Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Volume 1: Berzerker, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Andrea Sorrentino, was published in 2016 by Marvel.
Even if Old Man Logan: Berzerker were composed entirely of glimpses of Logan’s future, I’d still have enjoyed it; as it is, quite a bit of time is spent in Old Man Logan’s future/alternate world, and those parts of the book are extremely interesting. In contrast, not all of the time spent in the present is particularly fun, especially when much of the story is just Logan being confused and angry and fighting other heroes – even when they’re completely the wrong individuals (poor Cho).
I also liked Kate Bishop’s Hawkeye cameo in this book – I think it’s fitting that she can act as both an ally and a foil for Logan, since Clint was Logan’s only ally in his past world.
(Just as a PSA: the last issue included in this trade is a reprint, so if you’re thinking about buying it, know that it’s only four issues of new content.)
Descender, Vol. 4: Orbital Mechanics, written by Jeff Lemire and drawn by Dustin Nguyen, was published in 2017 by Image Comics.
As always, volume four of Descender features absolutely stunning artwork. This is truly one of the most beautiful comics running today.
Of course I adored drooling over the watercolors, but I’m also happy that the plot in Descender is again progressing. We already love these characters, now we need to move along with their stories! It finally feels like everything is ramping up to the end – characters are moving toward each other and secrets are being revealed.
I recommend Descender wholeheartedly, particularly for those comic fans who really just read Saga (no judgement – I was one for quite a while!).
In fact, I’d be willing recommend it for the artwork alone – but that gorgeous artwork happens to be backed up by spectacular characters, a fascinating world, and a plot that seems to know where it’s going.
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 5: Like I’m the Only Squirrel in the World, written by Ryan North and drawn by Erica Henderson, was published in 2017 by Marvel.
Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Squirrel Girl herself have once again hit a home run.
I am not usually a fan of “funny”, but The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Volume 5 had my husband and I cry-laughing together – that’s how awesome it is. And my husband doesn’t even read Squirrel Girl!
I know a lot of people don’t like the art style – and, actually, I’m not sure I really like it, either – but it works so freaking well for this cast. Squirrel Girl’s expressions are positively meme-y.
Like I’m the Only Squirrel in the World contains its own self-contained story arc, but it also features two special edition issues. The first is a story from the point of view of Mew, the cat and sidekick of Squirrel Girl’s best friend and roommate, Nancy. Mew’s issue is reminiscent of that perfect Hawkeye comic, but less stylized and much funnier. It works very well both as an homage and as a stand-alone story.
The second special issue is in celebration of the comic’s 25th anniversary and Doreen’s in-story 20th birthday – and it’s an origin story! I love this issue – it’s a perfect blend of actual Squirrel Girl history and in-world characterization of college-aged Doreen.
I’m a bit nervous that Squirrel Girl seems to have been rebooted for 2018, but I have faith in North and Henderson. They really seem to have an unbeatable cast and tone with The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
Lazarus, Vol. 5: Cull, written by Greg Rucka and drawn by Michael Lark, was published in 2017 by Image Comics.
Lazarus is, by design, hugely political; there’s a sprawling cast of characters, family and inter-family dynamics, ever-changing alliances, etc. Ordinarily I’d be all about a complicated web of drama, but when it comes to Lazarus I am way more interested in the personal stories. Volume 5 is largely about the individuals (most notably, Forever herself), and I think that makes this book better than some of the previous entries in the series.
I was never a huge fan of the artwork – it’s muddy and dark, which fits the story perfectly, but is not to my taste.
I can’t wait for Lazarus to be complete, not because I’m tired of reading it, but because I’m desperate to find out if Forever gets a happy ending.
Spider-Woman: Shifting Gears, Volume 3: Scare Tactics, written by Dennis Hopeless and drawn by Veronica Fish, was published in 2017 by Marvel.
Spider-woman’s book was canceled and I’m upset about it.
How many other superwomen have had their babies on the page. How many of them have raised that baby on the page as an active, present parent. How many superhero comics address the hardships of a working mother – and a single working mother at that.
And then you add in a dose of spectacular side characters. I can’t think of any other stories, comic or otherwise, where a working mother’s main babysitters are two male friends. That’s a premise that just begs to be told. And these are men, mind, who are skilled and enthusiastic caretakers. There’s very little bumbling or grumbling in this series.
I must address the ending of the Spider-Woman series as well. I am so glad this book ended not with a bang – a huge superhero fight – but instead with a serene, familial scene with the trio and their baby. This book was about family – unconventional family, yes, but that made it even better! – and ending the whole thing with a happy family scene was, for me, perfection.
Lumberjanes, Vol. 5: Band Together, by Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters, Carolyn Nowak, Grace Ellis, and Brooke A. Allen, was published in 2016 by BOOM! Box.
Lumberjanes, Vol 5: Band Together begins with a quick, 1-issue flashback, revealing how the main characters arrived at the camp. It’s very cute, and explains some lingering questions. In the rest of the book, April learns some serious and hard lessons about meddling and selfishness when she tries to help out some local merfolk, but ends up messing up her “help” with the merpeople and her relationships with her friends.
By far, my favorite part of this book was the creation of the whole new cast of characters. The merfolk are all distinct, original, and fun to look at. I believe that’s one of the great strengths of this title – wonderful character design, both visually and in terms of personality and quirks.
I also think that the Lumberjanes work better when the weirdness isn’t really addressed in a meta sense; for me, the paranormal at camp doesn’t need an explanation to be fun, and the stories and ridiculousness make better stories when the campers just go with it. That worked perfectly in this book. Aside from some third wall breaking (“how does electricity work at the bottom of the lake?”), everyone just goes with the flow and in the end is happy to enjoy the fruits of their labor, ridiculous as they are.
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon, written and illustrated by Jill Thompson, was published in 2016 by DC Comics.
Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is a gorgeous and poignant retelling of Diana of Themyscira’s origin story. Because she was so desperately wanted on an island where there are no other children, Diana is raised spoiled, and turns into a selfish woman as she becomes powerful and influential. Ultimately Diana’s egotism causes tragedy.
I loved reading about a superhero who is bad not because they’ve been corrupted or they’re being possessed or whatever – but instead, because they’re actually a bad person. It makes for some really great cognitive dissonance for the reader and for a super reading experience.
But although I enjoyed the story in this book (tragic and horrible as it is), the artwork in Wonder Woman: The True Amazon is the true standout. Remarkably, Thompson notes in the back of the book that there are no inks used at all – what looks like ink is actually just darker watercolor! It makes for a gorgeous painterly affect.
I also love the costume design in this book. Truly, every detail has been addressed, and that’s a huge feat for a creator who wrote, penciled, and colored the book. She certainly deserves the accolades she’s receiving.