowell shows true ingenuity in her use of Nico’s abilities (and, again, uses them to explore Nico’s headspace as well), and artist Kris Anka packs each page full with dense layouts without ever sparing fine details (nor his keen eye for style and expressions). This would be a stand-out issue no matter where it fell in Runaways’ timeline, but as an introduction to their relaunch, it’s even more remarkable. What a way to kick off a series.

Karnak 69. Karnak 6

(Warren Ellis & Roland Boschi)

Karnak sees the flaw in all things. It’s his signature power and the logline of this series, but with issue 6, Warren Ellis and Roland Boschi laid bare their secret thesis: what is Karnak’s flaw? Delving into Karnak’s past and revealing his own cognitive biases, Ellis and Boschi strip down his piety into something utterly human. It’s the kind of in-front-of-you-the-whole-time twist that you might of expect of Ellis, but its philosophical depth is particularly breathtaking. And Boschi’s atmospheric inkwork carries all of that depth so effortlessly, we couldn’t help but question the exact provenance of Karnak’s epiphany: did he actually confront his greatest weakness, or is his greatest weakness thinking that he did? It’s a confident mic drop from a team that knew to save the biggest questions for the end of their crime procedural.

Ms. Marvel 198. Ms. Marvel 19

(G. Willow Wilson & Marco Failla)

From teen drama to goofball comedy to sobering political commentary, Ms. Marvel’s greatest strength might just be its comfort with a whole spectrum of tones. It’s part of the charm of the series (and one of its best reflections of teen life) that we never know if Kamala will be hanging out with her friends or dealing with the end of the world (literal or otherwise). With issue 19, G. Willow Wilson and Marco Failla find a new gear for that strength, drawing our attention to that changing tone. What starts out as a cute slice of life as Kamala eye-rolls through her family’s holiday traditions is brought to an abrupt end as a self-fashioned neighborhood watch hauls her brother off to some unknown location. It’s a shocking, unexpected intrusion that Wilson lays out frankly; nobody comments on the racial dynamics at play here, but they’re obvious for all to see. There’s no real peace for Kamala and her family so long as their neighbors feel empowered to act on their own worst fears. It’s a soberingly timely message delivered with confidence and authority — Marvel at its prosocial best.

Batman Creature of the Night 17. Batman: Creature of the Night 1

(Kurt Busiek & John Paul Leon)

Superhero fandom is a broad umbrella that encompasses everything from kids dressing up like their favorite heroes to the highfalutin analyses we like to do here, but Kurt Busiek and John Paul Leon manage to pay tribute to them all in Batman: Creature of the Night 1. Following the travails of a young Batman fan as he lives through the worst parts of Batman’s origin story — watching his parents die in front of him — the issue forces us to confront the trauma at the core of the Batman mythos while also celebrating it as a touchstone in our society. At once lionizing and self-critical, Busiek and Leon craft a remarkably expansive and nuanced portrait of fandom — at least through the experience of one young fan. It’s a dense, difficult issue that manages to both embody and explain what it is we love about the genre.

The Wicked + The Divine 326. The Wicked + The Divine 32

(Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie)

There’s a cruel juxtaposition at the heart of The Wicked + The Divine 32. At its core this is an issue about futility; while writer Kieron Gillen teases at happiness in moments like Persephone and Sakhmet’s surprisingly tender heart-to-heart, her attempts to save Sakhmet, as well as Dionysus’ heroic crusade, were always doomed to fail. This is a stark contrast to Jamie McKelvie’s always-gorgeous characters and dynamic action and Matthew Wilson’s otherworldly, psychedelic colors, both of which are in full force in this issue; the difference between the illusion of fame and the reality have never been clearer than they are here. Throw in a cliffhanger so cruel it could have only come from Gillen’s brain and you’ve got one rollercoaster of an issue, a perfect climax to yet another compelling, unpredictable year of WicDiv.

Teenage Mutan Ninja Turtles 665. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66

(Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, & Sophie Campbell)

Between dozens of iterations across a handful of media and a famously cumbersome hash of titular nouns and adjectives, it’s fair to say that the identity of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is complicated. Those complications are part of what has made IDW’s take on the franchise so thrilling, but never have they been so explicit as in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66. The main identity crisis in this issue isn’t one of our Turtles, but Alopex the Snowfox, though the questions that she grapples with are virtually universal — especially for teens. For all their universality, these issues are rarely handled as elegantly as they are here, reminding us that this series is just as well-suited to character-driven drama as it is for crackerjack ninja action. It’s a gorgeously ruminative issue that makes hay out of the complicated identities of its characters.

Godshaper 64. Godshaper 6

(Simon Spurrier & Jonas Goonface)

Few comics manage to make a point as eloquently, entertainingly, and awe-inspiringly as Godshaper 6. The finale to Simon Spurrier and Jonas Goonface’s mini-series explores the connections between materialism, racism, and religion in a way that feels effortless, and ties all its lessons and revelations into the personal growth of its reluctant hero, Ennay. The lessons Ennay learns about what really matters in life are ones that can apply to us all, but they’re delivered in a way that’s uniquely Ennay: through the power of rock and roll. Any story that preaches the power of love, of creativity and art and stories, the power of one person to change the world is a story worth telling, but it’s Godshaper’s ability to preach those virtues in a world that feels so real and fleshed out, cruel and tragic yet at the same time breathtakingly beautiful, that truly made this series special.

Secret Weapons 13. Secret Weapons 1

(Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, & Patricia Martín)

Superhero groups shunned by society is a common enough phenomenon in comics, but where the X-Men have the Xavier School (or the Hellfire Club, if you’re nasty), and the Inhumans have Attilan, the rejected psiots of Secret Weapons are left to fend for themselves. With issue 1, Eric Heisserer, Raúl Allén, and Patricia Martín make that explicitly clear, introducing our two heroes by emphasizing just how down and out they are. Nikki is living as a kind of homeless bird-lady, and Owen is fired from his job when his powers go off unexpectedly, but there’s no well-funded superhero team or city-state to swoop in to support them. Indeed, as we soon learn, the system designed to support people like them has left them in this state, losing interest when their powers didn’t prove immediately useful. It’s a clever take on a familiar trope, supported by some crystal clear storytelling from Allén and Martín, who distinguish Nikki’s balletic grace from Owen’s lanky clumsiness, giving us a sense of how these characters move beyond their simple posture and design. It’s a propulsive first issue that leaves you hungry for more.

Batman 372. Batman 37

(Tom King & Clay Mann)

Tom King’s Batman is at its best when it takes the time to dig into Bruce Wayne as a person, and Bruce’s engagement to Selina Kyle gave King plenty of opportunity to do just that in 2017. Bruce and Selina’s double-date with Clark Kent and Lois Lane in Batman 37 provides the perfect canvas for King and Clay Mann to further explore their humanity, by taking their emotions seriously but also by not taking their personas so seriously; King seems to absolutely relish poking fun at Batman, and there’s nothing that brings the Dark Knight down to Earth more than that. It’s actually amazing how much fun this issue is. King and Mann have tapped straight into the pure joy at the heart of superhero comics, be it the joy of throwing Batman and Superman together or simply the joy of watching Batman yet again do the impossible — even if the “impossible” is something as mundane as falling in love.

Mister Miracle 51. Mister Miracle 5

(Tom King & Mitch Gerads)

On page one of this issue, Tom King and Mitch Gerads use that famous Jack Kirby quote to remind us that comics will break our hearts. It’s a recontextualization of that quote, to be sure, but “recontextualization of a Kirby creation” is kind of the point of this series. We can go on at length about the metatext of that quote (heaven knows we did in our coverage of the issue), but there’s so much else going on in this issue which grapples with mortality and love and depression. It’s a heartbreaking issue, as promised (albeit with a rousing twist at the end), but beautifully so. We can only hope for last hours with our partners as joyous and quiet and sexy and sad as the ones Scott and Barda share in this issue. Each and every spread, from enjoying their “song” as they crawl through L.A. traffic to Scott’s wistful philosophizing on the beach is pitch-perfect. It’s our favorite issue of the year.

The conversation doesn’t stop there, because your list is almost certainly different from ours. What were your favorite issues of 2017? For more Best of 2017 coverage, check out our Best Covers list!

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14 comments on “Best of 2017: Best Issues

  1. As ever, I’m curious to hear everyone’s personal lists. I was lucky enough to have a lot of my list represented here, but there are a two that I regret aren’t up there:

    Batman 15, where King skips us through Batman and Catwoman’s first meetings from both 1940’s Batman 1 and 1987’s Batman 404 (that is, the first chapter of Year One). It turns one of the questions of continuity created by Morrison’s take into the kind of disagreement any couple might have about when exactly it was that they first met.

    Hawkeye 13, where Kate and Clint team up once again. Kelly Thompson just writes Clint as such a mess, he makes look Kate look put together by comparison. It’s a great take on their relationship that nods to its history.

    I’m not sure what I’d trade out to get these up on the list, so maybe we just call them my own personal honorable mentions? Anyway, what else was on your lists?

  2. I don’t know how you even begin to sort through ranking the Mister Miracle issues we’ve had so far. If I had to start somewhere, 1, 4, and 5 are the standouts. ….. I would certainly give a shout out to Royal City #1, which brilliantly set up a helluva new series. …. Also, and this will be controversial, I think one of the things that gets lost within the sense that Secret Empire was a mis-fire is how good some of Spencer’s issues of Steve Rogers Captain America were, leading up to the event. If only the event had continued the promise of some of that writing and plotting. So I would perhaps give a shout-out to Steve Rogers #11 as an honorable mention for 2017. … This is a good list, though.

    • I actually enjoyed most of Secret Empire (though I’d definitely agree that the two Captain America series were stronger), but I couldn’t think of a single issue that stood out in my mind. Those early-in-the-year issues of the Cap series kind of faded in my memory, but Steve Rogers 11 is a solid pull. I bet I could come up with some great SamCap issues, too, if I dug back to those early months of 2017.

      • With the benefit of hindsight, and with the exception of the amazing first issue, Steve Rogers was a uniformly terrible book. It existed solely to set up Secret Empire, and failed as a book in its own right. Everything was so busy filling into ultimately unimportant blanks, and then made things worse by avoiding climaxes so that the reveal could be a casual aside in Secret Empire or giving its best material to Uncanny Avengers or Thunderbolts. All while saddled with major Kobik issues that Spencer never got around to resolving with his flashbacks. Spencer had such a great premise, that was well realised during the stronger parts of Secret Empire. But wasted it away by not letting this book stand on its own, or be anything other than a way to spend 19 issues on, ultimately, setting a table instead of serving a meal.

        Sam Wilson was a much better book, but I think struggled a little this year. I don’t think #TakeBackTheShield arc fully realised its potential as a string of one shots, while others were blighted by Secret Empire, and Spencer’s wish to not resolve anything except in the pages of Secret Empire (to the point where major villains of Sam WIlson’s run never got an ending. THe Fox News guy who was involved in nearly everything never got an ending because he joined HYDRA and then… never featured in Secret EMpire or its tie ins). Sam Wilson was a good book, but a book that always struggled and never fully came into its own. If Spencer handled his book’s relationships with Secret Empire though, I think Sam WIlson could have had an issue that deserved this list.

        Secret Empire’s first half is the best of Spencer’s run by far. In fact, you could make a great case for the Ultron story. However, it quickly became clear that Spencer didn’t have a second half, and the event collapsed at the end, leading to the very embarrassing finale (Secret Empire 8 is probably the only issue of the second half that really works. In fact, it is actually great).

        Maybe Civil War II: The Oath? That was pretty great

        At the start of last year, I said that 2017 was the year Spencer’s story was going to fully come into its own. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Spencer let his books get trapped in the weeds and got lost. He should have been a lot more competitive in this category than he actually was. But the books where he had a story to tell were unfortunately let down by the event where he didn’t.

        At least we have the start of Secret Empire to look back on

        And honestly, I am still confused how much of the Sam Wilson plot lines were never given resolution. Instead, we just got told that Secret Empire would handle it, before they never appeared again

  3. Runaways 1, Karnak 6 and Ms Marvel 19 are all fantastic choices, and I’d love to add Unstoppable Wasp 7 (where Janet Van Dyne takes over for an issue) and Hawkeye 4 (the first arc climax. Which doesn’t show off at all, just executes everything perfectly to create a polished gem that explores complex themes while disguised as the best breezy, fun action romp) are also great contenders.

    Tom King certainly doesn’t deserve to be on the list. No book that can’t see an entire class of human beings as people can justifiabl be called the best of the year. Especially a romance. Which disqualifies Batman 37 outright. Say anything you want about the writing of Bruce, but the writing of women is painfully, painfullty awful
    And I think Mister Miracle has a real problem with form over function, a greater focus on beign arty than using arty techniques to best communicate the story. COmpared to the Vision or Omega Men, when King’s heavy use of form is almost invisible in how elegantly form is used, Mister Miracle seems to always be saying ‘Look at me’. Treating the trick, treating showing off, more important than the the effect that these tricks are supposed to achieve. What used to be beautifully threaded in invisibly is now garishly in your face, drawing attention away.
    Tom King’s fall from most exciting writer around is 2017 comics’ greatest tragedy

    The other reason why Batman: Creature of the Knight was so soul destroying finally dawned on me. Paul Dini’s masterpiece, Dark Knight: A true Batman story. Creature of the Knight is just so recycled from previous parts it is a tragedy. DC’s best book shouldn’t be a Frankenstein made out of every great success they made. As a DC fan, this book’s existence really is soul destroying

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    I’ll do my annual ‘Why I love comics in 2017’ later, but want to do something else, a ranking of every comics adaption of 2017. Been a rich year with a lot of great stuff in a wide variety of mediums.

    Not counting Last Jedi, as it isn’t a comic book movie (despite the fact that we discuss Star Wars comics here enough I could get away with it). Don’t watch CW DC shows, and haven’t seen Punisher, Inhumans or Marvel X-Men shows yet, though very interested in Legion. Haven’t seen William Marsten and the Wonder Women yet, but very excited to.

    From best to worse:

    1. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: This movie truly establishes Guardians of the Galaxy as a great franchise, and a franchise with humanism backed into the very DNA. A movie about family and abuse. Ego and empathy. Healing in all its forms. Responsibility. Being a better person, even if you are too damaged to be a good person yet. On how there is a little bit of goodness in all of us, as logn as we can overcome ego and have a little empathy. Deep, character driven and so, so cathartic. The ending just makes you want to cry. Despite all the explosions and action, the climax is primarily about the emotions as it wrenches your heart and proves that big, silly blockbusters can have so, so much soul. And that’s before the coda, a perfect ending
    I’m surprised Gunn got away with this. A movie that is more of a hangout movie than a action blockbuster, a movie that goes smaller and deeper instead of mindless escalation. And creates one of Marvel’s most beautiful movies. So many words have been written on how 2017 was a bad year for blockbusters, but the mere fact we have this and the Last Jedi, that’s enough

    2. Logan: A fantastic meditation on failure and growing old. Looking at your legacy and confronting the world you created, even when it is a disaster. And of being on your last chance, and seeing if you can really turn things around. I love how this interrogates Logan and strips him to the violence that cannot be removed, and actually seriously asks what does this mean. What does it mean that the most iconic, most important X-Man is this guy. And in the end, the find the heroism in heroism, a heroism that can exist without being tainted by Logan’s many, many flaws. The heroism of preventing others from going down his path

    3. LEGO Batman Movie: A fantastic interrogation on Batman and fandom, and on the ways that both film and fandom have failed with Batman by ignoring large parts of the comics in a way that leads to a toxic idealisation in Gotham that can only be taken down by Will Arnett’s fantastic performance. This movie so effortlessly deconstructs, then reconstructs Batman in a movie that is joyful, funny and humanising. The depth and complexity of this movie astounds me. LEGO movies aren’t supposed to be ike this, they are supposed to be cheap cash grabs. And yet, they have created two of the deepest blockbusters around, playing jester and using that position to seriously interrogate pop clture (LEGO Ninjago wasn’t as great, but also a good movie)

    4. Thor Ragnarok: It is amazing how the funnier Marvel moves are actually the deepest. So many of the serious ones end up having major thematic holes (the Captain America franchise has frequently been a victim of this), and then something like Thor Ragnarok comes along and tells a thematically nuanced story about colonialism, where Thor’s journey is psychological in a way few other superhero movies are, and it is amazing. Breathtakingly hilarious, and yet amazingly deep. And it contains the sorts of fresh turns that we don’t expect, like its amazing twist on generic end of the world plots.
    And yeah, the fact that Taika Waititi’s Torg is so, so Kiwi is a wonderful addition to me

    5. Batman: The Enemy Within – So much to praise about Telltale’s second season on Batman. The way it so elegantly shifts genres to an espionage focus, the way it so wonderfully creates a unique take on supervillains, the way it feels like no other Batman story ever while feeling completely like Batman… We are only half way through this series, and it has knocked balls out of the park each and every time.
    The focus on character dynamics that makes Telltale’s game mechanics creates fantastic conversations, with either complex attempts at relationship management or tense games of cat and mouse. And it on top of that, it explores generally unrealised aspects of the Batman Universe, like the Fox Family, or flips the entire book on what you expect, like with Harley.
    And then there is the return of Selina Kyle, in a stunning show of how good the Batman/Catwoman relationship can be when well written.
    Such a rich, textured world, creating one of the best Batman experiences around. This, more than any other game, really shows what is possible when we adapt superhero comics to video games. The Arkham series has nothing on this

    6. Runaways – Runaways is a fantastic, contemporary update of Vaughn’s original work. Filled with very clever changes that adjust the context to a more 2017 style and creating a show about living in a world that’s been broken for as long as you remember. The biggest change isn’t the fact that they still haven’t run away, but that the reveal of the Pride merely complicates the existing problems. Yet another challenge in a world that refuses to make sense.
    It creating a compelling, rich drama with fantastic leads and all sorts of complexities. Part of me almost wishes they never run away, that their twist on the premise works best keeping everyone together where things can be complex. The action is poor and Nico is a real problem character, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is high class YA programming. Especially as how the focus on the parents gives a richness and forces the viewer to empathise outside themselves. In nearly every respect, this is the textbook on how to adapt a comic. It understands what the original book was about. It updates cleverly. It knows how to use TV to its advantage, and how to use comics. This is just top quality work

    7. iZombie – The metaplot this season suffered, probably because of trying to fix metaplot issues from last season. But while this show may never reach the heights of the first season, it continues to be just excellent at what it does. Rose McIver is always a revelation as Liv, and she gets so many fun personas this season (the dominatrix brain is one of the best things ever). And in true iZombie style, the season finale was fucking insane, with a status quo shift so massive that you have no idea what they will do next season. Hell, this was a game changer by iZombie standards, and makes Season 4 one of the most exciting upcoming seasons on the map.
    Also, the way the show is a constant love letter to Mike Allred’s art always makes me smile. It is a shame no other comic book show actually takes the chance to show affection for the art of comics like iZombie does.

    8. Spiderman: Homecoming – I feel bad for putting this so high, but everything else has flaws. A good movie, but nearly every element feels like it needs a little more. No element is bad, and it has one of Marvel’s best villains with the Vulture, but it should combine the ferry and Washington Monument set pieces together and use the extra time to deepen every part of the movie. Make us care about Liz, develop the Peter/Happy stuff more so Tony’s appearances are more impactful. So much could be done. I still sour a little at Zendaya’s MJ line at the end. She has stolen every scene she is in, and yet that reveal is hurt by the fact we never get to see her arc about befriending everyone else.
    Still, hilarious movie. Complex villain. Well done stakes. Maybe it could use more. Maybe it would be better if you replaced Peter Parker with Riri Williams. But the movie works. It is reflective of just how consistently good Marvel is that this movie can be so high.

    9. Guardians of the Galaxy: The Telltale Series – A series blighted by the fact that the new movie did many of its ideas so much better and a villain who, though complex and deep, served to distract from the core conflicts of the series. But with the fourth and fifth episodes, everything came into focus and became amazing. I’m not going to defend the lacklustre first three episodes, as gets better later is never a good argument. But once you get past the more generic elements, you get everything that makes the Guardians of the Galaxy an instant classic franchise. So beautiful

    10. Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets – This is year that has been truly a great year for humanistic sci fi, with two of the year’s best movies both being humanistic sci fi. And Valerian gives us a third humanistic sci fi movie, even if it isn’t as good as Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2 or the Last Jedi. Its biggest problem is that the main plot focuses on the love story to explore the story around authority, instead of using the story around authority to explore the love story.
    And yet, the opening scene is possibly the best moment of the entire year, and is followed by a truly spectacular opening action sequence that beats everything in its imagination. The actual beats of the plot, once you remove the fluff and padding, is wonderfully subversive and Laureline’s speech around love at the climax really hit me hard.
    There is a lot to talk about with this movie, both positive and negative. But the positives are so beautiful, and I so wish this movie didn’t bomb. It deserved so, so much better.

    11. Atomic Blonde – On the one hand, this is a truly stylish movie. The action is brutal and incredible, and Charlize Theron’s Lorraine Broughton is a truly amazing character. You could see her replace James Bond easily. Beats Bond with fashion and sexuality easily, while combining a brutal approach to combat with real spy tropes to create a character that feels more real and less weightless than Bond.
    Unfortunately, the script is garbage. Highly confused, going everywhere at once and never letting you feel like you ever have a grip on the situation. Every attempt to shock and surprise fails because you are so busy trying to work out what everything means. This is especially a problem, as the movie only has one natural character to be the mysterious antagonist, which means that you both don’t know what’s happening and know exactly what’s happening. And it has a really, really problematic plot point
    I really want a sequel, which combines the great elements with a better script. Because damn, that brutal, 10 minute long one take fight scene is amazing

    12. LEGO Marvel Superheroes 2 – The one thing you have to love is how much this embraces comic books. Not only does it have some of the most obscure characters in the Marvel Universe, it uses every moment it can to celebrate comic book form. Comic pages with dynamic panelling are used as end of level menus, and Kirby Dots are everywhere.
    I also enjoy just how much the game embraces the most modern version of Marvel. Not only are Ms Marvel, Jane Foster Thor and Spider-Gwen characters you play as part of the main story, but the game story riffs on Secret Wars a lot. Set on the Not-Battleworld, Chronopolis, with Kang as Not-Doom, the game is all about embracing weird alternate aspects of the characters and finding the weirdest corners of the Marvel Universe. They even got Kurt Busiek to contribute, as, apparently, the expert on Kang (I assume no one had read the terrible Avengers Forever).
    But the biggest problem is, unlike the LEGO Batman games that involve the whole Justice League but centre around Batman, the story suffers from no clear main characters. Lots of missions, some great (there is a wonderful fight against the Sinister Six early on). But it all feels really disconnected

    13. Kingsmen: The Golden Circle – The first movie was a fantastic critique of Jame Bond, but Kingsmen 2 feels like the Kingsmen equivalent of a generic Bond movie. It does all the sorts of things you expect a Kingsmen movie to be, but without the heart and soul. This feels like the fifth movie of the series, where the series is growing stale, not the second of a franchise that should just be starting.
    Also, the way it stepped backwards on too many aspects of the first movie really didn’t help.

    14. Wonder Woman – This is the hardest one to rank, as there are so many places I could justify it. Quite simply, there isn’t anything on this list that is quite so inconsistent. I could very easily justify putting this at the very bottom, for being the only movie to have a scene so bad that it was physically uncomfortable to watch. Some moments of the movie are astonishing in their incompetence (how the hell did they manage to do that history of the Amazons section and… skip the stage where the Amazons are enslaved. Considering how important that is to the very history you are telling, that is shocking.)
    Part of me wants to split this entry into two. Rank the good half of Wonder Woman as the third best of the year, and the bad half at the bottom. But that is inaccurate. Because what we actually have in Wonder Woman is a great World War One movie and a good World War Two movie that, together, really, really don’t go together?
    I’ve seen a lot of positive analyses of Wonder Woman that are built on ignoring the World War One aspects and praising Wonder Woman for the empowering vision of women punching Nazis (and that isn’t strawmanning the argument. I’ve seen people specifically go out of the way to say ‘I know this is a WW1 movie, but the Germans are supposed to be Nazis. And I’ve had other conversations where I have to correct people that the Germans in Wonder Woman weren’t Nazis). And I’ve seen people praise the empathy and love in the movie, while ignoring how such empathy and love is thrown out the window the moment they want a big action sequence. There seems to be two very different approaches to praise the movie, approaches that contradict so deeply that you end up ignoring half the movie.
    It is hard to know exactly how Wonder Woman will be remembered by history. Probably positively, as we remember Burton’s first Batman positively for no reason at all and Wonder Woman is much, much more important than that. But I think the side that criticises the movie for being pro war will grow. Which isn’t entirely fair, but a very valid criticism of one half of the movie.
    I really wanted to love this, because I really wanted this to work. I even went to the cinema a second time to give it another chance, and I don’t even do that enough for movies I love. I wanted it to work. That’s the way the story is supposed to end. The first real effort at a female superhero movie. The first movie with the most iconic female superhero, is supposed to end with a resounding success. Not necessarily a masterpiece. But even if it was just a good movie with an iconic scene, that would be enough. Instead, we seem to have gotten the worst possible movie that could technically be a success. A confused movie that argues against itself, that is only a great movie if you choose to ignore one half. At least it is a great movie if you choose to ignore one of those halves.

    15. The Defenders – Episode 3 of the Defenders is honestly amazing. The perfect piece of episodic TV, that works as a self contained episode, takes advantage of the premise of matching these characters together for an opportunity for growth. All ending in a fantastic moment of release as we see the Defenders come together for the first time. It really works. The rest of the show is too slow paced with real problems. And disappointing conclusion to the Marvel Netflix experiment and proof that the real impact of these shows is going to be on how shows like Jessica Jones engage in timely themes in engaging ways, and not by replicating the MCU’s success. Basically, bring on Jessica Jones Season 2.

    16. Justice League – My initial comment about Justice League focused a lot on the positive elements, and I stand by them. But that doesn’t change the fact that this movie is a disaster. Even as Justice League proves that the ‘main’ DC movies finally get character (with some actual great character moments. “Save One” is probably the Batman moment of the year), all it can do is provide hope that DC will finally release an unreservedly good movie soon. As a movie itself, it is a complete disaster. A mess in nearly every way that can be counted, with a climax that specifically negates the idea of the Justice League having value in the first place.

    17. Iron Fist – This really was just dreadful. A lifeless, confused disaster that could never make its mind up of what it was. There are lots of people that gave easy fixes, but I don’t think any of them were really the problem (making Danny PoC would have been an interesting interpretation, but using the themes and ideas of Brubaker and Fraction’s run could have also addressed the problematic subtext of Iron Fist by confronting and critiquing these problems. People complained about why corporate elements were in a kung fu show, but if the corporate thriller elements were strong, they would work well alongside the kung fu and create a unique tapestry). The real problem is the characters were crap. Danny had no motivation or goals and all characters did was wander aimlessly for 13 episodes. Combined with the awful action etc, this was an unmitigated disaster

    • Thanks for reminding me that Valerian exists, Matt. I’m a big, big fan of Dane DeHaan, but outside of Chronicle he mostly seems to get stuck in bad movies. I need to check this out.

      Kingsmen was…not great. Action was fun, character stuff sagged. It was 20 minutes longer than the first but felt like it did so much less. It did make me go rewatch the first Kingsman again and remind me how much I frigging love that movie, so it’s got that going for it, at least.

      Legends of Tomorrow Season 3 is legit my favorite superhero show right now. It’s dumb, but it owns it, just trying to be the dumbest fun on all of network television and very likely succeeding. And yet, its plot with Jax and Stein in the big crossover managed to make me bawl like a little baby? Just, openly weep? It’s astonishing how much that show has improved since season one.

      Overall I’d say the 2017-2018 season is the strongest the four CW shows have ever been as a total — all four shows are on an upswing, though Flash is still the weakest and nowhere near the quality of season one. I give it props for trying identifying its weaknesses and at least trying to fix them, though, both by trying to undo the dour tone of seasons 2 and 3 (even if they might have swung too far in the other direction) and by giving Iris a bigger, more important role. Candice Patton is so good and I’m happy the writers seem to have finally realized it.

      • Dane DeHaan got royally fucked by Amazing Spiderman 2. He looked like he was going to have an interesting future (I, too, enjoyed Chronicle), and then for his first major role he was handed one of the all time worst written characters in blockbuster history. A character so poorly written that it could even decide basic thngs, like whether or not he knew Peter was SPiderman. I would love to see what DeHaan’s career would have been if he hadn’t been saddled with Harry Osbourne.
        But Valerian is a really good fit for him. In the comics, Valerian was always a bit of a deconstruction of masculinity. Superficially, a hero type, but too enslaved to authority, kind of pathetic and needing constant help from Laureline. DeHaan is the perfect sort of actor for such an anti-masculine figure.

        I’m still surprised how soulless Kingsmen 2 is. I just wouldn’t expect Matthew Vaughn to care so little. It felt so obligatory. THrow all the elements that worked last time together, and see if lightning strikes twice. Which means fun action and a quirky villain, but without the elements that made the first one work so, so well.

        I’m glad the CW shows a thriving, as it is great seeing DCTV thriving. Unfortunately, they really aren’t to my taste. I’m a big fan of many shows on the CW – the 100, Jane the Virgin and (of course) iZombie are all shows I love, and I’m looking forward to watching Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, which is high on my list to watch.
        But Berlanti’s work really is not to my taste. I have given it plenty of tries (the last one being the pilot of Riverdale, which I found to be the worst thing I’ve seen him produce yet. A highly awkward opinion to have, especially since one of the actors was a friend of a friend), so I avoid them. Still, I’m glad that they are the strognest they’ve ever been, even if it isn’t for me

      • Apparently it is one of the best Marvel shows. I hear lots of great things, from those cynical about Marvel Netflix. But yeah, it is hard to muster much enthusiasm for Punisher when Jessica Jones is the only one that worked

        • Daredevil is very uneven and often dumb, but can actually be quite good from time to time. And I absolutely loved Luke Cage. But I can’t deny that Jessica Jones was the best, and won’t defend Iron Fist (which might as well have just been Finn Jones aggressively whispering the word “chi” for thirteen straight hours). For me, I just couldn’t stomach watching big shootout scenes immediately after the Vegas shooting, and haven’t gotten around to it since (though the fact that nobody’s talking about it makes it unlikely that I ever will).

  4. Runaways 1 was the issue I pushed hardest to get onto this list (I think I called it my single favorite issue of the year, which I’m willing to stand by), but I’m very satisfied with it as a whole, and had WicDiv, Godshaper, Batman, and Mr. Miracle all on my list of nominations as well.

    My picks that didn’t make it:
    Silver Surfer 14 — This issue made me bawl like a little baby. One of the most emotional and satisfying reads of the year.
    Unstoppable Wasp 7 — Made me fall in love with Janet Van Dyne in the space of one issue.
    Spider-Woman 16 — Jess and Roger survive the Hobgoblin and hook up at long last. Nuff said
    The Woods 36 — I always knew this was a long shot, but this was another of my most emotional reads of the year, and a finale only eclipsed, at least for me, by Surfer and Godshaper.

    • It’s a real shame we couldn’t find room for Silver Surfer or Spider-Woman on this list — those were both inarguably great issues. Maybe we should have just done a top 20, after all.

  5. We read very different things and when we read the same things, we really get different things from them.

    My list (from while my students are doing lab work) in no particular order:

    Invincible 140: The climax to 10 years of battle, Invincible fighting Thragg to the death in a star. It was glorious. It was beautiful. It was momentus. I can’t believe it’s ending in the next couple of weeks.

    Descender 24: This whole series is awesome, but this comic had my favorite art of the year. Every page was something new, a whole new world discovered over each hill.

    Astro City 48 (and 47, seriously): The G-Dog story was fantastic. Few comics actually make me get weepy. This one did.

    Batman: Creature of the Night 1: This was a very good setup for a horror story. How is everything going so right? Knowing something is wrong but not seeing it. I think that’s what Busiek did best here: Leaving out the information that would show the horror but hint at it just enough so we knew something was wrong.

    Curse Words 1: I think #1 issues get disproportionately mentioned in my list for these, but #1s can frequently bring something new to the table and tend to get remembered more (and there’s definitely a middle issue bias with you guys – you all HATE middle issues). I’m not as big of a Browne fan as some, but Wizord burst on to the scene with such aplomb that I can’t leave this off my list.

    Jessica Jones 6: Man, I loved this arc and this was such a good conclusion. Jones basically Columbo’d the entire Marvel Universe and ruined her life doing it. Bendis hit this one out of the park. I’m not sure this issue works on its own – I’m not even sure it works as a monthly comic (I read the graphic novel), but this was great.

    Doctor Strange 383: At the risk of falling to recency bias – I really want to know what comes next. This was a pretty powerful issue.

    Saga 42: Everything ends. Damn you Saga for making me look for another page, looking for the silver lining. And while everything is ending, everything else is continuing on.

    —————————

    I feel like something from Black Hammer belongs on here. I feel like there had to have been a Spider-Man and/or Thor on here for me. Maybe even Darth Vader. But this is a reasonable list for what I read this year.

    • Man, I hadn’t realized how few middle issues there are on our list. Everything is either the beginning or end of an arc (or series), or works as a kind of one-off.

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