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.

  • 2000 AD #1934

    Writer: Various

    Artist: Various

    Publisher: Rebellion

    Here’s a regular reminder from your ol’ pals at ComicsAlliance to pick up a Prog while you’re at your local comic store this week. 2000 AD #1934 features a new Absalom series from Gordon Rennie, Tiernan Trevallion and Simon Bowland, continuing what has to be the most insane premise 2000 AD have put out since, oh, at least last week. It's about a sweary police officer whose job is to protect a truce between the people of London and, um, the Kingdom of Hell. It's his actual job to track down demons violating the peace treaty and deal justice to them. You can actually preview the story exclusively right here. And if that weren’t enough thrillpower frisking through your brainwaves, there’s also a new series from Ian Edginton, D’Israeli and Ellie De Ville called Helium, which is about a world covered in poison smog. As nobody can live on the ground anymore (or so it appears), people have instead decided to strap cities onto the back of giant blimps and fly them about. (We ran a preview of that two weeks ago!) 2000 AD, everybody! [Steve Morris]

  • SECTION 8 #1

    Writer: Garth Ennis

    Artist: John McCrea

    Publisher: DC

    I've said it before, and I stand by it: Garth Ennis is at his best when he's not trying to be funny. Although he can be very funny, a large portion of his jokes are just so dumb/gross/ridiculously offensive that they're distractions, minimizing the effect of his stellar dialogue, characters, staunch realism, and moral presence. But sometimes the whole thing does work, and Hitman is probably the best example. Taking place in a John McCrea-illustrated pocket of an already ridiculous DC universe, the near-sociopathic amount of fat, dick, and body fluid jokes only added to the charm of it all. Section 8 is a six-issue mini about a superhero team of the physically deformed and mentally ill. Yes, Ennis and McCrea are going to poke a lot of fun at them, maybe get a few vomit gags in, make somebody accidentally screw a duck or whatever, but somehow they'll be able to do it without dehumanizing them or completely throwing the story off-track. There's just something about the world of Hitman that makes the jokes work. If that's not a ringing endorsement, I don't know what is. [John Parker]

  • GHOST RACERS #1

    Writer: Felipe Smith

    Artist: Juan Gideon

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    One of the unanticipated delights to come out of the Secret Wars/Battleworld event is the opportunity it's given various creative teams to cherry-pick and re-envision the dusty dollar-bin corners of the Marvel Universe, and deliver new (and frankly, kinda insane) takes on characters and concepts that originally launched in the midst of the company's anything-goes '70s heyday, an era when the company dipped its toe into every imaginable storytelling genre, from grindhouse to high fantasy. So now, hot on the heels of the all-new Master Of Kung-Fu, and launching alongside the sword-and-sorcery shenanigans of this week's Weirdworld, we get this fast-paced fanboy fever-dream, a series that pits the myriad incarnations of Ghost Rider against each other in a rip-roaring damnation demolition derby. [Patrick Reed]

  • BATMAN #41

    Writer: Scott Snyder

    Artists: Greg Capullo, Danny Miki, FCO Plascencia

    Publisher: DC Comics

    If you went back in time to four years ago and told me that I would be super excited about a comic where a dead Bruce Wayne was replaced as Batman by Commissioner Gordon, who shaved his mustache, got a mohawk, and suited up in a RoboCop suit with giant bat-ears, I probably would've backed away slowly while trying to smile and maintain eye contact to avoid alarming you. But then, I probably would've done the same thing if you'd told me that my favorite Batman story of the decade would be about Batman fighting a bone monster in the middle of a hot pink hurricane and then riding around in a Batman t-shirt on a steampunk dirtbike, and yet, here we are. Snyder and Capullo have been doing a pretty stellar job of taking the idea of Batman as a Superhero and going huge with it, and this story looks to continue that idea in a whole new direction. And really, if the whole point of the New 52 was to get younger versions of characters like Jim Gordon, then it's nice to see a story that you could only do with a younger Jim Gordon. [Chris Sims]

  • IT WILL ALL HURT #1

    Writer/Artist: Farel Dalrymple

    Publisher: Alternative Comics

    Farel Dalrymple's voice is one of the most assuredly distinctive in comics. Since his days with Meahaus, he's been producing heartfelt and strange comics far too infrequently to satiate any reasonable person. It Will All Hurt is a pleasant departure from that trend, following up last year's The Wrenchies with what you can safely assume is another weird amalgamation of adventure, sadness, and heart. Nobody else makes comics quite like Darel Falrymple, and any opportunity you have to read one of his works should be taken. [JP]

  • 21ST CENTURY TANK GIRL #1

    Writer: Alan Grant

    Artists: Jamie Hewlett, Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, Philip Bond, Jonathan

    Edwards, Brett Parson, Jim Mahfood, Craig Knowles

    Publisher: Titan Comics

    It may have been a decade or two, but Tank Girl’s finally back this week, with original creators Grant and Hewlett (!) headlining a new series of stories. They’re joined by a list of basically every artist to have ever drawn the character, including Philip Bond, Jim Mahfood and the incredible skewed mania of Warwick Johnson-Cadwell — one of the most exciting artists in the UK comics scene today, whose presence alone renders this a must-read. I have no idea what to expect from the series, which came to life after a hugely successful Kickstarter campaign, because I want to be surprised when I pick up the issue — I’m expecting it to be gleeful, wild carnage, though. [SM]

  • GOTHAM ACADEMY #7

    Writers: Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher

    Artist: Mingjue Helen Chen

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Every issue of Gotham Academy thus far has been an essential read — I mean, it's a teenage boarding school soap opera set on the wild side of the Batmanverse, a can't-miss concept if ever I've heard one — but this one is notable for a few reasons: it features a special guest appearance from transfer student Damian Wayne, the art and cover are provided by rising star Mingjue Helen Chen, and it stands entirely aside from all the commotion and chaos of DC's recent universe-shaking Convergence mega-event and just tells another great tale of kids trying to deal with their academic obligations in a world packed with super-strangeness. [PR]

  • GRIP: THE STRANGE WORLD OF MEN HC

    Writer/Artist: Gilbert Hernandez

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    It's a good week to be a Beto fan. Grip: The Strange World Of Men was written and illustrated by Gilbert Hernandez for Vertigo back in the early 2000s, and strangely enough, the limited series was never collected. Some might argue that's for the best, as Grip is probably the weirdest thing Hernandez has ever done, with a series of David Lynch-like left turns leading down crazier and crazier roads. If you're looking for character-driven explorations of community identities, the breakdowns between men and women, or any of the stuff you usually expect from Hernandez, Grip is probably not for you. Best check out Blubber from Fantagraphics this week. What's that? Blubber is a collection of surreal, mostly wordless stories, again completely unlike what you tend to associate with Gilbert Hernandez. Serves you right for placing your artists in a box, man. [JP]

  • ABSOLUTE TRANSMETROPOLITAN VOL 1 HC

    Writer: Warren Ellis

    Artists: Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos

    Publisher: Vertigo

    Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's tale of radical future journalist Spider Jerusalem was one of the defining titles of its era, a black comedy/sci-fi/socio-political commentary series that pushed envelopes in both subject and style and, alongside Planetary, cemented Ellis' status as one of comics' most distinctive and respected voices. This new edition will doubtless follow in the footsteps of DC's previous "Absolute" editions, oversized hyper-deluxe volumes that supplement the original issues with all manner of extra material, and cause bookshelves (and bad backs) everywhere to cry out in terror. But Transmet is worth reading, and re-reading, for the story, for the compelling-yet-often-repulsive characters, for the cynical/hopeful humor, for the cultural perspective it provides: an undatable period piece, a time capsule from the future that still resonates nearly two decades after its original publication. [PR]

  • JACK KIRBY KAMANDI THE LAST BOY ON EARTH ARTISTS EDITION VOL 1 HC

    Writer/Artist: Jack Kirby

    Publisher: IDW

    I have long suspected that IDW's line of Artist's Editions are nothing but a canny plot to separate me from as much of my money as possible, and nothing supports that theory more than the existence of this. I mean, really, even when it's Miller and Mazzucchelli's Daredevil or Simonson's Thor, I can resist, but when they're putting out exact reproductions of Jack Kirby's original art for some of his greatest comics? I don't even remember buying these things, they just show up at my house as though they've always been there. I've pored over the New Gods Artist's Edition, and it can never be overstated how great these reproductions are — there are bits where you can even see background characters that were never inked in the final product. Seeing that kind of attention for what might be Kirby's most under-appreciated work at DC (aside from OMAC) would be pretty irresistible, even if the source material wasn't a take on post-apocalyptic adventure by the greatest comic book creator who ever lived. [CS]

  • NUTMEG VOL. 1: EARLY FALL TASTE BUDDIES TP

    Writer: James F. Wright

    Artist: Jackie Crofts

    Publisher: Action Lab Entertainment

    I can't resist cooking comics, so I was drawn to the Nutmeg table at this year's Emerald City Comicon (though maybe I was also lured by the candies on the table), and picked up the first issue from creators James Wright and Jackie Crofts. I'm glad I did; it's a really charming schoolgirl rivalry tale about new best friends Cassia and Poppy, with a notable fixation on the wonderful world of baking, and it's exactly the sort of comic the world needs more of. With this first trade paperback, I'll be interested to see how the story and the creative team have developed. [Andrew Wheeler]

  • ODY-C VOL 1: OFF TO FAIR ITHICAA

    Writer: Matt Fraction

    Artist: Christian Ward

    Publisher: Image Comics

    Ody-C is one of those comics that isn't as much "read" as experienced, an eye-popping, brain-scrambling electrified free-jazz riff on Homer's time-honored tale of Odysseus: one part interstellar gender-bent Greek epic, one part Bitches Brew. Matt Fraction's script freely mixes types and themes in a virtuoso suite of deep-space operatic narrative, while Christian Ward uses his digital toolkit to push the story into uncharted realms of 21st century psychedelia. This volume collects the first five issues for under $10, which is a bargain on this, or any other world. [PR]