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.

  • FIGHT CLUB 2 #1

    Writer: Chuck Palahniuk

    Artist: Cameron Stewart

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    Fight Club 2 is already the most fascinating new comic in recent memory, and I haven't even read it yet. Despite being his first novel, and far from his best-written, Fight Club is still probably Chuck Palahniuk's best idea, and it's doubtful he would bother to revisit his most famous work unless he was adding something really, really good. In Fight Club 2, it's ten years after the events of Project Mayhem, and our troubled narrator is living a quiet life in the suburbs, married to Marla Singer and raising a son. After criticizing the failures of fathers and the modern dead-eyed consumerist lifestyle, the narrator is a father himself, a drone keeping his other side at bay with mood stabilizers and medical marijuana. If you'll recall, though, the slaves and drones are the free ones, and when Marla starts feeling the seven-year-itch, it looks like Tyler Durden will be making a comeback. [John Parker]

  • IVAR TIMEWALKER #5

    Writer: Fred Van Lente

    Artists: Francis Portela, Andrew Dalhouse

    Publisher: Valiant Comics

    Heading into the second storyline, Valiant's answer to Doctor Who has already started throwing a ridiculous amount of things at the reader — from a reunion between Ivar and his famous brothers Armstrong and The Eternal Warrior right through to an evil future version of heroine Neela kidnapping future Neela so that she can... who knows. Something that'll break the time-space continuum, most likely. The series plays nicely into Fred Van Lente's dual interests in historical mischief and buddy-comedy adventures, and has proven a nice, light, and refreshing change from the more political, real-world stories of Bloodshot and Imperium. [Steve Morris]

  • CONVERGENCE: SHAZAM #2

    Writer: Jeff Parker

    Artist: Evan "Doc" Shaner

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Since it didn't contain any scenes of superheroes giving Deathstroke the Terminator tiny little baby hands as a punishment for his crimes, Parker and Shaner's Shazam can really only be the second-best thing to come out of Convergence. That's literally the only thing holding it back, though — the first issue was about as perfect a Captain Marvel story as any of us could ask for, right down to having a great use of Convergence's domes and their suppression of super-powers. The only thing it didn't have was the promised fight with Gotham By Gaslight's steampunk Batman, but considering that the last page had Fawcett City attacked by an entire fleet of zeppelins, I'm pretty sure that we're going to get that one here. And honestly, any comic that can provide me with Steampunk Batman And His Fleet of Zepelins and the robotic terror of Mr. Atom is a comic I want in my life. [Chris Sims]

  • SECRET WARS: INFERNO #1

    Writer: Dennis Hopeless

    Artists: Javier Garron

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    First arc of Spider-Woman aside, which we've all agreed never happened, Dennis Hopeless has been on a secret hot-streak at Marvel for a few years now. Avengers Arena was good, Avengers Undercover was good, and that X-Men Season One graphic novel was great! So having him return to another book where he can happily kill off and threaten characters as is his Dennis Hopeless wont? That's a sign of good things comin'. Inferno is my favourite X-Men story of all time, so I'm happy to see another round of it — especially if it means more from Magik-Colossus as a duo, because younger sister-older brother combinations almost always hit home for me. Plus the Goblyn Queen! Marvel's most under-celebrated comics triumph. Maybe Havok will get back in his S&M costume too, as a bonus reward for us all. [SM]

  • MATERIAL #1

    Writer: Ales Kot

    Artist: Will Tempest

    Publsiher: Image Comics

    Even if Ales Kot will occasionally annoy you with writing that seems almost achingly twee or self-aware (see Secret Avengers), he only falls into those pits because of his commitment to experimentation. Material, then, might be the perfect receptacle for all of his inventive indulgences: described by Kot as being inspired by "the entire world," (again; that's pretty twee) it's a fair bet that Material will be fertile ground for narrative experimentation, with Zero collaborator Will Tempest. They're not going to stick the landing on every maneuver they attempt, but Kot and Tempest will receive points simply for trying. [JP]

  • PROVIDENCE #1

    Writer: Alan Moore

    Artist: Jacen Burrows

    Publisher: Avatar Press

    However one might feel about Alan Moore, who has somehow become a controversial figure in certain comics circles, I think it’s safe to say that even at his absolute worst, he’s head, shoulders and torso above many of his fellow comics writers. And he’s always interesting. He’s now re-teaming with the artist and publisher of his previous Neonomicon for a 12-part series exploring the work of the comics industry’s collective favorite prose writer H.P. Lovecraft, as only Moore can. Avatar is rather breathlessly describing the book as “the Watchmen of horror,” and while they may be slightly biased when it comes to telling potential readers how good Providence is going to be, I think we can all agree that when it comes to long-form comics dealing with real-world history, magic, literature and horror, Moore is in extremely comfortable territory. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • SECRET WARS: WHERE MONSTERS DWELL #1

    Writer: Garth Ennis

    Artist: Russell Braun

    Publisher: Marvel

    This is a good example of one of those comics Marvel probably wouldn’t attempt were they not in the throes of the 'anything goes' Secret Wars status quo... and a good example why even comics readers with no interest in Marvel event series might want to keep an eye on the House of Ideas this summer. Taking its title from an old 1970s horror anthology, Where Monsters Dwell stars Gary Friedrich and Herb Trimpe’s minor 1960s creation, World War I flying ace The Phantom Eagle, whom writer Garth Ennis previously scripted in 2008 Max-imprint mini-series War Is Hell: The First Flight of the Phantom Eagle. Here Ennis is joined by artist Russell Braun, who he previously collaborated with on Dynamite series The Boys and Battlefields. Because this is Secret Wars, however, they can’t just have The Eagle fighting in the Great War, so his opponents will include dinosaurs – which goes a long way towards explaining what type of monsters will be doing the dwelling in this book. [CM]

  • RAGNAROK #5

    Writer: Walt Simonson

    Artist: Walt Simonson

    Publisher: IDW

    This is a Thor comic written and drawn by Walt Simonson. This is literally all anyone needs to know. [CS]

  • YOU DON'T SAY GN

    Writer/Artist: Nate Powell

    Publisher: IDW Publishing/Top Shelf Productions

    After Please Release, Swallow Me Whole, and Any Empire, anything that Nate Powell writes and draws is pretty much a must-read for me. As a writer, he's both honest and compassionate, exploring topics like mental illness and childhood cruelty with authenticity. As an artist, he's inventive, expressive, and constantly shifting his style to suit the story. You Don't Say is a collection of previously unreleased short comics from the last ten years, and besides the mystique of the "unreleased" part of that, Powell has evolved a lot over the past decade, and it will be nice to be able to revisit that growth in one handy package. [JP]

  • TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: IDW COLLECTION VOL. 1

    Writers: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, Erik Burnham, Brian Lynch

    Artists: Mateus Santolouco, Charles Paul Wilson III, Franco Urru, Andy Kuhn, Sophie Campbell

    Publisher: IDW

    The TMNT ongoing is one of the best comics on the stands, but there's one big problem if you're planning on jumping on: reading order. The story is actually spread out among the core ongoing, the Micro-Series one-shots, and various miniseries that are necessary to get the whole picture, and while the good news is that they're all pretty great, the bad news is that if you're reading in the individual collections, you have to do a lot of switching back and forth between issues. Even if the book is totally worth it (and it is), it can be a bit of a pain. Fortunately, the hardcover is made to address this exact concern. The stories reprinted here are arranged in the correct reading order, so that you can just blow through the entire thing in one go and not have to worry about making sure you actually read the solo story about Michelangelo — which, I assure you, is one of the greatest worries in life. Admittedly, it's entirely possible to do that arranging yourself, but if you've got fifty bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you could certainly do a lot worse than picking up a massive, oversized chunk of one of the best things out there. [CS]

  • THE BATMAN ADVENTURES VOL. 2

    Writer: Kelly Puckett

    Artists: Mike Parobeck and Rick Burchett

    Publisher: DC Comics

    The Batman Adventures was without question the single best Batman comic of the '90s, and if we're being honest, it's probably one of the best comics of the '90s period. Like the show it was based on, the comic was crisp, timeless and absolutely beautiful, and while it's been available digitally for a while, getting it back into print in the form of a paperback is pretty awesome. The first volume has what's probably my all-time favorite Joker story — the one in #3 where he kidnaps Commissioner Gordon — but this second volume is not to be missed. It's got #11-20 of the series, which represent some of Puckett and Parobeck's absolute best work: the fantastic "Batgirl: Day One," where Barbara Gordon takes on Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn (#12), an amazing story of Bruce Wayne and Talia on a "date" in Paris (#13), and the Gordon-focused "Badge of Honor" (#15). They're amazing and incredibly underrated Batman stories, even among people who recognize how great the show was, and if you've never read them, you definitely should. [CS]