The Comic Frontline crew throughout the month of December discuss the best comic books of the year! This week they cover best new Character, couple, friendship, breakout talent, and most improved series
Best New Character
4. Jane Foster as Valkyrie (Jane Foster: Valkyrie)
Jane was my gateway into Thor comics. Her relatability made me a fan, and I loved seeing that bleed into her new series. I’m glad Marvel has found a place for her on their line up and this is the perfect fit for her!
3. Jeff The Baby Landshark (West Coast Avengers)
Jeff’s cuteness can’t be denied, and I’m glad that Kelly Thompson is not done using his character. Now we just need Jeff to lead a Pets Avengers team.
2. Miguel (Dial H)
Miguel has been the perfect gateway into this cult DC Comics’ franchise. I love his fight to find his inner hero and the inspiration he takes from Superman.
Believe it or not, I wasn’t going to originally pick up Naomi, but I’m glad I did. She’s one of the most refreshing characters in mainstream comics, while still delivering something familiar.
5. Roundhouse (Teen Titans)
While Roundhouse was technically introduced in 2018, I feel like this year he has really come into his own, for better or worse. True, he betrayed his entire team, but before that, his energy, his wit, his perceived loyalty and charm just all made him stand out to me. I am hoping for redemption, because I think it would be a huge waste of a great character to write him off after everything we’ve learned of him over the past year.
4. Rumor (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)
I like that this character opened up a whole new world in the Marvel Universe we didn’t even know existed. Plus she’s an old cranky neighbor of Peter Parker’s who just happens to be this awesome retired superhero! That’s pretty cool if you ask me.
3. Jeff the Baby Landshark (West Coast Avengers)
Yes, I love the landshark! How can you not?!
2. Miguel & Summer (Dial H for Hero)
These two I’m lumping together because they are two sides of the same coin. They are complete opposites, but their lives have intertwined and I can’t imagine one without the other. They are both endearing in their own ways. Miguel’s desire to be something greater, and Summer’s desire to escape mediocrity align perfectly. And the journey they find themselves thrust into pulls them both out of obscurity.
Naomi, in her book, was a breath of fresh air. She is young, strong-willed, smart and driven, despite the hardships she has faced, or perhaps because of them. She won’t take no for an answer in her pursuit for the truth and for her purpose in life. I admire that in her and look forward to seeing her grow.
4. Andi As Scream
3. Rumor (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)
2. Miguel (Dial H For Hero)
3. Star (Captain Marvel)
2. Roundhouse (Teen Titans)
1. Jeff The Landshark (West Coast Avengers)
5. Quentin and Gwenpool (West Coast Avengers)
This was a surprise pairing from the year! They shouldn’t work, but they totally do. Like any good relationship your partner should make you a better person, and that’s exactly what made this pairing so great!
4. KJ and Mac (Paper Girls)
Who knows if KJ and Mac will be endgame, but that’s not what makes this pairing so special. It’s the exploration of their self-identity because of the relationship they had with each other. It’s a beautiful display of young love.
3. Alicia and The Thing (Fantastic Four)
They are the heart of what makes Slott’s Fantastic Four run one of the best!
2. Karolina and Nico (Runaways)
I absolutely adore this couple! They bring a little brightness to the darkness hidden within themselves.
1. MJ and Peter (The Amazing Spider-Man)
It’s been a long road, but a journey well worth the wait. MJ and Peter bring the best out of each other and the Spider-Man franchise.
3. Gert & Victor (Runaways)
When this first happened, I wasn’t a fan. I like Chase and Gert together, and it made me sad they couldn’t be anymore. But Victor is a great fit for Gert. They get each other and there’s a spark, a connection between them that makes sense. Gert is softer with Victor, not as mad or confused. Maybe it’s safer, maybe she is truly in love. And Victor found himself again through Gert, and that’s no small thing after everything he endured.
2. Quentin Quire and Gwenpool (West Coast Avengers)
It was short-lived, but oh so wonderful while it lasted. I mean, when Quentin Quire is the voice of reason in a relationship, you know you’re onto something special. Gwenpool is a character that I grew to love in West Coast Avengers, and a big part of that was her relationship with Quentin. Neither of these two are the easiest personalities to mesh with, but put them together and it just works. Add Jeff the baby landshark in the mix and you have sitcom gold right there. Sadly it didn’t last, but I’d love to see these two rekindle their bizarre form of love!
1. Peter Parker & Mary Jane (The Amazing Spider-Man)
I mean, come on, how long have we waited for these two to get back together? And even after all they’ve been through, they are still the best, most loving and endearing, and at times goofy couple around. They’re also both fiercely loyal, strong and their compassion knows no bounds. These two were literally made for each other, and how anyone could ever want to tear them apart is beyond me.
4. Alicia/Thing (Fantastic Four)
3. Peter/Mary Jane (The Amazing Spider-Man)
2. Batman/Catwoman (Batman)
1. Lois and Clark
3. Quentin and Gwenpool (West Coast Avengers)
2. Catwoman/Batman (Batman)
1. Peter Parker & Mary Jane (Amazing Spider-man)
5. Jane and Lisa (Jane Foster: Valkyrie)
The two characters have been able to connect because of their past with dating superheroes. The series is only a few issues in and I’m already loving their dynamic. Lisa helps ground the series and Jane Foster as she embraces being a Valkyrie.
4. Brenda and Mia (Smooth Criminals)
Mia and Brenda bring the best out of each other as we saw both grow as people in Smooth Criminals.
3. Summer and Miguel (Dial H For Hero)
Their dynamic makes this book as they find their inner heroes and explore the mythology of the H Dial.
2. Zoe, Nakia, and Kamala (Ms Marvel)
I absolutely love this trio, and I’m glad that G. Willow Wilson put a focus on their dynamic for her last chapters on Ms. Marvel.
1. The Paper Girls (Paper Girls)
The Paper Girls wasn’t about time travel – it was about childhood friendship. These four girls crafted a very raw story about what you lose and gain from this connection.
5. Kid Flash & Roundhouse (Teen Titans)
While their friendship may very well be over now, it was a bromance for the ages before it all fell apart. Kid Flash and Roundhouse were two kids from entirely different backgrounds that showed you don’t have to have everything in common to click, you just have to have some similar interests and mutual respect to make a friendship work. And these two were tight for a while.
4. Abel & Fox (Middlewest)
A boy and his magical talking fox that serves as somewhat of a guide. Fox is sarcastic and mean, but he has a soul connection to Abel, a troubled young boy with heavy burden thrust upon him. The two have no one but each other, and despite their constant bickering, they would die or kill for one another.
3. Jane Foster & Mr. Horse (Valkyrie: Jane Foster)
Okay, okay, it’s not a real friendship, but I love the dynamic and I also love the fact that Jane views Mr. Horse as an equal, not as a pet or just a steed. It’s a serious bond with a hint of humor and tons of absurdity, and for some reason it just works, even in a book that’s got very serious undertones!
2. Miguel & Summer (Dial H for Hero)
Miguel and Summer from Dial H for Hero have become two of my favorite new characters, and their awkward and oftentimes confusing friendship is just fun to watch. By all rights, these two shouldn’t be friends, but circumstance tosses them in together and they find commonality in their struggles and their adventures.
1. The Paper Girls
Four girls, four walks of life, four very different personalities, but in a short amount of time, they forged a bond that can’t be broken. They would go to the ends of all time to protect one another. And while they may rag on each other from time to time, no one else can or they might get a hockey stick upside their head!
3. Casey Jones/Raphael (TMNT)
2. Tim Drake/Superboy (Young Justice)
1. Damian/Jon Kent (Super Sons)
4. Miguel & Summer ( Dial H for Hero)
3. Peter Parker & Johnny Storm (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man)
2. Fox & Abel (Middlewest)
1. Gwenpool and Jeff the Landshark (West Coast Avengers)
Best Breakout Talent
4. Andres Genolet (Runaways)
It’s a difficult task to replace an artist on any book, but Andres Genolet did this in stride. He was able to match the style of Kris Anka, while putting his own flair on the title.
3. Seanan McGuire (Ghost Spider)
As said in my previous post, it’s a difficult task to replace creators on a title, especially the people who created the character and stayed on the book for such a long time. Seanan does a brilliant job at putting a spotlight on what makes Gwen so great, while putting her own flavor on the title.
2. CAFU (Jane Foster: Valkyrie)
CAFU has been active in the indie scene, but it’s great to see them on the mainstream stage. CAFU’s art is breathtaking and one of the major reasons why Jane Foster is such a good title.
1. Mattia de Iulis (Invisible Woman, Jessica Jones)
It’s hard to believe that Matt has just begun his journey in mainstream comic books. His facial expressions and action sequences are magnificent and can’t wait to see what he has up his sleeves for 2020.
5. Seanan McGuire (Ghost-Spider)
One of the most fun series coming out right now, Ghost-Spider is always at the top of my pile to read. And that is in large thanks to its writer, Seanan McGuire. She manages to breathe new life into this character and makes her a joy to read without fail each and every month.
4. Jamal Campbell (Naomi, Far Sector)
While Jamal has been working for the majors for a few years now, it wasn’t until Naomi that fans really started to take notice. The energy of those pages and the fine details of each character and their unique personalities shone in Naomi and I think Campbell’s name will be seen a lot more now, or at least noticed more than ever before.
3. CAFU (Valkyrie: Jane Foster)
CAFU is a name I do see a lot these days and with good reason. Just flip through the pages of Valkyrie: Jane Foster and it will be clear to see why. The near photo realistic art, the gorgeous landscapes, the minute details and wonderful expressiveness are just a few of the reasons why CAFU is so sought after right now.
2. Rodney Barnes (Quincredible)
Barnes is a very accomplished writer in film and television working on such hits as Everybody Hates Chris, My Wife and Kids and The Boondocks, to name just a few. But he only started working in comics a couple of years ago and has quickly made his mark. The standout for me was Lion Forge’s Quincredible, which was a fantastic coming of age and coming into power and responsibility story about a teenage boy who suddenly gains invincibility and has to figure out what to do with it. The journey of Quin, who didn’t just automatically know what to do or how to fight or where to focus his energies, was a breath of fresh air that put Lion Forge’s Catalyst Prime line on my radar and writer Rodney Barnes on my shortlist of favorite new talents to the world of comics!
1. Mattie de Iulis (Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter, Invisible Woman)
Talk about an artist breaking out! Mattia seemingly appeared out of thin air like Invisible Woman, a series that just wrapped that featured his smooth and hyper realistic style that makes your eyes water it’s so beautiful. I hope to see much more work from Mattia in the near future!
2. Mattie de Iulis (Jessica Jones: Purple Daughter, Invisible Woman)
1. Seanan Mcguire (Ghost Spider)
4. CAFU (Valkyrie)
3. Daniel Warren Johnson (Murder Falcon)
2. Mattia de lulis (Invisible Woman)
1. Seanan McGuire (Ghost Spider)
Most Improved Series
5. Teen Titans
I love this franchise, but in the past couple of years Teen Titans has sadly been dropped off my pull list more times than I can count – well that’s until Adam Glass and Bernard Chang’s run on the series. This run embraces all the important themes of the franchise, while making a new mark on the title.
4. Batman: Curse of the White Knight
When this series first launched I wasn’t sure what to think of the new direction with Anarky, but the latest issues have blown me away and reminds me of the groundbreaking storytelling from the first volume.
Well maybe this counts as most improved franchise, but Hickman has made X-Men a weekly talking point again and that’s a wonderful feeling for not just X-Men fans but all comic book readers.
2. The Unstoppable Wasp
Sadly, the second volume was another short lived series, but with his time Jeremy Whitely did a beautiful job at showcasing these girls’ friendship and Nadia’s bipolar disorder.
1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
With Ryan Parrott at the helm of both series the connective tissue between Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Go Go Power Rangers makes this a very fun ride for Power Rangers fans as BOOM! takes a deep dive into the franchise’s mythology with a character driven narrative.
4. Teen Titans
After a small lull, the traitor arc amped things up again for the Teen Titans and provided us with a mystery and a solution that we did not see coming. This has opened the door for some very interesting stories as the team is now broken and more unsure of themselves and their cause than ever.
3. Captain Marvel
This series took a sharp turn at the beginning that put me off, but it course-corrected after that first arc and its current trajectory has me once again intrigued and invested in Carol and her supporting cast.
2. Guardians of the Galaxy
Donny Cates turned this book around for me with his run, getting back to the core of the team and adding urgency and despair to keep us entertained and turning the page looking, hoping for answers and resolution each issue.
1. Young Justice
It took a while for this book to find its footing, regardless of the beloved characters returning that we had been missing for quite some time. But find it they did, and upcoming issues look to strengthen that statement as Naomi, Spoiler and Sideways get thrown into the mix!
4. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
3. Teen Titans
2. Young Justice
4. Captain Marvel
3. Guardians of the Galaxy
2. Teen Titans
Best New Character
Best Breakout Talent
Most Improved Series