2016 brought us a plethora of great comics. In fact there was so much interesting stuff this year that I couldn’t get to it all. I will share all the best of what comics I DID get a chance to read. Let’s move right in!

Top Ongoing Comics –

1. The Vision: By Tom King & Gabriel Hernandez

This series took me by surprise. It’s emotionally rich and  deep. It feels very cinematic in it’s execution. Not one word of dialogue is taken for granted and it’s artwork demands attention to every detail. It’s not a typical superhero tale by any means. Even the covers themselves are atypical. It’s as much a character study as it is a plot driven story. I’ve heard Vision referred to as the ” Walter White” of the Marvel universe. I’d agree with that in many ways.

2. Justice League : by Geoff Johns & Jason Fabok

3. Batman: by Scott Snyder Greg Capullo & Danny Miki

4. Injustice: by Brian Buccellato & various artists

5. The Autumnlands: by Kurt Busiek & Benjamin Dewey

 

 

Best Original Graphic Novel:

 Dark Night: by Paul Dini & Eduardo Risso

What else can be said about this gripping powerful graphic novel? I reviewed it earlier in the year and suffice it to say, it floored me. It stays with you, it moves you and it’s easily the est original graphic novel of the year. For more information look to my earlier review!

 

Best Independent release:

Love: The Lion: by Frederic BrremaudFederico Bertoulucci

A beautiful book that highlights a day in the life of a Lion trying to survive in the jungle. It’s wonderfully illustrated and completely wordless. Not a sinlge piece of dialuge is used and none is needed to understand the complex emotions of every animal in this story. It’s a treat for the eyes and it forces you to pay extra attention.

Best Mini Series:

1. Conan: Wolves Beyond The Border: by Tim Truman & Tomas Giorello

An old Conan going on one last adventure? Tim Truaman & Tomas Giorello? Hell yes. What moredo you need? It’s essentially Dark Knight Returns for Conan, and it’s a hell of a lot of fun. The art is spectacular, the writing is clever and surprisingly humorous even. A fitting ” last” tale for everyone’s favorite barbarian.

2. Chrononauts : by Mark Millar & Sean Gordon Murphy

3. The Phantom: by Peter David & Sal Velluto

 

Best Writer –

Tom King – Vision, Batman, Omega Men & The Sheriff Of Babylon

What a year Tom King had. He worked on 4 projects and each of them received critical acclaim. He seemingly came out of nowhere and is now here to stay. DC was quick to snatch him up and sign him to an exclusive contract. I’ve yet to complete Omega Men but I’m sure it will not disappoint!

Best Artist –

Greg Capullo – Batman & Reborn

Greg Capullo barley edges out the talented Jason Fabok ut the conclusion of his epic run on Batman was too much to deny. His last 3 issues were brilliant. His fifth issue of Batman remains the highlight of his career but these last few come close. I had the privilege of meeting him at a con this year and he’s as much a class act as he is a class artist. Easily the nicest artist I ever met. His work on Mark Millar’s Reborn is going to be a treat once it gets into full swing.

 

What a year for comics. One of the very few good things of 2016, that’s for sure. Let’s hope 2017 provides more quality work. Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was another book that was very easy to enjoy. Station Rage has action and intrigue, beginning with some history of DS9 and the Cardassians, building into scenes of espionage and eventually into guerrilla warfare on the station.

On the space station, Deep Space Nine, in an unexplored area, Starfleet discovers preserved remains of several Cardassian warriors from Cardassia’s distant past. Captain Sisco, worried about having a diplomatic dispute with the Cardssians, orders the area sealed off, but the horrors lurking within have only just begun to emerge. Garak, an exiled Cardassian and the only alien of his kind welcome on the station, recognizes the legendary High Gul among the bodies, a celebrated military tactician from Cardassia’s past upon whom countless myths of courage still surrounded. What appeared to be corpses were actually live beings trapped in suspended animation for a far longer duration than the technology was designed, still waiting to be revived.

Before long, the station is occupied by determined and highly experienced soldiers that have an intimate knowledge of DS9’s technology. The Cardassians, running on eighty year-old intelligence, assume they are still at war and perceive Starfleet as a hostile occupying force. After the systems of DS9 begin to malfunction, Captain Sisco deduces that a hostile force in on the station and he orders all non-Starfleet personnel to evacuate the station and begins sweeping the station for intruders. The aliens setup an elaborate trap for Odo, the station’s shapeshifting security chief, by trapping him and lacing his body with explosive materials, leaving him unable to change form without risking detonation.

Nearing the end, the action picks up when a single Cardassian vessel arrives, demanding Starfleet to hand over their intruders, Sisco’ refusal leads to the station being fired upon by the Cardassian ship. Sisco and his crew rush to the USS Defiant to defend the station from the attacking ship, but are intercepted by the intruders and are drawn into a phaser shoot-out. Captain Sisco is hit by a deadly blow and Kira is kidnapped by the invaders and forced to assist them in launching the vessel. Kira’s revulsion of Cardassians is again brought to the surface when addressing the High Gul aboard the Defiant. The High Gul’s character is likely the best parts of this book and his dialogue here with Kira is excellent. He is able to mold Kira’s attitude of Cardassians by being truthful and making it known that he is from a time well-before Cardassia’s genocidal campaigns on Bajor.

Kira’s prejudice is gradually broken and she agrees to help them pilot the starship and engage the attacking adversary from the High Gul’s past. The ensuing ship-to-ship combat was very satisfying. The Defiant faces off with no engineering crew, making each command critical. One wrong move could easily cripple the Defiant. After defeating their attacker, the story quickly wraps up on a somber note.

Overall, this is very much the type of book I like to read. This was a very action-oriented story. I highly recommend Station Rage to anyone with the slightest interest in science-fiction. If you enjoy an intriguing story with action, stealth, station-wide emergencies, phaser shoot-outs and a gripping space battle, then take a look, you won’t be disappointed.

No, this isn’t an article dissecting the 3% of the world’s population that are socially phobic.

What’s at stake here is the 3% of impoverished Brazilian youth that successfully pass a rigorous dog-eat-dog test called, The Process; one that allows them to live affluently elsewhere.

At least, that’s the focal subject in the dystopian world found in Netflix’s, 3%.

Following in the footsteps of Battle Royale and The Hunger Games, 3% maintains its stakes in the “survival game” genre, albeit with more tension, drama, and characterization, as one might expect in an 8-episode TV original series.

Where 3% might miss the mark, it would be in its production value and the world it has created.

Overall, however, definitely worthy of a binge watch.

 

Characters

3% follows the lives of five 20-year old candidates who believe in the Process’ promise of opulence:

Michele Santana (Bianca Comparato)— a girl-next-door archetype operating under an altruistic moral code that effectively conceals her true motives.

Fernando Carvalho (Michel Gomes)—a paraplegic who wishes to pass the Process to impress his father’s maniacal belief in the system.

Joana Coelho (Vaneza Oliveira)—the yang to Michele’s yin, Joana is a socially distant femme fatale capable of solving problems without as much as lifting a finger.

Rafael Moreira (Rodolfo Valente)—a ruthless candidate shrouded in mystery (and one that bears a striking resemblance to Game of Thrones’ Iwan Rheon)

Marco Alvarez (Rafael Lozano)—the candidate most similar to The Hunger Games’ “Careers”, Marco is a natural leader who wishes to pass the Process with the same success as his family members.

 

Overseeing the Process and ensuring that only 3% of the candidates succeed are:

Ezequiel (Joao Miguel)—the no-nonsense overseer who is willing to push the candidates to the extreme, to the point that some might lose their lives.

Aline (Viviane Porto)—a henchwoman of The Council sent to monitor Ezequiel’s extreme methods… as well as to find secrets juicy enough to depose him of his prestigious seat.

 

Story

Looking at the short character summaries, one can easily see where the conflicts might arise.

But as previously mentioned, the characterization in 3% is very strong. Dare I say, it might even be its strongest feature.

We not only learn the characters’ depths that place them beyond the scope of one-dimensionality, we do so within such thrilling circumstances.

Without revealing the sweet details, each character comes face to face with an impossible dilemma, thereby creating dramatic change and unraveling their hidden selves.

But underneath the lovely drama that goes on during the Process lies a B-Story that is all too common in the survival game genre—a discontent faction bent on destabilizing the pillars that hold the Process together.

Although this isn’t a revolutionary story (ironically, hehe), what the show does with it is something to look forward to.

By the series’ end, the core of every character unfolds and the colours in the spectrum of good and evil become further greyed.

 

The World

Let’s not mince words—for a Netflix-backed original, the production value in 3% could be stronger.

City of God cinematographer, Cesar Charlone, did what he could directing 3%. But when the set looks like it was shot in a storage facility and the CGI is akin to a blurrier Monet oeuvre, an Academy Award nominee can only do so much.

What you might expect from the CGI

Additionally, some of the world’s lingo seems a tad simplistic. Behold: the survival game is called the Process; the rebelling faction, the Resistance; the contestants, the Candidates.

Compare these with Suzanne Collins’ Tributes, Cornucopia, Feasts, The Reaping… and the world and imagery built in 3% seem a little too tongue-in-cheek, if they didn’t already seem so.

But these are trifles. Nevertheless, those looking for a show with a multi-million dollar budget, 3% isn’t the show for you.

 

A show not just for the 3%; a show for the 97%

Despite its flaws, the story and characters are enough to carry 3%. It’s a show that I would highly recommend as it does a more realistic way of exploring the human condition than other, more extreme examples in the survival game genre.

Granted, non-Portuguese-speaking viewers would have to be open enough to watch all 8 episodes subtitled or dubbed.

Because of the great story within, 3% shouldn’t be just for the 3%; it should be for everyone to see!

With a second season greenlit, there is no doubt about the impact 3% has left.