Many diverse characters deftly inherited iconic superhero costumes in 2016, including a black Captain America and a female Thor. The year also saw a range of top talent holding the pen, from such veterans as Geoff Johns and Grant Morrison to acclaimed-author-turned-comic-book-newcomer Ta-Nahesi Coates.
Here are our top 10 superhero comic books of 2016:
Sam Wilson: Captain America, Volume 1
Not My Captain America
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Daniel Acuna, Paul Renaud
Steve Rogers passes the mantle of Captain America to his former crime-fighting partner Sam Wilson/The Falcon. After taking on the physical and mental weight of “the shield,” Sam quickly realizes that the United States he’s sworn to fight for is divided over whether a black man can be “their” Captain America. Spencer takes a break from being one of Marvel’s funniest writers to create a tale that feels all too familiar given the current political climate of the United States.
The Mighty Thor, Volume 1
Thunder in Her Veins
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Dr. Jane Foster must fight for her life in a battle against cancer, but when the thunder strikes and she transforms into the Goddess of Thunder, she must be the Thor that an Asgard in chaos desperately needs. Jane Foster has always been a strong supporting character within the pages of Thor comic books, but Aaron has turned her into a Marvel heavyweight worthy of one of superhero culture’s top mantles.
Nighthawk, Volume 1
Hate Makes Hate
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Ramon Villalobos
The monthly comic, which launched in May, ended its run in October upon cancellation. Those six comic books are collected in this single paperback volume, available Jan. 10. They tell a rare superhero tale that throws a black vigilante into the thick of a city dealing with racism, racial profiling and gentrification.
Black Panther, Volume 1
A Nation Under Our Feet
Writer: Ta-Nahesi Coates
Artist: Brian Stelfreeze
After T’Challa, the Black Panther, plays a key role in the Secret Wars, his African nation of Wakanda questions whether his royal rule still best suits the future of the Marvel universe’s utopian African nation. Coates more than handles the pressure of being handed a character many consider the ultimate black superhero by presenting a T’Challa who, despite being one of the most brilliant minds in the Marvel universe, doesn’t always have the answers.
Wolverine: Old Man Logan, Volume 1
Writer: Jeff Lemire, Mark Millar
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino, Steve McNiven
Lemire and Sorrentino reunite after their critically acclaimed run on DC’s Green Arrow to tell the tale of Millar and McNiven’s Old Man Logan. He’s a Wolverine lost in a time that is not his own after the events of Marvel’s Secret Wars brought him from the dark and bleak future — where his story originally took place — to the present-day Marvel universe. Wolverine is haunted by the memories of a future he feels he can only prevent by reluctantly letting loose his adamantium claws.
Justice League, Volume 7
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jason Fabok
Johns is now going to be busy helping Warner Bros and DC Entertainment make their superhero movies be the best they can be, but his presumed last major work for DC Comics is a bold Justice League tale in which DC’s greatest heroes go up against the legacy and lineage of the universe’s greatest threat: Darkseid. This series also establishes Fabok as DC’s next great artist.
Wonder Woman Earth One, Volume 1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Morrison gets to reimagine Wonder Woman’s origin in an Earth One tale that features beautifully drawn visuals from Paquette.
Batman, Volume 9
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, Yanick Paquette
Snyder and Capullo have set the standard for 21st-century Batman storytelling. “Bloom” sees their fan-favorite, five-year run on Batman conclude, as Bruce Wayne returns to the cape and cowl to remind Gotham that Batman will always be there when the city needs him most.
Batgirl, Volume 3
Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart
Artist: Babs Tarr
A young, hip(ster) approach to Batgirl comes to an end. The creative team of Stewart and Fletcher’s words, in tandem with the fresh art of newly minted superstar artist Tarr, make Batgirl one of the most fun superhero comics around.
DC Universe: Rebirth
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ethan Van Sciver
Johns couldn’t dive head first into Hollywood movies without making sure he was leaving the DC superhero comic universe in good hands. After penning some of DC’s grandest tales over the past decade, he helped the publisher put an end to the polarizing New 52 reboots by writing “Rebirth” and setting up future DC storytellers for success. “Rebirth” is a love-letter to all that makes DC’s heroes special, and it assures fans that the essence of why they flock to these heroes is back.