Comics/Graphic Novels

Comics We’re Thankful for this Year

Kris Saldaña

Staff Writer

Kris Saldaña writes comics. When he isn't writing or collaborating, he's reading, attempting to cook, occasionally Netflix bingeing or starting more projects likely to fuel his imminent meltdown. Follow him on Twitter: @kris_saldana.

The year has flown by and with U.S. Thanksgiving coming up some of the crew at Panels have picked the comics we’re most grateful for this year.

lumberjanes ellis allen stevenson boonLumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Shannon Watters, Brooke Allen (Monica Friedman)

I thought it was cute, but my ten-year-old stepdaughter thought it was incredible. I’ve written before about her learning disabilities, and the fact that the only books she’s ever voluntarily and happily read in her life were silent comics; reading words is just really painful for her. And yet, she picked this comic up and read it cover to cover without any prompting. It took her two days, and she said the only words she couldn’t figure out were “Lumberjanes,” and “Ripley.” When she finished, she said, “I hope they make more of those,” and almost exploded with joy when I explained that there were seventeen of them so far. So I’m grateful to the authors for writing a book that gets kids who hate reading to ask for more books.

HawkeyeHawkeye – Matt Fraction, David Aja, Annie Wu, and more (Christine Hoxmeier)

Hey, Hawkeye. I picked up your first issue in 2012 on a whim for a friend, having no idea the impact it would have on me. You would draw me closer into the world of Marvel comics, introduce me to house DeFraction, and be the spark that started many of my friendships with other comic readers. Sure, sometimes I had to wait longer than I would have liked for the next issue, but you were always worth the wait. You made me laugh, hold my breath, and dammit, this year you made me cry. A lot. I didn’t want to say goodbye. But I get it. I miss you, but I am rateful for the time we had together. Thanks for everything, Team Hawkeye.

HawkworldHawkworld – Timothy Truman, Enrique Alcatena and Sam Parsons (Eric Margolis)

Ok, so I’m a little late on this book. Twenty-six years late, to be exact. But, who’s counting? Traditionally, I’m not much of a DC fan. I’ve read and enjoyed most the staples. Batman: Year One, Dark Knight Returns, All-Star Superman, Moore’s run on Swamp Thing (technically Vertigo?), etc. You know the books I’m talking about. Outside of those classics, you can count me out. I did some digging around and I stumbled upon this book which seemed totally in my wheelhouse. I read this thing in one sitting and I have to admit that I’ve thought about this book on a daily basis since I completed it. It’s amazing how many deep ideas are jam packed into this little mini. I don’t want to talk about the content too much here because I’ve got another piece in the works about it. But this book definitely left a mark for me. I’m officially on the hunt for deeper cut DC books that I’ve completely neglected. Currently plowing through The Question by O’Neil and Cowan. Love it. What’s next? I’m not sure. Maybe I’ll just read Hawkworld again…

MsMarvel_Vol1Ms. Marvel – G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and more (Swapna Krishna)

Yes, everyone probably knew I was going to state this is a comic I’m grateful for. I’ve made a list of things I learned from (and love about) the comic. But why am I thankful for it? Because it shows me a Marvel universe in which people like me exist. No, I’m not Muslim, or Pakistani-American, but Kamala is like me in so many ways. She’s South Asian, she’s a nerd, she’s enthusiastic and irrepressible and loves what she loves with no apologies. On days when I feel myself getting cynical, which is inevitable when you’re a woman who works on the Internet, I’m so thankful I have Kamala to remind me of what’s important and the person I want to be.

The-Multiversity-The-Society-of-Super-HeroesMultiversity – Grant Morrison/Various Artists (Kris Saldaña)

Super grateful for Multiversity, absolutely my favorite series to come out this year. Grant Morrison kicked the doors in on the DC Universe and went wild exploring different earths, finding crazy villains and introducing us to concepts so meta, I’m still digesting them. Not only is Morrison in the zone, but the billions of artists featured on Multiversity are in top form. Cameron Stewart kills it on Thunderworld, Frank Quitely outdoes himself on Pax Americana (also my favorite single issue this year) and even the Multiverse guide illustrations are insane with the lexicon of artists who worked on them. The concepts are tough to grasp for sure, but beyond that, each story stands on its own and even though you may not love them all, you’re heart will surely latch onto at least one. Multiversity is a love letter to comics in all of its forms and I’m grateful for that.

<a title=The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl – Ryan North, Erica Henderson, and Rico Renzi (Charles Paul Hoffman)

I really cannot begin to express my gratitude to North, Henderson, and Renzi for The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. It is a consistently hilarious book, which is something I always appreciate (the funniest issue is probably vol 1 #5, where a group of hostages tell stories about Squirrel Girl, none of which bear any resemblance to the truth). More than that, though, I love Doreen Green’s approach to crime fighting: sure, she can kick butt when necessary, but most of the time she thinks her way out of conflict, whether by convincing Kraven that there are bigger game than Spider-Men, helping Galactus find an uninhabited world to devour, or giving Hippo the Hippo career advice. It’s an approach to superheroics we don’t see nearly often enough. On top of all that, my daughter absolutely adores Squirrel Girl (she regularly asks if the new issue is out yet and cosplayed as her at Indiana Comic Con last year), so I’m super grateful we can read this comic together.

daredevil-mark-waidDaredevil Vol. 4 – Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, Matthew Wilson, and Joe Caramagna (Jessica Plummer)

This recently-completed run of Daredevil was funny, action packed, and visually stunning, but I’m including it here for the way it tackled depression. As someone who’s struggled on and off with clinical depression for over half my life, I’ve rarely found narratives that reflect my experiences. Matt Murdock’s determination to put a happy face on his pain and mask his struggles with humor and positivity – and the way his loved ones see right through him – struck a poignant chord with me. Though I’d rather not have too much in common with Matt, whose life is usually a disaster largely of his own making, I’m thankful to see this particular part of my life reflected in his story.