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.

  • SUPERMAN #42

    Writer: Gene Yang
    Artists: John Romita Jr. and Klaus Janson
    Publisher: DC Comics

    A peculiarity of the Superman franchise of the last two months has been that we’ve seen The Man of Steel’s new de-powered, secret identity-less status quo across the line — Action Comics, Batman/Superman, Superman/Wonder Woman, even Martian Manhunter #2 — but the story of how he arrived at that status quo is still unfolding in the pages of Superman. This issue is only part two of that story, but it includes some critical information, like Lois Lane finally discovering Superman’s dual identity (in the New 52 continuity, anyway) and something happening during a “super flare” that likely explains his power loss... as well as the revelation that more people knew his secret identity than he though. The mystery of Superman’s new life has been intriguing, but it’s still nice to finally be getting some explanation as to how we got there. [Caleb Mozzocco]


    Writer: Mark Waid
    Artist: Chris Samnee
    Publisher: Marvel

    Since Mark Waid and Chris Samnee (and Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin) took over Daredevil, they've brilliantly moved beyond the repeating cycles that dominated the book for years: girlfriend dies, life is destroyed, Matt Murdock is unrelentingly dark and brooding, the book sucks the life straight out of you, et cetera. As they near the conclusion of their fantastic run, Samnee and Waid finish by bringing back The Kingpin, DD's most dangerous physical threat, and striking so many tense chords at once that I'm already having flashbacks to "try the red one." It would be nice if the "penultimate chapter" thing is a dodge like the conclusion of volume 3, but if it's not, prepare to start throwing roses in appreciation now. [John Parker]


    Writer: Matt Fraction
    Artist: Chip Zdarsky
    Publisher: Image

    While it may not be on the level of Ned Stark being decapitated (nope, no spoiler alert. Darth Vader is also Luke's father, and Rosebud is a toboggan. Catch up.), Sex Criminals has nonetheless been consistently surprising, flipping the script and upending expectations time and again. It's the most hilarious, refreshing, and real depiction of sex in genre comics, with what seems like a bottomless well of inventiveness. A new storyline begins in this long-delayed issue (which, according to Zdarsky, was partly due to legal problems), which has an extra special feature: 1,000 bagged copies will feature extra-special sketch covers with dirty drawings by Zdarsky and Fraction. If there isn't a Tumblr that collects every veiny, hairy variation of them by Wednesday night, I'm going to be very disappointed in all of you. [JP]


    Writer: Rhianna Pratchett
    Artists: Derlis Santacruz, Andy Owens, Michael Atiyeh
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    I lost track of the fact that Dark Horse is publishing Tomb Raider comics, despite the strong initial team of Gail Simone and Nicolás Selma. Well, look at this — now Rhianna Pratchett has come aboard the series, following up on her script for the most recent game in the series. That’s good hiring from Dark Horse; Pratchett wrote perhaps one of the first stories to actually treat Lara Croft as a proper person, and — when you weren’t busy dying in elaborate and worryingly detailed fashion — gave the character a story she could really work with. This issue is a downtime one following the most recent arc, so it may or may not be a good time to jump on, but consider this a public declaration that Tomb Raider is still going, and it’s in the hands of a great writer so it may be worth checking out. [Steve Morris]


    Writers: Cameron Stewart and Brendan Fletcher
    Artist: Bengal
    Publisher: DC Comics

    Batgirl and Grayson are arguably the two best superhero comics DC is putting out right now, but for characters that have a whole lot of history, their current incarnations couldn't be more different. Ever since her relaunch as the heroine of Gotham's most hipsterest neighborhood, Batgirl has been defined by character-focused action built around questions of identity that's been confined to a few city blocks, while Dick's off on a series of bizarre, world-traveling spy adventures and occasionally pretending to be a French gym coach. But still, that history pretty much dictated that they'd cross paths, and it's finally happening here. I'm excited, too; I've been in the tank for the Dick/Babs OTP for about 25 years now, and seeing how these two new versions of the characters tweak that idea in a time when they're not part of the same Batman Family is something I'm completely into — especially with Helena Bertinelli complicating matters as a (really great) love interest in the pages of Grayson. Whether this book dives all the way into that or whether it's just a straight up action team-up, it's going to be worth reading. [Chris Sims]


    Writers: Mike Mignola and John Arcudi
    Artists: Troy Nixey and Kevin Nowlan
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    I don't know who it was at Dark Horse who decided that we needed a Christmas story about Lobster Johnson published in July, but you know what? I am all for it. Mignola and Arcudi turning their attention to Christmas is pretty much always worth reading, and seeing Troy Nixey and Kevin Nowlan draw a premise that, from what's in the solicitation, sounds like a cross between A Christmas Carol and one of Donald Westlake's Parker novels is 100% my jam. Seriously, Santa Claus being taken hostage after witnessing a crime and a mystical pulp vigilante having to deal out his brand of harsh justice in order to save Christmas? They could publish this thing on December 26, the saddest day of the year, and I would still want to read it more than anything else on the stands. [CS]


    Writer: Mairghread Scott
    Artists: Sara Pitre-Durocher, Yamaishi, Tom B. Long
    Publisher: IDW

    With 'Combiner Wars' now concluded, co-writer Mairghread Scott has taken advantage of the aftermath to write a three-character team-up issue for Windblade, Chromia and Arcee. In her time as writer for the IDW Transformers Universe, Scott has proved an uncanny ability to directly pitch the exact story you want to read — the three characters here are some of the most interesting around at the moment, and they interact with one another in verysurprising ways. With Sara Pitre-Durocher as artist, we also have an all-female lead creative team working on an all-female cast. Bringing female talent into the Transformers franchise has generated so many new angles for the ongoing saga of the drivey-turny-shooty robot people, and this one-shot should be a really fun wrap-up for ‘Combiner Wars’ story. [SM]


    Writer/Artist: Phoebe Gloeckner
    Publisher: North Atlantic Books

    Fun fact: Gloeckner’s seminal, no-holds-barred hybrid graphic novel about a teenager coming of age in the 1970s was first published 13 years ago. That means that, were Diary of a Teenage Girl a girl itself, it would just now be entering its teenage years! This is a new, revised edition from North Atlantic Books, timed to coincide with the release of the film adaptation, and some of the new material is directly reflective of that, like Gloeckner’s preface about seeing the book adapted. [CM]


    Writers: Grant Morrison and Mark Millar
    Artists: Phil Hester and Kim DeMulder
    Publisher: Vertigo

    From the "Well That Took You Long Enough" Department, Vertigo is finally getting around to collecting one of the biggest missed spots in the otherwise comprehensive history of everyone's favorite swamp monster. Before this, if you wanted to read a run from two of the biggest-name writers in comics that was drawn by two of the best visual storytellers, you had to hunt it down at conventions and back issue boxes, and folks, that is no way to live. This week, though, Vertigo has finally tired of leaving money on the table, and if you're a fan of the classic Alan Moore/Stephen Bisette/Jon Tottleben and Rick Veitch runs, you should definitely take advantage of it. It's got the same knack for horror that Morrison has been showing recently in books like Nameless, but paired with a superhero aesthetic — particularly from Hester — and the beginnings of Millar developing his sharp, distinctive dialogue. Here's hoping it continues, and we get that amazing story about the Abby Arcane of Earth-2 collected at last. [CS]


    Writer: Genevieve Valentine
    Artists: Garry Brown, Pat Olliffe and others
    Publisher: DC Comics

    The change of direction of the Catwoman comic with #35 was so dramatic that it’s a wonder DC kept the numbering of the collections, rather than starting over with a new volume one, as they did with Batgirl’s similarly dramatic turn. This is the first trade collecting the new, post-Batman Eternal Selina Kyle, who has gone from being a super-thief with a heart of gold to a crime boss with a heart of gold. Valentine and Brown have completed shifted gears on the title, turning it into a realistic — well, realistic-ish — crime comic rather than just another superhero comic. Valentine having Selina look to powerful female leaders of history — from Lucrezia Borgia to Queen Elizabeth I — is an especially neat touch. [CM]


    Writer: Joshua Dysart
    Artists: Doug Braithwaite, Brian Reber, Dave Sharpe
    Publisher: Valiant Comics

    It was hard to know what might happen when Valiant first announced Imperium, a new ongoing series following Toyo Harada as he heads into his new life as the most wanted man in the world. It felt as though his story might have ended, so dragging him back into the mix was a particularly unexpected decision — but one that really paid off. In the hands of Joshua Dysart and Doug Braithwaite, Imperium proves an increasingly uneasy and tense political thriller that movies further and further into the realms of horror and science fiction with each passing issue. This trade spends a lot of time bringing in and establishing a wealth of new characters to Valiant, each more horrifying than the last. This has really fascinating character-based politics at play, Braithwaite building a believable world of horrors that enthralls from the first issue and claws the reader further in with each page. [SM]