In 2016, more mainstream comics than ever before hit the stands, a huge variety coming from both new talents and old hands coming back with new ideas. That made it easy to pick 15 worthwhile titles spanning traditional superheroes to very untraditional takes on classic stories.
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death
It took half a century, but DC Comics finally gave Pamela Isley her own comic this year. From the creative team of Amy Chu and Clay Mann, Cycle of Life and Death — along with Poison Ivy’s appearances as Harley’s girlfriend in the Harley Quinn ongoing — reestablished Pamela as less of a femme fatale and more of a lonely demigod. And like so many “one of a kind” creatures before her, Ivy takes creation into her own hands to start a species of her own. The book treats Ivy as morally ambiguous but not evil. Her disdain of humans is rooted in her love of plants, and while not above a judicious murder or two, Chu always makes sure the reader at least understands Pamela’s motivations. Also, if DC doesn’t do something with the daughters of Poison Ivy, it’ll be a real shame. — Donna Dickens
Ed Brisson and Adam Gorham’s small, intimate noir is unconcerned with big, grandiose gestures or mooks and molls. What it is focused on is how once you’re in the system, even the tiniest mistake in your life can spiral out of control. Great noir is, at root, a tragedy, and The Violent will leave you wondering how we can do better by those who’ve struggled. — Dan Seitz
Betty and Veronica
Betty and Veronica asks a lot from Adam Hughes, who serves as both the book’s artist and its writer. I’ll admit to being a little hesitant about this title, given Hughes background in cheesecake. But I am happy to say such concerns were misplaced. Like Archie and Jughead before it, the Betty and Veronica reboot captures the essence of the Riverdale’s most famous frenemies while updating them for the 21st century. Female friendships in high school are fraught with (in hindsight) ridiculous drama. Hughes nicely balances Betty and Veronica’s disagreements so it never feels like they can’t be besties at the end of the day. — DD