Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for March 22 2017
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.
JUDGE DREDD: DEVIATIONS #1
Writer: John McCrea
Artist: John McCrea
On the off chance that you need more than “it’s about Judge Dredd being a werewolf,” there are a lot of other reasons to pick this comic up. First, IDW’s line of Deviations — you know, stories that ask What If things were different and took place in some kind of something else-world — have been incredibly fun so far, and there’s no reason to imagine that this one would break the pattern. Second, it comes from John McCrea, one of the best artists out there, and one who’s no stranger to the world of Dredd.
Third — and this one’s a bummer — the story isn’t just a fun take on lycanthropy in Mega City One. It’s also being done as a tribute to the artist of the original “Cry of the Werewolf” story, Steve Dillon, who sadly died at the age of 54 last year. It’s worth noting that IDW is also reprinting the original story this week, too, so why not read them both together and get the full story, and celebrate one of comics' greatest talents in what might be the strangest way possible? [Chris Sims]
THE MAGDALENA #1
Writers: Tini Howard & Ryan Cady
Artist: Christian DiBari
Publisher: Top Cow
I was lucky enough to read The Magdalena #1 last month for an interview with the creative team, so you can trust me when I tell you that this is a debut to pay attention to. I had little-to-no knowledge of the character, concept or its ties to other Top Cow properties, but this first issue does an excellent job of anticipating that and welcoming in new readers to an exciting new chapter in the saga of The Magdalena.
I don’t know where the series is going, but from the first issue it gave me almost an Immortal Iron Fist feel, as the current wielder of the power is losing their control over it and has to seek out the younger and more brash person chosen to be the inheritor of this legacy. The first issue looks great, and it’s an interesting premise played extremely well for the 21st century. The Magdalena #1 is well worth a look if it wasn’t already on your radar. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer/Artist: Ray Fawkes
Ray Fawkes has become known as a writer of dark takes on superhero properties, but his real creative bona fides come as a writer/artist on experimental and sometimes ponderous comics whose ad copy give you almost no insight into what they're actually about. Like the way Underwinter has been nebulously described as a metaphysical horror story, or a comic book about how the world, as Fawkes said, “can be achingly beautiful and disgustingly horrifying all at once.”
While that doesn’t make for a great elevator pitch, Fawkes’s prior independent, metaphysical experiments, One Soul and Intersect, are challenging and rewarding enough to justify the leap of faith on Underwinter. As an artist Fawkes's talents for design, expressionism, and vivid watercolors have evolved consistently throughout his work, as has his ability as a writer to take weird, introspective ideas and hew them into something better than thought experiments: interesting reading. [John Parker]
TRANSFORMERS VS GI JOE: THE MOVIE ADAPTATION #1
Writer/artist: Tom Scioli
Tom Scioli's Transformers vs. GI Joe series for IDW was one of the wildest, weirdest, most ambitious and most inventive comics of the past few years, and the fact that it was filled with formal innovations, experimental storytelling and all-around high quality work on every level only contributed to it's peculiarity. It was, after all, a comic book series based on two 1980s-borne cartoon/toy/comics franchises.
While reading those issues, there was always a part of my brain, far in the back of my head, that was aware of how unfortunate it is that Hollywood has been pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into Transformers and GI Joe movies in recent years, and earning hundreds of millions of dollars in profit, despite those films being... well, the most charitable evaluation of any of them would be that they have their moments; the least that they were soul-crushingly, poorly-made. More than once I wished the next one would just be a straight panel-to-frame adaptation of Scioli's epic (as much as is possible, of course, as Scioli's comic was created in such a way that it could only be a comic).
IDW and Scioli sort of grant my wish this week, with this oversized special, which is the comic book adaptation of a theoretical movie based on Scioli's comic. Got all that? This is an adaptation of a movie adaptation of a comic adaptation, save for the fact that the movie adaptation is imaginary. It promises to be the most awesome comic book on the stands since Transformers vs. GI Joe's last issue shipped. [Caleb Mozzocco]
TEEN TITANS #6
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Khoi Pham
Publisher: DC Comics
This is an issue that a lot of fans have been waiting for since DC Universe Rebirth #1, because we’re finally getting a proper introduction to Jackson Hyde, the all-new Aqualad whom you may recognize from the soon-to-be returning Young Justice animated series. Jackson was introduced as a big-deal post-Blackest Night but didn’t have much time to find a footing in the DC Universe before reality got reset, to it’s great to see him show back up in DC Rebirth.
However, his introduction in last year’s one-shot was ham-fisted to say the least, and his mother’ extremely homophobic comments towards him had a lot of people very worried about his eventual debut. In the pages of both Green Arrow and Teen Titans, Benjamin Percy has shown that these are issues important to him and it seems like he’ll give treat Jackson’s sexuality with a touch more care and nuance which is great, because Jackson has potential to be a real breakout character for 2017. [KS]
THE TORTURE REPORT: A GRAPHIC ADAPTATION
Writer: Sid Jacobson
Artist: Ernie Colón
Publisher: Arcade Publishing
It's long been theorized, and many studies suggest, that comics are a better medium for communicating a subject than prose can be. Comics in the classroom is now a very common thing, and this effort should be joining them — a comics adaptation of a report on one of the most shameful chapters in American history. In addition to the report itself, it features text pieces from other experts on the subject, Jane Meyer and Scott Horton. I don't necessarily want to read it, but I feel an obligation to — to grapple with what happened in the name of American citizens, and with an injustice that still hasn't been fully set right. Maybe not the best comic ever (this week) — but a strong contender for most important. [Charlotte Finn]
FLINTSTONES, VOL 1 TP
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
To say that the Flintstones comic was last year’s biggest surprise is putting it pretty mildly. We’ve had this thing for almost a full year now, and I’m still consistently surprised that it’s happening at all, let alone that it’s managed to find its way into a paperback that some poor unsuspecting parent is going to pick up at a Barnes & Noble, unwittingly handing a child a book largely built around Fred Flintstone talking about participating in a genocide, and then wondering aloud of his marriage is really based on love, or just on the fear of dying alone, if those things are even different.
In the past, I’ve called it satire with a shotgun, and I think the biggest problem in what Russell and Pugh are doing here is that their cutting, occasionally brutal satire of modern life doesn’t always land, but it is always interesting. I never would’ve expected DC’s downright incomprehensible Hanna-Barbera reboot to continue the sharp, insightful, and often cutting format of the sadly canceled Prez, but here we are, with a book that’s absolutely worth reading. [CS]
Writer/Artist: Manuele Fior
Reading English translations of European comics is a bit like time-travel. If you keep up with international and art comics news, you might see untranslated pages, interviews, or award wins that get your mouth watering years before you’re actually able to read the book in your boorish native tongue. The last Manuele Fior book translated by Fantagraphics, last year’s 5,000 km Per Second, gave me that impression, and in a Proustian flood of memory I recalled that I read about its Grand Prize win at Angouleme in 2010, obsessively looked up as much information as I could, lamented my inability to read it, then went back to some superhero comics and completely forgot about it for six years.
With The Interview, originally published in 2013, Fantagraphics closes the gap a couple of years. A stunning-looking science fiction story about a psychologist, a strange woman, and mysterious triangle in the sky, The Interview looks like the visual opposite of 5,000 km Per Second; we’ve gone from sensual brushlines, lush colors, and natural environments to black-and-white duotone pages dominated by the precise angles of urban 2048. The second of Fior’s five books to reach America, hopefully The Interview will build interest and we won’t have to wait too long for the next, because he is clearly a monster talent, and I’m far too old, dumb, and lazy to learn any new languages. [JP]
TAKE THAT, ADOLF!: THE FIGHTING COMICS OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR
Writer: Mark Fertig
For all the great villains that crossed paths with comic book superheroes over the decades, perhaps the greatest villain didn't spring forth from the fevered imaginations of Golden Age comics artists, but from the real world, where he remains the great archvillain of 20th century history and pop culture: Adolf Hitler. He quite famously took a sock in the jaw from Joe Simon and Jack Kirby's Captain America on the cover of Captain America Comics #1, but Cap was the far from the only hero to feed the fuhrer a knuckle sandwich.
This over-sized collection features 500 covers published between 1941 and 1945 by a who's who of comics greats, including Lou Fine, Will Eisner, Bill Everett, C.C. Beck, Charles Biro, Mac Raboy, H.G. Peter, Jery Robinson and others, as well as the aforementioned Simon and Kirby. Based on those names, you can probably guess that the heroes doing the punching and kicking will include Namor, The Human Torch, Wonder Woman and The Marvel Family, but lesser superheroes of the age and even Donald Duck and Little Orphan Annie get in on the action.
It's not just a visual celebration of Hitler being pummeled by comic book characters, as fun as that would be. Writer Mark Fertig also provides context regarding how and why Hitler took so many hits in the then-emerging new medium. [CM]