Best of 2016: Best Series

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We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2016.
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Best of 2016: Best Issues

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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 2016. Continue reading

Best of 2016: Best Covers

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You know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but that doesn’t mean you can’t judge the cover on its own merit. Some covers are so excellent that they pack all the drama, excitement and emotion of the whole issue into one succinct image. Sometimes they end up being their own surreal experience. And other times, we’re just exciting to see our favorite heroes kicking ass one more time. These are our top 10 covers of 2016. Continue reading

The Vision 12

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Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Vision 12, originally released October 26th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: I run payroll at the office I work in. No accounting experience, trusted with cutting paychecks for a dozen employees. I was intimidated at first — that’s the livelihood of my friends and co-workers I’m handling — but I was soon numbed by the inevitable monotony of the task. Something recently kicked me out of that stupor: a co-worker got married, and so the rate at which we withheld income tax changed. I’d been used to cutting this check for about the same amount twice a month, so I noticed that it looked like she was suddenly bringing home about 7% more than she had been before she got married. As a non-married dude in a committed relationship, I started to jealously ask “what the fuck?” The fuck, it turns out, is that the US government subsidizes marriage. I had always known there were tax benefits to getting married, but I’d never internalized what that really means. It means that marriage, and by extension family, are so integral to the platonic ideal of the American experience that the government is morally obligated financially encourage it. The Vision has always been about the fallacy of the domestic American dream, and issue 12 brings that fallacy back to the relationship from which that fantasy stems: husband and wife.

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Vision 11

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Today, Ryan D. and Michael are discussing Vision 11, originally released September 21, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Ryan D: One of the best teachers I ever had, a high school English teacher who also directs theatre, always urged us when starting a new book to think of the first page as “curtains up”; in other words, what is the first thing the audience sees when beginning a work. Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta craft their opening panel beautifully:

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Vision 9

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Today, Patrick and Spencer are discussing Vision 9, originally released July 13, 2016.

Patrick: Last month, Ryan lead off her discussion with the weird relationships uncles have with their families. Uncles have a way of bringing the outside world in to an insular little unit. I’m an uncle myself, and I know that when I walk into my sister’s house, she and her husband and their two children are going to be exposed to whatever weirdness I might inject into their routine. They all tolerate (or celebrate, depending on how open they’re feeling) my weirdness precisely because we’re family. But I always harbor a secret fear that my uncle-y eccentricities will reveal themselves to be uncle-y weaknesses in the eyes of a completely put-together family. Of course, I’m projecting. Just because there’s a pair of kids and two well-employed parents doesn’t mean that something isn’t lacking. But it’s hard not to view your own shortcomings as catastrophic in the face of such idyllic perfection. Vision 9 exposes Victor’s biggest uncle-y weaknesses – he’s a drifter and an addict and spent his whole life fighting. Continue reading

Vision 8

Today, Ryan and Drew are discussing Vision 8, originally released June 8, 2016.

Ryan: An extended family member, someone who knows and loves you but doesn’t see you everyday, is in a unique position offer insight and help. Growing up, my Uncles’ advice and counsel always seemed better than my parents. It was probably because my parents were there all the time with a bunch of rules and expectations and time with my Uncles was more like a vacation. In Vision 8, Uncle Victor spends one-on-one time with each of the Vision family and is able to support them and connect to them in a way that their immediate family cannot. Continue reading

The Vision 5

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Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing The Vision 5, originally released March 9th, 2016.

Drew: I’m always baffled that the notion of privilege — that the majority class might benefit from their majority status in ways they aren’t aware of — is met with such resistance. But, I suppose that’s another symptom of privilege: blindly assuming you’re in the right, evidence to the contrary be damned. That’s the spirit that made Imperialism such a cultural force in the 19th and 20th centuries, as Western Europeans and (later) Americans replaced indigenous cultures with their own, believing whole-heartedly that it was the moral thing to do. Of course, whatever high ground a colonist might presume their medical technology or christian theology gives them, there’s no denying that imperialism brings all of the evils of the western world, as well, from literal plagues to damaging social and economic practices. The Vision 5 opens with the most memorable line from Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice — Shylock’s pledge to embrace the evils of the majority class — suggesting that the Visions might be better off not being human, after all. Continue reading

The Vision 4

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Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing The Vision 4, originally released February 3rd, 2016.

Drew: I recently watched a video titled “Why Donald Trump is a Gift to Democracy,” which effectively argues that the correlation between Trump’s disproportionate coverage and high poll numbers reveals the problems in how a profit-driven news media can be hijacked by anyone desperate for attention. I’m not as optimistic as the video seems to be about our collective will to change this phenomenon, but the more I think about it, the more absurd a profit-driven news agency is — if good reporting and the bottom line don’t match up, a publicly traded company really only has a duty to the latter. It’s ultimately not in service of the public it reports to, but the shareholders. This may seem like an odd introduction to a discussion of a comic about a robot-family’s struggles at fitting in in suburbia, but a profit-driven news media is actually the closest thing I can think of to an artificial intelligence that would harm humans in order to sustain itself. Only, you know, I have a lot more sympathy for the family of robots. Continue reading

The Vision 1

vision 1Today, Spencer and Patrick are discussing The Vision 1, originally released November 4th, 2015.

Spencer: Secret Wars is dead — long live “All New, All Different Marvel”. We’re a few weeks into Marvel’s newest initiative, and so far each book is handling the “All New” mandate in a different way. Some books aren’t really changing at all (Spider-Gwen), some are throwing a few new quirks or cast members into familiar concepts (Guardians of the Galaxy, Invincible Iron Man), and some are taking their stars into completely uncharted territory (Amazing Spider-Man). For my money, though, there’s no book as drastically new and different as Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s The Vision. Part fairy-tale, part family drama, part inevitable tragedy, The Vision 1 is a comic unlike anything I’ve read in quite a while. If I’m being honest, I still haven’t fully wrapped my head around it, but I know one thing: I like it. Continue reading