Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases For March 30 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/Artist: Jimmie Robinson
Publisher: Image Comics
Jimmie Robinson's new mini-series from Image Comics marks another change in narrative style from previous works Five Weapons and The Empty. This time round we have a take on superheroes with a more contemporary twist which'll clearly be playing into societal and political issues across America (and internationally) today. The series has a simple concept: what if only black people got superpowers? Clearly a society which can't handle a black man holding a toy gun will have some issues with a black man who has actual superhuman powers — this miniseries therefore seems like a potent take on the X-Men which has actual stakes and merit which the Marvel books themselves could never hope to match.
Image still don't hire many African-American creators, and Robinson seems to have some clear passion for the topics that'll be addressed throughout this comic. Before you pick up anything else today, make sure you have Power Lines in hand. If you need any more convincing — and you shouldn't, to be honest — then you can read Robinson talk more about the book on Facebook. [Steve Morris]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Welcome back to the We Hate Getaway Club. First order of business is a reaffirmation of how much we hate Getaway and a repetition of our eternal vow to spit on every comic panel he appears in.
Why do we hate Getaway? Because last issue featured the long-awaited arrival of the Decepticon Justice Division and Getaway somehow outdid them for sheer naked villainy, engineering a mutiny and taking over the Lost Light. We hate Getaway because he manipulates people, leaves them to die, and erases everyone’s memories so he can stroll away smelling like a rose.
Most of all, we hate Getaway because his criticisms of Rodimus and Megatron — the former a self-obsessed doofus and the latter an actual mass murderer — are actually accurate, and how dare the truth choose such a rotten vessel into our world. Anyways, Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye is still fantastic, things are looking pretty grim for our cast, and I hope Tailgate punches Getaway so hard he flies into a black hole. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: James Tynion IV and Scott Snyder
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Publisher: DC Comics
So a few weeks ago, in this very column, I was marveling about how much action had been crammed into Batman & Robin Eternal in such a short time, how it felt like DC had finally come up with a weekly comic that managed to never hit a point where it was dragging because it was always ramping up to something new and different and exciting and — most of all — super, super weird. But when I wrote that, one of the key points that I mentioned was that it wasn’t even halfway over, and on that, well, I was completely wrong.
I somehow missed the fact that B&RE is only running for 26 issues — and while this is fully on me, I’m going to go ahead and place a little bit of the blame on being used to DC’s weekly titles running for a whole year, just like this book’s predecessor. The thing is, while that does change my amazement at how far they were willing to go with so much space left to work with, it doesn’t change how much I love what they’ve done in that time.
With DC getting ready to move to a twice-monthly schedule for a pretty significant handful their titles — at least for now — it’s nice to see that they’ve finally figured out how to pull off a weekly book that never seemed to lose its momentum, that stayed true to a complex cast of characters throughout and managed to revive the extremes of the ‘90s without ever relying on nostalgia or feeling retro. It’s a story that moved forward, and used its character hooks to propel the story and to keep it grounded while it reintroduced ideas like Azrael and Cassandra Cain in the context of a more modern Batman Family, and (for me at least) it worked better than any weekly project that DC’s ever done. With this final issue, we get to see if they stuck the landing, but they’ve been doing so well throughout that it’s hard to imagine they won’t. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: DC Comics
Things are really starting to heat up with only three issues left of Omega Men, and I’m super excited to see how King and Bagenda pull everything together heading into the finale. I’ve never cared about DC’s modern day space stuff, but the politics and intrigue highlighted in Omega Men makes me sad we probably won’t get to see the fallout in DC Rebirth.
Anyway, we can enjoy this series while it lasts as Kyle Rayner finally gets out from under the thumb of everyone holding him back since the series’ inception and returns to his role as the White Lantern. King and Bagenda have turned the series on its ear half a dozen times in only nine issues so far, and I’m excited to see what this new development means now we’re in the home stretch. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer/Artist: Luke Pearson
Publisher: Nobrow Press
Luke Pearson has said he wants to recreate the experience of being safe and snug in a camping tent while something terrible is outside, and in his Hilda series he does just that. In fact, it's pretty much a scene in Hildafolk, the new edition of his first Hilda comic, Hilda and the Troll. With beautifully animatic characters, surreal environments, and out of this world colors, Pearson captures an impressive dichotomy of the two most essential elements in great all-ages adventures: whimsy and terror.
In Hilda's world the mysterious and the mundane frequently collide, and she encounters trolls, giants, black dogs and sea monsters with bravery, earnestness, and a curiosity that turns every potential fright into a source of adventure. A master of mood-enhancing colors, Pearson nudges the story from vivid to haunting at a pen-stroke, ending with a book that is vibrant delight with just an edge of spine-tingling danger. A really great story for ages six-and-up, and anyone else who thinks comics are best read with flashlights under the covers. [John Parker]
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Sophie Campbell
The "Dark Jem" storyline continues, with whatever dark force has infected Synergy spreading through the Holograms and beyond, making them into anti-social goths with questionable taste in music. But what I'm really excited about is that gorgeous Sophie Campbell cover of Pizzazz (still recovering from her injury) and her cat. Pizzazz might be the most fascinating character in Jem and the Holograms, and I want nothing more than to spend more time getting to know what makes her tick. This was hands-down my favorite ongoing series of 2015, and as 2016 rolls along it remains at the top of my list. [Elle Collins]
When a comics week doesn't grab me beyond a few select comics, I've now reached a point where I reflexively turn to see what Thrillpower the next Prog of 2000 AD will provide. The weekly anthology is now up to its 1974th edition, meaning we're only ten weeks away from the 1984th edition (which surely they'll play into, Orwellian as they are?) and twenty-six weeks from the 2000th Prog of 2000 AD. That must be one of the biggest milestones in comics history. But anyway!
This week we have a range of stories, kicking off with Judge Dredd as always — this time provided to us by Michael Carroll, Colin MacNeil, Len O’Grady, and Annie Parkhouse. There's a standalone Tharg Thriller elsewhere, along with an Prog-closing episode of Aquila. There's always a bit of range with 2000 AD, but sometimes it can be easy to pass over the series as you look across the shelves — maybe this week you might decide to pick it up? [SM]
Writer: Tom Waltz
Artist: Zach Howard
I’ve written a lot about IDW’s “Deviations” line over the past few weeks, and there’s a reason for that. So far, they’ve all been really well-done, although in fairness, they’ve also been a little formulaic, with each one based around the simple idea of what would’ve happened if the heroes lost a crucial battle. Of course, there’s an obvious reason for that, too. Even if a more simple twist would provide an interesting story, like asking what would’ve happened if Raphael never reunited with his brothers, or if April O’Neil had become a vigilante instead of Casey Jones, these are one-shots, and if you’ve only got a single opportunity to tell your story, you want to go big with it.
It makes sense, then, that for the TMNT installment, they’d go back to the biggest story they’ve ever done in the comics. A while back, I wrote about how good City Fall was — I went as far as calling it the best “Event Comic” in years, and that’s something I still stand by. But what makes this one so interesting is that at the end of the day, the good guys already lost in that comic. The Turtles were driven out of New York, the gangs took over the city, and everyone was killed. So in that respect, this isn’t a book that asks what would happen if the good guys lost — it’s what happens if the good guys lose even harder. [CS]
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Joe Bennett
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I’ve been really enjoying what Spencer has been doing with Captain America, and not only is this the first tie-in to Standoff for SWCA, but it’s also Captain America’s 75th anniversary issue. Standoff has been super fun so far, especially because it’s packed to the gills with D-List Marvel villains, which I wasn’t expecting going in.
It’s extra-sized and packed with additional stories, including a new Joss Whedon/John Cassaday joint, plus work from Greg Rucka, Tim Sale and more. Marvel tend to go all out for its anniversary issues, and this one is a bit more expensive than usual at $5.99, but odds are it’ll be well worth the price. [KS]
Writers: Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Artist: Natacha Bustos
The last issue ended with Devil Dinosaur being captured by Amadeus Cho, the Totally Awesome Hulk, which made him substantially less awesome in the eyes of Lunella “Moon Girl” Lafayette, who will now have to rescue her friend, with the help of the super-science gadgets that she’s surprisingly adept at building for a nine-year-old. This series has been tons of fun from issue one, although the friendship between Lunella and Devil is still not quite as developed as I’d like it to be by the end of this storyline. But every issue has driven home how much Lunella doesn’t fit in with everyone she knows, so it makes sense she’d be drawn to an uncommonly intelligent T-Rex trapped in the modern world. Once she saves him from the Hulk’s clutches, their adventures can begin in earnest. [EC]
Writers: Alan Grant & Evan Dorkin
Artists: Kevin O’Neil and many others
Publisher: DC Comics
It may have escaped everyone’s notice, but a movie feature both Superman and Batman came out last week, and is thought to be rather humorless — and that may be because all the quota for jokes relating to Superman and Batman were used up by this collection of classic send-ups, re-released in time for the movie.
Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlyk are the stars of the lead story here, and no cow is too sacred to be chopped up into hamburger as they argue about who’s better, Superman or Batman? They’re aided by a who’s who of DC artists sending up DC classics — Frank Miller lampooning The Dark Knight Returns, the ink being literally ripped off the pages of Alex Ross’s figures in Kingdom Come, Phil Jimenez doing a note-perfect George Perez pastiche for Crisis, a sojourn into animated storyboards by Bruce Timm, and too many others to list here. It also contains many other classic Bat-Mite and Mr. Mxyzptlyk team-ups and appearances, so if you’re looking to laugh along with the World’s Finest’s two most metafictional villains, this is a trade that’ll serve you perfectly. [CF]