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.

  • PREZ #6

    Writer: Mark Russell

    Artist: Ben Caldwell

    Publisher: DC Comics

    It’s possibly the last issue of Prez, and possibly not – word is that it may have been extended to 12 issues, though the solicitation last month read that it would be 6. Whatever length Prez winds up running, I’m thankful for two things. First, that there is a transgender ex-military war-robot named Tina who is joining the cast as the President’s bodyguard in this issue, and secondly, that that’s a phrase that 100% makes sense in the world of Prez. This world is eminently recognizable as being about the gong show that is modern U.S. politics, but everything is skewed at a 45 degree Batman ’66 style angle that feels like a demented but highly possible outgrowth of current trends. Prez is a delight, and while I hope it isn’t over, I’m grateful that it happened. [Charlotte Finn]

  • JAMES BOND #2

    Writer: Warren Ellis

    Artist: Jason Masters

    Publisher: Dynamite

    I'll admit that my excitement for Ellis and Masters' take on 007 meant that I was probably going to like that first issue regardless of what happened in it - see also: my excitement for Quantum of Solace and Skyfall - but seriously? That was a comic that opened with James Bond throwing a cinderblock at a dude and then getting into a full-on shovel fight that was motivated purely by revenge, and once you've done that, I'm going to be all in no matter where I stood before I read it. Beyond that, though, we were given the classic setup, one that we haven't seen in the movies for a while, and it's the sort of thing I've missed about the films: Bond goes into M's office and gets an assignment, and in this case, with the setup (and a solicitation for this issue) indicating that he's going to be unarmed on this mission. At best, this means that we're not done with Bond improvising weapons out of construction equipment, but even without that specific element, it's a pretty interesting setup that I can't wait to see more of. [Chris Sims]

  • SPIDEY #1

    Writer: Robbie Thompson

    Artists: Nick Bradshaw, Jim Campbell

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Considering everybody believes comics are just for kids (biff bam pow), it's weird how Marvel seem to have been doing their level best to make sure none of their most famous characters are appearing in any comics that children can read. If you leave aside the Joe Caramagnaverse of all-ages content, Marvel's X-Men/Avengers/Spider-Men comics are largely aimed at people who are the same age as the people writing them. Where are the comics that anybody can read, not just 40 year olds? This week's Spidey will hopefully prove a first step in the right direction. Written by Robbie Thompson (of the very much great series Silk) and Nick Bradshaw (one of Marvel's best superhero artists, and underappreciated for it) at the helm, this is an all-ages series which follows Peter Parker, Spider-Man, right at the start of his journey into power and responsibility, and also just before he has history class. That's right! This is a superhero-at-school comic, which is the best and most interesting situation any superhero comic can choose to be set in. I hope this goes well - it looks right now like it could be a real winner. [Steve Morris]

  • ALL-NEW X-MEN #1

    Writer: Dennis Hopeless

    Artist: Mark Bagley

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    I honestly have no idea what's going on in the mishmash of Marvel continuity these days. Does anybody until Secret Wars is finished? My own ignorance is especially embarrassing as it relates to the X-folk, since I haven't really read any titles since Jason Aaron wrapped up Wolverine and the X-Men. I do know that thanks to a little timey-wimey stuff, teenage versions of the original X-Men are hanging around the 616, and Cyclops, Beast, and Iceman will be appearing in this book, alongside Kid Apocalypse, Idie Okonkwo, and an all-new Wolverine, because the original one is still dead... right? Really, it doesn't matter, because all that I need to know is that Dennis Hopeless is writing this and Mark Bagley is illustrating it. Hopeless brings real energy and emotion to his books, especially when writing teenagers, and even though Bagley has been making comics for thirty years, everything he produces is bursting with the enthusiasm of a 15-year-old picking up his first guitar. A great team to reintroduce the young X-Men back into whatever the crap is happening in the Marvel Universe. [John Parker]

  • TRANSFORMERS #48

    Writer: John Barber

    Artist: Andrew Griffith

    Publisher: IDW Publishing

    Here at ComicsAlliance, More Than Meets the Eye gets most of the attention, and deservedly so. But this series, formerly titled Robots in Disguise, is a worthy companion series and a great comic in its own right. In contrast with MTMTE’s cosmic adventure, Transformers concentrates on the new status quo of Cybertron and how it interacts with Earth, but like MTMTE, it features its share of defining takes on also-ran characters like Thundercracker, whose dog Buster is the star of this issue alongside the Autobot diagnostic drone D.0.C. If the adventures of a Decepticon’s pet dog and a robot that communicates in beeps isn’t for you, the unfun comics are over there somewhere. For the rest of us, the entire Transformers line is stronger than it has any right to be, and is doing some of the best world-building and long-term planning in comics right now. [CF]

  • SHERIFF OF BABYLON #1

    Writer: Tom King

    Artist: Mitch Gerads

    Publisher: DC Comics

    If you've been paying attention to Tom King's comics since he burst on the scene at DC, you've probably noticed that his work is often focused on espionage. It's filtered through the lens of superheroes, of course - I'm not sure there's any real-world inspiration for that one villain from Grayson who had guns for eyes, for instance - but in a book like Omega Men that's focused on ideas of invasion and insurgency, that lens gets pretty thin. Now, King - who worked in counter-terrorism for the CIA before he shifted to comics writing - is teaming up with Mitch Gerads for a story that hits a whole lot closer to that real-world inspiration than he's ever done before, and as far as first issues go, it's pretty great. It's a murder mystery that uses the invasion and reconstruction of Iraq as its backdrop, with three compelling characters all on different sides of the conflict - and it's probably the only DC Comic that has to be run by the CIA before it's printed. With a setup like that, how can you not check it out? [CS]

  • GRIMJACK OMNIBUS VOL. 1

    Writer: John Ostrander

    Artist: Timothy Truman

    Publisher: Comicmix

    Early '80s indie comic GrimJack, a beneficiary of the era's boom, returns in the form of a massive 400-page collection that includes the the first 13-issues of the series, plus the back-ups from Starslayer. If you missed it the first time around–and since everything collected herein was published between 1983 and 1985, there's a pretty good chance youdid– GrimJack was the story of John Gaunt, a life-long warrior and sword-for-hire operating out of a bizarre bar in a multidimensional world. Of course, all you really need to know is that the book was written by John Ostrander, the writer responsible for what is arguably one of DC's best series ever (Suicide Squad) and many of the most readable Star Wars comics for Dark Horse, and it was drawn by the legendary Tim Truman, an artist whose every page has always been worth a look. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • FEATHERS HC

    Writer/Artist:Jorge Corona

    Publisher: Archaia

    Published right at the start of this year, Jorge Corona's Feathers is a six-part all-ages comic that scampers across the roofways and trough the dark labyrinths of a great, wild city. Nominally about a boy covered in feathers, this is actually a romantic tale of freindship - dark and wonderful, flittering and sweet. Corona's style is not an elegant sort of thing - instead it's a little jagged, and hard, and that Mignola-esque tendency to force a hard angle into the characters' faces gives the series a more ominous sweep than you might first expect. This is still an all-ages story (just like Spidey) but it's also one which challenges a little harder, goes a little deeper, and pushes the reader further. For an opening gambit, this is a tremendous piece of work from Corona, and worth catching up on before he goes on to whatever his next grand comics work may be. There's a depth within all-ages comics right now, and this week speaks lovingly to that fact. Hurray! [SM]

  • VIOLENZIA AND OTHER DEADLY AMUSEMENTS GN

    Writer/Artist: Richard Sala

    Publisher: Fantagraphics

    Originally released as a 50-page digital one-shot by Comixology, this corporeal version of Violenzia And Other Deadly Amusements comes with 94 pages of additional material, because anybody who reads comics off a screen is clearly a sucker who needs to get got. Such chicanery is much less egregious when the offender is one Richard Sala, whose every line is worth it regardless of the cost, either financially or spiritually. Sala is able to mix pop and pulp, darkness and whimsy, sex and expressionism, old-fashioned and macabre, grim and retro-cool like nobody else. Funny, odd, and dangerous, with sublime colors and an inimitable design, his work can't just be read, it needs to be devoured. Like a brandy-spiked apple pie served by a smiling dominatrix. With a raygun. [JP]

  • IZOMBIE OMNIBUS

    Writer: Chris Roberson

    Artist: Michael Allred

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Like many modern comics on DC's mature Vertigo imprint, the 2010-launched series iZombie wasn't long for this world, despite a delightfully, wittily batty premise and art from one of comics' most reliable, consistent and productive talents. After ending with its 28th issue, the series got a second life–appropriately enough, given its subject matter–as a well-regarded TV show, which likely explains the release of this 650-page omnibus collecting the entire series... just in time for the holiday gift-giving season!. It's the perfect present for fans of the show, of artist Mike Allred or zombies and, bonus, it's big and heavy enough that it can actually be used to crush the skulls of any actual zombies, should one be stuck in one's apartment when the zombie apocalypse begins, and have to fight off a horde of the undead using only the contents of their book shelves. [CM]