There’s a special feeling at comic shops on Wednesdays when two HUGE books drop, an awareness that not only are we getting great comics, but we’re getting something else we love too: an easy Book A vs. Book B debate. In general, these types of big books are usually event stories starring flagship characters from the Big 2. In general, but not always.
Let’s look at this March, during which we got two major books on one Wednesday that were both creator-owned titles by industry titans: Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead, Invincible) and Jeff Lemire (insert 20 titles here). I read and loved both Kirkman’s Oblivion Song and Lemire’s Gideon Falls and think that years from now we’ll look at March 7, 2018, awed that two titles like this launched on the very same day.
And you know what? I have no desire whatsoever to pit them against each other. Now, maybe this means I’ve evolved as a fan (unlikely), or (more likely) maybe it means there are so many high quality books lately that asserting an aggressive preference gets too tiresome, too quickly. For I am a simple man and have not come to the Internet to debate.
I have, however, come to tell you about the best debut comics for March 2018. Let’s do it!
Eternity Girl #1 of 6 by Magdalene Visaggio & Sonny Liew
Our first list falls into what I’m starting to think of as DC’s burgeoning prestige sadness category, which as of now contains basically just Eternity Girl and Mister Miracle. Magdalene Visaggio’s Eternity Girl is an eclectic book thematically, one that raises questions about suicide, disassociation from life, post-traumatic stress, malleable identities, and the always-elusive proper role one plays in the world. You can see why I’d draw a comparison to Tom King’s industry-shaking Mister Miracle. In other words, this is indeed an intriguing book. One last thing it shares in common with Mister Miracle is incredible art, this time courtesy of Sonny Liew. Have you seen some of these upcoming covers? So awesome it’s crazy, or it makes me feel a little crazy, hard to parse which is the case.
Gideon Falls #1 by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, & Dave Stewart
In January I got a copy of this for advanced review, so I’ve already heaped mounds of praise on Gideon Falls. With that in mind, I’ll just quickly recap now why I loved the latest collaboration between Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart so much.
As I said in January, this is a book deserving of a large and devoted audience, and given the star power of its creators, it will likely find it. The intrigue of the storytelling will ultimately make Gideon Falls one to follow for the long haul. It’s got influences of David Lynch, filtered through Jeff Lemire’s increasingly sharp sensibilities, and comics don’t get much better than that.
Infinity 8 #1 by Lewis Trondheim, Zep, & Dominique Bertail
This is such a polished and strong debut, one that offers a clear character with compelling desires from its start, those desires here being a deep longing to reproduce. Dominique Bertail’s art is stylish and imaginative, idealizing the human form and going wild when alien designs or space debris call for it. Overall, Infinity 8 is a story conceptualized to be three arcs of three issues, plotted and directed by French creatives Lewis Trondheim and Olivier Vatine. Based on entertaining I found this one issue, I’m in for the duration.
Oblivion Song #1 by Robert Kirkman & Lorenzo De Felici
I am admittedly a Robert Kirkman fan. While I don’t watch The Walking Dead television show (and haven’t since back in season 2), I am a fan of The Walking Dead comic. I’m an even bigger fan of the recently concluded independent superhero book Invincible, and a slightly less enthusiastic fan of the ongoing Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta, which, make no mistake, I also think is quite good.
All of that is a lengthy preamble to saying Oblivion Song is Kirkman’s best debut yet. I recently The Walking Dead #1, and most of the flack Kirkman has gotten for his early simplicity of concept and wonky dialogue isn’t misplaced, not entirely. These are issues. They are, however, not issues in his newest book, which has a layer of complexity his previous works have lacked. Word also has it that the creative team here is two years ahead. All of which seems to indicate that Kirkman is still learning and still very much excited about telling graphic stories. Very cool.
Shadowman #1 by Andy Diggle, Stephen Segovia, & Ulises Arreola
Valiant Comics is in a state of flux. It was recently bought in full by Chinese investors. Most the senior staff that us comic folks know and love are gone (Dinesh!), and word has it the new directive is increased focused on Valiant films. Blerg.
This is all very concerning for Valiant Comics fans, and while it may be time to worry, books like Shadowman #1 show that it’s not quite time to straight panic. It was so good to see Jack again in this book, and while this may not be entirely accessible to virgin Shadowman readers, I think Andy Diggle’s script does enough to orient while also setting up compelling questions one can only assume the coming issues will answer.
Vampironica #1 by Greg and Megan Smallwood
Veronica Lodge is a vampire, that’s the simple concept here, but what makes this book worthy of a spot among the best debut comics of March 2018 is not the concept but rather the execution. Greg Smallwood is a superstar, and his talents are especially evident when applied to the occult (see his recent Moon Knight run with Jeff Lemire). So, Vampironica is a fast and pretty read, and while I hate to use the word fun to describe a comic—so vague and reductive—that’s exactly what this series looks to be, fun and blood-soaked and cheesy and escapist and...why not?
Zack Quaintance is a career journalist who also writes fiction and makes comics. Find him on Twitter at @zackquaintance. He lives in Sacramento, California.