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.

  • GRAYSON #9

    Writers: Tim Seeley and Tom King
    Artist: Mikel Janin
    Publisher: DC Comics

    There are a lot of great things about Grayson, but one of the best was seeing Helena Bertinelli revived for the New 52. Aside from an affinity for purple clothes, big white crosses and crossbows, the old and new versions don't have a whole lot in common, but there's enough there being done well enough for my affection to carry over pretty much effortlessly from the Huntress to the Matron of St. Hadrian's. And now she's stepping into the spotlight as the leader of Spyral, and I could not be more excited. The big reveal at the end of the last issue was a fantastic twist for the people who were drawn to this book because Seeley, King and Janin were picking up the neglected threads that Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham laid down when they created Spyral in Batman, Inc. But really, that matters less to this book than how that affects the characters, and Helena's relationship with Dick has spent the past year becoming one of the things I look forward to the most in comics. [Chris Sims]

  • BERLIN #19

    Writer/Artist: Jason Lutes
    Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

    Jason Lutes' Berlin is epic, captivating, and far too infrequent. After debuting in 1998 for a planned twenty-four issues, the last three installments have taken something like a combined seven years to come out, and they've all been worth the wait. Chronicling the lives of scores of Berliners during the rise of fascism, Berlin is painstakingly-researched, overflowing with insight, and wholly unconcerned with teaching anything, despite how much there is to learn. It's about the characters, and Lutes delves deep into what must be dozens of them, all swept up in the tide of history: artists, journalists, union leaders, hausfraus and so on, just trying to breathe during the economic and cultural strangulation of their home. Berlin isn't the kind of book you can just jump in on nineteen issues deep, but the first two collections — City of Stones and City of Smoke — are required reading anyway. I hate to end with a "schnell," but Berlin is the most engrossing long-form historical fiction in comics, and you've only got like six years left to catch up. [John Parker]


    Writer: Lee Bermejo
    Artists: Khary Randolph, Rob Haynes, Jorge Corona
    Publisher: DC Comics

    Hundreds of new Robins are springing up and running through the streets of Gotham: young men and women throwing on costumes, seizing their destiny, setting out to take back their city. This is the sort of crazy idea that makes perfect sense in the new-look DCU – why wouldn't high schoolers want to take the "R" and create a movement around it, especially if it means they can also catch a buzz from the adrenaline and adventure? After all, building a community of like-minded free spirits, coming up with cool fashion statements, and going out away from the prying eyes of parents sounds like pure teenage wish-fulfillment. It's a killer concept from writer Lee Bermejo, and when it's depicted with the kinetic sensibilities of artists Khary Randolph, Jorge Corona, and Rob Haynes, it looks like a can't-miss re-imagining of the teen team template. [Patrick Reed]


    Writer: Duane Swierczynski
    Artist: Michael Gaydos
    Publisher: Archie Comics

    When that first issue of Black Hood dropped, it got a lot of attention for being the first Archie comic to ever drop the F-bomb. It was the one thing that everybody — including us — seemed to focus on, to the point where there was even a joke about it in the letters page in one of the later issues. But what might've been missed in all the hubbub was that Swiercynski and Gaydos are creating a pretty thrilling and extremely brutal crime story with a really great superhero twist. This issue marks the end of the first arc, an arc that opened with Greg Hettinger getting shot in the face and then had his life slide downhill pretty rapidly from there. There's corruption, revenge, a man getting framed for a crime that he actually did commit, and some great twists and turns in every single issue. If you're a fan of Gotham Central, it's a book you ought to have been checking out all along, and there are a lot of worse ways to spend this week than grabbing the entire first arc. [CS]


    Writer: Chris Burnham
    Artist: Ramon Villalobos
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    I've lost count of how many X-Men related titles Marvel is launching as part of their temporary Secret Wars status quo, but they seem to have one based on every era of X-Men history. This is the title for me, the one based on Grant Morrison's 2001-2004 reinvention of Marvel's mutants for the new millennium in the pages of New X-Men. At times it seemed as if Marvel was trying very hard to undo much of what Morrison once did for them – most obviously when they temporarily reduced the world population of mutants to less than 200 -but it's interesting to note how much has actually stuck, and how certain Morrisonian touches have reasserted themselves. The fact that this book even exists seems to prove Marvel is A-OK with Morrison's run afterall. This series is written by Morrison's artistic collaborator on Batman Inc, Chris Burnham, and drawn by Ramon Villalobos, with covers by Ian Bertram, so it should look great, inside and out. [Caleb Mozzocco]


    Writer: Kathryn Immonen
    Artist: Stuart Immonen
    Publisher: AdHouse Books

    A story that has been in the works since at least 2010, Russian Olive to Red King represents a staggering amount of work from Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, the wife-and-husband creative team bringing the story to life. A full-on graphic novel, the script was written a few years ago by Kathryn and illustrated inbetween work-for-hire jobs at Marvel by Stuart. S. Immonen is a far more versatile artist than you might expect – not only is he one of the best cartoonists and superhero artists working today, but he also has a remarkable ability to switch, redevelop and surprise with a variety of different styles. Matched by K. Immonen, a writer with a similarly underappreciated ability to shock and twist in style, the pair have been steadily putting out various creator-owned works for years now. Following the twin narratives of “Russian Olive” and “Red King,” the story details the last few days of a relationship, as Olive goes missing after a plane crash and King is left at home. With the creative team involved, this could prove one of the most brilliant comics of the year. (You can read more about the book here.) [Steve Morris]


    Writer/Artist: Shotaro Ishinomori
    Publisher: Viz Manga

    Here's what's amazing: There was a time when someone who was working for a massively successful magazine about video game cheat codes decided that they should do a comic about an upcoming Legend of Zelda game, and that they should probably get the guy who created Kamen Rider and the Power Rangers to write and draw it. And then they did it. Like, that actually happened, and it was great. Like a lot of people who grew up in the '90s, the Link to the Past comic was my first exposure to Ishionomori, long before I knew who he actually was and how much he'd done in the world of manga. Looking back, though, it explains a whole lot about why those comics were so exciting and why they hold up as a pretty solid read even today — and why there's a guy who looks a whole lot like Cyborg 002 who shows up at one point. This follows the plot of the game pretty loosely, adding in all sorts of adventures and set pieces that were so exciting to me as a reader that I remember actually being a little disappointed that they didn't show up in the game. It's been out of print for ages, and if you haven't read it since it ran in Nintendo Power, or if you've never read it at all, it's more than worth checking out. [CS]


    Writer: Ryan North
    Artists: Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb
    Publisher: Boom Studios

    You've laughed at his Dinosaur Comics webcomic at work. You've devoured his Adventure Time adaptation. You marveled at his Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. But have you read Ryan North's Midas Flesh, the writer's first original print comic series? If not, you can easily get caught up via trade. North explores the myth of King Midas – of 'everything he touches turns to gold' fame – from a surprising angle in this funny, imaginative and remarkably dramatic series. In fact, this is probably North's most serious work to date. Sometime in the future, a spaceship with a crew of three (two humans and one talking dinosaur), journey to a golden planet in order to secure something that can turn anything it touches to gold. It's the ultimate source of wealth, and the ultimate weapon. [CM]


    Writer/Artist: Don Rosa
    Publisher: IDW

    I once got a sketch from Don Rosa at a convention. I asked him to draw a very angry Donald Duck, and then stood there watching while he did exactly that, and it might as well have been magic. The way it all came together was astonishing — he actually started with the beak, and I remember wondering what this weird line was before he built everything around it, and I realized that he had drawn these characters a thousand times each, and didn't really need to bother with actually sketching things out. What I've seen of the Artist's Edition bears that out, too. Even in their "unfinished" state, Rosa's original art is incredibly tight and well-constructed, to the point where it almost defeats the purpose of an Artist's Edition. Or at least, it would if you weren't seeing the process behind one of the greatest adventure stories in comics history. Getting a look at how that masterpiece came together is always going to be worth it. Now if we can get "A Matter of Gravity," Rosa's best short Duck story, in there somewhere, it'll be even better. [CS]


    Writer: Eric Shanower
    Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
    Publisher: IDW

    Look, just give Eric Shanower a brilliant artist like Gabriel Rodriguez, and let him and said brilliant one have a crack at every classic children's story. Like the original Winsor McKay strips, Return to Slumberland is pure delight from beginning to end; a clever and grin-inducing journey into dream-state that bats at the pleasure centers like a runt on a catnip bender. Rodriguez borrows McKay's sleepy, crawling panel frames and fills them with an uncluttered opulence made plump and viscous by Nelson Daniel's colors. The whole team comes together for an altogether gorgeous book that pays homage to the masterpiece without attempting to imitate it. Next for Shanower and company: Little Miss Muffet. Let's make this happen, people. [JP]


    Writer: Steve Gerber
    Artists: Val Mayerik, Gene Colan, and others
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Steve Gerber was one of the great idiosyncratic creators of the Bronze Age, and forty years on, nobody has yet approached the sheer unhingedness of his Howard The Duck, a series that took an ill-tempered talking duck and built him into one of the Marvel Universe's biggest stars, while also turning every convention of comic book storytelling upside-down. Over the twenty-odd issues collected in this volume, Howard wrestles with existential crises, battles threats like The Space Turnip and Hellcow, runs for President, gets committed to a mental ward, becomes possessed by an evil spirit, is transformed into a human, and gets shoved aside from his own comic in favor of a written essay from Gerber about missing deadlines and the troubles of the comic industry. None of it makes a lick of sense, but it's incredibly compelling nonetheless, a comic experience that defies comparison, comprehension, and logical analysis. [PR]