Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for May 25 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: Geoff Johns
Art: Gary Frank, Phil Jimenez, Ethan Van Sciver and Ivan Reis
Publisher: DC Comics
This is the big one, the one that already has everyone talking and most people haven’t even had a chance to read it yet. This is the comic that sets the stage for the next several years of DC Comics and is packed from cover to cover with revelations, retcons and returns.
Early reviews seem to suggests that Johns et al manage to pull all the continuity shuffling together into an enjoyable story, despite some of its more problematic aspects that have been covered everywhere else. If nothing else, this is an 80-page story at a fraction of the price with art by some of the best in the business. Everyone’s going to be talking about this for the rest of the week, so why not grab a copy while you’re getting your weekly pull? [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Tom King
Artists: Barnaby Bagenda, Romulo Fajardo Jr, Pat Grosseau
Publisher: DC Comics
How fitting that in the same week DC announces its 'Rebirth' and new direction, the brightest light of the last year burns hardest. Along with Midnighter and Prez, Batgirl and Grayson, Omega Men has been one of the clear hits of the DCYou period. A difficult and intelligent series, the book has consistently taken the most challenging path for the readers and creative team, telling a politically-charged story which brought in small aspects of the greater DC Universe but typically existed right around the fringes.
Plucky and always interesting, King's writing gave a sense of scale and pressure to proceedings, with the characters intricately put together as they banded against forces greater than they. We weren't even sure that Omega Men would get to the finale, but all credit to the creative and editorial team — here we are, with the story complete and the last big fight headed our way. I have no idea what's coming, but that's what's made the series so gripping this far — I have complete faith that this last chapter will be excellent. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Josceline Fenton
Artist: Chrystin Garland
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
This comic captures the unique and appealing tone of the Steven Universe TV show better than I would have thought possible in a comic. I was surprised to discover that its storytelling is serialized (I’m used to done-in-one comics based on TV cartoons) but going that route gives Fenton and Garland the space to explore the great little character moments that make Steven Universe so great. This is the third part of the first storyline, which finds Steven investigating a very creepy “glass ghost,” which Pearl and Garnet claim to have invented to scare a young Amethyst, but now Steven and Amethyst have discovered that it’s all too real. That means they’re going to have to find a way to deal with the creature, and also find out the truth behind the tall tale. In short, it’s everything I want out of a Steven Universe comic, and I can’t wait to read it. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mike Choi
In his five-year tenure on the Hulk, Greg Pak added several interesting new wrinkles to the character, turned the intensity up to eleven, and consistently produced some of the best Marvel books of the period. So it's not a surprise that his return to the icon has yielded one of the coolest comics of the All-New, All-Different Marvel. Pak has introduced a breath of fresh air into the jolly green giant, and its name is Amadeus Cho. Mike Choi is filling in on art for this issue, but as fill-ins go, Choi is pretty friggin' great. There have been some fun Hulk comics in recent years — Mark Waid's run comes to mind — but since Amadeus Cho has assumed the role, his adventures have been fast-paced, exuberant, and forward-thinking, with a steadily-growing darkness adding new layers of drama to all that fun. Overall, this new Hulk is indeed sufficiently awesome. [John Parker]
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
Publisher: IDW Publishing
This story arc — the “conclusion” of More Than Meets the Eye series two, to use television parlance — has been one indicator after another that Alex Milne and James Roberts are not even in the same postal code as messing around. At the end of #51, two long-absent characters returned in the stranded crew’s darkest hour — everyone’s favorite grumpy doctor Ratchet and someone’s favorite hippie samurai Drift — and last issue, the other side responded in kind when one of the series’ most towering, terrifying villains showed up to team up with the series’ other, most terrifying villains. It’s as bad as it’s gotten and as suspenseful as the series gets. They promise that not all of our favorite toy robots from space are going to get out of this one, and I believe them. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis
Artist: Howard Porter
Publisher: DC Comics
I am endlessly fascinated by the Hanna-Barbera reboot going on at DC right now, largely because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to actually understand it. I mean, Future Quest, I get, but expanding Scooby-Doo into the apocalypse, building an entire high-profile ongoing series with designs by the co-publisher of the company around an idea that I’m pretty sure rose to prominence as a Threadless t-shirt ten years ago? That this is happening is mystifying, and I’m not sure that actually reading the comic is going to get me any closer to comprehending it.
But don’t get the wrong idea, here. I’m not dismissing it out of hand. Giffen, DeMatteis and Porter are all creators whose work I’ve loved in the past, and while that work is mostly tied to their tenures on two separate eras of the Justice League, they’re exactly the kind of team that I’d want to see tackling such an inexplicable series. For this to have a chance of working, it’s going to have to be done by people who are fully aware that they’re doing something ridiculous and are set on making the best of it, and that’s exactly how Giffen and DeMatteis have approached their work through the entirety of their career. For now, I’m in — and honestly? The best case scenario here is that this book keeps on confusing me for as long as it’s coming out. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Nick Spencer
Art: Jesus Saiz
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Captain America is such a popular franchise for Marvel right now that they’ve gone and made someone else Cap and given him his own book, isn’t that nice? Nick Spencer’s work on Captain America: Sam Wilson has been a highlight of All-New, All-Different Marvel so I fully expect this book to carry on that trend of quality.
Jesus Saiz has never really been given that star-making book that he deserves, so this top tier book is much overdue for one of the hardest working comics in artists. Word on the street is that this book contains a huge revelation for Captain America, so much so that Marvel have released it at midnight to compete with DC Universe Rebirth #1, so if you weren’t up late devouring every page, now’s your chance to find out what the fuss is about. [KS]
Writers: Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas
Artist: Kris Anka
Of the three Captain Marvel series that Carol Danvers has starred in over the last four years, this has rapidly become my favorite. It’s a suspenseful sci-fi story set on a space station, with a great supporting cast and gorgeous Kris Anka art. Captain Marvel’s the lead, of course, but it’s almost a team book, filled out by Aurora, Sasquatch, Puck, Wendy Kawasaki, and the always delightfully sour Abigail Brand. This first storyline also deals with Mar Vell, the Kree, and the Captain Marvel legacy that Carol has taken up. In other words, there’s a lot going on, but it’s perfectly paced and the tension has been steadily elevating so that here, in issue #5, things are guaranteed to be exploding, both figuratively and literally. [EC]
Writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Publisher: Archie Comics
I think all of us knew that when the zombie apocalypse happened, it would be Reggie Mantle’s fault. For those of you who may have forgotten, Reggie was the catalyst for the events of Afterlife With Archie, killing Hot Dog in a hit-and-run accident and leading Jughead to the dark magic that ended up causing the dead to walk Riverdale. And somehow, some way, he avoided ending up as food for the shambling hordes, continuing to plague the Earth with his smarmy stupid face and his terrible “yuk yuk” laughter.
Not that there’s been a lot of laughter for Reggie lately. Even for the most unpleasant person alive, zombies aren’t exactly a cakewalk. Reggie’s finding himself ill-suited for roughing it through the back woods, and as Afterlife returns this week, that’s undoubtedly going to lead him to do something terrible. As for just how terrible, that remains to be seen, but, well, don’t forget that this story is still called “Betty RIP.” [CS]
Writer/Artist: Malachi Ward
Publisher: Alternative Comics
I haven't read that many of Malachi Ward's comics, but every time I come across one it absolutely floors me. In stories like "Top Five" and "Vile Decay," Ward creates worlds where the mundane and the improbable are inseparable; stirring, thought-provoking, and marvelously inventive narratives that will haunt you for days after you've read them. Lately he's been providing backup stories for Prophet and the ongoing "Ancestor" in Island with Matt Sheean (which is getting its own collected edition from Image later this year) and all have been, in a word, beguiling. He's just one of those people who seems to be getting transmissions from a place nobody else even knows exists. From Now On: Short Comic Tales of the Fantastic collects stories from Mome, The Best American Comics, and various other sources, and if you missed the first printing — like I did — do yourself a solid and grab this new edition. [JP]
Writer: Matt Gibbs
Artists: Bevis Musson, Nathan Ashworth, Jim Campbell
Publisher: Improper Books
Choose Your Own Adventures have made a comeback over the last few years within a new medium — comics. Formerly the home of children's books, the format turns out to be a perfect fit for comics, drawing you into the pages as you decide where and how the story should head next. There's so much made of the rigidity of the standard comics format — 20 pages, making sure to leave space for ads, a splash page at the end and maybe a double-splash halfway through — that choosing your own path, so to speak, works as a revolution for the way you approach comics.
I first picked up Knight and Dragon a few years ago at Thought Bubble, and it's a delightful little thing. This is a choose your own adventure comic which isn't as topsy-turvy as Ryan North's take on the style, but makes it easy for young readers to pick and choose how they want the story to end. It's cute, following an aspiring heroic Knight as he gets involved in a quest to rescue a Princess from a Dragon. But, you get to choose how things twist and develop, in a charming piece of work which would make a great story to read with your kids on Wednesday night. [SM]
Writers: Scott McCloud & Mark Millar
Artists: Rick Burchett & Terry Austin
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s a cliché to say that Superman Adventures under Mark Millar’s pen was some of the best Superman work of the 1990s, but — it was. It really, really was.
Who often gets lost in the shuffle, however, is Scott McCloud, who co-launched the book with Rick Burchett and Terry Austin, and who writes a spot-on Superman. This collection has one of my favorite stories of theirs, doing the “Superman dying” story beat years before it put All-Star Superman on the map. It has a scene that stuck with me for years: people berating Superman for taking a breather, too tired to carry on in the midst of a crisis– said people later pleading with Superman to take it easy once word of his impending death leaks.
McCloud’s stories were very much in the “real human emotion and sentiment blown up to super-proportions” vein of Superman comic, and Superman Adventures contained some of his finest work on the subject. [CF]
Writer/artist: Dylan Horrocks
Publisher: Alternative Comics
If you like comics and own a bookshelf, then Horrocks' Hicksville belongs on it. His seminal graphic novel is a powerful, moving story about the medium itself — in addition to being a masterfully cartooned, engrossing read in its own right. Hicksville may be Horrocks' signature work, but it's hardly his only work, and this new collection from Alternative Comics finally provides something to sit on your bookshelf next to Hicksville and Sam Zabel and The Magic Pen. It is, just as the title says, not the entirety of Horrocks' works, but it is a bunch of his shorter comics. If you've already read, re-read and re-re-read Hicksville and Sam Zabel, then this is likely a must-read for you. If you haven't, well, I'm not sure it's the best place to start, but I'm just as sure it's not a bad place to start either. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: J. Torres
Artist: Sean K. Dove
Publisher: Oni Press
The word "brobots" has probably been an inevitability ever since "bro" re-entered the popular consciousness, spread further and wider than ever before by social media. GIven that inevitability, we should be relieved that its blending with "robot" is being actualized in a cute and fun-looking all-ages comic about robots, mechas and giant monsters instead of anywhere else. Please note that the title characters are three robots who are also brothers (hence the name), and not robots who are also bros in the more common, less brotherly sense of the word, so expect comedy and monster-fighting, rather than societal critique of modern masculine stereotypes. [CM]