Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for June 1 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: Scott Snyder & Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
Tom King, Mikel Janin and David Finch have some big boots to fill following in the footsteps of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's epic fifty issue run on Batman, but there’s perhaps no better team to take on the challenge. Along with Tim Seeley, King and Janin’s work on Grayson blew everyone away and reminded us all how fun, breeze and sexy Dick Grayson can be. While I expect their approach to Batman to be a bit different, they’ve shown a fundamental ability to dig to the core of a character and bring out their best.
Snyder joins King and Janin on this first issue to hand off the baton as it were, with a story that sees Batman going after the one and only Calendar Man, which is always a fun time. This is the issue that hopefully sets up Batman for the next several years, and it all starts here, so it’s a good idea to get in on the ground floor! [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
I like that Paper Girls is a throwback to kids' movies of the 1980s, recalling everything from The Goonies and Monster Squad to Stand By Me, and I really dig that Chiang and Vaughan have created a perfect metaphor to explore the same theme that many of those films were only hinting at: growing up is frightening. But what I absolutely love about this book is the way it so honestly portrays average Midwestern kids of the '80s. You know, like complete little *****?
It would be easy to make a series set in that era that's just full of Boy George references and dumb catchphrases we were supposed to have said, like "gag me with a spoon," but the kids in Paper Girls speak and act like they've been torn from my memory. They cuss like they just learned four-letter words and how grownup they make you; they can be cruel and dangerous; they use homophobic epithets without a second thought and say "ew" when they find out someone is gay because, well, that's kind of the way it was. A true period piece that doesn't whitewash anything, Paper Girls might be a little disarming to some, but as anyone who did time in wood-paneled houses and roamed the neighborhoods for hours without supervision can tell you, it's pretty real. [John Parker]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Publisher: Image Comics
I’ve written a fair bit about Nailbiter in my short time at ComicsAlliance, and that’s because it’s honestly one of my favorite independent comics being published today, and everyone should be reading it. It’s not as straight-up horror as you might expect from the premise of a town that has produced seventeen serial killers over the course of a century, but instead it skews more towards the likes of Lost, with a solid ensemble cast and overarching mystery.
That’s not to say there isn’t horror in Nailbiter, and some of the scenes are gleefully gory and beautifully rendered by Mike Henderson. This is the second issue of the newest arc, so there’s still time to get caught up on one of the consistently best comics coming out month-to-month. If you trust me on one thing, trust me on that. [KS]
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Doug Mahnke & Jaime Mendoza
Publisher: DC Comics
It was easy to forget in the hubbub of *gestures to Entire Last Week in Comics*, but the New 52 Superman died last week, in Superman #52. Part of why this may have gone unnoticed is because there were two Supermans running around — the one that just died and the one that predated Flashpoint, and has been running around in secret, and is married to his universe's Lois and has a kid. Also, the New 52 Lois is still around. And neither Superman may be who we think they are.
All right, so it's a little fuzzy what the Superman family's new status quo is going to be, and I'm hoping they don't string us out too long waiting for the answers. But if they start anywhere, they start here. I'll miss the New 52 Superman, but this isn't my first time at the Reboot Rodeo, and there's a lot of potential in the new-old guy. [Charlotte Finn]
Writers: Matt Fraction and Michael Chabon
Artists: Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba
Publisher: Image Comics
Because Casanova is never the same comic book, it never grows stale. Through each volume of the series there have been different universes, an ever-growing list of Pynchon and spy-genre references to get hip to, and even different Casanova Quinns, Kaitos, and Ruby Seychelles to love, hate, pity, and admire, and catching up with each new version of the status quo is never boring.
Although the book occasionally suffers from its own attributes — it's stylish and self-aware, but sometimes too stylish and too self-aware — it's also constantly surprising, ridiculously inventive, funny, thrilling, truly emotional, and, no matter if the artist is Fabio Moon or Gabriel Ba, always downright gorgeous. Halfway through the planned seven volumes, a decade after its debut, it still feels brand-spanking-new, like it just touched down and started blowing minds last Wednesday. Casanova may be ten years old now, but this postmodern multidimensional super-spy epic shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. [JP]
Writer: Faith Erin Hicks
Artist: Yishan Li
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
What did we do to deserve this? Dark Horse, displaying wisdom mightier than the sagest of sages, has commissioned a Buffy graphic novel from the dream-team of Faith Erin Hicks and Yishan Li — and it's out today! Like, this is a thing that honestly, genuinely exists, and it's on the shelf right now. We live in a golden age.
The graphic novel is set during Season 1 of Buffy, back when she was a teenager moving to a new school for the first time. She's met the rest of her friends, but she's not the confident, contained Vampire-Slayin' Machine she later becomes, making this a story set at perhaps the most interesting time of the character's life. Li's art is a perfect compliment to the timeframe, capturing the youth and growth of the characters and making them look like young, thin teenagers, who are living under constant threat. I love Buffy, because who doesn't love Buffy? And this graphic novel seems like basically the perfect antidote to what's been a scrappy, crappy year for comics so far. [Steve Morris]
Writers: John Ostrander and Len Wein
Artists: John Byrne and Karl Kesel
Publisher: DC Comics
DC’s gone back to the bone-dry well that is Crisis On Infinite Earths so many times that it’s easy to overlook the other Big Events that came in the early days of the newly rebuilt universe. Well, it’s easy until there’s a movie coming out about the Suicide Squad and they realize that they’ve never actually reprinted the series where the modern version of that team makes its first appearance, that is. When that happens, it’s time to finally get Legends out there for the first time in decades.
And it’s worth picking up, too. It doesn’t just lead into the formation of the new Justice League and the Suicide Squad, it’s also one of the cleverest takes on Darkseid. When the forces of Apokolips invade Earth, they don’t start with Boom Tubes and armies of parademons, they sow the seeds with Glorious Godfrey — under the great, incredibly unsubtle Reagan-Era name G. Gordon Godfrey — turning the public against superheroes as a TV news pundit. It’s a story that, in a lot of ways, still holds up and seems relevant after three decades, and makes for a fun superhero yarn besides. Here’s hoping the new version saves it from being the unloved stepchild of DC’s otherwise pretty fantastic late ‘80s run. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Brandon Easton
Artist: Dennis Medri
Publisher: Lion Forge Comics
Wrestler Andre the Giant has been a focus for the comics industry for quite some time now, having also been the recent subject of a biography by Box Brown. This one, however, is touted as being the authorized biography, with Andre's daughter involved as a consultant on the book — which is currently in the process of being adapted into a film.
While it remains to be seen whether the 'authorized' tag also means "sanitized", I'm keen to read this one, republished this week by Lion Forge. Brandon Easton is an interesting writer with a definitive sense of voice in his works, and he's been working in and around comics for years and years now — I get the feeling he's not going to leave material out just to make people happy. If anything, it'll be really interesting to stack the two comic biographies against one another, and see how they present the man. He was a unique figure, literally and as a personality, and certainly there are enough tales about him to fill a whole rack of biographies. I'm eager to pick this one up and see what it makes of him. [SM]
Writers: Joe Simon and Various
Artists: Jerry Grandenetti and Various
Publisher: DC Comics
Okay, so here’s the weird thing about Prez: The original run (which in turn inspired the truly amazing, incredibly underrated, late, lamented six-issue series from last year) is only four issues long. That alone should be intriguing, because if nothing else, it means that this was a book that was too weird for the Bronze Age, a time when Elliot S. Maggin and Cary Bates ruled over DC with stories of the Flash traveling a thousand years in the future to help a clone of Abraham Lincoln win a wrestling match against a jetpack-flying clone of John Wilkes Booth. These stories alone are going to be worth the price of admission.
But much like they did with the Deadshot paperback from last year, DC’s not stopping there. Instead, it's rounding up every appearance from Prez Rickard, which means that you’re getting the original series from 1973, and then taking a hard left turn into deep-cut-reference territory with his appearances in Canceled Comics Cavalcade, Sandman, Multiversity and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. You know, just in case you were wondering why Frank Miller is the first credited artist in the solicitation.
It is, by any definition you want to offer, a bizarre collection, but that kind of works. Prez is one of the weirdest books ever, and getting it in this format doesn’t just heighten that, but serves as a great little picture of DC’s excesses in a single book. Pick it up! [CS]