Best Comic Books Ever (This Week) – New Releases For March 4, 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.
Writer: Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Artist: Joëlle Jones
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Yes, yes, you all get now that I absolutely adore this book. It's a well-researched, smart, beautiful, engaging comic. Assassin and "stay-at-home mom" Josie is juggling work and home with some cracks showing at the seams. Her bosses are about to get way more demanding just as her mother-in-law starts sniffing around, assuming Josie is having an affair.
Issue 3 is our midpoint in these five issues and it's likely that a lot of the problems that the heroine has been dealing with will come to a head in this one. It's a hard issue to jump into without having read #1 and #2, so new readers should be prepared to find those issues if they want to enjoy this one.
The hit of any party!
The pressure is on for Josie as the conflict increases between her cozy suburban home life and her work as a paid killer! No one said it’d be easy to be a wife and mother, but now she faces her toughest job yet—one where she’ll find out how cold-blooded she really is.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Jesus Saiz
Publisher: DC Comics
Swamp Thing was never a character that I knew a lot about, and I missed reading a lot of the seminal works related to the character. Still, from the start of the New 52 up to this final issue, the creative teams in place on Swamp Thing have all been top notch. Charles Soule is a great, entertaining writer who seems to have a different voice for each of the (many) books he writes. Jesus Saiz is terribly undervalued as an artist and should be drawing everything, really. If I hadn't already been reading because of Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette, Soule and Saiz are a team that would get me to buy anything. Literally.
Sadly, Swamp Thing is coming to an end, so this issue is your last chance to see Saiz draw creepy muck monsters as only he can.
Publisher Description: This issue’s cover is presented in a special sideways format. (Yes, really, that's all the solicit says)
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Image Comics
Have you seen the previews for this book? I dare you to read them and not feel a need to read more. Clearly, Sony felt the same way given that they've already bought the rights to the property. A boy-like young robot lives in a futuristic world that is very dangerous for him. Until issue #1 is in our hands, it's hard to know just what this series will be beyond that description, but it sounds and looks amazing. The team of Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen is another one that simply cannot be beat, and they've put together a compelling hook and gorgeous art. This is a book everyone will want to jump on now — you don't want to miss this sure-to-sell-out first issue and be left out of the Descender love-fest.
Publisher Description: One young robot's struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet.
A rip-roaring and heart-felt cosmic odyssey that pits humanity against machine, and world against world, to create a sprawling space opera from the creators of Trillium, Sweet Tooth, and Little Gotham.
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: Image Comics
How can you read the words "apocalyptic occult horror epic" in the description below and not want to read this book. The team of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham is a proven one, and it's always nice to see folks who were paired on projects at the Big 2 who later choose to work together on creator-owned work.
Issue #1 was spooky, intense, and forced a lot of questions. It also had some of Burnham's best work yet. It's not too late to jump on board with issue #2 because it's entirely possible you'll be just as confused as everyone else — in a good way.
Publisher Description: On a former U.S. moonbase, kept secret since the Cold War, a terrible key unlocks an ancient box and a last-ditch plan is drafted to save humanity from the doomsday asteroid Xibalba— but is it already too late? The nightmare intensifies in MORRISON & BURNHAM's apocalyptic occult horror epic!
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Is there anything to say about Saga that hasn't already been said? You know you should be reading this book. It's amazing. Even after 26 issues, it's still amazing. Plus, this issue focuses on Gwendolyn, and she's pretty badass.
Publisher's Description: Gwendolyn's quest takes an interesting turn.
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artist: Stjepan Sejic
Publisher: Image Comics
Rat Queens is one of those books that really built by word of mouth, and by the time a lot of people heard about it, the story was well underway. Then the artist left after some troubling personal issues, and the book took a break, until the great Braga one-shot drawn by Tess Fowler and now issue #9, which marks the start for new series artist Stjepan Sejic.
Admittedly, I would have loved to see this book of all books have an ongoing female artist, given its appeal to female readers and strong, diverse female cast. Still, there are high hopes for Sejic (who is a talented and speedy artist), and it'll be great to see what he can do.
Publisher's Description: "THE FAR REACHING TENTACLES OF N'RYGOTH," PART FOUR. Life in Palisade is a goblet of toasty sweet mulled wine. But this issue is the skull-pounding headache the next morning when all you're left with is the consequences. And they are life-changing, awful ones at that.
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The big hubbub with this issue is that it's the introduction of Spider-Woman's chic new look, designed by Kris Anka. It's a cool costume that pairs super hero designs with street style to be both heroic and functional.
I haven't been reading Spider-Woman, to be perfectly honest, as I had a lot of concerns about the style and tone of the book, given that Marvel chose a Milo Manara variant for the launch — but I'm interested in seeing this character set further apart from Spider-Man and given a fresh persona and look.
This issue is also the start of a new arc for the character, meaning it should make an okay entry point. For fans like myself, this seems like a good point to jump on and give the character — and the book — a try.
Publisher's Description: NEW COSTUME! NEW STATUS QUO!
• With SPIDER-VERSE in the rear-view, Jessica strikes out to make a new life for herself.
• But she's not going to do it alone, as she's joined by new SPIDER-WOMAN supporting cast-mate and classic Marvel character BEN URICH!
NEW COLLECTED EDITIONS AND 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: Sarah Vaughn
Artist: Jonathan Luna
Publisher: Image Comics
It's a tale as old as time. Boy meets robot, boy and robot fall in love, robots and humans realize it's difficult to live alongside one another. Alex + Ada continues to feel fresh and new, though. The happy couple is interesting and complex, and the art is simple but beautiful. It's a series that I think will play especially well in collected editions, so readers would do well to pick up volumes 1 and 2 for an introduction to the series. As a bonus, the trade is reasonably priced, just $12.99 for five issues.
Publisher's Description: Tensions rise between humans and robots in this sci-fi/drama. Alex took a huge risk to unlock Ada—now she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. As Alex and Ada spend more time together, they become closer. But as restrictions tighten on artificial intelligence, Ada feels unsure about her place in the world, and Alex questions being with an android.
Writer/Artist: Guy Colwell
It's always great to see a new collection of underground comix from the 70s, given how hard many of them can be to find and read today. I feel disappointed that I'd never heard of Guy Colwell's Inner City Romance until I heard about this collection, because it seems like the kind of underground comix that people should be talking about.
At a time when mainstream comics grew increasingly closed off to women and people of color, many cartoonists turned to underground comix to express the realities of their lives. Colwell was no exception, and this collection — which includes commentary from him about his personal evolution — offers something that those interested in diverse voices in comics will want to check out.
Publisher's Description: Beginning in 1972, Guy Colwell's Inner City Romance forged new territory for underground comix, portraying stories about prison, black culture, ghetto life, the sex trade and the realities of inner city life. Every issue is included in this collection, as well as many of the highly detailed paintings he created at the same time. Colwell recounts in the accompanying text, his personal journey to artistic maturity forged by radicalism and frustration.
CATCH UP ON THE CLASSICS
Many of the best comic books ever have been released for quite some time. Every week we select one or two perennials that readers new and old should add to their collections.
Writer/Artist: Ai Yazawa
Publisher: Viz Media
Nana is, and always shall be, my favorite manga ever, and Volume 1 is really Nana at its finest. There's a lot to love in this story of two young women, both named Nana, who end up moving in together and intertwining their lives.
The Nanas are very different, and over the course of the series are crafted into complex, fascinating characters. There's true, but complicated, friendship between women. There's a fantastic supporting cast. There's no punches pulled when it comes to the hard things in life. There's soap opera-style drama. There's romance. The series trickled off towards the end, but the first five or so volumes are some of the best manga ever. Nana is what I describe when I talk about the things manga offered many women that American comics often would not provide.
Publisher's Description: Nana Komatsu is a young woman who's endured an unending string of boyfriend problems. Moving to Tokyo, she's hoping to take control of her life and put all those messy misadventures behind her. She's looking for love and she's hoping to find it in the big city.
Nana Osaki, on the other hand, is cool, confident and focused. She swaggers into town and proceeds to kick down the doors to Tokyo's underground punk scene. She's got a dream and won't give up until she becomes Japan's No. 1 rock'n'roll superstar.
This is the story of two 20-year-old women who share the same name. Even though they come from completely different backgrounds, they somehow meet and become best friends. The world of Nana is a world exploding with sex, music, fashion, gossip and all-night parties.