Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For November 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.
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: Jason Aaron
Artists: R.M. Guera and Giulia Brusco
The best tie-in series in Secret Wars has to be Jason Aaron and Mike Del Mundo's Weirdworld, a simultaneously grotesque and hilarious epic that recast forgotten character Arkon into a leading role and spun out Robert E. Howard-inspired insanity for four appetite-whetting issues. In The Goddamned, Aaron reunites with Scalped collaborators R.M. Guera and Giulia Brusco to slake us with a tale of antediluvian barbarism, hopefully including all kinds coveting, false idols, a Gibborim or two, and several rock-and-bone-based murders. Preview images are simultaneously ugly and gorgeous, a mashup of the best parts of Richard Corben's Den, Ralph Bakshi's Wizards, and every hallucination inspired by the music of Hawkwind. Watch Aaron, Guera, and Brusco bring the gnar. [John Parker]
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Ben Dewey
Publisher: Image Comics
As well known, and deservedly so, as Kurt Busiek is for his work in the superhero genre, he’s built up a pretty impressive portfolio when it comes to fantasy as well. Between Conan, Arrowsmith, and the oft-overlooked A Wizard’s Tale, Busiek approaches fantasy with the same care to the world’s construction as he has with series such as Astro City, and his latest fantasy story has the potential to be his best. Ben Dewey’s lush, soft art conveys a world that’s grown so tall out of the ashes of one apocalypse that it’s come right back around to staring at another, and depicts a society that may have deserved to collapse, but whose inhabitants didn’t deserve to live through it. This is a brand new story arc and the first collection is out, so if you love fantasy and love (or at least are fine) with animals that think they’re people, Autumnlands comes recommended. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Eddie Argos
Artists: Steven Horry and David Cooper
I'm not sure how I didn't find out about this comic until the week that it's coming out, but here we are, and I couldn't be more excited. If you missed out on the news, too, then here's what you need to know: Double D marks the comic book writing debut of Eddie Argos, the singer and songwriter who serves as the frontman for Art Brut and its attendant litany of side projects — including Spoiler Alert!, a band that only sings songs about complicated DC Comics continuity and the history of Booster Gold. That pedigree alone should probably make Double D worth checking out even if you're not already familiar with his music, but the premise of an overweight kid who fuels his superpowers with "excess mass" and then finds out how difficult it is to find success fighting crime in the suburbs feels like a prety solid premise, too. [Chris Sims]
Writer: James Asmus
Artists: Karl Moline, Mark Pennington, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Comics
If you've been following our Valiant recaps across the last few weeks, you'll have heard vague mutterings about Unity, an ongoing event series in which each new arc is a big crossover-style event that involves key players from across the Valiant Universe. Well, here's a chance to take a quick look at the next big event, with an issue that disrupts the team and recreates one of the big grudge matches from the early years of Valiant's relaunch. James Asmus takes the reigns of the series ahead of the jump-on/switcharound issue #25 next month, for a story in which the Unity team find themselves trapped inside their former team-mate turned giant mad robot GIN-GR. As GIN-GR goes on a rampage through America — while being attacked from the outside by a team of vengeance-seeking nasties called the Armor Hunters — the team are trapped inside the chassis, and have to try and find their way out. It's like the Power Rangers story you always wanted to see but never did (note: maybe they did it, I dunno). With art from Karl Moline, this should be a fun one-off that wiill give you a decent idea of what Unity is all about. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Si Spencer
Artists: Max Dunbar and Ande Parks, covers by Tula Lotay
Vertigo's on a bit of a tear lately, debuting one surprising new series after another for several weeks, and Slash & Burn keeps the streak going with a simple and alluring hook: pyromaniac firefighter. In this psychological thriller, Rosheen Hayes literally battles her own addiction, fighting blazes instead of starting them, until an arson investigation leads her back to the past, and the fires that forged her. I have absolutely no idea who Max Dunbar is (apologies), but Tula Lotay's covers are routinely resplendent, and Ande Parks has never been involved in anything bad, either as writer or inker, as he is here. But the main reason to check out this book is Si Spencer, whose Bodies was one of the most unpredictable and rewarding reads of 2014, a mytho-psychological detective story about love and apocalypse. This follow-up looks dark, primal, and urgent, and if you've ever gotten lost in that hypnotic flicker on the match-head, Slash & Burn is for you. [JP]
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort, Dan Brown, Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Hey, so it's the Avengers book that it's cool to like! Ultimates was the darker and 'realer' version of the Avengers back when Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch were in charge; here Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort move away from the standard Avengers template and offer something that is perhaps a bit more contemporary. Their Ultimates team is a strong one — you have Monica Rambeau, Black Panther and America Chavez all front and centre, for one thing — but also a fun one, likely to offer a different perspective on the life of a superhero. Ewing seems to be leaning heavily into the idea of "anything is possible now" for the Marvel Universe as this series begins (he even opens the book by saying "let's start with the impossible and work up"), and the inference really seems to be that this is the book where you go to get full-spectacle comics thrown at you in kaleidoscopic color. In that regard, it's a good thing that colorist Dan Brown is around, to give the sharp crystalline figures of Rocafort a cosmic sheen. This feels like it has the verve of the original Ultimate series — but coupled with perhaps a smarter, more exploratory feel. This should be one to keep an eye on, lest it destroy the multiverse before December. [SM]
Writer/Artist: Derf Backderf
Publisher: Harry Abrams
In 2002, longtime alternative cartoonist Derf self-published a comic book called My Friend Dahmer, wherein he wrestled with the fact that a kid he went to high school with grew up to become one of America's best-known serial killers. In 2012, he released an expansive, must-read graphic novel of the same title through publisher Harry Abrams. While it might be a little foolish to expect his next work to be quite as powerful and occasionally gut-wrenching as his final version of Dahmer was, given the subject matter and the amount of research and self-scrutiny that went into it, Derf's new book Trashed had a similarly long gestation period and path to final form. Originally published as an over-sized, 50-page comic book through Slave Labor Graphics in 2002, it too is getting new life in a much longer, reworked version from Abrams. Now weighing in at over 250-pages, Trashed is a highly-fictionalized account of one of the cartoonist's earlier real-life jobs: That of a garbage man. If it's anything like the original version, it will be funny, fascinating and educational. If it's anything like the last comic from 2002 who he re-created, it should also be excellent. Derf's in a great place now, creatively, and well on his way to making the graphic novel form his own in the same way that the altweekly newspaper strip once was. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Publisher: Image Comics
The sole sad thought about the fact that the Thought Bubble Comics Festival takes place this weekend? That many comics fans will unfortunately not be able to attend the single best comics show in the world. But at least a little part of the festival can be taken home this week, with the annual Thought Bubble Anthology. Much like the festival, it's a collection of comics work with a sense of range, depth, and breadth on display — you have names like Tula Lotay, Tim Sale, Emi Lenox and Rick Remender all attached to the issue, but you also have stories from creators across the UK, webcomics makers, aspiring young cartoonists and kids, and so much more. As in any anthology, the stories here will vary in quality as suits your taste and interests. However, this is one of the few comics in the world that offers the comics industry the chance to do absolutely anything for a page or two — and that's a rare, fascinating thing. The best thing, however? Proceeds from the issue will be donated to Barnardo's, one of the most worthy charities you'll ever find. [SM]
Writers: John Barber & Tom Scioli
Artist: Tom Scioli
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Most licensed comics, even the excellent G.I. Joe and Transformers comics from IDW Publishing, trade a little on familiarity with the source material. You know that Snake Eyes doesn’t speak and has scars, and you know that a big metal planet with horns is supposed to be Unicron. But none do it the way that Transformers vs. G.I. Joe does it, with just enough honest callback to make the digressions more shocking, and otherwise blazing its own trail with some kind of flame-shooting flame-treaded super-tank that seats ten G.I. Joes and turns into a dinosaur. The comic looks like the fever dream of a sentient fanzine, with Vikings wearing Autobot-symbol shaped helmets and Tunnel Rat crawling in between comics panels, but beneath all that is an attention to detail and long-term planning that rivals, again, the other licensed comics from IDW. Read Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, because there’s nothing else like it being made right now. [CF]
Writers: Paul Dini, Scott McCloud
Artists: Rick Burchett, Bret Blevins, Mike Manley and Terry Austin
At this point, I think everyone knows that Batman Adventures was the best Batman comic of the '90s, but much like the TV shows that they're based on, Superman Adventures is every bit as good, despite being the one nobody ever talks about. The early issues collected here don't quite hit the heights of the latter half of the run, where Evan Dorkin showed up and Mark Millar did what was easily the best work of his career, but it's still full of classic Superman stories that have been overlooked since they were released, including some great stuff by Scott McCloud. If you're only familiar with him from, you know, literally writing the book about how to make comics, it's worth checking out the simple, action-packed stuff that he did here — and even if you're an old fan who's been through Zot a few times, Superman Adventures is always worth reading. [CS]