Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For March 2 2016
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.
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.
Writer: Kyle Higgins, Steve Orlando
Artist: Hendry Parasetyo, Corin Howell
Publisher: Boom Studios
In all honesty, the only thing I had to hear to know I wanted to read this book was the solicitation's promise of "also featuring a Bulk & Skull short story by Steve Orlando (Midnighter) and artist Corin Howell." If you can think of anything that is more perfectly tailored to my tastes than a Bulk & Skull adventure from the writer who brought Prometheus back to DC Comics, then I would love to read your fan-fiction where Batman and Bulbasaur open a skate park.
Really, though, the hook of the main story, one that's informally nicknamed "Green Ranger: Year One," is one that's so intriguing that I'm shocked that it hasn't been done before. If you've been following along with our own Ranger Station recaps, you'll know that Tommy's evolution from New Kid to Brainwashed Enemy to Cheerful Part of the Team is one that I find fascinating, but it's also one that plays out mostly through subtext. Going deep into that with an examination of what it means for him as a character is the perfect way to add something new that's sophisticated enough for long-time fans without dragging the book down into being too grim for the younger fans who, by all rights, should be a much bigger concern than dudes in their 30s who are going to be reading it anyway.
Plus, there's more Scorpina, and who doesn't want more Scorpina? [Chris Sims]
Writers: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
Artist: Chris Samnee
In their collaboration on Daredevil, Chris Samnee and Mark Waid were credited jointly as "Storytellers" rather than individually as artist or writer. It was a real nice move and one that a few books have followed, most recently with Mike Allred and Dan Slott's Silver Surfer, I believe, and I hope more comics follow that example. So of course on Black Widow they flip the script, with Samnee credited both as the artist and as a co-writer, and it feels like an important distinction: that he's not just realizing the story, he's contributing to the plots, the characters, the conflicts, and so on.
In this new Black Widow series (the sixth, if you can believe it), super-spy Natasha Romanova is on the run from her former employers, betrayed by elements in SHIELD and surviving the best way she knows how: blowing things up. However Waid and Samnee make the sausage, they're perhaps the most synched-up collaborative team in comics and the kinetics in the preview alone have the ability to cause heart palpitations, so it's sage to assume this book will be clever, fun, action-packed, and might even fill that hole in your chest cavity where Daredevil used to reside. [John Parker]
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Simon Coleby
Publisher: After-Shock Comics
It’s a timeless scene, one I lived through myself: someone of an older generation imparting wisdom accumulated during a war to the next generation. But Dreaming Eagles puts this familiar scene in a new context, as a veteran of the second World War imparts experience to his son about his time in the famed Tuskegee air squadron, even as his son prepares to enter the burgeoning civil rights movement. What the series has so far excelled at is the smaller details that snap into the larger picture of history; how the letter of protocol was interpreted in a far stricter way for the black air pilots than they ever were for white; how they were given an aircraft that was shy enough of being the worst aircraft in the fleet that they couldn’t claim they had the worst aircraft in the fleet; most importantly of all, how their white allies had the privilege of being able to walk away from the fight for equality whenever they wished.
Garth Ennis could write about war every month for the rest of his life and still turn out fruitful work, but here he’s tackling one of the most important stories of WW2, and doing so with tact and care and his usual peerless craft. It’s Ennis and it’s a war comic — if you've ever read one, you'll know exactly why that's all the sales pitch you'll need. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
Underappreciated British Invader/all-around weirdo Peter Milligan pairs once again with The Names collaborator Leandro Fernandez for The Discipline, a book that's being teased as a dark, erotic thriller... again. It was originally promoted as a Vertigo title a few years back but for whatever reason it never happened, and now the project stands as Milligan's first for Image Comics, a partnership that should have been made much sooner.
Milligan devotees know that in his best work — Enigma, Skin, Face, Human Target, Girl, Vertigo Pop!: London — he frequently deals with sex and identity with an uncanny balance of humor, sincerity, and an edginess that few can approach. In The Discipline, a dissatisfied young married woman begins an affair with a dangerous stranger that draws her into a dark world she could never have imagined. Fernandez's sharp lines, taut figures, and sinister shading — much like fellow Argentinean Eduardo Risso — guarantee to make this book a strange journey into eroticism and fear, and just in case you didn't know: strange journeys into eroticism and fear are awesome. That's why knife-play exists. [JP]
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Marguerite Sauvage, Laura Braga, Ming Doyle, and others
Publisher: DC Comics
By my count, this marks your third chance to jump onto Bombshells, so if you somehow missed the original digital releases and the print issues as they were being serialized, you really need to check this one out. If nothing else, it's got one of the best first issues in recent memory, coming out of the gate swinging — literally, in fact, as there's a criminal getting cracked upside the head with a baseball bat right there on page one — to set up its world of magic, mystery, adventure and pinup aesthetics.
Which, when you get right down to it, is what makes this book so great. As much as I like some of the designs, I always thought the Bombshells statues were a pretty weird idea — almost as weird as doing an entire comic series based on a line of statues, in fact — but Bennett and the incredible roster of artists led by Marguerite Sauvage make it work in a way that doesn't just justify the whole enterprise, it takes away the need for justifying it in the first place. The world that we see here, where World War II is about to be crashed by a mystical horror, is a world where these characters and their aesthetics fit, a world that's built around incredible characters. They're fun-loving fighters and introspective scrappers, cocky scoundrels and lovestruck romantics, and frequently they're all those things at the same time. The result is what might be the best pure adventure story going right now, and one of DC's most underrated titles. So if this is your third opportunity, don't strike out. It's good stuff. [CS]
Writer: J. Torres & Various
Artist: Jay Stephens & Various
Publisher: Chapter House Publishing
To get the usual jokes out of the way: I can’t wait for this comic to debut 2016’s most sensational new characters, No I Don’t Live in an Igloo Lass and Excuse Me I’m So Sorry Man. Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I’ve always felt that a society where nigh-on everyone is nice to a fault should produce a lot more superheroes, and this anthology agrees with me. Its stories are written and illustrated by a wealth of talent in addition to those top billed — from Faith Erin Hicks to J. Bone to Tom Fowler to Arthur Dela Cruz. If you think the world needs more Canada — and we have our eye on you if you don’t think that — then this should be right up your alley. [CF]
Writer/Artist: Daniel Clowes
Daniel Clowes has been a highly-respected, original, and award-winning cartoonist since the late 1980s, but I will gladly argue that he didn't really hit his stride until around 2000. Beginning with the David Boring story serialized in Eightball, Clowes has taken giant steps in his comics, creating the kinds of characters and conflicts that Ghost World only hinted at. Through The Death-Ray, Ice Haven, and Wilson, he's abandoned his need for outward weirdness to delve into the deeper peculiarities of the human experience in brilliantly-crafted and formally inventive comics about misanthropes yearning for connection with the world, outcasts searching for family, satisfaction, and acceptance, and the tangled mess of human relationships surrounding every interaction we experience.
Patience is his longest self-contained narrative to date, dealing with several themes that once seemed like anathema to the cartoonist — pregnancy, murder, time travel, and the power of love — and it's simply amazing that almost thirty years after he made a splash, Daniel Clowes continues to grow, telling better stories now than ever before. [JP]