1:11pm PT by Graeme McMillan
6 Comic Books to Look for in 2016
Unusually, 2015 ended with no less than three extremely strong launches that, based on the evidence of their first couple of issues, are likely to be amongst next year's best books. But what else should discerning readers be keeping an eye out for in 2016?
In terms of superheroes, Marvel's All-New All-Different relaunch continues through spring. Additionally, its next round of crossovers begin in March with the Avengers: Standoff and X-Men: Apocalypse Wars storylines both launching. Main competitor DC is bringing its icons back to a more recognizable forms in preparation for March's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and planning an as-yet-unrevealed event for the spring that will include both of its Free Comic Book Day releases.
As enjoyable as those stories might be, however, the more interesting material continues to be found on the edges of the mainstream. Here are three of 2015's most exciting new titles, and three more from early 2016 that are sure to be worth paying attention to.
A mix of high fantasy, horror and politics, Monstress sees writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda breathe new life into ideas that could, in other hands, feel like cliche — the story of a former slave has a mysterious past and a potential destiny that could see her destroy the world she's trapped in is, after all, not an unfamiliar one by this point. But it's told with some intimacy, skill and subtlety — and surrounded by a fully-realized world created by Liu and Takeda — that it feels at once both new and deeply, correctly, mythological. (Ongoing, Image Comics)
Writer Rob Williams is on a roll right now: His Judge Dredd story "Enceladus" with artist Henry Flint was one of The Hollywood Reporter's best of the year (a collected edition is set for publication mid-2016); his DC superhero series Martian Manhunter is a smart reinvention of a character who's been around for more than half a century that touches on still-untapped potential; and Unfollow, his social-media thriller with Mike Dowling — in which 140 people are told they'll share in the fortune of a soon-to-die social-media millionaire, which prompts examinations into the lives (and deaths) of the "lucky winners" — is not only a compelling, intense read, it's also already being developed as a TV series after just two issues. (Ongoing, DC Entertainment/Vertigo)
Fans coming to The Vision after the character's movie debut in this summer's Avengers: Age of Ultron might be surprised by what they find in Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's off-kilter series. Instead of the superheroic adventures of a powerful robot, The Vision tells the story of what happens when that robot builds himself a nuclear family and tries to settle into suburbia. Things, of course, go wrong, but this isn't a sitcom(ic); instead, think American Beauty as written by Rod Serling. Disturbing, touching and unlike anything else Marvel has produced in years — maybe ever. (Ongoing, Marvel Entertainment)
Arguably the most eagerly anticipated superhero comic of 2016 is Black Panther, less for the character — the ruler of a fictional African nation who just happens to be smarter, faster and more physically agile than almost anyone else around — than for the writer, with journalist and MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant recipient Ta-Nehisi Coates making his comic book debut on the series, with art by underrated great Brian Stelfreeze. Reportedly, the plot will center around a terrorist uprising in the Panther's country of Wakanda, but few details are known as yet. (April, Marvel Entertainment)
A fan-favorite for some time already, Faith — whose superhero name, technically, is Zephyr, but using her real name says something about her friendly, irrepressible nature — was a mainstay of Valiant's flagship superhero team Harbinger throughout its run before this new solo series by Orphan Black comic writer Jody Houser, Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage. As a fangirl-turned-hero, Faith has become a fun, occasionally meta-textual and charming lead character. After a year that saw Squirrel Girl and Batgirl find success with solo outings, could 2016 be Faith's year? (January, Valiant Entertainment)
Announced at this summer's Image Expo in San Francisco, information about Ron Wimberly's horror story of gentrification and literal vampires remains vague at best — no release date has been given as yet — but considering what the creator did with his updated Shakespeare-as-hip-hop release The Prince of Cats, there's little doubt that Sunset Park's story, which takes influences from gothic literature, Andy Warhol and Jean Michel Basquiat, will be an eye-opener. (Unscheduled, Image Comics)