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CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2016: #50 – #26

by  in CBR Exclusives, Lists, Comic News Comment
CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2016: #50 – #26

Each year, CBR takes a thoughtful look at the comic book industry’s abundance of offerings and poll the passionate, thoughtful and always-opinionated CBR staff for their rankings of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material in English, regardless of genre or format, is fair game; each individual list is then factored in (all thanks to the power of mathematics and the magic of spreadsheets) to determine the overall Top 100 that will be unveiled on CBR over the course of this week.

2016 was another big year for the Top 100, once again with more than 40 contributors to the list and more than 200 comics nominated. That’s resulted in a typically diverse and sometimes unpredictable field: world-famous superheroes alongside creator-owned works; major publishers sharing space with indie favorites. Of course, even with 100 spots, no list can be an exhaustive collection of every noteworthy piece of work in a year, but the end result of the CBR Top 100 is a wide selection of eclectic comics and graphic novels worthy of attention. (Note: Given the close ties between the two series, votes for “Captain America: Steve Rogers” and “Captain America: Sam Wilson” were combined for one entry.)

RELATED: CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2016: #75 – #51

On Monday, we started unveiling the list with entries No. 100 to 76, things kept going on Tuesday with 75 -> 51“>No. 75 to 51. The countdown continues today as we crack into the second half with No. 50 to 26 — here’s the remaining schedule, mark your calendars accordingly (all times Eastern): Thursday, 1/5, 9 a.m.: Top 25-11; Thursday, 1/5, 3 p.m.: Top 10; Friday, 1/6, 9 a.m.: Master list.

Start perusing the list below, and if you feel so moved, take to Twitter and (politely) discuss your thoughts using the hashtag #CBRTop100. While you’re here, feel free revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:

CBR’s Top 100 Comics of 2016: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1

50. Darth Vader

Written by Kieron Gillen

Art by Salvador Larroca

Publisher: Marvel Comics

darth-vader

This was a perfect run of 25 issues without a single dud. Villain books can be hard, and we’ve all seen what happens when you look too deeply into the psyche of Darth Vader, but this book not only delivered a satisfactory answer to questions the movies left unanswered, it introduced us to the most fun supporting cast in all of Star Wars.

— CBR Contributing Writer Jacob Hill

49. I Hate Fairyland

Written & Illustrated by Skottie Young

Publisher: Image Comics

i-hate-fairyland

Known for his cutesy “Little Marvel” style, Young has taken his talents and applied them to a black comedy of his own making with outstanding results. He’s taken fairytales and turned them into Looney Tunes, except Elmer Fudd’s shotgun does real damage. It’s bloody fun!

— CBR Contributing Writer George A. Tramountanas

48. Paracuellos

Written & Illustrated by Carlos Giménez

Publisher: IDW Publishing/EuroComics

paracuellos

Gimenez tells the stories of his time in the “Social Aid Homes” for war orphans after Franco won the Spanish Civil War. Every page is designed to break your heart. Masterful cartooning, a little childhood whimsy and a whole lot of human tragedy make for an unforgettable reading experience.

— CBR Staff Writer Michael C Lorah

47. Star Trek / Star Trek: Boldly Go

Written by Mike Johnson

Art by Tony Shasteen

Publisher: IDW Publishing

star-trek-boldly-go

Both the “Star Trek” series that wrapped in 2016 and the “Star Trek: Boldly Go” title which picks up after the events of the “Star Trek Beyond” movie have been fun reads. The highlight of the year was the final two-part story in the “Star Trek” series which involved both versions of the Enterprise crews. The story compared and contrasted original prime universe versions of the characters and the movie-reboot versions with equal love for both sets of characters. If you are a Star Trek fan, you should check out what IDW has been doing with the franchise. They’ve done a great job with the license for the past decade or so with no signs of slowing down.

— CBR Staff Writer John Mayo

46. Doctor Strange

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Chris Bachalo, Kevin Nowlan, Leonardo Romero, Jorge Fornés

Publisher: Marvel Comics

doctor-strange

“The Last Days of Magic” story arc in Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo’s “Doctor Strange” has been nothing short of exceptional. Stephen Strange, as the Sorcerer Supreme, fighting for the very lifeblood of magic, is actually interesting again under the leadership of Aaron, with the Empirikul and the magical reverse-Superman known as the Imperator standing collectively as one of the most frightening, compelling and literally all-consuming villains at Marvel. Bachalo’s art has arguably been the best Marvel has benefited from all year and marks a serious and well-received return to form; Bachalo was born to draw Doctor Strange, with his inimitably gnarly, almost baroque style, and his and Aaron’s work here has organically revitalized the Doctor Strange name in an important year for the franchise.

— CBR List Editor Steven E. Paugh

45. Southern Cross

Written by Becky Cloonan

Art by Andy Belanger

Publisher: Image Comics

southern-cross

While the first arc of Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge’s sci-fi series was a horror book, with ghosts both literal and metaphorical haunting the passengers of the titular space-faring freighter, the second genre-shifted to claustrophobic action thriller. The rising pressure among the oil riggers on Titan was palpable through Cloonan’s terse dialogue and Belanger’s heavily-inked art, equal parts Hugo Pratt and Leiji Matsumoto.

— CBR Contributing Writer Tom Baker

44. Wonder Woman: Earth One

Written by Grant Morrison

Art by Yanick Paquette

Publisher: DC Comics

wonder-woman-earth-one

Grant Morrison and Yannick Paquette deliver a feminist/queer superhero origin story that doesn’t rely on punch-ups for the drama. Paquette and colorist Nathan Fairbairn gorgeously render Morrison’s vision of Paradise Island as a techno-utopia. Diana’s first encounter with the outside world is heart-wrenching.

— CBR Contributing Writer Christos Tsirbas

43. Action Comics

Written by Dan Jurgens

Art by Patrick Zircher, Tyler Kirkham, Stephen Segovia

Publisher: DC Comics

action-comics-rebirth

On paper, the premise for the “Rebirth”-era Superman seems like a Clone Saga-esque continuity scramble. Thanks to an “Action Comics” creative team led by Jurgens, it was a thrilling adventure that clearly established Superman’s place in the Rebirth DC Universe. Capped by a multi-issue knock-down, drag-out fight between Superman and Doomsday, “Action Comics” lived up to its title in a major way this year.

— CBR Contributing Writer Tim Webber

42. Wonder Woman

Written by Greg Rucka

Art by Liam Sharp, Nicola Scott, Bilquis Evely, Renato Guedes

Publisher: DC Comics

wonder-woman

It has been really interesting to see the two storylines, set in two different points in Diana’s life, unfolding together. It’s really showcased what we love about Diana — not just her physical strength, but also her heart and her optimism.

— CBR Contributing Writer Sarah Cooke

41. Captain America: Steve Rogers / Captain America: Sam Wilson

Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Paul Renaud, Joe Bennett, Daniel Acuña, Angel Unzueta (Sam Wilson); Jesus Saiz, Javier Pina, Miguel Angel Sepulveda (Steve Rogers)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

captain-america-sam-wilson-steve-rogers

2016 was a great year to be a Captain America fan. It was the character’s 75th anniversary, there was a fantastic third entry in Marvel Studios’ “Captain America” film series and the stories in both Cap comics were fantastic. In “Sam Wilson,” writer Nick Spencer and his artistic collaborators are doing a fantastic, but contemporary homage to the great Mark Gruenwald, exploring what Captain America means to people and the difficulty of carrying that mantle. Over in “Steve Rogers,” Spencer and artist Jesus Saiz have been doing a fascinating character study of Steve Rogers and his role in the Marvel Universe with the twist, which I went from hating to loving, of reality being reshaped so Steve was a secret agent of Hydra.

— CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

40. Black Hammer

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Dean Ormston

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

black-hammer

Jeff Lemire never fails to smash expectations, and his latest ongoing series from Dark Horse Comics may be his best yet. The Canadian cartoonist waited for Dean Ormston to recover from a stroke last year because “Black Hammer” wouldn’t be what is supposed to be without the British artist and man, was he right. This psychological superhero thriller was worth the wait.

— CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

39. 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank

Written by Matthew Rosenberg

Art by Tyler Boss

Publisher: Black Mask Studios

4-kids-walk-into-a-bank

It’s hard to tell whether Rosenberg and Boss’ story is the kind of tale that we remember our own childhood adventures feeling like, or the kind that today’s kids imagine their hijinks could be. Either way, this mash-up of hardboiled crime tropes and neighborhood gang types is the perfect feel good comic for this moment in time. Better yet, Rosenberg’s sharp, snarky dialogue blends perfectly with Boss’ art, which is equal parts cartoon realism and Shiga-esque storytelling insanity.

— CBR Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

38. Howard the Duck

Written by Chip Zdarsky

Art by Joe Quinones, Veronica Fish, Kevin Maguire

Publisher: Marvel Comics

howard-the-duck

Everyone who works on “Howard The Duck” must at some point contend with the legacy of Howard’s creator Steve Gerber, and the latest creative team of Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones was no exception. Howard isn’t just a wisecracking waterfowl stalking sarcastically through the Marvel Universe, he’s a mouthpiece for skewering culture in general, and comics in particular. In 2016 Howard went from space to the Savage Land and teamed up with Squirrel Girl and Lea Thompson, but the final issues of his current series found him in full-on metatextual mode, as Zdarsky and Quinones confronted the challenge of writing a corporately-owned character. Throughout it all, “Howard the Duck” was sharp, involving, sometimes devastating and always very, very funny. Like the original, it was gone too soon.

— CBR Staff Writer Tom Bondurant

37. Superman

Written by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason

Art by Patrick Gleason, Jorge Jimenez, Doug Mahnke

Publisher: DC Comics

superman-rebirth

As a non-Superman fan, this has been the title I’ve found myself moving to the top of my stack every two weeks. The pairing of Gleason and Tomasi is the epitome of perfect superhero storytelling, even for those new to the genre.

— CBR Contributing Writer Leia Calderon

36. DC Comics: Bombshells

Written by Marguerite Bennett

Art by Mirka Andolfo, Laura Braga, Marguerite Sauvage, Sandy Jarrell, Pasquale Qualano, Maria Laura Sanapo

Publisher: DC Comics

dc-bombshells

This is the warmest, queerest comic out there. You’ll smile your way through every issue.

— CBR Staff Writer Marykate Jasper

35. Power Man and Iron Fist

Written by David F. Walker

Art by Sanford Greene, Flaviano Armentaro

Publisher: Marvel Comics

power-man-and-iron-fist

David Walker is only comics writer who made almost as much of an “overnight success” impact after years of work as Tom King. While there is a case to be made for the harsh realities of “Nighthawk” or the literary qualities of the amazing “Shaft: Imitation of Life,” the book that best encapsulated everything Walker can do (not to sleep on Sanford Greene’s contributions) is “Power Man and Iron Fist,” a fascinating take on the buddy book concept that has raucous humor, gripping action and nuanced characterization. With some of the most balanced plots on the shelves, every month this book is a shining beacon for the benefits of diversity in the marketplace with a voice and stories that could not be told by anyone else.

— CBR Staff Writer Hannibal Tabu

34. Ms. Marvel

Written by G. Willow Wilson

Art by Takeshi Miyazawa, Nico Leon, Adrian Alphona, Mirka Andolfo

Publisher: Marvel Comics

ms-marvel

“Ms. Marvel” should be applauded for not letting the weight of “Civil War II” drag it down. The series effortlessly threaded the event into its storytelling and established Kamala Khan as the future of Marvel Comics.

— CBR Contributing Writer Tim Adams

33. The Walking Dead

Written by Robert Kirkman

Art by Charlie Adlard

Publisher: Image Comics/Skybound

walking-dead

Over 150 issues on from the zombie apocalypse, this comic continues to prove that it still has the power to shock and surprise its readers, not just in terms of storyline, but also in terms of structure, as Robert Kirkman and newly named Comics Laureate Charlie Adlard experiment with page layout to cram even more simultaneous action onto the page during the “Whisperer War” storyline.

— CBR Contributing Writer Rob Cave

32. Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!

Written by Kate Leth

Art by Brittney L. Williams, Natasha Allegri

Publisher: Marvel Comics

patsy-walker-aka-hellcat

Like “Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,” “Patsy Walker aka Hellcat” takes an underused character and just makes everything ridiculous fun. As imagined by Leth and Williams, Patsy Walker is trying to reclaim her life after returning from the dead and then being laid off by She-Hulk. She strikes on the brilliant idea of setting up a temp agency for folks with powers who don’t want to use them for good or evil. There is action, adventure, and danger, but the overwhelming feeling of the series is joy.

— CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

31. Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash

Written & Illustrated by Dave McKean

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

black-dog

Dave McKean’s new book is about the life and work of the artist Paul Nash, examining his life and work and his experiences during the First World War through a series of dreams. The oversized volume is a joy to behold, and the insight into Nash and his thinking is amazing. At this stage of his career, McKean is no longer a major figure in comics, the artist/writer/designer/filmmaker/composer is one of the great artistic figures of his generation.

— CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

30. Southern Bastards

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Jason Latour

Publisher: Image Comics

southern-bastards

Jason Aaron and Jason Latour paint an unforgettable story of Southern crime, using blood and grease on their small-town canvas. This series sticks in your head like barbecue sauce sticks to your fingers.

— CBR Contributing Writer Jason Strykowski

29. Sunstone

Written & Illustrated by Stjepan Sejic

Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow

sunstone

This erotic comic is not only great for being deliciously filthy, but also because it’s full of complex but lovable and relatable characters who are well-written. Which explains why I was crushed when I thought the couple at the center of this story might break up.

— CBR Staff Writer Paul Semel

28. Sheriff of Babylon

Written by Tom King

Art by Mitch Gerads

Publisher: DC/Vertigo

sheriff-of-babylon

“Sheriff of Babylon” had such a strong debut in 2015 that it was hard to shake even from its first issue. That continued into 2016, with King and Gerads taking a modern event, given just enough time since its occurrence so that one can effectively create fiction set inside of it, and turned out a winner as they follow three different individuals in 2004 Baghdad with their lives about to intersect. This is a deliberately uncomfortable story to read, even as each new chapter demanding you return for the next issue, because it’s just that good. With talk of a second miniseries, here’s hoping for another trip to Iraq soon.

— CBR Staff Writer Greg McElhatton

27. Future Quest

Written by Jeff Parker

Art by Evan Shaner, Craig Rousseau, Steve Rude, Ron Randall, Aaron Lopresti, Ariel Olivetti, Jonathan Case, Steve Lieber

Publisher: DC Comics

future-quest

This nostalgia-fueled love letter to classic Hanna-Barbera heroes manages to do the impossible by making readers take these heroes from yesteryear seriously. This is in largely due to the artists on the series, which retains the feeling of the old cartoons while breathing new life into them.

— CBR Contributing Writer Sean Fischer

26. Black Widow

Written by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee

Art by Chris Samnee

Publisher: Marvel Comics

black-widow

Lightning strikes twice sometimes, especially when Chris Samnee and Mark Waid are involved. Along with colorist Matt Wilson and letterer Joe Caramagna, the entire “Daredevil” team switched up lead characters and created a modern masterpiece in the spy comics genre. Taking on a larger writing role with this this series, Samnee’s power as a storyteller — in every sense of the word — is on full display.

— CBR Editor Brett White

Check back on Thursday for more of the CBR Top 100!

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