Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for October 5 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/artist: Genndy Tartakovsky
One of the more welcome results of Netflix's debut of Luke Cage is Marvel's rush to publish as much Cage-related material as possible, which seems to have helped this lost mini-series finally find its way into comic shops. Originally announced way back in 2007, Cage was to be a standalone series set in the tiara-rocking Power Man's original '70s milieu, written and entirely drawn by Tartakovsky.
Given the Samurai Jack and Dexter's Laboratory creator's increasingly hectic Hollywood schedule — which has included TV series Sym-Bionic Titan and a pair of Hotel Transylvania movies since Cage's announcement — and some behind-the-scenes challenges at Marvel regarding this particular project, it has long seemed like its likelihood of Cage ever actually seeing print was about that of us ever getting a Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target #2 or Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas #3.
But I guess Christmas has come early this year and it is, of course, sweet. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: Kwanza Osajyefo
Artists: Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph and Sarah Litt
Publlisher: Black Mask Comics
One of the biggest crowdfunding announcements in years came about only a few months ago, as Kwanza Osajyefo and a sparkling artistic team including Jamal Igle, Khary Randolph and Sarah Litt gathered to publish Black. The comic asks a question that was also posed in Jimmie Robinson's recent Power Lines mini-series, and remains of absolutely massive interest today: what if only black people had superpowers? Forget the metaphor of the X-Men, as the solicitations surrounding the release of the project suggested; how about telling a story about a real-world minority group who are already "hated and feared" by the public? This was a stunning success on Kickstarter, almost reaching $100,000 in pledges through the course of the run, and proving the level of support there is for comics like this, telling these stories. With the series coming to the shelves this week, it's definitely worth picking up the first issue yourself. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Alex Segura and Matthew Rosenberg
Aritst: Gisele Lagace
Publisher: Archie Comics
Archie has met a whole lot of real-life luminaries over the past few years — KISS, Michael Strahan, President Barack Obama — but up until this point, they have been mostly bound by the constraints of time and space. I mean, yes, Riverdale was also hit by a Sharknado last year, and while that might be improbable, it at least happened in the present. With this weeks’ crossover, though, things are going in a bit of a different direction.
See, while Archie meeting leather-jacketed punk rock icons The Ramones is a pretty unusual premise right from the start, it gets a little more difficult to pull off when you consider that the entire original lineup of the band is sadly deceased. Having the gang just hanging out with Marky, while undoubtedly a truly amazing premise, probably wouldn’t have the impact that you want it to.
Fortunately for everyone involved, Segura, Rosenberg, and Lagace have solved that pretty tricky problem by having the gang time travel with a magical record. And if that’s where this crossover is going to start, I’m pretty sure I need to see where it’s going to end. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Phil Hester
Yeah, yeah: Warren Ellis, eye-opening concepts, one of my favorite writers, direct line to the future, blah blah blah. The reason I'm really looking forward to Shipwreck is actually Phil Hester. I think I picked up the Wretch ashcan from him at a reeaallly small convention in Kansas City way back when I was still in high school, and the creepy, angular artwork absolutely enthralled me. In the intervening 20 years Hester has developed into one of the most interesting creators to watch these days, both as a writer and artist. He doesn't produce as much as many others but it's usually far more fascinating, and I really like the pairing of he and Ellis on Shipwreck, which teases amnesia, secrets, and yes, a shipwreck. No false advertising here. [John Parker]
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Ben Dewey & Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Image Comics
"Now we've got gods involved," says the solicits, and I picture Kurt Busiek, hands on his hips, elbows akimbo, looking out at the comics universe equivalent of his lawn with a "well, doesn't that figure" expression on his face. Autumnlands continues apace, building the sort of world where gods can in fact show up, and fit in perfectly with the time-tossed cyborg, the mage-in-training dalmatian-boy, and the army of statue ladies that round out this post-apocalyptic fantasy yarn that is only just getting started. [Charlotte Finn]
Writers: Tom King and Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
I admit, I hadn’t been buying the new Batman series until the "Night of the Monster Men" started in #7. But I enjoyed that issue enough to go back and catch up on the previous six issues of the series, which were pretty great. I’m a latecomer to the Tom King train, but I’m on board now. So anyway, Batman #8 is twice as exciting, because it’s the next part of a fun crossover in which Hugo Strange turns people into monsters, and because it’s the next issue in a great Batman run. But mostly, I just need to see what happens to Nightwing and Gotham Girl. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Fernando Blanco
Publisher: DC Comics
While history will likely be kinder to DC You than DC itself was, there’s no denying that the biggest success story to come out of out was Steve Orlando and ACO’s smart, fun and sexy Midnighter series. The creative team managed to slip the Wildstorm character seamlessly into the DC Universe with guest appearances from the likes of Prometheus and Freedom Beast and it proved without a shadow of a doubt that a gay man can be the publisher’s biggest action hero.
While Midnighter only lasted an all-too-short 12 issues, DC’s baddest bastard is back in a new volume and he’s brought along the love of his life. The first issue promises the subway pirates from Grant Morrison and Cameron Stewart’s Seven Soldiers: Manhattan Guardian, and it’ll likely get even bigger and bolder from there. In a week where DC is absolutely killing it, this should be top of your to-read pile. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Daniel Bayliss
Publisher: Boom Studios
With as many licensed comics as there are out there, I’m honestly not sure why there aren’t more stories where characters played by the same actor meet up for a new adventure. I mean,I actually am sure, and the reason rhymes with “complicated licensing rights,” but other than this title, I can only think of one: Army of Darkness/Xena, where Ash met Autolycus. Where’s Star Trek/Boston Legal, where they pull the undefeated Denny Crane out of the time stream to defend James T. Kirk on false charges? Where’s Fury Road/Dark Knight, where Bane rules over an apocalyptic Gotham City until Mad Max rolls into town? Where, where, I ask you, is the James Bond/Highlander story that this world so desperately needs?
Still, even without any of those, getting Double The Kurt Russell in BTILC/EFNY is a pretty great place to start, if only to see the hilariously incompetent Jack Burton going head-to-head with 1997’s ultimate survivor, Snake Plisskin. It’s the stuff of fanfics made real — or at least as real as you’re going to get — and with Pak and Bayliss at the helm, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be awesome. [CS]
Writer: Sarah Vaughn
Artist: Lan Medina
This is probably my most anticipated comic of 2016. I'm been excited about it since the first announcement. Just the title makes me smile: Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love. First of all, I've been a Deadman fan since I was a kid. I don't always love what DC does with him, but I like the character. But in this case, I couldn't be more excited that they're trying something different: camp, mid-20th-Century Euro-horror, romance, queer content? It's like this comic was made especially for me. On top of that, the art by Lan Medina and covers by Stephanie Hans look gorgeous. Plus it's written by Sarah Vaughn, a rising star in romance comics, if anyone can be called such a thing. [EC]
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Publisher: DC Comics
Gerard Way, Nick Derington and Tamra Bonvillain’s Doom Patrol made a bold first impression for the “pop-up imprint” Young Animal, and now it falls to Shade The Changing Girl to not only live up to that first salvo, but to carry the momentum into the next launch in a few week’s time.
Judging by the preview from the back of Doom Patrol #1, Shade The Changing Girl promises to be even more surreal and trippy than the original Vertigo series that inspired it and Marley Zarcone’s art looks like a perfect match for the psychedelic tone. [KS]
Writer/artist: Ben Clanton
Publisher: Tundra Publishing
I believe there's a saying regarding the judging of books by their covers, and how it might not be the best idea to do so. On the other hand, OMG you guys look at how cute this cover is! It can be found wrapped around a new graphic novel for young readers by children's picture book author/illustrator Ben Clanton (Vote For Me, The Table Sets Itself, Something Extraordinary).
Narwhal stars Narwhal, a narwhal, and Jelly, a jellyfish, in a trio of short stories detailing their friendship and undersea adventures. Also, it's really, really cute... but then, you could probably tell that much from the cover. [CM]
Publisher: Image Comics
For 10 years, Thought Bubble has been the best comics festival in the world, hands-down, complete fact, no comebacks accepted. In the sunny heart of frostbitten Leeds, the festival has been a home for small-press, studio-press, self-published and international comics writers and artists to come showcase. In their first years, I met Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, who were on a small table with copies of a comic called Phonogram. I met the creator of the festival, Lisa, who went by the artistic name Tula Lotay. And years later, look where we are. The people you meet at Thought Bubble go on to rule the industry, and make the work which steals the show. That's been true for a decade now, and nowhere is that more obvious than in their annual anthology, which features work from familiar names like Kate Beaton and Warren Ellis; and perhaps more unfamiliar names, and competition winners of all ages. The anthology is a perfect demonstration of the ethic which has carried the festival itself, and every year it proves to be a terrifically entertaining body of work.
All profits go to Barnado's, a fantastic charity in the UK which had made such a difference for thousands of children. Don't ignore it. [SM]
Writer/Artist: Dave McKean
Publisher: Dark Horse
Any new comic by Dave McKean is a big reason to be excited, but the subject matter of Black Dog: The Dreams of Paul Nash has had me itching to read it for months. If you're not familiar with the work of Paul Nash, you owe it to yourself to search him on Pinterest (or whatever replaced it while I wasn't paying attention. A British veteran of World War I and official war artist, Nash translated the mass horror of combat into a series of surrealistic landscape paintings and drawings that are as beautiful as they are frightening. In his later career he turned toward more pastoral images of regrowth and strength, even depicting key moments in WWII with a kind of noble serenity, but his Great War-period work is desolate and harrowing, punched-through with fleeting rays of hope that only make the despair more palpable.
A master surrealist himself, in Black Dog McKean examines the life of his subject without attempting to imitate him, and all the preview pages I've seen look absolutely remarkable. We expect infinite inventiveness and graphic feats of magic in everything he produces, and it certainly doesn't look like he'll be disappointing anybody with this one. After all, it's a Dave McKean book about Paul Nash: it will probably be the most amazing thing you slap eyes on this year. Just try not to let it ruin sunrises for you. [JP]
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
It's been a heck of a year for comics written by Margaret Atwood, and this anthology features her and dozens of other female creators expounding on their fandoms, their first nerdy loves and crushes, and that which makes a girl a geek girl. I know of a few creators in this and had the privilege of reading their contributions ahead of time, and I can say that comics fans are in for an illuminating and heartfelt anthology when they pick this up. [CF]