The 25 Most Anticipated Comics of 2016

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The 25 Most Anticipated Comics of 2016

If last year’s financials told us anything, the ‘80s are more profitable than diamond-incrusted BB-8 models that manage stock portfolios. Reagan-era properties like Star Wars, Secret Wars and The Dark Knight made up an overwhelming chunk of the books that sold in comic book stores. Though this narrative neglects the growing book store, digital and international markets, it does beg the question whether publishers will fall back on a sequel-begot-sequel ouroboros.

Thankfully, the answer is probably not.

This year packs an absurdly promising line-up of experimental books within both mainstream genre fiction and the indie tributaries. Example A: Atlantic behemoth Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing Black Panther. Is there a precedence for a literary journalist immersed in politics and race relations diving into the world of an African King superhero who manages the underworld? No. And that’s amazing. Elsewhere, Dan Clowes is releasing a new sci-fi romance, Paul Dini will reconcile genre fiction with real world atrocity, Gilbert Hernandez will unveil the sexuality behind the Bible, and Michael DeForge will unleash a brutally honest coming-of-age vivisection. This year has the potential to be brave, and that’s all we can ask for as lovers, makers and readers of comic books.

Adventure Time: Ice King

Writers: Emily Partridge, Pranas Naujokaitis
Artist: Natalie Andrewson
Publisher: KaBOOM!
Release Date: January 20, 2016

He started out as the weird drummer guy who wears his tighty whiteys around, writes fanfiction about princesses and dresses up his penguin. But to long time Adventure Time fans, few characters pull on the heartstrings like the Ice King, formerly the caring human historian Simon Petrikov. In this miniseries by BOOM! regulars Emily Partridge, Pranas Naujokaitis and Natalie Andrewson, we'll get a glimpse at the skinny old man behind that enormous beard. I'm hoping for lots of Gunter. Tini Howard

Another Castle

Writer: Andrew Wheeler
Artist: Paulina Ganucheau
Publisher: Oni Press
Release Date: March 2, 2016

One of 2016's most buzzworthy books, Another Castle is a new subversion of princess tropes. In the tradition of comic and manga faves Princeless and Revolutionary Girl Utena, writer Andrew Wheeler and artist Paulina Ganucheau bring a princess who isn't just saving herself, but saving her kingdom, too. Ganucheau's art is perfect for maintaining a bright femininty to this badass tale, proving the point—girls don't have to choose between pretty and deadly. "We'll finish my nails later," says Princess Misty in an early issue #1 preview. "I've got to defend the kingdom." I like her priorities. Tini Howard

Big Kids

Writer/Artist: Michael DeForge
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: February 23, 2016

After a stellar contribution to Youth in Decline's Frontier series, Michael DeForge returns with the long-form graphic novel Big Kids, a work designed to dissect and recalibrate all conceptions of personal growth. Big Kids charts the trajectory of high schooler Adam as he comes to terms with his family, abusive boyfriend and the insightful college co-ed renting his parent's basement. And then? He has a realization that could only be described as Kafka-esque without the existential terror and far introspection. Straddling a tightrope of melancholy, hope and acceptance, Big Kids is a challenging, engrossing work that reaffirms DeForge as one of the preeminent craftsmen in graphic novels today. Sean Edgar

Black Panther

Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 2016

It sounds like a pipe dream: one of the biggest black writers and intellectuals of the moment scripting the most important black superhero of all time, drawn by a fan-favorite artist known for his limited output. And yet Ta-Nehesi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze's Black Panther is a reality, and quite possibly the most anticipated mainstream superhero comic of 2016. National Book Award-winner Coates is known for his long-form nonfiction, but has been an unabashed comic fan for years and Stelfreeze, recently of BOOM's Day Men, is perfect for capturing the imposing presence and sleek grace of the Wakanda's King. T'Challa has long deserved a better station in comics, and 2016 looks to be the year he'll finally get it. Steve Foxe

Cry Havoc

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: January 27, 2016

If Simon Spurrier and Ryan Kelly's Cry Havoc was no more than its slobbering-tongue-in-furry-cheek pitch line--lesbian werewolf goes to war--we'd still enlist to read the latest book from the mind-bending writer of The Spire and Six-Gun Gorilla and the perpetually underrated artist of Lucifer and Survivors' Club. An early look at the first two issues and an exhaustive interview with Spurrier revealed so much more about this shaggy dog story. Each issue tells protagonist Lou's story simultaneously across three time periods, all drawn by Kelly but each colored by a different coloring luminary (Lee Loughridge, Matt Wilson, and Nick Filardi). It's also quickly apparent that Cry Havoc's take on shapeshifting cuts much deeper than most garden-variety lycanthropy tales: Spurrier is concerned with nothing less than the power of belief and the tragedy of abandoning imagination, not unlike a more beastly American Gods. Steve Foxe

The Dark and Bloody

Writer: Shawn Aldridge
Artist: Scott Godlewski
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics
Release Date: February 10, 2016

Vertigo's fall '15 slate injected some much-needed vitality into the imprint with books ranging from wartime political drama to social-media thriller, and even literary dating-app romantic comedy, but there's a particular delight in anticipating The Dark & Bloody. The new series looks to tap into the horror vein that helped make Vertigo's reputation in the first place. Creators Shawn Aldridge and Scott Godlewski will be new names to most, but the monsters-and-moonshine backwoods terror premise should please fans of Harrow County and pre-52 Swamp Thing bayou tales. Steve Foxe

Dark Night: A True Batman Story

Writer: Paul Dini
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 2016

In the fourth-wall breaking spirt of Steven T. Seagle's 2004 graphic novel, It's a Bird, Dark Night: A True Batman Story explores a writer's relationship with one of his characters in the face of stark adversity. In the case of Paul Dini, the acclaimed scribe was attacked in 1993 by two muggers who shattered his skull. This graphic novel will chart how Dini—who penned the Dark Knight throughout Batman: The Animated Series and The Arkham Knight video game series—relates to mythic heroism when hope seems as much a fiction as a billionaire playboy vigilante. Books like this transcend the medium, asking why these characters mean so much to our culture or even whether they should. And in this deeply personal case, one of comic's greatest writers will show if superheroes can actually save lives outside of their paper panels. Sean Edgar

Garden of Flesh

Writer/Artist:Gilbert Hernandez
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: Fall 2016

This year brings a new Love and Rockets compilation and probably a boatload of new work by the Bros. Hernandez, but if there's one announced project that really makes my ears prick up, it's Garden of Flesh—Gilbert's amorous take on the Book of Genesis. Will it be erotica? Or porno? The distinction seems pretty irrelevant. There's rich source material from Adam and Eve up to Noah, and the Old Testament's preoccupation with sex and violence seems to align nicely with Beto's own interests. Hillary Brown


Writer: Warren Ellis
Writer: Tula Lotay
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: 2016

The writer/artist team of Warren Ellis and Tula Lotay previously worked on Supreme: Blue Rose, a series that gave a new and different take on the "superheroes meet metafiction" concept, with plenty of weirdness, storytelling experimentation and glorious disorientation in the mix. This new series, about a musician returning to northern England, delves further into the realm of the supernatural. Lotay has spoken of the influence of legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky (Solaris, Stalker) on the project, which sounds especially encouraging. Tobias Carroll

Hot Dog Taste Test

Writer/Artist: Lisa Hanawalt
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Release Date: June 14, 2016

One of the other hats I wear is that of a food writer, so this crossing of streams in which comics and foodie mockery come together is right up my alley. Bojack Horseman designer Lisa Hanawalt has been writing/drawing comics about food for David Chang's Lucky Peach magazine for a few years, and has been nominated a couple of times for a James Beard Award for her output. Her ability to cut through millennial bullshit about food, morality, chef worship and bacon-flavored everything is excellent, and this book promises to unite those observations into one hardcover graphic novel. Hillary Brown