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Top 10 Retro Themed and Inspired Comic Books of 2018

Welcome, True Believers! Check out NewRetroWave's picks for the top 10 comics of 2018! 10. Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack (BOOM! Studios) While the story of the second and final arc of Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack was underwhelming, the artwork

Blackbird 01 1 1 - Top 10 Retro Themed and Inspired Comic Books of 2018

Welcome, True Believers! Check out NewRetroWave’s picks for the top 10 comics of 2018!

old man jack

10. Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack (BOOM! Studios)

While the story of the second and final arc of Big Trouble in Little China: Old Man Jack was underwhelming, the artwork on display throughout the BOOM! Studios series makes it an easy start to our list of the 10 best retro-themed comics of 2018. Series artist Jorge Corona translates Carpenter’s Jack Burton perfectly into visual storytelling and the hero’s luck-based bumbling is always bristling with a striking amount of kinetic energy.

 

doomsday

9. Doomsday Clock (DC Comics)

It’s 2018 and there is an honest-to-goodness Watchmen sequel. DC Comics veteran Geoff Johns delivers in what is largely a thankless task. Following up arguably the greatest comic of all time written by debatably the greatest comic writer is, to put it lightly, difficult. While not as cerebral as its predecessor, Doomsday Clock delivers as a page-turning superhero thriller. This has been more and more apparent as the series has progressed, with issue #8 out of 12 dropping just a few weeks ago. There’s no doubt that this will end with a sense of bombast that only Geoff Johns can deliver.

 

black hammer

8. Black Hammer (Dark Horse Comics)

If Doomsday Clock is Watchmen’s successor in a literal sense, Black Hammer is it’s successor in a thematic sense. Jeff Lemire has always been an incredibly talented writer, but until Black Hammer it was hard to say what his definitive series would be. There is no question, Black Hammer is one of the best writers today writing at his best, and the results show. With the recent string of spin-off comics in 2018, Black Hammer is poised to be publisher Dark Horse’s next Hellboy.

 

blackbird

7. Blackbird (Image Comics)

If you’ve been to a comic shop, you’ve seen Jen Bartel’s work. If a comic has any traction or hype, it’ll usually boast a cover from Bartel at some point. While Blackbird, a series in which she serves as artist, is still in its infancy, it has had one of the most impressive debut issues in recent years. The world that writer Sam Humphries has created is both noir and fantasy portrayed with a sense of realism that makes everything feel immediately relatable. Couple this with Bartel’s art and this is easily the series to watch in the upcoming year.

 

m city

6. Misfit City (Image Comics)

Misfit City’s first arc was solid, and we wrote about the debut issue of the Kirstin Smith-written and Naomi Franquiz-drawn series back in 2017. While that was good in its own right, the series has really found its voice in 2018 and has quickly become one to pick up. The premise is interesting enough for fans of retro media — the town is very clearly modeled after Astoria, OR, and the movie filmed in the town in the 80’s is very clearly supposed to be The Goonies. On that backdrop, though, this is one of the best stories of the year, and the back half of the series has been a rollercoaster.

 

robocop

5. Robocop: Citizens Arrest (BOOM! Comics)

Writer Brian Wood’s take on Robocop is a little more restrained than Frank Miller. It’s in the microcosm of the universe that he writes that his series really shines. The anti-consumerist, anti-corporate bend of the original Robocop film is more relevant in 2018 than when it was released, and Wood never lets the citizen-consumers of his dystopia off the hook. Jorge Coelho’s highly stylistic art lends itself to the feeling of unease and dread that permeates a series that ran for a tight six issues in 2018.

 

scott free

4. Mister Miracle (DC Comics)

Tom King built his series on the idea of ambiguity. It’s hard to build a story around an unreliable narrator without readers feeling betrayed, but King affirms his status as one of the best writers around today by sticking that landing throughout. This is no doubt assisted by Mitch Gerads incredible artwork. Gerads relentless and retro-inspired nine panel layout really nails King’s depression-laden story and makes the whole experience feel as unique as it does melancholy.

 

robotech

3. Robotech (Titan Comics)

I was taken aback by how good Robotech was last year when it was added to NRW’s end-of-year list in 2017. Even with those raised expectations, Titan Books’ revival of the cult 80’s show that admittedly I hadn’t heard of before this series has continued to be one of the most consistently well-written, well-drawn, and interesting books of 2018. It’s wild to think of how much is crammed into this series, from the espionage plots, to the grand war narratives, to the subtle moments of romance. All of it is given equal room to breathe.

coronation

2. Labyrinth: Coronation (BOOM! Comics)

Few people understood storytelling better than Jim Henson. With the BOOM! Studios spin-off Labyrinth: Coronation, it’s clear that writer Simon Spurrier understands the appeal that Henson’s fantastic imagination had, and exactly why it was so foundational to multiple generations of kids and teens watching Bowie sing “Dance Magic Dance”.

grand design

1. X-Men Grand Design (Marvel Comics)

The X-Men comic franchise has been, if we’re being frank, a mess in recent years. There will be moments of promise, like the Jean Grey solo series or X-Men Blue’s earlier arcs, but the House of Ideas can never settle on what it wants to do with its mutants for more than a year at a time. As a result, it’s been very stop-start. For new fans, it makes the books seem less important and confusing. For longterm fans, they feel disheartened when the series fail to meet expectations. Grand Design aims to fix that issue for both fans, and the success with which it accomplishes that is nothing short of uncanny. In some respects, Grand Design acts as cliff notes for the often convoluted superhero soap opera that is the X-Men. While those old X-Men comics are worth reading in their own right, it is a huge undertaking to do so. Grand Design has you covered, but for returning fans, it acts as a love letter to a series and a mythos that rivals that of Superman and Batman. The X-Men have always been extremely important to me, and were my gateway into this kind of storytelling. It’s glorious to see what this series is doing for it.

joey.edsall@newretrowave.com

Review overview

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