Ten from 2020 – overlooked gems

I’ll be glad to see the back of 2020, like most everyone, I expect. But there have been incidental pleasures in this world of Covid and Brexit. Including these comics, all of which you can read about more fully by touching the highlighted title.

The Terrifics #24

The Year of the Villain ‘event’ was a whole lot of nothing, but this issue was huge fun, as the Terrifics traverse time in a bid to stop a typically loony plot by Bizarro. And this time, he has his own team, The Terribles. It’s pure comic book fun by Gene Luen Yang and Sergio Davila.

Wonder Twins #12

The series starring the Seventies Super Friends protégés winds up with a typically smart, funny, great-looking issue by Mark Russell and Stephen Byrne tying a bow on subplots and giving Zan and Jayna a new role.

Fantastic Four: Grimm Noir #1

The striking cover is a little misleading, given the direction this story goes in, but the issue – with Ben Grimm plagued by disturbing dreams – is a visual treat thanks to Ron Garney, working with writer Gerry Duggan.

Marvels Snapshots Sub Mariner #1

Novelist and far too occasional comic book writer Alan Brennert teams up with masterful artist Jerry Ordway for a tale of Namor in the Second World War, featuring all the superb character beats and visuals these names guarantee.

Wonder Woman: Agent of Peace #7

The super-cheap DC Digital First comics have offered up a fair few treats since kicking off this year and this one knocked my socks off. The Amazing Amazon takes a backseat as the spotlight falls on Etta Candy, secret agent, in a smart take by DC editor Andrea Shea and artist Meghan Hetrick.

Zatanna and the House of Secrets

DC says Young Adult, I say All Ages… whatever, this graphic novel by Matthew Cody and Yoshi Yoshitani is a breezy treat. She’s the magician we all love, just younger and living with dad Zatara in a very unusual house.

Shazam #12

It’s a fill-in issue that’s more satisfying than the regular offering as Jeff Loveness and Brandon Peterson gave us a break from the on and on and ongoing Seven Magic Lands story. It’s Captain Marvel and Batman vs the Scarecrow and it’s a delight, with Billy Batson’s reaction to Gotham City a highlight. The same team returned for #15 and that’s great too.

Hawkman #23

Robert Venditti and Marcio Takara flash back to the 17th century, when Hawkman wore a different kind of beak, as a plague doctor in Seville. It’s a moody masterwork with a framing sequence drawn by regular artist Fernando Pasarin.

Superman: Man of Tomorrow #19

Here’s another DC Digital issue – honestly, for 79p/99c, why would you not try these comics? – that’s superb and deserves to be better known. As with the Wonder Woman book, it’s written by a DC editor, this time Dave Wielgosz, and it’s seriously impressive. Superman and Batman are attacked by alternate world evil counterparts, and it’s not what you would expect. Plus, the art by Jorge Corona is bonkers expressive, just lumpy loveliness! The link in the title didn’t work, try this!

John Constantine: Hellblazer #4

John Constantine is a bit of a dinosaur, with his overcoat and fags and love of a pint. Meet Tommy Willowtree, hipster mage and John’s number one fan. Of course, John hates him on sight… this is one of many outstanding issues in the just-ended run by Simon Spurrier and artists Aaron Campbell and Matías Bergara. It’s the latter, working with colour artist Jordie Bellaire, who provides this issue’s gorgeous visuals. Take a look.

Suicide Squad #1

And a bonus pick – I’m cheating a tiny bit here, this issue came out a year ago, in December 2019, but I’d like to intrigue someone enough to start at the beginning. Firstly, ignore that crass Jim Lee cover, that looks like it’s left over from the New 52… series artists Bruno Redondo and Daniel Sampere are a lot slicker and subtler, perfectly sympatico with writer Tom Taylor. This debut issue sets the tone, with a coterie of new characters, the Revolutionaries, the targets of a Suicide Squad led by Deadshot and Harley Quinn. It’s fast-paced, great looking, funny as heck and really smart. The series has just wrapped with #11 – read this and you’ll want them all.

And there you have it, 11 fantastic comics, almost all DC because today’s Marvel line doesn’t have a lot of appeal for me these days. There’s no doubt I’ve missed some great comics this year – please do enlighten me!

2 thoughts on “Ten from 2020 – overlooked gems

  1. Great choices, Martin! I also loved the Sub-Mariner one shot. I would add Dial H for Hero to this list. I was not predisposed to like this book, but Humphries and Quinones crafted a brilliant and charming story with some of the best art of all time. I can’t recommend it enough.


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