Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For July 22 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.
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.
Writer: Mark Russell
Artists: Ben Caldwell, Mark Morales, Sean Parsons, Jeremy Lawson and Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
DC isn't known for its sense of humor, as anybody who's read Mad Magazine can attest to. However, Prez came out of seemingly nowhere — a concept nobody was expecting to see resurrected, by a creative team nobody would expect to see at DC. The creators have taken a promisingly ridiculous premise and run wholesale into a satire that kicks straw polls dead straight in the face, making fun of politics, health services, corporations, social media, and anything else that wanders into their path. It's a comic absolutely filled with jokes, but also featuring a lead — the upcoming Prez herself — who centers the story. She's likeable without being a drain on the comedy, an able conduit for Russell and Caldwell to wreak chaos through the United States. Prez started off brilliantly, and the recent preview for this week's issue promises that there's a whole lot more left to come this year. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Fernando Ruiz
Publisher: Dark Horse / Archie Comics
In a time when it's no longer unusual for Archie and his pals to meet up with KISS or the Ramones or even the terrifyingly carnivorous whirlwind that is Sharknado (see below), it really says something that Archie vs. Predator is the one that finally replaced Archie Meets the Punisher on the throne of the most ridiculous, unexpected, and genre-shattering crossovers of all time. But, you know, I imagine that has a lot to do with the fact that it's been a book where de Campi and Ruiz have been steadily murdering the cast in the most violent, blood-soaked way possible — and it's great. At this point, we're finally down to just Archie, Betty and Veronica — everyone else having been decapitated, eviscerated or otherwise incinerated — and now we get to see how they're going to top last issue's climax of Dilton piloting an Archie-shaped robot mech-suit. [Chris Sims]
Writers: Anthony C. Ferrante and Dan Parent
Artists: Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski
Publisher: Archie Comics
Sharks and tornadoes are like the chocolate and gummy bears of made-for-TV movies. Each are fine on their own, and they don't sound like they should be combined at first, but they're actually not as bad together as you might think. Depending on the person and their mood, chocolate-covered gummy bears can actually be a pretty satisfying treat. Now, what if you add something else unlikely, like, say vanilla ice cream? We'll find out tomorrow, as Sharknado trilogy director Anthony C. Ferante teams with long-time Archie artist Dan Parent for Archie Vs. Sharknado (though you can check out a preview here). As with the new AVP (above), this is a book in the traditional, Archie house style (as opposed to the new look of Fiona Staples' rebooted Archie or Francesco Francavilla's realistic Afterlife With Archie), thus further heightening the cognitive dissonance. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: David F. Walker
Artist: Joe Prado and Ivan Reis
I'll admit that he wasn't on my radar before, but after his work on Shaft with artist Bilquis Evely, David F. Walker has quickly risen to the top of the list of creators that I want to see more of. Clearly I'm not the only one, and his role as writer of a new Cyborg series now seems like it's long overdue. Ever since the "New 52" reboot in 2011 upgraded Vic Stone from New Teen Titan to a founding member of the Justice League, Cyborg's been right at the edge of the spotlight, and while it's surprising that it's taken this long for him to finally be given a book of his own, Walker's thoughtful comments in interviews have made it pretty clear that he's the right guy to do it. [CS]
Writer: Georgia Ball
Artists: Priscilla Tramontano, Tom B. Long
We've established by now that the Transformers comics are a series that has a lot going on behind the delicious chrome finish. Inside this comics franchise lies not just a real heart, but also a politically engaged core. Writer Georgia Ball has spent the last few years putting some energy inside unlikely licenses — from Scooby Doo to Care Bears — and this is a chance for her to reach out in a wholly new direction. This opening issue seems like it'll be throwing in healthy doses of silliness and deadpan humor against the punch-heavy chassis quest of the Bots, with Bumblebee stepping into the leadership role. What immediately springs to the forefront here is Tramontano's artwork, which gives us recognizable Transformers who have heaps of personality and a range of emotions on those shiny, polished faces of theirs. She seems an inspired choice of artist for this next Transformers series, and it looks a fun jumping point for anybody to give the characters a try. [SM]
That heavy raincloud on the horizon means that the British Summer has truly arrived, ready to scourge barbeques and stir havoc for anybody so foolish as to attempt an outdoor wedding. It also means that 2000 AD is here to offer a dose of revitalising thrillpower for anybody caught in the endless downpour. The 2000 AD Summer Special is 48 pages featuring new stories with Judge Dredd, Rogue Trooper, Robo-Hunter and more. It can be intimidating to pick a point to start with the serialised format of the long-running anthology magazine, but if you want a first glimpse of the sci-fi maniac weirdness that flows through each prog, here's a great way to try out the 2000AD style and see what you think. A note, though! If you don't see it at your local store on Wednesday, there's a good reason: this is actually out on the 24th. So that gives you a reason to go to the comic shop twice in one week. [SM]
Writer/Artist: Svetlana Chmakova
Publisher: Yen Press
Svetlana Chmakova's name is one we're always happy to see attached to a new comic, and this original, all-ages graphic novel is just such a comic. The cartoonist, probably still best-known for her widely regarded Tokyopop series Dramacon, here tells a story of middle school melodrama. Her protagonist Peppi Torres finds herself the target of teasing from some mean kids, and instinctively reacts by being mean to the boy they were making fun of her for being friends with. To make things more awkward — oh hey, that’s the title of this book! — he belongs to the school Science Club, the arch rivals of her Art Club. Svetlan-ity ensues. [CM]
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: Christopher Hastings and Anthony Clark
Publisher: Dark Horse
You know how sometimes you read a comic and the ideas in it are so good that you just get mad at yourself for not thinking of them first? Well, that's literally every single idea in The Adventures of Dr. McNinja. This volume might display that more than any other, as it's the climax of a long-running story where the doctor who is also a ninja takes on King Radical, the monarch of a land where the rivers run with mountain dew, and dirtbikes reign as the primary mode of transportation. On top of that, it's also the story where the actual cosmology of the McNinja Universe is explained, and while that sounds like it might be boring, it's actually one of the most compelling and creative "serious" moments in the long history of the comic. [CS]
Writers: John Wagner, Alan Grant, Jo Duffy and Robert Greenberger
Artist: Norm Breyfogle
Publisher: DC Comics
Longtime Batman artist Norm Breyfogle isn’t just one of my favorite comics artists, and he isn’t just my favorite Batman artist; I think he might also be the best Batman artist. We can agree to disagree on this of course, but if you look at the quality of his work, the amount of time he spent drawing Batman and the contributions he made to the franchise, Breyfogle comes out on top when stacked up against anyone else. This 500+ page hardcover includes his work from 1987-1989, with the highlights probably being “The Mud Pack” storyline (in which all four Clayfaces team up against Batman) and “Tulpa” (the hands-down best Batman/Etrigan team-up of all time), both written by Alan Grant and inked by Steve Mitchell. I can’t recommend this collection enough; in part because it’s full of great Batman comics, and in part because I selfishly hope it moves enough copies that DC will then collect the rest of Breyfogle’s Bat-work over the course of another two or four volumes. [CM]