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


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.

On Monday, we started unveiling the list with entries No. 100 to 76, and the countdown continues today with No. 75 to 51, with more each day this week. Here's the remaining schedule, mark your calendars accordingly (all times Eastern): Wednesday, 1/4, 3 p.m.: Top 50-26; 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:

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5 The Goddamned

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by R. M. Guéra

Publisher: Image Comics

Cain, the inventor of murder, may need redemption in this series, but creators Jason Aaron and R. M. Guéra do not. The series is violent, disgusting and sacrilegious: What the hell else could you want?

-- CBR Contributing Writer Jason Strykowski

74. A.D.: After Death

Written by Scott Snyder

Art by Jeff Lemire

Publisher: Image Comics

Although there’s only been one volume so far [editor's note: issue #2 was released on Dec. 28, after the cut-off for Top 100 voting], I think the first installment was absolutely brilliant. Innovative storytelling, distinctive visuals and huge themes make this one of the best and most original series of the year.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Jason Wilkins

73. Nailbiter

Written by Joshua Williamson

Art by Mike Henderson

Publisher: Image Comics

The elevator pitch for "Nailbiter" is "Twin Peaks" meets "Seven." Yes, it’s that good. It’s got amazing characters and a fantastic sense of horror and creeping dread, but where it really excels is pacing and reveals. With "Nailbiter," Williamson and Henderson give a master class on long-form comic book mysteries. Each arc and issue offers up compelling reveals and makes you excited for the next big, exciting, and often creepy twist.

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

72. Living Level 3: Iraq

Written by Joshua Dysart

Art by Alberto Ponticelli

Publisher: Published online by the World Food Programme

Joshua Dysart and his team dove into stories of refugees, migrants and hunger in the Middle East as part of a moving comic that blended fact, fiction and documentary. It was a heartbreaking journey, brought to life by the World Food Programme, telling the trials and tribulations that these people suffer day in, day out. From losing families to kids being sexually assaulted, kidnapped or killed, to children groomed as child soldiers, it's not the easiest of reads, but one we need to dive into. Dysart spent time there interviewing, so this story's as real as it gets. Bringing relief is an expensive and tedious task, and the awareness this comic spreads emphasizes that we need more of these stories.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Renaldo Matadeen

71. Legend

Written by Samuel Sattin

Art by Chris Koehler

Publisher: Z2 Comics


Have you ever read the novel "Watership Down," or at least seen the traumatizing animated adaptation? "Legend" kind of reads like that, only swap the rabbits with dogs and cats, and have it set after what appears to have been a zombie outbreak that wiped out humanity. Now throw in a mysterious creature of shadow and teeth called the "Endark." Samuel Sattin and Chris Koehler show us what life is like for former household pets who have to live in this post-apocalyptic setting by blending spectacular artwork with the naive innocence of dog (and cat) logic.

-- CBR List Editor Brian Patry

4 Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Written by Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando

Art by Hendry Prasetya, Thony Silas, Corin Howell

Publisher: BOOM! Studios

BOOM! Studios is doing a great job with the :Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" titles. There are faithful to the show while set in a similar, yet different, continuity. The issues capture the spirit of the show while giving it a bit more of a action movie feel to it. If you are a fan of Power Rangers or the Japanese "Super Sentai" shows it is based on, you are probably already getting and enjoying this title. If you don't watch Power Rangers, the comic stands on its own merits and is a fun read.

-- CBR Staff Writer John Mayo

69. Moon Knight

Written by Jeff Lemire

Art by Greg Smallwood, Francesco Francavilla, James Stokoe, Wilfredo Torres

Publisher: Marvel Comics

If you want a book that makes you think, look no further than the Jeff Lemire-written "Moon Knight." Tackling mental illness, Lemire paints a picture where we're left trying to decipher whether Moon Knight is a legitimate superhero or if it's all just a figment of Marc Spector’s imagination.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Adam Barnhardt

68. Tomboy

Written & Illustrated by M. Goodwin

Publisher: Action Lab Comics

An incredible riff on the Magical Girl concept, twisted by crooked cops, murder and revenge, Action Lab’s "Tomboy" is marked by an incredible depth of character writing and a darkly stirring narrative. It is a credit not just to the talents of creator M. Goodwin and her collaborator Michelle Wong, but of the unique stories that Action Lab is unafraid to publish.

-- CBR List Editor Steven E. Paugh

67. Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq

Written & Illustrated by Sarah Glidden

Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

rolling blackouts

Traveling through Turkey, Iraq, and Syria with a team of freelance journalists, Sarah Glidden chronicled not only the stories of individual refugees and the aftermath of the Iraq War but also the process of journalism itself. Both sides of the story are fascinating and skillfully told.

-- CBR Staff Writer Brigid Alverson

66. Giant Days

Written by John Allison

Art by Max Sarin

Publisher: BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box


Every aspect of "Giant Days" seems designed for maximum comedic effect, and yet the craft on display flows so naturally and easily from creator John Allison, artist Max Sarin, inker Liz Fleming and colorist Whitney Cogar. The continuing adventures of Esther, Susan and Daisy are consistently delightful, whether they're searching for a new apartment, fuming about ex-boyfriends or scheming for educational shortcuts. Allison's dialogue doesn't waste a word, Sarin's storytelling is spot-on and Fleming and Cogar put the finishing touches on a series which, month in and month out, is virtually immaculate.

-- CBR Staff Writer Tom Bondurant

3 Chew

Written by John Layman

Art by Rob Guillory

Publisher: Image Comics

Chew gave us its last great chomp this year as it finished its run. It's one of those rare breeds of comics that gave us consistently great storytelling and art on a regular basis, and completed the mission it set out to do. Congrats to all involved on this masterpiece!

-- CBR Contributing Writer George A. Tramountanas

64. Red Team: Double Tap, Center Mass

Written by Garth Ennis

Art by Craig Cermak

Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

This reads like a prime time television police procedural in all the right ways. Great story, excellent art. The first issue was one of the best comics I read all year and the subsequent issues have not disappointed. Highly recommended if you like the police procedural genre. Somehow both this series and the previous "Red Team" series a few years back flew completely under my radar. I love finding, to me at least, a hidden gem of a title.

-- CBR Staff Writer John Mayo

63. Criminal: 10th Anniversary Special

Written by Ed Brubaker

Art by Sean Phillips

Publisher: Image Comics

After last year’s “Savage Sword of Criminal,” in which Tracy’s old man Teeg whittled away his time in the slammer through the comic adventures of a swashbuckling barbarian, Brubaker & Phillips made the metatextual pulp treasury an annual tradition with "Deadly Hands of Criminal," in which Teeg and a 12-year-old Tracy are on the road getting into no good when Tracy discovers Fang the Kung-Fu Werewolf, a teenager with all manner of powers except any that might allow him any sense of control. The story might be Brubaker and Phillips’ masterpiece. Not only is the “Criminal” chapter a fantastic character exploration, but it’s a specifically tailored love letter to comics and the way comics get loved most, and best. It’s a proof of concept for the power and purpose of not only comics as a practical medium but also the surrounding collecting culture that forged it into what it is today. Not despite of but in fact because of its kung-fu werewolf star, “Deadly Hands” is a heartbreaking testament to the the loneliness and alienation that is so often discovered in adolescence, and achieves this while making the case that, in their way, if you love comics they can love you back.

-- CBR Staff Writer Brendan McGuirk

62. Angel City

Written by Janet Harvey

Art by Megan Levens

Publisher: Oni Press

Everything about this miniseries has been incredible: strong women, complicated characters and a pitch-perfect yet updated take on noir. The writing and art works seamlessly together to provide texture and mood as former starlet Dolores Dare goes after a killer.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Beth Bartlett

61. Daredevil

Written by Charles Soule

Art by Ron Garney, Goran Sudžuka, Matteo Buffagni

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Even though Matt Murdock is a fan-favorite character, the current run of "Daredevil" is a bit underrated currently. Donning a new black suit for his post-"Secret Wars run," Daredevil battles the Hand before starting a rocky relationship with New Attilan and the Inhuman Royal Family. Alongside his new protege Blindspot, the Man without Fear is in the midst of another great era.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Adam Barnhardt

2 Wonder Woman: The True Amazon

Written & Illustrated by Jill Thompson

Publisher: DC Comics

In this glorious masterpiece written and painted (yes, painted) by Jill Thompson, we get a Wonder Woman origin story (out of continuity) like no other. Rather than start off as strong, confident, wise and compassionate, she's, uh, kind of a brat. The first girl born on the island of the Amazons in ages, Princess Diana is realistically spoiled rotten by such an environment and learns the hard way that there's more to life than being worshipped and adored. Seeing her not-so-altruistic reasons for becoming a mighty warrior is surprisingly refreshing. The more you read, the more the story's ending becomes predictable. Yet shockingly, seeing those predictions being met is incredibly fulfilling. This is a testament to Thompson's simple, elegant storytelling method, which is beautifully enhanced by her equally elegant and stunning artwork.

-- CBR List Editor Brian Patry

59. Equinoxes

Written & Illustrated by Cyril Pedrosa

Publisher: NBM Publishing

First published in English in North America this year, I was floored by the sheer amount of craft Cyril Pedrosa packs into this graphic novel. An engrossing, sophisticated exploration of human interaction that uses innovative visual storytelling to weave together multiple narratives into a beautiful, dynamic tapestry that resonates across time and space.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Jason Wilkins

58. Nod Away

Written & Illustrated by Joshua Cotter

Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

Joshua W. Cotter's first graphic novel in years is well worth the wait-- and what's fascinating is that, for a graphic novel that fans have been waiting for for so many years, "Nod Away" is very much about waiting, as the story is about that sense of dread in a horror film as things get worse and worse. Here, we are slowly given more and more information about a future society where the world is connected via the mind of a young girl, only that is just the first step in a darker conspiracy where the more we learn, the more disturbing things are. Cotter knows how to cut to the heart of characters, making his protagonists easily relatable, which makes the dread feel even worse, as we really like our scientist hero (who has to deal with sexism on top of all the horror stuff) and want things to go well for her. It's a triumphant return by Cotter, and I selfishly hope we don't have to wait this long for his next graphic novel.

-- CBR Staff Writer Brian Cronin

57. Midnighter and Apollo

Written by Steve Orlando

Art by Fernando Blanco

Publisher: DC Comics

I was devastated when Steve Orlando's "Midnighter" run ended, but this miniseries has more than made up for it. A refreshing new take on a relationship between two hyper-masculine men where stereotypes in and outside of the bedroom are constantly challenged. Their romantic journey together is rooted in honesty; things don’t just magically fix themselves when you get back together with an ex, you’ll still have problems. Also, Fernando Blanco’s ability to draw abs good enough to eat off of, along with stellar colors by Romulo Fajardo, Jr. I never knew I needed a comic about a guy going all the way to Hell to rescue his superhuman boyfriend until now; like a gay Western.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Heather Knight

56. Animosity

Written by Marguerite Bennett

Art by Rafael de Latorre

Publisher: AfterShock Comics

A unique story in the dystopian genre where animals have "woken up" and, for the most part, no longer want to tolerate human existence. It’s as terrifying as it is beautiful, every issue nail-biting, painful and achingly good. It’s also about a young girl and her dog, but don’t mistake that for a nice story. Marguerite Bennett is at it again with another incredible book full of heart, complimented with art by Rafael de Latorre and colors by Rob Schwager. This comic is ruthless and unapologetic and worth every second of it.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Heather Knight

1 A City Inside

Written & Illustrated by Tillie Walden

Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

After a fantastic two-book debut in 2015, Tillie Walden released her third graphic novella in 2016. Like her earlier work, this one offers a narrative that is based more on the invocation of emotion than on action, and is all the more powerful for it. Her tumbling cityscapes and sense of architecture are delightfully beguiling and I am certain that 2017, which will see the release "Spinning," her most extensive work to date, will be Walden’s breakout year.

-- CBR Contributing Writer Rob Cave

54. Doom Patrol

Written by Gerard Way

Art by Nick Derington

Publisher: DC/Young Animal

Way and Derington's "Doom Patrol" restores a frantic, surreal unpredictability to DC's stable, requiring a whole new imprint to house it. The new series pays homage to Grant Morrison's famous run without being beholden to it, creating new adventures for the strange heroes that feel just familiar enough before diving full-on into the carefully structured absurdities that fans crave. Oh, and it reads like a song.

-- CBR Staff Writer Shaun Manning

53. Goldie Vance

Written by Hope Larson

Art by Brittney Williams

Publisher: BOOM! Studios/BOOM! Box

It may feel like damning something with faint praise to call it "smart," but damned if that's not what "Goldie Vance" is from top to bottom. Larson's period piece about a plucky girl detective in a Florida resort cuts against the grain of by-the-numbers stories in comics and Middle Grade fiction with well-observed characters and a sharp, witty approach to historical fiction. And Williams' art is nothing if not elegant, imbuing all the book's ideas into the smoothest of lines. This isn't the kind of book where you say, "How did no one think of this before?" It's one where you go, "Thank God someone thought of this."

-- CBR Staff Writer Kiel Phegley

52. Archie

Written by Mark Waid, Lori Matsumoto

Art by Veronica Fish, Ryan Jampole, Thomas Pitilli, Joe Eisma

Publisher: Archie Comics

Each character lives with such honesty, such purity, such innocence -- it makes me long for the simpler days of playing in a garage band or discovering a first love. Mark Waid has drawn me into the world of Riverdale and Pops' so much that I wish I was friends with Archie, Betty and their gang of misfits. Veronica Fish’s artwork is bold and vibrant; perfectly complementing Waid’s storytelling, which makes every emotion each character feels even more palpable.

-- CBR Staff Writer Lauren Gallaway

51. Star Wars

Written by Jason Aaron

Art by Leinil Yu, Jorge Molina, Mike Mayhew, Mike Deodato, Salvador Larroca

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Like the novels, the "Star Wars Rebels" cartoon and the "Star Wars: Battlefront" game, the Star Wars comics have largely done a great job of capturing the feeling of the films, while expanding upon the saga in interesting ways. This is especially true for these ongoing series, which have been smartly written, clever in their execution, and great at seamlessly adding new elements to the larger story.

-- CBR Staff Writer Paul Semel

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