Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for November 16 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: Pamela Ribon
Artist: Veronica Fish
Publisher: Boom Studios
I haven’t read much by Pamela Ribon. I mostly know her as a writer on a movie that hasn’t come out yet, although the trailers for Moana look pretty great. But I love Veronica Fish’s work on Archie, and the promo art we’ve seen from this comic looks great too. And a fun comic about roller derby is exactly the sort of thing we need right now. It’s not just a comic about girls kicking butt and being competitive, although it’s that too and that’s great. It’s a comic about female friendship and the obstacles that can get in its way. I don’t expect Slam to be quite like anything else on the stands, and that’s just another reason why I’m looking forward to it. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: David Rubin
Publisher: Dark Horse
In this new series from Matt Kindt and David Rubin — and if that’s not a dream team for smart, weird, adventurous comics then I don’t know what is — a science-based hero visits a magical realm where his own skills are put to the test as he attempts to reconcile empirical knowledge with superstition and fantasy.
Gosh. Wouldn’t it have been great if more people did that? Not necessarily abandoned their superstitions, but at least looked into a few, you know, facts? Like, say, a week ago? [John Parker]
Writer: Tim Seely
Artist: Marcio Takara
Publisher: DC Comics
There are a lot of recurring story beats in superhero comics, and one of my favorites is Superman and Dick Grayson, casting Superman as the wacky uncle that lets Dick Grayson stay up late and helps him with his chores so he has time to go and fight crime. With Rebirth, everything old is new again, and a new take on this particular team-up is the Superman from another universe teaming up with the current Nightwing, meaning it’s a familiar pairing to us, but a new one to them. It’s comfort food, and there’s nothing wrong with that. [Charlotte Finn]
THE COMIC BOOK HISTORY OF COMICS #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artists: Ryan Dunlavey, Adam Guzowski
Publisher: IDW Comics
Fred Van Lente does his research. One thing which comes through in The Comic Book History of Comics is the depth of information Van Lente literally pelts at readers throughout each issue, communicated through the singular cartooning of Ryan Dunlavey. Combined, the pair created a guide to comics which is the first port of call for anybody interested in developing their understanding of where this darned medium actually came from.
Originally printed (and collected) in black and white, this new print run will see colors from Adam Guzowski shining extra light on each page — and seems a strikingly bright idea. In the original black and white, it was sometimes hard to follow through the pages, what with the constant distractions and enhancements of Dunlavey’s layouts. Here, though, Guzowski leads the way for the reader. The first issue meshes the origins of Western comics — from horror and romance through to animation and the all-domineering path of Micky Mouse. It’s enthralling, and this colored version seems set to be the definitive edition for anybody who wants to know their Shusters from their Fingers, and learn about the real Stan Lee. [Steve Morris]
CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #15
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Paul Renaud
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Here it is everyone, the issue you’ve been waiting for! It’s everyone’s favorite! It’s D-Man! Spencer has done a great job of rehabilitating Mark Gruenwald’s favorite son over the course of Captain America: Sam Wilson, reminding readers that while he’s had his troubled times he’s a skilled fighter, a pilot and kind of a hunk too.
Now, I’m not sure how indicative of the story contents the cover is, but if we see some form of wrestling or possibly even the return of the Universal Class Wrestling Federation, then this might be the very best superhero comic of the year. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
There’s a lot to love about what Tom King has been doing on Batman since it relaunched with Rebirth — especially considering how much of it has revolved around Batman flying around on a jetpack — but one thing that doesn’t get talked about as much as all that eye-grabbing action is how well everything is connecting. Gotham Girl’s arrival, Hugo Strange unleashing the Monster Men, the Psycho Pirate escaping to Santa Prisca to serve Bane, and Batman having to put together his own ersatz Suicide Squad? Those are all great high concepts, but the fact that each one leads into the next to form a big, ongoing thrill ride that holds together cohesively is what makes this one of my favorite books right now.
To be honest, it’s easy to lose track of books when so many of them are hitting twice a month — and when so many of them are genuinely great reads — but Batman is delivering exactly what I want out of high concept superheroics, and with Mikel Janin on board for art, it’s one of the best things going. [Chris Sims]
GRAND PASSION #1
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Tom Feister
I’ve always thought of James Robinson as a sort of classicist, but as she’s shown in books like The Saviors and Airboy over the last few years, he’s apparently got a bit of a wild side. I’m hoping that comes through in Grand Passion, a hard-boiled love story about a cop and a criminal who fall for each other… and maybe still try to kill each other. On art is Tom Feister, who brings razor-sharp clarity, inventive layouts, and a surplus of energy to everything he does, and I’m very curious to see how this book comes out. Just a couple of weeks ago I was saying we needed more stories like this in comics, and here I am, one more love/crime comic richer.
I’m not saying this column grants wishes. But I’m not ruling it out yet. [JP]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Philippe Briones
If you’re like me, you know that Black Manta is the greatest DC supervillain: a coldly intelligent mastermind driven entirely by spite and revenge. And if you’ve seen Brad Walker and Andrew Hennessey’s cover for Aquaman #11, you have to admit it’s one of the all-time great Black Manta covers. I’m assuming it’s a metaphor, and Black Manta doesn’t actually grow to giant size (or shrink down Arthur and Mera) but it’s such a great symbolic image of a villain triumphant. And if you’ve been reading the current Aquaman run, you know why Black Manta is so much more powerful than he used to be. Even though I’ve read so many comics where these characters face off, I’ve never been as excited about it as I am this time. And that speaks well of everything Dan Abnett and the various artists on this run have been doing. [EC]
Writer: Grant Morrison
Publisher: DC Comics
I panned Multiversity somewhat when it came out, because as cool as a diverse coalition of superheroes is, they were just new versions of old characters. But after the week we’ve all had, I am in just the right mood for a story where a monstrous force from outside hope and charity tries to worm its way into our minds and get us to defeat ourselves, only to be beaten back by the best in us. If nothing else, this trade paperback contains Ultra Comics, easily my favorite of the whole project and a horror story I keep coming back to. [CF]
CASH & CARRIE TP
Writers: Giulie Speziani, Shawn Pryor
Artist: Penny Candy Studios
Publisher: Action Lab Comics
When I think of the talents in the comics industry who should be getting headhunted by the big publishers, one of the most prominent names on the list is that of Shawn Pryor. Formerly the President of Action Lab Comics, Pryor has spent the last several years building up and publishing brilliant comics. Cash and Carrie, which comes out today in its first paperback edition, is his most accomplished work to date and the best example of his work in the medium.
Co-created by writer Giulie Speziani with artwork from Penny Candy Studios, follows two young detectives as they go heading out to investigate mysteries abounding round their neighborhood. Dallas Cash believes that the supernatural is real, and plays a part in the story they get wrapped up within — his partner Inez Carrie follows only the most rational of scientific logic. Together, they play off in a terrifically entertaining all-ages story which never loses energy — it has endless levels of charm on offer. Within the next few years, we may all be talking about Pryor as one of the big talents revitalizing the comics market. Get on the ground floor and find out why. [SM]