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.



    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.


    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: Various
    Artist: Various
    Publisher: DC Vertigo

    Whoever is forcing Vertigo at gunpoint to publish so many anthologies lately should be given an extra clip to ensure the trend continues. Last year's Vertigo Quarterly: CMYK recruited oodles of talent to produce stories based on themes related to the four colors in the comics printing process. For this year's anthology series, Vertigo turns to that often-forgotten facet of the comics form, the sound effect. For this first issue, POP!, contributors include Peter Milligan, Nathan Fox, and Hope Larson. Slam! Krak! and Bang! follow; there are currently no plans for Doink!, Kabloowie!, or Poot! Write your congressperson. [John Parker]


    Writer: Jeff Parker
    Artist: Evan "Doc" Shaner
    Publisher: DC Comics

    The best thing about Convergence is that it's giving a bunch of great creators a chance to work with characters that they might not have gotten a shot at otherwise. For some, like Greg Rucka and Cully Hamner on The Question, it's coming back to characters that they were great on before, but for others, it's finally getting to tell a story with a character they're perfect for. Parker and Shaner fit squarely into that category. If you've been following Shaner's work at all, you're probably already aware that he's a huge fan of the Shazam characters, and his clean, crisp artwork is a perfect fit for them. As for Parker, if I was going to pick one writer that I'd want to see doing Shazam vs. Steampunk Batman, he'd be the one. Put 'em together, and you've got an easy pick for the best Convergence mini so far. [Chris Sims]


    Writer: Simon Oliver
    Artist: John McCrea
    Publisher: DC Comics

    While Jack Cole's Plastic Man was published by Quality Comics, the character has never been associated with the rest of the Quality stable that DC assigned to Earth-X (where the Nazis won World II) after they acquired the Quality trademarks. He was therefore missing from 1973's JLA/JSA/Freedom Fighters team-up in the pages of Justice League of America, and the 1976 Freedom Fighters comic, and its many attempts at revivals over recent years. For the sake of Convergence, Vertigo writer Simon Oliver puts Plas front and center with DC's FF, but it's the creators more than the characters that should make this one of the more interesting of Convergence tie-ins. Exterminators and FBP writer Oliver is being joined by artist John McCrea, who drew Hitman (which I'm pretty sure is the best comic book DC has ever published) and will be drawing the new Hitman spin-off Section 8 following this two-part mini. And as if McCrea's return to DC wasn't exciting enough, the book also features a cover by the great Hilary Barta. [Caleb Mozzocco]


    Writer: Dan Abnett
    Artist: Tom Derenick, Trevor Scott, Monica Kubina and Dave Sharpe
    Publisher: DC Comics

    I have a strange fondness for the group of DC superheroes who are essentially the Action Grandpas, and Convergence gives us a last stand for the ol' codgers this week. As ever, this is a Convergence two-parter, which means the story is following the same rote structure as every other blimmin' tie-in book, but the creative team here manage to make something good out of the story they've been handed. It's strangely poignant, as ever, and the best news is that there's no Wildcat banging on about stuff, because Wildcat is the worst. If, like me, you enjoy seeing people talk about their problems getting in and out of the bath, or how super-heroing used to be better in the golden era before the villains got wi-fi, you'll enjoy this issue. [Steve Morris]


    Writer: Kelly Thompson
    Artist: Sophie Campbell
    Publisher: IDW

    I think it's important for you to know that when I say that Jem and the Holograms is the most exciting comic book of the year, I'm not kidding. At all. That first issue was everything I want out of Jem, with amazing art and character designs and a couple of subtle tweaks that made the premise work even better than it did in the original show. There's only one thing it was missing. Well, four things if you want to get technical: The Misfits, Jem's hard-rocking and occasionally murderous nemeses. This is the issue where they show up, and if that wasn't enough, it also promises to kick off the slow burn of the Stormer/Kimber relationship that's finally making the move from subtext to text. There's nothing out there right now that I'm more excited about. [CS]

  • SILK #3

    Writer: Robbie Thompson
    Artist: Stacey Lee, Ian Herring and Travis Lanham
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    I'm still not really onboard with the strange storyline that Black Cat has become some kind of legitimate gangster because Spider-Man punched her this one time, but Silk has been spinning iffy storylines into gold since it begun. Or, I suppose, spinning it into silk, because silk is quite precious too, possibly? Stacey Lee has proven herself a new comics superstar on this series, as I've written about before, and Robbie Thompson's writing has leaped straight from television into comics without hitting any of the pitfalls that normally await such medium-hoppers. This is a brilliant, fun, and dynamic superhero story, told with passion and an eye on character. [SM]


    Writer: James Robinson
    Artist: Leonard Kirk
    Publisher: Marvel

    Billed as the final issue of Fantastic Four (spoiler alert: it won't be), James Robinson and Leonard Kirk wrap up their tumultuous run with this special triple-sized issue. All promotional hyperbole aside — the final arc is even called "The End Is Fourever" — Robinson and Kirk's work on FF has been superb, bringing tension and drama back into the family dynamic and introducing an edge of darkness that never seemed out-of-place with the source material. No matter what the eventual reboot looks like — I'm putting my money on "just like the new movie" — Robinson and Kirk are giving the title a proper send-off. [JP]


    Writer: Grant Morrison
    Artist: Ivan Reis and Joe Prado
    Publisher: DC Comics

    Multiversity has been responsible for some of the best comics of the past year. The intricate clockwork of Pax Americana, the fun adventure of Thunderworld — even the Guidebook had a great story in it that went beyond just listing off alternate realities. As a result, this week's final issue of the crossover has a ton of pressure to live up to the hype, especially considering that this is the Big Event that Morrison has been talking about for years. Personally, I'm going in optimistic, since there hasn't been an issue oyet that I haven't at least liked, but either way, one thing's for sure: We're going to have to find something else to keep David Uzumeri off the streets. [CS]


    Writer: James Asmus
    Artist: Steve Lieber, Dave McCaig and Dan Lamphear
    Publisher: Valiant Comics

    Steve Lieber proved himself one of the best comedic storytellers in comics during his time on Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and James Asmus was the last person to write my beloved Generation X hero Husk correctly. So they're quite the powerhouse duo for Quantum & Woody, which seems to be reaching the conclusion of Asmus' long run with the characters across multiple different books. His take on them has managed to feel contemporary and fun, making this a poignant and likely superpowered goat-heavy farewell to the characters. This has been something completely different for Valiant, but one that nods openly towards the seminal work of Priest and Bright in the way race and society collide into the lives of the two... heroes? I want to say heroes, but... [SM]


    Writer/Artist: Philippe Coudray
    Publisher: Toon Books

    Okay, Amazon may say this 40-page hardcover is recommended for readers ages 4-8, but Amazon can go to the devil: No matter what age you are, if you like comics, you're going to love Coudray's Benjamin Bear books. Each is full of one-page gag strips that aren't merely masterfully cartooned, but relentlessly inventive. Even the handful that aren't funny are admirably clever in their ambition, construction and education. If you make this week's release of Brain Storms your first exposure, and love it as much as I think you will, good news! Toon already has already realeased two other Benjamin Bear books. [CM]


    Writer: Nate Cosby
    Artist: Chris Eliopoulos
    Publisher: Archaia

    Oh shoot! I hadn't realized we were so close to Cow Boy getting released! This is a terrific comic, about a young boy who decides it's about time somebody does something about all the outlaws and varmints running around in the ol' West. He may be very small and quite young, but he's a stern-talkin' piece of work, make no mistake, brought into vivid and delightful life by the pencils of Chris Eliopoulos. Nate Cosby has proven himself a great comedic voice which we could all use more of (hey, Nate Cosby: write more comics, please) and Cow Boy demonstrates an ability by both sides of the creative team to set up a silly premise and then completely sell it through a surprisingly compelling and heartfelt story. [SM]


    Writer: Dashiell Hammett (with Leslie Charteris)
    Artist: Alex Raymond (with Charles Flanders)
    Publisher: IDW Publishing

    Secret Agent X-9 has a funny spot in comics history. Although Alex Raymond's influence on comics is widespread, that legacy is mainly a result of his most famous creation, Flash Gordon, and his masterpiece Rip Kirby. And although Secret Agent X-9 is written by one of the most important writers of the 20th century, the legendary Dashiell Hammett, the strip is scattered and uneven compared to his detective novels, especially early on, perhaps because he was still figuring out the form. While X-9 may not have seen either legend at this best, it was nonetheless a unique nexus of otherworldly talent, and a fascinating snapshot of Raymond's nascent powers. Raymond's simple realism and gifts for imbuing his characters with body language, heft, and presence — which he perfect in Rip Kirby — appear in their pupal forms in Secret Agent X-9, and it's a fascinating process watch. (In addition to the Hammett/Raymond stories, this volume contains additional stories written by Leslie Charteris, creator of The Saint. [JP]