Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for April 27 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: Jody Houser
Artist: Francis Portela, Marguerite Sauvage, Andrew Dalhouse, Dave Sharpe
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Faith ends this week (before becoming an ongoing series later this year, thanks to fan-support and incredible sell-through on every single issue of the mini-series so far) with a bit of a superhero team-up vibe. Jody Houser's take on the character has been clearly filtered through a contemporary lens, but this is absolutely a classical superhero story from head to bottom. We've seen secret identities and evil villains, costume changes and now it's time to feature a hero vs hero clash. This one, though, is a little different: Faith's up against her mind-controlled former boyfriend Torque, with her current interest Archer stood in the background watching on. Faith has been one of those big-ticket comics which boosts the publisher who get hold of it, and the series has managed not to buckle under the weight of hype which has preceded it. Faith is here to stay, thankfully, and this will no longer be a mini-series of her finest hour: it's the first four issues of her ongoing story. [Steve Morris]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
This issue promises Megatron vs. Tarn, or if you haven’t been reading the series, “a character you’ve heard of versus one you haven’t.” But really, while everyone’s heard the name, no one’s seen a take on Megatron quite like this: a one-time activist and pacifist who became as bad as that which he was rebelling against, saw how far he’d fallen, and started to climb back up. And Tarn — once Megatron’s trusted head of his secret police — saw the pit that Megatron had dug them all into, and found he liked it there just fine. Each sees the other as the reasons the Decepticons failed, and that makes their rivalry — and this confrontation that More Than Meets the Eye has been building to for years — feel like everything is riding on it. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Eliot Rahal and Daniel Kibblesmith
Artist: Kendall Goode
Publisher: Heavy Metal
If you missed the first issue of the Doorman — absolutely one of the year’s most fun new titles — here’s the basic idea: The galaxy is united by a series of “dors” that serve as instantaneous portals from one planet to the next, and, the galaxy being what it is, they’re mostly used for interplanetary tourism. There’s even one on Earth, but nobody really uses it that much. Until one day, that is, when someone starts going through the portals and murdering the people who serve as the staff, and our own human Doorman finds himself targeted by a space billionaire who’s looking to revive the starship industry. And as you might guess, he’s one day away from retirement.
It’s exciting, it’s fun, it’s fresh, and it’s genuinely hilarious. In short, it’s exactly the kind of goofy sci-fi comedy that there just aren’t enough of in comics, and it’s well worth your time to check it out. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Marcio Takara
If you’ve been missing out on the best pure superhero book Marvel’s publishing right now, this is the perfect time to jump on. All you need to know is that Laura Kinney (formerly X-23) is Wolverine now, and the major fallout from the first story arc is that she has a teenage sidekick named Gabby (who also happens to be her clone). This issue guest stars Squirrel Girl, which should be a lot of fun, and brings Marcio Takara on board as the book’s new artist. Whether you were a Logan fan or not, whether you were an X-23 fan or not, this is a book you absolutely should be reading. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Saga has always been a thrilling read, but Staples and Vaughan have really pumped up the volume over the latest arc. You've got Marko and Alana back together, sexing each other like nuts and pulling heists, the smarmy Prince Robot IV — rapidly evolving into my favorite character — joining them to rescue Hazel and Klara, who have their own escape plans brewing, and a fat, crazy The Will (more like The Won't, right!? Up top.) kidnapping Upsher and Doff and messing with the wrong bipedal harp seal. So everybody is headed on a collision course, the action is heating up, and that's typically when Saga jukes you out of your boots, breaks your heart, and reminds you why it's one of the great comics of its era. Get ready to hold on to your butts people, because it's probably going to get messy. [John Parker]
Writers: Peter Bagge, Rachel Deering, Jai Nitz, Dan Braun et al
Artists: Peter Bagge, Joshua Boulet, Federico De Luca, Andrea Mutti et al
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Isn't it interesting how each publisher has a genre they hold bragging rights over? If Image is the home of one-word dystopian sci-fi stories featuring morose astronauts, then Boom is the all-ages auteur, and IDW the re-inventor of retro. What does that mean for Dark Horse? It means it's elected to follow Steve Niles' example and sink all-in on horror stories, whether the chills come from aliens, vampires, demons of hell or ghosts. Dark Horse knows how to make a scary comic, and the latest installment of their anthology series Creepy Comics holds the most powerful horror card of all: the presence of Rachel Deering, who is nowadays the reigning champion of chilling. You might know her best from her In The Dark horror anthology, but here she returns as writer for one of several stories here, which is reason enough to check it out in my book. I don't even like horror! But Deering's a real talent in that field, working for the publisher who know the genre best of anyone. Also: that cover! Ryan Brown does an amazing job there. [SM]
Writer: Marguerite Bennet
Artist: Aaron Kim Jacinto & Stephanie Hans
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Last issue, Angela and Sera started settling into an idyllic existence in New York City — albeit Marvel’s version of New York, where at any moment Doctor Doom might shoot the island into space. But there was a giant, continuity-shattering event recently, and a refugee from an alternate timeline is now confronting the idyllic group with a string of murders born from a twisted morality. It’s the last issue, which means not everyone might make it out alive — but I really hope they do, because there’s always a chance that these characters might show up again if they do. The final issue of Marvel’s queerest book is here, and I’m sad that it’s over, but I’m happy that it happened. I’ll miss it. [CF]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
The solicitation for this issue promises that Batman’s going to be facing a quiet night in Gotham City. There have been a few great stories in the past to use that premise — Harlan Ellison and Gene Colan’s “The Night Of Thanks But No Thanks” back in ‘Tec #567 is a classic — but here, with this team getting ready to leave Batman after four years, that’s an idea that’s taking on added significance.
Whether or not you’ve enjoyed what they’ve done, there’s no getting around the fact that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have spent their entire run going as big as they can. This is a run that’s brought us an uprooted history of Gotham City, the Joker cracking open the Batcave and leading the giant robot tyrannosaurus on a parade through a crowd of a million zombies, and a new origin story that featured a superstorm, a bone monster, and the Riddler ruling over an apocalyptic city — and that was before we got to the part where Jim Gordon drove a robot bunny rabbit suit. In that context, getting to see a “quiet night” for Batman is not only refreshing, it raises the question of just what exactly counts as quiet, and I’m definitely ready to find out. [CS]
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Some comics I like so much that I flat-out refuse to read them when they first come out. I tend to let my very favorite books build up for a little while so I can read several issues at once and savor the experience rather than rip through a single installment in twelve minutes. But sometimes my desire for sweet comic book edging results in a backlog, and that's what happened with Sex.
I was about eight issues behind when I finally got caught up, and I'd honestly forgotten just how much I love this neo-baroque-slow-burn-euro-eighties-hardcore-superhero-revival. It's just one of those comics that always subverts your expectations, with characters who are never what they seem, strange twists that work new wrinkles into your perception, and a world and backstory that are constantly expanding in ever-surprising ways. Casey and Kowalski are exhuming the bones of the American vigilante, and Sex is so good I don't think I can hold myself back anymore. [JP]
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Tyler Boss, Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
I don't believe I've read from the creative team on this comic before, but the title speaks to a certain Tarantino-esque sensibility which has streaked through several of Black Mask Studios' books over the last year or so. I like Black Mask as a company — they seem to really foster good will from the people they publish, and their ethos and ambitions as a publisher seem sincere and commendable. So, firstly: this is a recommendation based on the good will generated by the publisher. But secondly, the premise for this one just seems like it'll be real fun to rip into.
When a gang of bank robbers turn to a retired pro and force him to do one last job, the pro's 11 year-old daughter Paige realizes something huge: their plan sucks. If she's going to keep her dad out of jail, she'll have to run the job herself, along with her friends! I have no idea what to get from this, but that's a great concept and I especially like the job artist Tyler Boss is doing as he colors himself — this seems like it'll be a neat capper to this week's pull list. [SM]
Writer/Artist: Sophie Campbell
Publisher: Oni Press
This graphic novel series was Sophie Campbell’s pet project before she became a star drawing books like Glory, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Jem and the Holograms. Wet Moon is a coming of age story about a group of girls starting college at a small art school. It’s also a spooky Southern Gothic yarn with giant animals in the swamp, a mysterious psychic girl who lives alone in a mansion, and maybe a murderer (maybe even a werewolf) on the loose.
Wet Moon is nothing like a superhero comic, but it does feature a masked vigilante and a lawman whose sidekick is a monkey. It’s been more than a decade since this first volume was originally released, but it’s never looked as beautiful as it does with this new cover designed by Annie Mok. Whether you haven’t yet read it, or you’re already a big fan, this new edition is a must-have. [EC]
Writers: Ron Marz, Ian Edginton, Mark Schultz and others
Artists: Bernie Wrightson, Staz Johnson, Ariel Olivetti
Publisher: DC Comics
Just in time to mark the 30th anniversary of James Cameron's Aliens comes this collection of some of the chest-bursting, acid-drooling, scream-inducing creatures' most unusual comic book conflicts. The 400-page brick includes both Batman/Aliens crossovers (a 1997 outing by Ron Marz and Bernie Wrightson and a 2002 sequel by Ian Ediginton and Staz Johnson), the title-says-it-all Superman and Batman vs. Aliens and Predator (a 2007 miniseries by Mark Schultz and Ariel Olivetti) and WildCATS/Aliens (a 1998 one-shot by Warren Ellis and Chris Sprouse).
That last one, which features the Jim Lee-created superhero team when their adventures were still being published by Image, might seem like the odd one out, especially since there are Aliens crossovers with Superman and Green Lantern yet to be collected, but one imagines those will appear in a second volume. The other reason DC might have included it? Ellis uses the Aliens to kill off so many of the characters then starring in WildCATS, so it's a story where the A-team may not exactly win, but they sure post a lot more points than they manage against Batman or Superman. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer/artist: Charles M. Schulz
Each new release in Fantagraphics' invaluable collection of Charle Schulz's is a cause for celebration, although it's true that many of use have become slightly inured to their presence on the shelves of our local comic shops and book stores in the years since they've been coming out like clockwork. This is, after all, the 25th volume in the series, and Fanta has also produced a handful of special books around various themes, like holidays, baseball and Snoopy's imaginary battles with the Red Baron. If you have started taking the Complete Peanuts for granted, this release should metaphorically grab you by the metaphorical lapels and shake you (metaphorically).
Included herein is the end of Schulz's seminal strip, plus the entirety of its precursor strip Li'l Folks, plus a foreword by the author of Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope and the sitting President of the United States of America, Barack Obama. When it comes to finding someone noteworthy to pen an introduction, I believe that is what they call in the publishing world a "get." [CM]