The Biggest Comics News Of 2017
By Meg Downey on
Buckle up, comics fans, because 2017 was wild.
Like a tiny snowball rolling down a hill that results in a full on avalanche, comics news did nothing but pick up steam in 2017, getting more and more shocking (and sometimes absurd) as the year went on.
From hirings and firings, to major controversies and dicy announcements, the world of mainstream comics has had a rocky year--and if the way things have ended with a bang this year is any indication, 2018 has got some pretty big shoes to fill come January.
Here are some of the biggest comics news stories of the past year and what they might mean going forward.
10. The Beginning (and end of) Marvel's Secret Empire
The event that's been dominating Marvel's news cycle for over a year, Captain America's cosmically manipulated, Nazi-flavored Hydra allegiance, culminated into an actual event this spring. Secret Empire officially kicked off in April, reigniting the controversy anew.
The actual reveal that Captain America had done a moral and ethical 180 took place in May of 2016, in Captain America: Steve Rogers #1, prompting no shortage of outcry from fans who felt the Captain's betrayal crossed a line. Things barely got a chance to blow over before Secret Empire was officially announced in February.
It only got rockier from there. By the time the first issue of Secret Empire hit the shelves, the entire Captain America franchise had become a polarizing, hot button issue for both critics and fans. However, despite the controversies, the event was actually extended from its originally solicited length of twelve issues to include a thirteenth, which dropped in September--meaning that, for better or worse, Secret Empire successfully dominated Marvel comics news for over half of 2017.
9. Marvel's Legacy Announcement Fizzles
The finale of Secret Empire was used as a springboard to launch a new line initiative called Marvel Legacy, which was announced, rather confusingly, by a scattered debut of lenticular covers across multiple news sites back in June.
The end result was a list of ongoing comics--some with new creative teams, some with the same--returning to their original numbering schemes, so the first Legacy issue of Captain America would be #695, rather than #1, and so on. The announcement initially sparked confusion about the initiative's intent--some books, like Marvel Two-in-One, were being relaunched for the first time in years, while others, like Daredevil, were simply updating their numbering scheme and continuing on their pre-Legacy track. It wasn't a relaunch and it wasn't a reboot, so what was it?
Prior to the re-numbering, Marvel also launched a giant sized one shot called Marvel Legacy #1 in September to herald the new line, a move that prompted some fans to draw connections between Legacy and 2016's DC Rebirth--but as of right now, only a handful of Marvel's lineup have actually set into their Legacy efforts in earnest, making the true nature of Legacy's effects on the Marvel Universe still hard to discern.
8. Doomsday Clock Sparks Controversy
Marvel wasn't the only publisher to make a controversial event choice this year. DC's Doomsday Clock, a follow-up event to last year's DC: Rebirth one shot to explicitly deal with the Watchmen involvement in the DC Universe proper, was announced this summer to understandably mixed reactions from fans.
The rights and usage of characters from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen has been a hot button issue in the world of comics for decades after Moore explicitly stated that he was adamantly against the continued use of the characters in any other properties. This, of course, hasn't stopped DC from cashing in time and time again, first with 2009's Watchmen live action film and 2012's Before Watchmen prequel comic series.
We've known about the imminent arrival of the Watchmen universe into the mainstream DCU for over a year now, following the final page reveal of Dr. Manhattan in the Rebirth one-shot, but Doomsday Clock set out to tell the story explicitly by literally hopping back and forth between the world of Watchmen and the DCU proper.
The maxi series hit shelves in November and quickly became a hot topic, despite its late-in-the-year arrival, and with eleven more issues to come, it's unlikely that Doomsday Clock is going to become any less of a conversation piece in 2018.
7. Editor Eddie Berganza Terminated at DC
In November, Buzzfeed published an investigative piece about one of the comics industry's most insidious "open secrets:" DC Comics' continued employment of noted sexual harasser and Superman group editor, Eddie Berganza.
The piece focused on the accusations and experiences of a number of women who had been victimized by Berganza over the last decade and ultimately culminated in DC terminating Berganza's employment less than three days after the piece debuted.
However, the issue remains a pressure point for the industry--both for the fact that Berganza was protected for so long after the accusations against him initially came out, and for the fact that he was and is not alone in his status as a known harasser employed by a major publisher, as reported by fans and creators coming forward on social media. As of yet, no other major, public actions have been taken by DC or any other mainstream comics publishers about these accusations.
6. Brian Michael Bendis Leaves Marvel
In one of the year's most unexpected twists, longtime Marvel-exclusive creator Brian Michael Bendis announced vita Twitter in the first week of November that he was changing teams and hopping over to work exclusively for DC.
To put that in perspective, it actually might be easier to count off characters and teams at Marvel that Bendis hasn't had some hand in. Over his twenty year career, Bendis made a name for himself as a creator practically synonymous with Marvel, creating characters like Jessica Jones and Miles Morales as well as having a major hand in iconic titles like Avengers, X-Men, Daredevil, and Defenders.
There's been no official announcement as to who will be taking up Bendis's current Marvel books, Defenders, Spider-Man, Jessica Jones, and Invincible Iron Man, after he's made the move, or which DC properties he'll be picking up. Whatever happens, this is easily one of the biggest creative shake-ups comics have seen in a very, very long time.
5. C.B. Cebulski becomes Marvel's Editor-in-Chief
Hot on the heels of Bendis's announcement came another Marvel shocker: longtime Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso had been fired from his position and replaced by Marvel talent scout C.B. Cebulski.
The move initially prompted some hope in both fans and critics--Marvel's 2017 had been rough all around on the comics side, and the thought was that some new leadership might start to turn things around. But less than three weeks after the announcement of his promotion, Cebulski became embroiled in controversy. News came to light that ten years ago Cebulski had assumed the made up identity of a writer named "Akira Yoshida," and had began writing comics with "Japanese flavor" for Marvel while also acting as an editor at the time.
"Yoshida" had even been interviewed (via email, of course) at Comic Book Resources, where Cebulski committed to the bit of his catfish-style identity and, when pressed on the issue back in June of this year, openly denied the fact that Yoshida was fictional. The truth came out in November--on Cebulski's first official day as EIC--when he admitted to falsifying the identity.
4. Marvel's Northrop Grumman Comic Announced, Canceled
At New York Comic Con this year, Marvel made the surprise announcement of a promotional tie-in comic and at-con activation for defense contractor Northrop Grumman. The intent, apparently, was to promote STEM education and career paths to young fans--but the actual communication of that intent fell flat in a major way. Fans saw the splash pages and covers, conflating things like Northrop Grumman offices with the "real life" equivalent of Stark Tower and understood it as a propaganda effort for military contractors and weapons manufacturers aimed at children.
The outcry against the book was so rapid and intense that Marvel canceled the book and the plans for the activation at their booth on the show floor less than a day after it was announced. The initial shock and distaste was less quick to dissipate among fans, however, feeding into the overall feeling of general confusion and mistrust toward Marvel's comics arm for the majority of the year.
3. DC's "Dark Matter" Line Announced, Rebranded
DC announced a new line of "artist driven" comics called "Dark Matter" in April of this year, designed to spiral out of the Batman-centric crossover event Dark Nights: Metal. The books would pair legendary artists like Jim Lee, Tony Daniel, John Romita Jr., and Andy Kubert with heavy-hitting writers like Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV and Robert Venditti to re-introduce and re-invent classic characters into the Rebirth DCU.
However, the initiative abruptly pivoted away from its original title and the connection to Metal when it was officially rebranded "The New Age of DC Heroes" at this year's New York Comic Con, prompting some confusion.
The first New Age books are going to be hitting shelves this December, with more promised to be announced down the line--and they can't come a moment too soon, as the initial announcement drew criticism for being a completely male line up.
2. Jack Kirby's Centennial, Celebrated
August 2017 marked the 100th birthday of comics legend Jack Kirby, whose contributions to the medium made it what it is today. All across the industry, events and specials cropped up to celebrate the titan.
DC took particular care in celebrating the legacy with a line of one-shots with Kirby characters were announced with all-star creative teams, as well as a full twelve issue maxi-series for Mister Miracle done by Sheriff of Babylon team Tom King and Mitch Gerads. The series has since garnered massive and mainstream critical acclaim.
Mister Miracle, with four issues on shelves now and a fifth due in December, has since become one of the most buzzworthy comics of 2017.
1. DC/IDW Charity Anthology Love is Love Wins Eisner
Love is Love, a charity anthology organized by DC and IDW benefitting the victims of the Pulse night club massacre, was initially omitted from this year's Eisner nominations--a move that read to many involved as a snub, but turned out to be a question of eligibility. The issue, apparently, revolved around the anthology's publication date as listed on Amazon, marking it for January 10th and therefore only eligible for nomination in 2018.
However, just three days after the list of nominees was published by Comic-Con International, the issue had been clarified: Love is Love was added to the Best Anthology category for 2017.
Late comer or not, Love is Love wound up winning the category--and, better yet, managed to raise over $165,000 for Pulse victims and their families.