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.

  • ARCHIE #666

    Writer: Tom DeFalco

    Artist: Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski

    Publisher: Archie Comics

    The worst thing about Archie ending at #666 before a reboot that's at least partially based on the success that the company has had with stories about dark magic and full-on devil worship is that it's not 1998 and so there's very little chance of seeing VHS videos of pastors explaining how Satan has corrupted Archie to lead children down a path to hell. The best thing about it is that this is a story about Archie getting his 666th detention, so everyone just walks around saying "666" more than Iron Maiden's "Number of the Beast" like it's no big deal. [Chris Sims]

  • MIDNIGHTER #1

    Writer: Steve Orlando

    Artist: Aco

    Publisher: DC Comics

    DC starts launching some new books this month, and the one that stands atop the heap is handily the new Midnighter series, featuring the mercenary/vigilante/hero/anti-hero who acts a bit like Batman but with a sex drive. Not for him the dank, dark caves – Midnighter teleports round the world, experiments with technology and fights off ridiculously high-concept villains who carry incredible sci-fi weaponry that would make Jonathan Hickman weep for wonder. Orlando carries off the swagger and technique of Midnighter terrifically straight from the start, whilst artist Aco puts together elaborate, distracted, but absorbing page sequences that match the character to a jagged, sharp momentum that makes each page more surprising than the last. It’s completely mad, but instantly persuasive. [Steve Morris]

  • AIRBOY VOL 2 #1

    Writer: James Robinson

    Artist: Greg Hinkle

    Publisher: Image Comics

    The well-liked Golden Age aviator hero, introduced to a new generation of fans in the 1980s via an Eclipse Comics revival, is back again (again), although it's safe to say this Airboy is not your grandfather's or your father's Airboy. Taking an uncharacteristically meta approach, former Starman and JSA writer James Robinson tells the story of comic book writer James Robinson, whose assignment to revive yet another Golden Age hero has driven him to drink. He and artist Greg Hinkle then meet someone who might have some valuable input on an Airboy relaunch — Airboy himself! If this unlikely creative team works out, maybe Robinson can ask Airboy to help him and Hinkle relaunch Fantastic Four for Marvel next... [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • TRANSFORMERS VS. GI JOE #7

    Writer: Tom Scioli and John Barber

    Artist: Tom Scioli

    Publisher: IDW

    When I interviewed Tom Scioli about Transformers vs. GI Joe a couple of weeks ago, he referred to this issue as a quiet break from the usual breakneck pace of the ongoing series that focuses on a smaller cast. The thing is, I have no idea what that means. Given how the rest of this comic works and how it tends to involve a cast of dozens of robots, dozens of soldiers and at least one Cthulhu monster, a "smaller cast" could mean anything from two or three characters to an entire small army of ninjas. I'm never quite sure what to expect in this book, but I have a feeling that my definition of "quiet" is not the one that Barber and Scoili are working with. [CS]

  • AGE OF REPTILES ANCIENT EGYPTIANS #1

    Writer/Artist: Ricardo Delgado

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    The ancient Egyptians of the sub-title are really ancient — like 65 million years ancient. Ricardo Delgado returns with a new entry into his Age of Reptiles series-of-miniseries for the first time in five years (not counting a short Dark Horse Presents one-off) with this new four-issue outing. Previous series have focused on particular dinosaur species and individuals, and this one will be no different, starring a Spinosaurus the publisher calls "one of the most dangerous and unpredictable protagonists ever created." Spinosaurus has become something of an "it" dinosaur of late, scoring the cover of National Geographic last fall and being the primary dino-villain of the last Jurassic Park film. Speaking of which, Jurassic World opens soon, so this is rather neatly timed. But regardless of what's playing at your local cinema, there's never a bad time for Delgado and his particular, peculiar take on the always fascinating world of dinosaurs, written and rendered as realistically as Delgado's considerable imagination and skill will allow. [CM]

  • SUICIDE RISK #25

    Writer: Mike Carey

    Artists: Elena Casagrande, Andrew Elder, Ed Dukeshire

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    That Mike Carey isn’t recognized as the best writer in the comics industry is one of those great mysteries, standing slyly alongside the unseen contents of Wanda Maximoff’s closet and the hitherto-unknown fourth Summers Brother. He is, in my view, The Best Writer in the Comics Industry. And with Suicide Risk, he’s put together another 25 issues of compelling comics with Elena Casagrande – who is, also, a brilliant force for comics. She’s spent the last year working simultaneously on this series and Doctor Who: The Tenth Doctor, and there’s been no sign of fatigue in her pencils. Quite simply, here we have two superb talents, quietly working away on a series I highly recommend you go back and try from the start… because this is their last issue. [SM]

  • FAMOUS MONSTERS PRESENTS GUNSUITS #1

    Writer/Artist: Paul Tobin

    Publisher: American Gothic Press

    Paul Tobin is one of my absolute favorite writers in comics, and a big part of that is that he's so hard to pin down. He'll do amazing superhero work, then turn around and do a murder mystery about a modeling agency, then knock out a beautiful collaboration on the Tintin-esque story of a charming French thief, then move right into doing a horror story, and they're all amazing. Now, he and PJ Holden are teaming up for a horror/action series featuring "horrific tentacled creatures," and it's shaping up to be another checkmark in the "Tobin Can Write Anything" list. Also, it's called "Gunsuits" and it's about suits that are also guns, so let's be real, I was already going to read this. [CS]

  • COVENANT #1

    Writer: Rob Liefeld

    Artist: Matt Horak

    Publisher: Image Comics

    What happens when the comic book creator most emblematic of the 1990s, an artist famous for his furiously energetic depictions of gritted teeth, big muscles, bigger shoulder pads and gigantic guns, turns his attention to a story set millennia earlier, an Old Testament story of Samuel, the Ark of the Covenant, the Israelites and the Philistines? I have no idea, but I'm curious to find out! Expect a lot of rubber-necking on this one, as Liefeld is one of the few artists even less likely than R. Crumb to adapt a Bible story. Will this be closer to Crumb's Book of Genesis than to Biblical adventure by way of Youngblood? Could this be The Most Extreme Story Ever Told? Find out at your local comic shop! (Please note that Liefeld is only writing and providing the cover art; Matt Horak is handling the interiors.)

  • COMPLETE PISTOLWHIP HC

    Writer: Jason Hall

    Artist: Matt Kindt

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    It's a little weird that Matt Kindt is as well-known as he is. That's not a knock against him; it's a criticism of your crappy taste. (Well, not yours. The readership at large. You and me are cool.) He's too smart to be this popular, too clever and idiosyncratic to be writing and/or drawing sixteen comics simultaneously for nine different publishers. His brilliance was apparent from the beginning, when he and writer Jason Hall burst onto the indy scene with Pistolwhip, a crafty and inventive detective story, in 2001. Two more stories followed, gathered here and colorized for the first time, and collectively they provided one of the most exhilarating reading experiences comics could provide in the early 2000s. Essential reading, kids. [John Parker]

  • BRAVO FOR ADVENTURE HC

    Writer/Artist: Alex Toth

    Publisher: IDW

    If we're being honest with each other, I'll admit that Alex Toth's work in comics is one of my biggest blind spots as a reader. I'm familiar with his work in animation, of course, but in comics, I've somehow managed to miss out, which is one of the reasons that I'm so stoked about picking up the hardcover of Bravo for Adventure and finally getting to read one of his masterpieces for myself. IDW's been doing a great job of getting these classics that everyone but me seems to know about back into print, and as much as I enjoyed their recent release of Hugo Pratt's Corto Maltese, this book has swashbuckling airplane adventures, and that is exactly my jam. [CS]

  • BORB HC

    Writer/Artist: Jason Little

    Publisher: Uncivilized Books

    Jason Little is a chameleon. Like his contemporary R. Sikoryak, it seems Little has the ability to just adopt whatever style best suits whatever he's working on, and then make it appear as though that's all he's ever done. In Borb, originally published as a web-comic, Little uses the traditional four-panel daily strip format for an ingeniously-crafted and poignant criticism of our attitudes toward the transient. Emulating the comics of the Great Depression (particularly the saggy figures of Frank King) and the classic comedic hobo archetype, Little tells a disarmingly funny, cutting, and honest story about love, addiction, vilification, and insignificance. A truly brilliant satire by a real master of the medium, Borb is one of the most important comics you'll read this year. [JP]

  • SPECTATORS GN

    Writer/Artist: Victor Hussenot

    Publisher: Nobrow Press

    I know nothing about Spectators or its creator Victor Hussenot, other than his name sounds very French even for a French person, and I absolutely have to have this book. Mere glimpses of Spectators are enchanting, with exquisitely-shaded watercolors and subtly brilliant sequential flow singing a chorus of moods through a loose narrative. It may be more tone-poem than story — again, not a freaking clue over here — but what little I've seen of Hussenot's work is enough to convince me to buy in. Take a look at a few pages for yourself and try to resist its beguiling charms. (The colorblind have a natural immunity to beguiling charms. They be crafty prey.) [JP]