Best Comic Books Ever (This Week) – New Releases For March 11, 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.
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge
Publisher: Image Comics
I've been excited about Southern Cross for a while now, as I have a lot of faith in Becky Cloonan to deliver a great story and in Andy Belanger to bring it to life on the page. There's no two creators I'd trust more to tell a creepy industrial sci-fi story set in outer space, because these guys love to get their hands dirty, (narratively speaking). But even if I didn't know what these authors are capable of, Belanger's detailed designs for the Southern Cross itself would convince me; those ship blueprints are a labor of love, which makes this an obvious passion project.
NOW BOARDING: Southern Cross, tanker flight 73 to TITAN! Alex Braith is on board retracing her sister's steps to the refinery moon, hoping to collect her remains and find some answers. The questions keep coming though—how did her sister die? Where did her cabin mate disappear to? Who is that creep across the hall? And why does she always feel like she's being watched? Inspired by classic mysteries and weird fiction, SOUTHERN CROSS is a crucible of creeping anxiety and fear as Braith struggles with the ghosts of her past on board a ship that holds secrets best kept buried.
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Joe Quinones
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Full disclosure: I know Chip Zdarsky pretty well, but I'm going to recommend his new book anyway.
There are a lot of reasons to be skeptical about a Howard the Duck relaunch. It's an odd property to begin with; its indelibly associated with a single creator, the late, great Steve Gerber; and it only exists to cash in on a joke from the Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which has now launched solo series for basically every character who appeared in it.
But all of that is useless hogwash, because this book represents something much more important; Marvel is putting some amazing creators on some delightfully quirky books, and the results thus far have been great, and that's something I want to support. In the hands of Quinones and whatsisface, I think this book will add to Marvel's recent successes.
HOT off the pages of the … the post-credits scene at the … the end of a … popular movie … HOWARD THE DUCK is back! Join him as he takes on the weird cases that only a talking duck can crack as the Marvel Universe’s resident private investigator! Let Sex Criminals’ CHIP ZDARSKY (a writer known mostly as an artist) and JOE QUINONES (an artist known mostly as a lover) guide you through his new world as he takes on THE BLACK CAT and MYSTERIOUS FORCES FROM OUTER SPACE! WAUGH!
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Clay Mann and Butch Guice
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
I'm really not familiar with the characters of the Valiant superhero universe, but I've heard very good things about the publisher's current line-up from people whose opinions I trust greatly. I'm convinced that I need to give these characters a shot. The question, though, is where to start?
Our recent interview with Ninjak writer Matt Kindt convinced me that this first issue is the perfect place, especially given that he described the character of Ninjak as "the perfect funneling of everything I loved when I was 12". He's a ninja and he's a spy. That's all I need to know! Thank God for comics.
For the first time, Ninjak’s past and future collide in the pages of an all-new ongoing series from New York Times best-selling writer Matt Kindt (Rai, Mind MGMT) and superstar artists Clay Mann (X-Men: Legacy, Gambit) and Butch Guice (Captain America, Action Comics)!
Then: Meet inexperienced MI-6 recruit Colin King on his first mission in the field as he learns the basics of spycraft and counterintelligence, and develops a volatile relationship with his first handler.
Now: Colin King is Ninjak, the world’s foremost intelligence operative, weapons expert, and master assassin. And he’s hunting the Shadow Seven – a secret cabal of shinobi masters with mysterious ties to his training and tragic past.
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Robbi Rodriguez, Rico Renzi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I know what you're thinking. "Oh, is ComicsAlliance going to recommend Spider-Gwen again? Does ComicsAlliance think everyone should read Spider-Gwen? Well, la-di-dah, ComicsAlliance, with your love for stylish and kick-ass girl heroes who are shaking up the fusty old paradigms of superhero comics in ways that are instantly engaging to a new kind of reader, and with some of the most striking art and electric colors in the business. You're so predictable. Why don't you just marry Spider-Gwen?"
Well I can't. Because she's an independent woman, reader.
But I apologize for nothing. Read Spider-Gwen.
- WHO IS THE VULTURE?!
- Gwen finds herself between a rock (this vulture) and a hard place (the entire NYPD)!
- Don't miss this second issue of the Spider-Character who set the world on fire!
Writer: Matt Fraction, Michael Chabon
Artist: Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba
Publisher: Image Comics
I'm being a total fraud here; I haven't read the first issue yet, and I won't read this second issue either, because when it comes to Casanova I'm absolutely a trade-waiter. I need to revel in Ba and Moon's exquisite world-building; I can't just have a taste and move on.
But I'm thrilled that Casanova is back, and I hope it's back for good (or for as long as it needs to run), and if you don't know what all the fuss is about, well, wouldn't this be a good time to find out?
OK, no, probably issue #1 would be a good time to find out, but you can probably still find copy.
Tensions in Los Angeles continue to rise as Quentin Cassaday, aka Casanova Quinn, dives head-on into the mystery of Emil Boutique. Meanwhile, CHABON and BA continue their whirlwind tour of the Casanovaverse.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This may or may not be the issue where we find out who the new Thor is, and I'm fairly sure I know already, but I don't want to spoil it for you with my incredibly accurate guesswork.
Suffice it to say that whoever is under the helm, she's already taken on some impressive villains, including real world men's rights activists and pouty online commentators, so she's doing a fine job (and the sales figures suggest that you all think so too). Keep it up, [name redacted].
- WHO IS THOR?
- That's the question on everyone's lips. Most especially Prince Odinson of Asgard.
- This issue, he starts to narrow down the list of suspects.
- Meanwhile, tensions continue to flare between the All-Mother and All-Father, Malekith forges his most dangerous pact yet, and Thor prepares to face her greatest challenge!
Writer: Brian Lynch, Ryan North
Artist: Jerry Gaylord, Ian McGinty
Publisher: Boom Studios
I'm mainly picking this because I'm amazed that we live in a world with Bill & Ted comics, and Big Trouble in Little China comics, and Jem and the Holograms comics, and Miami Vice comics. What a strange and glorious age. I suppose it's a fair exchange, given how comics have taken over our movies and TVs. Maybe it's a hostage exchange program?
Anyway, this comic looks very good if you're a Bill & Ted fan. It certainly has an excellent creative team. I never quite got the appeal of Bill & Ted, but I support the principle, and I'm here if anyone ever makes a Dynasty comic.
Following the time-traveling historic epic of Excellent Adventure and the turbulent life and death of Bogus Journey, Bill and Ted must now fulfill their destiny as the inspiration for galactic harmony! How can someone hate the Wyld Stallyns as much as the evil Chuck De Nomolos? With the power of time travel, Bill and Ted set their sights on turning a young 27th-century Nomolos' non-nonheinous attitude into something most outstanding and metal!
NEW COLLECTED EDITIONS AND 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/Artist: Eric Orner
Publisher: Northwest Press
Eric Ormer's Ethan Green strips were among the first stories in any medium to provide a sustained narrative about gay life from a gay perspective. That's a rather extraordinary thought given that the comics began only 25 years ago, but that truly is how recently the world started to change in palpable positive ways for LGBT people. That's how recently we started to take control of our stories.
This collection from Northwest Press collects all of the Ethan Green strips together for the first time, which makes this a vitally important archive of a milestone in gay comix literature.
Eric Orner's groundbreaking comic strip debuted in 1990 and appeared in papers in a hundred cities across the US, Canada and the UK. Now, for the first time, every subversive, laugh-out-loud funny, and occasionally surreal episode from the gay everyman's 15 years in print is in one deluxe collection. Includes bonus material and a foreword by New York Times-bestselling author David Ebershoff.
Writer/Artist: Dylan Meconis
Publisher: Toonhound Studios
Several Dylan Meconis comics are offered or re-offered in stores this week. This one is my favorite, a short cautionary tale (only 22-pages) about arrogance and hubris, and a laundress and a fox. You can actually read the whole thing online (and several of Meconis's other comics), but any really great webcomic is worth treasuring in print form.
I picked up a copy of Outfoxed at the Toronto Comic Arts Festival a year or two ago, and I've re-read it many more times in print than I have on my computer.
Be careful what you wish for, and even more careful of what other people wish for! In this original fable, a laundry girl rescues a fox with an unusual gift, and the wishes that follow will change both lives forever. A 2012 Eisner Award nominee for Best Digital Comic.
CATCH UP ON THE CLASSICS
Many of the best comic books ever have been released for quite some time. Every week we select one or two perennials that readers new and old should add to their collections.
Writer: Joann Sfar
Artist: Lewis Trondheim
Since this week sees the launch of Howard the Duck #1, I thought it an apt time to revisit my all-time favorite duck-fronted comic series; Sfar and Trondheim's Dungeon. This fantasy series is full of extraordinary monsters and ribald humor, and it spans generations of adventures across multiple series.
Zenith is the series that explores the world of Dungeon at the height of its powers, and focuses on the hapless and cowardly duck Herbert as he stumbles from one life-threateningly violent encounter to the next. Don't make the mistake of assuming these are children's books; they're too bloody and lascivious for kids, and also simultaneously too brilliantly clever and too deliciously dumb.
NBM has thus far translated and collected about 13 volumes of the various Dungeon series. That's a lot of adventure waiting for you. If you decide these dungeons are worth exploring, Duck Heart is the best place to start.
Welcome to Dungeon, the looniest world of horror and heroic fantasy you’ll ever be transported into! This series, a best-seller in many countries, starts with the apogee of Dungeon, a mighty castle filled with monsters, trolls and goblins kept by a wily bird, the Dungeon Keeper, and the object of desire of many an uncouth and disgusting form of life (and afterlife) and Herbert the Timorous Duck is assigned to defend it! Thank goodness, the Dungeon Keeper has assigned Marvin the Dragon, a blood-thirsty, uh, vegetarian warrior, to his side.