Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for January 11 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: VIXEN REBIRTH #1
Writer: Steve Orlando and Jody Houser
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Publisher: DC Comics
I’ve always thought of Vixen as one of the most underused characters in DC’s roster. She’s got an amazing set of powers with a great idea for visual representation, an interesting origin and civilian identity, and a classic look that’s easy to update for a new era. And yet, despite that — and a longstanding connection to the Justice League and the Suicide Squad, a book where underused characters always found new life — I’ve never really felt like she’s gotten her due.
Until now, that is. The past year has seen a surprising and welcome renaissance for Vixen, appearing in live-action and animated projects and now turning up in a crossover that’s set to re-establish her as a cornerstone of a new Justice League from some of the most exciting creators in comics. And honestly, I’d be excited to see Vixen making a comeback regardless, but getting this story from the writers behind Midnighter and Apollo and Faith makes it a book that cannot be missed. [Chris Sims]
UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #16
Writers: Ryan North & Will Murray
Artists: Erica Henderson & Rico Renzi
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s great to see Marvel celebrate Squirrel Girl’s 25th anniversary with a special issue but it’s even cooler that the publisher brought in her co-creator Will Murray to be a part of the celebration. It’s often touted that Steve Ditko created Squirrel Girl and Murray’s contribution often gets lost in that shadow, so it’s awesome to see him return to a much different Squirrel Girl than the one he created and play in an all-new sandbox.
Also, Erica Henderson’s cover for this is amazing because it features different era costumes for Squirrel Girl for eras she didn’t exist for, but John Allison drew a variant featuring all the villains Doreen has fought and I need to get my hands on that cover. [Kieran Shiach]
JUSTICE LEAGUE/POWER RANGERS #1
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Publisher: DC Comics
I was just a bit too old to enjoy Power Rangers the first time around, but any property that's been around for decades will pick up enough inertia that I can recall the basics, and this big dumb crossover promises to hit all the right nerd buttons it needs to. I question the cover implying that Billy is the counterpart to Batman — if anything it's the Green Ranger — but the fact that I have this opinion to begin with means I'm 100% the target audience for this. It won't redefine the artform of comics or give us a fresh perspective on how the rules for toku and Western superheroes differ, but there is a strong possibility that Batman will pilot the Dragonzord and Superman will suplex a kaiju, and that is pretty cool too. [Charlotte Finn]
MEGA PRINCESS #3
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Brianne Drouhard
Publisher: Boom Studios
I really love this trend of comics about adventurous, independent princesses starring in comics aimed at young girls. I think making princesses cool and self-sufficient and even bad-ass is a much better strategy than trying to get young girls not to care about princesses. And Kelly Thompson and Brianne Drouhard are succeeding admirably at that goal.
But at the end of the day, what I really love about Mega Princess is how much fun and funny it is. Because at the end of the day, it’s not just for young girls, it’s for people of all genders and ages. I do plan to buy my niece the collected edition when it comes out, but I’m also buying the digital issues for myself, because it’s just such a great comic. And in this issue, Max the Mega Princess and her Jerk Pony Justine go to the undersea kingdom of Atlantis, and you know I’m all about that. [Elle Collins]
MOTOR CRUSH #2
Writer: Brenden Fletcher and Cameron Stewart
Artist: Babs Tarr and Brenden Fletcher
Publisher: Image Comics
The first issue of Motor Crush was that rare comic that lived up to the truly staggering expectations that have been building since it was announced. I mean, if you tell me that the creators behind the Batgirl relaunch are going to be doing a sci-fi motorcycle gang crime story that feels like it’s set in the brutally noirish corners of the Speed Racer universe, then it’s almost impossible for that comic to be as good as it sounds. But here we are, and here it is, with a first issue that was a late candidate for the best single comic of 2016.
But as good as the beautiful art was and as gripping as the story was, the thing that got me really excited was the design. Tom Muller’s graphics laid out the futuristic feeling of the book in a way that managed to hit the exact midpoint between the Wachowskis’ Speed Racer and Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers. I knew Tarr’s art was going to be great, but that came as a surprise, and elevated a book I already wanted to like into something I was sure I loved. It’s a complete package, and I cannot wait to see how much better it’s going to get. [CS]
DETECTIVE COMICS #948
Writers: James Tynion IV & Marguerite Bennett
Artist: Ben Oliver
Publisher: DC Comics
We didn’t do a “Most Anticipated New Comic” in our end of year awards, but I think if we did the upcoming Batwoman solo title might have stole it in a landslide, and this issue out this week is a direct prequel to that ongoing. James Tynion IV has been doing phenomenal work with an exceedingly large group of characters of Detective Comics and everyone’s got the chance to shine, but it’s been very much focused around Batman and how people react to Batman being in Gotham City.
This arc is titled "Batwoman Begins," which means Kate Kane is going to be stepping into the spotlight ahead of her new ongoing series and will likely bring back plot points regarding Batman’s illegal detention of her father after he tried to massacre a significant portion of Gotham. Also, the solicit promises a new neighborhood for Gotham called “Monstertown” and you know that’s going to be rad as heck. [KS]
VORACIOUS: FEEDING TIME #2
Writer: Markisan Naso
Artist: Jason Muhr
Publisher: Action Lab/Danger Zone
I missed it when it came out in December, but Voracious — the comic about humanity's unwavering tendency to look at literally anything and ask "I wonder how that tastes?" — is back. The twist at the end of the previous series is about to come and bite Nate Wilner in the behind — he's been travelling to the past of an alternate universe where dinosaurs became people and the dinosaurs he cooks and serves as food were someone's distant ancestors and it's altering their timeline. It's a hell of a twist and I'm anxious to see how it plays out. I'm grateful for more Voracious, one of 2016's best and most interesting comics. [CF]
WONDER WOMAN #14
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Nicola Scott
This is it: the finale of “Wonder Woman: Year One.” Recently, somebody was asking me for definitive Wonder Woman stories, and while I listed some from the past, I also added that in the future, this will absolutely be a definitive Wonder Woman story. I really believe that. There have been a lot of Wonder Woman origins (in fact, there’ve been a lot just recently), and some of them have been really good. But Rucka and Scott have really found this perfect balance between mythical fantasy, classic Wonder Woman, and modern comics storytelling. It refers back to George Perez and William Moulton Marston and Harry Peter, while being totally its own thing. It has Etta Candy and Barbara Ann Minerva and Steve Trevor and Ares, plus all those Amazons. Basically, it’s everything I want out of a Wonder Woman comic. [EC]
Writer: Santiago Garcia
Artist: David Rubin
I've been drooling over images of this book for a couple of years, totally unable to rightfully consume it due to my embarrassing medical condition: I'm not a polyglot. Originally released in Spanish, Santiago Garcia and David Rubin's adaptation of Beowulf looks visceral, ferocious, stylish and remarkably beautiful, and received an outpouring of acclaim. Meanwhile, I stared at the pictures, cursed my parents for not sending me to an immersion school, and considered trying to Rosetta Stone my way through. But now that this version of the oldest epic poem in Christendom is available in an English edition, I don't have to! You and me and all the other Ugly Americans finally get to crash the Beowulf party without having to do a single thing to broaden our cultural horizons. See? Ignorance and laziness pay off. [John Parker]
THE IMITATION GAME: ALAN TURING DECODED
Writer: Jim Ottaviani
Artist: Leland Purvis
Publisher: Harry N. Abrams Books
Thanks to the film The Imitation Game, many more people have a better idea just how brilliant and betrayed Alan Turing was. As a mathematician and cryptanalyst, he built the world's first computing machine, formalized algorithmic concepts, fathered the idea of artificial intelligence, and quite literally had a hand in saving the world, breaking Nazi codes that gave the Allies the edge in several confrontations. And then his government found out he was a homosexual, chemically castrated him, and likely pushed him to suicide.
While the film exposed Turing to a wider world, as usual, it took liberty with the facts, and it has been noted for its historical inaccuracies. You're much less likely to find those in Jim Ottaviani and Leland Purvis's version of events. By exploring the lives and discoveries of the scientists who shaped the world, Ottaviani and his science-story collaborators aren't just making great comics, they're performing a great public service, and this illuminating biography of one of the twentieth century's greatest minds and most tragic figures is no exception. [JP]