Word Balloons: Best periodical comics of 2017
While comics sales dipped in 2017, there were still quality serialized comics grabbing attention at comic stores and beyond throughout the year.
Tom King, coming off an amazing 2016, came back with a vengeance, writing "Batman," and the year's top book, "Mister Miracle." Superheroes, aliens and spies helped round out the year's best periodical comics.
The following are my selections for the 10 best comic book series of 2017. Check back next week for a list of the top 10 graphic novels of the year.
1. 'Mister Miracle' (DC Comics)
What if the world's greatest escape artist can't escape the malaise of his current existence? That's the dark conception behind "Mister Miracle," as writer Tom King teams again with artist Mitch Gerads ("Sheriff of Babylon").
Mister Miracle was created by Jack Kirby; the character is the son of Highfather of New Genesis, one of the New Gods. He was raised as part of a peace treaty on Darkseid's planet Apokolips, while Darkseid's son Orion was sent to New Genesis.
"Mister Miracle" examines the paranoia and conflict of modern times through the lens of this notable comics hero.
2. 'Black Hammer' (Dark Horse Comics)
"Black Hammer," by writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston, features the old champions of Spiral City, now living quiet lives in a farming village. In its second year, the mystery of how the characters got into their current predicament deepens. David Rubin also provided art this year.
3. 'Shade the Changing Girl' (DC Comics/Young Animal)
Mixing "Mean Girls" with one of Steve Ditko's most out-there concepts, "Shade, The Changing Girl" features Loma, who steals the madness coat of poet Rac Shade and inhabits the body of teenage earth girl Megan Boyer, a teenage bully who had been in a coma.
The series is written by Cecil Castellucci and drawn by Marley Zarcone, and is part of Gerard Way's "Young Animal" imprint at DC.
4. 'God Country' (Image Comics)
Writer Donny Cates gained lots of attention this year, writing this and "Redneck" for Image Comics, and being named the writer for "Thanos" and "Doctor Strange" from Marvel. In this series, drawn by Geoff Shaw with colors by Jason Wordie, a magical blade restores a Texas man suffering from Alzheimer's. But he's far from the only one who wants the blade.
5. 'Secret Weapons' (Valiant)
Former Normanite and Academy Award nominee Eric Heisserer ("Arrival") is the writer of "Secret Weapons." In the comic from Valiant Entertainment, a team of cadets with seemingly useless super powers become secret weapons when brought under the command of a new leader. Harvey Award-nominated visionary Raul Allen is the artist.
6. 'Deathstroke' (DC Comics)
Slade Wilson, noted assassin and bad guy, has a spiritual experience that leads him to try to change his ways. He takes on a new costume and assembles his own Teen Titans-type team, called Defiance.
Longtime comics writer Priest joins artists, including Diogenes Neves, Jason Paz and Carlo Pagulayan, on the series. Priest focuses on character and morality in a series that nevertheless showcases superhero action.
7. 'Mighty Thor' (Marvel Comics)
Relaunches aside, Jason Aaron's multiyear arc on the various "Thor" titles is one for the ages.
With artists including Russell Dauterman, Valerio Schiti and James Harren, among others, Aaron has continued the saga of Jane Foster, facing cancer as a human, who undoes her progress fighting the disease each time she becomes the Mighty Thor. However, with the alien Shi'ar empire attacking Asgard, and a war fomented among the mystic realms, Jane finds herself called into battle, often against impossible odds. Jane's bravery in the face of what appears to be inevitable oncoming death has made "Mighty Thor" a must-read.
8. 'X-O Manowar' (Valiant)
Writer Matt Kindt and artist Tomas Giorello take up the tale of Aric, a Visigoth who was thrown into the modern age and bonded with a sentient superpowerful armor. In this year's storyline, Aric has been pulled from Earth and drawn into a war on a faraway planet. Aric, a warrior who wishes nothing more but to be through with war, must utilize all his talents just to survive, while making compromises he'd hoped were behind him.
9. 'The Wild Storm' (DC Comics)
Warren Ellis shook up superhero comics in the 2000s working with the WildStorm imprint; while that imprint is no more, Ellis is reinventing the characters, along with artist Jon Davis-Hunt in the series "The Wild Storm." The fast-paced series re-imagines those characters while feeling fresh and modern, as factions of technological companies and black-ops agencies vie for supremacy of a near-future world.
10. 'Batman' (DC Comics)
Writer Tom King bookends our list with his work on "Batman," in which Batman faced his longtime foe Bane and dealt with the possibility of finding happiness. Over the course of the year, King would find Batman caught between his enemies Joker and Riddler, but working with a variety of artists, including Mikel Janin, King made each adventure fresh.