Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for July 27 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.
Writers: Chris Ryall and Christos Gage
Artist: David Messina
I honestly never thought this one would happen. I mean, I knew Rom would eventually make some kind of return — nothing in comics stays gone forever, and even Fatman the Human Flying Saucer is probably due for a comeback one of these days — but I didn’t think it would happen at IDW. Even though they have all the other Hasbro licenses, most of what made the Greatest of the Space Knights work so well was tied into the larger universe where his stories took place. Without all that, you have to ask the question of what’s left?
But with that question comes an entire world of possibilities. If the only thing you have to use with Rom is Rom himself, then any limits on what you can do with the character are gone — and if he’s going to be thrown into the line-wide “Revolution” crossover that’ll find him in a shared universe with the Transformers and GI Joe, there’s more than enough weirdness to make him work again. [Chris Sims]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Last issue! It's all over! They found the Knights of Cybertron! Just kidding, what's happening instead is that the series is being relaunched soon as Transformers: Lost Light, a title I suppose I'll have to get used to. But there was no more perfect title for a comic book than this one, which always surprised us with the depths of its humor and charm, the intricacy of its plotting and mythology, and how damn easy it was to cry about toy robots from space once they started falling in love, getting addicted to circuit-based drugs, and stabbing each other in the back (but for a good reason, naturally.) It was, and still hopefully will be, a series that truly had more to it than met the eye. This issue promises to break our hearts and subvert our expectations all over again, and considering how effortlessly it's delivered on that in the past, I believe it. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
Like so many people, I really loved the recently ended “Burnside” run on Batgirl by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and Babs Tarr. It was a fun, fresh, accessible take on the character, and I was sad to see it end. But at the same time, there were Barbara Gordon Batgirl comics I loved before that run, and I have no doubt there are many more to come. So it’s in that optimistic spirit that I’m excited to pick up this new Batgirl #1. I’m already a fan of Hope Larson, from her delightful work on Goldie Vance, and I feel like she has her own unique angle to bring to the character. And the fact that she and artist Rafael Albuquerque have kept her in the Burnside costume is a clear sign that they’re not sweeping that run under the rug, which has always been my biggest fear about what was to come after it. Barbara Gordon has been one of DC’s most exciting heroes for the last couple of years, and I can’t wait to see what’s next for her. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russell Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The Mighty Thor is a book that seems to be flying under a lot of radars since it returned post-Secret Wars, but it’s still hitting it out of the park every month and Aaron and Dauterman’s plan seems to be getting bigger in scope that anyone could have imagined. Last issue brought in the genius idea of the 1% of the 1%, the richest supervillains of the Marvel Universe who come together to form a sort of money orientated Illuminati, and Aaron is using that to revisit a character he revived in Original Sin: Oubliette, The Exterminatrix.
That’s not to mention that there are very few superhero comics being published right now that look halfway as gorgeous as The Mighty Thor, thanks to Dauterman’s beautiful pages and layouts. I just re-read the run from Thor: God of Thunder to the most recent issue over the weekend, and trust me when I say that this is going to go down as an all-time character defining run for the franchise, and you’re missing out if you’re not already reading it. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Javi Fernandez
Publisher: DC Comics
Of all the New 52 era’s many sins, I think we can all agree that the most egregious was changing the blue in Nightwing’s costume to red. Honestly, it’s no wonder that he ditched the entire ensemble to run around as a super-spy for a couple of years.
Now, though, we are in a time of Rebirth, and that means that Dick Grayson is back in his proper colors for a whole new approach. It’s an interesting one, too. As much as I was attached to Dick’s role as Agent 37 in Spyral, the world-traveling super-spy who’s too handsome to be secret and too honest to be deceptive, Seeley’s idea of casting that time as the superheroic equivalent of college makes the whole thing intriguing. It’s the kind of reboot that works, going back to an idea — the idea of Dick striking out on his own and having to deal with things outside of his relationship with Batman — without covering the same ground that we’ve seen from the last time we had a new Nightwing #1. And as someone who loves that character, it’s exciting to check out. [CS]
Writer: Dan Abnett
Artist: Brett Booth
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s odd that the fallout of DC Rebirth is taking place in Titans of all books, but it does make a little bit of sense when you consider that’s where Wally West has ended up. The solicitations for upcoming issues imply that the Titans are on the heels of the being that stole ten years from the DC Universe, so might we see some Watchmen characters start to be teased out, or is still too soon?
Understand that I’m not necessarily recommending this comic, but I do think it’s one to pay attention. Abnett’s been a secret weapon for DC for the past year or two and was partly responsible for turning Guardians of the Galaxy into something Marvel could make into a mega-hit blockbuster. I’m no fan of Brett Booth in all honesty, but that new Wally West costume is looking pretty slick and DC Rebirth has been full of artists I’d previously written off surprising me. [KS]
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: John McCrea
Publisher: DC Comics
Before they knocked out one of the four (!) classic comics runs that Garth Ennis has to his name, Ennis and McCrea were put on Etrigan the Demon, a perfect match for McCrea's stylized and distorted figures, the poetry of Ennis dialogue, and the love of violence of both. Sadly out of print for years, but this volume continues to redress that oversight, showcasing the skills that would later charm readers on Hitman — including some of the first appearances by Tommy Monaghan himself. There has rarely been a more perfect fit between creators and character, which is why they keep coming back to Etrigran, and why this is one volume you should seek out. [CF]
Writer/Artist: Jeff Smith
Publisher: Cartoon Books
Look, I’m not immune to nostalgia. If you bring back something I loved in my youth, I’m at least going to notice, and if the original creator is involved, I’ll probably get a little excited. So how could I resist a new Bone story by Jeff Smith? For those who weren’t reading awesome comics in the ‘90s, Bone was the epic saga of three Walt Kelly-inspired cartoon characters who journey into a fantasy world of dragons, rat creatures, and exiled princesses. That story felt perfectly complete when it ended, but if Smith feels like he has one more tale about the Bone cousins in him, I’m certainly going to take a look. Plus the book contains a reprint of The Bone Companion, with new illustrations by Smith. [EC]
Writer/Artist: Chynna Clugston Flores
A new Blue Monday series, Thieves Like Us, is set to hit the shelves in 2017, and I for one can't wait to welcome it back. In Chynna Clugston Flores' Blue Monday: The Kids Are Alright, Bleu Finnegan navigates the complicated social world of high school, with all its embarrassments and need and casual betrayal, goofs around with her mod friends, obsesses over Adam Ant, and aches so much for that elusive perfect love that she crushes on her substitute teacher. With pitch-perfect dialogue and an acute understanding of the turbulent teenage state of mind, Chynna Clugston Flores' Blue Monday is authentic and energetic, and Jordie Bellaire's recoloring squeezes even more out of Clugston Flores' artwork, a sugar-high Americanized manga that stamps exclamation points in your brain. At sixteen years old, looks even younger and newer than it did in 2000. [John Parker]
Writer/Artist: Brendan McCarthy
Publisher: Dark Horse
Long before Brendan McCarthy co-wrote and designed Mad Max: Fury Road, he was making comics that would uncurl Salvador Dali's mustache. Dream Gang mixes pulsing psychedelia with the absurd purity of old-school adventure comics, as a nobody discovers he is the last of a gang of dream warriors and chosen to fight a threat to the collective dreamworld, and as you probably guessed, it's absolutely teeming with McCarthy's typical neon wonder. Great fun for readers of all ages and levels of pscyho-cosmological awareness, Dream Gang will melt your face off, roll it out into a kind of kite-like shape with dumbfounded, blinking eyes, and use it to fly off to Lemuria or something. That's a good thing. [JP]