Top 8 Comics of 2016

This year showcased a wide variety of original graphic novels and comics for almost everyone, as the industry witnessed some brilliant storytelling and stunning artwork. There might have been a few blunders along the way, but cynicism towards the industry waned thanks to the release of some truly remarkable titles.

This short list is comprised of some of the best publications of the year, from a number of different publishers. If you haven’t had the opportunity to check out some of these comics, then please support the creators by enveloping yourself in their carefully crafted universes. It’s not too late to hop on either, as a few of these titles will are continuing into 2017.



Archie Comics successfully rebooted back in 2015, and since then the publisher has seen a plethora of new talent working on their beloved characters. One of those new creative teams that have achieved something special is the dynamic duo of Ryan North and Derek Charm.

Starting off with issue nine in September, North and Charm built upon the foundations laid by Chip Zdarsky and Erica Henderson. To continue with a new direction for the title, North introduced everyone’s favourite teenage witch, Sabrina, into the equation.

Her first introduction into this new Riverdale, Sabrina helped take the comic to new heights. Jughead was suddenly funnier than ever before, and there was a new degree of charm to it. Falling head over heels for Sabrina, the burger-loving Jughead unsuccessfully begins to date the mysterious, quirky teen.

Of course, when Sabrina doesn’t get her way with Jughead, her dangerous magic comes into play. Jughead is a delightfully fun and hilarious read, and Charm’s artwork is the perfect choice for the story. It’s a late contender for the year, but it’s one to look out for in 2017.



Another late entry into the year, Gerard Way’s reimagining of Doom Patrol has proved to be successful, entertaining and most importantly, just as bizarre as previous entries. With splendid artwork from Nick Derington, Way has managed to create a title which is accessible to new readers, whilst welcoming the old ones back into the fold.

This new series is part of the Young Animal imprint, which is an attempt to replicate DC’s Vertigo for a new audience. So far, it’s proved to be a hit, and it doesn’t hurt that Way’s 1.5m followers on Twitter have been dedicated to following any of work post-My Chemical Romance.

Doom Patrol embraces the bizarre with fresh faces, in the form of ambulance driver Casey Brinke, and her eccentric singing roommate Terry None. Thrown into a world of weirdness, Casey gets to meet familiar Doom Patrol members, whilst discovering a mysterious past.

It’s a title that doesn’t follow standard storytelling structure, and it should be approached by those who want something wholly different to the usual superhero fare witnessed on the shelves. It’s early days yet, but Doom Patrol is set to be one hell of a ride.



Written and illustrated entirely by Simon Hanselmann, Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam is the sequel to the funniest book of 2015, Megahex. However, despite being sold as a comedy to many, Hanselmann’s second graphic novel touches upon all too familiar subjects; anxiety, depression and cat’s anuses.

To escape the daily struggles of life and to fix their failing relationship, Megg and Mogg decide to travel to Amsterdam to enjoy its many vices. Of course, they can’t go anywhere without their friends, the insufferable Werewolf Jones and the empathetic Owl.

Hanselmann’s work has a beautiful, vibrant colour palette which really adds a nice dynamic to the many stories involving drug binges, sex, and mental health issues. There’s really nothing quite like Megg & Mogg in Amsterdam right now, and it’s almost criminal to miss out on one of the most unusual books of 2016.



DC has offered Batfans plenty of material to read this year, but it was this year’s original graphic novel that really took the spotlight. A True Batman Story is an autobiographical tale, written by Paul Dini with artwork from the hugely talented Eduardo Risso.

During his career as writer and producer of the hugely successful Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini’s life was dramatically altered after suffering a brutal assault one evening in Hollywood. This book recounts his recovery process and how his life was changed, with the visual aids of Batman and his loved villains.

A True Batman Story takes a completely different approach to telling a story which fans are used to, but that’s what makes it stand out from the rest. Dini’s narration of this horrible event in his life is an insightful look into his personality, and Risso’s art really helps bring that era of Batman back to life. For fans of the best animated series ever, this is essential reading.



The first season of Kaijumax surprised a few readers last year with its vibrant colour palette, its cutesy monsters and shockingly adult themes. Set up as a serious prison drama involving kaiju, writer and illustrator Zander Cannon continued to impress and astound his readers with Season Two.

The comic continues its focus on the main fugitive Electrogor, who is stuck in a world that doesn’t want anything to do with kaiju. After his escape from prison, Electrogor plans to the cross the Pacific rim in hope of reuniting with his children. However, during his journey, he encounters kaiju parolees, drug addicts and Lovecraftian monstrosities.

It’s a must-read for kaiju lovers, as Zander Cannon infuses his sheer wealth of kaiju knowledge into this book, whilst maintaining a fine balance of humanity within. Readers will be rooting for Electrogor to reach his kids, whilst being fascinated with some of the weird subplots supplied throughout.

Kaijumax is a grand achievement, where Cannon has managed to take a successful first season into entirely new territory. It’s action packed, dramatic and even upsetting in parts. Kaijumax is not to be missed.



Imagine Adventure Time’s colourful visuals, mixed in with some of the elements of the Hellboy universe. Sprinkle some solid storytelling on top, with a side of beheadings, and you have Andrew MacLean’s breakout hit of 2016, Head Lopper.

Fantastical, colourful and downright entertaining from the first page, Head Lopper surprised loads of readers this year. It quickly turned into a critically acclaimed title, and within four issues, MacLean had established a universe that was here to stay.

The story follows the fearless warrior Norgal and the incessant, nagging severed head of Agatha the Blue Witch. Hired to slay the sorcerer that wreaks havoc on the Isle of Barra, Norgal faces a number of dangerous, blood-thirsty beasts.

Head Lopper is unarguably Image’s best title of the year. It’s tight, focused and enjoyable throughout. MacLean’s art is a visual treat for the eyes, all perfectly framed with every page. The graphic novel collecting the first four issues boasts a grand collection of extras, including a new story, sketches and notes from the talented creator.



IDW’s greatest publication to date, Transformers MTMTE wrapped up this year to reboot with the Lost Light. Written by James Roberts with artwork from series regular Alex Milne, More Than Meets the Eye is a title that has never faltered once in telling a rich, compelling and emotional story.

More Than Meets the Eye follows the crew of the Lost Light, a space vessel in search for the legendary ‘Knights of Cybertron’, a mythical group that once existed on the Transformers home planet. Led by the cocksure Rodimus, his merry team of odd, dangerous and sometimes drunk Transformers get involved in madcap adventures in space.

Writer James Roberts throws his characters of MTMTE into uncharted territory throughout, and with his innovative writing and Milne’s highly detailed artwork, the title succeeds where every other Transformers comic has failed.

For some, the prospect of reading a Transformers comic may be daunting, especially considering how meaty Roberts’ dialogue can be, but once that effort is put in, new readers are rewarded with some of the best writing seen in the industry today.

The comic tackles several themes, such as politics, relationships, religion and most importantly for the Transformers, identity. It’s given birth to the first ever gay relationship in the franchise, whilst simultaneously creating a community of fans that like to take the characters into their very own, r-rated adventure…

More Than Meets the Eye is a masterpiece within the comic book industry, and James Roberts should be applauded for his ability to craft such an interesting, thought-provoking and exciting read. Comic book readers, roll out and read it already.



Having established himself as the king of slice-of-life comic books, British creator John Allison treated his devoted readers to BOOM! Studios publication, Giant Days, way back in March 2015. Since then, alongside artists Lissa Treiman and Max Sarin, the series has evolved into one of the best comics on the shelves right now.

The setup is delightfully simple; Esther, Daisy and Susan are three women who are beginning to start the rest of their lives. During their time at university, the three main characters are faced with mystery moulds, complicated relationships, soggy festivals and a surprising amount of carpentry.

Despite not sounding like the most intriguing plot, Giant Days is brought to life with Allison’s technique for sharp, snappy dialogue and perfect characterisation. Every single character in Giant Days feels real, and they’re brought to life with some absolutely solid artwork.

Taking over from Lissa Treiman, Max Sarin has managed to perfectly match the writing talents of Allison. His style is unique, providing exaggerated expressions and dynamic posing throughout the book. Panels are carefully constructed, and it appears that Sarin improves with every issue.

Allison allows a great deal of development for Giant Days, and hopefully the series lasts for many years to come. The artistic goth Esther, the quiet Daisy and the abrasive Susan all go through the motions in the comic, and it would be absolutely criminal to leave their life story after graduation.

It’s a real treat to see a UK based comic thrive, as Giant Days appears to be amassing more readers with every new issue. If you haven’t treated yourself to 2016’s best comic of the year, then do so already. You deserve it.

DLCman: Arkham Knight


Six years ago developers Rocksteady Studios redefined the superhero videogame genre, with their action-adventure Batman: Arkham Asylum. Borrowing a majority of the voice actors from the critically-acclaimed cartoon series of the 90s, and key writers such as Paul Dini, Rocksteady Studios provided fans with a Batman game to be proud of.

Arkham Asylum utilised Batman’s detective abilities to an impressive scale, and the game provided an incredibly fluid combat system. The game showcased a variety of favourites from Batman’s rogues gallery, and Rocksteady incorporated some of the best ideas from several different incarnations of the Bat, such as the cartoons, Tim Burton’s Batman, the comics and Nolan’s first film.

The critical success of the first game demanded a sequel, which was set to be bigger and better than the last and just two years later, fans were graced with a sequel that accomplished that feat, Arkham City. Exploring the relationship between Batman and the Joker, the game expanded on its gadgets, its villains and playability.


Arkham City left some interesting Easter Eggs for fans after they finished the main storyline, with the heavy implication that the Scarecrow was involved in something diabolical. Fans desired to explore the streets of Gotham with the next instalment, and the idea that Rocksteady were ready to introduce Scarecrow as the main villain was titillating.

Four years later, and Rocksteady’s final outing with the Dark Knight arrived, in the form of Arkham Knight. This was the big one. Allowing Batman free roam of Gotham was an exciting idea, with the story focusing on a mysterious new villain aiding Scarecrow. All the pieces were set in place for an unforgettable Batman experience.

Upon the game’s release date, several pre-order packages provided different experiences for gamers. One package included a playable Harley Quinn add-on, with another, allowing for the use of the Red Hood. Thankfully, some select retailers were packaging both parts, but customers found this frustrating as different exclusives were everywhere. Rocksteady eventually announced that either packs would be available through purchase of the season pass though, for an additional price.

These two DLC add-ons were a telling sign of things to come, as these downloadable packages were nothing spectacular. Each segment lasted approximately 15-30 minutes (depending on player performance), and are utterly forgettable. Adding nothing to the story, both are big disappointments, and especially for fans of Harley Quinn. Despite Rocksteady providing her a unique move-set, it lasted for an appalling length of time. Of course, most pre-order content is mediocre, but let’s not forget these are pieces of the planned downloadable content.


The main story in Arkham Knight might be the strongest of the trilogy to date, but it certainly isn’t without its faults. Any Batman veterans will guess the identity of the Arkham Knight fairly easily, and after the initial reveal, Gotham doesn’t really feel dangerous anymore. Throughout the game the ante is raised, only for it to be subsequently lowered later on.

Arkham Knight’s side missions are also a mixed bag, with some incredible additions and some truly pointless ones. The third game in the series introduces a classic character long overdue into the game, whilst introducing players to a more recent villain from the comic books. There are glaring omissions though, and for fans of Asylum and City it almost seems criminal that characters such as Mr Freeze, Clayface, Bane, Killer Croc or Ra’s/Talia do not turn up in any form throughout the game. Personally, the severe lack of Freeze is most upsetting.

A lot of villains may have had their time and space throughout the trilogy, but lets not forget that this is supposedly Rocksteady’s send-off for the caped crusader. Whilst nearing the true ending for the game (100% completion), it feels that it’s missing something. Some loose ends are tied, but it almost feels like Rocksteady have forgotten about the simple things, like Clayface’s incident with the Lazarus Pits or even Killer Croc mauling Scarecrow. It’s apparent a lot of things have been left out, and perhaps the game will then be padded with horrible DLC.


Yes, downloadable content has been a thing for ages now, we’re all blissfully aware. But this time, it appears that it’s crippled the Arkham series, which should’ve have been clear with the absurd pre-order packages. The next pack is set to be for Batgirl, which gamers can only hope will have some saving grace. There are no doubts Azrael or any forgotten villains will be added in the future, just for some extra money.

Usually, it’s best to wait for the Game of the Year edition with some titles. Arkham City added in Harley Quinn’s Revenge and a whole bunch of other stuff, but City as a standalone game had a beginning, a middle and an end. Arkham Knight on the other hand, doesn’t have a proper ending. It goes out with a whimper, even when you’ve accomplished everything in Gotham.

It’s upsetting, because the Arkham series have been superb, but you can see where these planned DLC packs have hurt Arkham Knight. The ending is ambiguous and a huge disappointment for fans, and one villain uncharacteristically utilises a tank to defeat you, despite ranting endlessly about being an expert in hand-to-hand combat. It hardly feels like there’s any real reward to the gamer for following the Dark Knight’s adventures in Gotham for the past 6 years.

If players want to fully experience Arkham Knight, an excess of at least £70-80 has to be spent on a season pass and the game itself. The gaming industry has taken such a horrible turn in recent years, and it’s a damn shame that Rocksteady may have caught the bug too. Players shouldn’t have to fork out ridiculous amounts of cash to receive the complete experience, as it’s a blatant cash grab until the collected version comes out. Sure, you can wait a year for the collected edition, but ditch the internet or social media as a whole during that time to avoid any spoilers.


It isn’t all bad. Rocksteady have somehow managed to improve the combat even more so, and utilising the efforts of your sidekick during a massive brawl is tons of fun. The Batmobile is well refined, but then Gotham is infested with so many unmanned tanks, that players will get sick of the sight of another heap of metal attacking Batman. Players may not like sheer extent of Batmobile missions.

The halfway point in Arkham Knight is where it all really kicks off, and it truly felt like something special. There’s a real sense of dread, and it appears that all hope is lost. Of course, Batman overcomes the odds because he’s Batman, but it all occurs in such a lacklustre manner. Also, there’s almost no thought put into the Riddler’s challenges this time round. Only a select few are fun, but there are so many locations that had Riddle material written all over them, such as Crazy Quilt and Music Meister’s respective stores.

Arkham Knight is an experience, but it is full of missed potential. It is riddled with inconsistencies, glitches, pointless missions and disappointing endings. However, it will sell plenty and then be regarded as a best-seller due to different versions, and players getting suckered into the various DLC packs. This might be Rocksteady’s last game, but be sure WB Montreal will eventually pick up Batman at some point in the near future and milk the Arkham series for all it’s worth.

Oh, and let’s not mention the PC port.

Or the treatment of Barbara or Catwoman.

Framed Recommendations – 12/11/14

This week saw the release of two new Marvel comics, Superior Iron Man and Captain America. Unsurprisingly, both comics failed to impress. Superior Iron Man came straight out of the current Marvel event that keeps giving, and Tom Taylor’s script was vastly underwhelming. There’s really no reason for Tony Stark to be written as such a reprehensible character anymore. Axis’ core concept might be switching the alignment of good and evil, but it’s just not interesting or exciting.

Captain America was also disappointing, despite Stuart Immonen being on the creative team. Rick Remender has proven he can be fantastic before, especially with Uncanny X-Force, but Captain America was fairly boring from start to finish. The final reveal wasn’t anything new, as it’s all been done before. Let’s get some new blood into Captain America’s rogues’ gallery already, Marvel.

However, it’s not all bad this week. Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl arrived on our shelves, and here’s hoping this Batgirl is here to stay. It’s such a refreshing read, and the artwork really compliments the script. How long can DC keep it up? Who knows, but here’s hoping it’s a while.

Admittedly, a guilty pleasure of the week was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Sure, we’ve seen it all before. Batman conveniently has the upper hand against Superman and the Justice League every time, but it was still a bit of fun. It’s probably helped by Capullo’s artwork as well, making it the nicest looking Batman story for some time now.

Finally, Mark Millar’s MPH had it’s fourth issue this week. Duncan Fegredo’s artwork is always on form, and even though it’s a strong statement to make, his Hellboy artwork was better than Mignola’s. MPH has had a decent build up so far, and it’s strange to think it could be a film worth looking forward to. Ignoring Millar’s Kick-Ass sequels and other nonsense, titles such as MPH and Starlight make you realise he’s got a great deal of talent.

BATGIRL #36 Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr DC
Stewart + Fletcher / Tarr
BATMAN #36 Snyder / Capullo DC
Snyder / Capullo
Duggan / Lolli
MPH #04 Millar / Fegredo IMAGE
MPH #04
Millar / Fegredo

Tonight’s forecast, a FREEZE is coming!

As many of you may not realise, Mr Freeze is one of my favourite villains from Batman’s rogue gallery.  Sure, I love the Joker as much as the next guy but to me, Fries is one of the most interesting and entertaining characters throughout DC’s many mediums.

Rocksteady presented fans with a perfect portrayal of the cold killer with their hit videogame, Arkham City, and Freeze hasn’t been presented so damn well in animation since Batman Beyond.  So obviously, Scott Snyder’s Batman Annual should’ve been a sure-fire hit, right?

Well, not exactly.  You see, when the new 52 hit, a few characters returned with some truly bizarre costume designs.  Of course, there’s the infamous Harley Quinn costume, but there’s also the hardened, bare-armed bizarre look of Mr Fries.

The bulky sci-fi inspired suit is thrown away for glorified overalls, overalls which are also matched with an awful patch of hair.

Why break something that never required fixing?  The problem is though, is that his design wasn’t the only thing which was revised, but his unique origin was too.

For those who aren’t aware, Victor Fries fell in love with a woman called Nora.  He met this woman in college and they married, happily in love together up until she contracted a deadly disease.  To help his love, Fries sticks her into a cryogenic chamber, freezing her in time until he can save her from the terminal disease.

Fries work on salvaging his one love is sabotaged by his boss and his goons, therefore leading up to the chemical incident which creates Mr ‘Freeze’.  It’s a saddening story, which is told well in many different vehicles, but the Annual revises this completely.

Instead of keeping to the classic origin story, the Annual throws in something that just doesn’t fit.  Freeze’s humanity is replaced with clear insanity.  There’s no reasoning for his behaviour, other than the fact it is fuelled by a clear mental illness.  This is revealed to Fries by none other than the Bat.

Back in the day, young Fries had an obsession with ice and a woman that he never ever married.  His one true love was just some poor woman, born in the 40s, who studied at a college and married somebody else.  Yes, Nora is nothing but a woman he stole.  Mr Freeze’s entire sympathetic origin is thrown out of the window, for an edgy new take.

I’m sorry DC, but what?  That’s not how you do it.  Batman already has crazy villains such as Zsasz and Harley, villains simply stuck with a fractured mental state, which is of no true cause.

Freeze had one of the best origins, his humanity, and his sympathetic cause.  That’s the reason why some sympathetic villains are the most entertaining, they have layers.  They actually have a reason to be out there, fighting against a world which turned against them.  Who wants a generic crazed psycho again?

As disappointing as the revision is, Scott Snyder is not a bad writer.  His current work on the on-going series is unique, taking the Court of Owls event to new levels for Bat-comics in a long time.  His previous work, such as Gates of Gotham is also enjoyable.  However, this Annual is just one big misstep, another one in Batman’s newly revised enemies.

If there is a true origin to Freeze, it originates from the critically acclaimed animated series.  Check it out below at the end of this post.

In other news, Harley’s Revenge is terribly short and was without the ending I eagerly expected.  For shame Rocksteady, but at least the gameplay is sweet and I still get to see my favourite female character on the screen again.




Justice League #01 – Review

The new 52 has been heralded as being an epic selection of new exciting stories, restarting the DC universe to appeal to new readers as well as old.  Solicitations have encouraged many to seek out these new titles, promising great art and writing.  Flashpoint ended with nothing but a mere whimper, as it acted as the vehicle to get towards the new DCU.  It had some neat ideas such as Batman; Knight of Vengeance, but ultimately it was a bit of an average read.

So, it was up to the first issue of Justice League to grab that new readership.  This was a superhero team filled with DC’s best, so surely the new comic would feature them all fighting the forces of evil? Because that’s how team books work, right? Right?

Well, not exactly.  Johns opens up with Batman and Green Lantern and some shaky dialogue, as the banter between them comes off as forced and uncharacteristic. That’s no surprise there, this is one of John’s many ‘talents’ – forgetting different characters have different personalities.

There’s no summary to these events, we’re just provided with two different characters arguing for an overly long period of time.  One half of the comic focuses on this banter, which somehow seems criminal.  This is Justice League we’re reading here, not the adventures of Hal and Bruce. There shouldn’t be such a strong focus on their dispute.

This is the major problem for a first issue trying to attain new readership.  For a new audience, readers need expository dialogue.  They need a summary of events.  It’s not that hard to accomplish.  Just a few yellow boxes should do the trick.  It’s a basic requirement to get people introduced to the new team, but then that in itself is tricky when the comic only stars three superheroes.  Where is Wonder Woman?  Flash?  This is a comic about the Justice League.

Sure, Jim Lee’s pencils have improved since the good old nineties but then they are nothing spectacular.  They are standard fare for any experienced comic-book reader, but at least they can grab the attention of the new readers.  Perhaps a flashier artist could have been better, but this is DC for you.  They believe in Jim Lee.

Justice League is far from a bad issue, but then why isn’t it the spectacular opening it should have been?  It suffers horribly thanks to stale methods which have been used in comics for decades.  So, it seems like one superhero wants to willingly brawl with a potential ally? Haven’t seen that before!  The potential enemy is also someone that other variations of the team have fought countless times before.  Tired, worn out elements should be shaken up for a brand new DC universe.  They shouldn’t be the same old nonsense.

It’s a shame really, to see that the comic lacks the punch which it requires.  Sure, it’s been flying off the shelves – but that’s because it’s the first issue.  Johns should have known better.  Justice League #01 shouldn’t be an average, tiring read.  Let’s hope there are some better newcomers later this month.

Such as Suicide Squad.


Panels of the Week

Interesting week or two for comic books.  Fear Itself manages to impress with a neat ending to the Spider-man mini, whereas the fourth issue in the crossover event provides some great action in the form of the classic Avengers three.  The last scene provides readers with that clamouring desire to see Thor finally set loose.  It’s been too long since we’ve seen his true God-like powers, so hopefully Fraction won’t disappoint in the next issue.

Flashpoint is still a fairly stale event, however – Azzarello’s new take on the infamous Batman was insane.  Some great writing and art from the same team of the great 100 Bullets, it was nice to see such a variation here.  Sure, we may have some atypical ruthlessness going on throughout, but that’s okay – it just works perfectly here.  Finally, an issue in the dull event which has actually piqued my interest.

The next big event for the X-Men is being heralded as ‘Schism’, an event which unsurprisingly breaks up the friendship between Cyclops and Wolverine.  However, the set-up works in this introductory issue.  A great character borrowed from Grant Morrison’s run returns to wreak havoc but without actually causing a loss of lives.  It’s a unique turn, with hints of 90s nostalgia.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, when the art and writing is this good.  X-Men: Schism looks to be an interesting event, and it’s one to look out for.

Recently picked up Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Lost at Sea, one of his first pieces.  Along with that, Brian Wood’s DMZ which is incredible.  Check out the links, and consider purchasing these comics!

Thanks for your time, looking forward to next week’s releases.

Venom #04 – Remender/Moore

Avengers The Children’s Crusade #06 – Heinburg/Cheung

Moon Knight #03 – Bendis/Maleev

Fear Itself #04 – Fraction/Immonen

Captain America #619 – Brubaker/Guice

Flashpoint: Batman Knight of Vengeance – Azzarello/Risso

Fear Itself: Spider-man – Yost/McKone

Thunderbolts #160 – Parker/Shalvey

The Amazing Spider-man #665 – Slott/Stegman

X-Men: Schism #01 – Aaron/Pacheco

I, Zombie #14 – Roberson/Allred

Captain America #01 – Brubaker/McNiven