GOC Comics: Top DC Comics of 2017

*TW: mentions of abuse and suicide

We’ve made it, folks. There are only a few more hours, one more sunset, and a bunch of fireworks separating us from the new year (unless you’re in the Eastern Hemisphere of the world, you very lucky readers already basking in the glory of 2018). But before you run off to finish your resolutions and mentally prepare yourself for work this week, why don’t you sit back, relax, and celebrate 2017’s best comic books one last time with Geeks of Color?

Indie publishers continued to produce great comics and Marvel, for all its PR nightmares, had a solid year of new releases as well. Yet after compiling this list, it’s pretty clear to us that DC won this year in comics hands down. After the dismally received reboot that was the New 52, DC has successfully course corrected its content and has produced hit after hit under the banner of DC Rebirth. It was super difficult for us to choose only a few of our favorites, and there are so many comics not on this list that we loved this year (a special shout out to Doomsday ClockSuper Sons, Ragman, Mother Panic, and Aquaman).

However, the following titles truly were a class of their own, and are indicative of the greatness that DC fans have long desired from their favorite publisher. Without further ado, check out the greatest DC Comics of 2017!

SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL

Written by Cecil Castellucci
Art by Marley Zarcone, Ande Parks, et. al.

What It’s About:
There’s no such thing as a little bit of madness…

Far away on the planet Meta, Loma’s going nowhere fast. She’s dropped out of school, dumped her boyfriend, and is bored out of her mind. She longs to feel things. That’s where her idol, the lunatic poet Rac Shade, and his infamous madness coat come it. Loma steals the garment and makes a break across galaxies to take up residence in a new body: Earth girl Megan Boyer. Surely everything will be better on this passionate primitive planet with a dash of madness on her side and this human girl’s easy life. Only now that she’s here, Loma discovers being a teenaged Earth girl comes with its own challenges, and Earth may not be everything she thought it’d be.

Why You Should Read It:
Have you ever read something so out-of-this-world that you seriously wondered if you were on drugs? If you have, and you actually weren’t high at the time (no shade), then you probably just read an issue of Shade The Changing Girl. It’s one of the first comic series published under Young Animal, DC’s new imprint for mature readers. Shade tackles themes such as love, death, and mental illness through an unconventionality that emphasizes the inherent strangeness of being human. This series additionally bends the nature of our reality through its gorgeous psychedelic artwork, and it even pushes against the boundaries of DC’s well-known superhero universe. The next installment comes out early next year, so now is the perfect time to embrace the madness and check this series out.

NEW SUPER-MAN

Written by Gene Luen Yang
Art by Viktor Bogdanovic, Richard Friend, and Hi-Fi

What It’s About:
An impulsive act of heroism thrusts an arrogant young man into the limelight of Shanghai as China begins to form its own Justice League of powerful heroes. As the government creates their own Superman, will they live to regret the person they’ve chosen? Rising from the ashes of SUPERMAN: THE FINAL DAYS OF SUPERMAN and the death of the Man of Steel, will this New Super-Man step up to the challenge, or be crushed under the weight of his hubris and inexperience?

Why You Should Read It:
If you’ve felt a bit of Justice League fatigue after this year’s movie, New Super-Man is the perfect remedy to raise your spirits and fall back in love with the idealism behind superheroes. Thankfully, this series finally gives us some diversity that the traditional Justice League roster often lacks as well. New Super-Man explores the idea of heroism against a background shaped entirely by Chinese history, politics, culture, and mythology. The new superheroes of this series are easy to love, and their issues – while just as fantastic as any superhero story deserves – are rooted in important socioeconomic themes and political movements. The result is a certain profundity in this series that even popular comic books fail to achieve, and thus a very strong recommendation from us if you’re looking for a new kind of hero.

MISTER MIRACLE

Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads

What It’s About*:
Scott Free is the greatest escape artist that ever lived. So great that he escaped Granny Goodness’ gruesome orphanage and the dangers of Apokolips to travel across galaxies and set up a new life on Earth with his wife, the former female fury known as Big Barda. Using the stage alter ego of Mister Miracle, he has made a career for himself showing off his acrobatic escape techniques. He even caught the attention of the Justice League, which counted him among its ranks.

You might say Scott Free has everything… so why isn’t it enough? Mister Miracle has mastered every illusion, achieved every stunt, pulled off every trick – except one. He has never escaped death. Is it even possible? Our hero is going to have to kill himself if he wants to find out.

Why You Should Read It:
Mister Miracle has dominated best comics lists all December. We have no snarky rebuttals to this observation, dear readers, because we are here to humbly confirm that the hype is very much real. Like our previous recommendation, this series is one of those rare comics that blend its fantastic elements with the harsher realities of being human and living under certain conditions – in this case, our valiant hero is dealing with a failed suicide attempt following a lifetime of emotional and physical abuse in an alien warrior culture, which is now engaged in an intergalactic war. It is challenging enough to discuss mental health and self-love in our everyday lives, so we appreciate how this series strives to humanize these struggles through a superhero such as Mister Miracle. Despite his inspirational name, his power to escape any trap or confinement, and his origin as the son of God, he is as burdened as the rest of us with the life he leads. Watching him slowly, surely, overcome his struggles has to be one of the best fictional miracles of 2017.

DOOM PATROL

Written by Gerard Way
Art by Nick Derington

What It’s About:
The atoms are buzzing. The daydreams crowd sentient streets, and the God of the Super Heroes is bleeding on the floor.

Our entry point to this world is Casey Brinke, a young EMT on the graveyard shift to abstract enlightenment, with a past so odd that she’s not entirely sure what is real and what is not. Along with her partner, Sam Reynolds, the pair blaze a path through the city and its denizens, finding the only quiet that exists at 3am is the chaos of the brain. When the pair answer a hit-and-run call, they find themselves face to face with a familiar figure: Cliff Steele, AKA Robotman. And from there, the rest is sheer, psycho-maniacal mayhem…

Why You Should Read It:
Remember that Young Animal imprint I just mentioned? Well, Doom Patrol is part of that lineup, and this series is significant to this list as it was written by Young Animal creator, and My Chemical Romance lead singer, Gerard Way. Yes, the childhood band of many a reader’s teenage emo phase is the talent behind DC’s most impressive risk to date, and his work has been a breath of fresh air in the world of DC comics. On one hand, Doom Patrol is a modern reboot of a 1960s series that draws clear inspiration from well-known creators like Grant Morrison, so that sense of history and thematic heaviness elevates this series from the start. But Way has a unique voice and vision behind his work that outshines all of his predecessor influencers, leading readers off the beaten path to one that is more surreal than expected. For all its weirdness, readers will embrace the series as a classic superhero tale of damaged individuals trying to come together and make a difference in the world.

DEATHSTROKE

Written by Christopher Priest
Art by Jason Paz and Carlo Pagulayan

What It’s About:
With a thousand enemies and a thousand kills, Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, is the world’s greatest assassin. His genetically enhanced strength, reflexes, healing and intellect – plus his ruthless dedication to his work – have made him one of the most feared people on the planet. But even Deathstroke has vulnerabilities – and someone in his inner circle is beginning to exploit them.

When an assignment in a war-torn African country leads him to an old teammate, Deathstroke discovers that his own daughter, Rose – a.k.a. the Ravager – has a price on her head. In order to save her life, he’ll have to break his professional code, betray his most trusted allies, cross his most powerful enemy and defeat his own unshakeable addiction to violence. Can Deathstroke run this gauntlet and survive with his family, his honor and his life intact?

Why You Should Read It:
Who doesn’t like a good supervillain story? We came to this new Deathstroke run expecting a straight, mindlessly violent foray into usual comics silliness, and left this series mesmerized by a substantial rumination on the battle between good and evil that make up a person’s soul. Slade Wilson is unapologetically presented to readers as a corrupt and dangerous man, and there is no redemption arc to be found that would forgive Slade for his actions. Instead, the series’ central conflict is an internal one about the choices we make in life which, despite all viable and selfish justification, are equally subject to the painful, cleansing nature of accountability. As a character, Deathstroke represents complex villainy at its very best, and as a series, it is the best inspiration any good DCEU interpretation should use.

BATMAN: CREATURE OF THE NIGHT

Written by Kurt Busiek
Art by John Paul Leon

What It’s About:
Young Bruce Wainwright lost his parents in a violent crime… and in the real world, no superheroes exist to save the day. But as grief and rage builds inside Bruce until he feels he can’t keep it inside anymore, something strange starts taking wing in the Gotham night! Perhaps Bruce’s grief isn’t inside him after all?

Why You Should Read It:
Batman has had an incredible 2017 in the world of comics. Every single release about the famous Caped Crusader has been absolute gold, which made choosing just one Batman title a near impossibility for Geeks of Color. And trust us, there are a lot of honorable mentions. Just this year we had the epic Dark Nights: Metal event by the Snyder/Capullo dream team; Tom King’s spectacular run on the titular series, which includes a strangely wonderful team-up with Elmer Fudd and the seminal BatCat love story for modern readers; the heartbreaking Button prelude to Doomsday Clock; and Sean Murphy’s thought-provoking take on vigilantism with Batman: White Knight.

But there’s something special about Creature of the Night. It analyzes Batman not as a living person within DC’s superhero universe, but as a popular fictional comic book in 1970s Boston. The series uses this realism as a springboard for a supernatural horror story that unfolds through Leon’s stunning artwork of heavy shadows and nostalgically sunkissed hues. Even as other writers add their own twists to the Batman mythos, none have reimagined Bruce Wayne’s origin story – or captured the thematic importance of Batman as the patron saint of lost and lonely souls – quite as beautifully as Busiek does.

As always, we welcome your DC comics recommendations in the comments below. We hope these lists remind you of all the great creative work this year has brought us, and you should definitely be hyped for what’s to come in 2018. Have a safe and happy New Year!

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