Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for October 19 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/Artists: Jaime Hernandez and Gilbert Hernandez
Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez bring their signature creation back as a regular ongoing series, which should make it easier for new readers to get into than the expensive and irregular New Stories. Barely easier; just the slightest hint of easier, really. Actually, strike that; it probably won't be easier at all.
Thirty-five years after the creation of their landmark series, Los Bros Hernandez continue to create brilliantly unique comics, neither concerned with making themselves accessible to newbies nor placating long-time followers. They build upon their vast worlds without embarking on greatest-hits tours, and take their stories into territories surreal, heartbreaking, confusing, thought-provoking, titillating, and joyously inspirational, all without attempting to catch anybody up on everything that's come before, which is impossible anyway. If you've never read Love and Rockets it's unlikely that this new series will suddenly provide an easy pathway in, but anybody willing to deal with the initial bewilderment (especially on Beto's stuff) is in for rich rewards. [John Parker]
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Joe Eisma
Publisher: Archie Comics
CHERYL BLOSSOM CHERYL BLOSSOM CHERYL BLOSSOM!
If you’re the kind of person who understands what reintroducing Cheryl Blossom means to the rebooted Archie universe, I’m going to go ahead and assume you’re as stoked for this issue as I am, so please feel free to skip ahead and get some other recommendations for this week’s comics. For those of you who don’t, well, Cheryl’s more than just a tertiary Archie character. She’s a narrative wrecking ball that swings in and obliterates the status quo of Archie’s fragile romantic triangle. She’s richer than Veronica and more conniving and amoral than Reggie, and pursues Archie with the relentless efficiency of the T-800.
The thing is, that’s what she does when she’s introduced into a relatively stable Riverdale. For the past year and change, the rebooted version has seen an shift, from its start with Archie and Betty’s breakup to the more recent development of Veronica moving out of town after her father’s humiliating defeat in a local election. Getting Cheryl now pushes an unstable situation even further, and that makes for some pretty exciting storytelling. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Carmen Nunez Carnero
One of the good things about Astro City is how effortlessly it can have callbacks to stories we've never read, but the last three and a half years of the series since its return have taken it to the next level: they're callbacks to stories we have read, and in my case, read as they first came out and were talked about in HERO Illustrated (hey, remember HERO Illustrated? Sure you do). This story has guest art from Carmen Nunez Carnero, and is the second part of a story flashing back all the way back to the first miniseries, featuring the Hanged Man — possibly the creepiest of the Astro City characters. It'll doubtlessly be great, because it's Astro City. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s that time of year at Marvel Comics! The time when the event aftermath books start pouring in well before the — much delayed — event has finished. This week we see Doctor Doom step into the Iron Man armor because *something* happens to Tony Stark but we won’t know until like December.
Either way, Bendis and Maleev is usually a collaboration that you’re gonna wanna pay attention to and Bendis has really come into his own as a Doctor Doom writer this year. I mean, I still miss the Fantastic Four and would rather Doom was over in that corner of the Marvel Universe, but I’m willing to give him a chance as Iron Man for an arc or so at least. Ben Grimm’s gonna beat him in a few issues, I heard. That’ll be great. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Kate Leth
Artist: Megan Levens
Publisher: Dark Horse
It’s practically Halloween, and all I want to do is read a comic book about some witches. This looks like just the book to scratch that itch, plus it’s about witches on a road trip, which sounds like a pretty great premise. On top of that, it’s written by Kate Leth, which means I can rest assured that it’ll be at least kind of gay. So to sum up, a comic about a road trip taken by friends who are witches and at least some of them are queer is basically everything I could want out of a comic book, especially in October. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Jody Houser
Artists: Pere Pérez and Marguerite Sauvage
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
There’s a certain level of genre-savviness that I like to see in a superhero title. I mean, if you live in a superhero universe, there has to be a point where you start to realize how the genre works, right? Figuring out that evil clones exist or that sometimes people get mind-controlled is basically the superheroic equivalent of us knowing that 5:15 is a pretty bad time to be stuck in traffic.
That’s one of the big tricks in Faith. The fact that it centers on a genre-fan turned superhero gives her a perspective that leans right up against the fourth wall without ever quite breaking it, and I don’t think that’s ever been on display more than in this story. See, the current arc not only finds Faith and Archer on a date to a comic book convention, but also dealing with an exact duplicate of Faith herself. It’s not a dream, not a hoax, and not even a cosplayer, but it leads to some fun stuff.
It’s not the first part of the story, but if you’re curious about seeing what it is that makes Faith such an enjoyable read, this is a single issue to pick up. [CS]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Tom King’s Batman started with the Caped Crusader riding a rocket across Gotham, but all I could think was “This is nowhere near as rad as it should be,” but then the end of the first arc had Batman to straight chucking Batplanes at dudes and it was off the chain. Somewhere over the course of the first story (plus "Night of the Monster Men"), Batman has become this bonkers superhero epic with ties across the DC Universe.
That’s why I’m so excited for the new arc, “I Am Suicide” which has Batman assembling his own Suicide Squad to go fight Bane and capture the Psycho Pirate. Yeah, the Psycho Pirate! From Crisis on Infinite Earths! It’s awesome. I can only hope that King’s gonna turn the knob way past eleven with this arc and keeping the Fast and Furious style pace of the first story going, and with his Grayson collaborator Mikel Janin aboard, it’s going to be one of the prettiest books of the week. [KS]
Writers: Gerard Way and Jonathan Rivera
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
I wasn’t as excited as some of my friends when we first heard about DC’s Young Animal, simply because I’m not as familiar with Gerard Way’s previous work. I’ve heard great things about Umbrella Academy, but I never read it, and I’m a little too old for My Chemical Romance to have defined my adolescence. But I’ll tell you what I am into: I’m into revivals of forgotten old Silver Age DC characters taken in weird new directions, I’m into father and daughter stories, and I’ve been way into everything Young Animal has put out so far. And while Doom Patrol and Shade are revivals of previous revivals of Silver Age DC weirdness, Cave Carson is a character who’s getting that treatment for the first time, which makes this book all the more interesting. [EC]
Writer: Paul Dini
Aritsts: Stephen DeStefano, Bill Morrison, J. Bone and others
Based on the sub-title and the length of this particular collection — a whopping 340 pages — this sure looks like it will contain every single one of Dini's Jingle Belle comics, which is great news, as that means this will include pretty much the entire "nice" list of comics artists of the previous decade.
For the uninitiated, Jing is the sassy, spoiled, slightly sexy and seriously seditious teenage daughter of Santa Claus. She has little respect for holiday tradition, even if the Christmas spirit is in her blood. She began her fictional life in 1999's Oni Double Feature #13, and has ever since starred in a series of one-shots, mini-series and original graphic novels from Oni, Dark Horse and Image. Expect contributions ranging from covers to pin-ups to short stories drawn by the likes of Dan DeCarlo, Sergio Aragones, Alex Ross, Jill Thompson, Stephanie Gladden, Jeff Smith, Frank Cho, Chynna Clugston Flores and Coop.
Probably a pretty perfect gift for any Harley Quinn fans on your Christmas list, particularly fans of Dini's original, more madcap and "good girl" sexy version of the character. Or, you know, anyone who likes great comic book art, of which this will be over-stuffed with. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer/Artists: Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward
Of all the recent versions of the near-future I've come across in fiction, I think the world posited by Matt Sheehan and Malachi Ward strikes me as the most frighteningly realistic. Whenever I read something Ray Kurzweil says about mankind being smarter, more interesting, and straight-up wicked awesome because of our integration with technology, all I can envision is a culture-wide fugue state in which our constant connection to a bloat of information deadens our connection to experience.
Even if Ward and Sheehan don't share my anxiety, they've managed to articulate it perfectly, with just the right mix of fantasy and probability, nuanced character work and revelatory body language, and an approach to coloring that I can only describe as transformative. As we become more entwined with technology we will have to reevaluate what makes us people, and in the unpredictable and expansive Ancestor, Sheehan and Ward brilliantly survey what it means to be human in a post-human world. [JP]
Writer/Artist: Tom Tomorrow
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Way back in 2008, during the US presidential election — which featured the first black President, a financial meltdown, and someone named 'Joe the Plumber' — I thought "Well, at least it can't get loopier than this." So listen: I was wrong about that.
I initially charted it up to just my own perspective, but Tom Tomorrow has been a political cartoonist for decades and if he says that things have gone Full Clownshoes, then Full Clownshoes it must be. Anyways: Tom Tomorrow has been a political cartoonist for decades and has honed his skills and his viewpoint to a keen edge, and this collection covers the best of the past three years as we look fondly over at Bizarro World and go "they have it figured out." It won't change a frequently uncaring world, but it's a balm for those of us who have to live in it, and that's important too. [CF]
Writers: Gary Friedrich, Steve Gerber, John Warner and others
Artists: Herb Trimpe, Jim Mooney, Sonny Trinidad, Sal Buscema and others
Perhaps the ultimate expression of Marvel's embrace of occult superheroes in the 1970s was their Son of Satan character, the half-human devilspawn who rebelled against his father — not unlike his own dear old dad did at the dawn of time. In his not not-so-subtle civilian identity of Daimon Hellstrom, he was a theologian and exorcist. In his heroic identity, he flew around in a flaming chariot pulled by three fiery hell-horses and wielding a trident made of pure netharanium. It was awesome.
This collection includes his first appearance in Ghost Rider, his 12-issue run as a feature in Marvel Team-Up, the entirety of his short-lived solo title and a handful of other appearances, most of which are written and drawn by stalwarts of the seventies era of of Marvel. This material was previously published in Essential Marvel Horror, Vol. 1, along with early adventures starring SOS' sister Satanna, but here you get it in full-color, which means lots of garish yellows and reds.
The character has stuck around in various iterations ever since, but these are probably his best stories, owing in large part to the publisher's unabashed, unironic embrace of a premise that was equal parts semi-silly and totally metal. [CM]