Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for November 30 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.
INHUMANS VS X-MEN #0
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Here it is, finally: the event fans have been saying was on its way since long before Marvel announced it. The epic battle in which the Inhumans are 100% going to kill all the mutants, and then there will never be an X-Men book again. Okay, that’s totally not true, because we already know about the ResurrXion relaunch that comes after this event (darn advance PR spoiling the drama), but this is nevertheless a conflict that’s been hinted at for a long time finally coming to a head, and I’m curious to see how it goes. Let’s be real, it has to be better than Civil War II. [Elle Collins]
Writer: B. Clay Moore
Artists: Clayton Henry and Lewis LaRosa
B. Clay Moore has always been able to bring an interesting twist to traditional genres that are no longer within the comics mainstream — detective stories, romance, Golden Age adventurers, seventies Kung-Fu, and so on. He turns his talents to jungle adventure on Savage, with the visceral art of dinosaur expert Lewis LaRosa handling the present-day adventures of the titular teenage survivor, and the sleek, refined Clayton Henry on the flashbacks to Savage’s parents, one a soccer star, the other a model, both stranded in a wilderness that they have to make a home. Sounds like a pretty intriguing take on old ideas, and I love that stuff. [John Parker]
BLACK WIDOW #8
Writers: Chris Samnee, Mark Waid
Artists: Chris Samnee, Matt Wilson, Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Talk seems to have cooled around Black Widow lately, in a way that it didn’t for Daredevil, which was the previous collaboration between the four-man creative team. That’s interesting, and I wonder if it’s due to the sharper nature of the character.
Issue #8 sees the second part pf the “No More Secrets” arc, which has thus far followed Natasha through her first kill and slowly connected how her past plays across into her present. And, judging from the cover, it looks as though we’re next going to see her pursuit of The Dark Room — a spiritual successor to the Red Room conceit that’s been present in Marvel comics for decades — throw a spotlight on one of the more important men in her life. A certain eyepatch-wearing watcher appears to be playing a role in this issue, which is what caught my attention, because I don’t feel like I’ve seen nearly as much of their connective relationship as we should.
Black Widow’s turn from a spy working in Russia to a member of SHIELD is a defining part of her — but it doesn’t feel like we’ve ever seen what it truly meant to her. I’m fascinated to see if that hunch about the issue proves true, and how the series plans to retrieve ol’ sourpatch from his current Moon home. [Steve Morris]
NEW TALENT SHOWCASE #1
Writers: Adam Smith, Chris Sebela, Erica Schultz, Michael Moreci, Michael McMillian, Hena Khan, Joëlle Jones, Emma Beeby, Vita Ayala
Artists: Khary Randolph, David Messina, Sonny Liew, Juan Ferreyra, Barnaby Bagenda, Various
Publisher: DC Comics
While the concept of DC’s talent workshop program has been the subject of much debate this year, there’s nothing controversial with getting together a bunch of awesome creators fairly new to DC and letting them go wild with the toy box. I’m especially looking forward to the bonkers looking Hawkgirl story by Erica Schultz and Sonny Liew which casts Shayera Thal as a Detective for the Gotham Police Department hunting down weird alien weapons and Thanagarian gods.
The price point is a little higher in this anthology at $7.99, but it has a page count to match and you won’t find many superhero comics on the shelves with this kind of awesome assemblage of talent all in one place. It might not give you the next big clue to DC Rebirth or whatever, but it promises to be fun and most importantly as the title suggests, new. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Tony Vargas
I’ve enjoyed IDW’s big Revolution event, but I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of table-setting going on there. That’s just a function of its nature as the book that’s tasked with bringing most of Hasbro’s action-based toy properties into a single universe in a way that both makes sense and provides a hook for future storylines. It’s an unenviable task, but now that the dust is settling and the universe can move forward, I think it’s time for MASK to really come into its own.
It’s easy to dismiss the franchise as simply being a synthesis of GI Joe and Transformers that falls into the exact midpoint between those two franchises, but there’s an aspect of action stories that it lends itself to that those stories really don’t: Illusion and misdirection. Even though they’re famously Robots in Disguise (and even though the word itself is a pretty big part of the mythos), the Transformers have never really leaned into the idea of deception in the way that MASK can, and setting them up as covert operatives in a world where nothing is what it seems is a great way to lend an interesting edge to the toys I’ve loved since I was a kid. [Chris Sims]
BATMAN ANNUAL #1
Writers: Paul Dini, Scott Snyder, Tom King, Steve Orlando, Scott Brian Wilson and Ray Fawkes
Artists: Neal Adams, David Finch, Declan Shalvey, Riley Rossmo, Bilquis Evely and others
You won’t know it from David Finch’s completely generic cover of Batman posing on a rooftop, but this first annual of the Rebirth era is actually an anthology of Christmas and holiday-themed stories (Couldn’t Finch have at least drawn a Santa hat atop Batman’s cowl, or had him clutching a gingerbread man?).
The biggest of the participating creative teams is probably that of Paul Dini and Neal Adams, two giants of Batman history who unite to tell a story in which Batman catches Harley Quinn violating her exile from Gotham City, and the Dark Knight offers to drive her to the city limits while she sings Christmas carols and we see the spirit of Harley Quinn making Gotham a better place.
My favorite story, however, is the lead one, written by regular Batman writer Tom King and drawn by Finch, which tells the origin story of Ace The Bathound (at least in this particular continuity), in which he is a completely unnoticed gift to Bruce from Alfred.
Rounding out the book are a Scott Snyder and Ray Fawkes/Declan Shalvey story, a Steve Orlando/Riley Rossmo story that reintroduces Minister Blizzard and sets up a story for next year, and finally a Scott Brian Wilson/Bilquis Evely story which seems to introduce a fairly silly meta-human opponent for Batman (The Haunter?)… and reveals the fact that The Scarecrow’s fear gas comes in gingerbread scent, for the holidays. [Caleb Mozzocco]
GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #2
Writer: Zac Gorman
Artist: Will Robson
Ever since I owned their first appearance in West Coast Avengers as a child, I’ve had a special place in my heart for the Great Lakes Avengers. They’re deliberately D-List while still being sincere people who want to be heroes, and that makes them cool. And when they’re written well, they can be really funny without being jokes themselves. This new series still has a lot of ground to cover before we see exactly what the status quo is going to be, but there was plenty to like in the first issue, so I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes. I feel like I might be the only person who really misses Dinah Soar, though. [EC]
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
My intense admiration for Sex has evolved into outright obsession. Over the course of the last year, Casey and Kowalski have added layer after layer of conflict, intrigue, history, paranoia, eroticism, and grand cosmic mystery. The nature of the book, with explicit sex scenes — some might even say graphic — doesn’t necessarily lend itself to an expansive readership. Neither does the measured and deliberate pacing, or the Dostoyevsky-like cast of characters, for that matter. Despite how unconventional the title is, I still think it’s fair to place it in the “criminally underappreciated” category, and I urge anybody who hasn’t fallen into the Sex hole to try it. You just might like it. [JP]
GHOST RIDER #1
Writer: Felipe Smith
Artists: Danilo Beyruth & Tradd Moore
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I was hesitant to like Robbie Reyes at first, and it’s 100% because he drives a dang car rather than kick-ass motorbike but the character and the world created for him by Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore in his first ongoing comic was so fleshed-out and well-realized that I could not help but like the guy. He’s got a real cool home life and a real cool design, and there’s absolutely a place for him in the Marvel Universe.
The new series looks like it’ll be doing exactly that and pulling Robbie into the wider MU with cameos from the likes of Wolverine, Hulk and Silk and a bold new villain ramping up the superhero stakes for Robbie tremendously. Hopefully after appearances in TV and video games, the character can find a fanbase and take hold because there’s a lot of interesting stuff to explore with him and the creative team have only scratched the surface. [KS]
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Publisher: Archie Comics
Jughead and Sabrina the Teenage Witch have never seemed like a combination that I would really love seeing, but the current arc that Ryan North and Derek Charm are doing is turning out to be one of my favorite Archie stories of all time. It’s a weird one, too, opening up with a solid 20 pages where Sabrina only appeared as a humanoid hamburger, and then shifting into an issue that turned the usual Archie formula of “Archie goes on a date that is terrible through his own making while Jughead helps to bail him out” on its ear for a story where it’s Jughead who has made the date terrible, and Archie who’s called in to help. For certain values of “help,” I mean.
But it was the follow up to that that really sold it for me. Jughead is, by his nature, an oddity in Riverdale; the one teen who doesn’t obey the same rules and structures as the others, and seeing Sabrina’s litany of hexes roll off his back without any consequences was delightful — even if it meant that I had to face the possibility of treating Reggie Mantle like an actual human being. Now, we’re getting the issue where Sabrina steps into the spotlight for a new origin, and I can’t wait to see how it twists into something new. [CS]
SUPERMAN: THE GOLDEN AGE, VOL 2 TP
Writer: Jerry Siegel
Artist: Joe Shuster
Publisher: DC Comics
One great thing about the Golden Age is that none of the rules had been established yet, and with little idea as to who the superhero should fight, the creators of the time turned them loose on the villains of our world — crooked politicians, war profiteers, slumlords and gangsters. It’s somewhat disheartening in some ways to feel like those times have come around again, but on the other hand, it’s reassuring — because Superman outlasted those times, and gives us faith that we will too. Anyways, this is a collection of the prototypical superhero running around and making life terrible for all sorts of bullies, ne’er-do-wells and rats with fat wallets, and that never gets old. [Charlotte Finn]
ROWANS RUIN TP
Writer: Mike Carey
Artists: Mike Perkins, Andy Troy, Jim Campbell
Publisher: Boom Studios
The Mikes have worked together in comics, but their decision to reunite for a horror miniseries at Boom caught, I think, many people by surprise. A lot of writers and artists have moved into Marvel and DC before moving away again, but Carey and Perkins elected to turn in unexpected ways, and offer something they really wanted to do. The prospect of Carey on another horror comic following the vicious, savage Lucifer was tempting enough, but Perkins’ decision to switch his style around meant this became something else entirely.
You can tell that the creative team are thoroughly enjoying themselves as they thrust an American girl, Katie, into a distinctly haunted old house in England. As her state of mind deteriorates in that creepy place across the course of their four-issue stint, she starts breaking down doors, wandering into narrative dead ends and generally finding out that she shouldn’t have chosen Airbnb. If you enjoy a good creepfest, here’s one told with the utmost relish. [SM]
MICKEY’S CRAZIEST ADVENTURES TP
Writer: Lewis Trondheim
Aritst: Nicolas Keramidas
Between Fantagraphics’ thorough and handsome collections of classic Disney comics from masters like Carl Barks, Floyd Gottfredson and Don Rosa, and IDW’s aggressive reprinting of newer Disney comics from mostly Italian artists, there’s no lack of quality comics starring Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck and company in your local comics shop.
In fact, even the most devoted Disney fan may find themselves asking, do we really need more? The answer depends on what constitutes “more,” of course, and when “more” means an oversized, album-length adventure featuring all of the above characters by modern master and intercontinental sensation Lewis Trondheim, working with artist with such a distinct style as Nicolas Keramidas, then yeah, we can definitely use some more Disney comics.
Premised as a “lost” story from the 1960s, Trondheim and Keramidas’ collaboration involves shrinking and an alliance between Pegleg Pete and the Beatle Boys and, if all goes well, it should be the first of a new line of Disney comics at IDW focused on French imports. [CM]
TURN LOOSE OUR DEATH RAYS AND KILL THEM ALL HC
Writer/Artist: Fletcher Hanks
The other side of the Golden Age having no rules established yet is that there was nothing stopping the artist’s id from running free and taking us along for the ride. Fletcher Hanks, possibly the most unusual creator in the Silver Age, gets the deluxe Fantagraphics treatment here, as super-powered fever dreams full of horrible monsters and equally horrifying ironic punishments fill up every page. Hanks has the arguable distinction of having created the first superheroine in the form of Fantomah, a skull-faced murder-happy jungle princess, and we can only speculate about the world where Stardust and Fantomah have the cultural cachet that Superman and Wonder Woman do in ours. [CF]