Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for February 1 2017
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.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS ANNUAL 2017
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Aritst: Gisele Lagace, Jason Millett, MJ Barrios, Victoria Robado, Katarzyna Witterscheim, Savanna Ganucheau
There’s a lot to love about Jem and the Holograms, but when it comes to the specials and annuals that have been cropping up over the past few years, one of my favorite things is how much they play with the format. With the main book always taken up with storylines about glamor, glitter, fashion, and fame, the side books give the book a chance to really cut loose and do something weird. And for Jem, “weird” is pretty much always good.
Last time we had an annual, it was built around dream sequences, and this time, it’s getting even stranger. Not only is it an issue that focuses on the Starlight Girls, and not only is it a book about the Starlight Girls writing fan-fiction about Jem and the Holograms, it’s a book where the Starlight Girls are writing a strange Exquisite Corpse style fanfic that also takes place in space. It’s bonkers, and it’s going to be good. [Chris Sims]
WILL EISNER'S THE SPIRIT: THE CORPSE-MAKERS #1
Writer/Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Wow, I guess I missed that this was happening. If I had to make a list of ten current artists that I'd want to draw The Spirit (which I'm now probably going to do, once I'm done writing this) Francesco Francavilla would absolutely be on it. I don't know if Francavilla counts Eisner among his influences, but even a quick comparison reveals their similarities: Dutch angles, oblique panel layouts, funky tricks with lettering and design, and lighting that will noir your face off. Still, there's no worry that Francavilla will be attempting an Eisner imitation. His pulpy tendencies, magnetic colors, and dapper style are all his own, and he'll bring something new to The Spirit while honoring the experimental tradition of the classics. [John Parker]
SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL #5
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Marley Zarcone
Publisher: DC Comics
With each issue, the story of Shade the Changing Girl tightens, becoming more focused. Loma, the bird girl from the planet Meta, is becoming more and more at one with Megan, the mean girl from Earth, whose body she inhabits. She’s becoming a whole person, under the name of Shade. She’s also finding ways to deal with Megan’s family and friends, most of whom turn out to like Shade more than they ever liked Megan. And it’s a good thing that all of this is working out, because something is blocking Loma’s passage back to Meta, trapping her on this planet and in this body. But the other problem is that Megan’s original soul seems to be out in space somewhere, and may be returning for her body. And as everyone’s reactions to Shade have made clear, Megan is not a nice or patient person. [Elle Collins]
TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #2
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Jack Lawrence & Joana Lafuente
It feels like an absolute age since we've last got an issue of Transformers: Lost Light and we're only on the second issue. Delay problems aside, Lost Light is the most anticipated comic any week it is released and the debut issue proved the team would be able to keep that More Than Meets The Eye momentum rolling into a new series.
This might not be the best jumping on point for new readers, as the crew have teleported to an alternate timeline created in a previous volume of the series, but callbacks and references to previous storylines are two of the things Roberts does best (along with making me cry about robots), so if we're talking about the Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), this is going to be one of them. [Kieran Shiach]
Writers: Ed Brisson and Marv Wolfman
Artists: Guillermo Sanna and Alec Morgan
Ed Brisson really caught my eye on The Violent, a crime comic that was unapologetically bleak in its portrayal of drug addiction and violence. It's morally engaging, thoughtful, and realistic. For his Marvel debut in Bullseye, I expect the exact opposite: 200-bpm white-hot pandemonium. I want to have to wear a seat-belt to read this book.
Bullseye, having regained the ability to walk or come back from the dead or something (I can't keep track of these things, I just can't...) is back to prove his mettle as the most dangerous assassin in the world by killing a lot of people, and he's got five issues with Brisson and Guillermo Sanna to do it. I wasn't familiar with Sanna, but after looking at the previews and his other stuff, I want more, now, immediately please. Sanna is a serious talent and Bullseye should be a perfect showcase for his storytelling skills and kinetic style. Buckle up. [JP]
JOSIE AND THE PUSSYCATS #4
Writers: Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio
Artist: Audrey Mok
Publisher: Archie Comics
Every issue of Josie and the Pussycats is a delight. Jughead is great, but this might be my new favorite of the Archie reboot titles. Like that book, this one balances a light, goofy Classic Archie Comics tone with a more contemporary relationship to serialized storytelling. Bennett and Deordio are doing great work with the characters, especially Melody, who still fills the “airhead” role without being anything like the clichéd version of that archetype. Meanwhile Mok does similar work with the art, making the characters look more like real people while still being recognizable as who they’ve always been. Each issue of the series stands on its own, but the narratives build on each other to form a larger arc about the Pussycats’ tour. And in this issue, they’re going to Rome for an encounter with jewel thieves, which is exactly the sort of misadventures I want to see. [EC]
Writers: Jeff Loveness and Ramon Perez
Artist: Ramon Perez
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Nova has become a member of Marvel's new 21st century trinity, alongside Miles Morales and Ms. Marvel, but I think it's fair to say the character hasn't quite caught on with fans the same way those characters have. The previous runs have been good-to-great, but there's not been a whole lot to hang your hat on outside of "Sam misses his dad" which has made for good stories, but can't go on forever. The new run by Loveness and Perez has expanded Sam Alexander's world considerably be featuring his school life a lot more, and of course by putting him in contrast with the returning Nova, Richard Rider.
Rich Rider had a great death, but Keith Giffen, Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning put so much work into making him a top-tier character at Marvel that it was a shame he was taken away when he was, but in the pages of Nova the dynamic between the two vastly different heroes has already resulted in one of the most fun, bright and enjoyable superhero comics in recent months. If you want straight up sci-fi superheroics with a tinge of Jim Starlin weird and phenomenal art and colors, catch up with Nova because it's all of that and more. [KS]
SEEKERS: INTO THE MYSTERY TP
Writer: J. M. DeMatties
Artist: Jon J. Muth & Others
Way back in the heyday of Vertigo, J. M. DeMatties collaborated with Jon J Muth on a series that fit right into Vertigo's house style, a mystery story about the biggest mystery of all. It never caught on like many other Vertigo greats, so it's been out of print for ages. But finally, Dover has finally put out a complete collection of the entire series, so anyone can check out this story from one of comics' most underrated writers, on a journey through spirituality, self-discovery and universal truth. [Charlotte Finn]
TIME SHARE TP
Writer: Patrick Keller
Artist: Dan McDaid
Publisher: Oni Press
When ComicsAlliance's locker-room leader Claire Napier tells you a comic is funny, you go read it. And for precisely that nipple-protecting reason I've recently been sitting down with a new graphic novel at Oni Press called Time Share. It's a crash of a comic, flinging the insanity of 1980s action comedy through a time machine blender and ending up with the most unpredictable, madcap style of comic imaginable. Written with flair and wild abandon by Patrick Keller, aspects of everything from Back to the Future through to The Terminator abruptly make their way into a thoroughly enjoyable thrill-romp, put together by artist Dan McDaid as best he can (which is: very well indeed). From page one onward, Time Share goes off at 339.5mph — and that's precisely my speed. [Steve Morris]
DETECTIVE COMICS: RISE OF THE BATMEN TP
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows
Publisher: DC Comics
If it wasn’t for the fact that there was also a comic that was basically “What if Santa Claus was Batman and Superman at the same time,” Detective Comics probably would’ve been my favorite comic of 2016. I mean, a lot of books went into Rebirth looking to re-establish connections and revive a spirit that seemed to have fallen by the wayside, and while a lot of them did great things, nobody did it better than Tynion and Barrows did it in ‘Tec.
It has an amazing premise, playing with the idea of what it truly means to follow in Batman’s footsteps and adopt his legacy. It’s phenomenally clever, pitting his family of sidekicks and superheroes against a military organization that doesn’t just adopt his techniques, but also bears a familial connection, and the way that it all plays out brings the idea of the Batman Family back in one of the best ways I can even imagine.
It’s incredible stuff from DC’s flagship book, and if you’ve been waiting on the paperbacks to check out Rebirth, this is the one to get first. [CS]
Writer: C. Spike Trotman
Artist: Diana Nock
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics
Who doesn't love saving money? All that money you save can be spent on more comics, after all. The comics guide to stretching a dollar and keeping a budget has been a guidebook in my life ever since I Kickstarted both it and its sequel, and more people should take a serious look at it. From cheap methods to deodorize a room, how to make your own laundry detergent, and where hidden fees lurk in the predatory credit card industry, this book is a user manual to modern day-to-day finance. Anyone rich enough to not need this book should buy it anyways and give it away. [CF]