Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for September 28 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: Brandon Easton
Artist: Tony Vargas
When I was four years old, I loved MASK with a fervor that was matched only by my love for Batman, and I still maintain that the sheer weight of gimmicks going into that cartoon and toy line — Cars that transform! Secret Agents! Masks that give you superpowers! — made it inherently more interesting than its more well-known competitors. But here’s the thing: I went back and watched an episode a while back, and I have to admit that even if you’re going at it with the strongest possible nostalgia, that cartoon is not very good.
This, then, is our chance. With the big Revolution crossover laying the groundwork for a story where it makes perfect sense for the army to develop cars that transform into airplanes and give them to a team of daring, highly trained special missions force operatives, MASK has an even better shot at working now than ever before. They should absolutely keep that theme song going, though. Working o-ver-time! Fight-ing crime! [Chris Sims]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
I feel confident now that DC, through the work of Hope Larson and Raphael Albuquerque, have stuck the post-Burnside landing with Batgirl. It helps that they’ve taken Barbara not just out of Burnside but far away from Gotham altogether, with a story set across Asia. Each issue of the story seems to take Batgirl to a different country where she finds people to learn from, but also people that she’ll end up fighting. She’s been to Japan and Singapore, and apparently this issue she’s headed to Korea. The cover also features a woman in a really cool moth costume, which is something else to look forward to. [Elle Collins]
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Jason Shawn Alexander and Luic NCT
Published by Vertigo Comics
Vertigo has been rediscovering its place in the comics publishing landscape over the past couple of years, and with titles such as Clean Room and Unfollow paving the way as part of the new Vertigo. Frostbite is part of the next stage of that, and is set during a new Ice Age as the people of Earth try to survive in the harshest of conditions.
In all honesty, I’ve already read Frostbite #1 and it’s real good. It’s hard, down-to-Earth sci-fi with a compelling lead and a story that’ll hook you from the start. Williamson and Alexander construct a compelling world in the space of a single issue and everything promises that this could be the next big hit from Vertigo. [Kieran Shiach]
Writer: Sholly Fisch
Artist: Dario Brizuela
Publisher: DC Comics
This fallen world is a dark and cruel place. That much is evident, and that we must endure the trials of this life is all the proof I need that the universe is cold and uncaring, blind to our troubles and deaf to our cries for mercy. But even at is darkest, even at its cruelest, there is hope, for this is a world in which Scooby-Doo Team-Up continues to exist.
For a year and a half, the digital-first series has been slipping under the radar, quietly throwing the most amazing sets of characters together. And while they’re certainly involved, it’s not just the DC Comics superheroes that you might expect. This week’s for instance, has them teaming up with all manner of super-dogs: Ace the Bat-Hound, Krypto the Super-Dog, the Blue Falcon’s cybernetic canine sidekick Dyno-Mutt, and G’nort the Green Lantern, who’s not quite a dog but is close enough to count for these purposes. It’s every bit as good as it should be, and probably as good as it can be — at least until we figure out who the 2016 equivalent of Jerry Reed is. [CS]
Writer: Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio
Artist: Audrey Mok
Publisher: Archie Comics
I’m surprised Josie and the Pussycats has taken this long to get a reboot. With Jem and the Holograms going strong and other books like Spider-Gwen and Black Canary featuring women in rock bands, it feels inevitable. Not to mention, the Josie and the Pussycats movie, once regarded as a failure, has become a cult film that people are nostalgic for. Which means even if they hadn’t started out in comics, Josie and friends would stand a pretty good chance of getting a comic in 2016. So now that Archie has taken this long to give us a new Josie and the Pussycats, and gathered a creative team that involves Marguerite Bennett and Audrey Mok, it’s going to be really interesting to see what this comic is like. [EC]
Written by Benjamin Percy
Art by Jonboy Meyers
Publisher: DC Comics
Teen Titans is one of DC Comics’ biggest properties, but for the past 10 years it hasn’t been represented as such in the comics. Several failed relaunches and new creative teams have stifled the team’s popularity and DC have repeatedly failed to capitalize on the massively popular animated series from which most fans are aware of the franchise.
However, this week sees a relaunch which could be the kick in the backside Teen Titans needs as Benjamin Percy and Jonboy Meyers breathe new life into the team with the addition of Damian Wayne and the new Kid Flash, Wally West. Meyers’ art is breathtakingly energetic and will hopefully be a perfect match for a fun-filled, action packed run that puts Teen Titans back where they belong. [KS]
By Tom Hart
Published by St. Martin's Press
One of the most acclaimed comics of the year, Tom Hart's deeply personal Rosalie Lightning is a hugely difficult comic to read. Biographical, Hart put the story together as a part of the grieving process following the loss of his daughter Rosalie two years into her life. As such, a lot of the book feels raw, and wrenching, as the reader has to witness a couple fall into hopelessness in the face of an impossibly traumatic situation. That the book came out at all is incredible, but that Hart could also turn his grief into creative expression — and make that expression so meaningful and coherent as is seen throughout the book — is undeniably powerful.
Rosalie Lightning isn't a book I can recommend to everyone, and the very nature of the subject matter makes it a hard book for anyone to read, let alone any readers who may have had similar experiences. Yet what I will say is that this is a transformative read: if you choose to pick this one up, you'll find yourself reevaluating so much about life — it's a book which holds a real power within it. If it's something you feel prepared to read this week, then I really recommend that you do just that. [Steve Morris]
Writer/artist: Jill Thompson
Publisher: DC Comics
At the dawn of the 1990s, Jill Thompson worked briefly as an artist on DC's Wonder Woman title, and while the work was solid and looked stylistically similar to some of her Vertigo work (you can see a big chunk of it in the recently released collection Wonder Woman: War of the Gods), it's safe to say that this was well before Thompson found her current style. This was, of course, before her Sandman-related storybooks and manga tankobon-style original graphic novels; before her Scary Godmother and before her Magic Trixie.
So it's particularly exciting that Thompson is returning to the Wonder Woman character now, at the height of her creative powers. True Amazon is a standalone, 130-page, fully-painted graphic novel about Wonder Woman's early years, in which the superhero gets spoiled by adoration and attention, and learns to come into into her own as a well, as a true Amazon, I suppose.
Whether you come for the Wonder Woman or the Jill Thompson, this promises to be a pretty remarkable book. [Caleb Mozzocco]
By Luke Pearson
Published by Nobrow Press
The jewel sparkling in Nobrow's crown, Luke Pearson's work on the Hilda books over the last few years has been a phenomenal deepening of a comics talent who came into the series already an accomplished cartoonist and genius-level storyteller. The series follows Hilda, a young girl who lives with her mother out in the wilderness. Always adventurous and looking for something to do, she and her reindeer-dog Twig go out into the woods to find danger and mystery.
The latest in the series sees the pair accidentally drag Hilda's long-suffering mother into their latest quest, as her concern for her daughter's well-being traps them both in a strange, dark forest — one populated with trolls! It's another standalone story, but one which subtly pays off on plot points weaved into each of the past stories, and a look at the bonds between mothers and daughters. With a wonderfully expressive color palette and ever-sterling eye to quiet, unblemished storytelling, Pearson's latest stands proudly among his other works. We look at works like Tintin as being distant memories of faded comics greatness; but Hilda is a series which surely will one day be looked at as a successor to the works of people like Herge, and a future classic in its own right. [SM]
Writers: William Moulton Marston, Robert Kanigher, Denny O'Neil and others
Artists: H.G. Peter, Mike Sekowsky, Gene Colan and others
DC's Celebration of 75 Years collections have all been pretty fascinating reads so far, not only for the way they offer a glimpse at the evolution of their iconic characters over the decades and not only for all of the high-quality comics from a who's who of creators included, but also because the particular stories chosen (especially near the end of the books, chosen from modern times when the amount of choices for what to include grow so exponentially) can highlight what the publisher wishes to emphasize about the particular character. Hell, even the cover images chosen reveal what the publisher thinks is the most definitive image of those characters (this one is from Cliff Chiang, who drew the bulk of the 2011-launched fourth volume of the series and is stylistically a great departure from the majority of the cover images chosen in previous Celebration of... collections).
Any fan of the character can probably guess many of the creators whose work appears in these 300 pages. In addition to those named above, you'll of course find that of George Perez, Phil Jiminez, Greg Rucka, Mike Deodato, Gail Simone, Brian Azzarello and even some relative surprises, like Darwyn Cooke. Anyone not a fan should, as in previous volumes, find a lot of suggestions for which creative teams and particular takes to explore should they wish to read more Wonder Woman. [CM]