Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For March 9 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: Roger Langridge
Artists:Andy Hirsch, Fred C. Stresing
Publisher: Boom Studios
I always support Roger Langridge's work, as one of the most brilliantly gifted humorists working in the industry today. His latest, with artist Andy Hirsch, has a bizarre but strangely plausible premise which should make for an great all-ages story. The idea is that Sherlock Holmes, the most famous fictional detective of all time, was... fictional. But not because he was invented by Arthur Conan Doyle, no — because his housekeeper, Mrs Hudson, was the secret mastermind living out his adventures the whole time. Backed up by a group of young detectives-in-training, she solves mysteries (such as issue #1's 'Mystery of a Giant Stone Lion That Comes to Life') and writes them up under her pen name... of Dr John Watson. That is irresistible! I love the premise, I really enjoy the creative team, and I think Boom is the perfect place to locate a storyline of this type. Also of note: Hirsch is doing double-duty on the series, as artist and letterer — that always brings something special to the storytelling. [Steve Morris]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
There are a lot of great things about MTMTE, but the best is how quickly, efficiently and thoroughly it can connect with a reader to generate an emotional reaction. If you read through CA's Transformed Man column, you already know that it only took a few issues before I went from someone who had absolutely zero interest in the Transformers both as characters and a franchise to someone who had a genuine affection for Tailgate, a strange kind of sympathy for Megatron and a frustrated respect for Ultra Magnus. And believe me, I never expected that either.
But one of the greatest emotional reactions this book has generated over the past 50 issues was a deep, all-consuming fear of the Decepticon Justice Division. Ever since they were introduced way back at the start of the series as a gang of hard-line soldiers dedicated to killing traitors to the cause in the most imaginatively brutal ways possible, they've been the biggest threat the series has to offer, to the point of actually being responsible for killing quantum duplicates of the entire cast. Every time they've shown up, there's been a sense of fear that this would be the final confrontation, the one where it all came to a head, but it never has been. Now, with the arc that starts in this issue, it finally is. And since there's nothing better that a creator can do with an emotional connection than to make it hurt for the reader, I'm expecting the worst — just told in a way that shows why MTMTE is the best. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Artists: Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
While Black Widow's busy jumping out the helicarrier, Bobbi Morse — codename Mockingbird — heads deeper into it, as part of her first-ever solo series. The series from bestselling author Chelsea Cain and new artist Kate Niemczyk is going to some interesting places (as discussed in our interview with the team, there's going to be sexy dungeons appearing imminently), as it races from the momentum of Cain's own Mockingbird one-shot last year. That issue was a curious thing, spending a lot of time in a single scene as it told a story which was truly quite the weird, off-kilter piece. Cain's got a crazy style as a writer, a singular narrative voice, and it's going to be really exciting to see her exercise that over an extended period. Marvel has a knack for finding good prose authors and bringing them to a comic where they'll suit the tone and style (like Marjorie Liu) and I'm pretty delighted that Mockingbird, one of the most likeable S.H.I.E.L.D.-related characters, is finally getting to take flight. [SM]
Writer: Brenden Fletcher, James Tynion IV, and Ken Niimura
Artist: Adam Archer, Christian Wildgoose and Ken Niimura
Publisher: DC Comics
We still don't know a whole lot about what's going to happen in DC's upcoming Rebirth event, but one of the bright spots in the news we have so far is that Gotham Academy is going to be continuing in the form of a new series and a second semester. What that means for the series and its creators is still up in the air, but if there's one thing that we've learned from the anthology-style "Yearbook" storyline is that these are characters with a whole lot of potential for the future.
Of course, if you've been reading the book all along, you already knew that, but over these past few issues, we've seen it in practice as a whole lot of great creators have shown up to put an interesting spin on Olive, Maps, and the other students. And this time, we're getting to see one of the most interesting creators yet: I Kill Giants artist Ken Niimura. It's hard for any DC book to not feel like it's in a holding pattern right now with something so big on the horizon, but Gotham Academy is doing just that by showing us everything that might be coming up in the future — and doing a pretty great job of it besides. [CS]
Writers: G. Willow Wilson
Artists: Nico Leon, Ian Herring, Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Another title with a truly fun premise, this issue sees Ms Marvel once more tap into that Spider-Man formula for a continuing arc that sees her mobilising an army of robot Kamalas to help her out. Things, to be expected, don't go so well. We've been seeing more screwball comedy in the title over the last few issues, as writer G. Willow Wilson is totally at ease with who Kamala is and how she reacts to any given circumstance. Artist Nico Leon is a neat fit for the book, proving to mix elements of Adrian Alphona with Takeshi Miyazawa, while retaining a style of his own. The initial buzz on this series has cooled down, so we're seeing the creative and editorial team knuckle down to keep the momentum up. As time goes by and Kamala starts showing up in other places — the Avengers Academy mobile game, for instance — it's important to remember that she still has her own book, where she remains the star. And on the basis of this current storyline, that star is still very much in the ascendant. [SM]
Writer: Amy Chu
Artists: Elena Casagrande & Silvia Califano
Publisher: IDW Publishing
The acclaimed writer of some of DC’s best books teams up with Italian artists Elena Casagrande and Silvia Califano, and they take on this corker of a premise: what if Dana Scully had been teamed up with an adult Samantha Mulder, obsessed with the abduction of her brother Fox Mulder? Instantly, I’m intrigued. The gender dynamics of the X-Files, with the man who’s almost always right in that world, and the woman who would be almost always right in our world, get upended. How would Samantha Mulder be different from Fox? What would be the same? How would the two of them handle all the mutants, monsters and men-in-black of X-Files lore? Would there still be romantic tension? (A gay old gal can dream.) A premise this dynamite doesn’t come along often, and after the conclusion of the recent and underwhelming revival, I’m down for a new take on an old but good formula. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer/Artist: Jeff Nicholson
Jeff Nicholson's Through the Habitrails is a dark, Kafkaesque journal on the loss of will/self inspired by the soul-rending drudgery of a terrible job. You might be thinking to yourself that the word "Kafkaesque" is used a lot when it doesn't apply, and I agree with you one hundred percent. Well, in this story the protagonist is missing a mouth, his employers plunge a tap directly into his brain to drain his creative essence, he occasionally keeps his head in an alcohol-filled jar, and he eventually finds himself following the edicts of The Gerbil King. So what would you call it?
But don't let that description give you the impression that Through the Habitrails is just a nonsensical trip into the bizarre. It's a hauntingly familiar portrayal of the mundane, a surreal examination of the depressing cycle of work-anodyne-hope-failure-work-anodyne-hope-failure that so many of us think we're repeating like rodents running in a wheel. Revelatory, harrowing, and ultimately uplifting, Jeff Nicholson's Through the Habitrails is a masterful expression of the quiet anguish of modern life that drowns you in its undertow. One of my absolute favorite comics of all time. [John Parker]