Comics

Set the Tape’s Favourite Books / Comics of 2018

We here at Set the Tape are quite voracious readers.  Not just of hot-take Internet think-pieces that erroneously claim Mulan is not a feminist movie – such pieces exist and they are often not very well argued, but that’s getting off-topic – but also of proper books and comics!  In fact, we cover a heck of a lot of both comics and non-serialised books here on this site, so why not check out the appropriate tabs whilst you’re passing by?  But before you go off and do that, check out some of our staff’s personal favourite comics and novels from the past 12 months!  Learn a book, Seth!Callum Petch


Vengeful

At the start of the year I’d not heard of the author V.E. Schwab, and within the last two months I’ve read three of her books and have another pile waiting to be read. What introduced me to her work is her latest novel Vengeful. Set within a universe where near death experiences can grant people amazing abilities, Vengeful tells the story of a man searching for a way to escape his oncoming death, a psychopath trying to escape his prison, and a woman out for revenge and power, all intertwined with surprising depth and complexity. Despite being the sequel to another story, 2013’s Vicious, Vengeful is able to stand on its own, delivering a tale that builds upon what has come before, yet still works as a complete and compelling standalone narrative. Schwab has created a deep and intricate world with complex and varied characters. Yes, it is inspired by the worlds of comic books, but it’s more than your typical simple superhero story. – Amy Walker


Power Rangers – ‘Shattered Grid’

2018 has been a great year for Power Rangers fans, with the franchise celebrating its 25th anniversary, a milestone marked by the comic event ‘Shattered Grid,’ one of the biggest things to happen in the franchise this year. When an evil Power Ranger from an alternate dimension threatens to destroy all of reality by shattering the collective timeline, Rangers from dozens of teams and time periods must come together for the biggest crossover event in Power Rangers history. With inspiration taken from across the entirety of Power Rangers history, the multi-part tale is filled with twists, surprise appearances, amazing action, and shock deaths. Combining the level of action and spectacle that’s expected of not just an episode of Power Rangers but also a huge comic event, along with the smaller emotional character drama that the television series was arguably never able to actually achieve, ‘Shattered Grid’ exceeded fans’ wildest expectations. – Amy Walker


The War in the Dark

So, I got married this year. Congrats! Well done old chap! Woo hoo, etc!! Yes, thank you, thank you. Anyway, straight afterward, me and the Mrs went on honeymoon to beautiful Phuket in Thailand for a pretty idyllic ten days in a gorgeous, ocean resort where we did a great deal of reading. I took a bunch of books but one, as I was on the sun lounger, grabbed me in a way no novel (as I’m mainly a non-fiction reader) has grabbed me in donkeys: The War in the Dark, the debut novel from Nick Setchfield. I reviewed the book in detail earlier in the year so head there to hear me properly expound on my thoughts – plus interview author Nick Setchfield – but this 60’s set fusion of espionage, adventure and demonology set my storytelling juices on fire. Setchfield writes like a man with ten novels under his belt, his prose elegant & thrilling, while his narrative and characters feel like a mashup of every property and genre I’ve loved for over 30 years. James Bond by way of Indiana Jones by way of Aleister Crowley and yes, it’s as great as that sounds. It may even be better. Setchfield is writing a sequel as we speak and it’s easily my most anticipated piece of prose in 2019. Get it in yer eyeballs. – Tony Black


Descender

I could shout about the magnificence of the vast majority of Jeff Lemire’s (Sweet Tooth, Essex County, Old Man Logan) work until the human/cow hybrids come home. The Canadian writer and artist has been busy again this year, completing his sci-fi odyssey Descender for Image Comics in July with the emotional issue #32 to conclude this part in Tim-21’s journey. Lemire’s extraordinary story follows an android boy living in an intergalactic post-android society where artificial intelligence is outlawed after a seemingly random attack by titan-esque robots that almost wiped out all living beings. There’s a robo-dog, a bounty hunter, a military commander’s daughter, a woman obsessed with “enhancing” her body with illegal mechanical parts, and all kinds of interesting characters. Dustin Nguyen’s sketch-like artwork combines with the undefined watercolours to make every page and every panel a pleasure to read. The way he captures both scale on such an enormous level, as well as the expressions and emotions in what are essentially lifeless beings – although what constitutes ‘life’ and its value is frequently explored through the series – is astonishing to behold. The culmination of this 32-issue saga has set itself up nicely for next year’s follow up, Ascender, which cannot come soon enough. – Owen Hughes


The Cabin at the End of the World

My year in reading basically began and ended with the discovery of author Paul Tremblay. The first two novels I read, Disappearance at Devil’s Rock and A Headful of Ghosts, were riveting stories that buried their way into my head and my nightmares.  Then, this year, he released The Cabin at the End of The World. A truly horrifying tale that terrified me to my very soul.  A tough book to talk about without giving anything away, we meet Eric and Andrew on holiday with their adopted daughter Wen in a secluded New England cabin, purposefully cutting themselves off from the world for a few days to relax and unwind. Unfortunately, the psychotic cult members closing in on the cabin have other ideas and things turn dark and hopeless when the three are sat down and told that the family need to choose which two of them would live through the day, and the survivors have to kill the unfortunate one. All to prevent the upcoming apocalypse.  With a brand of terror not usually found on the horror shelves of your local Waterstones, and guaranteed to strain the heart of anyone that dares open its pages, The Cabin at the End of The World may be the scariest book in my library. And it’s one of the best books I have read in years. – Andrew Brooker


What books and/or comics most captivated you throughout 2018?  Have you read any of the ones featured in this article?  Sound off in the comments and leave us some recommendations!  Check back on the site every day this week for more Listmas articles like this one!

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