Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for June 29 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: Mark Millar
Artist: Frank Quitely
With each project he creates, I'm more and more convinced that Frank Quitely is one of our greatest living sequential artists. And for as long as it takes him to finish his work, he'd probably better be. Few would put up with his legendary turnaround times if the results weren't fantastic, but by gum, every comic Quitely puts his pseudonym on is spectacular. His work has often been described as "filmic" — a compliment for comics in the early 2000s, an insult in the current era — but I'm not even sure that it properly describes what makes his comics special. They're certainly panoramic, with panels that run the width of the page to give that "widescreen" feel, shot angles that feel more like the choice of a storyboard artist than a cartoonist, and grand negative spaces and environments that convey the scope and perspective of film.
But comics aren't movies, they're representations of moments in time, and I honestly can't think of another artist who chooses those moments so effectively as Quitely. He always seems to get that instant just to the side of what you're expecting: a nanosecond after a punch lands rather than the moment of impact, that minute slice of time right before the devastating superhero action. At his best, he puts you right there in the thick of the story, and his work on Jupiter's Legacy might be the best work of his career. One-hundred percent worth the wait. [John Parker]
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I feel like ANADA had a bit of a rocky start and I didn’t gravitate to it as much as I perhaps could have in the beginning, partly due to my undying love of Jonathan Hickman’s instantly classic run on the franchise. However, in recent issues the series has been firing on all cylinders and it’s providing really good high-stakes superhero stuff combined with the soap opera interpersonal drama that flagship team books have been missing for a while.
Mahmud Asrar is someone I’d had an eye on for a while as someone ready to break out in a big way, and he’s really proving himself in this recent arc. The threats the team has faced so far have been massive, Avengers-priority threats and Asrar handles that sort of blockbuster action so well. If you’re exhausted by the constant need to re-evaluate and re-define the superhero genre, All-New, All-Different Avengers is one of the books doing classic heroics right. [Kieran Shiach]
Writers: Adam P. Knave and DJ Kirkbride
Artists: Nick Brokenshire, Rachel Deering
Publisher: Monkeybrain Comics
When Monkeybrain first launched a few years ago, it looked as though Bandette would be the flagship title for the digital-first publisher — but four years and 30 issues later, it's Amelia Cole which remains the defining book of the project. From the never-changing creative team listed above, the story of magic-using Amelia grew from a charming fish-out-of-water comedy adventure into a grand, world-spanning jaunt through existence. Amelia herself is a wonderful character, hard-working and always learning, pushing forward in the world. Happiest when making life better for other people, she's an ideal protagonist, brought to madcap life by Nick Brokenshire's glorious 30-issue artistic spree which filled each page with in-jokes, sight gags, and pratfalls. It feels like the creative team adored every moment of bringing a book like this to life, and I'm going to be genuinely shattered by the ending, whatever it may bring. It could all go wrong, or everything could tie up wonderfully — fingers crossed Amelia gets everything she wants. Amelia Cole is going to become one of those comics which becomes a mainstay of "here's a comic to get you to love comics" lists in years to come, and I hope people see it and give it a go. It's fantastic. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Publisher: IDW Publishing
We’re hear at the end of the “Dark Jem” saga, in which the Holograms must team up with the Misfits to literally save the world from a sentient computer virus named Silica who turns people into zombies with her dark, noisy music. I’m not making this up; this is literally what’s happening in Jem & The Holograms, and it’s amazing. This is also Sophie Campbell’s last issue, which is sad, but at least she’s going out with a bang. The Holograms and the Misfits in concert together, plus Silica’s evil band The Sickness, and rumors that the Stingers might show up as well. This sounds like everything I want out of a comic. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Mico Suayan
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
There are certain things in the world of comics that I’m a complete sucker for. Teenage superheroes, Dracula, teenage superheroes fighting Dracula — y’all know all this stuff, I’ve been pretty up front about it before. But one of the things I love the most is when you drop a character into a Predator situation, where they’re in a jungle being hunted down by something way more powerful than they are.
That’s where Bloodshot’s at when Lemire and Suayan kick off the new “Bloodshot Island” storyline, but there’s an extra twist: Rather than just being solo, Bloodshot has a Poncho, Mac, Dylan, Billy, Blain, and Hawkins to his Dutch in the form of other Bloodshots — previous products of Project Rising Spirit that can recover from any injury, and therefore make the perfect infinitely replenishing targets for a terrifying super-soldier that’s hunting them. It’s a premise I already love with something extra added in as a twist. Now all it needs is that Dylan/Dutch handshake and it’ll be the best comic of the year. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Artist: Kate Niemczyk
Here’s what’s interesting about Mockingbird: First of all, it’s a really great book. Secondly, the first issue ended with a cliffhanger, and the second and third issues basically ignored that cliffhanger in favor of telling standalone stories that take place in the past. Third, as a reader I find myself entire okay with this, because all three issues have been great, and I’m all the more interested to see how it all ties together. Because here’s the key: the first issue showed Bobbi making a series of visits to the SHIELD medical office. By paying attention to what she’s wearing, we can tell that the adventures in issues two and three take place directly before two of those visits. And at her last appointment in issue one, the time when things got crazy, she was wearing a wetsuit. Now, this issue promises an undersea adventure. That means things are coming full circle, and I can’t wait to see what’s revealed when we get back to that nefarious SHIELD clinic. And along the way, we get a team-up with Clint Barton, which I’m in favor of too. [EC]
Writer: Van Jensen
Artist: Pete Woods
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Van Jensen is one of those writers who thrives on the unusual — and considering that we’re judging “the unusual” by the standards of comic books, that’s saying something. He is, after all, the writer of Pinocchio: Vampire Slayer, in which everyone’s favorite alive puppet keeps telling lies to turn his nose into an endless supply of undead-impaling stakes, and The Leg, a story of Magical Realism where Santa Anna’s severed leg journeys across Mexico to befriend a little girl. With those two on his track record, I think it’s safe to say that Jensen falls squarely in the category of “the weirder, the better.”
Now, he’s teaming up with artist Pete Woods — y’all might remember him from a little book called Superman — for a story that promises to be every bit as weird as anything else he’s done. It’s focused on a world of conspiracies, where the world is ruled over by a shadowy manipulative organization called the Nine Families — who, I presume, just love to hide symbols of their dominance over the rest of us in plain sight on objects we all see every day. It promises to be weird, and with Jensen and Woods at the helm, it’s a weirdness I can’t wait to read. [CS]
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Archie Comics
If you haven’t yet sampled the new Jughead series, now is the time to get involved as Archie are releasing the collection of Zdarsky and Henderson’s run. Perhaps even more so that Mark Waid, et al on the main Archie comic, Jughead manages to modernize while still being undeniably an Archie Comics comic.
Everything from the jokes, to the art to the story structure is so on point in this collection, and the creative team balance fun one-off stories with a great throughline arc that you could only pull off in a Jughead book. Easily on the of the most undeniably, laugh-out-loud fun books of the past year, Jughead Vol. 1 is an absolute must buy. [KS]
Writer: Corinne Maier
Artist: Anne Simon
Over the last few years, the team of Maier and Simon have been working on a series of terrifically entertaining biographies which highlight the work and lives of various leading figures in modern history. So far they've covered Freud and Karl Marx, but this week sees them take on one of the defining minds of the century: Albert Einstein. The combination of psychoanalyst Corinne Maier's narrative and Anne Simon's visionary, singular artistry have made these biographies fascinating reading so far, choosing interesting subjects but then extending into their lives in unexpected and compelling ways. Their humor adds to the narrative and propels you deeper into the lives of the people being featured in each book, without ever taking you out of the story. It's a very difficult balance for the pair to walk, and yet Einstein represents another accessible, engrossing work of comics biography. At times you feel you're stepping in Einstein's footprints. The Maier/Simon collaboration has been such a productive one, but one which perhaps hasn't been recognized by as many people as they deserve - this week offers you the chance to see just how engaging they can be. [SM]