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.

  • BUYING GUIDE

    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.

    TRADES & 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.

  • ADAM.3 #1

    Writer/Artist: Scott Kolins

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    This looks to be a bit of contemporary Kirby, with Scott Kolins handling every part of the creative process for a new series that seems to draw a lot of inspiration from Kamandi, Tarzan, early Fantastic Four, and The Herculoids. In essence, it’s likely going to be completely crazy and delightful. Set in a sci-fi jungle, the story follows Adam.3 as he tries to protect his home and family from the onslaught of monsters sent down by S.E.E.D.S. This is the first creator-owned work from Kolins, and he looks to have waited for just the right project to lay root. It looks bright, vibrant and fun, with a bouncy style that plays into his artwork beautifully, and a core concept which should put a bit of pulpy verve back into superheroes. [Steve Morris]

  • DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS #1

    Writer: Marguerite Bennett

    Artist: Marguerite Sauvage

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Following the trail blazed by the Ame-Comi Girls line of stylized statuettes-turned-comic book series, the DC Bombshells line of stylized statuettes get their own comic book series, starting this week. The statuettes featured World War II Era-style redesigns of DC heroines, reimaging them as pin-up girls, propaganda, Golden Age Hollywood actresses and nosecone art (hence the name). I have no idea how they gauge the popularity of something as specific as novelty statuettes, but the designs were popular enough to earn a month of variant covers, and a second month of variant covers (this time including some male bombshells), plus this comic. An all-Marguerite team has the task of attaching stories to these designs, and this first issue features pin-up Supergirl, Rosie The Riveter-style Wonder Woman and, my favorite re-design, Batwoman by way of A League of Their Own. If nothing else, a Batwoman in a goth version of the Rockford Peaches uniform thwarting the Wayne mugging by conking Joe Chill out with a baseball bat shows real promise. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • THE ELTINGVILLE CLUB #2

    Writer: Evan Dorkin

    Artist: Evan Dorkin

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    If you've ever worked in a comic book store — heck, if you've ever even overheard an argument in a comic book store — then you need to read Evan Dorkin's Eltingville Club. Even if you've never read the comic, you might remember the series from a pilot that aired on Adult Swim a few years back that, sadly, never got picked up, presumably because television was still a few years away from being ready for a thoroughly unlikable cast of characters that represented the absolute worst of what fandom has to offer. The comics, however, have been consistently amazing and brutally hilarious, and with this, the long-awaited final issue of the series, Dorkin is setting his sights on San Diego. It's one that I'm expecting to be funny, but given that it involves the members of the Eltingville Club meeting up after ten years apart, I wouldn't be surprised if it got a little emotional, too. [Chris Sims]

  • ACTION COMICS #43

    Writer: Greg Pak

    Artist: Aaron Kuder

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Summer 2015 is probably the best time in recent memory to be reading the Superman books. The post-Convergence direction that has seen Clark Kent's identity exposed and a reduction in his powers has provided some really interesting stuff, and both Action's Pak and Kuder and Superman's Gene Yang and John Romita Jr. are teams that have a knack for taking on stories inspired by events in the real world without ever losing their superheroic edge or feeling like they're co-opting genuine concerns and feelings for the sake of cheap drama. And it's a tricky line to walk — this storyline has seen Superman dealing with a corrupt and violent arm of Metropolis's police force that's cracking down on innocent protesters, and while that's a hot-button topic that could've easily come off as tasteless or preachy, seeing Superman take them head-on and fight for the people who need him most was for me one of the most cathartic moments in recent memory. This week, the story continues, and I cannot wait to see it. [CS]

  • PHONOGRAM: THE IMMATERIAL GIRL #1

    Writer: Kieron Gillen

    Artists: Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson

    Publisher: Image Comics

    You might not know it, but you’ve been waiting a long time for this book. Originally teased in the first Phonogram series back in 2005-2006, Immaterial Girl was instead skipped-over for Phonogram: The Singles Club in 2008-2009. The Immaterial Girl was teased again in the pages of The Singles Club, but as I discovered in an interview with Gillen right before that series wrapped up, there would be no Immaterial Girl just as there would be no more Phonogram, as Gillen and McKelvie had to move on to other things. Those other things ended up being Young Avengers and The Wicked + The Divine, two of the best-received comics in recent memory about youth, death, and music, and I think Immaterial Girl might even have been teased between those two projects one more time. A decade after it first piqued the interests of a few, Gillen and McKelvie have a much bigger following, an extra partner in Matthew Wilson, and the book that looked like it would never get made is on its way, primed to hit a whole new generation of readers who didn’t experience Phonogram the first time around. Also, I get to claim that Gillen lied to me in an interview in a very dark corner of the internet. I’m all about music and magic, people, but journalistic integrity is tops in my book. (Not true at all. I’m a musician, I’ve dabbled with sigils, and I’m not a journalist. We cool, KG.) [John Parker]

  • BLACK PANTHER BY CHRISTOPHER PRIEST COMPLETE COLLECTION VOL. 1

    Writer: Christopher Priest

    Artists: Mark Texeira, Vince Evans et al

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    For such a well-known character, Black Panther didn’t have many famous runs in print last year – but the news of an upcoming movie in five (?) years' time has finally forced Marvel to get in the game. Christopher Priest's run is widely considered one of the best the character ever had, and it was incredibly frustrating that it was unavailable in trade. So this is good news! Finally Marvel is putting the collection out, and this week marks the first volume, made up of the first seventeen issues with art by Mark Texeira and Vince Evans. That run includes 'The Client' and 'Enemy of the State', which were particularly praised by critics, and introduces Everett K. Ross, an agent sent over to Wakanda to cause problems and be bureaucratic (and, one suspects, to put a white face in the cast for the Marvel audience of the time). I’m looking forward to finally reading this. [SM]

  • OLYMPUS HC

    Writers: Geoff Johns and Kris Grimminger

    Artist: Butch Guice

    Publisher: Humanoids

    Geoff Johns' career as a comics writer is so closely tied to DC's superhero line that it can be a bit jarring to find that he actually has written for other publishers, scripting a few mini-series, a twenty-issue 2002-2004 run on Avengers for Marvel, and a handful of assignments on other superhero-related books. This original graphic novel is more unusual still, as it's a non-DC (although DC and Humanoids had a relationship at the time), non-superhero work, a real rarity in the prolific writer's career. It's still genre work, but further removed from Johns' most comfortable genre. He and co-writer Kris Grimminger situate a group of graduate students and a team of mercenaries on the real-life mountain of myth, where they must use their respective brains and brawn to survive. The evocative, representational-style art of Butch Guice further commands attention in a book that might otherwise merely seem a curiosity on Johns' 300,000 comics-long resume. [CM]

  • MY HERO ACADEMIA VOL. 1 GN

    Writer/Artist: Kouhei Horikoshi

    Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Jump

    The first thing that I heard about My Hero Academia was that it involved an analogue for Superman who shouts the names of places in America whenever he punches someone, like "TEXAS!" or "DETROIT!" Not coincidentally, that was the only thing that I needed to hear to get me to give it a shot, but it didn't hurt that it seems to have a similar premise to One Punch Man. Like that book, it's set in a world where superheroes and villains are common enough that they're organized into businesses and schools, but instead of following the most powerful character in the universe — OPM's Saitama — Academia is focused on one of the few people in the world who doesn't have a super-power, and his desire to become a hero anyway. That's the sort of premise I can get behind, and this volume has come pretty highly recommended from readers. [CS]

  • JUDGE DREDD: AMERICA TP

    Writer: John Wagner

    Artist: Colin MacNeil

    Publisher: Rebellion

    The all-time-greatest Judge Dredd story ever finally debuts in North American stores this week. Whenever somebody asks where they should start with Judge Dredd as a series, this is the story people point towards, a complex political take on the character that moves away from some of the sillier stuff in order to offer pointed commentary on the state of America, and the concept of justice. It sadly couldn’t be more timely. This is Wagner on blistering form, showing how the people of Mega City One deal with a Law that is brutal, unfriendly, and unstoppable. Dredd has never looked as horrifying as he does here, and the ending is absolutely devastating. With Colin MacNeil fully painting each page, this also looks absolutely brilliant, a resonant reminder of everything comics can be at their best. [SM]

  • BIZARRE ADVENTURES OF GILBERT & SULLIVAN GN

    Writer/Artist: Laura Howell

    Publisher: Soaring Penguin Press

    "Everyone knows Gilbert and Sullivan were peerless as composters of light opera in Victorian Britian," the publisher's copy for this intirguing graphic begins, "But fewer people are aware of their dual identities as super-powered, dapper defenders of the realm!" I would go further still, and say no one was aware of their double lives, save maybe Laura Howell, the cartoonist responsible for this delightly daffy-sounding original graphic novel. After Wednesday and the release of this book, I imagine quite a few more people will know about the other Gilbert and Sullivan though. Expect the very model of a (post-)modern major fictionalized comic biography. [CM]

  • OPERATION S.I.N. AGENT CARTER TP

    Writer Kathryn Immonen

    Artists: Rich Ellis, Ramon K. Perez, Jordan Boyd, Joe Sabino

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    I believe Kathryn Immonen is the best writer of all time, and you’ll never be able to prove otherwise. She’s basically the living personification of Agent Peggy Carter, making her the absolute perfect choice for this five-issue miniseries featuring the character. Immonen's joined here by artist Rich Ellis, who proved during 'Memorial' that he's a regular marvel himself, able to bring out a sense of spirit in everything he touches. It's a fantastic creative team for Carter, who has become one of the most vivid and cheerable heroes that Marvel has. Blisteringly entertaining, with any luck this miniseries could lead to more Carter comics from this underrated creative team. I'm also led to believe that my personal hero Edwin Jarvis appears in the book, so I forthwith give this my Heartiest Seal of British Approval. Bravo! [SM]