Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for May 4 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.
Writers: Ben Acker & Heath Corson
Artist: Dan McDaid
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
It is a truth of comics to be universally acknowledged, that crossovers and team-ups are awesome. Now Dynamite’s terrific work with the King’s Features syndicate properties has progressed to the point they can do their own spin on the idea, featuring their spin on the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake and Prince Valiant. The highlight here is the art of Dan McDaid, who’s drawn everything from Mega City One’s top lawman to a miniseries about an android based on a custom van. Now he’s flexing his artistic muscles on this supergroup, and I can’t wait to read the results. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer/Artist: Neal Adams
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics
For the past three issues, Coming of the Supermen has been the first comic I read every month that it comes out, because I have to know just what happens next. The first issue was good and bonkers, but had Tony Bedard assisting Adams on the scripts and therefore it made some kind of sense. Well now the chains are off and Neal Adams is going heck for leather throwing new concepts and ideas at you every page as if you’re well versed with the world he’s created.
I described this series before as if it was the second mini-series in a trilogy, because Krypton is around, Darkseid has ties to Egypt and Lois and Clark work for a news station. While that sounds like a criticism, I’m loving the flying-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach to a superhero story, and there aren’t many comics that are as unapologetically comics as The Coming of the Supermen. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Jim Zub
Aritst: Nelson Daniel
The last time IDW put out a book called Dungeons & Dragons — just “Dungeons & Dragons,” with no additional characters or campaign settings — it was the John Rogers/Andrea DiVito run that ended up as quite possibly the single most entertaining sword-and-sorcery adventure comic I’ve ever read. Those, my friends, are pretty big shoes to fill, but it looks like Jim Zub and Nelson Daniel are starting in a pretty good place to do it.
For one thing, they’re a pair of pretty talented creators, and while I’m only really familiar with Daniel from his work on Judge Dredd, which was great, the idea of seeing him tackle magic and fantasy with the energy that he brought to Mega City One is pretty exciting. For another, the premise that they’re working with here, where Minsc and Boo are dragged from the high fantasy of their native Forgotten Realms to the gothic Dracula-inspired horror of Ravenloft? That’s exciting for a whole other reason. The idea of a series that can (and will) and embrace everything that exists under the umbrella that is D&D, from goblins and magic swords all the way up to magic spaceships and explosion dogs, is pretty exciting.
I just hope that they get around to doing a Gelatinous Cube one-shot. Heck, I hope I get to write it. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artists: ACO, Hugo Petrus, Romulo Fajardo, Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Last call. As DC heads into their next relaunch of the universe, several of their most well-regarded titles are coming to an end — because readers don't stick their necks out for quality when there's a famous character sat on the next shelf along. We're now calling time on comics like Dr. Fate, Starfire and, yes, Midnighter, so let's do so with a little grace.
Like the character himself, we all saw from the start that most roads led to this series being ultimately cancelled — it was written with verve by Steve Orlando, and featured standout, forceful artistry from ACO, amongst others, but we all know how the industry works by now. The book led the impression of being without form whilst carefully locking a tight skeleton in place which bolstered the run as a whole through an impressive beginning into a stellar middle-point and now an increasing run of kinetic form racing even through these final few issues.
Midnighter's come out of this one looking like a star, the creative team taking a character not many people had a second glance for and offering him a sense of equilibrium and mindfulness which balanced jaggedly against his agile need for violence. Midnighter has been a superb book, and if they land the finale, it'll offer DC a series which they can truly stack up against the Hawkeyes and Daredevils of the World. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Kurtis J. Wiebe
Artists: Tess Fowler and Tamra Bonvillain
The previous storyline ended in a very, very dark place that will doubtless have serious ramifications down the line. But this issue launches a new story, which promises a return to something like the status quo, not to mention a return to the town of Palisade, after a multi-issue arc that took us very far afield. Rat Queens has been a fantastic comic from the beginning, but it’s really come into its own since gaining Tess Fowler as an artist. Her strong lines and distinctive faces brings a life to the characters that they previously lacked, and I’m very glad to see her sticking around for the new story. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Becky Cloonan
Artist: Steve Dillon
In honor of the 10th volume of Punisher, here are 10 reasons to be excited about the new series:
1. It's the only Marvel title with a male lead written by a woman, so it's practically a collector's item.
2. Said woman is Becky Cloonan, who has been a great artist for a long time and over the last few years has become a pretty awesome writer as well.
3. Unless I'm forgetting somebody, Cloonan is also the first woman to write a Punisher comic. Which is kind of funny, because she was also the first woman to draw Batman.
4. She was an absolutely perfect fit on Batman, and she's probably going to be a perfect fit on Punisher. I mean, have you seen her tattoos?
5. Nobody draws a Frank Castle scowl like Steve Dillon, who was already in the running for greatest Punisher artist of all time after his runs with Garth Ennis and Jason Aaron. The guy is returning for what's essentially a victory lap.
10. More bullets.
Writer: Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer
Artist: Jill Thompson
Publisher: Dark Horse
For a while there, it didn’t look like we were ever going to get any more new stories from Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer and Jill Thompson’s Beasts of Burden. Even though it had established itself as one of the best horror comics on the stands, with some of the creepiest, most affecting moments I’ve ever read and stories that somehow never felt like they were pandering when they put cute animals in danger, it seemed like the book was dead.
If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from reading Beasts of Burden, though, it’s that dead things don’t always stay that way.
So now, we’ve got a one-shot that Dark Horse is billing as the perfect way to jump on the series, and while it remains to be seen whether that means that there’s more coming or if it’s just a nice way to get new readers to pick up the stories that already exist, any time you see a new issue of Beasts of Burden, you should probably go ahead and pick it up. [CS]
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Greg Smallwood
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The first issue of Marvel’s new Moon Knight was one of the most intriguing debuts of the year, so I can’t wait to see where it goes next. Marc Spector is trapped in a nightmare asylum straight out of Silent Hill, while the forces of Set conspire to take over New York City. Or, is he finally getting the help he needs, and his illness is fighting back against the attempts at treatment?
Lemire is crafting a cunning little mystery that feels like a fresh take on the tired “is it all in their head” trope, and Smallwood is cementing his place as a future superstar with his dynamic work, various styles and unique panel layouts. If the series keeps up a standard of quality set by the first issue, Moon Knight will be one to watch, and a contender for one of the smartest superhero books of the year. [KS]
Grant Morrison's tenure begins on Heavy Metal this week, with the Scotsman taking up dual roles as editor-in-chief and contributing writer for the magazine. And whilst there will still be connections to the past and ongoing future of the series — including the continuing role of Enki Bilal as a creative presence in the pages of each issue — more than a few of us are going to be looking at this as a blank slate fresh start. This is new territory as a reader for me, as I feel it may well be new territory for Morrison as a creator. Heavy Metal has a series of different comics in each issue by a range of creators (including Ben Marra, Mimi Scholz, Ryan Ferrier and more) and it'll be really fascinating to see how involved Morrison is with their works. I have the feeling he may in reality be a few steps removed from the work, but the idea of him reading and developing ideas from new people is one which is quite exciting — especially because he'll be involved in stories told by women, which is something his career has almost completely sidestepped until now.
I realize this is making everything about Grant Morrison, which is somewhat unfair, but his name is a big one, and it'll be bringing a lot of other people to Heavy Metal for the first time too. I'm really intrigued by what's going to come out of this editorial run. [SM]
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Dario Brizuela
Scooby-Doo Team-Up might be the most underrated comic DC is publishing. Every issue is an all-ages delight, mixing the classic Scooby-Doo cast and premise with the vast array of characters DC has access to. I’m particularly excited about this issue, which features Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel, Captain Marvel Jr, and even Uncle Marvel. The Marvel Family (or the Shazam Family, as DC’s lawyers prefer) have always been children’s characters at heart, but DC has rarely let them be that for decades now. This is a chance, brief though it may be, to see them get back to their roots and maybe live up to a little more of their potential. And the Scooby Gang is there too, which is always a fun bonus. [EC]
Writers: Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka
Artists: Michael Lark and others
Gotham Central is both one of the best Batman comics ever published and not really a Batman comic at all. The dark and pointy-eared one makes a few appearances, and his presence seems to saturate every panel of the entire run, but the character work of Rucka, Brubaker, and Lark is centered on the detectives of the Gotham Central Major Crimes Unit and how they cope with the world they inhabit, and it's absolutely fantastic all the way through. In a setting where street crime, super-crime, vigilantes and psychopaths are procedure, tragedy and insanity are just the everyday madness of the life of a cop, and the trio of creators bring that sense of realism — never an easy thing in a superhero universe — to the characters in a way that still feels refreshingly authentic ten years later. An indisputable classic that never achieved the popularity it deserved, I can't think of many comics that deserve the omnibus treatment more than Gotham Central. [JP]