Best Comic Books Ever (This Week) – New Releases For March 25, 2015
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.
ABIGAIL AND THE SNOWMAN #4
Artist/Writer: Roger Langridge
Colorist: Fred Stresing
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Roger Langridge is the best cartoonist in the world right now, in my view, and his creator-owned concept Abigail and the Snowman over at KaBOOM has reinforced that all over again. It's the story of a girl and a yeti who strike up a deep friendship, and Langridge invests a deep sense of heart into his characters, and his unique ability to lightly etch deep reservoirs of humor into each and every moment of their lives creates a staggeringly enjoyable universe.
Anything might happen, but whatever does will be glorious good fun throughout. Finishing with an oversized last issue, this has been a deft masterclass in storytelling from the best in the business.
Publisher's Description: Abigail and Claude’s adventure comes to an end in this oversized finale! The world’s most lovable Yeti is one boat ride away from making it back home to the Himalayas, but before they can say their goodbyes, Abigail and Claude will have to find a way to outsmart everything the Shadow Men throw their way.
ALL-NEW GHOST RIDER #12
Writer: Felipe Smith
Artists: Felipe Smith and Kris Anka
Colorist: Val Staples
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s sad to see the finale of All-New Ghost Rider over at Marvel, but writer Felipe Smith has managed to secure a brilliant artist to help see off the character for now – in the shape of Felipe Smith. Yes! With Smith both writing and drawing this final issue, the conclusion to Marvel’s best current series is going to be a right ol’ treat.
Robbie Reyes has shown himself a tremendously entertaining and charismatic new addition to the Marvel Universe, and Smith’s run with the character has rightfully brought his style to a whole new audience. This’d better lead to us seeing more work from Smith in the future, because he’s one of the best writers Marvel have had in years.
Publisher's Description: FATAL FINISH LINE!
• What is the shocking fate of ROBBIE’S brother, GABE?
• Will Robbie finally be pushed over the edge by the evil of ELI MORROW?
• And…THE MOST UNEXPECTED GHOST RIDER EVER!!!!
THE EMPTY #2
Writer/Artist: Jimmie Robinson
Publisher: Image Comics
Let’s be perfectly clear: the comics industry doesn’t appreciate just how wonderful Jimmie Robinson is. Coming fresh off one of the best all-ages titles I’ve ever read in Five Weapons, his next project is a decidedly more expansive one. Set in a desert-like wasteland where poison seeps into the ground and makes it impossible to eat or drink, nomadic survivors scatter across the world and try to live. Robinson mastered comics years ago, and The Empty showcases him as he writes, pencils, letters and colors one of the most engaging and bright dystopian wildernesses I’ve seen.
Publisher's Description: “JOURNEY,” Part Two
Just as their journey begins, Lila finds herself kidnapped by the Mool, creatures of the Empty. Tanoor and Fenx set out to rescue her, but first they must track the Mools to their hidden lair. Meanwhile, Lila’s fiancé investigates Lila’s disappearance, but finds more questions than answers.
HIT: 1957 #1
Writer: Bryce Carlson
Artist: Vanesa R. Del Rey
Publisher: Boom Studios
Rightfully turning her into an overnight star, the first Hit miniseries from Boom Studios was the perfect fit for artist Vanesa R. Del Rey. Winning her acclaim, awards, and a huge audience, her heavily stylized artwork proved the perfect fit for Bryce Carlson’s switched-round take on noir. Returning to the book after a victory lap around several other publishers, the creative team have delivered a noir comic that actually stands aside from all the other generic crime comics out there right now. It’s going to be great.
Publisher's Description: Crime is down in Los Angeles—at least, on the surface. Mickey Cohen has been quiet since his release from prison and the LAPD has seemingly regained control of the city. But the underground is a different story. Det. Harvey Slater and company have spent the last two years focused on Domino and his Syndicate’s unrelenting infiltration, but no matter how many people the hit squad kills, the real fight for Los Angeles rages on. Meanwhile, Slater’s being hounded by Internal Affairs, Bonnie Brae is missing, and everything is falling apart at the seams.
JUDGE DREDD CLASSICS: THE DARK JUDGES #3
Writers: Alan Grant and John Wagner
Artist: Brett Ewins
Colorist: Charlie Kirchoff
IDW have been collecting together bits and pieces of Judge Dredd over the last few months, and this week sees them continuing their monthly trips through the Dark Judges’ greatest hits. There’s a reason why grown adults still have nightmares about these four arch-enemies of the scowl-faced helmeted one, and this issue promises to likewise help you into a terrified slumber. Collecting "Four Dark Judges” from Alan Grant and John Wagner, this issue also has an added resonance as it features artwork from the late, great Brett Ewins, who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Publisher's Description: His name is Judge Death and in his eyes all life is crime! Together with his brothers Fear, Fire, and Mortis, the super-fiend from Deadworld is determined to end all life in Mega-City One once and for all! This compilation features classic Judge Death tales from the pages of 2000 AD.
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #1
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: M. Victoria Robado
I don’t know what a Jem is or why she has Holograms, this being a piece of pop culture which flew right over my poor British head. But! Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell are a very strong creative team indeed and the concept seems to be, “Dazzler; but there’s four of them,” which is one of the best concepts I’ve ever known.
This has been advertised as being a bright blitz of pure pop comics fun, and everything I’ve seen of it makes me interested in giving the whole thing a go.
Publisher's Description: SHOWTIME, SYNERGY! Meet JERRICA BENTON—a girl with a secret. She and her sister KIMBER team with two friends to become... JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS! But what does it mean to be JEM today? Fashion, art, action, and style collide in the most outrageous comic of 2015!
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Edwin Huang
Colorist: Misty Coats
Publisher: Image Comics
The Image series returns for the final arc this week, with Jim Zub, Edwin Huang and Misty Coats all back to kick things into top gear. Skullkickers has been one of the great dark horse stories (but not Dark Horse stories) of the last few years, and it’s fantastic to see that it’s been able to go so long and maintain the fun, somewhat campy qualities that have marked it out from the very first issue.
Publisher's Description: This is it, the beginning of the end. Beer, blood, and battle. Get on board now so you can say you were there when it all blew up.
TRANSFORMERS WINDBLADE: COMBINER WARS PART ONE
Writer: Mairghread Scott
Artist: Sarah Stone
It’s a good week for IDW, innit? A big new event thingy for the Transformers means the return of Windblade, and the creative team Mairghread Scott and Sarah Stone. After stealing the spotlight last year, the character has been built up to be a vital part of the IDW Transformers Universe, which itself has proven to be the densest, smartest, and most political of shared universes within comics.
Stone’s art alone, painted and with a great sense of movement, is reason enough to take a punt and give the Transformers a go. That this’ll make you want to go buy a whole load of toys afterwards is just a bonus really.
• The creative team from the first smash-hit WINDBLADE series returns!
• WINDBLADE is the biggest new TRANSFORMERS character in years—don't miss out!
• All the drama and pathos of the original WINDBLADE series—plus more COMBINERS!
THE VALIANT #4
Writers: Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt
Artist: Paolo Rivera
The “prestige” series from Valiant concludes, as Matt Kindt, Jeff Lemire and Paolo Rivera round things out for their trawl through the Valiant Universe. Following a group of familiar and new characters like Ninjak, The Eternal Warrior and Bloodshot as they go questing one another and trying to save the world from all kinds of mystical troubles, this has been a pretty entertaining read so far. The creative team seem to have found a consistent voice for the book, and it all serves as a decent jump-in point for readers new to the publisher.
Apparently it's got a shock ending, too, which is always a treat.
Publisher's Description: The Immortal Enemy has all but won and only Bloodshot and Geomancer are left to stand against his darkness. Are they willing to save humanity if it means losing their own – and each other?
NEW COLLECTED EDITIONS AND 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.
SHE-HULK VOL 2: DISORDERLY CONDUCT
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Javier Pulido
Charles Soule and Javier Pulido did a great job with She-Hulk, and this trade paperback ends their take on the character for the time being… or does it? Action of both the punchy and lawyery variety figure heavily into the final few issues of the series, as She-Hulk’s start-up law firm comes under every kind of threat imaginable. It’s bouncy but well-considered fun, with smart twists taken straight from Soule’s day job as a giant green monster lawyer.
Publisher's Description: She-Hulk, Hellcat and Giant-Man team up to save one of Jen's officemates - but what secret agenda does Hank Pym have? Meanwhile, She-Hulk takes on Captain America as her newest client! Someone from Cap's past has returned to haunt them all, and She-Hulk might be his only hope - because the opposing attorney is Matt Murdock! She-Hulk and Daredevil battle it out in court and on the streets in this trial of the century - but is Captain America actually guilty after all? And at long last, it's all come down to this: the Blue File revealed! As Hellcat investigates the mysterious, mind-altering file, She-Hulk takes on Titania - and Angie Huang just might meet her fate! Secrets are revealed and the Blue File is opened wide as Charles Soule and Javier Pulido's acclaimed run comes to a close! Collecting SHE-HULK (2014) #7-12.
CATCH UP ON THE CLASSICS
Many of the best comic books ever have been released for quite some time. Every week we select one or two perennials that readers new and old should add to their collections.
B.P.R.D. PLAGUE OF FROGS #1
Writers: Mike Mignola, Various
Artists: Guy Davis, Various
Hellboy is a fascinating, occasionally intense fantasy series, but B.P.R.D. is where Mike Mignola’s universe grows into the all-conquering terror it is today. Following a team of resolutely not-safe paranormal agents as they try to keep the world from incoming, long-prophesied mystical horrors, this is where you should go if you want to feel genuinely scared for the safety of immediately-likable heroes. Especially Roger the Homunculus, who’s just a sweetheart.
This is the first book of the first series arc, “Plague of Frogs," and it immediately proves a tour de force from artist Guy Davis, and the start of one of the strongest pieces of work in American comics today.
Publisher Description: In 2001, Hellboy quit the B.P.R.D., leaving Abe Sapien to lead Liz Sherman and a bizarre roster of special agents, defending the world from occult threats, including the growing menace of the frog army, first spotted in Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Mike Mignola and Dark Horse present the complete Plague of Frogs saga, from Hollow Earth to The King of Fear. The first book re-establishes the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense after Hellboy's departure, cracks open the secrets of Abe Sapien's origin, and sets the War on Frogs in motion.Hellboy creator Mike Mignola teams with co-writers Christopher Golden (Baltimore), Geoff Johns (Blackest Night), Tom Sniegoski (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), and others for occult adventure rendered by Ryan Sook (X-Factor), Cameron Stewart (Seaguy), Scott Kolins (The Flash), and, making his Hellboy-universe debut, longtime award-winning B.P.R.D. artist Guy Davis!
PIXIE STRIKES BACK
Writer: Kathryn Immonen
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colorist: Christina Strain
Some might say I’m stretching the concept of “classic”, here, but those people just haven’t read Pixie Strikes Back yet. Taking the brightest and best of the young X-Men and sending them into a demonic prom disco club, the series showed off Sara Pichelli’s artwork at its most fun and frothy, at a time when she was still mixing influences from her native France with American superheroes.
Kathryn Immonen, as well, proves to have a terrifically unique grasp on storytelling, and packs each issue with a staggering amount of charm and a whole bunch of one-liners. It’s a manic run through life as a typical teenage girl who lives on an island filled with a group of nihilistic mutants who keep having to fight literal demons from hell.
Publisher's Description: Pixie, X-23, Armor, Mercury, and Blindfold go to high school and learn the joy of cafeteria food, communal bathrooms, and peer pressure. But something's not quite right with all of it, and it has to do with Pixie. Things get even stranger when Pixie's mother shows up on Utopia demanding to see her daughter. Here's the thing, you don't know the truth about Pixie. You don't know who her dad is and neither, frankly, does she. You don't realize that her father is one of the most dangerous X-Villains ever! And when you find out, you won't look at your favorite Welsh X-Girl in the same way ever again! Collects X-Men: Pixie Strikes Back #1-4.