2017 (So Far) Comics In Review – Part 1

The first of 2017 really flew by, and it’s been one of the best few months worth of releases I can remember in a long time.

In the first of a two-part look at the things I found notable about the comics released from January to June 2017, we’re going to explore five things from DC Comics that really stood out to me – since the majority of my reading comes from DC’s library. The second part will look at the output from some of the other publishers I read.

The Button Sets Up the Future

Of the five big event crossovers DC Comics has published, four have them have been published in 2017. While each event had a purpose within the context of its story, almost everything that DC has published since last summer has worked towards the Rebirth mysteries. But with THE BUTTON – the four-issue crossover between Batman and The Flash – DC explicitly showed its hand by using the story as a tease for something much larger.

Flash - Jay

As Batman and the Flash investigate the mystery of the blood-stained smiley button discovered in the Rebirth special last year, they have to combat the Reverse Flash and Batman gets lectured by his multiversal dad. It’s the very definition of a far-reaching story.

THE BUTTON was a waypoint in the Rebirth storm, establishing some of the differences in the current continuity while teasing the future. Not only do we know that DOOMSDAY CLOCK is coming later this year, but there’s also the Legion of Superheroes and the Justice Society on the horizon. The four-issue miniseries covered a lot of ground and – while the ending was nothing more than a tease for a later story – was one of the more important DC Comics stories of the year.

Hanna-Barbera Line Dwindles

One of the best parts of 2016 was the introduction of the comics featuring updated versions of the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon properties. Of the four books that debuted last year, three of them were legitimately great, lasting into 2017. Now, unfortunately, only one remains.

flintstones-the-bully

After Wacky Raceland ran its course after 6 issues last year, the three remaining HB books made up one of the most consistently ingenious imprints DC had to offer. Future Quest – which combined the many sci-fi and adventure properties into one – followed with a final issue in May. Just last month, The Flintstones told the final tale of the town of Bedrock. Losing The Flintstones, a satiric send up of modern life by writer Mark Russell, was a tough blow, as it rarely shipped a bad issue, and I think there were probably more stories to tell.

The last book standing now is Scooby Apocalypse. The story, set in a post-apocalyptic world where humans were turned into monsters via a nanite plague, has the Scooby gang traveling the US trying to figure out what happened. With maestros of mayhem Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis plotting the gang’s course, the book has been a fun ride so far, and thankfully continues into the second half of the year.

Batgirl: Hipster Hero

While she doesn’t have a book shipping twice monthly like some of DC’s other big players, Barbara Gordon is starring in two creative and interesting comics that are always at the top of my buy pile.

Batgirl Dumped

When Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart took over the character during the New 52, giving her a more utilitarian costume and moving her to Burnside (Gotham’s version of Williamsburg, Brooklyn), Batgirl had a renaissance. With Rebirth, writer Hope Larson has continued that in her own book, where Babs has gone on a walkabout of Asia and returned to Burnside to battle (and date) a computer programmer who just happened to be the son of Batman villain The Penguin.

In Batgirl’s second book, Batgirl and the Birds of Prey, Babs has brought the gang back together, teaming with Black Canary, Huntress and a new Oracle (her former identity) to battle bad guys. The book, written by Julie and Shawna Benson, has been a smart exploration of female friendship and adventure, matching (in my opinion) the best of Gail Simone’s work with the supergroup.

Whenever Batgirl appears in a book lately, it’s a quality read.

Animal Instincts

One of the bigger debuts of 2016 was the Young Animal imprint, run by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way. Unfortunately, the imprint has left me largely unimpressed as the stories have progressed.

At its start, I believed Young Animal could be a new Vertigo – quirky books that told intelligent stories that didn’t fit into the rest of what DC Comics published – and it still might. The current lineup of books, though, have nearly completely lost my interest. The imprint’s flagship – Doom Patrol – lost me right at the start. Two of the other books, Mother Panic and Shade the Changing Girl, lasted a little bit longer but eventually lost me in their weirdness.

Cave Superman

The only book that’s managed to keep my interest has been Cave Carson Has A Cybernetic Eye, as writer Jon Rivera and artist Michael Avon Oeming have crafted a fun story with well-developed characters I care about.

The imprint expanded earlier this year, with BUG! The Adventures of Forager, starring the New God character. We’ll see if the imprint has any traction and can continue to add to the roster.

Rise of the Super-Family

Supergirl Dinner

Historically, Batman has been the DC Comics character with the family of sidekicks, each with their own book or two, but with Rebirth, the publisher has been adding to the Superman family. And over the last few months, Superman has worked towards bringing the members together, with a Rebirth-level threat looming.

Now with a son of his own, Superman has appeared in other Super-books to give an endorsement toward his cousin Kara in Supergirl, his best friend Lana Lang in Superwoman and Keenan Kong, the Chinese New Super-Man. The unification of the Super-Team will likely be an important component of DOOMSDAY CLOCK later this fall.

In addition to the other heroes wearing an S, Clark and Lois are raising their son, Jon, and watching him forge a friendship with Damian Wayne in Super Sons. With so many great Superman-related books in Rebirth, its a great time to be a fan of the Last Son of Krypton.

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