Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for August 10 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/Artist: Phil Jimenez
Publisher: DC Comics
Even if Lois Lane's name isn't on the cover: this is a Lois Lane comic, and it's long past time she got her own series again. There's an argument to be made that she shouldn't have superpowers, but there's another argument to be made that having Superman choose Lois Lane as his successor showcases how important she is to the Superman mythos, even in these tangled times where there's multiple Supermen and at least two Loises (Loisi?) running around. I'm genuinely curious to see where they plan on taking her in this series, and I hope it works out as well as the other recent revamp of a superheroic love interest as a superheroine in her own right, over at DC's main competition. [Charlotte Finn]
Writers: Chuck DIxon, Corey Barba and others
Artists: Greg Schiegel, James Kochalka and others
Publishers: United Plankton Pictures
DC Comics has been releasing hefty collection of material from the 1990s and 200s lately, including The Birds of Prey, Robin and various Elseworlds and Darks Horse crossovers, and they are over-flowing with Chuck Dixon-written comics. What's the guy was one of the publisher's most prolific and reliable writers for so long up today? Well, if by "today" we mean right now, like this very day, then that's easy: He's writing the lead feature in this month's issue of SpongeBob Comics, a Western-themed story entitled "Dry Noon."
It may seem a strange place for a writer who is so well-known for his superhero and adventure comics to show up, but this is hardly Dixon's first visit to Bikini Bottom and, in fact, his presence points to one of the great virtues of this anthology gag comic. It's probably the only comic on the shelves where you can find work from giants of superhero comics like Dixon, Ramona Fradon or Jerry Ordway appear alongside work from Tony Millionaire, Graham Annable or Sam Henderson. I rarely miss an opportunity to evangelize by this always surprising book, which isn't just for SpongeBob fans (which isn't even something I would consider myself), but for fans of comic books and the comic book-makers. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: James TynionIV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez and Raul Fernandez
Publisher: DC Comics
Just the other day I joked to a friend that Detective Comics is the best X-Men book coming out right now. I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to say that, and it’s an offhand remark that I’m prepared to stand by. It’s an odd team: a mix of young heroes, the mentors training them, and one monstrous former villain. They’re at odds with civil authorities, in this case the military’s Batman-inspired Colony. And there’s even a close connection between the team leader and the storyline’s villain, which was always a common motif in classic X-Men stories. As a reader who grew up immersed in both X-Men and Batman, this mix is fascinating and endlessly appealing. But my favorite thing, as it always was in X-Men too, is the way this comic foregrounds the relationship between the characters without skimping on action. That’s really what I want out of my superheroes. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artists: Mark Bagley, Andrew Hennessy, Nolan Woodard
God knows how Angel and Wolverine have become a couple to root for, but Hopeless and Bagley have managed to make this into a romantic, steely relationship which has fortified both characters. They've been able to define who they are whilst acting out in unexpected ways— we haven't had much chance to see either of them in a typical romantic relationship before now (I mean, Warren had to date Psylocke for ages) but All-New X-Men has made them into two of Marvel's freshest, most enjoyable characters. Here, though, it looks as though they're about to hit their first test.
As I think we've said several times on ComicsAlliance, this series has been a favorite, with fun, witty characters who act like teenagers but entertain all-ages. Mark Bagley, meanwhile, continues his streak on the series, with his slightly modified artistic style emphasized by the coloring to bring a level of engagement to the work which we haven't seen since the heights of Ultimate Spider-Man. Hopefully with the crossovers in the rear-view mirror, this road trip can head off once more into the fantastic unexpected. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Christopher Priest
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Publisher: DC Comics
I was lucky enough to interview Priest and Pagulayan last week, so I’ve already read Deathstroke Rebirth #1. It’s good. It’s as good as you want Christopher Priest’s return to comes to be, and points to some really good stuff from the ongoing Deathstroke series which is due to launch shortly.
Pagulayan has been a favorite of mine stretching back a number of years now, and I’ve been waiting for him to get that high-profile book for a while. His work here is some of his best yet, and he’s always been great at mixing action with character development and this issue has it in spades. A lot of people might pass this up because it’s Deathstroke and they’ve written that character off, but this one is going to surprise a lot of people. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Publisher: Image Comics
Described as a "crypto-noir," Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker's The Black Monday Murders is about a world in which the financial industry is run by the occult, complete with vampires, black magick, human sacrifice, and the Rothschilds. So it's a non-fiction.
Even if you're not Awake, you have to admit it's a really fascinating concept. Money hasn't actually been "real" since the death of the Gold Standard, and we've all just accepted that our ritual exchange of physical symbols shifts around something ethereal — all those little ones and zeros that determine your standing in the world. Sounds a lot like magick to me. A murder mystery, alternate history, and magical awakening rolled into one, The Black Monday Murders looks like it's actually worth a few sheets of paper that we pretend really means something. So can I borrow some? [John Parker]
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Publisher: DC Comics
Back when Batman Beyond was first starting up, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the big secret to the show’s success was that it was essentially “What if Spider-Man was Batman?” As blatant as it was— and by the time Terry McGinnis was just straight up fighting Kraven the Hunter, it was pretty darn blatant— it made for an incredible dynamic and some great stories.
I bring this up because going into the first issue of New Super-Man, I figured we’d get a pretty similar dynamic. We didn’t, though. Instead, we got something different, something that’s shaping up to be every bit as interesting and compelling that had me hooked right from the first page. And if you want to keep up with that same metaphor, here’s what we’re working with: Instead of “What if Spider-Man was Batman,” Yang and Bogdanovic are offering up “What if Flash Thompson was Superman?” It’s exciting and, well, new, and it set things up in a way that’s kept me on the edge of my seat waiting for this issue.
Oh, and the fact that we’re getting New Bat-Man and New Wonder-Woman already doesn’t hurt, either. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Jonathan Case/Various
Artist: Cory Godbey/Various
Publisher: Boom Studios
Has it really been thirty years since Jim Henson’s Labyrinth came out? I suppose it must be true — I saw the movie as a small child, and now I’m in my thirties, in this fallen future world in which Jim Henson and David Bowie only exist in our memories. So yeah, a Labyrinth anniversary special is the kind of nostalgia I can go for. There have been a number of attempts to continue the movie’s story in various media over the years, but I’m less interested in a direct sequel than I am in the sort of collection of vignettes that this book appears to offer. As Sarah says to her magical companions, as she faces her impending adulthood at the end of the movie, “Every now and again in my life — for no reason at all — I need you. All of you.” And here I am, 30 years later, finding it to be true. [EC]
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: John Romita Jr., Declan Shavley and Danny Miki
Publisher: DC Comics
Every time someone asks Batman if his newest partner Duke Thomas is supposed to be Robin or what — even if its Duke himself — Batman responds with some variation of "I'm trying something new." So too is Scott Snyder, whose New 52 run on Batman proved to be the all-around most successful DC comics of the last four years, managing to be of both reasonably high quality and sell like gangbusters.
Now, he's trying something new. He and Batman inker Danny Miki are joined by John Romita, Jr. for an epic "My Own Worst Enemy," in which Batman is attempting to take Two-Face (little seen, and seemingly dead, post-Flashpoint) somewhere for some reason, with a price on Batman's head so high that it has both super-villains and ordinary citizens gunning for him. The creators fairly bombard us with new designs of super-villains here — four, not counting Two-Face — and Romita has made them all look great, finding the balance between fresh and classic that eluded Jim Lee and others during the launch of The New 52. In format, they seem to be going for something cinematic, right down to scratches appearing on the film print at certain points.
At $4.99, it's a pricey one, but you do get 24 pages of Snyder and JRJR's Two-Face story, and a Declan Shalvey-drawn eight-page back-up. I'm not crazy about the title, as it reminds me of the controversially bonkers and abandoned Frank Miller/Jim Lee series (which I loved), but the title of the comic is literally the only thing I didn't like about the first issue. [CM]
Publisher: Marvel Comics
There’s something about Annuals that I love, but publishers don’t always nail why they’re so great. This, however, this is going to be special. The concept behind the All-New, All-Different Avengers Annual is that we’re finally seeing Kamala Khan’s fan-fiction, as told by a host of some of the best creators. So that means we’re getting Chip Zdarsky pencils in an Avengers comic. We’re getting a story written and drawn by Faith Erin Hicks.
Not all of the creators in an anthology jam issue like this can be winners, and it’s highly unlikely the contents of the comic are going to Change The Marvel Universe Forever, but it looks to be a fun-filled, jam-packed joy to read that’ll leave a smile on your face, and sometimes, that’s what you want. [KS]
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Stephen Segovia and Art Thibert
Publisher: DC Comics
What is happening in the Superman books right now?! Like, seriously, are any of you reading it? Because every time I try to talk to someone about it, I get about two seconds in and it sounds like I’ve just woken up and I’m trying to describe a weird dream as I’m forgetting it.
So here we go. If you haven’t been following it, Dan Jurgens, the primary architect of the "Death and Return of Superman" saga, is essentially re-doing that storyline for 2016, but with the added twists of this being the Superman from a previous version of the DC Universe— the same Superman who died in that story — who is stepping in for the newer Superman who died right before Rebirth. He has a kid now, but Lex Luthor is also Superman, and also Clark Kent is there and he’s a different dude, and also Hacken from Hitman is there and the Eradicator ate Krypto. I’ll let you go ahead and re-read that last bit again, just so we all know we’re on the same page here.
So that brings you up to speed as we get into part five of this story where Dad Superman fights Doomsday, and honestly, who knows what we’re going to get by the time this story finishes? Maxima? Strange Visitor? Is the Silver Age Legion going to show up and take Jon Kent to the future? Is it all a dream? Who knows anymore, y’all. Who even knows! [CS]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta and Jordie Bellaire
Well this has been kind of a bummer. You'd expect a comic book about a family of robot superheroes to be a bit more joyful but it's been nothing but death and depression and the slow reveal of anguish squirming beneath suburban America's neatly-manicured façade. One tragedy after another has befallen the Visions, and even though my capacity for schadenfreude has leveled-up several times, I feel like I should watch a few episodes of Small Wonder just to balance out my brain chemistry.
The Vision definitely isn't a lighthearted read but it is an incredibly compelling comic that I'm sad to see end. King, Walta, and the rest of the troupe have completely deconstructed the artificial man, and as they prepare to exit stage left I feel like making Portia's plea for mercy before they go. (That's a Merchant of Venice reference and it's very clever in this context, thank you). Because I actually care about Vision now, and they deserve a standing ovation just for that. [JP]
Written and illustrated by: Natasha Allegri
Publisher: Perfect Square
Recipes! Tasty! You didn't know about this one, did you? You thought this was just a casual week with loads of good DC comics and some interesting other bits and pieces. But no! There's a Bee and Puppycat Cookbook out right now, in your comic shop, just resting on the shelf all empowered and spectacular. Natasha Allegri's creations have starred on the screen and on the page in equal measure, yet she's managed to keep the projects involving them random, surprising, and on-point. Of course they're the perfect choice for an all-ages cookbook, reader-submitted recipes and ideas matched up with illustrations from Allegri. It's a wide-ranging mix of fun ideas to mush down your mush, from cookies to fishcakes, in lovely pastels. A little variety brings a spring into your weekly shop, and what could be more fun than swapping out a superhero and going gaga for some gourmet garnishes? [SM]