Best Comic Books Ever (This Week): New Releases for August 25 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.
KINGSWAY WEST #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
There’s a lot of stuff that’s interesting about Kingsway West. There’s Greg Pak’s attempt to streamline the pre-ordering process, something that I genuinely wish more comic book stores were open to and that more creators were up for trying out themselves, even if, in a perfect world, they shouldn’t have to. But beyond that, right there on the page, is the same kind of interesting hook that I think we’ve all come to expect from Greg Pak.
Together with Mirko Colak, he’s promised the adventures of a Chinese gunslinger in an old west overrun by magic — so overrun, in fact, that a pretty large chunk of California is now the newest addition to the Pacific Ocean. It’s high concept on top of high concept, and it’s the first thing I want to read this week. [Chris Sims]
LAKE OF FIRE #1
Writer: Nathan Fairbairn
Artists: Matt Smith, Nathan Fairbairn
Publisher: Image Comics
Aliens shimmy on down to France in the 1220s, as a group of knights find themselves face-to-face with something that flies against everything they thought they knew. The series is about the bizarre mix of dark-ages humanity versus incomprehensible intergalactic species, and seems a welcome change of pace for Image. It sees Nathan Fairbairn turn from colorist to writer, as he sets up the narrative and provides it with startling, rich colors that sell both the unexplored time period and the unexpected arrival that makes up this opening issue. And Smith, a hugely underappreciated talent, proves a perfect choice of artist for this, providing grizzled, tough looking people who are struggling to keep themselves composed in the face of the godless horror they’re now finding to be a very real threat.
What I think seems most exciting about the series is that Fairbairn actually has something he wants to say. There’s a surprising number of comics which seem thematically limp, with no underlying idea of theme that the creative team want to explore — here, though, Fairbairn and Smith truly set us up with a narrative that keeps the pace up whilst allowing for some deeper, richer storytelling. It’s not getting talked about as much as some other comics out this week, but I’m completely confident that this will prove to be an assured piece of work. [Steve Morris]
Writer: Hope Larson
Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Publisher: DC Comics
There have been a couple pleasant surprises in the Rebirth initiative, but when it comes to sheer energy, nothing has outdone the first issue of Hope Larson and Rafael Albuquerque’s Batgirl. It’s essentially everything you want a teenage (or early 20s or whatever Barbara Gordon is now) superhero comic to be: bright, colorful, action-packed, mysterious, non-pandering to youth culture, inclusive, and respectful of elders. Larson has said that there will be plenty of new characters introduced as Babs backpacks around Asia, and she knocked it out of the park her first time up with Fruit Bat, a retired Japanese superhero whose octogenarian foot can still kick your ass. There is absolutely no hyperbole in what I’m about to say here: I want a Fruit Bat series chronicling her Silver Age adventures in Japan, and I want it yesterday.
For now I’ll settle for Batgirl #2. [John Parker]
Writer: Jody Houser
Artist: Pere Perez and Marguerite Sauvage
Faith is up against her first real supervillain, and you’ll never guess who it is! Okay, you already know if you read the first issue, because that was the cliffhanger ending. But it’s pretty shocking, and there’s going to need to be some substantial explaining to make it make sense. But I’m confident this book is up to the task.
This ongoing series is already holding up great next to the wildly popular mini that led into it. The alternating art by Pere Perez (drawing reality) and Marguerite Sauvage (drawing Faith’s imagination) blends perfectly and brings something unique to the book. And Faith is such a likable and relatable character, which is the number one thing that keeps me coming back. [Elle Collins]
MIGHTY MORPHIN POWER RANGERS ANNUAL #1
Writers: Kyle Higgins, Ross Thibodeux, Marguerite Bennett, Trey Moore, James Kochalka, and Jorge Corona
Artists: Rod Reis, Rob Guillory, Huang Danlan, Terry Moore, James Kochalka, and Jorge Corona
Publisher: Boom Studios
Hey, did you know that I’m fascinated by Power Rangers, specifically the minor characters and bizarre, offbeat situations that they find themselves in when the stories veer away from the standard giant monster fights? I try to keep it quiet, but it’s true. If you do know that, though, it probably won’t surprise you that the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Annual is one of my most anticipated comics of the year.
Seriously, if you combine the usual function of an Annual, which is to give an extra story that can exist outside of the regular direction for the book and shine a spotlight onto lesser-known characters, and combine it with the strange world of the Power Rangers, you get… well, you get the contents of this comic. An origin story for Goldar! Bulk and Skull as Power Rangers! Kimberly gets turned into a bunny! And for real, a story about a lovestruck Putty Patroller from James Kochalka? This is, believe it or not, exactly what I wanted when the Power Rangers comics started. [CS]
GENERATION ZERO #1
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artists: Francis Portela, Andrew Dalhouse
Publisher: Valiant Comics
A few years ago Valiant set a group of superpowered children loose on the world, and… well, they left them loose, vanishing from the comics for a very long time. This week though, that story thread gets picked up again, with Valiant looking to prove that no stone is ever unturned for too long. Generation Zero are those children, who have great power, but perhaps not the greatest barometer for who they should use them against, or when, or why. Fred Van Lente and Francis Portela have spent plenty of time swanning through the Valiant Universe, both together and individually, and Generation Zero’s selling point is this opportunity for us to see them both working on the same project for an extended period of time. We’ve seen similar concepts on books like The Movement, but here we’ll likely get to see – at least Van Lente – working on a single long-form narrative for at minimum a year, exploring the characters and developing the theme. That’s something Valiant have which other companies tend not to be able to offer – some consistency, even through their lesser-known comics. For that reason, given the strong creative team, it seems like it’d be ridiculous for you to not get in on the ground-floor with this one. [SM]
SIX-PACK AND DOG WELDER: HARD-TRAVELIN HEROZ #1
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Russell Braun
I’m going to put myself out there and proclaim that Sixpack and Dogwelder: Hard-Travelin’ Heroz is sure to become another classic superhero road story, in the tradition of Green Lantern/Green Arrow, Swamp Thing: American Gothic and of course Superman: Grounded. When titular heroz Sixpack and Dogwelder of Gotham uberteam Section 8 hit the bricks, they do so on a journey of self-discovery guided by a chainsmoking, trenchcoated magus. Apart from being notable for featuring Ennis’ return to John Constantine (you got that I was referring to John Constantine, right?), the preceding series in the Sixpack saga, All-Star Section 8, was one of Ennis’ best parodies ever, as harsh and hilarious as it was empathetic. Expect a nice mixture of black, grotesque humor, mean-spirited portrayals of your heroes that will probably piss you off, and at least one moment that will break your heart. [JP]
Writer: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Snotgirl, it almost goes without saying, is unlike anything else in comics. On one level, it’s about style, focusing on Lottie Person, a social media star and fashion plate who has a superficial nickname for everyone she knows. But it’s also about the inescapable abjection of bodies, particularly Lottie’s body, which is prone to the constant allergic reaction that gives the series its title. It’s a comic about dealing with the discrepancy between the face we show to the world and the gross part of ourselves that we keep hidden. And on top of all that, there’s the surprise cliffhanger from the first issue, which is sure to make things even more interesting here. [EC]
THE OMEGA MEN: THE END IS HERE TP
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: DC Comics
Every few years — not often — a series comes around and as you’re reading it you realise that while it may not seem like it at the time, this one’s going to change comics. This one’s important. Now I’m prone to hyperbole, so take my word with a pinch of salt, but The Omega Men is one of those comics. Over the course of twelve issues, King and Begenda constructed an intricate and delicate galactic house of cards and tore it all down in one of the most powerful and gripping political dramas in comics.
The series realises The Omega Men’s potential as a franchise and kinda leaves them in a place where it’s going to be hard to do another story, because it will always be in the shadow of this one. Like I said, I’m prone to hyperbole but this is going to be remembered as one of the most groundbreaking and vital superhero comics of this decade, and you need to read it. [Kieran Shiach]
X-MEN: WORST X-MAN EVER TP
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Michael Walsh
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Bailey Hoskins is a mutant enrolled in the Xavier Academy For Gifted Youngsters, but he has the worst mutant power ever. Yes, worse than Maggott. He can create a massive explosion, kinda like the villain Nitro, but the difference is that Nitro can reconstitute himself afterwards. Bailey can make a giant explosion… once, and then he’s dead.
What starts out as a dark comedy slapstick superhero tale quickly morphs into a nuanced and thoughtful take on the nature of continuity, especially as it relates to X-Men. Bemis has an incredibly strong handle on how to navigate superhero comics, and Michael Walsh should be a superstar already after his work on this and Secret Avengers. [KS]