In part 2 of the Bleedies (you can read part one HERE), I give what I call the “big money” awards out. These are the cream of the crop, the much esteemed Movie of the Year, Artist of the Year, Writer of the Year and of course Comic Book of the Year.
It seems this year so far DC’s Rebirth has been doing fairly well, as well as the new generation of Marvel NOW heroes have snagged quite a few nods. Will the battle of the “big 2” continue? Let’s find out!
TV Series of the Year
The golden age of comic book TV continues with multiple series’ based on Marvel Comics, DC Comics and Image properties dominating the airwaves.
This year we saw the CW continue its dominance on network TV, but surprisingly NONE of the shows made the nominees. In fact, NONE of my four nominees are even FROM network TV. Not saying I haven’t been enjoying Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Gotham or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but I think it’s clear that the quality of what’s been happening on Netflix and AMC has set the bar when it comes to comic book adapted TV. It’s certainly a tough field, and sadly I only nominate 4 shows. If I remember correctly, I needed to use that excuse last year with a few fan faves not getting nominated.
Here’s what made the cut this year! Keep it easy on the hate mail!
Just don’t play the Luke Cage drinking game....if you actually have a drink EVERY time he says Sweet Christmas or invites a lady friend for “coffee” you will get alcohol poisoning 2 episodes in.
Last year’s defending winner holding strong with a second season that in some INSANE way was somehow better than the first.
Seth Rogan made Vertigo’s Preacher into a damn entertaining TV show. This kind of makes up for Green Hornet? Maybe? Sort of?
Still a ratings juggernaut and still one of the most addictive shows on TV. And the show that makes every wife, girlfriend and even my own mom admit that it’s sort of fine to be a twisted, murdering scumbag as long as you’re also Jeffrey Dean Morgan.
The best comic book TV Show of 2016 is...
It really was a much tougher choice than last year, as all of these shows were phenomenal for their own reasons. Luke Cage made me feel whole as one of my favorite superheroes finally got adapted in a way that literally got the attention an entire community of people...the way I always felt that it was meant to. Walking Dead has gotten nominated for this category every year I’ve done this column and has deserved it, but the addition of Negan has somehow made the show so much more riveting. And Preacher is the new kid on the block, but it definitely relayed what made this one of the best adult comic series’ of all time.
But nothing on my TV set touched my heart the way Daredevil continued to do with Season 2. It maintained that raw action and crime drama combination that perked up everyone’s ears the first time around. Jon Bernthal as Frank Castle/Punisher was just insane...and after four merely decent tries (depending who you ask) at the character in live action, I feel Frank was captured right here. Much like most of the characters adapted by Marvel Studios, this felt like the comic book character’s essence was captured the way we’ve always wanted. Punisher is a brutal, uncompromising and tortured soul. No words can do what Bernthal does here justice. You have to see it for yourself.
Then we have Élodie Yung as the polarizing Elektra. What can I say? She was as beautiful and mystifying as the ninja assassin/femme fatale should be. We don’t get enough of her on the screen, but what we did get was amazing. If she doesn’t return for Season 3 or Defenders, it would be a crime.
Once again Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Elden Henson and Rosario Dawson were the heart of the show all resuming their roles and making Daredevil just a treat to watch.
Movie of the Year
The comic book movie genre is still holding strong with 7 movies out in 2016 (by my count), and all of them being at least moderately successful at the box office. It still is the best time to be a fan of comics and supeheroes! Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Now, some of you will get angry at me for not nominating the DC films released this year, but what can I say? This is MY opinion! I enjoyed both of them (even when a LOT of people didn’t) to some degree, but this was a VERY difficult category this year and I had some pretty awesome flicks to choose from! I think we can all agree that no matter what, we are in the middle of a true renaissance. Let’s not argue and enjoy the moment, people!
Captain America: Civil War
The one thing that would have stopped all this fighting would have been...MORE SHWAARMA. I mean, have you ever actually HAD the stuff? I can’t do anything except nap after eating whatever that is.
Hollywood FINALLY realized that grown men in spandex and poo poo and pee pee jokes go AMAZING together. It seemed obvious to me.
No Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth were harmed during the making of this film.
You’ll never get THIS serious journalist to admit I nominated this movie just because Olivia Munn wore a comic book accurate Psylocke costume in it. Nuh unh.
And the winner is...
Captain America: Civil War
Sigh. I know. Marvel Studios always wins. You never know, things may change in 2017! But what with 3 Marvel movies coming out this year, it may be hard to beat this kind of domination!
I just couldn’t avoid Civil War and all that it achieved. It could be the most best movie Marvel has done yet. It had drama, action and um, SPIDER-MAN. I have to be honest. The scene where Tony Stark (or Stank...who’s gonna argue with the Fed-EX guy!?) asks Peter Parker why he is doing the superhero thing...and he gives the ANSWER I TOTALLY WOULD HAVE ANSWERED FOR HIM...I STILL wipe a tear from my eye EVERY TIME I watch this film. EVERY DAMN TIME. I knew in that moment that Tom Holland IS Spider-Man. HE is the Peter Parker I’ve wanted to see on the big screen my entire life. The entire movie is filled with moments like that from start to finish.
Chris Evans is undoubtedly Steve Rogers in every sense of the word. Captain America truly has been brought to life in body and soul in this movie series (I think the best trilogy of any superhero franchise to date), and as a fan I cannot thank everyone involved in achieving that. I think Robert Downey Jr. should even be Academy Award nominated in this, his 7th appearance (including cameos) as Iron Man. This is maybe the most heart wrenching, dramatic chapter of RDJ portraying Tony. I hope one day he gets acknowledged for making this hero (?!) very much human and a HUGE part of pop culture. These two brought the frenemy relationship on Rogers and Stark to a head perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for more.
Scarlett Johannson, Don Cheadle, Jeremy Renner, Paul Rudd, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are stellar at resuming their respective roles...and Chadwick Boseman is absolutely mind blowing in his Black Panther debut. You better believe Panther’s movie is already a MAJOR contender to win this award in 2018. Need convincing? Google the cast.
Now, Deadpool was a MAJOR contender to win this, trust me on that. Both movies are nearly perfect on all cylinders, but I gave Civil War the edge because it did so much for me as a comic book fan. So many moments in it were things I’ve always wanted to see in my entire life. Goes to show you, it wasn’t just a good year for superhero movies, it was probably the greatest one ever.
Cover of the Year
Once again I honor the best comic book covers of the year. Comic covers are a big deal, because without them, comics wouldn't fly off the shelves like they do. They sell the comic and more often than not, are the key to a lot of the comic book's success.
We can't always that trust the covers accurately predict what will happen on the pages, but most of the time we don't really care as long as it looks cool! Here are the four covers that made us WOW in 2016!
Black Panther #8 by Brian Steelfreeze
It may look like one of those image things from the 90's that if you stared at it long enough you'd see a 3D picture...but this time you don't end up with a headache!
Fight Club 2 #9 by David Mack
The first rule of the Fight Club comic is...WE ALL TALK ABOUT THE FIGHT CLUB COMIC!
Harley Quinn #4 variant by Bill Sienkiewicz
As haunting as it is pretty, this cover perfectly depicts DC's greatest "girlmance".
Suicide Squad #8 variant by Lee Bermejo
Harley gives the best makeup tutorials!
The Bleedie goes to...
Black Panther #8 by Brian Steelfreeze
I usually give this Bleedie to the cover that I could imagine on the wall of a museum somewhere. This one is no exception. Brian Steelfreeze knocked this one out of the park with this depiction of T'Challa's sister Shuri, who is currently trapped between worlds. I am not sure how the picture was pulled off, exactly, which is also what makes the piece so amazing.
Steelfreeze is a veteran in in the industry, and an artist I've always loved and followed on social media, and that's why it's finally great to see him on a monthly series like the amazing new Black Panther! His blend of fundamental comic art and tight storytelling accents Ta-Nehisi Coates' intricate scripts so well. And his covers have been top-notch every month. This is only one of them.
The perfect artist for one of the best comics right now about one of the hottest characters these days. Can't wait to see what Steelfreeze will dish out in 2017!
Trending News of the Year
This year we had so many legends meet their demise, villains rising to power, civil unrest and global catastrophes...AND THAT WAS JUST IN THE NORMAL NEWS! The comic book news was only a little bit less strange.
This award goes to the news that took over my personal news feed and made geeks everywhere either rejoice or scratch their heads...I think one of those more than the other. You decide.
I’m just happy they fixed Lobo. What the frag was THAT about?!
The Riri Williams Variant Cover Controversy
So J. Scott Campbell drew a comic book cover featuring a teenager merely showing her midriff...and everyone that hasn’t gone to a mall in the last 20 years lost their FREAKIN’ MINDS! How did the people that complained about this EVEN SEE THIS NEWS?! I don’t understand.
Disney Announces Star Wars Theme Parks In Development
Am I going to the Rancor pits or play Whack-A-Jar-Jar first?! Decisions, decisions.
Wonder Woman Becomes Honarary U.N. Ambassador...And Then Is Stripped of The Title
The outrage police inexplicably struck again...but it’s not like this character hasn’t inspired young women and girls to be strong, tough, beautiful warrior women in their lives for 75 years. NOBODY can take that away.
And the Trending News of the year is...
DC Gets Reborn
Y’know, I wanted to nominate the Riri and Wonder Woman items because they made a lot of news. Even though I felt both stories pointless and negative drivel personally, I hope the “outrage police” eases up on the comic book industry, which has (even I admit) not been perfect, but has tried A LOT harder than most mediums to be fair, inspiring, thought provoking and inclusive for many, many years. It’s good that comics are kept in some sort of check to a degree, but to have a problem with Riri Williams and Wonder Woman, two characters that have done nothing but CHANGE how women are portrayed in comics and not to mention, I don't find EITHER instance the characters were portrayed in a oversexualized or offensive manner, it's sort of going back to the days of Wertham witch hunts. And that is going backwards against all the progress the medium has made. I don’t know who is having issues with this stuff, and I don’t care, but there are much more important and terrible things happening these days to voice your opinion about. Grow up a little.
THAT being said, I decided to at least have a very positive thing win the award. DC Rebirth I think has been one of the best things for comics in awhile. I can’t even explain it in words, because not much has changed within the format that DC is doing with their comics. Only in actually sitting down and reading the comics will you see how the approach to the stories has changed from the New 52. The universe and continuity is very much the same, but for most of the titles I have read, it feels like the “old DC is back”.
It’s impossible to read it all, but the stories that I have picked up are just good. They are more gripping. Less dark and shock value content and more good stories about heroes and villains. Every hero and villain I have read about feels revitalized in some form. Maybe it’s the re-assignment of writers on certain books, or a literal new approach to their stories, but DC seems to be back on top. And yes, this is from a Marvel guy. I am enjoying many books on the red team too, but is it wrong to say the blue team is throwing a really fun party over there? The DJ is hot. I’m gonna hang out over there for a little bit. At least until Beast Boy throws up on my shoes and the Manhunters show up. Am I taking the party analogy too far? Sorry.
This coming year we are already getting rumors of The Watchmen returning and possibly going to war with the Justice League? They are up to something, man. Can’t wait to see what’s in store.
Hero Of The Year
What does it take to be a hero these days? Well, a lot more than just putting on some spandex and a cape. Although, for these 4 nominees, it does help to get their swagger down...so maybe it has a lot to do with it.
Here we have 4 heroes that aren’t new on the block, but have evolved a lot over the decades that they’ve been around. But after all the costume changes and status quo changes and for one an entire universe change...they’ve maintained their values and remained the guy who has held the high road and never backed down from what they believe in.
Maybe that’s all it takes in the end.
I’m not sure about the purple lining in the cape, but I am pretty fond of the new sidekick! Let’s keep this one alive for awhile, yeah?
Now that he’s a movie star he uses the really expensive kitty litter.
Superman (Pre-New 52)
He’s back and he has dad jokes.
Captain America: Sam Wilson
I just love that he kept the wings. Winged lives matter.
Your Hero of 2016 is...
The ONE TRUE Superman!
Yeah, that’s how I see it, guys. This is MY Superman. The Clark Kent that John Byrne first fleshed-out and made us believe a man could fly. He was raised by the Kents and grew up as a human. His Kryptonian DNA helped him protect his planet and he married the feisty Lois Lane and they had a child, Jon Kent. When their dimension was diminished in the Convergence, they fled to the New 52 Earth and have lived there, in secret. Clark saving the world from threats incognito until Darkseid killed THAT Earth’s Superman, and now MY Superman is the only, the one I grew up with, one true Man of Steel.
And y’know what? This is a good thing. Superman...the REAL Superman, is what this world needs. Not just The New 52, but OUR world as well. It’s an odd, confusing time in the world. And superhero comic books have always been a great support system for us in those times. A hero that is good beyond good, willing to do whatever it takes to stick up for us. He’s older, wiser, doesn’t wear a t-shirt and jeans (who thought that was a good look?!) and has a family that keeps him forever bound to Earth. That creates a new dynamic for Superman that we’ve never seen before.
This story began in the Convergence Superman tie-in, continued into the very underrated Lois & Clark series and now into DC Rebirth. Even though it is the old Superman, he truly feels like a revitalized version of the character. He has to gain the respect of his Justice League teammates (especially Batman) and prove himself all over again. Lex Luthor also stands in his way, proclaiming HE is the world’s new Superman. But this hero has never backed down from a challenge, and that’s why he’s in this spot, and the hero the world deserves.
Artist of the Year
This is the category that is closest to my heart, since art was my very first love in terms of comic books. I pay very close attention to artwork and unlike most readers, follow my favorite artists around from book to book very often. And I have many...MANY favorites
As a comic art aficionado, you can imagine how hard it is choosing which artists to nominate and then picking a winner is even harder. And of course, I don’t read EVERYTHING, so there’s a few faves and up-and-comers that don’t make the cut.
But alas, these are the artists that wowed my eyeballs in 2016.
Rafael Albuquerque (Batgirl, Huck)
I finally made the RIGHT turn at Albuquerque (annnnd THAT is the cheesiest nominee joke you’ll get this year, maybe)!
Mike Deodato (Invincible Iron Man, Thanos, Star Wars: Vader Down)
You know an artist is good when he draws a character as a dead ringer for an actor you recognize but cannot name and it’s a better casting choice than anything Hollywood has ever done.
Humberto Ramos (Extraordinary X-Men, Champions)
The funkiest artist in the industry just keeps getting funkier.
Andrea Sorrentino (Old Man Logan)
Still the best at making an old guy look like the biggest, angriest, crotchetiest badass.
The winner is...
I’ve been following this artist as a fan for quite some time. I first saw his work in Scott Snyder’s American Vampire years ago and while I may have not have totally gravitated towards his stuff right off the bat, it really did grow on me. His stuff really is eclectic and unhinged. And he is just as good as doing horror stuff as he is a superhero book like Batgirl and Fantasy/Adventure like Mark Millar’s Huck. His style fits every genre.
While he got heat for that Killing Joke-esque variant awhile back, he has (or should have) gotten back in everyone’s good graces with his AMAZING work on the Batgirl Rebirth title. With his own signature flare, he has taken a book that I think would have felt quite average with pretty much ANY other artist on board and made it a delight to read. For the first time ever, I can’t put Batgirl down! Every page is just gorgeous.
Albuquerque has been around for awhile now, but I think his work is as cutting edge and better than ever. Treat yourself to some of his work. You won’t regret it.
Writer of the Year
In a year that was off-kilter for many, comics have been better than ever. The writing has been through the roof in terms of quality and quite often I was just pleased with nearly every book I got my paws on.
For the first time, I would say you’d be hard pressed to find an actual HORRIBLE comic on the shelf. Sure there was stuff that was merely decent, but really bad? I have a hard time thinking of one that I read.
So this field was pretty hard to fill. I did my best and picked the 4 writers that I felt remained pretty consistent. You may agree with me or not, but here they are.
Jason Aaron (Doctor Strange, Mighty Thor, Southern Bastards, Star Wars)
A mainstay in the Best Writer category, Aaron stayed on course and stayed his awesome, weird self.
Max Landis (Superman: American Alien, Green Valley)
He’s a big time Hollywood director/writer, he’s a big time geek, he’s a big time wrestling fan…and he’s a comic book writer (who’s currently working on a comic featuring Superman’s relationship with Dick Grayson...how’d he beat me to that?!). I may have created him in a dream.
Scott Snyder (Batman, All-Star Batman, Batman & Robin: Eternal, A.D.: After Death)
You can’t NOT nominate this guy for a comic book writing award. He’s the Batman of writing Batman.
Nick Spencer (Captain America: Steve Rogers, Captain America: Sam Wilson, Astonishing Ant-Man, Avengers: Standoff!)
All the stress paid off, Nick.
And the Bleedie for Writer of the Year goes to...
This guy has been working his butt off, not just because he’s been trying to escape being maimed by outraged Captain America fans for months on end...but he wrote 3 monthlies and one of Marvel’s most important crossover events in 2016.
But more importantly I decided to give Nick the nod not because I think turning Cap into a Hydra agent was a good idea. And I do think it was an interesting twist, but his work on one book in particular really did capture my heart. Captain America: Sam Wilson has been one of my favorite comics all year long.
The book is about a lot of what is happening in the social/political climate today. As hard as it is being Captain America and saving lives from diabolical supervillains, Sam also has to deal with being “the black Captain America”, in an America that is still very much racially divided. It’s a touchy subject, it’s uncomfortable, but the book is probably one of the most REAL comics on the market. The #TakeBackThe Shield story arc has been just, absolute genius. I think it’s pretty ironic that even a lot of comic fans themselves probably haven’t given the Sam Wilson Cap comic book a chance because of who is wielding the shield. Spencer literally found a very cool way of integrating fan-outrage into his storyline in a very meta way.
At any rate, Spencer could have easily have slapped a shield on Sam and put him in a gaudy suit and have it mean absolutely nothing. But he didn’t. Instead, he took what most people on the outside looking in would see as another Marvel publicity stunt and made it a collection of stories that actually say something. It’s tackled police brutality, government corruption and yeah, sure he even brought back Cap-Wolf! How could you not give props to the guy who brought back Cap-Wolf?!
Spencer may get a bit of slack for pushing his liberal political agenda in his stories. But as any writer does, he writes what he knows, and he’s worked in politics and that’s the stuff he writes about. If you don’t like it, you certainly don’t have to read it. I don’t think he goes too overboard with the liberal stuff...I mean, I think most comic book readers lean to the left a little more anyway. No sense in not catering to that demographic to some degree.
In the end, I think the writer that made me say “HMM’ the most this year was Nick Spencer. And for that (even though I think Max Landis may be my soul twin) will get him this award this time around.
Oh, and we also share a birthday. So that may’ve helped.
Comic Book of the Year
It was a crazy year for comics, but it was a crazy year for EVERYTHING and everyone. In a way, comics came full circle, and finally (in my opinion), DC Comics decided to roll up their sleeves and initiated something very exciting and fun with Rebirth. Heroes like Batman, Flash, Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and especially Superman were revitalized and many of their books have become literally READABLE again. That’s maybe a harsh statement, but I feel it’s true from where I sit.
Not saying Marvel hasn’t maintained their dominance. They continued to remain just where my heart lies in terms of sequential art. These were all titles that inspired me, made me smile, laugh and geek out like never before.
If anyone tries to tell you the industry is faltering, these comic books are the exception to the rule in my eyes. Sorry if your faves didn’t make it.
An odd “Brother Where Art Thou/Fugitive” story featuring Batman and Two-Face was something I never thought I’d ever want to see! Some of the best stuff both Snyder and John Romita Jr.’s done in some time.
Superman: American Alien
Non-continuity Superman stories that will fill your heart and make you believe a man can fly all over again. This was a real treat.
Civil War II
Neither side in the conflict is clearly right nor wrong this time around which has made the book interesting...but we can all agree that just having Thanos involved for no apparent reason was pretty weird.
Invincible Iron Man
Losing his home, fortune and super-identity to both a teenager and Doctor Doom didn’t hurt half as much as being friendzoned by Spider-Man’s smoking hot ex. Owtch.
Proof that two Green Lanterns is way better than having one Plastic Man. And his weird no-toes feet.
Superman: Lois and Clark
I’m fairly certain they only named the book that to remind me of my teenage crush on Teri Hatcher. Well played, DC.
He’s a respected politician with a genius intellect and also a superhero with catlike agility and alertness. He’s like Ben Carson’s Bizarro.
Captain America: Sam Wilson
Cap-Wolf! I can’t get over it!
Comic of the Year is...
Superman: American Alien
This comic really did blow my mind in terms of making Superman matter again and what made me get into the character all over again. It’s never been the fact that he has cool flying powers and strength and fights monsters. All that is icing on the cake. What always made Clark an amazing character for me was well...CLARK. What made him human, not his alien DNA. He could very well rule the planet with his ability but chooses not to. He chooses to care and protect. It’s pretty amazing.
Max Landis stripped Clark down to his bare bones for American Alien. Don’t think about whatever fundamentals you know about the Superman and his supporting cast. This wasn’t what this miniseries was about. It was about a guy growing up to become Superman. From a kid, to a teenager to a young man and finally becoming the world's greatest hero. It’s a coming of age story. And yes, he meets Oliver Queen, Bruce Wayne, Lois Lane, Slade Wilson, Lex Luthor and more along the way...all people who will one day impact his double life. All of it is great stuff and one of the best retellings of Superman's early career.
An array of artists illustrating every chapter in Superman’s life differently was a great call, giving a separate feel and identity to each issue. The artists that particularly stick out were Jae Lee on the Batman issue, Joelle Jones on the hilarious #3 where young Clark gets mistaken for young Bruce Wayne and Jock’s work on issue #7, the epic finale, in which he encounters the likes of Joker and Lobo.
I don’t normally give this award to comics that are separate from main continuity or limited series', but there’s a first time for everything, and Max Landis’ American Alien certainly deserves this recognition. It’s a MUST READ, and in my opinion, the best comic series I read all year.
Well, there you have it, kiddos, another year of Bleedies in the can! I’ve always loved working on this column! Hopefully we have many years of Bleedies to come, and lots more great comics, movies, TV and video games to enjoy! Bleed out!