Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for September 7 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: Ryan North
Artist: Derek Charm
Publisher: Archie Comics
Under its previous creative team, Jughead did a particularly great job of balancing the more realistic world of the Archie reboot with the wackier tone of the classic comics. The new team of North and Charm certainly aren’t afraid to take that even farther, re-introducing the magic of Sabrina the Teenage Witch into the world of Riverdale. Sabrina’s mostly been a character in horror comics for the last couple of years, and while she’s great at that, I’m really excited to see an updated version of the comedic witch she was created to be. And using her as a foil for Jughead like a perfect introduction. [Elle Collins]
Writer: Robbie Thompson
Artists: Tana Ford, Ian Herring, Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Silk's series has continued to expand outwards over the last year, with the character's whole world developing and changing in fun, important ways. It was vital that the series get the chance to create a supporting cast which defined Cindy Moon apart from her connection to the pre-existing Marvel Universe, but it was also key that those ties not be lost in the process. Giving Silk drive and meaning was essential, and her continuing mission to find out what happened to her parents has created a fulfilling, desperate agency for the series and the character which has made her arguably the best character in the Spidey books right now.
Robbie Thompson has been a huge part of that, but Tana Ford has made herself an indispensable part of the comic. With Stacey Lee popping in and out on occasion, it's been Ford who has stuck as the primary artist for the book, and she's clearly developed a passion for both the characters and the tone of the book. It comes across on every page. Issue #12 takes the character — and her friends — into the Negative Zone, as they continue their search for The Parents Moon. Some people are sleeping on Silk — but don't forget about it, in all the Civil Warring and Inhumanity that Marvel thrust at you. Silk is a charm, a wonderfully enjoyable character whose series has continued to deliver at an impressively consistent level. [Steve Morris]
Writers: Jeremy Robinson and Matt Frank
Artist: Matt Frank
I don’t think there’s ever been a single sentence in a solicitation that got me more hyped than “From creators who brought you the smash-hit Godzilla in Hell!” I mean, even if I didn’t already know that Godzilla In Hell was one of the most fun, high-concept comics in a long, long time — heck, even if I had no idea that that comic even existed — just the very mention of that title would get me pretty interested in whatever came next.
And what’s coming next is, of course, a trip through time, because what else are you going to do when you’re a giant radioactive fire-breathing lizard who just conquered Hell after you were (pretty understandably) sent there upon your death? Of course you’re going to go fight dinosaurs. The only question is, will Godzilla stop when he gets to the present, or is this whole thing just setting up… Godzilla In Space? [Chris Sims]
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Publisher: Vertigo Comics
In war comics I crave authenticity more than anything else, whether it comes from deep, extensive research and commitment to the facts, or the authoritative point-of-view that stems from somebody who has actually lived through it. In The Sheriff Of Babylon I'm being treated to both: an artist with the meticulous visual accuracy of Mitch Gerads, who renders every piece of standard military issue like he has god-level attention to detail, and Tom King, a former CIA counterterrorism officer who actually served in Iraq. While King articulates the chaos, fear, and opportunism of the region, Gerads makes everything look just about as real as comics can get, including the stuff you don't really want to see. The thing is: you need to see it, and Sheriff Of Babylon is a modern war classic that gets more intense with every issue. [John Parker]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Brittney Williams
Publisher: Boom Studios
The first Goldie Vance story arc was as charming and fun as could be. Hope Larson crafts a fun mystery story full of memorable characters, and Brittney Williams makes those characters look distinctive, stylish, and adorable. There’s Goldie, her best friend Cheryl, Walt the hotel detective, Goldie’s crush Diane, and a whole big mystery involving jewel theft, international intrigue, rocket science, and drag racing. But that story ended in Issue #4. And if that was it, it would still be a great mini-series and make a great collection. But instead we get an ongoing series, and that means a new mystery and more fun with everyone we’ve gotten to know and probably some new characters too. [EC]
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artists: Stephen Byrne, Nate Piekos
Publisher: DC Comics
Since starting with writer Benjamin Percy as part of DC's Rebirth, Green Arrow has been a title of amalgamation. Percy knows the best traits of the comics and the TV show, and he's carefully established a world where both mesh in complementary, progressive ways. Over the last few months of Green Arrow, he's carefully managed to make Oliver Queen likeable and interesting, but flawed; flaws which are fixed by the presence of half-sister Emiko back into the mix, along with Black Canary's return to the world of the Arrow.
At the same time, though, Green Arrow has distinguished itself not just by the way the story has married fan-favorite concepts with new and involving ones — but through the artistic talents involved with the series. Thanks to work he's given away for free online for a very long time, Stephen Byrne has build himself a huge fanbase, and could well be viewed as one of the hottest artists in comics right now. Adept at storytelling whilst bringing us attractive, larger-than-life character models at every turn, Byrne's work is fast, glossy, fun — but filled with life. He's a genuine superstar, and it's a huge 'get' for DC to have him on board for the next arc of the series, which will focus on Emiko, kidnapped by her mother and tranquilized up to the extent that she's having groggy flashbacks to life with her half-brother. It's likely going to be hugely entertaining. [SM]
Writer/Artist: Frank Cho
Publisher: Boom Studios
If you hate Frank Cho and everything he represents, I'm not going to try to change your mind. At a time when comics are consciously becoming more inclusive, respectful, and aware, Cho continues to produce one sexist, skin-tastic variant cover after another. (And the ones that incite the biggest uproar are tame compared to some other stuff out there.) He should probably just change his CHO signature to IDGAF, because that's the message he's sending.
But whatever your thoughts on Cho, you have to admit, the guy can draw. His layouts are dynamic, his cartooning is top shelf, and much more than his women are zaftig— every line he creates is sultry and voluptuous. When he reins in the cheesecake, he creates some excellent comics and maybe even squeezes out an empowering image or two, and I really hope that's the case with Skybourne. [JP]
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
DC’s bizarre Hanna-Barbera imprint — Future Quest excepted on account of just being straight-up awesome — continues to be the most perplexing bunch of comics on the stands. There’s another problem, though: all of these comics can be frustratingly slow. After a slam-bang first issue full of action, the entirety of Scooby Apocalypse’s second issue, for example, was devoted to a short but complicated walk to a garage and a halfhearted reference to a strange car being some kind of… mystery machine. Along the same lines, the second issue of Flintstones, which took a satirical look at the very concept of capitalism, ended with Dino showing up as a last-page reveal.
The difference there was that Flintstones told a story in the meantime, and after getting off to a rough start in its first issue — probably because nobody expected a new Flintstones title to be the source of comics’ darkest and most biting satire — it’s become one of the most interesting mainstream titles on the stands. Now, we’re starting to see how Russell and Pugh are going to fit all of those classic elements together into something new and brutal, and while I’m still a little mystified that it’s happening, I can’t say that I’m not enjoying it. [CS]
Writer: Margaret Atwood
Artist: Johnnie Christmas
Publisher: Dark Horse
"A superhero comic written by Margaret Atwood" is a sentence that definitely makes sense in 2016, no matter how strange the words feel on the tongue. She's Margaret Atwood, literary giant! This is superheroes, half a step below pulp! But we all know how much there is to love in this silly genre, and how something profound can emerge from it — even if it's just profoundly silly, as this promises to be. This is going to be a talked about comic one way or the other, and Atwood and Christmas could hit us with literally anything, from any direction. I can't wait to read it. [Charlotte Finn]
Writer/Artist: Steve Wolfhard
Publisher: Koyama Press
You may know cartoonist Steve Wolfhard best from his work on indie comics' favorite cartoon show, Adventure Time, for which he is a writer and storyboard artist. Or you may know him best from his winning illustrations for John Kloepfer's Zombie Chasers series of prose kids books. Or, if you're like me, then you know him best from his oft-forwarded comic strip "Cat Rackham Gets Depression," an epic strip that pretty perfectly captured what depression looks like from the outside and what it feels like from the inside.
Given that Koyama Press is promising a 120-page hardcover collecting all of Cat Rackham's "adventures," I think it's safe to say that strip will be here, along with plenty of other strips starring Wolfhard's square-bodied, strangely-haired cat and his many states of deep and troubling emotions. Also included? A poem by Adventure Time creator Pendleton Ward. [Caleb Mozzocco]
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Ed Benes
All right, so this is a "what if Superman, but bad" story, a genre I could stand to see the back of literally any time it feels ready to leave the room. But: this is a "what if Superman, but bad" story written by Mark Waid, and as the "what if Superman, but bad" genre goes, Waid's last at-bat turned out pretty well. I'm not expecting another Irredeemable, but Waid and Benes might give us one anyways. A story that pokes at the notion that Superman as an archetype is many things, but the underdog is rarely one of them, and exploring what that means for the character and for anyone opposing him. It's well-trod ground, but still fertile, and I hope that this latest story that springs up from it is worthwhile. [CF]
Writer/artist: Judd WInick
Publisher: Random House
Last year Judd Winick came off of nearly 15 years of focusing on mostly sub-par superhero writing with a remarkably strong graphic novel for kids that the erstwhile cartoonist drew as well as wrote, Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed To Earth. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was some of his best work in 15 years, his artwork was sharper, stronger and simpler than ever before, and he had fine-tuned the adult sense of humor of his earlier works like The Adventures of Barry Ween, Boy Genius to a kid-friendly audience. This week, his original graphic novel officially becomes a series, as Hilo (pronounced "High-Low"), a mysterious super-powered boy who landed on Earth wearing only little silver underpants who was taken in my unremarkably middle child D.J., continues to try and fit in with D.J., their friend Gina and middle-school life, while also encountering and overcoming truly bizarre adversaries that make Hilo seem normal.
I'd highly recommend it, perhaps especially to long-time Winick readers like me, who had forgotten just how good his earlier, self-drawn work was during his long detour into super-comics script-writing. The first volume was a pretty potent reminder that Winick really does know his way around a comics page and a superhero story, despite a stack of DC trade paperbacks serving as evidence to the contrary. [CM]