Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for September 14 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: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson
Anybody who reads a couple of Amazon reviews can tell you that Astro City's primary theme is nostalgia, but that doesn't cover just how deeply and beautifully Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson have explored the phenomenon. You don't win oodles of Eisners and Harveys just because you've spent 20 years saying, "Hey, wasn't the Silver Age great?" Clearly the creators are examining their own nostalgia for old superheroes and classic styles, but they're also articulating every aspect of sentimentality: the rewards, traps, fallacies, and the blinding effect it has on our recollection for periods that weren't as bright and simple as so many think.
In this issue, Astro City continues its tour through the jazz clubs and ghettos of the 1930s, and chronicles the not-so-super lives of the African American heroes who defended a city that didn't want them, and fought for their own when nobody else would. [John Parker]
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Rafael de Latorre
Publisher: After-Shock Comics
Animosity #1 was bonkers, and I mean that in the best possible way. The premise, if you’ve missed it, is that one day, for no reason anyone is aware of, every animal on Earth gains the ability to think and speak like a human. Naturally, a lot of animals are very unhappy with humanity’s behavior toward them, and now that they’re capable of organizing and planning, people don’t stand a chance. And in the midst of all this, you have a bloodhound and the little human girl he is dedicated to protecting. It’s an absurd idea that isn’t running from its own absurdity, but it still has real emotional stakes. Basically, it’s everything a comic book should be. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Publisher: DC Comics
I can’t remember a time I’ve been this excited for a new #1 issue, both as a fan of Gerard Way and as a fan of Doom Patrol. Way’s debut comic The Umbrella Academy drew a lot of comparisons to Grant Morrison and Richard Case’s Doom Patrol when it was first published, so it’s going to be incredibly interesting to see what he can do with free reign with the franchise proper.
Derington’s art looks perfectly suited to the tone and feel of a Doom Patrol book, and as soon as I saw the promo image of Robotman sat on the subway in a Ramones shirt, I knew Young Animal was onto a winner. All this plus the scintillating return of “Hero Of The Beach” Flex Mentallo? This looks set to be the debut issue to beat this year, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Publisher: DC Comics
I know that we’re only a couple of months into it and the bloom is not quite off the rose, but as someone who loves DC comics — someone who really wants to love DC Comics — the Rebirth era really has delivered in a way that the New 52 never did. It’s not that the previous reboot was all bad (Batman and Action Comics were pretty great right from the start), but Rebirth is creating this deep bench of new creators working on new concepts that are grabbing me in a way that very few things back then did. And I honestly don’t think anything has my attention as much as New Super-Man.
The simple idea of giving Superman powers to a kid who’s actually kind of a jerk isn’t just done well here, it’s also fresh purely by virtue of putting it in a setting that we almost never see, and the addition of New Wonder-Woman and New Bat-Man (the sensational character find of 2016) have combined to make this one of the best books out there. It moves fast, it’s going hard at new concepts, and it’s full of the kind of clever fun that I’ve been expecting from Gene Yang since Loyola Chin. If you haven’t been on it, do not miss out — it’s great stuff. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Chris Sprouse
Six issues in, I think we can all agree that hiring America’s most important essayist to write Black Panther was an excellent idea. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run has been excellent from issue one, and no disrespect to the amazing Brian Stelfreeze, but Chris Sprouse has been one of my favorite comics artists for 25 years, so it’s exciting to see him join the book for the second arc.
As we go into Issue #6, the collapse of Wakanda seems to be escalating. T’Challa is doing his best to hold things together, and as always his best is very impressive, but there may just be too many forces aligned against him. And with new information going public that may turn the last of his people against his government, things are even more precarious. I’ve gotten really invested in this nation-spanning saga, and I can’t wait to see what comes next. [EC]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: John Romita Jr and Declan Shalvey
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorists: Dan White and Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: DC Comics
There’s a lot being said about the main story of Batman and Two-Face on a cross country jaunt with every assassin, bounty hunter and lowlife on their tale, but after reading the first issue I’m way more invested in the “Cursed Wheel” back-ups that feature Batman training Duke Thomas to be a new kind of hero as part of the Batman family. I especially love the story’s focus on color within the team and the fact that it has one of the best colorists in the business in Bellaire working on it goes a long way to making it one of the best looking Batman stories out right now.
That said, I can’t ignore the main story because this issue promises the return of none other than KGBeast and most importantly, he’s missing an arm which means that “Ten Nights Of The Beast” is most assuredly still in continuity. We’re big fans of the KGBeast here at ComicsAlliance, and we can wholeheartedly recommend any comic that sees him fighting Batman on the back of a truck. [KS]
By Rafael Rosado & Jorge Aguirre.
Published by First Second
I've been looking forward to this book ever since it was first announced in 2014. A sequel to their all-ages graphic novel Giants Beware!, this new story returns to the world of Claudette, a young girl who is determined to go off on quests and hunt monsters like the heroes of old. Dragging along her younger brother and best friend for the journey, she heads out into the world to right wrongs... the only difficulty being actually finding them. After previously going looking for giants who didn't appear to exist, her next adventure will be to retrieve the most famous sword in the whole world — which is inside the belly of a dragon. Oh dear.
Claudette remains one of the great creations in comics, a force of nature in the form of a red-headed girl who is all raw emotion and excitement, propelling along every character who accidentally wades into her path; and Dragons Beware! shows every sign of not only matching the all-ages brilliance of the previous volume — but stepping things up a gear, too. The creative team have a perfect synergy with one another, making their storytelling wonderfully enjoyable. They also seem to absolutely love the work they're putting out, and it's utterly, outright infectious. I couldn't be more excited for what they have in store with this second story of Claudette and company. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artists: Kelly Matthews & Nichole Matthews
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Easily one of my favorite comics of the past year, now collected in hardback format and easily lent out to any fan of Shakespeare, and specifically Shakespeare's best play (suck it, Hamlet) The premise is a gem — following the trials and tribulations of the three witches that toy with the destiny of Macbeth — and the book follows through with a touching story, lushly illustrated with care taken with every mystical conceit. This will be a classic in the years to come. [Charlotte Finn]
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Self-congratulations have never been my thing, but Drawn & Quarterly actually deserve the right to give themselves a little pat on the back. As an independent publisher with no superhero or action genre comics in their library, the fact that they've simply survived a quarter of a century is worth a little celebration. But D+Q has done more than just survive: over the last 25 years they've published some of the absolute best comics that one can read, with names like Chris Ware, Adrian Tomine, Julie Doucet, James Sturm, Rutu Modan, Chester Brown, Anders Nilsen, and many more in their library. Most of them pop up in this anthology that includes rare, new, and never-before-seen comics from one of the form's very best publishers. [JP]
Writer: Kyle Higgins
Artist: Hendry Prasetyo
Publisher: Boom Studios
So here’s the thing about the MMPR comics: They are absolutely a darker, grittier take on the franchise. There’s a focus on psychological horror and the long-term consequences of Tommy being taken over by Rita, complete with genuinely scary dream sequences and a whole bucketful of crippling self-doubt. There are scenes that reveal the mechanics of the Zords as shadowy caverns of gears and chains, and where Rita Repulsa tries to prey on the team’s insecurities and jealousy.
But while all that is very true, it’s also the case that it never goes too dark. Instead, it tells exactly the story that I would’ve loved to read when I was a kid who was obsessed with the Power Rangers — and that I love reading now that I’m an adult obsessed with Power Rangers, too. Going deep into the minds of the characters is something that the show never bothered to do, which makes it the perfect avenue to explore in the comics. And even though there’s a ton of Teen Angst involved (something that I also would’ve loved to see as a kid), it’s still a story where Rita tries to take control of a giant dragon robot by using her Putties to make a mold of a magic dagger that is also a flute (that is itself also a trumpet). As much as it differs in tone from the series, it never feels like it’s not Power Rangers, and that makes it exactly what I want to read. [CS]
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
If you're not familiar with Junji Ito, odds are you're familiar with his most famous work that's made it to Western shores: "The Enigma of Amigara Fault," or as it's informally known, "that Goddamn manga with the holes shaped like people." The acclaimed horror author is now turning his attentions to autobiography and comedy, taking his same quietly unsettling style and applying it to a story about trying to get along with his girlfriend's cats. Humor and horror have a lot in common so this seems like a perfect fit for Junji Ito. Almost as if it were... made for him. [CF]