Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for August 17 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/artists: James Kochalka and Jake Lawrence
Has fatherhood mellowed prolific indie comics creator James Kochalka, whose recent output has been dominated by kid-friendly all-ages material, like entries into his Glorkian Warrior, Johnny Boo and Dragon Puncher series?
Maybe, but obviously it hasn't mellowed him too much, as this week marks the return to his SuperF*ckers concept, now in the form of an ongoing, monthly series. If you missed Kochalka's original 2005-2007 SuperF*ckers series from Top Shelf Productions (you poor bastard), it is basically the most realistic comic book series about teenage superheroes ever. The SuperF*ckers swear, bicker and fight, get drunk and get high, and are more interested in sex than, say, fighting crime or saving the world.
Imagine an early 21st-century Legion of Super-Heroes composed by actual dirtbag teens, rather than the squeaky-clean, middle-aged teenagers that populated 20th century mainstream comic books, and you get the idea.
Differentiating this new outing from the previous one is the presence of monthly back-ups by different non-Kochalka creators (this time out, Jake Lawrence, best known for Teen Dog) and variant covers by non-Kochalka artists (for this issue, it's Ryan Ottley). [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy
Publisher: DC Comics
It only took a year after Supergirl had her own network TV series for DC to give her a comic as part of their regular line. You’d think they would have had one timed to launch simultaneously with the show, but I don’t work at DC, so what do I know? But while this series may be late in coming, I’m very excited to read a Supergirl written by Steve Orlando, fresh off that great Midnighter series. This Rebirth special has a different artist from the series that’s soon to follow, but it should still serve to catch us up with Supergirl’s new status quo, and I’m looking forward to that. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Raul Allen
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
If there’s one thing Valiant does well — and the past five years have shown us that there are actually a whole lot of things it's doing well — it’s dropping its heroes into high concept stories. They never just feel like they’re routine superhero yarns, there’s always some big hook to it that grabs the reader and twists things just enough to give it that little extra push over the top, like seeing a ninja for hire take on supernatural threats in the world of the dead, or dropping an unkillable soldier into the plot of Predator and having him team up with his equally unkillable predecessors, or sending an aspiring superheroine after a Hollywood cult that’s also a front for an alien invasion.
In “Labyrinth,” though, they’ve gone to my favorite well: Deathtraps. Just endless, lethal, brutally effective deathtraps, filling an underground maze. It’s like reading through an illustrated adaptation of the Tomb of Horrors, and if that sentence doesn’t make you want to read it, then folks, we’re barely even speaking the same language here. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Dan More
Publisher: Boom! Studios
The final issue! I'm curious if the rumors that man of action Klaus will turn out to be Santa Claus, and if the events that unfolded in Grimsvig have anything to do with the Christmas tradition. The hint all point to yes, and I'm pretty sure they will, but Grant Morrison's blindsided me before. And one final time, Dan Mora's art is splendid and gorgeous, a perfect fit on a great book that hopefully sends his star higher. This book fully delivers on its "now why didn't anyone else do it first?" premise and will probably be a highlight of both Morrison's and Mora's careers, and the Boom! Studio catalog, for years to come. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Christopher Sebela
Artists: Niko Walter and Dan Brown
No offense to anybody, but when I find out that a comic was co-created by Robert Kirkman and Marc Silvestri, that tends to be less of an incentive than a deterrent. In the case of Demonic, though, I'll allow it. Besides being an interesting concept — New York detective houses a demon that wants to, you know, kill people and stuff — I'm also intrigued by the intensity of the short preview and the potential of the creative team.
Christopher Sebela has written some very good comics over the last couple of years, Niko Walter's art looks like it comes from the offspring of Chris Samnee and Michael Lark, and Dan Brown always finds interesting ways to interpret mood and tone through his coloring. There are plenty of supernatural crime comics floating around out there, but not as many really good ones as you'd like: hopefully Demonic will turn out to be a nice addition to that list. [John Parker]
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Choosing Sides has been full of awesome vignettes showing how the latest Civil War is affecting the landscape of the Marvel Universe, showing how characters such as Kate Bishop, Night Thrasher and Goliath have dealt with the ongoing battle. Declan Shalvey’s running Nick Fury story with Jordie Bellaire has been a highlight every issue also, as he proves he’s as good at writing as he is at drawing (and he’s very good at drawing).
The reason why I’m singling out this issue as one of the Best Comic Books Ever (This Week) is because this week’s issue of Civil War II: Choosing Sides features a Power Pack short by Giant Days’ John Allison, with art by Rosi Kampe and Megan Wilson. Giant Days is one of the best ongoing titles right now, and seeing a creator as esoteric and unique as Allison work within the Marvel Universe is something I’m super excited for. [Kieran Shiach]
Artists: Also various
Publisher: DC Comics
This poorly-named anthology series, which included four 20-page stories for $7.99 each month, has been the best value in superhero comics over the course of the last half-year, even if 3/4 of the contents have been more-or-less mediocre. The exception has been Keith Giffen and Bilquis Evely's "Sugar & Spike," which rather randomly starred the grown-up versions of the old toddler characters as private investigators serving DC's superhero community behind the scenes. Evely's superb artwork and Giffen's unearthing of forgotten concepts to drive the stories has made it a stand-out not only in this book, but among DC Comics in general (a trade is slated for release soon, if you missed Legends of Tomorrow).
I'll miss the title when it's gone, in large part because it proved a good vehicle to sell comics that wouldn't stand a chance in the current market on their own, given the characters and creators involved. I certainly wouldn't mind another volume of Legend of Tomorrow with some new features in it — maybe one that featured more characters actually appearing in the TV show it's named for, or maybe with a different title that doesn't promise that connection — although I suppose it's possible the series was a way for DC to try and recoup money spent on proposed monthlies they decided against greenlighting, rather than originally conceived as a bargain-priced anthology.
Whatever the case, I'll miss you Legends of Tomorrow! [CM]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Rian Sygh
Publisher: Boom Studios
Over the past few years, James Tynion IV has been steadily becoming one of my absolute favorite writers in comics, and it’s not exactly hard to see why. His work seems like it’s tailor-made to appeal to me. I mean, a Batman/TMNT crossover and an ongoing series about Batman’s team of sidekicks fighting a literal army of Batmen? That’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder what my third wish on this magic lamp is going to be.
This time, though, he’s doing something that has a little bit more of a personal appeal. I’m sure it won’t surprise anyone to learn that I was definitely into drama club in high school, and while I never found anything backstage that’s as exciting as a portal to another dimension, I still have a lot of fond memories that Backstagers is bringing back in full force. For me, that’s reason enough to check it out, but with the Tynion’s track record, Sygh’s absolutely beautiful art, and the representation that this book is bringing to the table both on the page and behind the scenes, I can’t think of a good reason to not be excited to read it. [CS]
Writers: Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride
Artist: Nick Brokenshire
Amelia Cole started out as one of the flagship titles of Monkeybrain and quickly became the digital imprint’s backbone. If you missed it digitally, IDW’s collections assemble the digital-first series beautifully and the finale to a thirty-issue epic sticks the landing in a way few titles do.
Everything comes together in such a satisfying conclusion, but before the book can end, there’s still the matter of getting through the villainous Council and the threat it poses to multiple worlds. Knave, Kirkbride and Brokenshire worked hard to get to the finale, and they pull it off with aplomb. [KS]
Writer: Si Spurrier
Artists: Ryan Kelly, Matt Wilson, Lee Loughridge, Nick Filardi, Simon Bowland, Emma Price
Publisher: Image Comics
Those sure are a lot of colorists. Ryan Kelly's latest (he'll next be seen reviving Saucer Country as Saucer State over at IDW) comes at Image, where he's delivering a three-tiered story of, well, basically werewolves in the warzone. Following one woman through a pretty messed-up story, Cry Havoc approaches story through color — each of the colorists credited a different time period, be it the past, present, or pending future. Through that technique, a story grows through the heart of the six issues that make up the series, subconsciously conditioning you as a reader until blue, red and yellow each represent a different atmosphere.
Being set in what it nominally the real world means writer Si Spurrier tones down the interconnected word mash wildness, at least for a while, making this feel drastically different from, say, his Boom! Studios work. The format means Cry Havoc feels like a series of vignettes in the life of a fractured, compelling lead. The conclusion of the story, however, brings a thorough re-evaluation. It's easy to flail off into descriptive madness when talking about something by this creative team, and spoilers would also abound in that direction — so instead, just try reading the book itself. You'll be caught off-guard. [Steve Morris]
Writer: George Pérez with Greg Potter and Len Wein
Artist: George Pérez with Bruce D. Patterson
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s a good time to be a Wonder Woman fan. With the 75th Anniversary of her first appearance and her ongoing introduction to feature film audiences, the Amazing Amazon’s getting a lot more attention than usual. This new edition of George Pérez’s early work on the character’s 1980s reboot is another great side effect. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, Pérez was given the chance to start fresh with Wonder Woman, retelling her origin in the present and reimagining her supporting cast and villains. And while it can’t compare with Marston and company’s original, Pérez did a great job, giving us a version of Wonder Woman that would last for 25 years, and also happens to be the version I grew up with. These comics stand up today, and this collection is absolutely worth a look if you’ve never read this run, or if you just haven’t reread it as an adult. [EC]