Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for October 12 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: Scott Snyder
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
There’s a lot of great stuff going on in All Star Batman these days, and if I had to pick, I’d say that the second-best thing about it is that it’s not the same Two-Face story that we always get whenever the character shows up. In re-imagining Harvey Dent as a blackmailer who wants to expose everyone’s darker side in the same way that his own has been made permanently visible, Scott Snyder and John Romita Jr. have gotten away from the idea of just going back over the same themes of duality that we’ve seen before. Since that’s the sort of thing that boxed Two-Face into mostly appearing in the same kind of stories that we’ve seen over the past five decades (and trapped us in the seemingly endless cycle of Two-Face’s Origin/Harvey Gets Fixed/Harvey Becomes Two-Face Again) storytelling, and opened up the door for a new kind of Two-Face story that does something radically different.
It’s a road trip story, it’s a blackmail story, it’s a story about how far Batman’s willing to go to save someone that everyone else — even Alfred — has written off as irredeemable. It’s a story about the shared history of these two characters that we’ve never really seen before, and all of that combines into the second-best thing about a book that’s genuinely great.
The first best thing? KGBeast is back, and he's gonna fight Batman on the roof of a damn 18-wheeler. Comic of the year. [Chris Sims]
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Publisher: Image Comics
Welcome back to the world where nothing's good any more, and it's a credit to Rucka and Lark's skills as storytellers that I keep coming back knowing the waste and misery that awaits me. This issue promises the return of Forever to the field, which — in the wake of what happened last issue — could mean anything and go anywhere. It'll probably mean a sword-and-gun fight where a lot of people die and nothing gets better, though — issue #25 would be a little late in the series to find out that people in this world can occasionally be happy. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Jim Cheung
I love The Clone Saga, and I will defend it to my last breath. I love every twist, turn, reveal and fake-out so when Marvel announced that Dan Slott was going back to that well with a new event comic featuring The Jackal as the main villain, and the return of Doctor Octopus, and a host of deceased Spider-Man friends and foes, I was all-in.
It’s exciting also to see Jim Cheung step in and take on the art for this, because he’s an artist like Olivier Coipel or Leinil Yu that Marvel only puts on its biggest, most important comics and seeing this story be treated as a big deal is almost like a redemption to the underrated and much maligned storyline. I’m stoked for this, I hope things get really crazy and Spidercide shows up. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Gerard Way
Artist: Nick Derington
Publisher: DC Comics
There was a lot in Doom Patrol #1 that I’m not sure I understood. But I’m not worried about it, because I’ve read Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, and I got my start with Rachel Pollack’s Doom Patrol, so I have faith that what I need to know will become clear as the story goes along, and what doesn’t was never meant to make sense, and it’s all going to add up to something interesting. I’m already invested in Casey Brinke as a character, and I can wait to see what Cliff Steel has to say to her once he’s in a more functional position. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Robert Gill
Publisher: Valiant Entertianment
I’ve written before about how the one big strength of the Valiant books is how good they are at embracing high-concept ideas and grafting them onto superheroes, but that creates an interesting problem. If every story is a larger-than-life high-concept adventure, then how do you keep on topping them?
That’s what’s facing Robert Venditti and Robert Gill on Wrath of the Eternal Warrior right now. The last story, “Labyrinth” — which I loved — saw Gilad trapped in a city-sized maze full of deathtraps that killed him every day for over a month to find the secret of his ability to rise from the dead. Where do you go from that level of danger, when even death itself is just a short-term obstacle?
The answer, of course, is to the afterlife. Rather than being in danger himself, this arc finds Gilad traveling to the Hellscape to battle a devil for the soul of his first-born son. It’s every bit as energetic and high concept as the last story, but with a completely new kind of danger and a completely different set of stakes, and it makes for an extremely compelling read. [CS]
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: Image Comics
I never thought it would happen but I’m recommending a Mark Millar comic. I’ll be as gracious as possible when I say that while his output is mostly not my cup of tea, he’s got a mind for high-concepts that you can’t deny. Reborn is definitely in that mold as it features an elderly woman dying of old age and waking up in an in-between place that looks like something out of Dark Souls, where goes on a quest to find her long-passed husband. That’s cool; I’m into that.
However, the big selling point here is that Reborn is the first comics work by Greg Capullo since the end of his instantly classic Batman run with Scott Snyder. Until Batman, Capullo had been written off by many as a “'90s guy” but he had a career renaissance like no other and proved himself to be one of the very best artists in the business. Now he gets to cut loose in a creator owned title and I can’t wait to see the results. [KS]
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artists: Mike Allred, Andy Kubert, Mark Buckingham and others
No, this isn't Neil Gaiman's best work, even if you set up some parameters like, say, Gaiman's comic book-writing for DC Comics. That's still going to be The Sandman, followed by the likes of The Books of Magic and maybe even The Black Orchid before we get to the superhero stuff contained in this volume. That said, these are some great comics here, with the very poorest of them still being interesting, and just about every artist who Gaiman worked with here being a major talent well worth spending time with.
So, what is in here? Well, I'll tell you! There's 1989 origin stories of Poison Ivy and The Riddler penciled by Mark Buckingham and Bernie Mireault, respectively; 2009's Metamorpho strip with Mike Allred from Wednesday Comics; that same year's interesting failure "Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?" drawn by Andy Kubert and 2000's Superman/Green Lantern: Legend of The Green Flame.
That last one, originally published as a prestige-format special, is of particular interest. Originally intended to cap off Action Comics' 1988-89 period as a weekly anthology series by featuring an epic storyline involving many of the characters who were featured. It didn't see print until a decade later, after DC had found the "lost" script (and, incidentally, printing anything with Gaiman's name on it was not unlike printing money). The final version saw the pre-Crisis Superman and Hal Jordan traveling all over the DC Universe (and, most famously, hell itself), bumping into characters as various as Catwoman, The Blackhawks and Deadman and The Phantom Stranger, each chapter illustrated by a who's who of comics greats: Jim Aparo, Eddie Campbell, John Totleben, Matt Wagner, Eric Shanower, Kevin Nowlan and Allred and Buckingham (again). [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Simon Coleby
Publisher: After-Shock Comics
I hope Garth Ennis never stops writing about war, and in a massive, globe-spanning, world-changing event like the second World War there are plenty of stories to tell. This one is about the Tuskegee airmen, the fighter squadron of black soldiers who had to be twice as good to get half as far, conscious at every step that their actions reflected on their entire people back home — with all of this piled atop the usual pressures and horrors that those who fight in wars must endure. It's a story worth telling, and Coleby and Ennis are its equals. [CF]
Writer: William Moulton Marston
Artist: Harry G. Peter
Publisher: DC Comics
A new edition of Golden Age Wonder Woman? You should definitely buy it if these aren’t comics you already own. William Marston and his uncredited collaborators were coming at superhero comics from a very different direction than anybody else in the 1940s, and that means Wonder Woman stands out from the Golden Age pack. Meanwhile Harry Peter’s art has one foot in Victorian-style illustration, which gives these comics a beautifully classical look, which is perfect for the Greco-Roman trappings of Wonder Woman. If you’re a Wonder Woman fan, or just a fan of great comics from the past, this collection is absolutely worth the money. [EC]
Writer/artist: Anya Davidson
I'm going to level with you guys here. I have not yet read this book, nor have I seen a single page of it. In fact, the only things I know about it are these: It is by Anya Davidson, whose previous work was the really rather rough and weird 2013 Picturebox release School Spirits, which I liked an awful lot, and that the publisher describes it as a comic strip format graphic novel about "a noise rock band and their community of friends and acquaintances based in an alternate reality version of Chicago."
And that's all I need to know to make me excited to pick a copy this week.
If you need a further nudge, know that Fantagraphics promises a work that fuses elements of British sitcom The Young Ones with the work of Charles Schulz and John Stantley. [CM]