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.

  • RUNLOVEKILL #1

    Writer: Eric Canete & Jonathan Tsuei

    Artist: Eric Canete

    Publisher: Image Comics

    Eric Canete is an artist I believe has deserved a wider audience for quite a while now. His lanky, bony, awkward characters aren't everybody's cup of tea, but his ability to convey motion is high-level stuff; at his best he transforms pages of panels into something near-animatic. That's what makes RunLoveKill #1 with Jon Tsuei so enticing: a story about an assassin with 24 hours to escape a barricaded city, I'm expecting near-constant momentum, and maybe a few new fans of Canete's prodigious talent. [John Parker]

  • THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA #2

    Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa

    Artist: Robert Hack

    Publisher: Archie Comics

    Given the surprising creative and commercial success of Afterlife With Archie, it was no surprise at all to hear that the publisher would be trying another mature-readers horror comic based on one of their properties. What is surprising is the direction that Afterlife writer Aguirre-Sacasa went in with The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, setting this new take on the beloved teenage witch in the 1960s from which she originally sprang. Now, however, the look is realistic rather than cartoony, and the mode is scary rather than funny. It's been a long wait between issues — #1 shipped in October — but if the first installment was any indication, this second one should be well worth it. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • SHAFT #5

    Writer: David Walker

    Artist: Bilquis Evely

    Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

    In only five issues, Shaft has become one of the must-reads of the last few years, with writing and art that immediately gelled into a cohesive, immersive whole. The book looks at the past of John Shaft while he was still a boxer rather than PI, an it's been rough, dangerous and thrilling stuff since the start, with a real sense of edge to it. This has rightly put David Walker on the comics map as a writer who has something to say — he’s a new voice in the industry who says things nobody else in comics will. Backed by exceptional artwork from Evely, Shaft has been a surprise which grows in importance every month. [Steve Morris]

  • LUMBERJANES #13

    Writers: Noelle Stevenson and Shannon Watters

    Artists: Brooke Allen, Maarta Laiho

    If you're not already sold on Lumberjanes, issue #13 is a perfect jumping-on point. Not only does it bring back original series artist Brooke Allen, but it's also a standalone issue that reveals how the Lumberjanes first met. They're a crew worth getting to know, with wit and charm and the sort of ideals that kids of all ages can learn from. If you're not convinced already, check out the exclusive preview of the issue that we ran here at ComicsAlliance. [Andrew Wheeler]

  • AQUILA #1

    Writer: Gordon Rennie

    Artist: Leigh Gallagher

    Publisher: Rebellion

    Rebellion is the publisher of 2000 AD and Judge Dredd Megazine, which has started branching out into ‘American-Style’ comics of late. Aquila is one of its better-known properties, from the hands of writer Gordon Rennie and artist Leigh Gallagher..This swords n’ sorcery series is set back during the Roman days, and follows Aquila, a former slave who becomes gladiator and soldier. It’s an absolutely grim series, full of stabbings and grimacing, but it’s sterling stuff throughout. Aquila is a smart choice for a standalone book, and the creative team is one of 2000AD’s best. [SM]

  • GIANT DAYS #2

    Writer: John Allison

    Artists: Lissa Treiman, Whitney Cogar

    Publisher: Boom!

    The first issue of Giant Days was a great welcome to an established universe. It could be easy for the writer of an established webcomic to assume his readers are already acquainted with the world he’s created, but Allison does no such thing. With Treiman, they offered up an easy entry into the Giant Days world, and the story is really entertaining slice-of-life stuff. Issue two promises to have more of the same great college drama with charming art, so if that’s your thing, you should check out this book. Issue #1 would be helpful to read, but otherwise you don’t need to know any other back story. Enjoy! [Janelle Asselin]

  • 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.

  • BEE AND PUPPYCAT VOL. 1 TP

    Writers: Garrett Jackson and Natasha Allegri

    Artist: Natasha Allegri

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    A hero for the modern age, Natasha Allegri is perhaps best known for her work over on Adventure Time, where she created — on a whim — the Fionna and Cake characters, who proved so popular that they were later introduced officially onto the show. Bee and Puppycat was her next project, an animation series that again hit the popular imagination and proved a huge success. Allegri and co-writer Garrett Jackson have managed to take all the charm of the series and hurl it straight into the heart of the comic. This is a bright, vibrant, delight of a comic, with more soul than you could even imagine. This first trade could not be any more essential! [SM]

  • HARVEY KURTZMAN: THE MAN WHO CREATED MAD AND REVOLUTIONIZED HUMOR IN AMERICA

    Writer: Bill Schelly

    Publisher: Fantagraphics Books

    Harvey Kurtzman's impact on comics is immeasurable, but his influence on American culture at large is truly remarkable. As a cartoonist and editor for EC Comics, he cultivated or produced some of the best comics of all time, from funnies to war stories. More significant, though, is his contribution to American humor, with his comic voice being as vital to his era as that of Lenny Bruce, and Mad Magazine indoctrinating the youth into an irreverent, silly, and subversive world for generations. There could never be enough books about Harvey Kurtzman, but this 644-page tome by Bill Schelly, with a foreword by Terry Gilliam, will be a good start. [JP]