Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for April 13 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.
XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS #1
Writer: Genevieve Valentine
Artist: Ariel Medel
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
I have the kind of love for Xena: Warrior Princess that you can only get from being a teen in the ‘90s who was obsessed with syndicated genre television and didn’t have a whole lot to do on Saturday afternoons, and I can assure you that it extends to the comics, too. The thing is, they’re always super weird — mainly because the show was super weird, to the point where there was a season where Xena hung out with David (of And Goliath), Jesus, and Julius Caesar all within the span of a single year - but they’re always weird in their own beautiful ways.
This time, according to the solicitation anyway, the weirdness comes in the form of this series starting a full twenty-five years after the final episode of the TV series, in a world where Xena and Gabrielle have been missing for a full quarter of a century, leaving no one to stop the rise of Julius Caesar and the Roman Empire. That is both bananas and appealing - it’s something we’ve never seen before, and I cannot wait to see Valentine and Medel reconcile that with how the show works. [Chris Sims]
AUTUMNLANDS: TOOTH AND CLAW #10
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Ben Dewey
Publisher: Image Comics
Last issue, being drunk saved the day, as it so often does.
Okay, so instead of the day being saved by relaxing inhibitions and getting buzzed, the day was saved when Dusty — the terrier-man apprentice-mage, and that is a phrase that’s totally normal in Autumnlands, so get used to it — figured out that the sheep town’s water supply was tainted and that it hadn’t made its way into the town’s stock of booze, and suggested everyone drink booze over water. A tainted water supply suggests less “magical curse” and more “industrial chemical pollutants,” and in Autumnlands it’s much the same thing.
This series continues to be a well plotted, gorgeously illustrated glimpse into a world so advanced past one apocalypse born of technology that it’s about to head into another one caused by magic. Kurt Busiek knows superheroes but he also knows fantasy, and if you were a fan of Arrowsmith you should not sleep on Autumnlands. [Charlotte Finn]
MOON KNIGHT #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
If I told you there had been three new volumes of a comic kicked-off in the last few years, you'd probably assume that they were all false starts and failures, but that's not the case with Moon Knight. (Because a new first issue every eleven months is just the way it's done now.) Since the six-issue run by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire revitalized the character, the title has been consistently fascinating even when handled by other creative teams. One of those previous teams happened to include Greg Smallwood, one of the most exhilarating artists to emerge in recent memory, and he returns with his dynamic, surprising layouts and ceaselessly clever iconography in tow. With he and Lemire at the reins, it's fairly safe to assume that the craziest corner of the Marvel Universe is about to get crazier. Let's just hope they stick around longer than a handful of issues. (Or at least come back for volume nine.) [John Parker]
GOLDIE VANCE #1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Brittney Williams
Publisher: Boom Studios
Hope Larson, soon-to-be Batgirl writer, and Brittney Williams, recent Hellcat artist, have teamed up for Goldie Vance, a teen girl detective comic set in a Florida resort. Williams’ art is adorable, and Larson’s story looks to be a lot of fun. The title character, Goldie, is the daughter of the resort’s manager and informal protégé of the current on hotel detective. The potential for mystery in such a setting is very promising. And honestly Boom, the home of books like Lumberjanes and Jonesy, launching another all-new, teen-girl-centric comic is automatically pretty exciting. This feels like the next step on the path to a positive future for comics, and it promises to be a lot of fun along the way. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Mockingbird #1 surprised me with just how much I liked it and just how interesting it was as a first issue story, so I’m really excited to see where the rest of the arc goes. The debut issue was a non-linear story that checked in with Bobbi Morse in the aftermath of five crazy missions, and from what I understand the next five issues are going to be those five missions, so I’m interested to see if a more conservative story structure grabs me as much as the first issue did, but it was a strong enough showing to get me back for more Mockingbird, and I’m definitely here for a series of one-shot issues of Bobbi kicking ass and rescuing shirtless Clint Barton and Lance Hunter. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke and Jaime Mendoza
Publisher: DC Comics
Before Superman #51 hit shelves last week, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the “Super League” crossover that’s running through the the Superman books this month. It seemed a little weird that Superman would be running around making up his own secret team — I mean, if nothing else, not only is that guy already part of a team, he’s also already part of a League! You’d think that would be pretty well covered. But now that we’ve gotten the setup, it not only makes a lot more sense, it’s exactly the kind of story that I want to see.
If you missed that first part, the basic idea here is that Superman’s constant exposure to weird energy over the past few months — overdosing on Kryptonite to keep his powers going, being dropped into the fire pits of Apokolips over in Justice League, and other assorted perils — has left Superman on the edge of death. Since he doesn’t have any way to save himself from the inevitable, and he also doesn’t want to abandon a world that’s still in dire need of protection, he’s scouting for replacements in the form of a team that can carry on his legacy and protect the world.
Even though it seems dour, with all the impending-death stuff, I love that idea, and the fact that he’s getting Batman to help him recruit is a pretty great example of how those characters’ friendship should work. Plus, since this issue finds them heading to China to meet “a new super-being,” I kind of suspect that this might be the bridge to Rebirth’s “New Super-Man.” In other words, it’s definitely worth your time to check out. [CS]
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artist: Robert Wilson IV
It's gotten to the point where I'll read anything with Christopher Sebela's name on it. Okay, not Escape From New York. I've heard it's good and I don't doubt that; there's just something about licensed comics based on cult films that makes my ulcers bleed. But when it comes to an idea of his own, mark me down for a "yes, please." High Crimes, Dead Letters, and Welcome Back are probably three of my favorite new comics of the last few years, with searingly original concepts and really screwed-up characters making terrible choices.
Damaged people tend to be my favorite kind of people (in fiction; I don't want to hang out with them) and there's something about them that Sebela understands and makes easily relatable. In Heartthrob, a woman who has been incredibly ill all of her life receives a miracle cure, and suddenly she starts making the kinds of bad choices that make for damn good comics. Illustrated by the never-boring Robert Wilson IV, Heartthrob looks absolutely pulse-quickening. Bonus: there's a Jamie McKelvie Rumours variant cover. How could you possibly resist? [JP]
Writers: G. Willow Wilson & Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jorge Molina
This is the final issue of the "getting the team together" arc, which has been a fun ride, but it's about time for the team to start feeling like a team. This is also the last issue for Wilson and Molina, with Thompson joined next issue by Ben Caldwell. I admit, I was initially a little iffy on how this team could work in the main Marvel Universe, composed as it is of two Avengers, a mutant, an Inhuman, a Runaway, and a mysterious girl who’s made of space. But this initial story has put them together in a way that made sense, and found fun dynamics between them. I’m looking forward to the initial antagonist being defeated, and the inevitable “let’s be a team” scene that follows. I’m rooting for them to all stand in a circle and put their hands in the center, to be honest. [EC]