Putting In a Good Word: Chris' 5 Best Readables of 2016

Presented herein are the five (subjectively) best readables from novels and comics which Chris breezed through in 2016, whilst pretending he has a real job (he doesn't).


5 - Batman, Volume 9: Bloom (Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, Yanick Paquette & FCO Plascencia)

As the DC Universe headed for its sixty-billionth reboot with the "Rebirth" event last year, the few beloved series left in the New 52 started winding down. At the top of that count-on-one-hand list of good books still going was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman, a superlative run for the character which will undoubtedly stand the test of time (especially when some of it's collected in such swanky hardcovers).

The penultimate volume of their run, Bloom allowed Snyder and Capullo to start firing off climaxes for a story five years in the making - and fire off, they did. The bulk of their swan song for Batman takes place here, as he battles the eldritch villain Mr. Bloom beneath a weird black hole thing which threatens to destroy all of Gotham. As stakes-raising threats go for the conclusion of one of superhero comics' best ever runs, that hits the mark pretty well.


4 - Crooked Kingdom (Leigh Bardugo)

Though it didn't quite reach the giddy heights achieved by its predecessor, Six of Crows, Leigh Bardugo's latest Grishaverse novel was nonetheless a tense and enjoyable thrill ride in the aftermath of a successful heist. After spending the first book fleshing out six amazingly well-rounded characters, it was excellent to see how Bardugo stuck them all into one hell of a pressure cooker as the criminal forces of Ketterdam seek to murder them horribly.

I'd also strongly recommend you have Kleenex handy, because damn, that ending.


3 - The Vision, Volumes 1 and 2 (Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez Walta)

Androids might dream of electric sheep, but it turns out they dream of a fulfilling family life, too. Long-time Avengers member Vision sets out to create his own android wife, son, daughter and family dog, in order to make the perfect life for himself. Unfortunately, their software still has a few ghosts running around the machine, so things don't go according to plan.

Combining the best of Marvel superheroics with a distinctly Phillip K. Dick/William Gibson-inspired flavour, Tom King's written a surefire Eisner winner with his Vision duology. A darkly philosophical tale which ain't for the squeamish.


2 - Arcanum Unbounded: The Cosmere Collection (Brandon Sanderson)

Those of us who've been on the Brandon Sanderson bandwagon (the Sanderwagon, if you will) have been waiting for this since the first inklings of a crossover started popping up back in 2010's The Way of Kings. Simultaneously a short story collection and a Silmarillion-style look at the history of the Cosmere, Arcanum Unbounded is a treasure trove both for Sanderfans and fantasy readers in general. From the short, snacky glimpses into strange new worlds through Sixth of the Dusk and Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, to the longer-form explorations of existing Sanderson worlds through The Emperor's Soul, the Mistborn: Secret History and the new Stormlight novella Edgedancer, there's rarely a dull moment in this universe-spanning assortment Sanderson's work.

Now to endure the long wait until November for the next Stormlight Archive book.


1 - Mockingbird: I Can Explain (Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk & Ibrahim Moustafa)

As controversial as it is comedic, Chelsea Cain really has a winner with her feminist snarkfest Mockingbird run. Sad though it is to read in light of the series' unceremonious cancellation, what we do have is a nonetheless exciting, hilarious and just damn fun little comic. As a nice bonus, remembering that feminism seeks to equalise genders rather than prioritise one over the other, Mockingbird follows in the footsteps of similar works like the recent Captain Marvel, Ms. Marvel and Mighty Thor books by being specifically concerned with egalitarianism, empowerment and intelligent character development for our heroine.

This really is the kind of book superhero comics should be making as much as possible, with smart authors writing for smart readers by striking a great balance between action, political commentary, equality and fun times. That's not too big an ask in 2017, is it?


And now, a brief look at a few things we can look forward to this year:

Keep reading!

- Chris


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