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?"

Indeed, the Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader looking for something new, much less the comics-curious totally unfamiliar with the myriad creators, characters and publishers the industry has to offer -- no to mention the sometimes confusing nature of comics' system of periodicals, trades, crossovers, pre-ordering, variants, reprints, and all the other dark mysteries of comic book shopping.

It's with these challenges in mind that we've created Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), an ongoing guide curated by rotating members of the ComicsAlliance staff. This is where new comics readers will find the easiest access to the best variety of cool books our storytelling medium has to offer, and where seasoned Wednesday shoppers can find recommendations for new titles to try out.


    Comic book periodicals, usually around 20 pages in length and priced from $2.99 - $4.99. Singles are typically published monthly, but some titles ship twice a month or even weekly. Also published digitally, singles are the preferred format for many longtime comic book readers and ideal if you like your stories serialized and with cliffhangers.


    Writer: Kurt Busiek
    Artist: Ben Dewey
    Publisher: Image Comics

    It's hard to know where to begin describing Autumnlands, one of the best of Image's new series launches. On a very surface level, it's a Game of Thrones-esque take on the whole talking animals thing, but in reality it's so much more. The first three issues introduced us to anthropomorphic beasts whose society which developed around magic. A shockingly violent catastrophe threw this world and its sprawling cast of characters into upheaval, kicking off a truly addictive, harrowing storyline that reveals more and more about Busiek and Dewey's very well conceptualized world.

    Publisher Description: With the Great Champion away, the city is vulnerable to Goodfoot's machinations.

  • BATGIRL #39

    Writers: Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher
    Artist: Babs Tarr
    Publisher: DC Comics

    Revitalization and characterization are the hallmarks of DC's most talked about new book. Babs Tarr and Maris Wicks breathe new life into this character with big, expressive artwork that compliments the youthful vitality of Batgirl's character and her new life in the hippest part of Gotham, while Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher craft a story that's as much a slice of life drama as it is a satisfying superhero adventure, with contemporary themes like internet privacy, fashion and art.

    Publisher Description: For months, Batgirl's been hounded by an unseen threat claiming to be the 'real' Batgirl, and the truth of her enemy's identity will shock her to her very core!


    Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
    Artist: Robert Wilson IV
    Publisher: Image Comics

    One of the most curious background characters from the first two issues gets a spotlight in the latest Bitch Planet -- the dark, violent and deeply corrupt prison where "non-compliant" women are sent to learn how to be ladies. In its creators' words, imagine Inglourious Basterds meets Margaret Atwood.

    Publisher Description: 'Too Big to Fail' reveals the specific events leading to zaftig Penny Rolle's incarceration. ROBERT WILSON IV (Knuckleheads) joins KELLY SUE DeCONNICK (PRETTY DEADLY, CAPTAIN MARVEL) on art duties for this flashback issue. 


    Writer: Various
    Artist: Various
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    There's always some unexpected coolness in this award winning anthology, and what's technically its 200th issue seems to be no exception. The latest edition comes with an original story by Gone Girl novelist and screenwriter Gillian Flynn and Dave Gibbons, the venerable co-creator of Watchmen. There's also a new Hellboy collaboration by creator Mike Mignola and Casanova and Daytripper's Fábio Moon.

    Publisher Description: In this 80-page, two hundredth issue of the multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-winning anthology, Mike Mignola and Fabio Moon revisit Hellboy's time in Mexico with a follow-up to their story 'The Coffin Man.' Fred Van Lente delivers a story about the telepathic cyborg gorilla Ape-X! Brendan McCarthy's Dream Gang returns! And Sergio Aragones delivers the first chapter of a new Groo tale with writer Mark Evanier!

    • Features a story from Gillian Flynn (Gone Girl) and Dave Gibbons (Watchmen)! 80 pages! 3 Eisners! 3 Harveys! Five bucks!
    • Mike Mignola (W), Fred Van Lente (W), Alex de Campi (W), Damon Gentry (W), Ed Brisson (W), Matt Kindt (W/A), Brendan McCarthy (W/A), Mark Evanier (W), Gustavo Duarte (W/A), Gillian Flynn (W), Dave Gibbons (A), Fabio Moon (A), Miguel Sepulveda (A), Jerry Ordway (A), Aaron Conley (A), Michael Walsh (A), Sergio Aragones (A), Gabriel Ba (Cover), and Eric Powell (Variant cover).
  • EI8HT #1

    Writers: Rafael Albuquerque, Mike Johnson
    Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    Rafael Albuquerque has been creating some truly excellent comic book artwork for years, particularly in the pages of Vertigo's historical horror book, American Vampire, which he co-created with Scott Snyder. His latest creation, Ei8ht, takes a totally different turn towards high energy science fiction. The series debuts this week.

    Publisher Description: Welcome to the Meld, an inhospitable dimension in time where Joshua, a chrononaut, finds himself trapped. With no memory or feedback from the team of scientists that sent him, he can’t count on anything but his heart and a stranger’s voice to guide him to his destiny.* From the artist of American Vampire!* Cowritten with Mike Johnson (Supergirl)!* Traverse the past, the present, the future . . . and welcome to the Meld!


    Writer: Ollie Masters
    Artist: Ming Doyle
    Publisher: Vertigo

    The Kitchen is a filthy little crime book about the wives of locked up mobsters and the actions they take to hold on to everything their families have fought for. Each woman has her own story and her own demons, and it's been fun and fascinating to see how they've managed (sometimes in spite of themselves) to assume new roles in criminal society. This week's issue four is the one we've been waiting for: the husbands get paroled.

    Publisher Description: It's the day Kath, Raven and Angie have been dreading: their husbands are released from prison, and they're not happy with their wives' new careers. But as the girls settle into their new lives and assert their dominance over crime in Hell's Kitchen, they have to ask themselves one question: Are they willing to go to war with their own husbands?

  • LAZARUS #15

    Writer: Greg Rucka
    Artist: Michael Lark
    Publisher: Image Comics

    Possibly the most depressingly plausible dystopian future comic of the moment, Lazarus is a must-read for fans of intricate world building and what I like to call high anxiety comics. Every issue is a pressure cooker of violence and death, depicting the ongoing machinations of the world's most powerful families to steal control from each other via Lazarus -- genetically modified relations tasked with protecting each family and enforcing their laws.

    Publisher Description: The Conclave concludes, and Malcolm's plan seems on the verge of success, but one thing still stands in his way: Jakob Hock has demanded a Trial by Combat, and now Forever must fight the Lazarus of Hock's choosing to the death...


    Writer: Sam Humphries
    Artist: Paco Medina
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    The current Star-Lord series actually improves on the Guardians of the Galaxy film by stripping out the character's more misogynistic qualities and making Peter Quill a romantic hero who just wants to have a nice holographic-date with his long distance girlfriend Kitty Pryde (of the X-Men), but cosmic calamity keeps getting in the way. Every new issue of this book has been more charming than the last, which isn't to say it's not action-packed. Fans of the movie should be reading Legendary Star-Lord.

    Publisher Description:

    • The 3rd chapter of the BLACK VORTEX!
    • With a schism forming within the assembled heroes, the youngest among them face the temptation of immeasurable power.
    • Sometimes those with great power shirk their responsibility to use it for good, though.
    • And with Knife and his new business partner looking to take back the Black Vortex, the group may have left themselves defenseless.

    Writers: Noelle Stevenson, Shannon Watters
    Artist: Carolyn Nowak
    Publisher: BOOM! Box

    The issue Lumberjanes fans have been waiting for: Mal and Molly go on a duet adventure.

    Publisher Description: Mal and Molly are on an adventure they don't really understand, but they will rely on each other to make it back to their friends and camp. What is the Bear Woman up to this time? And what are Jo, April, and Ripley up to while their friends fight for their lives?

  • MS MARVEL #12

    Writer: G. Willow Wilson
    Artist: Adrian Alphona
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    What Batgirl is for DC, Ms Marvel is for Marvel: revitalization, energy, humor, and what CA writer Juliet Kahn described as "the beating heart of superhero comics." The heart metaphor is apt, as this week's new issue is the Valentine's Day special.

    Publisher Description:

    • Love is in Jersey City as Valentine's Day arrives!
    • Kamala Khan may not be allowed to go to the dance, but Ms. Marvel is!
    • Well sort of - by crashing it attempting to capture Asgard's most annoying trickster!
    • Yup, it's a special Valentine's Day issue featuring Marvel's favorite charlatan, Loki!

    Writer: Grant Morrison
    Artists: Jim Lee and Scott Williams
    Publisher: DC Comics

    This is the comic where we see Hitler reading Superman comics on the toilet.

    Publisher Description: Superstar writer Grant Morrison joins legendary artist Jim Lee on Earth-10 for one of the most dynamic, action-packed issues of this entire world-shattering series - THE MULTIVERSITY: MASTERMEN! Imagine a world where the Nazis not only won World War II but went on to direct world culture for the next 60 years with the help of an orphaned, alien super-weapon known as Overman! But hope is not lost! Rising from the ashes of oppression are a diverse band of heroes raging against the fascist regime - a band of heroes known as THE FREEDOM FIGHTERS! What nightmarish parallel worlds haunt the dreams of Overman? Who is the mysterious figure called Uncle Sam? And when the dust settles, will the actions of Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Human Bomb, Doll Man and The Ray be enough to stop Leatherwing, Blitzen and the other 'heroes' of Earth-X? Learn all this and more in this exciting issue that acts as chapter seven of the critically acclaimed MULTIVERSITY storyline.


    Writer: Skottie Young
    Artist: Felipe Andrade
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Skottie Young's Rocket Raccoon series is inspired by the great, crazy space action comics of the late '80s and early '90s, particularly the Lobo work of Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisely. It's an always enjoyable, typically single-issue-friendly blend of wryly crude humor and over-the-top action, and when it's drawn by Felipe Andrade, it's one you're going to want to buy.

    Publisher Description:

    • The meanest, toughest, wittiest, and furriest Guardian of the galaxy just broke out his BIGGEST GUNS.
    • Because it's ON. or ON-ER. THE MOST ON! Whatever, you get it.
    • Join superstar Skottie Young and sensational artist Filipe Andrade (Captain Marvel, Figment) in a Rocket adventure that breaks all the rules (including grammar).
  • SHE-HULK #12

    Writer: Charles Soule
    Artist: Javier Pulido
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    The most idiosyncratic Marvel series in years comes to a close this week, wrapping up storylines and setting up She-Hulk's new status quo. If you'd told me one year ago that one of my favorite artists, Javier Pulido, would draw a legit courtroom dramedy with superheroes in it -- with covers by the amazing Kevin Wada --  and that I would really love it, well... actually that does sound like it would be great -- and it was.

    Publisher Description:

    • The end of the Blue File… and the end of an era!
    • But when one door closes, another one opens, and Jen finds herself face to face with her most important case yet.

    Writer: Dan Slott
    Artist: Michael Allred
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Possibly the comic I look forward to most every month, Silver Surfer is best described as a feel-good space opera. Every issue follows human woman Dawn Greenwood on her cosmic adventures with the enigmatic former Herald of Galactus, who comes further and further out of his silver shell as he sees the glories of the universe through Dawn's enthusiastic eyes. It's truly fun, heartwarming stuff, which is what makes me think Allred and Slott are about to pull the rug out from under us with something that's really gonna hurt.

    Publisher Description:

    • This is the moment everything changes.
    • There is no coming back from this.
    • Don't read this comic alone.
    • You're going to need someone close by.

    Trades: Colloquial term for paperback or hardcover compilations of comic book stories originally published as singles. Essentially, the DVD box set of the comic book world. Designed for bookshelves but also available digitally, trades are the preferred format for many readers who enjoy comic book narratives in easily digestible chunks. Similar to television's relationship with DVDs and Netflix, this comic book format has given rise to the phrase, "Wait for the trade."

    Graphic Novels: A disputed term in the comic book industry, graphic novels are most simply described as any comic book that is a complete story in a more-or-less novel-length format. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with trades, as stories released as trades are often effectively graphic novels, and over time some titles, like The Sandman, are regarded as graphic novel series.


    Writer: Jean-Claude Forest, translated by Kelly Sue DeConnick
    Artist: Jean-Claude Forest
    Publisher: Humanoids

    The book that launched a cult is back in print courtesy of Humanoids and translator Kelly Sue DeConnick, whose work has been promoted as a contemporary take on the original text by Jean-Claude Forest. Barbarella is regarded as a classic in sci-fi and European comics, and picking up this new edition is a fine opportunity to find out why.

    Publisher Description:  Jean-Claude Forest's timeless erotic Sci-Fi classic, from which the cult-favorite movie of the same name stems from, is now available featuring a brand new, contemporary English-language adaptation by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick (Marvel's Captain Marvel, Avengers Assemble, Dark Horse's Ghost, Image's Pretty Deadly). Published in black & white, this edition includes both the original Barbarella graphic novel and its never-before-published-in-the-English-language sequel, The Wrath of the Minute Eater.


    Writer: Dwayne McDuffie
    Artist: Val Semeiks and Dan Green with Brian Stelfreeze
    Publisher: DC Comics

    It's difficult to talk about without spoiling the twists and turns this densely plotted tale takes, but Blink is an epic, self-contained Batman story that delves deep into the world of Gotham. It comes from the much beloved, very influential and dearly missed comic book and television writer Dwayne McDuffie, and is a highlight of DC's original run of Legends of the Dark Knight.

    Publisher Description: When a blind man with the power to see through the eyes of other men accidentally taps into the mind of a serial killer, Batman finds himself at the center of a conspiracy that reaches from the streets of Gotham City straight up into its cathedrals of power. Collects BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #156-158 and #164-167.


    Writer: Ed Brubaker
    Artist: Sean Phillips
    Publisher: Image Comics

    This hugely acclaimed noir series is being reissued by Image in a new set of paperbacks, of which "Lawless" is the second. Completists will have a deeper understanding of the world in which each of these yarns take place, but every volume of Criminal can be read on its own. "Lawless" is a major work in the series, and as good a place to start as any.

    Publisher Description: LAWLESS: A story of brotherly love and hate, as Tracy Lawless finally returns home to find out who murdered his kid brother, and how much their family history has doomed them both. This is where BRUBAKER and PHILLIPS take the world they created in CRIMINAL, VOL. 1 and begin stretching the boundaries of what crime comics can be. 


    Writers: Phil Jimenez, Richard Isanove
    Artists: Phil Jimenez, Richard Isanove
    Publisher: Marvel Comics

    Savage Wolverine started out as a showcase for artists to stretch their creative muscles with largely out-of-continuity (or at least, not-continuity-heavy) stories of Marvel's most popular hero in any scenario they could imagine. I'm a big fan of those kinds of anthology-style titles, and this was a very good one. The "Wrath" collection features work by Phil Jimenez and Richard Isanove, who rarely get to write for themselves, and who turn in some very entertaining comics (and very pretty pictures) with the stories collected in this volume.

    Publisher Description: Two savage tales by industry superstars! First, Wolverine encounters a brutal killer on an African safari — one that will take him halfway across the world, back to his old stomping grounds of Madripoor. But all is not as he left it. And as Wolverine tends to family business, he makes a shocking discovery! Guest-starring Kitty Pryde! Then, during the 1930s, Logan was a bootlegger — until he found himself the accidental caretaker of a group of orphans whose family was targeted by the mob. Now, Logan must choose between the anonymous life he meticulously built or stepping into the spotlight again to defend the innocent. Corrupt cops, a cross-country chase and a mysterious conspiracy stand against him — and as a vicious dust storms bears down, Logan learns the brutal secret of Grand Rapids! Collecting SAVAGE WOLVERINE #12-17.


    Writer: Jason Aaron
    Artist: RM Guera
    Publisher: Vertigo

    Fans of Jason Aaron's great work at Marvel may not be familiar with his most critically acclaimed work, Scalped, the Native American-inspired crime saga published by Vertigo. Long completed, the series is being reissued as a set of deluxe hardcover volumes that are ideal for new readers.

    Publisher Description: The first eleven issues of the acclaimed series are collected in hardcover for the first time! Dashiell Bad Horse has come home to the reservation armed with a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and a dark secret. But nothing has changed - except for the glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime. Includes sketch material by artist R.M. Guera.


    Naturally, many of the best comic books ever have been released for quite some time. Every week we select one or two perennials that readers new and old should add to their collections.


    Writer: Matt Wagner
    Artist: Matt Wagner, Various
    Publisher: Dark Horse

    When we talk about American comics in the 1980s, we're usually talking about Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Swamp Thing, Sandman, etc. But there was more going on back then than just reinventions of icons or redefining the cape genre. As far as I'm concerned, the vanguard also included Matt Wagner and his signature creation, Grendel. Specifically, the story called "Devil by the Deed," the first chapter of this omnibus volume from Dark Horse. Presented as an uncanny and gorgeous art deco hybrid of comics and illustrated prose and colored only in black, white and red, the book presents the abridged life story of Hunter Rose, a dashing and uncommonly brilliant author. The flamboyant Hunter dazzles New York by day, but torments it by night as the super criminal Grendel. Driven by what sometimes seems like a supernatural compulsion to utterly dominate all he surveys, Grendel is brutal, violent and unrelenting. And his stories are amazing.

    Wager revealed Hunter's fate in that first chapter, but filled in years in between his life and death with some of the most beautifully drawn comics you will ever see in the forms of two anthologies featuring work by... uh, everybody: Tim Sale, D'Israeli, John Paul Leon, Duncan Fegredo, David Mack, Tim Bradstreet, Scott Morse, Paul Chadwick, Michael Allred, Guy Davis, Jason Pearson, Chris Sprouse, Jill Thompson, Stan Sakai, Jim Mahfood, Tom Fowler, Kelley Jones, Andi Watson, Dan Brereton, Phil Hester, Michael Avon Oeming, Phil Noto, Zander Cannon, Cliff Chiang, Farel Dalrymple, Michael Zulli and more. All written by Wagner, all in different styles, and all creating an immersive and haunting tapestry of one of the most fierce and fearsome characters in comics.

    Publisher Description:  Matt Wagner's masterpiece celebrates its thirtieth anniversary with the first-ever comprehensive collection of the complete Grendelsaga! The first of four volumes presenting the entire series and following the chronology of the stories, this edition introduces millionaire Hunter Rose and his alter ego, the criminal mastermind Grendel!

    Volume 1 reprints Grendel: Devil by the Deed; the short story collections Grendel: Black, White, & Red and Grendel: Red, White, & Black, featuring a host of legendary guest artists; and the epic Grendel: Behold the Devil.

    * The complete series, collected for the first time!

    * 600 pages!

    "Grendel is a brave and possibly even reckless experiment that has succeeded admirably." --Alan Moore (Watchmen)


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