23. Alex DeCampi, Fernando Ruiz, and Rich Koslowski, Archie vs. Predator. Not a hoax! Not an underground comix parody! Wanna see America's goofiest teenager and his old buddies shot, stabbed, decapitated, vaporized, skinned and deboned? Have we got a twisted travesty for you! When a teen Predator comes to Riverdale on the trail of a MacGuffin weapon, Our Heroes have to save each other from R-rated fates with more than just creaky punchlines and hamburgers. Predator fans can count the movie references (only to the first one, of course) while former kids can count the bodies piling up. Despite the bloodletting, it's still not as weird as the idea of rebooting Miss Grundy as a hot chick for Archie to sleep with, though.
24. Dylan Horrocks, Hicksville. Peculiar tale about an American comics journalist who visits a comics-happy New Zealand town to research their most famous former resident -- a corporate comics juggernaut who's like a cross between Stan Lee and Walt Disney with an extra dash of conniving greed. He hates the town, the town hates him, and everyone hates the journalist for asking. What ensues is a curious reflection on how far some guys will go to succeed at comics, what others will do to stay true to themselves, and the value in creating stories for reasons other than luring in a wide audience.
25. Jonathan Case, The New Deal. In 1930s Manhattan, the famous Waldorf Astoria is the setting for a wacky caper involving a young bellhop in deep debt, a black maid/Shakespearean actress, an outgoing socialite with a mysterious birdcage, and a series of jewelry thefts for which someone is about to be framed. A fun period piece with unexpected twists that would make a nifty 90-minute Wes Anderson throwaway.
26. Michael West, Poseidon's Children. First in a novel series about mutated descendants of the Greek gods finally being fed up with hiding from humanity for so long that they've decided a violent uprising is in order in their idyllic New England resort town. It's like what if Percy Jackson reached a George R. R. Martin level of violence. I know the author offline, so I should recuse myself from review mode as I did above, but I question the wisdom of waiting till page 194 for the one black character to reveal he's black by saying exactly one black thing and then going back to being any-race for the rest of the book, or of waiting till page 283 for the one Japanese character to reveal she knows a martial art. Also, when font sizes changes from one paragraph to the next, that's super annoying and makes me wonder if my eyesight has gotten even worse than I thought.
27. Terry Gilliam, Gilliamesque. The heavily illustrated autobiography of the one American member of Monty Python, who later went on to direct such films as Time Bandits, 12 Monkeys, The Fisher King, Brazil, and more more more. Gilliam is candid about his former collaborators as well as his own flaws, and reveals a lot of behind-the-scenes trivia, drama, and pleasant successes. The book gives short shrift to any films for which he's already done extended commentaries or summations elsewhere, which is frustrating if you haven't already consumed those materials first, but he's not one to repeat himself. His entire career is a must-hear for anyone who wants to know what it's like to brave the grinding gears of the Hollywood movie machines with any of your ideals intact, if not necessarily your career.
28. Jason Lutes, Berlin: City of Stones. Collecting the first several chapters of a longform graphic novel about life in Germany beginning in 1928 and leading up to the eventual Nazi regime. The narrative skips around from one character to the next, weaving in and out of each other's lives -- sometimes shifting viewpoints within the same page and back again -- at a time when Germany struggled after the Great War with its identity as a nation. Lutes averages roughly one completed chapter per year, so this one is still in progress and a bit far from closure.
29. Gwenda Bond, Lois Lane: Double Down. YA novel about the intrepid Daily Planet reporter as a nosy, diligent, 21st-century teenager working for the school paper but making real headlines anyway. The second book in the series has Our Heroine contending with a shady experiment involving two sets of twins -- one natural, one not so much -- while juggling her schoolwork, her suspicious principal, and her online best friend she knows only as "SmallvilleGuy", with whom she holds clandestine chats in a hidden space inside their favorite MMORPG. If you have to update 80-year-old characters for a new millennium, this isn't a bad way to do it.
30. Ransom Riggs, Tales of the Peculiar. If you found Tim Burton's Miss Peregrine adaptation as annoying as I did, you can take comfort that the books themselves remain unharmed. Riggs follows the first trilogy with a short-story collection that boasts so few firm connections to the "Peculiar" universe that this could basically be a set of Twilight Zone pitches. They're largely fun reading, but only two of them offer any official backstory to existing characters. Most memorable to me was "The Girl Who Befriended Ghosts", in which a young lady with ties to the undead decides she really, really wants to have ghosts for friends and so sets about trying to move to different houses and asking them, but they keep running away. In essence, a reverse-Casper. I may have been more amused than I was meant to be.
31. Kate Leth and Brittney Williams, Patsy Walker a.k.a. Hellcat, Vol. 1: Hooked on a Feline. One of the sixty-seven different series that Marvel has canceled within the last six months, in which Patsy (who technically appeared in Netflix's Jessica Jones) and a nearly all-female supporting cast come to life in the current internet art and humor styles, bring back a few faces from her original 1950s heyday, and make me LOL several times in good ways. The series failed to participate in any major Avengers of X-Men crosssovers and therefore was doomed from the start, like a lot of other dead Marvel books that have freed up space in my budget this past year. Pity.