By Zack Quaintance — It’s kind of odd how a single comic can really make a week feel so much better in terms of new comics. For me this week, that comic is Powers of X #1. I absolutely loved House of X #1, a grandiose and confident comic that seemed for the first time in nearly 20 years to announce that the X-Men were starting something that will feel both new and important. As a child of the ‘90s, this feeling is one that I have greatly missed. And I get to have it again this week!
Elsewhere in the comics world, we get the end of another sci-fi epic with Paper Girls #30, which has been a deliberately confusing trip through ‘80s nostalgia, pre-teen friendships, bygone media models, and so much more. It will be missed. But thankfully smaller publishers like Vault Comics—which has not one, not two, not three, but FOUR great titles out this week. My personal favorite was Queen of Bad Dreams #3, but if you’d like to make a case for any of the others, I already see where you’re coming from without yet hearing a word.
Anyway, onward to the comics and commerce!
Top Comics to Buy for July 31, 2019
*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Powers of X #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R.B. Silva
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
FEAR THE FUTURE! Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman (INFINITY, NEW AVENGERS, FF) continues his revolutionary new direction for the X-Men. Intertwining with HOUSE OF X, POWERS OF X reveals the secret past, present and future of mutantkind, changing the way you look at every X-Men story before and after. You do not want to miss the next seminal moment in the history of the X-Men!
Why It’s Cool: Last week’s House of X #1 was the single best X-Men comic I’ve read in at least a decade, and the gap becomes wider if you don’t consider Ed Piskor’s fantastic X-History re-imagining, X-Men Grand Design. Anyway, we don’t have to wait long for a followup to the aforementioned book. Writer Jonathan Hickman is masterminding a return of the X-Men to the top of the Marvel pile, and he’s doing it with alternating comics. House of X was the start; Powers of X (that X is the roman numeral for 10) is the continuation. These books are not strict sequels to each other, but they are essentially companion pieces, with Hickman noting at SDCC that each one is likely to entirely re-frame the issue that came right before it. What then, should we expect, from Powers of X? I’m personally expecting this to be the far out sci-fi companion to House of X’s more Earth-based, more grounded mutant status quo comic, possibly with a time jump and some massive significant surprises. Holy hell, I can’t wait for tomorrow to come.
Batman: Last Knight on Earth #2
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics - Black Label
The world has been destroyed, and Batman is on a quest to find out who's responsible. But when villains from his past begin to complicate things for the Dark Knight, he finds an unlikely ally in a place known as "the Plains of Solitude."
Why It’s Cool: Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, and the rest of this team have told so many memorable Batman stories, and in this comic it really shows. Snyder has a level of comfort with the character and his capabilities that few have ever achieved, and he’s using it in this book to create an intriguing mystery that also explores what happens if giving into evil ultimately is more powerful than mankind wanting to accomplish good. The real star of this show, however, is Greg Capullo (inked by Jonathan Glapion and colored by FCO Plascencia) who even after the long and impressive career he’s had, is still continuing to improve. I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say this is the best-looking comic book that Capullo has ever drawn, which with his resume is really saying a lot. Look for our full review later this week!
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
END OF STORY ARC! With war on the horizon-a war no one wants to stop-whose side will Maika choose? That of her friends, or her family?
Why It’s Cool: War is coming to the rich and complex fantasy world in Monstress. But first, the creative team is determined to get our little band of (semi-dysfunctional) adventurers back together, traitorous cat and all. This is the end of what I suspect may be the pen-ultimate arc of Monstress, and as always, it’s a lush-looking chapter written with the utmost urgency and nuance. Our character seems to be on the back half of reckoning with her past, of understanding where she has come from and why she is who she is. What’s next? I imagine it will be fighting as hard as she possibly can to save the world, and doing so with some of the best art in any semi-monthly comic today.
Paper Girls #30
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Publisher: Image Comics
SERIES FINALE! DOUBLE-SIZED FINAL ISSUE!
It's all been leading up to this-the deeply emotional series finale of PAPER GIRLS! No spoilers here, but our epic conclusion features 44 PAGES OF ORIGINAL STORY WITH NO ADS, and we can't wait for you to read it. Thanks so much for riding with us! ~ Brian, Cliff, Matt & Jared
Why It’s Cool: Paper Girls has been one wild ride through time, one that’s built upon a fantastic mixture of ‘80s nostalgia (before Stranger Things made sure that ‘80s nostalgia was everywhere), the rich relationships between the four protagonists, and a broader commentary on the role of media. Plus also, there’s a generational war for/through the ages going on here, all of which is topped with Cliff Chiang’s imaginative design work. It’s sad to see this book end, but the narrative is a complex one that practically demands we all go back and read it again as soon as we’ve finished. I know I will, maybe even for our next re-read feature...
Queen of Bad Dreams #3
Writer: Danny Lore
Artist: Jordi Perez
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Kim McLean
Publisher: Vault Comics
After surviving an attack in her home, Daher decides to take Ava to the safest place she knows-but Viv, Daher's ex-wife, may have something to say about that. Ava is faced with the reality of normal life, while Daher gets up-close-and-personal with the Chases, and the power they wield in the waking world.
Why It’s Cool: This series has just been so good from its first issue, but in this third chapter, we start to see a bit of a different side to this book’s sensibilities. It is, I believe, the first issue that takes place almost entirely in the waking world. The book’s central conceit—that figments of dreams crossover into real life—is still there in the form of the character manifested in a previous issue, but this is an installment that relies far more on the complex personal dynamics between characters (be they parents, colleagues, oppressors, or former lovers) than it does on battling, assessing, and corralling dream people. It’s also just as compelling and immersive as the rest of this absolutely killer comic. It’s always wonderful to see a comic that’s this aware and sure of its story within just three issues of getting started. I can’t wait to see what comes next. Oh, and there’s also a heartrending twist in this issue that I thought was just brilliant, but I won’t go and spoil that.
New #1s and One-Shots
Death’s Head #1
Knights Temporal #1
Manor Black #1
Red Sonja: Lord of Fools One-Shot
Secret Warps Iron Hammer Annual #1
Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle and Whisper #1
Star Wars: Age of Resistance Special #1
Venom Annual #1
Others Receiving Votes
Batman Who Laughs #7
Black Panther #14
Captain America #12
Five Years #3
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #9
Ice Cream Man #13
Justice League Dark Annual #1
Red Hood Outlaw Annual #3
She Said Destroy #3
Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets
compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.