Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for February 22 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.
THE VISITOR #1Writers: Mike Mignola and Chris RobersonArtist: Paul GristPublisher: Dark HorseI know so little about Hellboy. I love every HB-related comic I do read, but that's so infrequent that it feels like navigating through a series of dark tunnels, searching for landmarks just to have any idea where I'm going. It would probably take a major chunk of time to get current on all the mythology, and that's time I just don't have. So even though I'm interested, whenever a new Hellboy book drops I usually pass for fear that I won't recognize the characters, get the references, or have any idea what's going on.Not this week, folks. This week I'm diving head-first into The Visitor without any worry for my sense of confusion, because Paul Grist is drawing this book and I really don't care about anything else. Grist is every bit a comics master — an underappreciated one at that — and his clever page designs, unconventional storytelling rhythms and exquisite-but-minimalistic character work imbues his comics with an oddness and wonder that can't be found anywhere else in the medium. I'm glad The Visitor looks like it will provide a quick survey of Hellboy history, which I could definitely use, but that ain't why I'm reading it. I'm here for the Grist. [John Parker]
TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #3
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Jack Lawrence
Publisher: IDW Publishing
There are a lot (and I mean, a lot) of ongoing mysteries in Lost Light, with the central one being the one that ostensibly drives the plot: just what the Knights of Cybertron were. But there's many, many other mysteries, and coming off last issue's cliffhanger, this one threatens to unveil one of the biggest: what Rung turns into. We know it's not just a stick, and that's all we know — but there have been a lot of educated guesses, and I'm looking forward to this issue in part to see if my own pet theories pay off. And also because Lost Light, like More Than Meet the Eye before it, is fantastic. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Chris Wildgoose
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ve been a fan of Hope Larson’s Batgirl since the beginning, but I think I like it even more with Chris Wildgoose on art. Corresponding perfectly with Barbara Gordon’s return to Burnside, Wildgoose’s art is more reminiscent of Babs Tarr’s work on the previous incarnation of the book than previous artist Rafael Albuquerque’s was, while still having its own distinct look. I’m also curious where this whole plotline about Barbara dating the Penguin’s son is going. Plus, this issue features the return of Magpie, and oddball villain who’s barely appeared since the New 52 started, and Wildgoose’s take on her, going by the cover, is fun and appealing. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Matt Owens
Artist: Alec Morgan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Firstly, with all due respect to Frank Miller who tragically went missing in the early '90s, never to be heard from again, thank heavens Marvel have updated Elektra’s costume to something more closely resembling her Netflix’s Daredevil attire. This is a creative team that’s almost completely new to me, but from the unlettered preview pages, Alec Morgan has a Jamie McKelvie-alike style that has certainly caught me eye enough to check out this first issue of Elektra.
The other big pitch for me with Elektra #1 is that it’s Elektra in Las Vegas vs Arcade, which is such a beautiful and inspired mash-up of characters and setting. I’m an easy sell for Arcade vs anyone, but the surlier and the less willing to play along the character is, the better. A lot about Elektra #1 is a big unknown, but what we do know points towards it being a series to keep an eye on. [Kieran Shiach]
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado
Publisher: DC Comics
Honest question: Has there ever been a Justice League lineup that was this friggin’ weird? I mean, the Detroit League was built out of new characters who are only really weird in retrospect, and the JLI was meant from the start to be a bunch of sitcom misfits who annoyed Batman and the Martian Manhunter in between supervillain fights. But this? The only lineup I can think of that’s even close to being this bonkers is the substitutes that showed up with Nightwing and Jason Blood that time that the real League was trapped in ancient Atlantis, and I’m not sure that even really counts.
Maybe — maybe — the Donna Troy/Congorilla/Mikaal Thomas league? Are we still counting that one?
Anyway, after setting things up over the course of one-shots and minis, Steve Orlando, Ivan Reis, and Joe Prado are finally presenting the ongoing adventures of the all-new JLA: Batman, Vixen, Black Canary, Killer Frost, the Ray, Ryan Choi, and friggin’ Lobo. I like all those characters, and Orlando is easily one of my favorite writers at DC right now, but that’s a weird lineup — and I cannot wait to see how weird their adventures are going to get. [Chris Sims]
SUN BAKERY #1
Writer/artist: Corey S. Lewis
Publisher: Image Comics
If you missed cartoonist Corey S. Lewis' recent, self-published, one-man anthology series Sun Bakery, don't worry; you're not alone. Image Comics has picked it up and will be republishing, specifically for people like us! Lewis, whose work you hopefully know and love from such works as Sharknife and Seedless, has an amazing style that is heavily influenced by Japanese pop culture art, but simplified and reduced into something that is all his own. He's one of those relatively rare artists whose work you are unlikely to confuse with that of any one else. If you're not familiar with his work, then please know that this issue includes three stories: One about a city where swordplay has replaced gunplay, another about a space adventurer/photographer and a third about a supernatural skateboarding. [Caleb Mozzocco]
DARKNESS VISIBLE #1
Writers: Mike Carey and Arvind Ethan David
Artists: Brendan Cahill and Livio Ramondellia
Here's a new horror story by writer Mike Carey, as he teams with writer/TV producer Arvind Ethan David (currently working on Dirk Gently) for a series over at IDW. David has spoken of his admiration for Carey as a writer, which springs from runs on Lucifer — but also from Carey's Dirk Gently novels, which seem to be the inspiration for this new book. The idea is that supernatural demons came to Earth to help out during World War II, and in return were offered homes where they could live among humans. Tensions always rise in a situation like that, though, and detective Daniel Aston has to work to make sure that peace is kept.
I suspect this may be another one of those comics designed to lead to a TV show deal of some kind, as it started as a screenplay before coming to comics — but as David has stated, Carey is one of the underappreciated great writers of comics, and I'm sure this will be interesting. [Steve Morris]
ASTRO CITY #41
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Anderson
100 issues already? Time flies. Every one of them has never been anything less than good, too, and the heights of this series have casually redefined the genre in which it sits. So much of Astro City's current ongoing metaplot is about the passage of time — how one generation is making way for the newer, more diverse one, how the cycles and history of this superhero universe go back centuries — that it feels fitting that it celebrate its 20th anniversary and 100th issue within a year of each other. Good health, time and money willing, here's to 100 more of the go-to answer to the question of what the best superhero comic really is. [CF]
Writer/Artist: Natasha Alterici
Publisher: Vault Comics
Natasha Alterici’s Heathen has been around in various forms for a while, but I have to admit it was new to me when this Vault Comics version was solicited. I was basically on board as soon as I heard the words “queer Viking fantasy.” Any kind of queer fantasy is usually enough to win me over, but when you throw in Norse mythology, that can only help. This comic has at its heart the story of Brynhild the Valkyrie, which is also the (loose) basis for one of my favorite Marvel characters, but I’m certainly up for a less superheroic (and gayer) interpretation. And everything I’ve seen I’ve Alterici’s art is just gorgeous, so that certainly helps too. [EC]
THE OLD GUARD #1
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Leandro Fernandez
In The Old Guard, a group of immortal soldiers with thousands of years of battle experience operate as an elite military unit in the modern world, led by the warrior woman Andronika the Scythian, who now goes by Andy. Rucka has always held a clear affinity for badasses with Y chromosomes, and that, coupled with what appears to be an extensive knowledge of military history and terminology, typically results in some fantastic work — Queen & Country, Batwoman, Lazarus, and Wonder Woman just to name a few. With Leandro Fernandez's strikingly simple, precise, and visceral art, The Old Guard is a must-read for all lovers of women, guns, accurately-portrayed battle scenes, and immortality. It's Highlander meets The Expendables with feminism and much better writing. [JP]
ACTION COMICS #974
Writer: Dan Jurgens
Artist: Patrick Zircher & Stephen Segovia
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ll admit that I fell off on Action Comics pretty early on with DC Rebirth, but with “Superman Reborn” on the horizon, I’m taking this week to catch up and find out just what the heck is going on with this mystery Clark Kent and what it means for the larger mystery of Superman’s place in the post-Flashpoint DC Universe.
I’m a big sucker for understanding how continuity works, and for good or ill that is something Dan Jurgens has handled a lot over his his career. My biggest worry is that whatever happens with the various Supermen, it turns my beloved Man of Tomorrow into Hawkman for the 21st Century. This is the last issue of Action Comics before those answers start to trickle out, and I hope I’m not disappointed with the revelations within. [KS]
CURSE WORDS #2
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ryan Browne
Publisher: Image Comics
Separately, Charles Soule and Ryan Browne have a track record of doing high concept stories that are smart and hilarious, but working together, they’ve managed to do a comic that plays up to both of their strengths in a way that’s almost hard to believe. The first installment of Curse Words did an incredible job of setting up the story, blowing through events that another team might’ve taken an entire arc to play with in the span of a single issue, laying out the rules of this universe and its characters in a way that’s so elegant that I can’t read it without getting jealous.
But now that it’s all set up, and now that we know what Wizord’s deal is and why he seems content to rake in money as the world’s only wizard for hire, it’s time for things to pick up. Plus, if y’all ain’t on Team Margaret yet, well, it’s time to fix that. [CS]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Mike Norton
Publisher: Image Comics
And so we reach the final issue of Revival. Not many comics have lasted for as long as Revival or told as compelling and intelligent a story. Having more comics with that long-term ambition is crucial for Image in building up a catalogue which can stand alongside publishers like Vertigo. With Seeley, Norton and cover artist Jenny Frison — whose work here helped make her name as one of the dominant creative talents in cover composition — working through the entire run of the comic, there's been a consistency in tone which has been rooted in deep character work. While the story has spilled out into too many unexpected avenues to count, the characters have remained believable, reliable, and authentic, making the last few issues of the series almost unbelievably tense.
Things have become almost unbearable now, but everything comes down to this: how will Revival end? What will happen to the characters we've been living with for all these years? How will the creative team nail down the coffin? [SM]
SNOTGIRL, VOL 1: GREEN HAIR, DON'T CARE TP
Writer: Bryan Lee O'Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Publisher: Image Comics
Bryan Lee O'Malley's latest work seems to be getting significantly less attention than his previous work, the original graphic novel Seconds. Perhaps that's simply because the follow-up to the follow-up to his Scott Pilgrim series lacks the curiosity factor that the follow-up did, but Snotgirl is still significant: It's his first work as a writer scripting for another comics artist, and it's his first monthly-ish, ongoing series. Oh, and most importantly, it's really rather good.
Teamed with artist Leslie Hung, whose gorgeous artwork has a hint of manhwa influence accenting it, O'Malley tells the story of Lottie Person, a professional fashion blogger with an Achilles heel: Horrible allergies that reduce her to a head-leaking mess (hence the title). That's far from her only problem, however, as things get very weird very fast in this series, and by the second issue she's worried she may have accidentally murdered her new best friend. Priced at Image's "how-can-you-afford-not-to-buy-it?" price-point of just $9.99, this volume collects the first five issues of the series. If you missed the single issues, be sure to check out the trade, and then join me in wondering why more people aren't talking about this book constantly. [CM]