Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For December 9 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.
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.
BATMAN/TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Publisher: DC Comics (with IDW)
You know what's really weird? This week, at the tail end of 2015, marks the first time that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have crossed over with Batman. That definitely seems like something that would've happened by now, right? Like, if I'd asked you a second ago, you would've said, "I think they did that in 1991," right? But no. It's happening now, and only now.
But really, as much as this seems like it's something that definitely should've happened before, I'm actually really glad that it's only coming around now, because we're living in the perfect time for it to happen. IDW's TMNT books are some of the best titles on the stands right now, telling a thrilling, compelling ongoing saga that gives you everything you want from the franchise, from ninja mysticism to alien invaders and all the way down to weird bits like the Mutanimals that have been brought back to great effect. And on the Batman side of things, James Tynion IV has been spending the past few years on projects like Batman and Robin Eternal, quietly becoming one of the best writers to take on the character in a while, and Williams has done great work with Batman in the past on books like Robin. With that kind of foundation, Batman/TMNT is the kind of crossover that doesn't just feel like a mandatory combination of marketable characters, but actually like a book that's going to be a whole lot of fun. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Ariela Kristantina, Bryan Valenza
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Here we go, then — AfterShock comics are officially out there now, first with Replica and now with Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina's InseXts. This'd be the new comics publisher overseen by editor Mike Marts (who handled the X-Men during their Grant Morrison-Joss Whedon years and the recent Batman tornado at DC), but to be honest, the main focal point for the book lies in one place only: Marguerite Bennett off the leash. We've seen her writing comics across Marvel and DC, but this is her first creator-owned work, and it seems obvious that this is where we'll get to see her really stretch into her voice as a writer. This is a Victorian body-horror sex romance, to try and label it, featuring lovers who go on a killing spree — a lady and her housemaid. It sounds absolutely manic, and she's backed by a strong creative team who fit into the tone of the concept really nicely. [Steve Morris]
EIGHTH SEAL #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Jeremy Rock
Publisher: IDW Publishing
If you have a Thrillbent subscription, you may have already read this — but even if so, you might want a paper copy of this nail-biter of a horror comic, in case the Thrillbent server gets hit by a meteorite. This is the story of the First Lady of the United States who has persistent visions of horrible demonic attacks that may or may not be all in her head, and what makes this comic outstanding is the careful, deliberate storytelling that wrings out tension like a spring in a watch wound too tight. The artwork conveys an unsettling stillness, often isolating the subject in a panel and using careful repetition and black panels to showcase how everything is off and nothing can be trusted. When the tension does break, the visions of horrific carnage are rendered in terrifying detail, that same stillness now letting every midair drop of blood haunt you long after the page is turned. All of this is done with Thrillbent's engine, and I'm genuinely excited to see how it translates to the printed page. [Charlotte Finn]
SECRET WARS #8
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Okay, so Secret Wars didn't exactly turn out as well as hoped. After two-plus years of intense buildup through Avengers and New Avengers, the event itself has turned out to be a little bit of a letdown. It definitely wasn't helped by the addition of two extra issues, pushing back the story's conclusion beyond the point where we saw the after-effects — Doctor Doom being un-scarred, Ultimate Spider-Man swinging around the 616, Daredevil having his secret identity back, me being really confused about the state of the Marvel Universe and wondering why I even bother trying to keep up; I'm a 36-year-old man for Christ's sake — but not the inciting incidents or the conclusion to the story proper. It's been fun seeing how Hickman and Ribic remixed Marvel into a world of low fantasy and Doom-based religion, and there have been some great moments, but it's lacked the overall drama I expected. Hopefully this penultimate issue offers some redemptive value, and leads to a satisfying conclusion to the whole damn thing so we can all move on already. [John Parker]
SNOW BLIND #1
Writer: Ollie Masters
Artists: Tyler Jenkins, Colin Bell
Ollie Masters made a huge breakthrough with The Kitchen over at Vertigo earlier this year, and closes out the year by collaborating with Tyler Jenkins for a rural crime noir that has a really intriguing central concept. The idea here is that a teenager posts a photo of his dad on Facebook, perfectly innocently — but finds out the hard way that his dad has a huge secret. He's in witness protection, you see, as are the whole family, because there are people out there in the world who want them dead. And by putting his dad's face on the internet? The kid just put a huge target on his entire family. Set in Alaska — which seems like it'll provide Jenkins with plenty of opportunity to offer some stunning landscape — I'm incredibly interested in how this snowy thriller is going to play out. Especially because there are hints that the dad might not actually be on the side of the angels himself. [SM]
SCARLET WITCH #1
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Vanesa Del Rey
Scarlet Witch has always been defined by those around her, and in this new series, James Robinson hopes to bring her character the strength that's been largely missing, with a series of stories that define her as an individual, a woman, and the Marvel Universe's premier mistress of witchcraft. Robinson has been on a real tear lately, quietly matching what he did back in the days of Starman and The Golden Age with Fantastic Four, The Invaders, and the undoubtedly controversial and undeniably fascinating Airboy. What really gets me jazzed about this new series, though, is the fact that it's going to have a different artist every story, a conceit that almost never pans out, but that the trainwreck-loving part of me can't help but love. Del Rey as the permanent artist would have been ideal, but it will be interesting to see how the successive artists bring their vision to Wanda and Robinson's scripts and work to make each single issue stand on its own. It will be even more interesting to see how many of them are women... [JP]
STREET FIGHTER UNLIMITED #1
Writers: Ken Siu-Chong, Jim Zub
Artists: Joe Ng, Edward Chang
Publisher: UDON Entertainment
There was a time back before we had stuff like Archie's Mega Man book and Faith Erin Hicks doing a tie-in to The Last of Us when Udon's Street Fighter series was pretty much the only good comic based on video games, ever. That might sound like I'm damning it with faint praise, but over the course of their run, creators like Ken Siu-Chong, Chamba, and Joe Ng did an incredible job capturing the over-the-top fun of the game in a way that went beyond just the usual story of a bunch of people having to fight each other on roads and boulevards in order to stop a global terrorist organization with punches.
Then, for reasons unknown, after a series of fantastic Street Fighter Legends series that focused on the women of the franchise, the Street Fighter comic went away. There were a couple of projects in the form of hardcover anthologies — one of which, in the interest of full disclosure, I contributed a short six-page script to — but for monthly comics, they were completely absent. Now, they're finally coming back, and while I definitely worry that Siu-Chong will be a little rusty from the big gap between stories and that it won't quite have the magic of that original run, there's no way that it won't be worth giving it a shot. Udon's Street Fighter has a track record of fun, excitement and genuine laughs that other comics wish they could claim, and I'm pretty stoked about having it back. [CS]
THE VIOLENT #1
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Adam Gorham
Sometimes it's refreshing that a comic doesn't have a giant, white-hot hook to pull in; just a simple, human premise ready for exploration. That appears to be the case in The Violent, which follows an ex-criminal trying to maintain his new family life, fighting the gravitational pull of his worst habits and failing. Artist Adam Gorham comes from the startlingly kinetic Dead Drop, and Ed Brisson comes from Sheltered, which was uneven but still maintained a pretty high level of savagery. What has me most excited about this series, though, it the fact that apparently Brisson's father was a cop and his mother a nurse in victim services; strong signs that this comic will contain a bit of authenticity. The Violent sounds truly dark and depressing, a great formula for any crime comic. [JP]