The Best Comics (that I read) in 2017

Everyone else is making lists, so I just had make one also. This list is in no specific order except for the one that I randomly imposed upon it.

1. Dark Nights: Metal (2017-) (The series + one-shots + tie-ins)

Very clever these folks at DC, getting a sixty-something year-old to start buying new comic books after a hiatus of 45 years, but they managed to do that merely by including my favorite DC comic character. Although Hawkgirl has only be seen in flashbacks, her alter-ego, Kendra Saunders played a significant role in the story. Now I want more, please.

2. Golden Age Hawkman Archives – vol 1 (2005)

This is another thing that I was not going to do… My plan that began at the first of the year was to read comics published only in the silver & bronze age of comic books, with my main focus meant to be on the 15-year period from 1970 to 1985 (which is what some refer to as the Bronze Age), but I just needed to know about the Hawks as they were in Golden Age. This book collected all Hawkman stories that appeared in the first 21-issues of Flash Comics (January 1940 to November 1941). My main purpose was in wanting to understand how and when Shiera Hall became Hawkgirl – which unfortunately did not occur until December 1941. For that reason alone, the hardcover book was a bit of a letdown. I do not know if there is a volume two, but if there is I will buy it.

3. Batgirl: A Celebration of 50 Years

Prior to picking up this collection, I had read the 75-year collections for Superman and Wonder Woman. I did not like them. Reading those collections actually made me happy that I had missed out on most of the latter two-thirds of the 75-year period that spanned from the early 1940s until recent times.

The Batgirl collection had an opposite effect on me. I felt as though I really missed out on something. Batgirl’s compelling story of how she was suddenly transformed into another character following a life-changing injury resonated with me after my having overcome cancer but still in pain three-years after a lifesaving surgery.

In 1988, Barbara “Batgirl” Gordon was shot by the Joker at point-blank range. The gunshot shattered the young woman’s spine and bound her to a wheelchair. For two and half decades, she was the Oracle – a super hacker and techno-guru. It was very recently that Barbara’s ability to walk was restored and she became Batgirl once again. I like what I read in this collection so much, that I plan to read Batgirl (2016-) Vol. 1: Beyond Burnside and Batgirl (2016-) Vol. 2: Son of Penguin at Hoopla and I have subscribed to the current series.

4. Showcase Presents “Supergirl” Vol. 1

This past year I discovered that one inexpensive way to read comic books from the silver age is to shop around on Amazon for the new or used listings for the Showcase Presents series of books. Brand new, the books normally sell for $17.99, but I have been finding them for as low as $6.99 for “Used-Good”. I bought Showcase Presents Supergirl vol. 1 for $7.47. I paid $14.95 for Vol. 2, but that was before I learned how to shop for bargains. I was not surprised to see that there were only two volumes for Supergirl whereas for Superman and for the Superman Family there were four volumes each. Simply put, Supergirl made fewer appearances that Superman and Superboy.

The collection contains nearly a hundred stories reprinted in black and white from Action Comics #252-282, Adventure Comics #278, Superboy #80, Superman #123, 139-140, 144, Superman’s Girl Friend, Lois Lane #14 and Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #40, 46, 51 in volume 1. Volume one covered the years 1958 to 1961. Volume 2, covered the years 1961 to 1965 and contained Action Comics #283-321.

If there is any consolation the silver-age, Batgirl fit snugly into one volume that covered her debut in 1967 to an appearance in Superman Family #171 in 1975.

I enjoyed reading the Supergirl stories once again and I was always partial to the Curt Swan Supergirl.

5. Crisis on Multiple Earths Vols. 1 thru 6

Every year, from 1963 to 1983, the worlds would collide in some strange sci-fi/magically complicated way. The members of the Earth-1 Justice League (JLA) would hook-up with Earth-2 Justice Society (JSA) and the two teams would have a wild-ass romp in and out of this and other worlds. The stories would span at least two issues. One story-arc that was published in 1982 covered five issues and bridged two titles. This was the next to last time a cross-over crisis would occur. It took some time to read all six volumes and it was also like traveling back in time to when I was 12-years old and reading comic books was a fun thing to do.

6. Convergence: Hawkman #1 and #2 (2015)

The plot for convergence goes like this… Brainiac has spent many eons collecting every world that once existed in bottles in much the same way as the bottle city of Kandor. Like for example, the pre-crisis, Silver Age world wherein lives Katar “Hawkman” Hol and his lovely wife, Shayera “Hawkgirl” Hol. Their world was collected and preserved in a bottle at a time that is prior to the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

This was a story of hope as Hawkman and Hawkgirl appear in the final scenes of the story, it is hinted that the Hawks not only survive the fight but that they become aware that there is “something” beyond the reality that they exist in now.

7. Justice League of America (1961) issues #145 & #146

This was a two-issue story arc that was published August & September 1977. In the story titled “The Carnival of Souls!”, Superman and Hawkman are killed by sorcery. Count Crystal abducts Hawkgirl; however, Hawkgirl turns Crystal’s plans to make her his consort against him and rescues her allies. In the next issue, Hawkgirl aides the JLA in overcoming an entity known as the Construct. Finally, thirteen years after Hawkman joined the team, Hawkgirl also becomes a member of the JLA.

8. Adventure Comics #300 (August 1962)

Adventure Comics #300, was originally published August 1962, and I purchased a digital copy in December 2016. It was the first comic book that I purchased from Comixology. It might have been the first comic book that I bought as a kid back in the 1960s. I do not recall what was the first superhero comic book that I read, but it was likely to have been one that depicted a multitude of superheroes such as the cover of Adventure Comics #300.

9. Hawkman by Geoff Johns Book One

Prior to its publication, there were three other series with the title Hawkman. Hawkman volume 4 was published between 2002 and 2006. There was a total of 60 issues – with the last 10 issues titled “Hawkgirl”. The first 14 issues are collected in the volume. Every issue is beautifully drawn, and every story is a classic Hawkman story in every sense of the word. All classic Hawkman villains make at least one appearance. The love story between Hawkman and Hawkgirl continues and It’s complicated. Also, friends such as the Atom and Green Arrow drop by. I am, of course, being facetious when calling Green Arrow a friend of Hawkman. I am looking forward to reading the next volumes as they come out.

10. Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985) #1 thru 12

I have recounted in previous posts the story of how I dissed the most monumental event in comic book history back in the mid-1980s when I was working in a bookstore. I was 30 years-old. Comic books were kid-stuff and they had outgrown their relevance. Needless to say, I passed on buying and reading the twelve issue series published between April 1985 and March 1986. This year I had one main goal in mind and that was to read Crisis on Multiple Earths Vols. 1 thru 6 (see #5 above) and once that task was completed next up was to finally read the complete “Crisis on Infinite Earths”.

I had mixed feelings about “the Crisis”. I thought it was slightly overrated and I believed it to be unnecessary. I had read somewhere that main reason for doing the series was make the DC universe simpler for new readers. Looking back over the history of the DC multiverse and at the current state of affairs post-Convergence, it looks like it was all for not.

Let’s face it, much of the appeal of the DC multiversity is that it is complicated and multifaceted. It is the stuff that Nerds thrive on.