Best New Comics February 2019 - Daredevil, Red Sonja, and Wonder Twins

By Zack Quaintance — One fun thing about comics from year-to-year is that we really don’t have an accurate idea of what the next 12 months will bring in early weeks. We can see as far out as the solicits allow (which is currently May), but anticipating what new books will come in the months that follow is at best a lightly informed guessing game. At this time last year we knew scant details about some of 2018’s defining releases, from Benids’ work on Superman to Marvel’s entire slate of new books: Captain America, Immortal Hulk, Venom, you name it.

That’s all to say that these new series that have launched in January and now in February, are just the tip of 2019’s forthcoming new comics. There are, without question, GIGANTIC releases that will shift and reshape the comics landscape yet to be unveiled. All that said, I’m still impressed with the number of quality releases we’ve gotten in 2019 so far. Marvel’s return to broader quality continues this month with Daredevil while DC’s Wonder Comics imprint continues to be a welcome new tone for the 80-some-year-old publisher.

It’s all very exciting, and so let’s not dilly dally any further. Onto the books!

Quick Hits

Let’s start with the most imaginative and welcoming new take on a long-standing property in year’s Michel Fiffe’s G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte #1. This book makes setting capital I Important, with the titular Sierra Muerte area disrupting the old fight between Joes and Cobras. I for one love it.

Another book in which setting is vital (this time it being a dystopian future) is High Level #1 from writer Rob Sheridan and artist Barnaby Bagenda. This is the best of the Vertigo: Rebirth books so far, and with Second Coming off to another publisher, it seems poised to stay that way.

Meanwhile staying at DC, Female Furies #1 is a book I’m kind of surprised to not hear more folks talking about. It really extrapolates Darkseid’s all-consuming universal darkness in a way that’s relevant and specific to our times.

Speaking of relevant things to say about our current tumultuous times, Vindication #1 was a complex and realistic take on race-based injustices within law enforcement. This is a fair book setting out to take an unflinching look at how shades of gray can creep into these situations, or at least at how perception can alter behavior. This is a very smart comic. Read our Vindication #1 review!

The new book that left the greatest impression on me last month, though, was Girl in the Bay #1, a haunting tail of family and murder and the concerns of the young in a bygone era. There is a long tradition of horror-tinged innocence lost stories in American fiction that this book seems poised to fit right into.

One of the most consistent publishers in all of comics, Valiant, had a rare month in which it launched not one but two new books, those being Forgotten Queen #1 and Incursion #1, the former featuring a brand new character and the latter using established characters in the service of a new idea. Both debuts were strong and I’m excited to see where the larger stories go.

Last but certainly not least are a trio of the new X-Men miniseries, showrun by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, that I’m considering in my head to be Age of Apocolypse 2.0 (side note: there were four, but I wasn’t all that interested in the Nightcrawler one). The books I want to shout out here are: Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1, Age of X-Man: NextGen #1, Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1. Contributing writer Allison Senecal will have more on each next week in her monthly Age of X-Man Round-Up, but I’d like to praise these books for the thoughtfulness of the alternate world they inhabit as well as the variety in the way they’re examining a flawed utopia. They all bring something different and welcome to a fascinating overall picture of the world. Kudos to the creative teams.

Top 5 Best New Comics February 2019

Daredevil #1 (Read out full review of Daredevil #1!)
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics

The transition to a brand new Daredevil creative team (which is what we got this month) is a long-standing and noteworthy event in comics, be it from Frank Miller to Annie Nocenti, Kevin Smith to Brian Michael Bendis, Mark Waid and Chris Samnee to Charles Soule, and so on. There’s just something about Daredevil—the Catholic guilt? the simultaneous aversion to/embrace of violence? the background that saw him become a hero because he already was one?—that consistently gives creators the fertile ground they need to do career best work.

I’m expecting no less, quite frankly, from Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto, and I’m also happy to say that I was encouraged by this opening chapter. In it, there are few flashy gimmicks, just solid comicbook storytelling and writerly impulse to put the protagonist up against great possible odds, thereby showing we the audience what our guy is made of. It’s an understated and appropriate debut for an often-understated character, and I highly recommend it.  

Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 (Read our review!)
Writer:
David Barnett
Artist: Martin Simmonds w/flatting be Dee Cunniffe
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown

I was going to try and write this segment in a British accent filled with punk lingo...but I decided to save us all the indignity of that, banishing it instead to the deepest reaches of my mind where it will never be thought of again or uttered aloud. Anyway, Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1 is essentially the first issue of this book’s second season. It’s also my favorite issue of Punks Not Dead to date.

I loved the concept of this book from the time it launched last year—an angsty, lonely, and flailing kid gets linked to the ghost of Sid Vicious, annnnnd hi-jinx—but what I like about this new series is that the central duo now have a really well-built quest to go on. They are at once being chased by authorities while pursuing the true identity of the main character’s father. It’s such a solidly-written hero’s journey kind of deal. When paired with the book’s already-excellent premise, you get a really exciting new comic.   

Red Sonja #1.jpg

Red Sonja #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite Comics

It’s a Mark Russell double whammy this week, with first Red Sonja #1 and later on Wonder Twins #1. Obviously, Russell is one of my favorite writers, but I think he did outstanding work on both of the new series he launched in February. I’ve never read a Red Sonja book, and, really, I’m not one to read comics simply because I love a character. In fact, at this point I’ve aggressively become one of those readers who reminds you that I never do that, preferring instead to follow the creative team.

So, what then did I find in this issue as someone brand new to Red Sonja but familiar with pretty much all of writer Mark Russell’s comicbook work? I found quite a bit to like. Russell, joined here by collaborators Mirko Colak and Dearbhla Kelly, does a great job orienting readers like myself to this world, before then applying his wry satirical storytelling sensibilities. It’s a smart and savage read, and I know Russell fans (and probably also Red Sonja fans) have a lot to look forward to here.

Stronghold #1 (Read our full review of Stronghold #1!)
Writer:
Phil Hester
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: AfterShock Comics

Stronghold is a new book from one of my favorite indie publishers, AfterShock Comics, and it’s about a man who maybe has the power to break the universe but doesn’t have any inkling he’s significant. He’s an insurance salesman in St. Louis, for pete’s sake. Meanwhile, a secret society/cult (take your pick) is monitoring him daily to ensure he never finds out the truth of his existence. That’s the status quo we find upon entering the book. The plot begins when a young woman who interacts with him daily (and was raised in the secret society/cult) falls in love with him. Hi-jinx ensue.

This is a really well-formed comicbook produced by a talented and veteran creative team. It has a high level of ideas and themes one might expect to find in a full-blown novel rather than a graphic sequential story. Most importantly, though, I found the execution in this first issue to be absolutely flawless. Every scene is perfectly paced and enthralling. The POV is chosen well throughout, and it all adds up to a new comic series I’d recommend to pretty much any reader.

Wonder Twins #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics - Wonder Comics
I don’t play favorites with this Best New Comics monthly piece, but—between you and me, shhh—this one was probably my favorite new book. It recasts the Wonder Twins from the old Super Friends show (and probably other things?) as alien new kids in a new earth high school, where they suffer the same bouts of hubris and insecurity I know I did. Humiliation and triumph and searching for ones place ensue, all set with a superheroic backdrop.

I’m not generally a fan of loquacious meta humor comics, your Deadpools and Harley Quinns, and while this is a funny book, it’s not really kin to any of that. It’s sensibility is smarter and quieter, more like Russell’s The Flintstones. It also has a big heart. So often, joke superhero comics fall back on making their heroes look dumb or madcap. This book is respectful and humanizing of the Wonder Twins, and it gives the creative team a much broader emotional canvas to work with. Well done, everyone involved.

Check out more of our many monthly lists here.

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

COMIC OF THE WEEK: Red Sonja #1 is a great start from an impressive creative team

Red Sonja #1 is out 2/6/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Since 2005, Dynamite has been producing some entertaining comics out of the Red Sonja property. From the straightforward high adventure sword and sorcery stories of Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Carey, Mel Rubi, Richard Isanove, and Comicraft—reminiscent of what Dark Horse were doing with sister-property Conan at the time—to the most recent run largely from Amy Chu, Erik Burnham, Carlos Gomez, Mohan, and Taylor Esposito, which mixed a trip to the real world in with some more traditional stories. Some stories have been better than others, but the creators curating Dynamite's output have been doing so very well. Which brings us this new fifth volume, tapping Mark Russell, Mirko Colak, Dearbhla Kelly, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. It's something traditional, but subversive.

Over the past few years, Mark Russell has made a name for himself reinventing and reinterpreting classic properties like The Flintstones, Snagglepuss, and The Lone Ranger, taking the core of the characters and building sociopolitical commentary and satire out of them. He does so here again by framing the tale in the traditional garb of expansionist violence in Red Sonja's kind of iron age setting. The evil empire is there, the guiding prophecy for actions, and the downtrodden poor nation crowning Queen Red Sonja to save them; all the usual set pieces for this kind of fantasy story, but there's an absurdity to the Zamoran Emperor in his quest, trickery in the Hyrkanians getting Sonja to the throne and foisting their problems on to her. That humor, that jab at how this society works within the trappings of the genre, elevates this to something above just a good sword and sorcery tale.

Bringing the story to life is Mirko Colak, who through Brothers Dracul, Kingsway West and Unholy Grail has proven time and again that he's well suited to depicting the grit and heaviness of an unkempt, uncivil world mixed with horror and fantasy, fulfilling what you'd expect of the visuals of a Red Sonja or Conan comic. Dearbhla Kelly aids this look well, largely painting the world in earthy tones, keeping everything relatively dusty and dirty, save for the Emperor in purple and Sonja's hair, setting them apart visually from the landscape. Staying true to that fantasy aesthetic, aside from looking gorgeous, is also one of the reasons why the humor works. Since the artwork is playing this straight, the more absurd riffs in the dialogue and events stand out better.

Rounding out the creative team is Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, whose lettering here, in Shanghai Red and The Lone Ranger, is quickly becoming a standout. The sign of a good letterer is usually not noticing them, letting them provide a subtle backbone for the story. When you get too flashy, the lettering can overpower the art and distract from the storytelling. Otsmane-Elhaou has been utilizing effects, changes in fonts, word balloon & dialogue box shape, size, and color in ways that overall enhance and enrich the types of stories being told in a fashion that reminds me of Todd Klein and Gaspar Saladino.

Overall, I was very impressed by this new first issue of Red Sonja. It works on that surface level of being an entertaining sword and sorcery tale, and if that's all that you want out of it, you'll still be pleased. But Russell, Colak, Kelly, and Otsmane-Elhaou are also starting what looks like a deeper story that plays with those traditional story elements in new and humorous ways.

Red Sonja #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colorist: Dearbhla Kelly
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

Top Comics of 2018, #6 - #15

By Zack Quaintance —  The most difficult thing about a strong year for comics (like this one) is doing a year-end Best Of list. Now, to be sure, no one mandates websites do rankings. That would be a clear violation of civil liberties. There is, however, a part of the pop culture blogger brain that goes wild for it, whispering all year long...where does this one rank...and if you don’t satisfy that beast—well, bad things happen.

So, here we our with ours, freshly formulated for 2018 by our committee of one. Before we dive into part 2, which features in descending order selections #15 to #6 (Top Comics of 2018, #16 - #25 is up now, with the Top 5 due later today), let’s rehash our ground rules:

  • No trades or OGNs: Building out our OGN coverage is a priority for 2019. We’re just not there yet. So, while I absolutely loved work like Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam, Box Brown’s Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, and Ryan Lindsay and Eric Zawadzki’s Eternal, you won’t find them here. Ideally, next year’s we’ll have an entire post dedicated to OGNs.

  • No webcomics, manga, or newspaper strips: Again, our site is a bit deficient covering these (if you are into these things, we’d love to chat about you writing for us!). I should, of course, mention that in 2018 someone under the pen name Olivia James took over the long-running Nancy strip and did amazing things with it (Sluggo is lit), but, again, you won’t find it on our list.

  • Longevity matters: New this year, you will find what I consider a key stat—how many issues were published this year. Late debut series like Die, Electric Warriors, and Bitter Root have tons of promise. They just haven’t been around enough to be a definitive comic of 2018. Ditto for comics that ended in April or earlier.

There you have it: guiding principles of our Top Comics of 2018. Now, without further adieu, let’s keep this bad hombre going!

15. Seeds
Writer:
Ann Nocenti
Artist, Letterer: David Aja
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Issues in 2018: 2

The second issue of this series absolutely blew my mind. So much so it was enough to land this comic in our list, and at no. 15 too! I’m going to struggle to articulate why this is not only one of the best comics out today, but also the comic with the most potential to be an all-time great series. But here goes…

Writer Ann Nocenti and artist David Aja have clearly thought hard about the state of the world, dwelling on current trends, struggles, challenges, \and even a few victories to extrapolate a future the likes of which we’ve never seen. There are (as noted in yesterday’s list) many near-future disaster stories running through comics. Many of them do admirable jobs extending a fear or concern to logical places. Seeds encompasses much more with its predictions, in a way that feels impossibly novel yet so obvious you wonder why its ideas hadn’t previously occurred to you. If you start listing story elements—failing planet, media corruption, alien love story/menace—they sound a little rote, but the way these talented creators bring them together is nothing short of remarkable. Now, if only they could get a handle on the delays...  

14. Doomsday Clock
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Speaking of delays (hey! would you look at that transition), next we have Doomsday Clock. Writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank were as good as their word this year, mostly sticking to the every-other-month schedule they promised following Doomsday Clock #3. We got six new issues in 2018, and the last three were straight up killer comics. This series has, to be blunt, massive ambitions.

Indeed, the intentions of this comic are starting to crystalize, and if Johns and Frank can pull this off, they could end up with a story that speaks to the current rise of authoritarian governments across the globe, the reactions of the media and the populous, and what it means to be a public hero today, to take a strong position. It’s heady stuff, with potential to shape DC’s line and maybe even the stories the aging company does for the next decade.

13. Ice Cream Man
Writer:
W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 8

As I’ve noted throughout, ranking the many many many excellent comics this year has been no easy feat. There were a ton of tough choices, but as my friend Rob from Panel Patter noted, at a certain point you have to choose, otherwise there’s no purpose to the endeavor. For me, placing Ice Cream Man was the most difficult decision. An anthology horror comic linked only by the titular (and hella creepy) ice cream man, this book has been a tour de force.

The reason it lands at #13 is twofold. No. 1, 13 is creepy and it seemed fitting, because aside from one other selection (we’ll get into that later), this is the highest-ranking horror comic on our list. No. 2, I’m trying to rank series for holistic reading experience. Ice Cream Man being made of vignettes makes that trickier. This book is easily one of the best comics of 2018, and we’ll heap more praise on it in future posts, specifically the Best Single Issues of 2018, coming later this week. For now, I’ll just note everyone should read this comic, just pick up random issues (they’re all self-contained) and go. The rate of success is high enough I’m confident you’ll all find flavors (sorry) you like.

12. The Wild Storm
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 8

It’s pretty amazing this far into a celebrated career, Warren Elllis is doing his best work, writing a slow-burning epic that strips down characters he’s handled for years before building them back into something searingly-relevant for 2018. This new The Wild Storm has a few familiar names, while remaining entirely accessible for first-time readers of this universe. And what Ellis is doing here is exploring the vast influence wielded by long-standing (and hard to comprehend) power structures.

He’s joined by Jon Davis-Hunt, one of (if not the) most underrated artists in comics. Davis-Hunt comes fresh from career work of his own on Gail Simone’s Clean Room, and as good as he was there, he’s hitting a new level, crafting graphic sequential storytelling both kinetic and real, capable of disrupting any visual laws of reality yet photorealistic and engrossing. As intellectual and nuanced a comic as we’ve seen, this is a must-read story.

11. The Mighty Thor / Thor
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artists: Russell Dauterman, Mike del Mundo, Christian Ward, Jen Bartel, Various
Colorists: Matthew Wilson, Marco D’Alfonso
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 4 / 12

Jason Aaron’s ongoing run on Thor is the best long-form story happening in superhero comics, and it’s really not even close. Aaron and Esad Ribic’s Thor: God of Thunder #1, which essentially marked the start of this current run, hit stands in November 2012, a vastly different time in the world and industry. Marvel has no other run close, with Hickman and Bendis gone from the company and Dan Slott off Amazing Spider-Man. Invincible has also ended, and DC’s main challengers—Batman and Deathstroke, for my money—date back to summer 2016, which is hardly a challenge at all.

Thor, however, keeps going strong, landing this year’s 16 issues (and a Jane Foster one-shot) at #11 overall on our list. Our committee of one suspects it will be higher next year, what with the War of the Realms coming. The Jane Foster finale was certainly a high point his year, but it felt like more of a pause than a proper finish, setting the table for what is sure to be some damn fine comics to come. In summation, 2018 was another great year for Aaron’s Thor run, but we all but guarantee 2019 will be even better, possibly the high water mark for this story.

10. X-Men Red
Writer:
Tom Taylor
Artists: Mahmud Asrar, Carmen Carnero, Roge Antonio
Colorists: Ive Svorcina, Rain Beredo
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 11

What a surprise this comic was. I’d tapped out on X-Men: Blue and X-Men: Gold, deciding to wait for whatever next big X-thing. Then comes an announcement of a third color, part of the Marvel Legacy line, which, let’s face it, was dead on arrival. But here’s the thing: Tom Taylor and Mahmud Asrar’s X-Men: Red was good. Like, really really really good. Taylor’s scripting understood the franchise better than any writer I’ve read in I don’t know how long, casting the team as equal parts superhero high-flyers and common defenders of the oppressed, all with a geopolitical angle.

It made Jean Gray the face of Xavier’s continuing dream, a brilliant move given her legacy (ahem) and similar skill set, and it faced the X-Men against threats essentially derived from the messages of hate coursing through the modern media landscape, be it reportage or social posting. It was a brilliant stretch of 11 issues that ended way too soon, and, in my opinion, it was the first real hint how the X-Men can be made relevant for 2018, 2019, etc., taking them out of their long-standing continuity mire. It will be missed, and I hope this new generation of X-writers draw from its example.

9. Vault Comics: Fearscape / Friendo / These Savage Shores
Writers:
Ryan O’Sullivan / Alex Paknadel / Ram V.
Artists: Andrea Mutti / Martin Simmonds / Sumit Kumar
Colorists: Vladimir Popov / Dee Cunnife / Vittorio Astone
Letterers: Andworld Design / Taylor Esposito / Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Issues in 2018: 3 / 3 / 2

Okay, so this one is cheating, but of the three new Vault Comics launched by British writers with clear literary roots in the fall, I couldn’t pick any one to elevate above the others. They’re all incredible, and so I built myself a loophole (it’s my website, afterall), and included all three on the list. I heard Vault editor Adrian Wassel on a podcast earlier this year, saying comics could swing to a literary place that incorporates both recent cinematic storytelling trends and their unique ability to synthesize words and pictures. All three of these titles reflect that viewpoint.

You can read more thoughts about each on our Reviews Page, but let me run through them quickly. Fearscape is a look at pretense, literary culture, and how the nature of creative writing often sees authors bouncing violently between bouts of outsized ego and crippling insecurity. The voice is pretentious and incredible. Friendo is a meditation on the decline of late-model capitalist countries, specifically the United States, casting apathy, ceiling-less corporate greed, and the marginalization of government checks as truly terrifying villains. These Savage Shores is a gorgeous and deep commentary on imperialism, using misdirection to to create an engaging and tone-heavy narrative. Basically, all three of these are well worth your time, and I highly recommend them all.

8. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Mike Feehan
Inker: Sean Parsons
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Speaking of literary comics, Mark Russell and Mike Feehan’s Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles (improbably) falls in that bin as well. Last year we highlighted Russell’s work on Flintstones. Another year and another smart take on a Hanna-Barbera property, and here we are again. In Russell’s re-imagining of this mythos, Snagglepuss is a basically closeted playwright during McCarthy-ism, trying to stay true to his values without running afoul of the federal government and staid societal interests.

Russell uses this premise to tell a sophisticated story that dances with ideas about life, art, politics, group think, and conservatism. The emotional core to this thing is the Huckleberry Hound character, whose tragic story beats brought tears to my eyes a couple of times. If reading a comic about Snagglepuss doesn’t sound appealing, don’t worry—you’re not alone in that thinking. But Russell also uses the legacy of the character to do work toward the satirical points he’s making, to help drive them home.  

7. Wasted Space
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Issues in 2018: 6 (counting the holiday special)

Phew, now we’re getting into the comics that I can’t imagine my 2018 without, the first being Michael Moreci and Hayden Sherman’s Wasted Space. I have heaped my fair share of praise on this book over the past 12 months, and I’m not alone. In fact, Nerdist has called it “easily the best new series to hit comic shops so far this year.” For my money, it’s without question the best wholly new property of 2018, and I’m going to quote myself to elaborate on why...

Wasted Space to me feels like Star Wars by way of 2018, determined to honor the hi-jinx & high adventure of space opera while fearlessly exploring the central conflict of our times: where should one’s desire for comfort end and their obligation to combat oppression begin? I’ve compared Moreci’s absurdist, idea-heavy writing to the late David Foster Wallace and I stand by that, noting that Sherman’s chaotic high-energy art style brings the world to life in a special way. This is maybe the highest compliment I can give: in a day and age where i buy fewer paper comics than ever before, I still have a pull list and on it near the top is Wasted Space.

6. Thanos Wins
Writer:
Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

Toward the end of 2017, Brian Michael Bendis left Marvel, dealing the publisher as significant of a writing void as I’ve seen in the past two decades, dating back to before Bendis established himself as the company’s prime writing voice. The thing about voids like that is they force publishers to take bigger risks and bring in younger, newer talent. For Marvel in 2018, that meant Donny Cates (among others).

One of Cates’ first charges at Marvel was to takeover Thanos in the wake of another essentially departing writer, Jeff Lemire, who seemed from the outside to be off to focus on the superhero universe he owned and created, Black Hammer. What Cates and past collaborator Geoff Shaw did with the final six issues of this run was absolutely remarkable, telling what is not only the best Thanos story of all-time, but the best end of the Marvel Universe tail this side of Jonathan Hickman. It’s called Thanos Wins, and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Thanos Wins is as bold a statement as a young writer doing his first work at Marvel could have made. Aided by the out-of-this-world Geoff Shaw artwork and Antonio Fabela colors, Cates seemed to put all of comics on notice here, not being content to just decimate the very futures of these decades-old beloved characters, but insisting on doing so with wild grin viscerally affixed to his face. You might wonder, how do I know he was laughing and smiling as he wrote all of this. I think the better question, is how could anyone who’s read Thanos Wins doubt it?  

Read our analysis of Thanos Wins here!

Check back later today for our Best Comics of 2018, #1 - #5! Check out Best Comics of 2018, #16 - #25! And check back later in the week for more year-end lists, including our Best Single Issues and our Top Creators of 2018!

For the history-minded readers, you can find our Top Comics of 2017, Part 1, 2 and 3 online now!

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

Best New #1 Comics of October 2018

By Zack Quaintance — October saw the big two sort of stepping back with their superhero stuff and either lining up new books for the months to come (DC) or pushing forward with strong titles they’d launched this summer (Marvel). As a result, our list for the best new #1 comics of October 2018 is all indie stuff, which, in truth, is our favorite kind of list.

It’s also a really smart group of books this month, featuring another killer new series from Vault Comics, the latest addition to Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint, and a couple of very funny writers (Kyle Starks and Mark Russell) taking a pair of licensed properties and making top-tier comics.

Anyway, on to the books!

Quick Hits

Shuri #1 by Nnedi Okorafor and Leonardo Romero caught me by surprise, at once capturing the tone of the character from the movie and making a comic all its own. I also think there’s a vague reference to what’s really happening in the main BP title, which, intriguing...

Also in Marvel #1s, I liked Shatterstar #1 (of 5) by Tim Seeley, Carlos Villa, and Gerardo Sandoval. Great art, and a concept that is basically Fraction/Aja’s Hawkeye, but with multiverse shenanigans...

Meanwhile, contributing writer Bo Stewart dug Dead Rabbit #1, and you can check out his Dead Rabbit #1 review here...

And I had a review of Blackbird #1, another notable debut this month, steeped in neon and Southern California...

Planet of the Apes: The Time of Man #1 was a nice surprise, too. I don’t usually pay attention to licensed property comics, but this one had an all-star lineup of writers (David F. Walker, Dan Abnett, and Phillip Kennedy Johnson) delivering vignettes. As it turns out, it was well worth my time...

Black Mask Studios is a publisher a like a great deal and maybe don’t talk about enough. I wrote about some of their books in our New Comics Discoveries October 2018, including last month’s Devil Within #1...

Infinite Dark #1 by Ryan Cady and Andrea Mutti was a somber adventure in deep space/melancholic tones...

While Dead Kings #1 was another entry in Steve Orlando’s growing canon of stories about revenge, with art by Matthew Dow Smith...

Meanwhile, the Marvel Zombie #1 one-shot was almost an anti-revenge story and very much a good time. Written by W. Maxwell Prince of Ice Cream Man and illustrated by Stefano Raffaele. A good book for Halloween but also just generally for fans of zombie fiction...

Last, here’s our **official** ranking of the X-Men: Black #1s from last month:
Mojo #1
Emma Frost #1
Juggernaut #1
Magneto #1
Mystique #1
On the whole, I liked X-Men: Black quite a bit and certainly more than I expected to, even if it was a little cash-grabby. I liked it in the larger context of the X-universe, because it sort of worked to rebuild the X-villains and position many of them with motives for combating the X-heroes soon, presumably in stories stemming from next week’s Uncanny X-Men #1 relaunch.

Top 5 Best New #1 Comics of October 2018

The Lodger #1
Writer: David and Maria Lapham
Artist: David Lapham
Publisher: IDW’s Black Crown Imprint
Price: $3.99
We’ve been big fans of nearly everything that veteran comic editor Shelly Bond has done with her IDW imprint Black Crown, which launched at this time last year (pre-dating our Best #1 Comics monthly series). As good as books like The Euthanuats and House Amok have been (appearing here during their own launch months), The Lodger feels like a complex and massive story all on its own. The book is the work of David and Maria Lapham, of Stray Bullets fame, and it certainly lives up to their legacy within the crime noir genre.

Simply put, The Lodger is intriguing. Previews for the title have promised a story about murder, shape shifting, transience, and travel blogging, almost as if someone pulled a set of disparate ideas out of a hat. The Laphams, however, weave it all together so well with sheer storytelling proficiency and flair, creating a world rich with mysterious characters and a forlorn tone to match the impermanence of their lives. We can’t recommend The Lodger highly enough, especially to readers who enjoy a more literary brand of comics.  

Lone Ranger #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Here we go, time to beat the Mark Russell is a genius at creating satire via seemingly taxed and maybe even corny old properties drum, again. Frankly, this could very well be the last time we point that all out, because what Mark Russell is doing with Lone Ranger has just become so commonplace for him. So then: what, you ask, is Russell doing with Lone Ranger?

Well, as hinted at above he’s using a seemingly-taxed and maybe even corny old property (this time, The Lone Ranger) to create a satire steeped in nuanced history and commentary on power structures, how the west was won, and oppressing others for the sake of your own gain. It’s similar thematic ground to Russell’s work on the phenomenal Flintstones series, and it’s as smartly-written and intensely character-driven as one of our favorite books of the year, Russell’s Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles. This, dear readers, is a smart and essential comic that you should be buying. Oh, and get ready to think about barbed wire more/differently than you ever have before.

Mars Attacks #1
Writer:
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Colorist: Liz Trice Schweizer
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Whoa, what is this? Two licensed properties on our best new books list in the same month? Plus also a shout out to Planet of the Apes in the quick hits section? Yes, it’s all happening, not because we’ve stopped being such severe buzzkills, but because publishers continue to put some of our absolute favorite creators on these kinds of titles. Now, we have the hilarious Kyle Starks teaming up with Chris Schweizer on a new Mars Attacks comic.

This book is great though, rich with the humor that has made Starks’ creator-owned work—including Rock Candy Mountain and Sex Castle—such an utter joy to read. Schweizer’s art is a great fit for both Starks’ sensibilities and the world of Mars Attacks, too, giving life to fearsome aliens as well as the scripts many gags. What impressed me most about this comic was how rooted in the main characters it felt, going out of its way to make us care about the old man and his son at the center of the first issue. This book is off to a great start.

Murder Falcon #1
Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Murder Falcon #1 is the second-ever debut comic to earn our vaunted 10/10 review, joining last month’s Fearscape #1 from Vault Comics. This book is just a perfect storm of things we enjoy: the artwork of Daniel Warren Johnson, cornball jokes about rocking super hard, and a deeply personal emotive story about loss. It’s the last item that gives this book a surprising and powerful center that has us intrigued about where this story plans to go.

These Savage Shores #1
Writer: Ram V
Artist: Sumit Kumar
Colorist: Vittoria Astone
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Last (alphabetically) but certainly not least is These Savage Shores. Earlier this year, Vault Comics announced new series from four U.K.-based writers. The first three books were all great, starting with Deep Roots, and then Fearscape and Friendo. These Savage Shores is the last of the bunch to launch...and it’s also one of the best new comics of the year.

This is a vampire story steeped in imperialistic entitled oppression, from the viewpoint of the oppressor...until it suddenly swerves and takes a different approach. We don’t want to spoil things—because we really do want all of you to check this one out—but let’s just say that right up until the final pages, These Savage Shores is not what you think it is.   

Check out more of our many monthly lists here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.