This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on August 7, 2016.
2016 has been a rough year to be alive. We’ve all lost some of humanity’s favorite human beings like David Bowie, Prince, Muhammad Ali, and Harper Lee. On top of that news stories from across the globe have been… rough. In a year like this, we could all use an occasional respite in the forms of our favorite media. Luckily, 2016 has been a banner year for comics.
There are a lot of truly great series and original graphic novels available right now, and we at ComicBook.Com want to highlight some of the absolute best. In order to narrow our scope, we’re focusing on relatively new things that either debuted this year or started at the end of last year (too late to be considered for our Best Comics of 2015 list). If you’re looking for some recommendations to expand your comics reading or simply get away, we guarantee this list has some excellent starting points.
And don’t forget to share your own favorite new series of 2016 in the comments below!
The Vision (Marvel Comics)
Written by Tom King
Art by Gabriel Walta and Michael Walsh
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
There is probably no comic coming out today with the same level of critical hype behind it as The Vision. It is a story of incredible emotional depth and complexity. Its commentary on life in the suburbs, the struggles of raising a family, and what it means to be human are all potent and layered. These ideas are portrayed in a story that can be hilarious on one page and deeply disturbing in the next. Each moment is rendered beautifully with pitch-perfect pacing and some of the best “acting” in comics. Every member of the creative team is one of the best in their field today. This all may sound like hyperbole, but this is a comic that really lives up to the hype. If you’re in need of a comic to be reminded of what comics are capable of, look no further than The Vision.
Big Kids (Drawn & Quarterly)
Created by Michael DeForge
Michael DeForge may be the most reliably innovative cartoonist in indie comics. Each new story he has to tell provides new ideas and concepts in a style that could only belong to DeForge. His newest comic, Big Kids, is a rich exploration of growing up and maturity. Throughout the story he composes visual metaphors for how we expand our minds (or fail to) as we grow older, then pays them off in a tragic manner. Those ideas never interfere with the simple beauty of DeForge’s linework and color choices. Big Kids is the best sort of challenging, where the discovery of how the story functions reveals new rewards at each level.
Monstress (Image Comics)
Written by Marjorie Liu
Art by Sana Takeda
Lettering by Rus Wooton
It’s no secret that writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda make for an excellent pairing after their work on X-23, but their new series Monstress reveals just how great this pair is together. Over the course of six issues so far they have built a rich world filled with a complex history, beautiful settings, and captivating fashions and styles. At the heart of this story is a story of empowerment, generations, and the treatment of human bodies. Liu and Takeda are building a narrative that contains not only the wonderful story they are currently telling, but many more to come hopefully. Monstress is the greatest new concept in American comics since Saga, and may someday surpass even that titanic series.
Goodnight Punpun (VIZ Media)
Created by Inio Asano
Goodnight Punpun debuted in Japan almost 10 years ago, but it was only made available to English speaking audiences this spring. The series is one of the most ambitious stories created by modern manga master Inio Asano, blending his interests in slice-of-life storytelling with heightened, horrific realities. The main character, Onodera Punpun, is a simple, two-dimensional bird offset by a richly detailed and realistic world. This style makes for an easily embraced and understood journey for a non-typical “hero”. Asano captures the experience of growing up and losing one’s innocence while readers cannot help but be captivated by a journey that is equal parts enlightening and crushing.
Dept. H (Dark Horse Comics)
Created by Matt and Sharlene Kindt
The end of Mind MGMT last year has led to the creation of a wonderful new series from the Kindt household in the form of Dept. H. This locked room mystery takes a classic setup and places it under miles of water. That twist allows for a complex world of scientific innovation and unknowns to populate this premise. While the scope is dialed back from Mind MGMT, Dept. H delivers the same rich visuals fans have come to expect. Sharlene Kindt’s watercolors add layers of texture and add to the intensely claustrophobic tone of the series. Whether you just need a new fix for Kindt’s one-of-a-kind comics or love a great mystery, Dept. H can give you everything you want.
Created by Daniel Clowes
Daniel Clowes is renowned as a modern master in American comics and for good reason. His newest story deals with violence, love, the male psyche, and time travel. It’s a potent combination of ideas that have been brewing for almost half a decade. Perhaps the most intriguing part of Patience is not its content, but its delivery. Clowes’ perspective on the comics medium is unique and he plays with the manner in which stories are told in many interesting ways here. Readers will not find Patience difficult to read, but they may be astonished at what they are reading and how well it communicates so many ideas.
Sheriff of Babylon (Vertigo Comics)
Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads
Lettering by Travis Lanham
Everyone seems to be talking about Sheriff of Babylon and for good reason. It’s a thoughtful examination of America’s recent wars overseas that provides thoughtful attention to all sides involved. Mitch Gerads depiction of Baghdad is rich with detail and offers a gritty tone that will leave sand in your teeth. Tom King’s experience with the conflict adds levels of gravitas and authority to the story as well. It is difficult subject matter that is handled with exceeding skill by the entire creative team. At the core of this vision and its success is a set of characters, each providing readers with new perspectives and a better understanding of a horribly complex scenario.
COPRA Versus (Bergen Street Press)
Created by Michel Fiffe
COPRA was our #1 pick on ComicBook.Com’s Best Comics of 2015 list, and now it has a companion mini-series that scratches all the same itches as the ongoing. Michel Fiffe has designed COPRA Versus to tell the stories of characters (all of them villains) who didn’t get to see their entire stories told in the pages of COPRA. It packs all of the innovation, violence, and unique stylings readers have come to expect from Fiffe in every issue. Even if you aren’t familiar with the ongoing narrative, COPRA Versus presents an opportunity to see what all the fuss is about and fall in love with the greatest love letter in comics today.
Black Widow (Marvel Comics)
Written by Chris Samnee & Mark Waid
Art by Chris Samnee
Colors by Matthew Wilson
Lettering by Joe Caramagna
Samnee, Waid, and Wilson. ‘Nuff said, right? This is the team that defined an era of Daredevil, one of Marvel’s most accomplished characters. Now they’re taking on Black Widow and disappointing absolutely no one. In addition to providing the oft-supporting Avenger with a core mythos and themes, they’re also making one of the most stylish comics coming out today. Samnee’s grasp of visual language makes this a masterclass in storytelling with long sequences that thrill again and again without a single word. Each panel is precisely chosen and executed with devastating grace. There is no more visually compelling superhero comic in 2016 than Black Widow.
Inuyashiki (Kodansha Comics)
Created by Hiroya Oku
It’s not typical to see an elderly, berated father as the lead in a superhero comics, but that’s exactly the premise Inuyashiki presents and succeeds with. Hiroya Oku’s the story of a true everyman given some tremendous gifts. It’s a strange journey that quickly spins between being deeply gratifying to awfully horrific. Along the way it raises questions of human morality and the potential of each individual. In addition to those themes, Oku also lays out some incredibly details action sequences and most thrilling moments of violence in 2016. Whether you’re looking to ponder humanity or just want to see something explode, Inuyashiki delivers on every level.