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.



    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: 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.

  • ARCHIE #1

    Writer: Mark Waid
    Artist: Fiona Staples
    Publisher: Archie Comics

    This week marks the relaunch of Archie's flagship title — and if the upcoming Jughead and Betty and Veronica books are any indication, the relaunch of the entire Riverdale Universe — but it's not the first time they've made an attempt. You may recall, for example, 1987's The New Archies, where the teens were taken back to Middle School and redesigned for a new generation. And by that, I mean that they gave Archie a mullet. Needless to say, the new reboot looks a whole lot better, largely because it's coming from two of the best creators in comics, and everything that we've seen from it makes it look like they're keeping the same spirit of goofy comedy and teen romance alive and well for the new version. I'll admit that if this is truly the end for the existing Archieverse (which, let's be real here, will probably survive indefinitely in the form of reprints and Double Digests), then I'm going to miss it, but I'm pretty excited about seeing what's next. [Chris Sims]


    Writer: Charles Soule
    Artists: Alex Maleev, Paul Mounts, Joe Caramagna
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    The most dashing cape-swisher in the galaxy takes focus for Marvel’s latest Star Wars comic, with Charles Soule penning his latest charm offensive. He’s joined by Alex Maleev, whose photo-reference-y style should be at least an interesting approach to the Star Wars license. As this is set on Bespin as well, we’re going to get plenty of chance to admire Paul Mounts’ work as colorist — this is going to look lush and lovely. The character has always seemed like one with a huge amount of potential, even as his in-movie storyline was cut somewhat short and didn’t completely round him out. He’s cocky but considered, and one of the few characters to not openly shout his objectives all the time. He holds things back, which is quite refreshing when you’ve got Luke, Leia and Han banging around the Universe, bellowing their intent everywhere they go. And hey — Lobot is in this! Yay for Lobot! [Steve Morris]


    Writers/Artists: Various
    Publisher: United Plankton Pictures

    SpongeBob Comics is always one of your best bets when it comes to gag comics by some of the world’s greatest — and most unexpected — cartoonists, but this issue is worth special attention for its particularly stand-out contributors. First, there’s a full-length, 24-page adventure by Bob Flynn, a cartoonist and animation professional (he worked on character designs for The Bravest Warriors). Second, Charise Harper of Fashion Kitty (and several dozen other things) fame contributes a short story. And that’s in addition to offerings from regular contributors like James Kochalka and Maris Wicks. [Caleb Mozzocco]


    Writer: Jeremy Whitley
    Artist: Rosy Higgins
    Publisher: Action Lab

    Y'all are already reading Princeless, right? Ever since it launched a few years ago, it's been one of the most reliable all-ages adventure books on the stands, and the story of a princess who rebels against the weirdly accepted practice of kings locking their daughters in towers just keeps getting better. The most recent volume introduced Raven, the daughter of the Pirate King, who sets off to dethrone her father and claim his fleet for himself, and that story had just about everything you could want, from action to romance. It was obvious from the start that Raven was a character with too much going on to stay in a supporting role for long. Now, she's got her own series, and if every issue of Princeless for the past four years have taught us anything, it's that this is going to be pretty great. [CS]

  • CATWOMAN #42

    Writer: Genevieve Valentine
    Artist: David Messina
    Publisher: DC Comics

    It’s part of the duty at ComicsAlliance to inform you when Stephanie Brown is going to show up, so it’s my continuing honor to let you know she’s appearing in this week’s issue of Catwoman. Under the hand of Genevieve Valentine, Catwoman has completely transformed over the last few months into a taut, involving and surprisingly tense crime thriller. Selina Kyle’s turn towards joining Gotham’s crime elite has led to a monthly power play that has seen a series of terrific noir artists (this time round David Messina) add to the heightening tower of intrigue that could crumble beneath the character at any moment. Stephanie Brown has a little history with Selina Kyle following Batman Eternal, so this strikes me as a very good time for people to jump on and get a look at Catwoman’s empire from an outsider’s perspective. [SM]


    Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
    Artist: Owen Gieni
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    Ryan K. Lindsay has made some deliberate, interesting choices as a writer since moving into comics, and his latest feels like a somewhat personal, but universal take on depression and survival. It’s about Guy, who is depressed and contemplating suicide, when he uncovers a conspiracy that plays on his depression to create corporate synergy and $$$. There’s direct allegory at work in the story, which I don’t want to dive too deeply into here. Instead, I’ll say that Gieni’s art was new to me, and he proves a staggeringly compelling storyteller. The characters have a hint of exaggeration but feel real, as if we’re seeing not how they look on the outside, but how they feel on the inside. It’s a really careful story, and one that plays off the considerable strengths of the creative team. [SM]


    Writer/Artist: Rob Liefeld
    Publisher: Image Comics

    I realize that I am the anomaly for being the guy who likes the Rob a lot more at 32 than I ever did at 14, but listen: That guy has two comics coming out this week. One of them is literally an adaptation of the Bible that's been in the works for a decade, and has Goliath and David as a giant robot tank and a kid on a hoverboard. The other is described in the official solicitation as being the story of "A new recruit to the Bloodstrike program, (his identity as a mystery man from the historical Extreme Universe soon to be revealed!) struggles on a covert mission and loses his life as well as his junk to the mysterious TRAGEDY ANN!" Tragedy Ann, y'all. How can you not be at least a little excited about how bananas this is going to be? [CS]


    Writer/Artist: James Stokoe
    Publisher: IDW Publishing

    IDW has done right by the Godzilla license, maybe righter by it than any of their other many licensed comics, based on the hits-to-misses ratio in the franchise. The best of the best remains James Stokoe’s Godzilla: The Half-Century War, which is now being re-released as an oversized hardcover with some new material. (And where Godzilla is concerned, bigger is always better.) For this relatively rare auteur-style licensed comic, Stokoe handles almost every aspect of this book’s creation, as he tells a big Godzilla story that begins in 1954 with his first appearance. It follows a Self-Defense Force lieutenant’s 50-year battle against the King of Monsters and the whole menagerie of deadly kaiju that followed in his destructive wake, as the aging soldier reluctantly comes to terms with the relationship between human being and monster. [CM]


    Writer: Christopher Sebela
    Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
    Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

    The latest Monkeybrain series to come to print is the long-awaited collection of the Eisner-nominated High Crimes, by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa. This is an escape story set in the most inescapable location imaginable: the summit of Mount Everest. Moustafa immediately proves the perfect artist for the location, as his take on the world looks exhausting, thin, and somehow beautiful at the same time. His characters look drawn and tired, but there’s still life behind their eyes. The story follows Zan, a high-altitude grave robber as she attempts to keep that life going. She makes a living searching for bodies on mountains like Everest, where many die as they climb, and stealing from the corpses. High Crimes is what happens when she steals the wrong thing, and is chased by a government hit-squad determined to make sure she never makes it back down. It’s gripping. [SM]


    Writers: Various
    Artists: Alex Toth and others
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    In a career that produced some of the finest comics art ever, Alex Toth's tenure with Archie Goodwin's Warren Publishing is considered by many — including me — to be the artist at the peak of his creative powers. Most of Toth's Warren comics were made in the 70s, years after he had already mastered his minimalist approach, and in Creepy and Eerie he stretched out, seemingly with a different strategy for every story. He used new brush techniques — perhaps even a couple picked up in animation — that added heft to his lines without impacting their decisiveness. Where he previously relied on ample negative spaces and chiaroscuro, in many Warren comics he used more gradations in his shading, giving his work a lugubriousness befitting the bleakness of the stories. Although Creepy Presents Alex Toth sadly doesn't collect all of his Warren comics (Will we ever see a complete Blazing Combat? Please?), and it stands at a lean 168 pages, this is the biggest compendium yet of the best years of Alex Toth's comics career. Bravo to Dark Horse for putting it together. [John Parker]


    Writer/Artist: Eddie Campbell
    Publisher: IDW/Top Shelf

    Eddie Campbell has said that Bacchus was his attempt to create an "American-style comic book," a concept that implies something much different than the intellectual, whimsical, and hilarious ode to revelry that the semi-autobiographical Alec was, especially in its early years. Somehow, Campbell's take on American comics ended up as... an intellectual, whimsical, and hilarious ode to revelry starring the Roman god of drunkenness as a leather-faced Hemingway castoff, Theseus as a crime lord, and the ultra-powerful Eyeball Kid, who... has a bunch of eyeballs. Weird and brilliant and under-appreciated, Bacchus is simultaneously parodying and sincere, mythological and mundane, and always unexpected. [JP]


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