Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for February 8 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.
JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA REBIRTH #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: Ivan Reis & Joe Prado
Publisher: DC Comics
This is the we’ve been waiting for, folks. Steve Orlando has more than proven himself as a writer of top-notch, high stakes superhero action in the pages of Supergirl and Midnighter and he’s proven himself as a deep-dive DC Universe continuity nerd with B’Wana Beast cameos and obscure references to Multiversity. Ivan Reis is *the* DC Comics artist of the last decade, establishing himself on books like Green Lantern, Aquaman and, well, Justice League.
There couldn’t be a greater creative team to bring back top-notch, high stakes superhero action to the Justice League, and not only that they’ve provided a mission statement that the franchise desperately needs. In the '90s, gathering DC Comics biggest heroes onto one team was revolutionary and iconic statement, and 20 years later Orlando and Reis are flipping the script by giving us an inclusive, diverse Justice League who represent the real America.
Also, the villains are Lord Havok and the Extremists. It’s gonna rule. [Kieran Shiach]
MOTOR CRUSH #3
Writer: Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart
Artist: Cameron Stewart and Babs Tarr
Publisher: Image Comics
The first issue of Motor Crush focused on world building, giving us the neon-noir background of illegal full-contact motorcycle races mashed up with Starship Troopers information overload. Then the second issue hit, and dove deep into the characters, teasing out histories and relationships, setting up conflicts, secrets, and love interests. And here’s the thing: Both of those issues were amazing. They took the heavy lifting of story setup — all that stuff you have to get through when you’re introducing a new story — and made it one of the most compelling launches I’ve seen in a long while.
Now, the series is heading into its third issue, and with everything in place and threatening to collapse right on the heads of Domino and Lola, we’re ready to kick this thing into high gear. And if the setup’s been this good so far, I’m guessing that the road to the payoff is going to be even better. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brian Ching
One of the most interesting things about Orlando and Ching’s Supergirl is how it’s managed to be a perfect jumping on point, with a completely new (if CW-inspired) status quo for Supergirl, without technically rebooting anything from the ill-fated New 52 run. In keeping with that, this first storyline has been about Supergirl’s origin without actually being an origin story. It’s not a retelling, it’s a re-contextualizion. And for the record, it’s also been a great story with a ton of drama about how Supergirl doesn’t just have to let go of her Kryptonian past to be happy on Earth, she may literally have to destroy the remnants of that past in order for Earth to survive. It’s strong stuff, and it comes to head here, in the final issue of the storyline. [Elle Collins]
EMPOWERED AND THE SOLIDER OF LOVE #1
Writer: Adam Warren
Artist: Karla Diaz
Publisher: Dark Horse
The fact that Adam Warren has eschewed the serially-published comic books-to-trade paperback strategy with his Empowered series and has instead pursued a publishing strategy of a series of tankobon-like
original graphic novels means that his readers get to enjoy his work in huge, satisfying portions. The down-side? The wait between them can sometimes feel interminably long. (The ninth volume was the latest one published, and that was released in late 2015).
Warren is well aware of that, of course, and attempts to rectify it through these occasionally-published one-shot specials, in which he teams with different artists to tell one-off stories that also serve as good jumping-on points. They also have the benefit of introducing Empowered fans to new artists, and letting those artists play with his
In this well-timed issue, Warren teams with artist Karla Diaz for a story that pits the title character against a rogue "International Magical Girl of Mystery" whose powers are wreaking havoc with the love lives of the superheroes of Emp's world. [Caleb Mozzocco]
ALL-STAR BATMAN #7
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Tula Lotay
The "All-Star" part of All-Star Batman — the rotating cast of artists who join writer Scott Snyder on the title — has yet to disappoint. With John Romita Jr. unleashing high-octane madness and Jock stopping by to render a polygonal winter wasteland for the return Mr. Freeze, each artist has been paired with a story that suits their strengths brilliantly.
The trend continues in "Poison Promises" with rising star Tula Lotay joining to introduce the new-and-improved Poison Ivy. If there was ever a more perfect match than this one, it had to have been made in Comic Book Heaven. Lotay's work is impassioned, beguiling, psychedelic, and sensual without being sensational; all great qualities on their own. The fact that you could say the very same things about Dr. Pamela Isley — impassioned, beguiling, psychedelic, and sensual — is a pretty good sign that these two will get along. [John Parker]
Writer: Todd McFarlane
Artist: Todd McFarlane, Various
Publisher: Image Comics
Writing up Spawn for Image Week had me realize that I still have some affection left for the KoЯn video of comics, so I'm going to pick this issue up 100% blind. I'm told that there was a new Spawn, then the old Spawn returned, and now Spawn has a mouth? And he's fighting drug dealers? And McFarlane is back on art and story? It'll be like diving into superhero comics the way they are right now, and I look forward to having so many questions when it's finally in my hands. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Ben Torres
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I’m not sure how much demand there is for a book about a willfully corrupt businessman flaunting his crime in the face of an American public powerless to stop him, but hey at least it’s topical. Kingpin is an odd choice for an ongoing series, but there could be something special here and the creative team Marvel has assembled suggests Kingpin might turn some heads in the right ways (the wrong ways being when Wilson Fisk literally turns heads and breaks them)
Matthew Rosenberg wrote a surprisingly nuanced and intriguing Kingpin in the Civil War II tie-in miniseries, and while Ben Torres is new to me he brings an Eduardo Risso-like vibe to the book that looks very exciting. This could be a real sleeper hit. The last book I said that about was The Vision, so I know what I’m talking about here. [KS]
STEVEN UNIVERSE #1
Writer: Melanie Gillman
Artist: Katy Farina
Publisher: Boom Studios
Riverdale is certainly a new challenger and I’m pretty sure I love Power Rangers enough for all of us, but I think it’s fair to say that collectively, Steven Universe is ComicsAlliance’s single favorite television show. Because of that, we’re always pretty excited when there’s a new Steven comic out — especially now, when they’re providing the kind of story that it’s becoming increasingly rare to see on television.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the increasingly superheroic ongoing story about Homeworld Gems and massive space prisons and immortal foes who devastated the Earth in ages past, but sometimes you just want to see Steven, Peridot, and Lapis Lazuli hanging out and learning about birds. Well, that’s what I want to see, anyway — and now, I finally have the chance. [CS]
WONDER WOMAN #16
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Bilquis Evely
“Year One” was one of my favorite Wonder Woman stories ever, and now that it’s over we’re getting a new flashback story in the even-numbered issues of this series. And while I’m sad to see Nicola Scott leave, I’m looking forward to seeing Bilquis Evely’s work on the book. Plus, this new arc is about the history of Godwatch, an organization that seems a lot like a new incarnation of Villainy, Inc. with a less silly name (still a silly name, to be sure, just less so). That means it’s bound to feature plenty of Cheetah, who has rapidly become one of my favorite villains over the course of this run. [EC]
MAGICAL CHARACTER RABBIT ONE-SHOT
Writer/Artist: Kinoko Evans
Publisher: Alternative Comics
Kinoko Evans creates a Richard Scarry-like world peopled by anthropomorphic animals in Magical Character Rabbit, the story of a young "magi" rabbit who stumbles into the opportunity of a young rabbit magician's life. She was just going to the library to check out a book, and ended up being given the high-pressure honor of getting to/having to perform the town's Winter Solstice Ritual. This exceedingly charmingly told story follows her as she tries to figure out what spell to perform and her encounters with the various inhabitants of the town while she does so. The story may be simple and straightforward, but you won't find a more darling book on the stands this week. [CM]
BLACK HISTORY IN ITS OWN WORDS HC
by Ronald Wimberley
Published by Image Comics
As a project for The Nib a few years ago, artist Ron Wimberley was invited to create a series of portraits for Black History Month. The idea was to show some more representation for black activists, luminaries and cultural icons who have helped shape and build black identity and spirit. Each portrait stands alongside a quote from the person featured — and so as the title describes, the project showcased black history, as described by the people who have brought something new, important, and vibrant to say about it.
Wimberley's choices of subjects is interesting in that it clearly draws a punk aesthetic to the project, with James Baldwin standing alongside Dave Chapelle, Zadie Smith and Laverne Cox. Using a fairly limited palette, Wimberley uses sharp background colors to bring energy to the collection, which today comes to print through Image Comics. It's a change of pace for the publisher, and a look at what seems to be a slow move towards more artistic projects and away from the standard. This is the first in a series of new comics-related projects Wimberley has planned for the coming months, and it's exciting to see him bring a bit of spirit back to the shelf. [Steve Morris]
MY MONSTER BOYFRIEND TP
Writers & Artists: Various
Publisher: Iron Circus Comics
The timeless story of Beauty and the Beast gets turned on its head when it turns out that Beauty is... into the Beast just fine as he is. From this premise spins the solid gold of My Monster Boyfriend, which promises lots of dudes who are unconventionally attractive — really unconventionally — and the men, women and enbies that love them. Having been on the Internet since 1995, there is literally nothing about human sexuality that surprises me any more, but My Monster Boyfriend promises to deliver in charm what was long ago exhausted via shock value. If you missed the Kickstarter, here's your chance to get on the train. [CF]