Top Comics to Buy for August 21, 2019: Canto, Snotgirl, X-Men, and more!

By Zack Quaintance — This was maybe a lighter week in terms of volume of comics (or maybe not, depending on your preferences), but it’s one of those weeks I love where our Top Comics to Buy for August 21 end up being an exceedingly eclectic bunch. I mean, we have books here about little mechanical fantasy journeymen, an Instagram model with a sinus problem, a lovestruck ancient cosmic god, and the X-Men.

It’s tough to really ask for all that much more. In addition, this week also has an interesting grab bag of new #1 comics. Writer/artist Juan Doe is drawing Strayed #1 for Dark Horse Comics and writing/drawing Bad Reception #1 for AfterShock; Absolute Carnage rolls on, and we even get a rare (these days) bit of new Hellboy. It’s all good stuff.

So then, without further preamble...let’s do this!

Top Comics to Buy for

Powers of X #3.jpg

Powers of X #3
Jonathan Hickman
Artist: R.B. Silva
Inkers: R.B. Silva and Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: Marte Garcia
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
As Xavier sows the seeds of the past, the X-Men's future blossoms into trouble for all mutantdom. Superstar writer Jonathan Hickman (NEW AVENGERS, INFINITY, FF) continues reshaping the X-Men's past, present and future with breakout artist R.B. Silva (UNCANNY X-MEN)!
Why It’s Cool: I’m running out of ways to explain why I like Jonathan Hickman’s ongoing revitalization of the X-Men so much. I could go with a different comic in this PICK OF THE WEEK slot, but the fact remains, this is the book that I’m most excited about. Essentially, Jonathan Hickman is asserting a new and compelling vision for a group of characters and a concept that has been relatively stuck in stasis for the past decade-plus, watching as Marvel Comics top talent generally applies its best metaphors, ideas, and concepts to the Avengers. Those days are emphatically done, and I’m loving this opportunity to watch in real time as the X-Men are returned to the top of the Marvel pecking order.

Canto #3.jpg

Canto #3
David M. Booher
Artist: Drew Zucker
Colorist: Vittorio Astone
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Price: $3.99
Into the belly of the beast! Canto consults with the Hermit and learns the surprising truth about the slavers. Canto's path is now laid out before him, but is he prepared to face a foe known only as the Shrouded Man?
Why It’s Cool: Outwardly, this book may look like a cutesy fantastical tryst, owing largely to the design of its main character. Three issues in, however, Canto continues to assert itself as one of the most serious pure fantasy journeys taking place in comics right now (which is really saying something, because there are a whole lot of fantasy journeys taking place in comics right now). Canto really is a compelling story, though, one that makes ample use of tropes in a poetic way that might surprise many readers, taking on issues of subjugation and how domineering control/exploitation of whole peoples (literally and metaphorically) is liable to cost the oppressed their very hearts. 

Snotgirl #14
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Colorist: Rachael Cohen
Letterer: Mare Odomo
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
The boys go out to celebrate Ashley's bachelor party. Lottie lies low following an embarrassing incident. The past haunts Virgil. Wow, it sounds so cool when you put it in short, declarative sentences! Nice!
Why It’s Cool: This series is so damn good. It’s like an Instagram feed that has been cleverly extrapolated into a satirical story about the massive inward turn slowly taking place within our culture in recent years. It’s also a gorgeously-rendered comic thanks to the phenomenal and stylish work of Leslie Hung with Rachael Cohen colors. Maybe it’s the every-other-month publication schedule, but I can’t help but feel like more comics readers should be absolutely raving about this book. I know I love it, and this recent marriage story arc has given it some rich ground to till for different ways to continue its cultural commentary. 

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Stronghold #5
Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $3.99
Michael and Claire's quest reaches a shattering conclusion when they are faced with a choice: abandon their love, or embrace their destiny and awaken an entity de-signed for the annihilation of humanity.
Phil Hester (The Coffin, Deathstroke, The Darkness, SHIPWRECK) and Ryan Kelly (The Wicked + The Divine, Lucifer, Saucer Country) weave a tale of cosmic horror, high-adventure and tragic romance.
Why It’s Cool: How many dark cosmic romances that also involve centuries-long cultists conspiracies have you read? That, my friends, is a hacky rhetorical question aimed at asserting that the concept for Stronghold has been a singular and complex one from the book’s inception. This finale issue (no spoilers) injects the unique high sci-fi base idea of this special comic with a bit more philosophy and pathos than I expected, mostly because I didn’t think there was any more room for high-minded existential exploration, but it all feels organic here. Also, Ryan Kelly remains one of the most underrated artists in all of comics. In a broader sense, I also recommend this comic because to anyone looking to get a sense of the deep commitment to fresh storytelling that’s running through AfterShock Comics right now.

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #2
Matt Fraction
Artist: Steve Lieber
Colorist: Nathan Fairbairn
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Only Jimmy Olsen knows what Superman's secret superpowers truly are-and now those mysteries will finally be shared with you! And only you. Don't tell anyone. And Jimmy won't have any of his pal's super-abilities to help him get out of his latest jam as he hits the dark and dirty streets of Gotham City!
Why It’s Cool: This is the wittiest comic on the stands. It’s also working in tandem with Brian Michael Bendis’ Superman/Action Comics and Greg Rucka/Mike Perkins’ Lois Lane to build Metropolis out as a setting. This Jimmy Olsen comic is doing that by diving into its civic history via the madcap present day antics of its earnest as all get out protagonist, Jimmy Olsen. Steve Lieberman’s artwork is also just so damn clever, and writer Matt Fraction knows how to get the most out of it. We’re just two issues into this run, but I would be shocked if we didn’t get at least one six-panel page in every issue depicting Jimmy in several different absolutely absurd predicaments, left hilariously with little to no context and never mentioned again. 

New #1s and One-Shots

  • Absolute Carnage vs. Deadpool #1

  • Bad Reception #1

  • Black Mask: Year of the Villian #1

  • Deadpool Vol. 6 Annual #1

  • Ghost-Spider #1

  • Headless #1

  • Hellboy and the BPRD: Saturn Returns #1

  • Marvel Action: Captain Marvel #1

  • Planet Caravan #1

  • Pretty Violent #1

  • Strayed #1

Others Receiving Votes

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  • Aquaman #51

  • Batman #77

  • Criminal #7

  • Daredevil #10

  • Death’s Head #2

  • Eve Stranger #3

  • Excellence #4

  • Faithless #5

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #8

  • Jughead: Time Police #3

  • Killer Groove #4

  • Livewire #9

  • Middlewest #10

  • Pearl #12

  • Valkyrie: Jane Foster #2

See our past top comics to buy here, and check out our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as Comics Bookcase.