Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for March 29 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.
HARLEY'S LITTLE BLACK BOOK #6
Writers: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti
Artist: Simon Bisley
Publisher: DC Comics
I'm not a big fan of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti's trying-so-hard-to-be-funny take on Harley Quinn, which probably puts me in the minority of avid DC Comics readers, based on the continued sales on their Harley Quinn title and the steady stream of spin-offs and specials it earns. That said, I have really enjoyed most of the issues of their occasionally published (and ending) Harley team-up book, Harley's Little Black Book.
Extra-long, light on continuity and with often quite smart, knowing choices of artists — like the previous issue's Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali homage recruiting Neal Adams for a story plopping Harley in the Ali role — these too can feel like they are trying too hard sometimes, but more often than not they read like larks.
This final issue pairs Harley with Lobo, the original space-biker version, recently reintroduced to the DCU in Justice League Vs. Suicide Squad and, more importantly, pairs Conner and Palmiotti with Simon Bisley, the artist of the first two Lobo miniseries of the early '90s, and some of the Main Man's most memorable one-shots and specials. [Caleb Mozzocco]
JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS #24
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Gisele Lagace
With the book coming to an end at #26, this issue technically kicks off the final story arc of Jem and the Holograms. If you're a fan, I wouldn't worry too much — Thompson is set to continue the story with Jenn St-Onge and Stacy Lee in the Jem Infinite crossover and whatever that might lead to. Still, it's a shame to see this particular book and its take on glamour, glitter, fashion, and fame come to an end.
But be that as it may, Thompson and Lagace have all the pieces in play for a fun three-part story. The Stingers have officially Hit Town and they're heading for a Hot Time In Hawaii, so the chances of Kimber almost being murdered via a volcano have truly never been higher. [Chris Sims]
DOC SAVAGE: THE RING OF FIRE #1
Writer: David Avallone
Artist: Dave Acosta
Yes, see? Exactly. This is what you should be doing with Doc Savage: teaming him up with Amelia Earhart. Not cramming him in the present day as some kind of modern special ops agent or whatever the hell he was in Doc Savage: The Spider's Web. Updates of pulp characters certainly aren't verboten, but most of the time they result in tepid, uninspired, even misguided comics that actually make me wonder "wait, why did this happen again?"
Because, seriously, why? Why try to remove a character like Doc Savage from the era of his relevance when it's filled with assassins, Nazis, spies, Nazi spies, volcanoes in the South Pacific, FDR, and world-hopping, mysteriously vanishing, real-life adventurers? It's very simple, really. Do you want to see Doc Savage meet Amelia Earhart, or Doc Savage and The Malfunctioning Fitbit? [John Parker]
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Publisher: Image Comics
It's the further adventures of Forever Carlyle in "The Land Where Everything Has Gone to Hell," and last issue, spoiler: everything went to Hell. Honestly, that's every issue of Lazarus, Rucka and Lark's unflinching portrayal of a world that's been worked over by every dystopian prediction show of Cthulhu's return, but last issue things went especially wrong. Forever finally got the full story on how she was grown and what her purpose is intended to be, is not happy about it, and appears to be getting ready to do something about it. But first she'll have to make it out the other side of the war tearing the world, and its leading Families, apart.
Even if it's rarely an easy read, Lazarus is always great, and every time it comes out it's the first comic I read. [Charlotte Finn]
X-MEN PRIME #1
Writer: Marc Guggenheim, Cullen Bunn, Greg Pak
Artist: Ken Lashley, Leonard Kirk, Ibraim Roberson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I haven’t really enjoyed the overall direction of the X-Men comics since Jason Aaron and Nick Bradshaw were on Wolverine and the X-Men, but like many X-Men fans, I continue to live in hope. I can’t guarantee this will be a good comic. I know, this feature is called Best Comics Ever (This Week), but that’s not a guarantee I can give to you right now. What I can say is that it seems worth picking up to see if Marvel is committed to the X-Men franchise as headline superhero comics as it should be, and if you’re an X-Men fan, it’ll probably save you money in the long-run rather than buying all the new #1s to see if they’re any good. [Kieran Shiach]
ADAM STRANGE/FUTURE QUEST SPECIAL #1
Writer: Marc Andreyko/Various
Artists: Steve Lieber and Phil Winslade
Adam Strange fits so well into Future Quest that it’s almost surprising he doesn’t live there all the time. For all that he’s been revamped over the years, he’s still a little more Space Age Sci-Fi than the rest of the DC Universe has been in a long time, and that’s exactly where Jonny Quest and Space Ghost and all those characters live. The cover and synopsis doesn’t make clear if any other Future Quest characters besides the Quest family appear, but I’ll be fine either way. Strange being the latest sci-fi mystery that Jonny and Hadji encounter works just as well, and ought to lead to a fun adventure. And on top of that, there’s a backup story where Top Cat meets Batman! What more could you want from a comic? [Elle Collins]
WWE WRESTLEMANIA 2017 SPECIAL #1
Writers: Box Brown, Dennis Hopeless, Ross Thibodeaux, and more
Artists: Dan Mora, Rob Guillory, Jorge Corona, Rob Schamberger, and more
Publisher: Boom Studios
I don't really care about professional wrestling. I was into it for a little bit before I decided that reading superhero comics into my 30s was enough of a hindrance. Because I still read those superhero comics, though, I don't look down on anybody who unabashedly loves the drama, action, and pageantry on display, and I get why so many comics readers and creators have a passion for it.
Now, through Boom's WWE partnership, that passion is resulting in some fun comics. The roster of contributors on these WWE comics includes Dennis Hopeless, Dan Mora, Rob Guillory, and Box Brown, author of the spectacular Andre the Giant: Life and Legend, who could make great comics about anything, but their clear love of professional wrestling brings out some of their best. Throw in a cover by Rob Schamberger, who I've known a long time and watched develop into the official court painter of sports entertainment, and you've got a little Battle Royale of talent. So I say, bring on the kayfabe. [JP]
BOOSTER GOLD/FLINTSTONES SPECIAL #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Rick Leonardi and Scott Hanna
Publisher: DC Comics
Okay seriously: What is happening in these Flintstones comics?
Just when I've gotten to the point of accepting that the Flintstones is going to be the most interesting satire in comics, DC has decided to expand its truly incomprehensible Hanna-Barbera line with a series of DC Universe crossovers, and things are spiraling into even more confusing territory. Specifically, I'm thinking about the backup about the Jetsons, which, according to the solicitation asks, "How does dying change when grandma's brain can be digitally imprinted onto a housecleaning robot?" So like... Is Rosie a people? Does Rosie the Robot have a human person brain? What? Is? Happening???
While I try to puzzle that out, though, I have made a discovery: Since this is a meeting between Booster Gold and the Flintstones then for those of you keeping score, that means that at a bare minimum, the Legion of Super-Heroes is now in continuity with World Wrestling Entertainment. [CS]
TRANSFORMERS: LOST LIGHT #4
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Jack Lawrence
Publisher: IDW Publishing
This issue, the Autobots set out to save the world! Of course, to us, that automatically means Earth, but one of the great things about the series is that Earth is a foreign country to these dipstick alien truck people. To them, home is Cybertron, so well-fleshed out and realized in this lore that when they confront its dark parallel universe counterpart, it's as if we encountered our own. Everything is upside down and backwards and twisted and things have rarely felt more dire. At least you can fight the Decepticon Justice Division, even if you'll probably lose how do you fight a whole universe gone wrong? This series keeps me on the edge of my seat, every issue, waiting to hear the answers to every question it poses. [CF]
BATGIRL ANNUAL #1
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Inaki Miranda
I’m always happy about a Supergirl-Batgirl teamup. They’ve been friends in various forms for decades, but they don’t get together nearly as often as their older male counterparts. And now, here in the midst of DC Rebirth, with both characters having changed so much since the last time they hung out, the team-up is going to be all the more interesting. And it’s written by Hope Larson, who’s currently doing a really great job on the main Batgirl book, so that’s promising too. [EC]
WONDER WOMAN AND THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, VOL 1
Writers: Dan Vado, Bill Loebs and Chuck Dixon
Artists: Kevin West, Greg LaRocque
Publisher: DC Comics
This is a re-branded collection of the Dan Vado-written Justice League America run that immediately followed Dan Jurgens' run, which was recently collected in a pair of collections entitled Superman and The Justice League of America (even though Supes was barely in volume two). They are, to put it kindly, not the very best Justice League comics ever made, and come from a period where the franchise was still coasting on the popularity of the Giffen/DeMatteis conception and not quite finding a way to do its own thing, or do that thing they did all that well.
The result? Unusual line-ups with holdovers from the Giffen/DeMatteis run alongside other, newer characters (to the League, or, in some case just newer in general) with a more serious tone. In these issues — Justice League America #78-85, plus Justice League America Annual #7 and Guy Gardner #15 — Wondy leads The Ray, Maxima, yellow-ringed Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, Fire and Booster Gold in his new dumb costume as they fight The Extremists and help Ice out with some family intrigue back home. And that annual is tied to the "Bloodlines" crossover, introducing "New Blood" bad guy Terrorsmith, who is set to appear in a May issue of Steve Orlando's current Justice League of America title... which currently features The Ray and The Extremists...
Well, I guess we know one huge fan of Vado's run on a Justice League book... [CM]
BLACK HAMMER, VOL 1: SECRET ORIGIN
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dean Ormston
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Black Hammer is one of the best superhero books on the stands right now, and you should buy this trade and find out why.
Okay, I’m being told I need to give a little bit more than that. Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer is a superhero Gothic mystery story set in small-town America as a group of former superheroes have been forced to adjust to a new life in a new world, where they can never leave. Whether it’s the Mary Marvel-esque hero who is now 40 years old and trapped in the body of a teenage girl, or the Martian Manhunter analogue with a crush on the town pastor, Black Hammer excels at buildings its mystery around its core cast and letting the answers unravel through their interactions.
Lemire’s work on Black Hammer is way more Essex County or Sweet Tooth than Extraordinary X-Men, and Dean Ormston’s lush visuals are a treat. Whether it’s flashback sequences coated in Kirby Krackle or modern day dustbowl-esque vistas. The fact that he had to re-learn to draw in between the first and second issue is absolutely mind-boggling, because Black Hammer is one of the best looking books out there.
So yeah, like I said, Black Hammer is one of the best superhero books on the stands right now, and you should buy this trade and find out why. [KS]