The Explosion Network does read, even if Jack wouldn’t let us bring any books to our desert island on episode 41 of Pleasure Explosion. However, this list is compiled entirely by myself, Dylan Blight, as the rest of the network didn’t feel like they had read enough 2017 books to make a comprehensive vote, which is fair. I, however, have had a great year once again reading comics — be it the set-up to DC’s big Doomsday Clock event, the continuation of some of my favourite series like The Walking Dead, or discovering some really interesting new series being put out by Image. On the novel front, I read more from older years, but I still enjoyed a lot of new books — even if a lot were, admittedly, Star Wars books — and combining the novels and comics into one list should make a nice guide for the best of 2017 for you, dear reader. 

This “Top 10” list was compiled by Dylan Blight

10.) The Walking Dead Vol. 27 – Robert kirkman, Charlie adlard, stefano gaudiano & cliff rathburn

The Walking Dead had a strong year with The Whisper War finally kicking into full gear as Rick, Negan, and the survivors took on the whispers and their army of the dead. The series swung into a high again with Negan back in the picture. It wouldn’t be a great year of The Walking Dead without a few deaths either, and one of them hurt in particular. But if you jumped out of reading The Walking Dead when it slowed down a little, now is a great time to catch up again. 


9.) Wonder woman vol. 2: Year one – greg rucka, nicola scott & bilquis evely

Wonder Woman’s origin story has never been told as well, or as beautifully, than in volume two of DC’s Rebirth. Where volume one collected the interchanging two-week rotating story of Wonder Woman in present day and her origin, volume two simply collects the origin story part. And with Diana Prince having such an amazing year, with her big screen movie and all, now is a great time to jump into her comics — this is the one you should be buying to start that journey.  Oh, and did I mention how colorful and amazing the art is?!


8.) DEFY THE STARS – Claudia gray

Claudia Gray’s Defy the Stars combines many elements and story beats that I’m a sucker for. It’s a Romeo and Juliet story; it’s set in a future space world where raging factions are fighting a never-ending war; space battle; intriguing planets and political systems. The main character, Noemi Vidal is a 17-year-old, fighting to protect her home planet, when she meets face-to-face with one of her enemies, Abel, who is an AI. Stranded on a ship together they had a strange meeting and quickly became two of my favourite and most compelling characters in any novel I read all year. I cannot wait for the sequel, Defy the Worlds, which is coming in 2018, so read this book now. 

7.) Monstress VOL. 2: the blood – marjorie M. Liu & sana takeda

The first volume of Monstress was the densest and most confusing trade I read in 2017. It introduced a world of creatures I had never seen before, talking cats, witches, magical ailments, demonic demons with personality and ancient organisations fighting a war I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. But it did so unabashedly and with possibly the most stunning art I’d seen all year, with fantastically designed characters and worlds — it was hard not to push through to see what else was happening. I implore you to do the same too, so you can reach volume two where things start to make more sense and the story is a bit more mainlined as a singular quest, while still featuring all the elements introduced so far in the first book. It’s a bloody, violent and exquisite fantasy world in Monstress and genre’s best to read in 2017.

6.) leia, princess of alderaan – claudia gray

As one of the Journey to The Last Jedi books, Claudia Gray returns to write Leia, but much younger than when she wrote Bloodline, which is Leia post-Episode 6. Princess of Alderaan has pre-Episode 4 Leia discovering the galaxy and the terrors of the Empire, and also the secrets her adoptive parents are keeping on the side (hint: rebellion.) Gray completely understand Leia. She writes her like no other and the Leia present in this book is one learning, making bad and good decisions, but it all ultimately makes sense for the Leia we meet in A New Hope. Getting a lot of time on Alderaan is great too, and not explored much in the expanded-universe. It’s a beautiful planet that has its politics and people explored here, making its destruction in A New Hope, even sadder after reading this book.  


5.) Batman/The Flash: the button – joshua williamson, tom king, jason fabok & howard porter

DC spent a very long time building up to its Doomsday Clock event, which only had its first issue drop in November. But to get there,  it spent a lot of time teasing out and expanding older DC stories to link everything up ready for the Watchmen/DC universe collision. It started in Rebirth, of course, with the DC comics resetting, and Batman discovering an odd smiley faced button. In The Button crossover event between Flash and Batman’s comic pages, the two deal with Reverse Flash and tie a lot of things back to Flashpoint, before setting up Doomsday Clock and for the man behind the scenes to reveal himself soon, and Dr Manhattan is coming. First read Rebirth, read Flashpoint, and then read this — it will hit you emotionally and if you’ve read Watchmen you will be excited to jump into Doomsday Clock, which will continue through 2018. 


4.) Motor crush Vol. 1 – brenden fletcher, cameron stewart, aditya bidikar & babs tarr

Motor Crush is a joy to read and my favourite and most anticipated ongoing series at the moment. The creative team that re-invented Batgirl and created Babs of Burnside have crafted in Motor Crush a fantastic cast of characters and a really interesting world. Domino Swift is a badass motorcycle racer who dreams of being one of the best, but of course, there are underground bikie gangs, and on the side, she’s racing them to get her hands on a drug that boosts bikes power levels, called Crush. Domino soon discovers more going on in the racing scene than she bargained for. The star of this book for me is Babs Tarr and her stunning anime-inspired artwork that brings Motor Crush to life in vivid and lively action. It’s been my favourite book to read in 2017 and I can’t wait to continue adventures with Domino and the rest in 2018.

3.) Bitch Planet Vol. 2: President Bitch – kelly Sue DeConnick, Taki Soma & Valentine De Landro

I’m suggesting Bitch Planet again this year (it was in my top three last year also) and once again imploring you to read the single issues over the trades if possible, just so you can get access to the fantastic essays in those. But, if you don’t know what Bitch Planet is, it’s a what-if scenario imagining if we let the world head in a certain direction for a few too many years and next second, women are being arrested for being non-compliant in their duties as a woman and being sent to Bitch Planet. It’s an unrelenting and unapologetic book from Kelly Sue DeConnick, who writes with passion and a sting for the satire. In volume two, we get a bit more about the world prior to Bitch Planet, and how exactly the world got to that bizarre stage — an absolute nightmare scenario. 



2.) The Best We Could Do – Thi Bui

The Best We Could Do is the most beautiful book you can read in 2017. Thi Bui’s debut graphic novel is a memoir looking at her past, her future and the past of her home, Vietnam. The book opens with Thi giving birth to her child, and it’s not exactly an easy birth. In fact, I found it hard to read at first and had to stop for a moment. Thi then starts talking about her mother being there and talks us through her mother’s birth of her in an immigration camp before making their way to America from Vietnam, escaping poverty, war and famine. The Best We Could Do offers so much perspective on everything that’s happened in Vietnam for the past 50 years that I simply haven’t read anywhere before, but it also offered a perspective on family, love and sacrifice I haven’t seen anywhere either. It’s often sad and harsh, but the story of her parents and her family is one of survival. It offers a viewpoint on refugees you won’t find elsewhere, and a story about looking to the past to understand your future, to understand your family, and your life. 


1.) Turtles All The Way Down – John Green

I know John Green, I’ve read most of his books and I’m a fan. I knew Turtles All The Way Down was released in 2017, but I hadn’t thought about it in some time, until one day I walked into a store when I was wandering around during a particularly depressive week. My anxiety was at a high and I needed a way to take my mind off things, so I purchased the book and drove down to the water and watched the sunset reading John Green’s latest, having no idea what the book was actually about, other than being a fan of his previous work. In a strange coincidence, it turned out to be a book focused on a character struggling daily with high levels of OCD, not particularly like what I deal with, but still so relatable.  Sixteen-year-old Aza quickly became my soul-book-partner of 2017. Reading John Green descriptions of the thought process going on inside Aza’s head was at first confronting, and scary, but I stuck with it and soon found following Aza’s journey comforting. Also ticking things that Dylan loves was Aza’s best friend, Daisy, who writes Star Wars fan-fiction and drops many Star Wars jokes throughout the book. It’s not often I finish a book as fast as I did Turtles All The Way Down (less than 24 hours), and it’s not often I straight away consider re-reading it again. But I loved this book, it was the only time I read something this year where for a time a book truly felt like my friend, and for that, it’s the best book or comic of 2017.