2017 will be known for a terrific year in comics and in genre specifically, as there were many new entries that made an impression on us, whether they were new takes on superhero staples or fresh, original ideas from the creator-owned pool of titles.
Our criteria for Best New Genre Comics are as follows: It could be a new series, a new mini-series, or original graphic novel, and it had to have at least three issues hit the stands by early December. It also had to fall within the genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and superhero. We will also have a different list for Best Ongoing Comics, so keep a lookout for that. Now here's our 11 Best New Genre Comics of 2017, listed in no particular order, with some honorable mentions below.
Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man (Marvel Comics)
Written by Chip Zdarsky
Art by Adam Kubert and Michael Walsh
Colors by Jordie Bellaire
Putting a new spin on Peter Parker is no easy task. We've had Spider-Man stories pretty much non-stop for decades now, to the point Marvel went ahead and made a second Spider-Man a few years ago in Miles Morales to liven up the franchise. But, in Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert's Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, the OG web-slinger has never seemed so fresh. Zdarsky's trademark wit is a perfect fit for Peter Parker, as he picks up the story of a down on his luck Spider-Man testing the waters of a relationship with Mockingbird, all in the backdrop of Peter's company going bankrupt.
Spectacular Spider-Man sends Peter back to work at the Daily Bugle, and refocuses on the smaller stories and the relationships between Peter and the longtime players within the orbit of his life. Spectacular leaves the world-saving to the other Spidey 'books, and finds Peter simply trying to get his life back together — and that's a story well worth telling. -Trent Moore
Shattered Warrior (First Second)
Written by Sharon Shinn
Art by Molly Knox Ostertag
Challenging and insightful science fiction that reaches across genders and a variety of age groups is always in need. Shattered Warrior fits that desire as it's fast to grasp and hard to let go, communicating a relatable world full of layers and class and personal triumph. It centers around a young sorter named Colleen Cavenaugh, whose world was invaded by the Derichets, an empire that desires a valuable natural resource. She was once a part of a great aristocratic community, but is now a lonely orphan with little else to lose. It's a stacked deck that will feel familiar but there's more to this than just the basic premise as Colleen's existence is challenged when she is confronted with a chance to let her guard down and revolt to initiate change. There are wonderful instances on how different classes work and how difficult it is to wash the effects of those divisions, even long after they cease to exist. Shinn doesn't shy away from the dark dangers that women constantly face, the obstacles one must continually overcome and sorting out ones emotions in these harrowing experiences. That's why Ostertag's hopeful art serves as a lifeline to carry the reader through to the light at the other end of the tunnel. - Ernie Estrella
Written by Paul Allor
Art by Nelson Daniel
Clue starts off as a story is one you'd expect, Colonel Mustard, Miss Scarlett and company are invited to Mr. Boody's house when a murder occurs. The characters are enjoyable and some are satires of figures in the media including Iggy Azalea and Martin Shkreli but the star of the comic is an omnipresent flashback-hating butler named Upton who loves breaking the fourth wall. Upton narrates the series, commenting on the action as it unfolds but also finds the time to discuss storytelling techniques with the editor that, well, sometimes gets a little out of hand.
While the series doesn't get into the mystery as much as it could, it's easy to see that the creators are having a ball with dramatic irony and the freedom that IDW has given them with this series. It's an example of how a brilliant concept could take a board game and build it into one of the smartest and most enjoyable comic books of the year. - Matt Dorville
Mech Cadet Yu (Boom! Studios)
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Takeshi Miyazawa and Triona Farrell
Mech Cadet Yu stars Stanford Yu, the underdog kid janitor at a school for potential pilots of mysterious alien robot suits. That he isn’t a student doesn’t stop Stanford from bonding with a clumsy blue mech he names Buddy, which puts him on a collision course with enemies both within and without of the school. Thanks to the sharp writing of Planet Hulk writer Greg Pak, Stanford and Buddy have the charisma and determination of the best kind of Saturday morning cartoon hero, and won’t let anything stand in their way.
Takeshi Miyazawa has visually defined a whole generation of young Marvel heroes, between Amadeus Cho, Runaways and Ms. Marvel, but that all feels like a warm up to the work he’s doing creating a world of his own. Along with colorist Triona Farrell, Miyazawa has created a colorful, hopeful world, but one that still has stakes, gravitas, and spectacle. The beautiful fusion of manga and western comic influences sells the small moments, produces some sleek and unique character designs, and when he lets loose for the big action sequences, like in issue #4, your jaw will drop. This series is so good that it got upgraded from a miniseries to an ongoing, so don’t wait any longer to climb aboard.
Mech Cadet Yu is an absolute blast of an all-ages tale, with an infectious optimism, nail-biting action sequences, a cast of lovable characters, and—oh yeah—awesome giant robots and terrifyingly titanic monsters! What more do you want? - Matthew Funk
God Country (Image)
Written by Donny Cates
Art by Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie, John J. Hill
Colors by Dee Cunniffe
The breakout star of Image Comics in 2017 was God Country, a beautiful story about a Texas father struggling with dementia that quickly turns into a fantasy epic involving gods, swords, and the bond of family. When Emmett Quinlan finds a sword that grants him overwhelming power, it returns his memory and introduces questions of how memory and identity are intertwined. Of course, those that lost the sword soon want it back and the battles that ensue are some of the best in comics this year as demons and gods battle an old Texan man for a sword that is now connected to memories of his life and family. The beauty of this story is that it's smart without spending too much time brooding on the questions it creates. The story moves, spectacularly fast at times, and riveting in battles while also focusing on a very human quality of memory.It's a brilliant tale and one of the best mini-series that Image Comics has published. - Matt Dorville
Batman: White Knight (DC Comics)
Written by Sean Murphy
Art by Sean Murphy and Matt Hollingsworth
There can never be enough elseworlds stories in the DC Universe, especially when they’re done as well as White Knight. Sean Murphy is writing and drawing this world where the Joker has been cured of his insanity and turns Gotham City on Batman turns their home against the Dark Knight.
This is the first time that we’ve seen the Jack Napier version of Joker in the comics, last seen being portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the Tim Burton feature film verse. But appearances by Harley Quinn, Jason Todd, a dying Alfred and other familiar Batman rogues remind us of the bigger picture its trying to tell. While we love the flip on Batman’s pillars of support collapsing onto him because of his unchecked abuse of power and money, Murphy and Hollingsworth are doing work in White Knight, from an art standpoint, that shouldn’t be missed. - Ernie Estrella
Secret Weapons (Valiant)
Written by Eric Heisserer
Art by Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
Superpowered teens is not new frontier but when Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer could not escape the Valiant Universe (he's writing the screenplay for Harbinger) that he came up with a story about four psiot outcasts with fourth-rate powers we were all in. It was easy to connect to characters whose powers are ridiculously inappropriate for the situations they find themselves in, but it's either fight or die as someone is trying to turn off the light on psiots of equally uninspiring power. Raul Allen's expressive and Geof Darrow-like art is worth the admission and specifically his multiple-panel breakdowns are some of the more interesting visual storytelling we've seen all year. He controls the pace each moment unfolds but also the way we process the story. Whether you lived to seek out every corner of the Valiant universe, were new to it all, or were just drawn to Heisserer or Allen's work separately, you came away with one thought by the end. Why can't there be more? - Ernie Estrella
Wonder Woman / Conan (DC Comics / Dark Horse)
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Aaron Lopresti
The power couple of the year can be instantly found in the epic DC/Dark Horse crossover title, Wonder Woman/Conan, which pairs the sword-swinging Barbarian of Cimmeria with the truth-bearing Princess of Themyscira in a rousing tale of gladiators, shape-sifting avian vixens, deadly sharks, sorcerers, and slave masters in the savage world of Robert E. Howard's Hyborian Age. This is easily one of the most absorbing and entertaining new series on the racks and its creative pedigree of writer Gail Simone (Wonder Woman, Birds of Prey) and artist Aaron Lopresti (Justice League International, The New 52: Futures End) have executed each issue in perfection. The clash of these two iconic characters seems like it should have happened decades ago, but now that the union has occurred we are seriously hooked. Simone and Lopresti were the force behind the monumental Wonder Woman run from 2008-2010 and the depth of story, honesty of emotion, and barbaric energy here seep through every decorative page border and muscled matchup. Lopresti told SYFY Wire that he believed this to be some of his best work ever and we heartily agree. - Jeff Spry
Aliens: Dead Orbit (Dark Horse)
Written and drawn by James Stokoe
Enveloped in a paranoid state of sheer dread, James Stokoe's Aliens: Dead Orbit will make you forget all about the insane, torture-porn slaughterfest of Ridley Scott's Alien: Covenant and return you to that menacing sense of claustrophobic fear demonstrated in the original 1979 film and its 1986 James Cameron-directed sequel. Dark Horse published this bloody-good, four-issue miniseries back in April and it's still eliciting shivers down our horror-loving spines as the year ends. Stokoe does double duty as both writer and artist on the grisly outer space title, telling the tale of doomed crewmembers fighting for their lives aboard a fuel depot space station infested with nasty xenomorph creatures. The story will grab you by the jugular but the detailed, Euro-style "clean line" art will keep you turning the pages. As you creep down cramped corridors and up into darkened decks, you can almost hear the hostile hissing around every corner. It's refreshingly void of overburdened narrative and allows the raw, visceral artwork to insinuate itself into your life as you see the mayhem unfold. Taut, tense, and thoroughly terrifying! - Jeff Spry
Mister Miracle (DC Comics)
Written by Tom King
Art by Mitch Gerads
Jack Kirby's Fourth World and New Gods work for DC Comics is some of the most influential comics for some of the best storytellers from the modern day. Because as great as his work with Stan Lee was for Marvel, this was Kirby at his most creative. So it's fitting that in the year that would've been Kirby's 100th birthday, we get the best material starring his characters since he last worked on them, and quite possibly the best work that DC has published all year. That King and Gerads came up with an approach that could take the Fourth World and all of its grandeur and filter it through superhero escape artist Mister Miracle and his depressing existence took even this huge fan of The Sheriff of Babylon (King and Gerads' last project) by surprise.
Scott Free attempted suicide in the first issue of this year-long story and since then he's been trying to reach terms with his place in the world but is this all in his head or the machination of Darkseid? Does it even matter? The fourth issue is a work of art, as Scott finds himself in his apartment, on trial for murder of Highfather in front of his brother Orion who serves as the judge and jury while breaking him down psychologically and ethically with a line of questioning that the famed escape artist cannot break free of. Free's wife, Big Barda is a surprise co-lead breathing new life as their seemingly flawed and mundane married existence is so authentic and works to make these New Gods so human. These are just a few of the lengths this comic goes to surprise the reader, often without action and we are not even half way through and there hasn't been a low spot in the entire run. King and specifically Gerads use some of their multiple panel tricks from Babylon here, but perfected it to portray one of science-fiction's greatest sagas though life's quietest moments. - Ernie Estrella
Written by David Warren Johnson
Art by David Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer
Going into 2017, I didn’t know how much we’d need a book like Extremity, but boy I'm glad we got it. It’s the tale of a young woman who was supposedly destined to become an artist, only to have her drawing hand cut off by a member of an enemy tribe. Her father, the chieftain, vowed unyielding vengeance against the other tribe, spurring on a seemingly unstoppable cycle of violence and hatred. The story explores the dangers and virtues of compromise, the consequences of unwavering principles, and the tragedy of dehumanizing those who disagree with you. While the ideas the book wrestles with may seem very of-the-moment, it never comes across as political, but rather sincere in its realistic confrontation of its complex reality. However, heavy themes are far from all Extremity has to offer. Writer-artist Daniel Warren Johnson has set Extremity in a fantasy world of sky islands, flying ships, repentant robots and magnificent beasts reminiscent of the worlds of Hayao Miyazaki. But it is also informed by the genre-defiance and metaphor-steeped world-building of American comics like Saga. It’s a coming-of-age adventure, a deeply tragic cautionary fable, and a bombastic action comic all at once.
Extremity is impossible to classify, as it’s simultaneously a whirlwind of influences and a tidal wave of creativity and imagination. Every page of Extremity is overflowing with huge ideas, lush, beautiful artwork, and powerful humanity, and you need to experience it for yourself. - Matthew Funk
Honorable Mention and Non-Genre Acknowledgement
Spencer and Locke by David Pepose, Jorge Santiago and Jasen Smith
DC: Dark Nights Metal and related one-shots by Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and various.
Beowulf by Santiago Garcia and David Rubin
Kid Lobotomy by Peter Milligan and Tess Fowler
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss
While we typically don’t cover non-genre comics at SYFY, we cannot let some terrific comics to go unnoticed. The following books are either not genre are just aren’t genre enough to hit our criteria. So here’s some of the best New Comics in Non-Genre that we recommend:
The Best We Could Do by Thu Bui
Hostage by Guy Delisle
Everything is Flammable by Gabrielle Bell
Boundless by Jillian Tamaki
My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris