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.

  • LUMBERJANES #32

    Writer: Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh

    Artist: Carey Pietsch

    Publisher: Boom! Studios

    This won't be news to anyone who's flipped through a monster manual or two, but there's a lot of mythological creatures that turn people to stone. This is the culmination of a story arc where the Janes fight, trick, and run away from every such creature all at once, while dealing with Greek gods and curses as one does. Lumberjanes continues to be a delight with every issue and this one will surely be no different. [Charlotte Finn]

  • SUPER POWERS #1

    Writer: Art Baltazar and Franco

    Artist: Art Baltazar

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Regardless of what kind of direction they take, DC’s all-ages comics have always been worth reading. Batman Adventures, for instance, was just straight up the best Batman comic of the ‘90s, and Supergirl’s Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade stands as one of the best versions of that character, ever. Even that Super Friends comic from a few years back that was, I believe, tied into a line of toys for the tiniest of babies, was charming in how weird it got with its simple and studiously non-violent approach to superheroes.

    As for Art Baltazar and Franco’s takes on the DCU, though, they probably don’t need an introduction. With Tiny Titans and Superman Family Adventures, they’ve done some of the best lighthearted takes around. Seeing them take on Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman with a combination of designs that I find weirdly appealing just on its own is definitely worth catching up on. [Chris Sims]

  • CIVIL WAR II #7

    Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

    Artist: David Marquez

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Here we are again, two more issues of Civil War II to go. We can get through this together. Seriously, I’ll commend CWII for going to interesting places I didn’t expect it to go. If you’d handed me a copy of Civil War II #7 after I finished reading #1, I’d wonder how in the heck Bendis and Marquez managed that, which is something.

    Originally, this was planned to be the final issue which means one of two things; It’s either going to have a big explosive ending heading into the final chapter, or it’ll have a really dour and unsatisfying last page as it’s essentially half a story’s worth of content stretched out to 30 pages. There’s only one way to find out True Believers! [Kieran Shiach]

  • AD: AFTER DEATH BOOK ONE

    Writer: Scott Snyder

    Artist: Jeff Lemire

    Publisher: Image

    AD: After Death is just another example as to why Image Comics is my favorite publisher these days, an idea I probably would have found loathsome 20 years ago. It's simply the most consistent source for brilliant creators to stretch out, experiment, and collaborate on the types of projects that would also seem impossible anywhere else. In this instance you have Scott Snyder, one of his generation's most talented writers, teaming with Jeff Lemire, one of his generation's most talented artist-writers, for a three-issue, fully-painted, oversized prestige-format book about what happens after we find the cure for death. Good publishers take risks, and Image Comics is totally unafraid to do so with material like this. [John Parker]

  • ALL-NEW X-MEN ANNUAL #1

    Writers: Sina Grace et al

    Artists: Cory Smith et al

    Publisher: Marvel

    I've always enjoyed an X-Men Annual, even if they never make the sort of sales which could make an ongoing series of them into a realistic prospect. With one of the central angles of the X-Men being their wide, diverse base of characters who all live within the same school grounds, an annual gives a great chance for off-topic stories showcasing the interesting characters who have fallen away from the main ongoing story for whatever reason.

    A lot of terrific writers and artists have brought wonderful design and concept to literal hundreds of X-Men over the years, and it's nice to be reminded of that from time to time. This one, for example, is promised to be a story about Idie, who has been a continual and underrated presence in the X-Men world for several years now, and features work from Sina Grace and Cory Smith, among others. Idie has a well-considered presence and personality which offers the X-Men something different and developed, and the beauty of an annual like this is that it can bring her perspective to the X-Men where usually you'd only see, y'know, what Jean or Wolverine or Cyclops think.

    Also: Dani Moonstar is promised to be featured in the annual! I probably should've led with that one, to be honest. [Steve Morris]

  • DEATHSTROKE #7

    Writer: Christopher Priest

    Artist: Carlo Pagulayan and Jason Paz

    Publisher: DC Comics

    I honestly never thought I would be this invested in Deathstroke the Terminator and I have, in fact, written several thousand words to that effect over the years but here we are. Seven issues into Deathstroke and the Ravager’s father-daughter road trip tour of the DC Universe, and I am hooked.

    This week, they’re following up on a trip to Gotham City by heading to DC’s second-most famous fictional town to come face-to-face with Superman, and in virtually any other book, I would be less than uninterested in seeing how that conflict went down. In this book, though, with this team, the cleverness of Deathstroke’s interactions with other characters and the fact that our viewpoint character Ravager has almost as little patience for him as I do, make it an incredibly compelling read. [CS]

  • MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR #13

    Writers: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare

    Artist: Natacha Bustos

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Now, I’m not sure how literal the Moon Girl creative team are going to take the “Smartest One There Is” story title and apply it to Lunella, but I hope they go all the way it. It’s weird that the most interesting thing about this book isn’t the giant red dinosaur, it’s Moon Girl’s resourcefulness and inventiveness, but it totally works. I’m not saying I don’t want Devil around, but I am saying I could see myself reading a book just titled Moon Girl. [KS]

  • USAGI YOJIMBO #159

    Writer: Stan Sakai

    Artist: Stan Sakai

    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    I know that I’ve spent an awful lot of time harping on how consistently amazing Usagi Yojimbo is, but it really is one of those things that can never be overstated. It’s a great comic, and while a lot of its strength comes from long, weaving story arcs like "Grasscutter" or the slow burn that led to "Duel at Kitanoji," some of Usagi’s best moments have come in the smaller, more self-contained issues, too.

    That’s why this week’s is something to take note of. Unless I’m mis-remembering, this marks the first time since Usagi Yojimbo’s return to a regular schedule last year that we’ve gotten a new self-contained issue and since the solicitation text has that classic Lone Wolf and Cub setup of Usagi having to protect a child whose father was hunted down by killers, it’s going to be a pretty thrilling story. It’s the perfect time to jump on, jump back on, or just keep reading, and if you’re not doing one of those, well, you really ought to. [CS]

  • WATCHMEN NOIR HC

    Writer: Alan Moore

    Artist: Dave Gibbons

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Watchmen is one of the keep-coming-back-to-it comics that I reread about once a year, with its 12 sterling issues (and only 12) still a benchmark for comics storytelling. Often re-releases of work like this get recolored, but Watchmen Noir is taking the tack of subtraction removing all of John Higgins' lurid and sickly coloring and leaving Dave Gibbon's inks and lines untouched. I'm curious to see what it looks like and how it affects a very familiar story. [CF]

  • CENTEFOLIA VOL 1

    by Stuart Immonen

    Published by Adhouse Books

    Stuart Immonen: the best modern artist in superhero comics? Almost certainly. But sometimes it feels like Immonen's work is almost taken for granted of course, we nod, he draws a lovely looking X-Men book, or Star Wars comic, or Mark Millar movie pitch. That's just what Stuart Immonen does. But there's so much effort going into those effortless-seeming designs, and two releases from Adhouse this week seem like they'll give us pause and a chance to reflect on just how brilliant Stuart Immonen really is.

    Centifolia Vol. 1 (and Vol. 2) are out today, bringing collections of Immonen's personal and design work, filled with concept drawing, black and white design, and color images which give a look into his creative mindset. Whether drawing lightsabers or collaborating with his equally brilliant wife Kathryn Immonen, his mind ticks over constantly with small details, tiny facets, and new concepts these are essentially two long-form insights into the mind of a modern master, and that seems completely unmissable if you ask me! [SM]