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.

  • SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #10

    Writers: Sara Ryan and Aaron Lopresti

    Artists: Christian Duce and Lopresti

    Publisher: DC

    The most widely heard complaint about this digital-first anthology comic starring the Amazing Amazon has concerned the covers. Not only do they tend to not be very good, and not only do they tend to have little to nothing to do with the interior stories, but there have been several occasions where the art style and tone of the cover image has been diametrically opposed to the contents, with perhaps the most notorious example being that on issue #3. That was the one where a screaming, blood-splattered Diana was strangling an orc on Ivan Reis' cover, while the three light-hearted, kid-friendly interior stories featured cartoony art from Marguerite Sauvage, Amy Mebberson and Gilbert Hernandez. That was followed by an Adam Hughes brokeback cover, and a photo-realistic cover by Lawrence Reynolds featuring Superman, who didn't appear within. Well, there should be no complaints about this month's cover, which is by the extremely talented Francesco Francavilla, and features a nice headshot of the heroine. Also in the immediate pipeline is a classical-looking portrait style cover by Michael Zulli. As for the inside of the comic book, this issue features a pair of stories by two creative teams. In one, Wondy goes undercover as a pop star's personal trainer. In the other, she has to deal with the last dragon. If the regular Sensation pattern holds true, and the interiors are many times better than the covers, then this issue should be, well, sensational. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • A-FORCE #1

    Writers: G. Willow Wilson, Marguerite Bennett

    Artists: Jorge Molina, Craig Yeung, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, Cory Petit

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Secret Wars has started, and everything's muddled up and a little too convoluted to grab me. However, with A-Force's arrival this week we've got a terrific creative team on our hands, and an in-comic team including Pixie, Nico Minoru, Ms America, Real Dazzler and She-Hulk. So yes, that's right: we're issuing a Pixie Alert for intense scenes of Pixie! In the midst of all the somber grrr somberness that looms around Secret Wars, this is light, electric, and fast. Molina shows off wonderfully throughout, while writers Wilson and Bennett are clearly having a ball with their characters. Dazzler, Pixie, and sharks: the ideal comic for the discerning reader. [Steve Morris]

  • ARCHIE VS. PREDATOR #2

    Writer: Alex de Campi

    Artist: Fernando Ruiz

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    There's a scene in the first issue of Archie vs. Predator, right before the teenage Predator shows up, falls in love with Betty and Veronica and starts pretty much murdering everyone in sight, where Reggie Mantle quotes Jesse "The Body" Ventura's immortal "I'm a [gosh-darned] sexual tyrannosaurus," and is then immediately shut down when Jughead replies, "Tiny appendages, very noisy, and headed for extinction? Sounds about right," and that might be my single favorite moment in comics this year. The very fact that we have Archie vs. Predator to begin with is one of those things that makes me believe in the kind of infinite possibilities that you only really get with comics, but that it's this clever and this genuinely hilarious make me love it more than I ever thought I could — and folks, let me tell you: I thought I could love Archie vs. Predator a whole heck of a lot. Incidentally, in this issue, Kevin Keller's dad explains that Archie is actually in Predator continuity, which, if the Law of Transitive Crossovers holds true, means that the past 70 years of Archie comics are just a prequel to Judge Dredd. [Chris Sims]

  • MASTER OF KUNG FU VOL 2 #1

    Writer: Haden Blackman

    Artist: Dalibor Talajic

    Publisher: Marvel

    I'll freely admit that I've been fairly lukewarm on the whole Secret Wars/Battleworld affair up to this point — I love that they're giving creators free reign to play around with the ins and outs of Marvel continuity, but so far, it's seemed like lots of anticipation and hype, and not quite as much all-out insanity as the premise would promise. However, I'm a sucker for Marvel-style martial arts, so I'm hugely excited for this new take on Master Of Kung Fu by Haden Blackman and Dalibor Talajic — a book that promises a number of crazy twists on Marvel's established mystical mythology, and throws together a diverse cast of characters in a tale of intrigue, romance, suspense, flying kicks, and fast-as-lightning fists. [Patrick Reed]

  • DOCTOR WHO: THE 11th DOCTOR #12

    Writer: Rob Williams

    Artist: Warren Pleece, Hi-Fi, Richard Starkings, Marc Ellerby

    Publisher: Titan Comics

    I recently caught up on The Eleventh Doctor (that'd be the Matt Smith one) from Titan, which has proven to be a steadier, funnier, more entertaining creation than the main TV show was at the time, yes I said it. A 2000 AD pedigree shines through this book, as writer Rob Williams hurls ideas and jokes onto the pages at a rate no other writer could even begin to imagine, while Pleece directs the action to look big, bold, and expensive. All this, and a brand new page of Marc Ellerby about alien beers! What a wonderous world, this comics industry. [SM]

  • MEGA MAN VOL 2 #49

    Writer: Ian Flynn

    Artist: Gary Martin

    Publisher: Archie Comics

    The last issue of Mega Man before it launches into another crossover with Sonic the Hedgehog might seem like a pretty weird place to jump on, but if you ever want to know why I always talk about how Mega Man is a shockingly smart and occasionally fearlessly philosophical comic, then this is the one to get. On the surface, this is an issue with the kid-friendly premise of Mega Man and Dr. Light reprogramming all of Dr. Wily's evil robots so that they can all be best friends, but in practice, it goes a whole heck of a lot deeper than that, asking questions about whether something that was created for war can ever truly have a place in a world at peace, and whether it's right to to be allowed to choose to die with dignity rather than be changed into something you're not, just to fit someone else's idea of what you should be. No, really — that is the debate going on in this comic. With almost fifty issues under its belt, Mega Man is still asking questions that nobody else is touching, and it's doing it through accessible all-ages adventures. [CS]

  • OPTIC NERVE #14

    Writer/Artist: Adrian Tomine

    Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

    There are only a few true pillars of alternative comics left standing, and Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve continues to produce amazing stories at a rate nearly double the frequency of Neutral Milk Hotel albums. Yes, Optic Nerve is entering its twentieth year of existence with its fourteenth issue, but that rarity only adds to the uniqueness of the experience it provides. Each of Tomine's short stories is suffused with emotions occurring just beneath the surface, and even though no character is outwardly showing how they really feel, you still know exactly what they're thinking. That kind of subtlety just can't be found in any mass-produced alt comic dumping out an issue a year. [John Parker]

  • DJANGO ZORRO #7

    Writer: Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wagner

    Artist: Esteve Polls

    Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

    Django Zorro is the kind of crossover that shouldn't really work. Well, no, that's not actually right. It's such a slam dunk premise — Django continuing to work as a bounty hunter to provide for his wife after the events of the movie and running across an older Don Diego setting out for one last battle against a great injustice at the end of his heroic career — that it seems exactly like the kind of thing that would be just a little too perfect and that would inevitably end up being disappointing. The thing is, Django Zorro has been exactly as good as you want it to be. The characters seem perfect, the villains are atrociously terrible and, like you might expect from a Tarantino project, the violence is genuinely shocking and horrifying when it's being done by the bad guys and thrilling and cathartic when it's being done to them. This week brings us the final issue, and while I can't promise a ludicrously enjoyable bloodbath since I haven't read it yet, I wouldn't bet against one, either. [CS]

  • RESIDENT ALIEN: THE SAM HAIN MYSTERY #1

    Writer: Peter Hogan

    Artist: Steve Parkhouse

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse's Resident Alien is blessed with a brilliantly concise central premise (alien crash-lands in small town, adopts cover identity as a doctor, works with police to solve crimes), and manages to be that rare project where the execution doesn't just live up to the high concept, it pushes it to the next level. And by this third series, Hogan and Parkhouse have established their world well enough that they can dispense with the pleasantries and hit the ground running, advancing the overall story arc (with the FBI slowly closing in on our hero) while also creating another compelling hybrid of suspenseful sci-fi, police procedural, and medical drama. [PR]

  • USAGI YOJIMBO #145

    Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    Three years ago, Usagi Yojimbo went on hiatus. This week, it's back, and while I don't want to set anyone's expectations too high, we don't really have any reason not to think that it won't be the single best comic book on the stands. Sakai, after all, stayed pretty busy during the gap in Usagi's publication schedule, drawing 47 Ronin — about samurai who, for some reason, were not rabbits — and giving us Usagi Yojimbo: Senso, the awesome Usagi/War of the Worlds crossover about Martians invading Feudal Japan. If Senso was meant to be Sakai getting back into the swing of things before heading back to the main series, then he (and we) shouldn't have been worried, because it was one of the year's most fun miniseries, and incredibly rewarding for longtime readers. The new issue kicks off a new story arc, and since accessibility is one of Usagi's greatest strong points, I can't imagine a world where this isn't a perfect jumping-on point for everyone who wants to see what all the fuss is about. [CS]

  • APOCALYPTIGIRL: AN ARIA FOR THE END TIMES TP

    Writer/Artist: Andrew MacLean
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    I read ApocalyptiGirl last month for an advance review here at CA, so read that to get the full endorsement. The short version is that it's amazing. I'll admit that I was already in the tank for MacLean after reading Head Lopper a while back, but ApocalyptiGirl takes everything I loved about that book and ramps it up to an entirely new level. It's exciting, thrilling, brutally violent and surprisingly touching, and it's not a book you want to miss. [CS]

  • GRENDEL VS SHADOW HC

    Writer/Artist: Matt Wagner

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    Like Batman/Grendel, Grendel Vs. Shadow makes no sense at all and all the sense in the world. When Hunter Rose is transported back in time (yup!) to 1930s New York, he comes into conflict with he who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men, the legendary Shadow. As ridiculous as the setup is, what follows is pulpy, dark, and razor-sharp. Wagner is able to channel something authentic whenever he works in this era, and his art deco-inspired layouts are a perfect match for the world of The Shadow. He continues to approach his most famous creation with the type of nihilistic ferocity that gives Grendel an intensity unlike any other character in comics, and Grendel Vs. Shadow is another interesting chapter in the life and death of Hunter Rose. [JP]

  • MICKEY MOUSE v.7: MARCH OF THE ZOMBIES

    Writer/Artist: Floyd Gottfredson

    Publisher: Fantagraphics

    The great thing about Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse strips — well, one of many great things, if you want to get down to it — is how easily Mickey can move from one adventure to another. One month he's a private eye, the next he's delivering mail through the mountains, and the next he's volunteering to keep the local zoo open with plenty of hi-jinks to ensue. And in this particular volume, he's apparently an inventor who is benefiting the War Effort with a ray-gun that, according to the solicitation, can "turn humans into plants." That's... that's weird even for Golden Age Mickey, but the idea of seeing him take on a full-on zombie story during World War II is pretty exciting. [CS]