Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for July 13 2016
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.
Writer/artist: Scott Tipton
Mickey Mouse had long stopped being a relevant protagonist or entertainer and settled into his role of benevolent living logo for a corporation by the time I was born, and that's the role he's played pretty much ever since. Which is exactly what made the 2013-to-present, four-minute shorts featuring Mickey — and Donald, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto — such a surprise when they first started appearing on Cartoon Network.
If you've never seen them on TV yourself (and unless you know some very young people, there's a very good chance you haven't), they are all available on DVD, and they are excellent. A perfect compromise between the Golden Age of animation that spawned Mickey and modern, all-ages animation of the Cartoon Network original variety, they are short, anarchic, inventive, and most of all funny.
They are also pretty perfect pieces of animation, which makes me extremely curious about how they could be adapted into the medium of comics. And that is apparently what this comic will be, based on the descriptions of the content (the dog show cartoon, which addresses the weirdness of Mickey's best friend Goofy and his pet Pluto both being dogs, is a particularly strong one).
Curiosity and the quality of the source material demands at least a flip-through. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
So Bloodshot’s been around since, what, 1992? That’s 24 years that we’ve had this guy, and it’s only now, in this story arc, that someone thought to give him an adorable nano-active dog sidekick called Bloodhound.
That, my friends, is the magic of “Bloodshot Island.” If you’re not already reading it — and you should be, it’s consistently one of the smartest and most engaging comics around — the current arc involves “our” Bloodshot being trapped on an island where he’s being hunted by a cybernetic super-soldier named Deathmate. He’s not alone, though — there are five previous products of Project Rising Spirit with him, including a World War II Sgt. Rock pastiche called Tank Man and, of course, an adorable albino dog with a big red spot over his eye. And the good news, for certain values of good, is that their nano-active blood means that Lemire and Suayan can't kill the dog, even if it seems like they’re doing their best to try.
I’ll admit that I fell behind on Bloodshot for a while, but this story hooked me hard enough that I’m catching up quick, and it’s well worth checking out. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Victor Bogdanovic
Publisher: DC Comics
Between the general feelings of regressive storytelling and literally everything to do with the Watchmen stuff, I've been cool on the post-Rebirth DC, but this is the exception. An entirely new character who isn't a straight white guy is stepping into an iconic role, written by a huge Superman fan who happens to be one of comics' top storytellers, and with what looks like gorgeous artwork from Victor Bogdanovic capturing the crisp lines and bold action figures of a Superman story. This feels like the "next Superman" in a way that literally bringing back an older Superman does not, and I hope Kong Kenan gets his due in this story and in all the ones to follow. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Ethan Van Sciver
Okay, I'm getting an overwhelming sense of deja vu here. Hal Jordan already went through some pretty intensive re-birthing about ten years ago, remember? Superstar writer Geoff Johns stripped him of The Spectre, resurrected him as Green Lantern, explained that he was possessed by a "fear entity" called Parallax and not responsible for all those murders? Got a fresh coat of Just For Men slapped on his temples so nobody under the age of twenty would vomit at the sight of him? You know, in Green Lantern: Rebirth!? That limited series that was drawn by Ethan Van Sciver!?
Despite the inescapable truth that history is always repeating itself, I'm actually looking forward to this one. Since the original Rebirth, the whole Green Lantern mythos has been goofy and overblown, but it's also had some very compelling moments, and Venditti and Van Sciver is a creative team I trust. And here's the part I really didn't expect: I actually want to know what's going on. So far Rebirth has been messy and vague, but throughout each title there's some reference to great threats, huge mysteries, and impending doom approaching from the farthest reaches of outer space. Given that that's GLC turf, I expect Hal Jordan And The Green Lantern Corps Rebirth to reveal a bit more about why everybody is being re-borned. [John Parker]
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I know, I know; Gwenpool seems like an absolutely terrible premise to begin with and it doesn’t seem like there’s much characterization or plot to hang a hat on. I thought that too, but I was actually dead wrong, and this is slowly becoming one of my favorite comics published by Marvel. If you’re behind, the basic premise is that Gwen Pool is a girl from our world that finds herself trapped in the Marvel Universe and exploits her knowledge of its tropes for her own benefit.
It could still be fairly one note, but in the three issues so far it’s been surprisingly affecting and emotional as Gwen deals with being trapped in an alternate dimension where literally everything could kill her, and she has to let go of the relationships she forged in our world to focus on starting a life in her new one. I understand your wariness, I lived your wariness, but trust me, this is a highly underrated and super enjoyable comic book. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira
Thank god for Batwoman. It’s been ages since I was a regular reader of Detective Comics, but this current Rebirth run has me hooked. Batwoman’s one of my favorite DC characters, but it doesn’t end with her. This incarnation of Detective is a team book, with Kate Kane mentoring a quartet of heroes. There’s Tim Drake, who’s still going by Red Robin, but feels the most like classic Tim that he has in years. Spoiler’s around, being her usual awesome self. Cassandra Cain is here too, going by the name Orphan. And then there’s Clayface, a villain trying to get the hang of being a hero. And of course Batman’s around too; he has a tendency to micromanage. But in this issue he’s running into some trouble, while Batwoman is running into her ex, Renee Montoya. And that’s definitely exciting. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Arthur Wyatt
Artist: Ben Willisher
Publisher: 2000 AD
One of the best things about the 2012 Dredd movie was that it hinted at the larger world of Judge Dredd that went beyond just the towering city block that contained the movie. Of course, that’s also one of the most frustrating things about the lack of a sequel — and that cruel, completely untrue April Fool’s Day prank from a while back about a Netflix series with Sylvester Stallone showing up as an older judge — in that we never actually got to see much of it.
Fortunately, we have Arthur Wyatt and the Dredd movie-universe comics. There have been a few before, but now, we’re getting to see the comic book version of a more cinematic take on the first great Judge Dredd epic, as the scowling lawman of the future heads out for a journey across the atomic wasteland that is the Cursed Earth. Presumably, this one will be slightly more serious than the original, although the idea of Karl Urban’s Dredd finding himself embroiled in a war against Ronald McDonald would be amazing. Either way, Wyatt’s previous outings as the go-to writer for Movie-Universe Dredd stories make this one a must-read if you enjoyed the gift of cinematic Thrillpower. [CS]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Yanick Paquette
Publisher: DC Comics
When Tim Seeley, Tom King and Mikel Janin’s Grayson series was first announced, it was certainly met with a lot of scepticism surrounding the big upheaval to Dick Grayson’s status quo; yet here we are later and it’s almost as if we don’t want him to go back to being Nightwing. However, thanks to the careful curatorship of Tim Seeley, we know Dick’s going to be in good hands.
The new series spins out of the "Robin War" event which saw Grayson agree to work with the Parliament of Owls, and features Nightwing getting a brand new mentor named Raptor in an arc titled “Better Than Batman”. Does the title refer to Raptor or Nightwing himself? That remains to be seen, but Seeley’s spot on characterization and Paquette’s gorgeous layouts will make this one of the Rebirth issues to keep an eye on. [KS]
Writer/Artist: Natalie Riess
Publisher: Oni Press
There just aren’t enough American comics about cooking. And even better, Space Battle Lunchtime isn’t just about cooking; it’s about a cooking competition show. Specifically a cooking competition show in space, if you can’t guess from the title. Earth baker Peony found her way into this absurd situation where she’s competing against alien chefs, and she’s in way over her head. This issue sees the contestants reconvene for Round Two, and considering Round One featured a brawl between a hulking meat man and a tiny crustacean in a big battlesuit, it’s bound to be pretty out there. Plus there’s the question of who Peony has eyes for: friendly camera guy Aris or militant alien chef Neptunia. And if it’s the latter, she’s going to have to break through a thick layer of aggressive competitiveness. [EC]
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artists: Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton
I find it very easy to get lost at Image recently. Half its comics have one-word titles, and they all seem to be about spacemen in trouble. There just doesn't feel like as much variety as you'd want, which is why when I find a series like Monstress I hold onto it all the more tightly.
The creative team of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda first met at Marvel, but it's at Image that they've really thrived beyond belief. Monstress is a tricky, shifting piece of work, a fantastical story which follows a woman as she attempts to cultivate and strengthen her relationship with a giant, mythical monster. Whilst her society is gripped by a growing war, her relationship with the creature may be the one thing which can save everybody. Or... destroy them all.
Liu is a fantastic storyteller, and she completely thrives with a project like this; while Takeda gets an opportunity to strip down the flash and (in fairness, overdone) colors from her Marvel work in order to create a strikingly different piece of work which feels like it stands on a higher level than all these other run-of-the-mill Image dystopias. [Steve Morris]
Writers: Chuck Dixon, Ed Hannigan, Barbara Kesel, Adam Warren and others
Artists: J.H. Williams III, Dick Giordano, Phil Winslade, Adam Warren and others
Publisher: DC Comics
DC recently released a collection of old Elseworlds stories starring Batman, and this companion series focuses on the Justice League... if by "Justice League" you mean "heroes who are not all Batman." And so in addition to comics featuring Medieval and cowboy versions of the Justice League, we also get a Victorian/Edwardian Era Wonder Woman, a couple of World's Finest riffs and even a Titans story set in the far-flung future. This 500-page collection is a little wonky in its contents, then, given how many Justice League Elseworlds comics that could be in here instead of team-ups of various Bat-people and Super-people, or a Titans comic, but the creative line-up is basically a who's who of the best writers and artists one could find working for DC in the 1990s, and a lot of these individual comics can be a chore to try and track down today.
I can't vouch for every single one of these stories, having only read about half of them, but the ones I did read were all excellent, and the ones I did not are ones that I have been meaning to read if and when I could find them. So I'm pretty excited DC went and made finding them this easy. [CM]
Publisher: Soaring Penguin Press
Boulet could fairly be considered one of the greatest creative minds in comics. He's always driving forward, finding new ways to offer structure, narration, style and flow within his works. But he's never been in English-language print — not properly. French, he first came to prominence in 2004 as a result of several diary comics which documented his time living in Paris. The series, ultimately called Notes offered a wry and self-deprecating portrait of the cartoonist, exploring French society and custom in hilarious and sometimes bizarre fashion. You could see him growing in strength as his series continued — he was one of the first people to really turn web comics into an art, and use it as a way to build momentum and establish his creative mindset.
Although he started re-posting the original comics online with English script about five years ago or so, it's only this week that we've actually had the chance to properly get a hold of his works in glorious, crisp, print. Soaring Penguin Press have collected the first of what will eventually be four volumes of Boulet's work on Notes, with the first now available in stores. If you have any interest in French comics — or just want to read some of the most enjoyable and engaged comics creators telling the real-life tales which'll make him famous — then you have to pick this one up. [SM]