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.

  • NAMESAKE #1

    Writer: Steve Orlando

    Artists: Jakub Rebelka, Thomas Mauer

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    With Steve Orlando releasing a string of interesting work-for-hire assignments for DC across 2016, Namesake stands out for being his only writer-owned book of the year. A sci-fi fantasy sort of thing, the story is about two parallel worlds which come into contact with one another for only seven days once every seven years. As time passes, what started as a celebration of parallel lives and cultures grows into distrust, double-dealing and jealousy and into that atmosphere steps a young man called Jordan, who finds out a secret about his parents, which provokes him to move from his world across to the next.

    It all sounds fascinating, a chance to take a smaller, personal story but surround it in a wider, deeper world which could well be the starting point for any number of stories. Steve Orlando off the chain is an exciting prospect, but it's also worth paying attention to artist Jakub Rebulka, whose work in the preview for issue #1 looks like a huge leap away from the expected, with some lovely colors and a host of clever touches which add to the storytelling in hugely entertaining ways. [Steve Morris]

  • BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES ADVENTURES #1

    Writer: Matthew K. Manning

    Artist: Jon Sommariva

    Publisher: IDW

    2016 has had more than its share of unmitigated disasters, but if you need something positive to focus on, consider that it’s also a year that brought us the first Batman/TMNT crossover, which, by all rights, should’ve happened in like 1991 at the latest. And it’s also the same year where we’re getting the second one.

    To be honest, Matthew K. Manning and Jon Sommariva have a pretty tough act to follow from James Tynion IV and Freddie E. Williams II. That first story went all-out to give you everything you wanted, throwing in virtually all of Batman’s classic villains, having Shredder team up with the Penguin and with Ra’s al-Ghul, and turning Mr. Freeze into a Polar Bear in the stealth best comics moment of 2016. Fortunately for them, doing it in the animated universes of both franchises gives the project a whole new aesthetic to work with, and that alone would make it worth checking out, even if they didn’t have a pretty strong track record for all-ages adventure.

    Really though, the one thing we can really hope for, the one thing that we didn’t get before, is the April O’Neil/Summer Gleeson team-up that we’ve always deserved. [Chris Sims]

  • INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1

    Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

    Artist: Stefano Caselli

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    There has been a lot of talk about Invincible Iron Man, but most of has centered around the choice of creative team and inappropriate covers. This week we’re going to find out if it’s actually a good comic or not. Stefano Caselli’s designs for Riri Williams have so far been the highlight of the publicity campaign for the title, and this looks set to be the artist’s best work yet.

    Storywise, Bendis obviously has a lot of affection for Riri as her creator and this book is somewhat of a labor of love for him. A lot of people are likely to check out this first issue out of curiosity to see of he manages to pull it off and as one of Marvel’s most hit or miss writers of late, it could easily go either way. [Kieran Shiach]

  • DEATHSTROKE #6

    Writer: Christopher Priest

    Artists: Carlos Pagulayan and Jason Paz

    Publisher: DC

    Deathstroke has always one of my favorite DC villains. As a ruthless assassin, he's something of an anti-Batman, but it's the strained family relationships and complex moral code that made the character so compelling to me. So of course Rob Liefeld had to ruin him. The New 52 reboot effectively killed Slade Wilson, and the course-correcting that Tony Daniel took in the Terminator's second origin reset in three years did nothing to change that.

    Well, sometimes when you want a job done right you've got to bring in an outside contractor, and DC made a very smart move by calling Christopher Priest. In short order, Priest has completely reinvigorated Deathstroke, penetrating into the family turmoil that drives the character and returning that vicious Machiavellian edge that Slade has been missing for so long. This is Priest's first work on Deathstroke almost surprising, given his precise grasp of the character and I hope it continues for quite a while, because this book has been absolutely gripping since the beginning.

    Also, I scratched my cornea the other day, and I wrote this while wearing an eye patch. True story. [Jeff Parker]

  • AVENGERS #1.1

    Writer: Mark Waid

    Artist: Barry Kitson

    Publisher: Marvel

    Look, I don’t understand why you’d give a comic the number 1.1. I don’t really get why it makes more sense to release a project like this as weirdly numbered Avengers issues instead of a subtitled mini-series. But I’m putting aside all of those concerns, because I really like the Silver Age Avengers, and Waid and Kitson seem like the perfect team to take them on. After all, they’re the team that did JLA: Year One with co-writer Brian Augustyn way back in 1999, so they’ve had experience at fleshing out Silver Age team stories. And the era of the Avengers that this story features is a particularly interesting one, when all the founding team members left at once, and Captain America was joined by three former supervillains: Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver. [Elle Collins]

  • MEGA PRINCESS #1

    Writer: Kelly Thompson

    Artist: Brianne Drouhard

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    At this point, I’m going to guess that you’re already familiar with Kelly Thompson. Even if the high concept of young princess who gets the magical abilities of every other princess wasn’t pretty intriguing all on its own, her work on Jem and the Holograms, Heart in a Box, and other comics lays out a track record that pretty much speaks for itself.

    As much as I’m a fan of Thompson, though, the real draw in this one for me is the incredible art of Brianne Drouhard. She’s probably best known for being the animator behind the fantastic Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld shorts (as well as working on shows like Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Teen Titans Go), but her work in comics is every bit as beautiful as what she’s done on the screen. Thanks to her webcomic, Harpy Gee, we’ve seen how good she is at fantasy adventure, and getting to see her do a long-form series alongside Thompson might just be the best thing about comics this week. [CS]

  • MOTHER PANIC #1

    Writer Jody Houser

    Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards

    Publisher: DC Comics

    The other three Young Animal titles, as far as I’m concerned, have been an absolute home-run, so Mother Panic has a lot to live up to as the final title to launch from the imprint. Thankfully, it’s got one heck of a creative team in Houser and Edwards to bolster Gerard Way’s original concept, which while not the most original idea, will likely benefit from the weirdness Young Animal allows.

    Mother Panic is more tied into the rest of the DC Universe by virtue of being set in Gotham, and hopefully it manages to set itself apart from the crowd, especially when it comes to Batwoman, to whom obvious comparisons arise. This could be set to be one of the most interesting titles in a line of interesting titles, and is well worth a look if you’ve enjoyed another of the other comics from Young Animal. [KS]

  • VIOLENT LOVE #1

    Writer: Frank Barbiere

    Artist: Victor Santos

    Publisher: Image

    If you've got a crazy ex, you know that sex and danger were made to go together. Unfortunately, not all people were made to be together, so sometimes it doesn't quite work out (hence the "ex" part). But even if you can never find that balance in your life, you can get it in art: Bonnie & Clyde, Natural Born Killers, Badlands, True Romance in film; Kill Your Boyfriend, Stray Bullets, and Criminal in comics. It's in that vein that Frank Barbiere and Victor Santos have crafted Violent Love, a paean to doomed love that crosses the decades. There's a fine line to walk in books like these if the creators are too self-aware or observant of the source material they'll end up with something wholly unremarkable but I think Barbiere and Santos could be good enough to have their own entry in the grand tradition of crime and love. [JP]

  • WWE: THEN NOW FOREVER #1

    Writer: Dennis Hopeless

    Artists: Dan Mora and Daniel Bayliss

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    I became a wrestling fan as an adult, which means for all the comics I read as a kid, I never went anywhere near those weird old wrestling comics about Ultimate Warrior or Sting or whoever. So I might be less jaded than most at the prospect of a new comics deal for WWE. But I’m certainly curious how it’s going to turn out, especially since they’re working with Boom, who are usually good at this kind of thing. Plus this issue promises Dennis Hopeless writing a comic about the breakup of the Shield, and that’s something I’ve definitely got to read. [EC]

  • DC/DARK HORSE: JUSTICE LEAGUE

    Writers: David Micheline, Alan Grant, James Robinson and Mike Kennedy

    Artists: Alex Maleev, Steve Pugh, Mike Mignola, Ryan Benjamin and others

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Or, alternately, DC/Dark Horse: We Weren't Sure What To Call This One. The latest massive collection of older DC/Dark Horse crossovers doesn't really have the organizing principal that some of the others did, so they just use "Justice League" as a catch-all of the DC superheroes involved: Superman, Batman, Batgirl Cassandra Cain and the Golden Age and Jack Knight versions of Starman.

    The highlight here is James Robinson and Mike Mignola's Batman/Hellboy/Starman, mostly because it offered the extremely rare opportunity to see post-Hellboy Mignola drawing the likes of Batman, The Joker and some Starmans, although it's a very interestingly structured inter-publisher crossover all-around. The rest of the collection's 400+ pages are filled up with Superman fighting Terminator and Predator and Batgirl teaming-up with the Ghost character from Dark Horse's Comics' Greatest World superhero imprint. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • SUGAR AND SPIKE: METAHUMAN INVESTIGATIONS

    Writer: Keith Giffen

    Artist: Bilquis Evely

    Publisher: DC Comics

    Far and away the best part of DC's head-scratching Legends of Tomorrow anthology series (which had almost nothing at all to do with the show of the same name), Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely's weird new take on Sheldon Mayer's Silver Age baby characters finds them all grown-up and working as gun-toting private investigators serving a superhero clientele. On paper, it sounds like a hideously misguided attempt to find the most innocent and kid-friendly DC IP and update it into something darker for today's more "mature" comics-reading audience and, in retrospect, parodying that major publisher trend that may have been the point of the feature all along. But like the original Sugar & Spike comics, these strips are comedies, just of a different sort.

    In each chapter, they take on a different strange assignment from a different major DC superhero, one that usually involves sweeping some sillier, embarrassing element from the characters' Silver Age (and technically out-of-continuity) past under the rug, like helping a Gotham City butler recover Batman's most bizarre alternate costumes or dealing with that monster that Wonder Woman almost married once.

    Superman, The Flash, Supergirl, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, a legion of different Legions of Super-Heroes and plenty of obscure villains and mostly-forgotten supporting characters put in appearances, making for a surprisingly relevant romp through the DC Universe's rich past. It also happened to be not only the all-around best-drawn feature in Legends of Tomorrow, but one of the all-around best-drawn comics stories DC has published this year, thanks to Evely's incredible artwork. The interiors strike a balance between detailed realism and good-old-fashioned cartooning that too-few modern comics artists can find and hold.

    If you missed Sugar & Spike in the pages of 80-page, $7.99 Legends anthology, don't miss it now that its available in trade. And please join me in crossing my fingers that we haven't seen the last of this particular take on the characters by this particular creative team. [CM]