Best Comic Books Ever (This Week) – New Releases For April 1, 2015
The question most often asked of the ComicsAlliance staff is a variation of, “Which comic books should I be reading?” or, “I’m new to comics, what’s a good place to start?” The Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader, much less for those totally unfamiliar with creators, characters and publishers, and the dark mysteries of comic book shopping like variants, pre-ordering, and formats.
It’s with these challenges in mind that we’ve created Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), an ongoing guide curated by the ComicsAlliance staff. This is where new comics readers and seasoned Wednesday shoppers alike can find our picks of the best books the medium has to offer.
NEW SINGLE ISSUES
Single issues are periodicals, usually around 20 pages in length and priced from $2.99 to $4.99, and published in print and digitally. Single issues are typically published monthly, but some titles ship twice a month or even weekly. Single issues are the preferred format for many longtime comic book readers, and ideal if you enjoy serialized stories with cliffhangers.
Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Publisher: Image Comics
As you might have guessed from our interview with the creative team, No Mercylooks set to be a completely crazed terror of a comic. Following a group of kids as they go on a long, ‘exotic’ bus journey through foreign lands, things go bizarrely wrong and a series of huge problems suddenly start to mount up for the group. Each and any wrong decision made could get them all killed, and let’s face it – they’re going to make a load of bad decisions over the course of the series.One thing that Alex de Campi seems able to do more than anyone else in comics right now is capture a level of intensity – whether it be Predators killing off the cast of Archie, or the rampant shocks of her stories in Grindhouse, her scripts bottle tension and release it in unexpected, splashy, brilliant ways. Paired with McNeil, whose artwork starts off as widely comedic but then twists a knife as the story goes on, the creative team seem set to make this a journey to remember. -- Steve Morris
Publisher's Description: It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. But after tragedy strikes, a handful of once-privileged US teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn't like them, and at worst, actively wants to kill them.
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Tomas Aria
Publisher: Avatar Press
Despite all of the great work he's done on war comics, through the years, it's obvious that Garth Ennis is not done with the topic, and hopefully never will be. In a medium that doesn't typically offer true emotional depth, Ennis is able to tell stories that express authentic human emotions in characters at the edge of human experience. War Stories is the catchall that the title implies, telling stories from a range of eras, regions, and conflicts, with a new arc, "The Last German Winter," beginning this issue. If you've been missing out, now is the time to sign up. -- John Parker
Publisher Description: 'When I was a little girl, my mother told me tales of knights in shining armour, who would save damsels like me from dragons and other monsters...' February 1945: as the Soviet war machine crashes into eastern Germany on a tidal wave of carnage and revenge, a mother and her children join the flood of refugees struggling to stay ahead of the invaders. But the realities of battle are dreadful to behold, and what the little family find waiting for them is deadlier than any mythical dragon. Worse still, the strange figures who appear from the deep woods are far from being knights in shining armour- and in these dark times, the price of salvation may just be too much to bear. A dark tale of conflict and its consequences, by Garth Ennis and Tomas Aira: part one of The Last German Winter. Available with Regular &Wraparound Covers by Tomas Aria, and Good Girl Nose Art & Battle Damage Retailer Incentive Covers by Matt Martin.
Writers: Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Clio Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol
Artists: Jeff Stokely, Clio Chiang, Joy Ang, Vera Brosgol
Publisher: DC Comics
If you read our exclusive preview earlier this week, you'll know why we're excited about this Gotham Academy one shot. First, the idea of the Academy kids telling each other terrifying Joker stories during a blackout offers a wonderfully plausible taste of what life might be like in Gotham, and promises some new insights into the characters we've grown to love. Second, the artists writing and illustrating these horror stories are taltents you wouldn't expect to see in a DC Batman book a couple of years ago — Adventure Time character designer Joy Ang, illustrator Clio Chiang, and Anya’s Ghost author Vera Brosgol — and the introduction of fresh voices is well worth supporting. -- Andrew Wheeler
Publisher's Description: Gotham City has been overrun by craziness, and the power is out at Gotham Academy! But don't worry. The kids are safely locked up, huddled around candles and flashlights and telling the Gotham City version of ghost stories: Joker stories! Meanwhile, a mysterious figure connected to the Academy's past is patrolling the grounds with a crossbow, but who is it?
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
After introducing an amazing lead character and a compelling dynamic, Southern Bastards capsized, turning its dynamic completely upside-down. Through "Gridiron," Jason Aaron and Jason Latour have taken Coach Euless Boss from an easily hate-able big bad to a fully-fleshed character with an undeniable pathos. You don't hate him any less, but you a have a much deeper understanding of why this villain is the way he is, and might even find that you relate to him, an achievement few comics unlock. -- JP
Publisher's Description: The final chapter in the story of how the worst football player in Craw County rose to become 'Coach Boss,' and the terrible bloody price he had to pay along the way. Don't miss the chilling conclusion of 'Gridiron,' the second arc in the seminal southern crime series.
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artists: Diego Bernard, Ryan Winn
Publisher: Valiant Comics
The flagship title of the Valiant Universe is currently in the opening stages of a storyline called ‘Dead Hand’, in which the hero X-O Manowar is facing, well, a giant robot army. As a whole, the series has been telling an expansive, entertaining and system-spanning storyline, forcing the character into both heroic and anti-heroic positions as the narrative pushes ever wider. Aric himself (the man inside the Manowar armor) has proven to be a complex, impressive creation, and one who can shoulder gigantic storylines without being left in the shade.
The series has stacked ever-greater worries and responsibilities on the characters, creating a whole world which is easy to invest in and pays off repeatedly on plot points buried months ago. Aric has fought alien armies, human armies, and even himself been a one-man invasion over the last few years – I’m very much looking forward to seeing him add “robot army” to the list of those he’s smashed. -- SM
Publisher's Description: DEAD HAND means death! In the far reaches of deep space, the ultimate fail-safe of an extinct alien race has finally counted down to zero…and the robot army called DEAD HAND has been activated. The civilization that built them has fallen...and, now, to combat the doomsday threat that destroyed their world, DEAD HAND will complete the mission that their creators could not. Soulless and brutal, this billion-strong legion is the phantom army of a dead world…and it will cleanse the universe by any means necessary. But what unthinkable menace were they created to destroy? And will DEAD HAND's slow march across the galaxy spell death for countless worlds? Soon, Aric of Dacia will be forced to confront the secrets that have pushed him to the terrible turning point that is DEAD HAND…and battle a single-minded killing machine unlike any he has seen before! Outmatched and vastly outnumbered, how can Aric stop something unstoppable…something that knows no fear, only eradication?
NEW COLLECTED EDITIONS AND GRAPHIC NOVELS
Trades: Colloquial term for paperback or hardcover compilations of comic book stories originally published as single issues. The preferred format for readers who enjoy comic book narratives in substantial chunks.
Graphic Novels: Typically any comic book that is a complete story in a more-or-less novel-length format. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with trades.
Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Bergen Street Press
Like a lot of people, I was late to getting to Michel Fiffe's Copra party, and catching up on everything I missed did at times feel a little hopeless. Thankfully, with Copra Round 2, all twelve issues are now available in reprint form for newbs like you and me. Stylish, weird, and incredibly well-crafted, this paean to Suicide Squad and eighties comics is every bit as good as you've been told. -- JP
Publisher's Description: Genocide ain't a pretty thing to see. But there's no time to mourn when your face is at the edge of the gun. Scared, desperate, and alone, Copra's gonna clear their name in a brutal reckoning with the forces that screwed them over and sold them out. Will hate be enough? This is it: Copra Round Two, the second volume of Michel Fiffe's unmatched juggernaut of self-published violence.
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang, Goran Sudzuka
Publisher: DC Comics
This hardcover edition collects the final issues of Brian Azzarrello and Cliff Chiang's momentous run on Wonder Woman, easily the most vital work done with the character in decades, maybe ever. This was the Sandman of Wonder Woman stories, and this ultimate arc was super-tight, razor-sharp, and delivered on every promise that came before it. Few comics truly redefine icons, but Azzarrello and Chiang's Wonder Woman rewrote Princess Diana's mythos for the new millennium. -- JP
Publisher's Description: In this final WONDER WOMAN volume by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang Olympus must fall, and its rightful ruler must be restored. Wonder Woman is locked in desperate battle with the First Born with the destiny of immortals at stake in these stories from WONDER WOMAN #30-35 and a story from SECRET ORIGINS #6.
Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Mike Ploog, Various
Ooh baby baby it's a weirdworld. I'll admit I don't think I've ever knowingly read an issue of Moench and Ploog's 70s fantasy series, but then again it's exactly the sort of series I might have come across random issues of in my youth, in second hand sales and peculiar British reprints. And it's a nostalgic affection for that sort of discovery of the quirky hidden gems of comics history that makes me intrigued about this largely forgotten series, which is getting a revival of sorts in Secret Wars. I doubt this is a lost classic, but I hope it's at least a little... weird. -- AW
Publisher's Description: Welcome to Weirdworld, a land of legend and lore! Meet Tyndall, a lost elf on a dangerous quest - to the heart of evil and beyond! One that will unite him with the beautiful Velanna, and forge an alliance for the ages. Together with grumpy dwarf Mud-Butt, these warriors of the shadow realm will brave the City of Seven Dark Delights, face the fallen god Darklens and meet the Dragonmaster of Klarn. But will they ever find their way home? From the mind of Doug Moench, and brought to life with incredible artwork by such talents as Mike Ploog and John Buscema, comes a far-out fantasy masterpiece in the mighty Marvel manner! Collecting material from MARVEL PREMIERE #38, MARVEL SUPER ACTION (1976) #1, MARVEL FANFARE (1982) #24-26, MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #11-13, and EPIC ILLUSTRATED #9and #11-13.
Writer: Curt Pires
Artist: Jason Copland, Pete Toms
Publisher: Dark Horse
This four-issue miniseries from Dark Horse starts off as a look at the corporate sleaze behind pop music and suddenly branches off into a comics counter-culture movement of its own. Written by Curt Pires and brilliantly structured by Jason Copland and Pete Toms, this is a comic which really feels like the creative team have things they want to say.
At times their influences are worn heavy on the sleeves — some Grant Morrison indications, a heavy dose of Quentin Tarantino — but the production and design of the overall piece is showy, invested, and exciting. This is comics as a show of bravado, with the creative team setting out to make as brazen a case for their storytelling as possible. And in that, they absolutely succeed. -- SM
Publisher Description: What if the world's pop stars and celebrities were literally products, grown by the world's wealthiest (i.e., most depraved) minds-and one of them escaped? Collects the four-issue miniseries.
CATCH UP ON THE CLASSICS
Many of the best comic books ever have been released for quite some time. Every week we select one or two perennials that readers new and old should add to their collections.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Publisher: You may have heard of this Brian K. Vaughan guy a few times, but one of the best things he did, alongside artist Adrian Alphona and colorist Christina Strain, was to start this series about young kids with powers. New, original teams are unusual at companies like Marvel and DC, but Runaways pulled it off with such aplomb that it is eternally beloved. The children of supervillains discover their parents’ secret and decide to run away and become heroes, with mixed success. Later volumes tend to get a mixed review, but the first volume of the book is amazing, with the whole team bringing their A-games. -- Janelle Asselin
Description: All young people believe their parents are evil ... but what if they really are? Meet Alex, Karolina, Gert, Chase, Molly and Nico - whose lives are about to take an unexpected turn. When these six young friends discover their parents are all secretly super-powered villains, the shocked teens find strength in one another. Together, they run away from home and straight into the adventure of their lives - vowing to turn the tables on their evil legacy.