2016 has been an unforgettable year for comics. Whether it’s the passing of an industry legend, one of many facepalm moments or an amazing story arc, there has been a lot to get through and if you’ve stuck around for the ride with me, congratulations! The last few weeks I told you about some of my favorite writers, art teams and books and today I’m going to tell you about a few of my favorite publishers.
Before I get to my favorites I just wanted to mention some moments from publishers that also deserve a nod even though they didn’t make my tops! I was really excited to see Archie Comics reboot the main Archie book with the team of Mark Waid and Fiona Staples; that was great. The young Aftershock Comics made its way onto my radar this year with titles from top tier writers and artists. IDW had the 80’s/90’s kid in me rejoicing with titles from some great properties from my childhood. And even though I have made it clear I have been pretty disappointed in the direction of Marvel this year, they still deserve a nod because although most of it didn’t hit with me, they did release a lot of great titles worth checking out. Now on to the tops!
I started reading comics as a kid and it’s something that that I still hold near and dear so it’s great to see a publisher like BOOM! release books for everyone. BOOM! has something for readers of all ages with titles such as Adventure Time, Over the Garden Wall, Lumberjanes, Sons of Anarchy, WWE and Death be Damned. That’s just the tip of the iceberg; BOOM! has a wide range of books worth checking out so next time you see a book with the BOOM! logo, don’t be afraid to give it a shot.
Death Be Damned
Dark Horse is one of those publishers with great books year after year and 2016 continues that tradition. Mike Mignola is likely a name you have heard of and he has given us so many good books within the Hellboy universe by way of Dark Horse. Dark Horse is also responsible for books set in the Aliens Vs Predator universe, Jeff Lemire's latest book Black Hammer as well as Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook. Dark Horse also releases Manga stateside such as Blade of the Immortal and Neon Genesis Evangelion so if you browse through their catalog, chances are Dark Horse has something for you.
In 2012 DC relaunched its line with the new 52. Since then, their Heroes and Villains went through some pretty big changes. Many of them became unrecognizable when compared to those we all came to love. This year we saw DC end their new 52 books and relaunch all their titles under the DC Rebirth Banner. Rebirth took their roster of heroes and villains back to their roots instead of making more drastic changes and the results have been undeniably strong. With all new creative teams on their books, DC added another imprint, Young Animal alongside their already solid Vertigo. With these changes DC skyrocketed back up towards the top and they show no signs of slowing down. DC really does have something for any fan of comics; don’t let the large roster of heroes discourage you from picking up any of their books.
It’s easy to see why Image is near the top of the list. With titles such as Black Science, The Walking Dead, Spawn, Outcast, Kill or be Killed and Low, Image is a dominant force in the comic industry. On top of those mentioned, Image has a staggering amount of more amazing titles and new books are constantly being added to the already huge catalog. What sets Image apart from the rest is that all of their titles are creator owned allowing writers and artists the freedom to bring us their vision and keep ownership of said vision. My first experience with Image was in 1992 with Spawn #1 and 24 years later Image books continue to dominate my pull list.
At the top of my list is Valiant Comics. Valiant has been around since 1989 and has changed ownership on more than one occasion. In 2004, then owner, Acclaim Entertainment, declared bankruptcy and Valiant seemingly met their end of publication. It wasn’t until 2012 that Valiant re-emerged and they did so with much success. Valiant contains a shared universe much like Marvel and DC but with a smaller roster. What sets Valiant apart however is that they actually end each book. After each run, the book is put back on the shelf to make way for another title to expand the universe. This is a clever strategy as it allows the landscape of the Valiant universe to change before bringing back their titles for another run. Not only does Valiant have a roster of really cool characters, they also have a roster of amazing creators. A roster of cool characters is just that without great writers and art teams and Valiant is not suffering from a shortage of amazing creators. Currently Matt Kindt and Jeff Lemire are shaping what is to come from this publisher. I haven’t been so immersed in a shared universe in a very long time. In just 4 years the current Valiant books have managed to break records and their success only continues to grow. I highly suggest jumping in to this shared Universe and watching it grow into a comic book powerhouse that rivals both DC and Marvel.
That wraps it up for this year! There have been so many great moments in comics especially from these publishers. I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us. Thank you to everyone who followed and read my article throughout the year, you’re the best. If you enjoyed what you have read go visit me on Instagram @not_pennys_boat_27 for more super nerdy comic book stuff to hold you over until 2017. Don’t forget to support your local comic shop and pick up something awesome to carry you over into the New Year!
-Creature of the ComiCombs