2016 – The Year In Comics
Neil Martin talks us through his favourite comics from the last 12 months:
A very exciting but ultimately dangerous thing happened in Eastbourne about this time last year. An actual bricks and mortar comic shop opened. I had been slowly getting back into comics over the last year or two through the iPad which is a great way to consume comics if you don’t have access to a local comics shop. The problem with a real comic shop though is that it forced me to regress to a slightly wealthier version of my younger self and I felt the old obsession creeping back over me. So after a year of diving headlong back into the world of comic books (and spending far too much money in the process) here are some of my highlights.
Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s bewitching southern gothic fairy tale is my favourite ongoing comic series at the moment. Bunn and Crook have created an entirely believable world that feels like an ancient folk tale handed down through the years. The story of Emmy and her link to the ghosts and other mysterious creatures that lurk in the woods is by turns poignant and horrific. The comic looks stunning and is one of the best matches of art and writing that I have seen in comics in many years.
Brilliant and genuinely disturbing psychological horror from Vertigo by Gail Simone and Jon Davis-Hunt. What started as a story about a suspicious self-help cult has transformed into a frightening tale of demonic invasion.
Alan Moore’s incredibly dense Lovecraftian homage is an exploration of outsider America in the early 20th Century. This old weird America of Moore’s Lovecraft mythos and outsiders also acts as a metaphor for the secret homosexuality of the protagonist and it is great to see this kind of diversity being explored in modern comics. In typical Moore fashion it can be a tricky read at times but he is once again proving himself to be a master of the medium.
Marvel managed quite a coup when award winning journalist and cultural commentator Ta-Nehisi Coates made his comic writing debut with their relaunch of Black Panther( pictured, top). Issue #1 was the biggest selling comic this year and the series has developed into a fascinating exploration of power and responsibility alongside nationality, nationalism as well as identity and gender politics. Whilst this might all sound a little worthy it still manages to be a superhero comic and ass is regularly kicked.
POWER MAN & IRON FIST
The most fun I’ve had reading comics this year has been the return of Marvel’s Power Man & Iron Fist. Whip smart dialogue that is full of hip cultural references and a real feel for old school blaxploitation movies. The comic’s centre though is its heart and the relationship between the two protagonists. The older and not so wiser heroes for hire are a fiddle faddling delight to read and no mistake.
THE WICKED & THE DIVINE
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s ongoing series has been one of the best things in comics for the last few years. It is an epic exploration of pop music fandom that has slowly developed into a story of life, death, deception, betrayal and murder amongst the gods. The basic premise of The Wicked & The Divine is that every 90 years The Pantheon (a group of ancient gods with super powers) are reincarnated in ordinary people and within two years they will all be dead. In this recurrence all of The Pantheon become hugely successful pop stars. What this all means is a study of the deification of pop stars, a rollicking great murder mystery full of back stabbing and betrayal, as well as some of the most forward thinking portrayals of race, gender and sexuality ever seen in comics all accompanied by some of the most beautiful artwork you will find.
DARK & BLOODY
A superb 6 issue mini series about guilt and redemption. The story of Armed Forces veteran Iris Gentry whose family is under threat from supernatural forces looking for vengeance for his past sins whilst on tour in Iraq. Brilliantly written, violent and disturbing this is horror comic writing at its best.
As well as these great titles I have also enjoyed reading these this year and all are highly recommended.
Aloha, Hawaiian Dick
Finally a big thank you to Scorch Comics in Eastbourne for helping me rekindle my love of comics and spend too much money on them.
Words by Neil Martin