I thought I’d struggle to find good comics to put on this list for December. After all, despite the fact that the holiday season is prime shopping time, most minds are on family, friends, and food rather than on our pull lists. I’m surprised and delighted to be wrong — December has one of the strongest showings for awesome comics of the entire year. I actually had to be pretty picky about what went on this list!
As is to be expected, there are quite a few holiday specials on my recommended comics for the year. There’s a few reasons for that — first of all, they’re a lot of fun to read. But also, generally speaking, specials can be a great way to test out a comic series that you haven’t tried yet, as they’re usually standalone issues. Image Comics makes a nice showing on this list with a series of specials and interesting new #1s — SYFY WIRE recently did an oral history of Image Comics, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. Now, on to the comics!
Sleepless #1 - Sarah Vaughn, Leila del Duca, Alissa Sallah, and Deron Bennett (Image Comics, December 6)
I absolutely adore Sarah Vaughn from her work on Alex + Ada (one of my favorite comic series, period) and Leila del Duca from the graphic novel Afar, so I don’t even need to know what this comic is about. I already recommend it wholeheartedly, just based on the comic team involved. But in case you don’t completely trust my judgment, it’s a fantasy romance set in a world in which a young woman is in danger from the new king, and must trust a sleepless knight to protect her.
Faith: Winter Wonderland Special #1 - Marguerite Sauvage, Francis Portela, and M.J. Kim (Valiant Comics, December 6)
It’s a Faith holiday special! If you aren’t familiar with Faith, she made headlines a couple of years ago for being the first plus-size female superhero to have her own book. But Faith is important for more than that — she’s a breath of fresh air. She loves being a superhero, and her enthusiasm is infectious. I always recommend her comic to people who enjoy the unbridled joy of Ms. Marvel. In this special, Faith descends into a winter wonderland where everything seems wonderful, but there’s darkness hiding behind the merriment.
Hawkeye #13 - Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero, and Julian Totino Tedesco (Marvel, December 6)
Kate Bishop is out in L.A. doing the PI thing; after all, New York is too small to hold two Hawkeyes. But when Clint Barton turns up in L.A. to ask for Kate’s help, trouble ensues. I love this series, and there’s a good reason it’s one of Marvel’s consistently best-selling titles. Thompson does great things with Kate, and because this issue kicks off a new arc for the comic, you can dive right in.
Witchblade #1 - Caitlin Kittredge and Roberta Ingranata (Image Comics, December 6)
Alex Underwood’s life ended the moment she was shot on a New York City rooftop and left for dead. Or at least, it would have if she hadn’t become the host to the Witchblade at the moment of her death. Now Alex is reborn with incredible powers, and she’s found herself in the middle of a supernatural fight she never wanted to be a part of. I love ass-kicking women and fantasy comics, so you can bet I’m picking this one up.
Paradiso #1 - Ram V. and Dev Pramanaik (Image Comics, December 6)
It’s the names of the creators that first attracted me to this comic. After all, there aren’t a lot of South Asians working in comics, and so whenever I find any comics penned or drawn by people who share my heritage and culture, I’ll immediately add them to my to-read list. Paradiso is a fantasy/sci-fi comic about a young man with a fractured past and a mysterious device. I don’t know much about it beyond that vague description, but I often enjoy going into genre comics without a lot of background, so I'm eager to see what this is all about.
Monstro Mechanica #1 - Paul Allor and Chris Evenhuis (Aftershock Comics, December 13)
I’ve been a fan of Paul Allor for awhile, so I immediately took note of this new comic from him, with Chris Evenhuis on art. And the description — a historical story featuring Leonardo da Vinci, his female apprentice, and a wooden robot — sealed my interest. I absolutely love reading historical comics, and I wish there were more of them. The fact that this one has a sci-fi twist seems like a lot of fun.
The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual #1 (Image Comics, December 13)
It’s WicDiv! This is one of the most popular comics out there, if you’re judging by comics that people are always talking about and constantly recommending (which I do). This holiday special features a series of stories about the gods having fun with one another — and from what I can tell, it’s set before the current series. It calls on a bunch of guest writers and artists, and it’s for sure a must-buy for any fan of the series, especially because it may not be collected in a future trade.
Assassinistas #1 - Tini Howard and Gilbert Hernandez (IDW Publishing, December 20)
Dominic Prince just wants to spend this semester of college going to class, playing video games, and hanging out with his boyfriend, like any other college-age guy. But his mom has other plans — Dominic’s mother, Octavia, spent his tuition money getting back into the bounty-hunting business. Now Dominic must help his mom with her career. I love the idea of a reluctant college-age kid helping his badass mom pick up criminals, plus Gilbert Hernandez is part of the creative team behind Love and Rockets. I’m here for it.
Backaways #1 - Justin Jordan and Eleanora Carlini (Aftershock Comics, December 20)
What would happen if magic lived in the forgotten spaces of our lives? That’s the premise of Backaways, which features a fantasy world that only exists in our attics, our musty basements, the abandoned houses in our neighborhood. This comic features Anna Merrick, who lost someone important to her to the Backaways, and she must find a way to get them back. It’s billed as for fans of Narnia and Harry Potter, which is more than enough to intrigue me.
The Storms of Crait #1 (Star Wars: The Last Jedi) - Ben Acker, Mike Mayhew, and Marco Checchetto (Marvel, December 27)
It’s another Star Wars tie-in comic! This one focuses on the planet of Crait, which was seen in the teaser trailer and is probably going to be featured heavily in The Last Jedi. Crait has been important to the Rebellion and the Resistance long before the events of this movie (it was, after all, featured in the Claudia Gray novel Leia: Princess of Alderaan). This one-shot comic appears to be set in between the events of A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, as Leia and Luke search for a new home for the Rebels.