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.



    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: 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.


    Writers: Tim Seeley, James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
    Artists: Paul Pelletier, Wayne Faucher, Tony Kordos
    Publisher: DC Comics

    When last year's Batman Eternal kicked off its weekly run, it did so by going with a massive, over-the-top disaster, with a villain framing Jim Gordon for a literal train wreck with a death toll in the dozens. With this year's follow-up, though, they're going a little smaller. I mean, yes, it's still wildly over-the-top, with a ninja assassin who looks like Storm Shadow on venom, a plot that goes back to the Dynamic Duo's very first battle with the Scarecrow and a new villain named Mother, but that's only the set dressing. The real meat of the book so far has been its focus on the relationships between Batman's extended family of sidekicks and the return of Cassandra Cain to bring them all back together. If they can keep up the fun and excitement that they've had for the first two issues, then this is going to end up being one of the best books on DC's roster. The only problem is that since the second issue already had Stephanie Brown reacting to seeing Dick Grayson's acrobatics by whispering "kiss me sexy Batman," they've already done the best possible scene. [Chris Sims]


    Writer: Gail Simone
    Artists: Jon Davis-Hunt and Jenny Frison (covers)
    Publisher: DC/Vertigo

    Now that I think about it, I guess I haven't read that many Gail Simone comics. A few issues of Batgirl, Secret Six and Atom,maybe a couple more at most. It's not because I don't like her writing — everything was funny, clever, and had a little bit of an edge — but she doesn't write too many things that attack my particular sensibilities. Clean Room, however, sounds like a comic after my own heart. Revenge through journalism, iconoclastic gurus, and self-help books that drive boyfriends to suicide? I have dreams like that. In her first Vertigo title, with covers by the freakishly talented Jenny Frison, Simone is going for something strange and dangerous, and this book might as well be called Read This, Idiot. [John Parker]


    Writer: Christos Gage
    Artists: Megan Levens, Dan Jackson, Steve Morris
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    I tried Buffy back when the Season 8 series started in comics. Despite a solid start, that season went overboard, made character mistakes and felt like a wonky version of the Scooby Gang we saw on television. So I dropped out. Season 9 was by all accounts a course correction; a smarter, wittier and more consistent take on the characters, which developed them naturally instead of getting lost in the thrall of comics. Which brings us, now, to Season 10. Why am I now returning to the series, after getting lost two seasons ago? Two words: Ghost. Anya. That's right! Finally Anya has returned, and she's every inch the wonderful prig that you remember her, only now... she's a ghost. Christos Gage is now in charge of Buffy's life at Dark Horse, this issue joined by Megan Levens — Ghost Anya is my excuse for giving the series a go, but the solid creative team and improved storytelling on the series may well prove my reason for staying. I should also point out that, sadly, I am not 'the' Steve Morris who paints the delightful covers on the series. If only. [Steve Morris]

  • ASTRO CITY VOL 3 #28

    Writer: Kurt Busiek
    Artist: Gary Chaloner & Wade Von Grawbadger
    Publisher: DC Comics/Vertigo

    One of the sillier and potentially wrongheaded — yet still endearing — aspects of superhero comics is that any superhero not based in the U.S. tends to be based on broad stereotypes about the country they're from. Everything in superhero comics, especially the silly stuff, is up for grabs in Astro City, as the Australian hero Wolfspider takes center stage in this issue and grapples with a roster of Australian stereotypes from a cartoon of his youth. I'm personally hoping for an appearance from Paul Hogan as himself, in a world where being Paul Hogan is enough to make you a superhero — but if not, I'll be content with an issue that is only mostly perfect, as Astro City almost always is. [Charlotte Finn]


    Writers: Adam Christopher, Chuck Wendig
    Artists: Drew Johnson, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Rachel Deering
    Publisher: Archie Comics

    This is a curious one. Archie's comics have gone darker recently, sometimes for the better and sometimes for the indistinct. Here, though, they're taking one of their better known heroes and giving them a bit of a makeover, which seems to be mixing the dark (they say the s-word on the preview!) with the light (she's clearly being set up as the superhero who embodies Archie). So it's a conflicted title, but that conflict seems like it's going to spark into something exciting and different. Now I don't actually know Chuck Wendig's work, but I do know about co-writer Adam Christopher, and I know enough of his writing style to be aware that he's not going to do a "strong" female character stereotype on this book — he's going to want to introduce something more, and give us a sense of conflict which is hard-earned and real. That's what's interesting me about the book. The clashing forces at work here feel strangely at harmony, and I'm honestly excited to see a superhero with a little grit to her. [SM]

  • KARNAK #1

    Writer: Warren Ellis
    Artist: Gerardo Zaffino
    Publisher: Marvel

    If Marvel is really planning to supplant the X-Men with the Inhumans, it's going to have to balance out the awesome-to-weird ratio, and you typically do that by hiring somebody like Warren Ellis. In his first mainstream superhero comic since he revamped Moon Knight, Ellis and artist Gerardo Zaffino aim to do the same with Karnak, a character whose full potential has never really been explored. Despite that whole head situation, Karnak is ridiculously cool, a kung-fu master who can see the flaw in all things, and, having never been exposed to the Terrigen mists, an outsider even among his own kind. Ellis never fails to deliver a compelling take in these situations, and Zaffino's moody, angular artwork delivers the requisite edge to go with anything written by the renowned re-visioner. If Karnak isn't already your favorite Inhuman, he soon will be. [JP]


    Writer: Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh
    Artist: Carolyn Nowak
    Publisher: Image Comics

    I am informed that "it's got mermaids" with four exclamation points isn't enough to cover an entire write-up, so I'll focus instead on the new creative team of Kat Leyh and Carolyn Nowak, joining Lumberjanes veteran Shannon Watters and working in the stead of Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen. New creators on a book with as unique a voice as Lumberjanes are always a gamble, but their debut issue barely missed a beat. Between Nowak’s expressive lineart and clear storytelling fitting the world’s tone while being distinct enough to avoid imitation, and Kat Leyh and Shannon Watters plot about a mermaid punk band gone all VH1 Behind The Music, Lumberjanes is in excellent hands and any worries about the book’s future look unfounded. And it’s got mermaids!!!! (Though they prefer the term "merwomyn.") [CF]


    Writer: Dan Parent
    Artists: Dan Parent and Rich Koslowski
    Publisher: Archie Comics

    With this issue, Betty & Veronica comes to an end, ceding its title as the longest-running monthly American comic to, I believe, Sonic the Hedgehog, and putting an end to the "classic" Archie universe. The company will still be publishing the classic style stories, of course, doing new leads in the digests, but for those main-line monthly comics, this is the end of it. And I can already tell that it's going to be a weird one. The premise of the issue finds Betty and Veronica planning for the last ever prom held at the Riverdale High gym, but it's also going to involve Memory Lane, the literal street that allows for Archie characters to travel through time, which once split the universe into alternate timelines that both ended when Archie was shot preventing a political assassination. Now, I don't think this issue's going to be that bizarre, but given the last few years of Archie books, you can't really say that it won't be, either. [CS]


    Writer: Garth Ennis
    Artist: Daniel Gete
    Publisher: Avatar

    In a career full of crazy, dark, and powerful comics, Crossed is one of Ennis' craziest, darkest, and most-powerful. An existential apocalyptic nightmare so harrowing and emotionally intense, it makes The Walking Dead look like a playful romp through the wasteland. Now, Ennis and Avatar are trying to raise the funds for a series of Crossed webisodes directed by Ennis, because an inescapable three-day cloud of dread after reading it isn't enough; he really wants you to just completely give up. Crossed: Dead Or Alive brings into print the web-comic of the same name, with proceeds earmarked to bring Ennis' bleak vision to life and inspire mass suicides cascading across the world like a tsunami. Sounds like a good cause. [JP]


    Writers/Artists: Various
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    One of my very first exposures to comics was the pack-in mini-comics that came with each of Mattel's Masters of The Universe action figures. This week I, and all the other former little kids who grew up reading and re-reading those comics, will get a chance to re-re-read them, in a glorious format that Little Kid Caleb never could have imagined. Dark Horse has collected all of those little comic books — 68 individual comics stories from the Masters of The Universe, Princess of Power and He-Man toy lines — into a massive, 1,232-page, 6-inch-by-9-inch hardcover. While the ins and outs of the Masters of the Universe universe would eventually be laid out and codified in the TV cartoon designed to sell the toys, the earliest comics contradicted the cartoon and later comics in often drastic ways that fascinated me as a child... and, let's be honest, continue to fascinate me as an adult comics reader. I wish science would hurry up and invent time travel, so I could go back in time and give this to my six-year-old self (and then maybe go look at some dinosaurs or kill Hitler or something, time permitting). [Caleb Mozzocco]


    Writer/Artist: John Allison
    Publisher: Oni Press

    In the conversation about young superheroes, John Allison should be right up in there with the very best writers and artists that comics has to offer. I think I've recommended every volume of Bad Machinery as part of 'Best Comics Ever' thus far, but there's a dashed good reason — it's a blinding good comic. Six schoolchildren somehow fall into parts of a mystery in each volume, bickerin' and banterin' it fierce before eventually somehow winding things up together and solving the problem — which sometimes turns out to have been 'ghosts'. In volume 4, we get to see a new boy come to school, who seems a bit lonely, a bit weird, but who one day becomes everybody's best friend. Only one of Allison's hexad see through this veil: Shauna, the one with the most common-sense and conscience in her head. But really, the mysteries in Bad Machinery take a firm second place to the more interesting part of any Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew-style story: the characters. These are such fun, recognisable characters, who feel like kids, act like kids, make mistakes like kids and then solve supernatural mysteries. Er... like kids. Give his site a look, and see how quickly the whole thing wins you over. [SM]


    Writer/Artist: Christopher Moeller
    Publisher: DC Comics

    The title story is a fully-painted original graphic novel by Chistopher Moeller, originally published in 2000, and featuring the Magnificent Seven line-up of the Grant Morrison/Mark Waid era of the Justice League, one of the creative high-points of the team's very long history. Essentially a Wonder Woman story co-starring the rest of the League, it was a tale of Wonder Woman defeating, distracting, or otherwise incapacitating each of her teammates in order to save them from a battle against a dragon that an oracle (with a small "o," not Oracle-with-a-capital-O, who was also on the JLA roster around that time) assured her would kill them all. It was a weird quirk of that particular line-up, but apparently every single member of the League could defeat every other member if they had to, as was repeatedly demonstrated in various stories. Also included in this new edition is Moeller's two-issue, 2005 JLA Classified: Cold Steel mini-series, which wasn't quite as strong, but did feature that same Justice League line-up suiting up in highly toyetic battle mechas because... well, mostly because it looked pretty cool. [CM]