By Zack Quaintance — You know it’s a strong week for new comics when we expand our top choices to six slots and still have to bump Amazing Spider-Man, Superman and Thor (three absolute favorites in these parts) down to the Others Receiving Votes section. But hey, too many great comics is one of those good problems to have, and we vastly prefer that to the alternative.
This is a great week, really, for readers of all tastes. There’s another pair of new idea-dense comics from Vault, the continuations of some of the best superhero runs today, and a new series from one of the industry’s funniest satirists. It’s the type of Wednesday that reminds me why I invest myself so thoroughly in the weekly comics grind: there’s just no other medium that’s so urgent, profilify, or tonally and thematically varied. It’s a beautiful thing.
Now, onward to the comics!
Top Comics to Buy for February 13, 2019
*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Wonder Twins #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics - Wonder Comics
Exiled from their home planet, alien heroes Zan and Jayna must navigate life as teens on Earth at South Metropolis High School, where they're even bigger outsiders than the typical awkward young adults. Under the watchful eye of Superman, the brother and sister pull monitor duty at the Hall of Justice as interns, while also trying to overcome the pitfalls of Zan's brash confidence and Jayna's shy but streetwise persona. If you think you know the Wonder Twins, think again-this book takes the form of the unexpected.
Why It’s Cool: Mark Russell is really at home with old Hanna-Barbera properties, making him an absolutely amazing choice to revive the old Super Friends characters, the Wonder Twins. Doing this property right is a tall order. There’s just so much that can go wrong, but Russell has shown a propensity in the past for taking those ideas—a serious take on The Flintstones, on Snagglepuss, etc.—and hitting them out of the park. This could be his finest work yet, playful and self-aware and relentlessly delightful. It’s a blast to read. DC Comics doesn’t make wry fun of itself often, and I wouldn’t really want them to, but when it’s done this well, it’s something really special.
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
"THE LONGEST WEEKEND": Archie Lewis was the artist's artist in his heyday, although that's not what he's famous for. He's famous for being a nightmare to work with-and dangerous. So when an old assistant is forced to chaperone his one-time mentor to receive his lifetime achievement award, well... let's just say things don't go well. As always, CRIMINAL contains back page art and articles only found in the single issues.
Why It’s Cool: Has it been a month already since the excellent new Criminal series started? Wow, that went fast, but hey, I’m not one to complain that the best partnership in comics is back. The first issue was as immersive and authentic as one would expect from the Brubaker-Phillips all-time great crime comics pairing. This book, now on its eighth volume, just seems to get better the more its creators return to this world, the more they broaden and hone and expand upon the tone of these stories. This newest volume is no exception.
Read our review of Criminal #1.
Fearscape #4 (our review)
Writer: Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
After the tragic events of the third issue, the villainous Henry Henry finds himself... No! The advertising copy provided here by the publisher will not do! The events of our third chapter (please refrain from calling them issues) are hardly tragic. Our brave hero bested two villains, yet his reward is to be libeled against in marketing copy? -HH
Why It’s Cool: There are more than a few creative types among those of us who read monthly comics obsessively (which is presumably the core readership of this website...though we’ve—shockingly!—not had it in our budget to conduct a focus group just yet). This is a book, meanwhile, that calls to and calls out creative types on their every last insecurity, unspoken jealousy, pretension, etc., mining it all for great fantasy/horror concepts. This issue might be construed as a turning point, and, like all those that have come before it, it’s an absolutely must-read comic.
Read our reviews of Fearscape #1, Fearscape #2, and Fearscape #3.
Friendo #4 (our review)
Writer: Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Vault Comics
Thanks to an obscure piece of legislation, Jerry and Leo are now above the law. As they rob big-box stores up and down the west coast with The Manufacturer's blessing, their violent exploits are livestreamed to millions of disaffected consumers who've been told "no" one too many times. Beginning to tire of their new status as folk heroes, Jerry and Leo's final heist takes a brutal turn when corporate assassin Zaj Xek the Cremator gets them in his sights.
Why It’s Cool: As with the rest of Vault Comics’ current slate—Wasted Space, Fearscape, These Savage Shores, etc.—Friendo is an unpredictable comic dense with ideas that have much to say about 2019 America. It’s also one of today’s best creator-owned comics, an ever-evolving story that goes to new and terrifying places every week. I’ve written this in all my reviews (and will likely do so again in the near future) but the real shocker with this story is how at first blush it seems like total sci-fi but then starts to seem increasingly likely as you delve into its horrors. Check back later this week for a full review!
Read our reviews of Friendo #1, Friendo #2, and Friendo #3.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin and Scott Koblish
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
On the run! Fleeing from more than just the law, Livewire's about to find out whether she has the strength to survive on her own in a world that hates and fears her, with only her memories of better days to rely on... but if she's not careful, even those can be snatched away by the mercenary hunting her down!
Why It’s Cool: We have loved both installments of Vita Ayala’s and Raul Allen/Patricia Martin’s new Livewire book so far, and the third issue is no exception. There’s something really special happening in this comic, arguably making it the best Valiant series since Divinity (last year’s Secret Weapons one-shots not withstanding). This issue is a sort of bottle issue that sees the central protagonist engaging in a nakedly honest way with an antagonist during a prolonged bout of combat. It’s a kinetic and poignant way to get across many ideas without slowing the story’s pacing at all, and I absolutely loved it. I won’t say much more past that for risk of spoilers.
Read our reviews of Livewire #1 and Livewire #2.
Magic Order #6 (our review)
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Peter Doherty
Publisher: Image Comics - Netflix
This explosive miniseries climax is a high-octane magical battle of good versus evil, as the remaining Magic Order wizards make a last stand against Madame Albany and the forces of darkness. Family bonds are tested, blood is spilled, and black magic threatens life as we know it.
Why It’s Cool: Magic Order #6 marks the end of Mark Millar’s first full series since signing his landmark multimedia deal with Netflix, and it’s been one hell of a way to launch a partnership. Like *insert your favorite action film here* with wizards and witches, Magic Order is an exciting high-stakes take on magical tropes, illustrated beautifully by Olivier Coipel with Dave Stewart colors. Simply put, this is a gorgeous book with one of Millar’s always-sharp concepts at its heart, and we’re excited for the finale (and also wondering if there might be more story on the way in this world eventually…).
Read our review of Magic Order #5.
Top New #1 Comics
Age of X-Man: NextGen #1
Army of Darkness: Bubba Ho-Tep #1
Avengers: No Road Home #1
Hit Girl Season 2 #1
Marvels Annotated #1
Savage Sword of Conan #1
Others Receiving Votes
Amazing Spider-Man #15
Dead Kings #3
Detective Comics #998
Devil Within #3
Murder Falcon #5
Wizard Beach #3
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.