We can all agree that 2021 had plenty of great stuff for DC fans. From the growth of DC on HBO Max, the emergence of spectacular new characters and a sophomore DC FanDome that was even more spectacular than the first, the DC Multiverse is now bigger than ever. But with so many great comics, movies and TV series in 2021, what we won’t all agree on is what we liked best.
We all have our own unique tastes as fans, even here at DCComics.com, so we asked members of our writing team to share their personal three favorites. Look for a different top three every day this week! For our Tuesday list, we hear from author, craft creator and super-mom, Kelly Knox!
In a year of bombastic blockbuster releases, DC’s 2021 books completely held their own. From the continually awesome graphic novels in the DC Kids line to the exquisite DC Black Label miniseries, this year’s lineup of creators breathed fresh air into beloved characters.
Here are my three picks for the DC books of 2021 that should go on both “Best of the Year” lists and your “To Be Read” list ASAP.
Catwoman: Lonely City
You know that a Gotham City without Batman would be a very different place, but could it be… better? That’s the question Cliff Chiang explores in 2021’s Catwoman: Lonely City. Naturally, the answer is complicated. The story centers on Selina Kyle, recently released from prison after ten long years, as she searches for her place in this new Gotham.
Batman, Commissioner Gordon and the Joker are gone. Batman’s other foes are still around, but they aren’t the same, either. Book One and Book Two take a long look at the former villains now that their masks are off, and they’re a lot more human than you might expect. Chiang’s versions of an older and wiser rogues gallery are captivating. A 55-year-old Catwoman with bad knees? A Riddler who hung up the tights to be a better dad? A Poison Ivy who’s finally happy with who and where she is? Tell me more.
Of course, Chiang’s artwork is stunning as well, crafting a Gotham with a glittering exterior hiding the darkness just underneath. All together, that makes this book one of my favorites of the year. If Catwoman does have nine lives, Lonely City is already one of the best.
The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher: A Johnny Constantine Graphic Novel
Nearly causing world-ending supernatural chaos by accident? That’s just a Tuesday for John Constantine, no matter how old he is. But for teen Kid Constantine in The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher, that’s enough to get him to move across the ocean to attend boarding school in America. In the halls of the unassuming school, Kid Constantine finds a lot more than he bargained for: his magic acting wonky, a witch who definitely has it out for him and…a new friend?
Constantine might be a kid, but he still feels like the ol’ Heckblazer caught up in some magical mayhem. Ryan North and Derek Charm don’t need a spell to turn occultist John Constantine into a middle grade hero—they have skill and talent! As a parent, I always appreciate a well-struck balance in a book, and these two creators have mastered it. This dynamic duo hits all the right notes when writing for kids, not talking down to young readers and not making things too scary, either.
The Mystery of the Meanest Teacher is my favorite DC Kids release this year, and I hope we get to see Johnny and Anna set off on another adventure together soon.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons
Can a comic book instantly become a piece of classic art? Absolutely, especially in the case of Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1. This retelling of the Amazons’ origins from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez is nothing short of stunning. The gorgeous artwork glitters like colorful precious gems, a glaring contrast to the dark tale the book is telling.
Hera and the other goddesses, distraught by thousands of years of injustices inflicted on women by men, take their grievances to the gods. Zeus dismisses them out of hand, so the goddesses decide to put their own plan into motion in the depths of Hades. There they create the first Amazons, warriors of vengeance, from the souls of the lost.
Brutal and beautiful, Wonder Woman Historia is a book that stays with you long after you close the cover. With Gene Ha and Nicola Scott lined up to take on the remaining two issues in the series, it’s clear that this is just the start of a story that will shake the very heavens.
Kelly Knox writes about all-ages comics and animation for DCComics.com and her writing can also be seen on IGN, Nerdist and more. Follow her on Twitter at @kelly_knox to talk superheroes, comics and pop culture.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Kelly Knox and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.