We're living in a golden age of comic books.
2015 was another fantastic year for the medium, featuring an abundance of great stories, wonderful art, and amazing mysteries — and 2016 promises to be an even bigger year.
In addition to a bevy of new comics that include a superhero story about a plus-sized woman named Faith, we'll also see the continuation of the riveting Paper Girls, and the reinvention of one of Batman's most iconic villains in Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death. Meanwhile, Jupiter's Legacy will offer a re-introduction to one of the most thrilling superhero stories in recent years. We'll also find out the fate of the X-Men in a post-Secret Wars world.
Here are five comic books to look forward to in 2016.
Faith (Valiant Comics)
Superheroes have long represented the best of humanity, but they've never represented all humans, a concept that comics are only just beginning to figure out. Enter Faith, a superhero who happens to be plus-sized, from writer Jody Houser and artists Francis Portela and Marguerite Sauvage. Faith is a geek, she's a little bit awkward, and she has the power of telekinesis — the ability to move objects with her mind.
I'm interested to see how her story develops, and where Houser, Portela, and Sauvage take her. All three are talented creators, and I've been a fan of Sauvage's artwork in DC's Bombshells. From what I've seen of Faith so far, there's a joy and brightness to the pages and possibly a new hero that we can, well, have faith in.
Faith will run for four issues and debut on January 27th .
Image credit: Valiant Comics
Extraordinary X-Men (Marvel Comics)
It's been interesting to see how the X-Men have fared as the superhero genre has gone mainstream. These days, the most popular superhero stories are all about playboys, deities, political heroes, billionaires, and family men. But the X-Men are scrappier than that, and while they've always been relatable figures to everyone who feels like they don't belong, they haven't had the same kind of staying power as some of their peers (Fox owning the team's movie rights probably doesn't help).
Jeff Lemire and Humberto Ramos's Extraordinary X-Men is poised to change that. The comic finds the X-Men literally in Limbo, a demonic dimension, as they flee the fallout that occurred after Marvel's big Secret Wars crossover event. Mutants are being killed and sterilized, something happened with Scott Summers, and the X-Men are once again the bete noir of the Marvel universe. And even though the first issue of Extraordinary X-Men stumbled a bit when it came out in November, a lot of its troubles can be blamed on the delay of Secret Wars and how much the two stories are linked. Lemire and Ramos quickly found their groove in subsequent issues, showing us the desperation of the X-Men who have their backs up against the wall, and what finally happened to Cyclops at the end of Secret Wars.
Image credit: Marvel Comics
Paper Girls (Image Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's Paper Girls is the story of something mysterious that happens to crew of newspaper delivery girls in suburban Cleveland, and in 2015, the comic left us with our jaws on the floor and our brains in knots.
I don't want to give too much away, but the comic has been one surreal mystery after another, and I'm pretty sure it involves some kind of alien time travel. After issue three's cliffhanger, we're still at the point where we don't know who the real bad guys are and who we, and the paper girls, can trust. In 2016, I think we'll have a better understanding of these twists and turns, but going by what Vaughan and Chiang have shown us so far, there will be even more mysteries to unwind.
Image credit: Image Comics
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death (DC Comics)
Poison Ivy was perhaps the biggest casualty of Batman & Robin, the 1997 dumpster fire of a film. She was painted as a campy, nitwit sexpot and that image has haunted the character ever since. But in January 2016, DC has a chance to redeem Poison Ivy with a new miniseries from writer Amy Chu and artist Clay Mann.
Chu recently told me that she has "beef" with how Poison Ivy was portrayed in Batman & Robin and is seeking to reinvent and lean into the character's background as a scientist.
"That's what so attractive. She's so complicated. She's so smart. She's not just a sexy being," Chu says. "She has an alter ego. It's Pam Eisley, and she's a scientist. We're not going to dance around that. She is a scientist, and she's doing some pioneering research. She is Lex Luthor smart."
The comic made headlines in December after preview panels revealed a sexed-up Ivy. But I'm waiting to see what Chu and Mann bring to the table, and whether they'll be able to bring the character back to relevance, before passing judgment.
Poison Ivy: Cycle of Life and Death is scheduled for release on January 20.
Image credit: DC Comics
Jupiter's Legacy(Image Comics)
Mark Millar and Frank Quitely's Jupiter's Legacy is excellent, but it's been stifled by delays; almost a full year elapsed between issues four and five, and smaller delays were peppered throughout the first volume. Millar assured me that his and Quitely's approach will be different in 2016; they made a point to finish drawing and scripting all of volume two before publishing.
Jupiter's Legacy explores the plight of second-generation superheroes. What happens when you can't live up to your parents' expectations? What happens when superheroes start betraying one another? The story is grotesquely bleak, but issue five contained a glimmer of hope and joy that was tucked in at the very end. Fans have been waiting a long time to see how that pans out.
Jupiter's Legacy issue six is scheduled for release in Spring of 2016.
Image credit: Image Comics
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