Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for October 26 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: James Tynion IV
Artist: Alvaro Martinez, Raul Fernandez
Publisher: DC Comics
I’m on record as saying that Detective might just be the single best comic of DC’s Rebirth Era, and one of the many things that makes it so great is how it presents fresh, new challenges to its characters that still feel like they’re coming from that platonic ideal of how Batman and his family should work. The way this book opens, for instance, with Batman not just having to deal with an enemy who’s using his own tactics against him, but with an entire government-funded army of ersatz Batmen? That’s a new twist on an old idea that works perfectly.
Now, we’re getting another one. Batman’s relationship with Gotham City has always been depicted as uneasy, but it’s only been individuals — usually politicians — who have blamed him for the arch-criminals that make living their such a pain. With this new arc, we’re seeing those villains’ victims forming an organization that’s against Batman and his foes. It’s an interesting idea, and since it’s not the kind of problem that can be solved with karate and apophenia, it’s the perfect challenge for the Batman family — especially when they’re still recovering from Tim Drake’s two-days-from-retirement “death.” [Chris Sims]
Writer: Magdalene Visaggio
Artist: Eva Cabrera
Publisher: Black Mask
It's all over, but don't cry because it's over: smile because this extremely loud and incredibly queer series happened, the adventures of ultra-queer best friend bounty hunters bombing around a galaxy that came out of a Trapper Keeper with the volume turned all the way up (this is a special Trapper Keeper that has a volume knob on it, okay.) The writer gave a clue as to how it'll all end on Twitter, and really: ending on obscenity is the only ending it could have had. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer: David Walker
Artists: Ramon Villalobos and Tamra Bonvillain
Publisher: Marvel Comics
This is the sort of recommendation that you never want to have to write, because unfortunately Nighthawk is wrapping up its all too short run with the sixth issue out this week. Walker, Villalobos and Bonvillain created something really special and unique with the six issues they were given and while it’s sad to say goodbye to the title as an ongoing prospect, hopefully now it’s wrapped up people can go back and revisit it as a whole to see what the fuss was all about, and maybe Nighthawk can find a life in a collected edition that sees the team reunite for a future volume. It worked for Midnighter at DC, there’s no reason it can’t work for Nighthawk at Marvel. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Nathan Fairbairn
Artists: Matt Smith and Nathan Fairbairn
Lake Of Fire makes me wish I was a food critic so I could use a word like "sumptuous" and get away with it. Matt Smith and Nathan Fairbairn are a match made in Heaven, and besides the fantastic genre-smashing premise and a litany of twists and turns, it is absolutely one of the most sumptuous comics I've looked at recently. Smith's style really hits the sweet spot: slightly animatic but loose; cartoony but with an adventurous edge; and exemplary body language and facial expression in compositions that are relentlessly alive. Fairbairn's colors are a perfect match for Smith's pencils, shading from the pastoral French countryside to vicious onslaughts of action, violence, and terror. It's simply delectable. [John Parker]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
I don’t know how long this entire Batgirl-in-Asia story arc is meant to be, but it feels like time for at least the first leg of it to come to a head, so to speak. Barbara Gordon’s about to catch up with the Teacher she’s been looking for, and her friend Kai’s in about as much trouble as he could be, so hopefully she’ll find time to rescue him as well. The Teacher is such a great idea for a Batgirl villain because at every step of this story Barbara is learning important lessons, even as her enemy stays one step ahead. So the Teacher is a teacher, but that doesn’t mean Batgirl doesn’t have some valid points to make on her evaluation. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Publisher: Archie Comics
The rebooted Archie Universe has a lot going for it, but I think my favorite thing about it might be that Jughead has become the de facto book about all the weird extremes that have crept into the Archie universe over the past 75 years. I mean, the first arc brought us side-trips that involved Pureheart the Powerful and the Time Police, but while those were fantasy sequences, Ryan North’s arrival has brought something tangible and real: Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
The idea that magic is real in the Archie universe and that everyone just sort of ignores it until it’s right in front of them has always been part of the appeal of Riverdale, but I love reading Archie even more that there’s all of this weirdness that’s going on just off panel with his best friend. Throw in that North and Charm are two of my favorite creators out there right now, and there’s something really great happening here. [CS]
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russ Braun
Publisher: DC Comics
The departure of Steve Dillon has me looking back over the Garth Ennis oeuvre, and that leads me to this — with Dillon doing the variant covers for this series, they may stand as Dillon's last work at DC. And honestly, knowing Dillon, it's exactly how he'd want to go out, attached to the adventures of a drunkard and Steve Dillon Original Creation Dogwelder, teaming up with John Constantine and fighting a bunch of mummies. Russ Braun's art is no slouch even compared with Dillon's either, and Ennis is always Ennis, and I now know that I'll be a mark for all three of them until I depart from this Earth. [CF]
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Neil Googe
Publisher: DC Comics
I’m somewhat of a Flash aficionado, but the one thing I love more than the Scarlet Speedster on his own is the concept of The Flash Family, which in my opinion is a fundamental aspect of the franchise and something the comics have been missing for over five years. That’s why I’m so excited for this week’s issue of The Flash as we see the meeting of “The Kid Flash of Two Worlds” as the two Wallys West come face to face for the first time.
There’s a lot of questions to be answered regarding the two Wallys’ status in the DC Universe, most pressing for me being what’s going on with the younger Wally’s parental situation, but Williamson has proven that he understands what makes The Flash so special in his first arc on the title and I’m so excited to see what he does not he gets to expand from the foundation he’s set up in his first eight issues. [KS]
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Brendan McCarthy
Publisher: DC Comics
The only reason I've cracked open issues of Doctor Fate is because of Sonny Liew, whose unconventional style is such a square peg in a round hole that it brazenly stands out from every other superhero comic in the mainstream. It's nice to see that this philosophy is extending to the fill-ins too, as the incomparable Brendan McCarthy pops in for a cosmic pilgrimage through dreamy environs rendered with textured, colorful pages that warble and buzz like a tree-bound diaspora of cicadas. (Also early Pink Floyd.) There's just something so unique about his comics that they seem to defy logic. I'm not aware of his working methods but it seems almost like he's composing with the colors; not just drawing his layouts and throwing all the hues on top. However he does it, he always creates something wonderful, and it's a rare treat when he shows up on a regular old superhero book. [JP]
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Evan Shaner
I have a friend who says Future Quest is the only good comic coming out right now. I’m enjoying too many other books to agree with her, but I admit if you were going to pick just one comic to meet all your comic needs, this would be the one to choose. I’m not even sure at this point if I can call Future Quest one epic adventure story, or if it’s more like a cluster of separate but interlocking adventure stories. If everything is going to come together, though, it looks to be doing it pretty soon.
Just last issue we got to know the Impossibles, and we’ve only seen a little of Frankenstein Jr, but it looks like they’re about to enter the main story alongside Birdman, Jonny Quest, and the new Mightor. And then of course Space Ghost, the Herculoids, and the Galaxy Trio are still waiting to really get the spotlight. There’s a lot going on in this book, in other words, and it continues to be wildly entertaining. [EC]
Writer/Artist: Simon Roy
Publisher: Image Comics
I've recently been reading Prophet for the first time, now I have the chance to sweep through whole trades at a time, and the experience has offered a proper opportunity to sit down and live inside Simon Roy's world for extended lengths of time. And it's an spectacular experience — a swooping, grandstanding place which fills each scene with an incredible realist beauty which feels absolutely true to whatever alien location he's inventing at the time. Roy was a perfect fit for that series because he can be so specific in the weirdness he locates into each scene. Whether offering a panoramic gaze across a distant plain or adding in an extra bizarre caterpillar to a tree branch just because he can, Roy is able to make the incredible seem completely, well, credible. And that's what's so exciting about Habitat this week, which offers another opportunity for some extended time in his world. Roy serialized this through the Island magazine, but now it's out in trade paperback — described as a "barbarian adventure" which sends protagonist Hank Cho spiraling through the orbital habitat he lives in, trying to avert a Civil War he may have accidentally triggered. It's pure Simon Roy, and irresistible for that. [Steve Morris]