So, VICE said they couldn't find 10 comics to put on their list for 2017. I get that 2017 has been a bit of a crap PR year for comics, especially the Big Two, but that is extremely reductive and disingenuous. There are plenty of talented creators who have done some phenomenal work this year in the myopic Big Two space, the alternative publishers, and the thriving indie scene.
So I'm going to meet and exceed VICE's challenge. Not only am I going to find 10 good comics, I'm going to find 20. Five each for Marvel, DC, the alternative publishers, and the indies.
Here's the criteria: They can only be comics I've reviewed for Bleeding Cool. That's why there won't be any of Jim Zub and Jon Malin's Thunderbolts on the list. That concluded before I joined up with the site.
Secondly, I'm only choosing one issue for each series, so there won't be any list dominated by a single title. As such, I'm choosing what I felt was the best issue for each book.
Thirdly, while going back and looking through the scores may be a good way to predict what will appear on this list, don't hold me to them. Feelings change over time, and some books that got an 8.5 may go higher than a 9.0 on the list.
Anyway, let's kick off the Marvel list with its resident Lethal Protector: Venom. Specifically, we're talking Venom #156.
This was the second "Marvel Legacy" issue of Venom, which brought back veteran Mark Bagley as the artist. It was part of the "Lethal Protector" story arc, which pitted Venom against Kraven the Hunter over the fate of the underground dinosaur people created by Stegron. It actually runs quite similar in some ways to the original Lethal Protector storyline, which also had Mark Bagley and Venom protecting an oppressed group of underground-dwelling people. Just replace impoverished people with dinosaurs. Oddly enough, you'd think the original group would be the more relevant story these days, but here we are.
At the end of the day, what pushes it into Top 5 territory is how just plain fun this comic was. It is wall-to-wall action with Venom and Kraven the Hunter trying to tear each other's throats out. Venom has his ferocity, agility, and immense strength. Kraven has his skills, wit, and speed. These are two of Spidey's greatest rogues, and it's really cool seeing them go at it like this. It's all brought to beautiful life by the talented artistic team of Mark Bagley, John Dell, Scott Hanna, and Dono Sanchez-Almara.
The rest of the story managed to maintain this level of fun and enjoyability. Venom has had its ups and downs this year. "Land Before Crime" was decent at best and disorganized at worst. "Venom Inc." has been pretty awful overall, with the first Venom issue tie-in being the only decent thing the story has produced other than Agent Anti-Venom.
However, I can't deny how fun this issue was, and when I think of the most fun I've had reading a comic book this year, this is one of the first issues that comes to mind.