Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For September 2 2015
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.
Writers: Chelsea Cain, Margaret Stohl
Artists: Joelle Jones, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Marvel are doing a series of SHIELD-themed comics over the next few weeks, each one following a different character associated with the organisation. This week? Mockingbird, who has recently been experiencing a bit of a revamp as a result of her appearance in the Agents of SHIELD TV show. As far as I know from reading ComicsAlliance's recaps of the show (because why watch it when you can read Andrew's weekly pain instead?) Mockingbird has been the standout character on that show, along with her husband Lance Hunter. Hunter appears here, wearing not very much, thanks to the creative team of Chelsea Cain and Joelle Jones. This looks absolutely brilliant fun, taking one of Marvel's less-used characters and developing her personality, poise, class, and acerbic sense of humor. I hope this leads to more comics for all involved — Mockingbird, Chelsea Cain, Joelle Jones, everyone. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
If I had to pick a best thing about Jem and the Holograms so far — and folks, there are a lot of best things about Jem and the Holograms, including a fantastic justification for Jerrica's secret identity, Rio having a motivation beyond his noted hatred of potted plants, and Kimber and Stormer's subtextual romance becoming full-on text right here in the first arc — it would have to be the way these last two issues have captured the spirit of the Holograms/Misfits rivalry. In #4, we got a cliffhanger where the Misfits (or at least their tag-along sidekick Clash) literally attempted to murder their musical rivals. In #5, we got a cliffhanger where the two bands had a food fight. That, friends, is Jem and the Holograms in a nutshell, and being able to capture that feeling in a way that doesn't require readers to already be fans of the show is what makes this book so great. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Toby Cypress, Romulo Fajardo, Jr., Pat Brosseau
It's Round Four of what I think is the strongest book in DC's lineup, this time with a guest artist on interiors. Toby Cypress has done two variant covers for the series already, and is now taking over for Barnaby Bagenda for a single issue. The inked samples released on Cypress' Twitter look fantastic and, what's more, a visual pace change is actually right in line with a series designed to keep you on your toes. And, speaking of narrative, we saw the story really open up last month and yet another twist, so there can only be more to look forward to in #4. What do The Omega Men want with Kyle Rayner? Are they good guys, are they bad guys, or are they both? I'm excited to find out, and you should be too. [J.A. Micheline]
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
In Alan Moore and John Totleben's Olympus, they created a genuine revisionist masterpiece, a grand architecture of ideas unlike anything ever explored in superhero comics. In Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham's follow-up, they ignored the cold, clinical structure looming over all, and examined Utopia in micro. In these six standalone stories about the citizens of Miracleman's brave new world, Gaiman and Buckingham render a series of moving character portraits that scrutinize the effects of the miraculous being reduced to the mundane. In a world of surrogate mothers to Miracleman's god-like offspring and robot reproductions of artistic geniuses, the realities of paradise are complex to say the least, and in The Golden Age — the first arc of their planned triptych — Gaiman and Buckingham explore them all with a different touch every time. It may be sacrilege, but as far as I'm concerned, everything done by The Original Writer is just preamble for the forgotten gem that is The Golden Age. [John Parker]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Hayato Sakamoto
There are a lot of things you can point to as evidence of how good IDW's current crop of Transformers comics is, but my favorite is the level of long-term planning involved. More Than Meets The Eye has run for three years and counting without a reboot or a change in its creative team, and this stability, combined with the talents of James Roberts and Alex Milne (and, this month, guest artist Hayato Sakamoto), has led to a staggering level of intricate plotting. The preview pages for this issue reveal that not one, but two hinted-at-for-years subplots have come to the fore, and the previous issue ended with a revelation that has been seeded since before this series even started. If you love serialized storytelling that plays fully to the strengths of the form and you're not reading More Than Meets The Eye, you are missing out. [Charlotte Finn]
- Writer: Mark WaidArtist: Chris SamneePublisher: Marvel ComicsAlright everybody, fun's over. As of issue eighteen, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are done with Daredevil — for real this time — and I feel almost like that kid at the ending of Shane, pleading for them not to go even though there's no use. Waid and Samnee (and Marcos Martin and Paolo Rivera) reclaimed the character from the bleak themes that dominated the book for years, fighting off the monolithic presence of Frank Miller to produce the best run since his. Although great work had been done on the title in the 90s and 2000s, the comic seemed to fall into this pattern where each successive creative team had to out-sad the previous one, treading over the same trails that Franky blazed back in the 80s. Others tried before them, but Waid and Samnee were the first to break free from that cycle of abuse by returning DD to his swashbuckler roots and reintroducing a humor and lightness the comic had been lacking for what seems like decades. It's not as if there was never any darkness; there was plenty, actually, as Daredevil was very clearly a comic about the struggle with depression. With a little bit of light returned, though, those dark moments have even more impact. Daredevil is a book of contrasts: fun, dramatic, and intense; remarkably clever but very simple at its core; emotionally powerful but infectiously hopeful. The best modern superhero saga about struggling with depression and winning, Waid and Samnee's run — not Miller's — is the benchmark by which we judge all that follow, and I have a feeling it's going to be a long time before anybody even comes close again. Come back, Shane; please come back. [JP]
Writer: John Ostrander
Artists: Luke McDonnell and Karl Kesel
Well, this one's been a long time coming. If you've been reading CA for more than, say, two or three days, then you're probably already aware that John Ostrander, Kim Yale and Luke McDonnell's Suicide Squad is one of my all-time favorite comics. It's a highlight of an era full of highlights, the violent, occasionally cynical counterpoint to the comedic (and sometimes tragic) Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire era of Justice League. In a lot of ways, it formed the foundation for the focus on villains and complex characters that could carry a narrative that became one of the driving forces at DC, and once you read it, it's easy to see why so many creators would try to recapture the energy. Of course, it is a book that's very much of its time — the fact that the first story involves the Squad taking on a team of baddies called the Jihad should probably raise an eyebrow, and the second arc is definitely centered on US/Soviet relations — but storywise, it holds up beautifully. Hopefully, that big "Volume 1" on the cover means that they're finally getting around to reprinting the whole thing. [CS]
Writer: Warren Ellis
Artist: Garrie Gastonny
Publisher: Avatar Press
One easy answer to the question of, "What would superheroes in the real world be like" is, "They wouldn't exist." Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny, in this boxset reprint of the five issue miniseries, take a different point of view: "They shouldn't exist." To Ellis and Gastonny, the creation of a superhuman savior is the same kind of abdication of personal responsibility that religion encourages, and Ellis famously is just as cynical towards the latter as this series is towards the former. There is a coldness to how Gastonny renders the fable of a ruined, dying Earth torn apart by superhumans, like a documentary filmmaker determined to keep the camera rolling no matter what. Ellis structures the story fatalistically, leaving no chance of a last-minute rescue from the superhumans running around — because their idea of how to save us is so horrific and alien we may well prefer death. [CF]
Writers: Dave Gibbons, Peter Milligan
Artists: Mike Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, Paul Johnson
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
First off the bat — this has Mike Mignola drawing xenomorphs. You need more than that? Well okay then, weirdo, how about this: the xenomorph design is one of the finest pieces of concept work ever done for cinema, with H.R. Giger establishing the otherworldly in sleek, slick, vicious fashion. The creatures looks scary and powerful even after appearing in some absolutely terrible movies, and their design has endured through some really poor filmmaking. Usually when a franchise goes down the toilet, the monster or villain becomes sillier and is viewed as a joke, and the design fades in power. But the xenomorph is so well constructed that it endures through anything. That's why, when artists of the calibre of Mignola, Kevin Nowlan, and painter Paul Johnson come onboard to offer their take, you pay attention. [SM]