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.

  • BUYING GUIDE

    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.

  • 2000 AD #1950

    Writers/Artists: Various

    Publisher: Rebellion

    This week brings a new 'jump on' issue of 2000 AD, with artist Chris Burnham getting to jump on for his first-ever cover. This is a phenomenally hot week for the weekly serial, with the return of 'Bad Company' being the biggest news of all. Writer Peter Milligan is back at 2000 AD after years away to tell this new story with the doomed soldiers, following the sad passing of original artist Brett Ewins earlier this year. Teaming with Rufus Dayglo, original inker Jim McCarthy, and Simon Bowland, this will be a huge comeback. The prog also offers one of the most acclaimed stories of recent 2000 AD history in the form of Brass Sun by Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard. We also have a new Defoe story from Pat Mills and Leigh Gallagher, but center stage is the return of John Wagner to his creation Judge Dredd, backed by artist Colin MacNeil. It's a staggering, stonking, ridiculously huge this week. Four big stories, all starting fresh — if you've ever wanted to give 2000 AD a try, this is the time to do it! Check out a preview here. [Steve Morris]

  • ARCHIE #3

    Writer: Mark Waid

    Artist: Fiona Staples

    Publisher: Archie Comics

    Maybe it's just the past few decades of digests full of gag strips that cram everything they can into four to eight pages, but the last thing I tend to expect from an Archie comic, even one that's rebooted with the promise of of rebuilding the entirety of Riverdale from the ground up, is a slow burn. When that preview for #1 hit, I was convinced that the entire cast would be there at the start. So for me, the gradual reveal of the All-New, All-Different Veronica Lodge has been one of the most surprising and fantastic developments of the year. It shouldn't have been, really — historically speaking, Veronica takes a while to show up and kick off her eternal rivalry for Archie's affections — but it's always the stuff that you should've seen coming that ends up being the most fun. In this issue, Ms. Lodge takes the spotlight, and we see how different Veronica's relationship is with the three main characters that we have so far — Archie, Betty and Jughead — and that's going to be a whole lot of fun. [Chris Sims]

  • TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #45

    Writer: James Roberts

    Artist: Alex Milne

    Publisher: IDW Publishing

    I've never wholeheartedly embraced the IDW take on the Decepticons as a more sympathetic group — the whole "genocide" thing is a bit of a bump in the road — but I do admire the depth that's been added to the robo-mustache twirling supervillains of my childhood. This issue catches us up with the five most sympathetic Decepticons, who are neither noble warriors not sadistic murderers, but more a bunch of schmucks. "What if schmucks, but robots" has been the fuel for many of More Than Meets The Eye's funniest stories, and the preview page alone delivers one of the series' top five visual gags. It turns out that the Scavengers are nice guys once you get to know them! (Just don't bring up Megatron's Glorious Seven Phase Plan or we will be here all night.) [Charlotte Finn]

  • JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS ANNUAL #1

    Writer: Kelly Thompson

    Artists: Amy Mebberson, Arielle Jovellanos, Rebekah Isaacs, Jen Bartel and Agnes Garbowska

    Publisher: IDW

    There are few things I love more than those brief moments where comics take a break from the action of the main story to just chill out for a little. Even when that story is great — even when it involves, say, the Misfits getting Clash to literally attempt murder the Holograms with a collapsing light rig, something that I am 100% into as a reader — it's always fun to see a break that lets the creators round out the characters, especially when it involves movie-themed dream sequences. What makes it even better is that it's a phenomenal showcase of artists who have done great work on other IDW books taking a crack at the Holograms, doing not just their interpretations of Sophie Campbell's redesigns, but filtering them through the lens of Beyond Thunderdome or Muppet Babies. It's a great recipe for a really fun comic. Check out a preview here. [CS]

  • KING OF THE COMICS: 100 YEARS OF KING FEATURES SYNDICATE

    Writers/Artists: Various

    Publisher: IDW Publishing

    Think of a classic, popular newspaper comic strip, from pretty much any point in the art form's history — from Krazy Kat to Zits — and there's a pretty good chance it's associated with the King Features Syndicate, which is celebrating its centennial this year. This is part of those celebrations: An almost 300-page slab of a book, written, edited and curated by Dean Mullaney, Bruce Canwell and Brian Walker, with contributions from a variety of writers and scholars, and, of course, many of the greatest cartoonists of the last century. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • WALT DISNEY'S DONALD DUCK: TRICK OR TREAT

    Writer/Artist: Carl Barks

    Publisher: Fantagraphics

    Every volume of Fanta's Carl Barks Library should be on every list of comics recommendations every week a new one shows up in comics shops, and this is just such a week. The title story in this 228-page collection is Barks' adaptation of the classic 1952 Disney short of the same name, in which Donald's nephews team-up with a real witch to terrorize Uncle Donald. In David J. Skal's cultural history of Halloween, Death Makes a Holiday, he refers to that cartoon as "arguably, one of the most important influences on" the practice of trick or treating, "providing an attractive Halloween behavior template for millions of baby boomers." Other stories include a couple of Scrooge vs. Donald tales, and one of Barks' own personal favorite stories, "Omelet," in which Donald takes up chicken-farming. That's right, a duck raising chickens, making for one of those great Disney ontological issues, like how Mickey Mouse can be best friends with one dog (Goofy) but keep another dog as a pet (Pluto). [CM]

  • MAD'S ORIGINAL IDIOTS COMPLETE COLLECTION

    Writer: Harvey Kurtzman

    Artists: Will Elder, Wally Wood, and Jack Davis

    Publisher: DC Comics

    I used to think that there was no way I'd get early Mad. Being that so many of their parodies were of the moment, referencing pop culture and events of the 50s, it seemed a given that something would be lost, and I'd just have to pretend to love it in order to keep my street cred. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this wasn't the case, and a good amount of what Mad produced has a timeless quality. This complete collection completely collects everything from issues 1-23 by the three most influential artists in Mad history — Jack Davis, Wally Wood, and Will Elder — and all the silliness and subterfuge that inspired kids to see beyond the artifice and question media, parents, and authority in all its forms. Truly fun for all ages, even the under-fifties crowd. [John Parker]

  • THE PHOENIX PRESENTS: EVIL EMPEROR PENGUIN

    Writer/Artist: Laura Anderson

    Publisher: David Fickling Books

    Away from everything else, there's a new book coming out as part of The Phoenix Magazine's 'Phoenix Presents' series. This has seen various serials collected into trade over the last few years, with Jamie Smart, Neill Cameron and the Etherington Brothers among those who have had their turn in the spotlight. This week, it's Laura Anderson, whose long-running Evil Emperor Penguin has been a staple of the magazine for years. The best thing is that this is exactly what you think it is — the main character is an emperor penguin, also evil, and looking to take over the world in various nefarious ways. If only things would go better for him! EEP, as he's known, is a total star, created by one of the most engaging illustrative talents in the UK. Anderson is clearly reveling in the madcap plotting of her supervillain lead, creating a huge world with mad, funny characters and silly twists after silly turns. All-ages comics are the best comics you'll find anywhere, and The Phoenix has brought together several of the brightest talents around over the last few years — this is yet another triumph for the publisher. [SM]

  • MOON KNIGHT VOLUME 3: IN THE NIGHT TP

    Writer: Cullen Bunn

    Artist: Ron Ackins

    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    If you dropped Moon Knight as soon as Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey did, you might want to pick it up again in trade. After Ellis and Shalvey reinvigorated the character with six perfect standalone issues, Cullen Bunn and Ron Ackins kept the focus on the single-issue tale with an overall story slowly lurking and building up in the background, and an even greater emphasis on reconnecting Moon Knight with his horror roots. Artist Ackins followed Shalvey and the excellent Greg Smallwood, and while his style is nowhere near as slick or neatly designed, there's a gnarly edge to his work that recalls the Marvel horror comics of the 70s. This version of Moon Knight is sick and haunted unlike any other mainstream superhero comic, and it deserves a second look. [JP]