Top Comics of November 2018: A body horror extravaganza

By Zack Quaintance — As the year winds down, some clear favorite comics have emerged for us, and, perhaps unsurprisingly, you’ll see that born out in the Top Comics of November 2018 (as well as in the Top Comics of 2018...coming at the end of December!). What have we liked the most this year? Apparently, it’s all things Vault, Immortal Hulk, and the start of what is fast becoming a madcap and epic Superman run.

What is perhaps more telling about the overstate of comics (and not just our tastes) is that outside of the regulars, our Top Comics lists have also featured a steady rotation of creator-owned comics, with books like Hot Lunch Special, Ice Cream Man, Seeds, and all things Jeff Lemire regularly finding their way into our top 5 section. This month is no exception, with the conclusion to the excellent body horror tale Come Into Me landing among our favorites. Anyway, did I mention we’ll have year-end lists (shameless, I know)? Because we will. Lots of them coming at the end of this month!

And now, onto the comics!

Shout Outs

I wrote an Amazing Spider-Man #10 review, so I’ll be brief, but this issue right here sums up why I like this new run.

I also wrote a Cover #3 review, so I’ll be brief again, but this is probably the best comic about making comics I’ve yet read.

I don’t get excited about anniversary issues with multiple stories/artists, but Avengers #10 (#700) made it count. For the first time since Hickman, it feels like we’ve truly started a new Avengers era.

The first arc of this book felt Twin Peaks-y, but with Gideon Falls #8, the creators have found new territory all their own—and the comic is better for it.

X-Men Red #10 makes me wish they’d have just transitioned this book into the new Uncanny title. It’s that good.

Writer Scott Snyder says his Justice League run will be quieting down next; if that’s the case, Aquaman Justice League Drowned Earth #1 was the perfect totally bonkers and grandiose adventure to go out on...for now.

As it speeds toward its third anniversary, Ta-Nahesi Coates’ Black Panther run has gone full-blown sci-fi epic...and it just keeps getting better. See, Black Panther #6.

I wasn’t crazy about the plot of this series, but New World #5 makes our list on the merits of Tradd Moore’s imaginative art alone.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #7 sees Jeff Lemire teaming with Rich Tommaso to go full-blown Grant Morrison-meta, speaking to the nature of stories, storytellers, and the meaningfulness of the character who inhabit our minds.

One day, you just look up and all of a sudden your favorite comic at DC (Superman and Batman aside) is Hawkman. Hawkman #6 continues the best adventure this character has had in years.

Top Comics November 2018

5. Fearscape #2, Friendo #2, and These Savage Shores #2
Ryan O’Sullivan, Alex Paknadel, & Ram. V
Artists: Andrea Mutti, Martin Simmonds, & Sumit Kumar
Colorists: Vladimir Popov, Dee Cunniffe, & Vittorio Astone
Letterers: Andworld Design, Taylor Esposito, & Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Vault Comics
The trio of books from the creator collective White Noise Studio (via Vault Comics) cumulatively captures our no. 5 spot. We don’t usually like to give comics without at least an arc behind them top placement, but all three of these series have been so fantastic (track down more nuanced takes in our reviews section) that we just couldn’t resist.

4. Mister Miracle #12
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Tom King and Mitch Gerads wrap-up their meta sad superhero epic Mister Miracle...which may have spanned planets and generational warfare...or may have all taken place in Scott Free’s head as he grappled with sliding into middle-aged existence. The true nature of what actually happened here (or, rather, what didn’t happen) is deliberately obscured, and we like this 12-part maxiseries all the more for it. It’s probably below King’s earlier work on The Vision in our all-time sad superhero family rankings, but this is still a very good series nonetheless.

3. Superman #5 / Action Comics #1005 / Supergirl #24
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis & Ryan Sook
Inkers: Joe Prado & Oclair Albert
Colorists: Alex Sinclair & Brad Anderson
Letterers: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Immortal Hulk aside (more later), my other favorite thing happening in superhero comics right now is Brian Bendis’ dual run on Superman and Action Comics (plus Marc Andreyko’s ancillary run on Supergirl, which was also strong again this week). I know it’s not to everyone’s tastes, but I’ve found this run to get increasingly satisfying as its continued. Action Comics seems bent on touching as many corners as the Superman mythos as it can and updating them in ways suitable for 2018. Superman, meanwhile, is working hard to tell a tense adventure story that really leans into the hero’s role as a cosmic entity. Together, it’s turning into a clear new era for one of modern fiction’s oldest characters, brimming with ideas.

2. Come Into Me #4
Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Colorist: Niko Guardia
Letterer: Ryan Ferrier
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
With a healthy body you feel nothing. Like it’s not even there. And with that, writers Lonnie Nadler & Zac Thompson pen one of the most relatable and poignant lines I’ve read about health all year. That line, like much of the rest of the excellent four-issue series Come Into Me, wouldn’t be possible without the nuanced interiority this story has aspired to and reached. It does all that with straight up solid writing and artwork, just good all around visual storytelling. That line is also noteworthy because of the larger metaphor it speaks to, one about complacency in the face of things going well. Indeed, what also makes this comic (and the miniseries it concludes) strong is its thematic interests.

The first and most obvious of these is the biotech angle, the one that involves a new innovation that enables consciousness to switch bodies. Look past that, though, and one finds subtler questions about empathy, ambition, data privacy, cooperation, and entrepreneurial tech values, all of which are applied with grand vision to a narrative apt for 2018. I, admittedly, have a tendency to extrapolate metaphors to be about the state of our country. But this story is about two very different people vying for control over one body in violent, chaotic, and untested ways, searching for a commonality as forces (perhaps beyond their least in part) cause rot to set in. They work toward understanding even as reality makes it clear that two such disparate entities in one body might not be feasible. What could be more timely?

Oh, and I found the ending to be absolutely perfect here. To my mind, the best fictional storytelling leaves readers with far more questions than it does answers, and this series definitely does that, albeit quite grotesquely.

1. Immortal Hulk #8 & #9
Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett (w/Martin Simmonds)
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
I just keeping waiting for Immortal Hulk from Al Ewing and Joe Bennett to ease off the excellence even a little bit...and it just doesn’t happen. Now here it is yet again making one of our top monthly comics lists. Something that’s becoming clear about this comic (and making it my absolute favorite superhero book right now) is that it also has an ambitious scope, one that spans beyond stringing together single issues (which it’s definitely doing, btw). In November, some of the scope became clearer, with the stories in Immortal Hulk #8 & #9 elucidating plot material with implications on both past and future chapters.

Ewing and Bennett have apparently set out to tell a structured long-form tale about the Hulk, one that spent its first few months re-inventing the character as a full-on monster, both for the man who hides him inside and those who encounter him outside, one that isn’t just born from anger but now seems to be some sort of supernatural entity, almost biblical in the scope of its malice. That’s all great, and maybe able to stand alone on those merits. What the team also did last month was absolutely nail the biggest horror moments, akin to a traditional superhero comic that figures out how to make both conversations and slugfests compelling. Issue 9 also gives me hope that there’s no shortage of stories for this book, showing once again how good this book is when it pulls over shared universe characters into the titular undead Hulk’s orbit.  

Check out our Best New #1 Comics of November 2018 plus more of our 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.

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This week could maybe be looked at as DC Strikes Back, or something...if it weren’t for Marvel’s Uncanny X-Men #1, which in spite of its $7.99 price tag is still likely to sell more copies than any other title this week. Still, the slate of new DC and indie books is strong, with the former launching Electric Warriors, concluding Mister Miracle, and re-orienting Wonder Woman with a new creative team of G. Willow Wilson (Ms. Marvel) and Cary Nord (The Unexpected).

The real highlight of the week, meanwhile, comes from David F. Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Greene, as the team launches their long-awaited familial Harlem Renaissance monster-hunting book, Bitter Root. This was on our Most Anticipated Comics of 2018 list waaaaay back last January, and now it’s finally here. Obviously, Bitter Root lands as our featured books for the Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018. Oh, and look for a review later this week, but for now….

Let’s get to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for November 14, 2018

Bitter Root #1
David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorists: Rico Renzi & Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
In the 1920s, the Harlem Renaissance is in full swing, and only the Sangerye Family can save New York-and the world-from the supernatural forces threatening to destroy humanity. But the once-great family of monster hunters has been torn apart by tragedies and conflicting moral codes. The Sangerye Family must heal the wounds of the past and move beyond their differences... or sit back and watch a force of unimaginable evil ravage the human race.
Why It’s Cool: David F. Walker and Sanford Greene have teamed up before, specifically on a brief Power Man and Iron Fist run that if there was any justice in the corporate comics world would have run for 50+ issues. And now they’re back together! Transferring the creative alchemy they found at Marvel to the creator-owned vision described above. Simply put, this has the potential to be a MAJOR comic.

Electric Warriors #1
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Years after the Great Disaster, the Earth has started to rebuild and rejoin the universal coalition. In order to prevent a galactic war, different worlds throughout the known cosmos have created a new system of competitive combat to give each participating planet their own voice in the intergalactic struggle. Each world has one diplomatic gladiator, chosen to possess the Electric Seed and fight for their homeland as the Electric Warrior! Each fighter forsakes their personal life in the name of peace. So what happens when Earth can't choose a single combatant and sends two instead? The bruiser War Cry represents the humans of Earth, while Deep Dweller, a shape-shifter from the Octopus Tribe, represents the animal kingdom. Can they maintain one common goal, or will they tear Earth's tenuous coexistence to shreds and destroy the rest of the universe with it? Oh, and War Cry also has a powerful relic from Earth's past: Superman's cape!
Why It’s Cool: This book features one of the wildest and most original visions we’ve seen from either of the Big 2 in sometime, especially as it pertains to Travel Foreman’s artwork. Paired with Hi-Fi’s colors, the wispy shades of neon in this book really differentiate it from any other superhero universe fare on the market. Meanwhile, writer Steve Orlando is perhaps DC’s foremost continuity explorer, fearlessly drawing from his own deep knowledge of the publisher’s history. He’s right at home here crafting a compelling narrative within Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster Era.  

Lone Ranger #2
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
Tonto and the Lone Ranger go to Austin to foil a plan to cover the Texas panhandle in barbed wire. They are discovered and have to fight their way out of the city. Tonto devises a new strategy based on trick plays he learned from playing football at the Carlisle Indian School and Silver knocks a man unconscious with a wooden post.
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been heaping all kinds of praise on this book, most recently in our Best New #1 Comics of October 2017, and we’re not going to stop any time soon. This book is as smart as it is well done, and if you like great comics, you should be reading it, even if you care as little about the Lone Ranger character as I did coming into this.

Mister Miracle #12
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It'll be a miracle if you can get through this mind-bending conclusion with your sanity intact! After his epic battle with Darkseid, Scott Free sees life a whole new way: he's the new Highfather of New Genesis, and he's madly in love with his wife and child. But what if it's all a lie? Did Mister Miracle really escape death way back in issue #1? No one really knows but Tom King and Mitch Gerads!
Why It’s Cool: Mister Miracle is one of the smartest and most poignant comics that DC has published in many, many years, and this issue marks its conclusion. This is, simply put, the sort of finale that not only sticks the landing but does so in a way that validates all of the creative choices that came before it, making the already-strong previous acts of this story even stronger. This was one hell of a comic.

Uncanny X-Men #1
Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, & Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Mahmud A. Asrar, Mark Bagley, & Mirko Colak
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $7.99
THE CHILDREN OF THE ATOM ARE BACK! New ongoing series kicking off with a 10-part weekly epic, the flagship X-Men series that started it all is back and better than ever! Starting with a mysterious and tragic disappearance, the X-Men are drawn into what might be...their final adventure?! X-Fan favorite writers Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION), Matthew Rosenberg (PHOENIX RESURRECTION) and Kelly Thompson (MR. & MRS. X) and all-star artists Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN RED), R.B. Silva (X-MEN BLUE), Yildiray Cinar (WEAPON X) and Pere Pérez (ROGUE AND GAMBIT) join forces to bring you...X-MEN DISASSEMBLED?!
Why It’s Cool: In one sense, Marvel is back on its old cash grabbing bull*#$@, relaunching one of its most-popular titles of all time with a $7.99 first issue. Not only that, but this is the start of a 10-part weekly series. Marvel, simply put, knows readers will get this comic regardless, and so they’re going to take them for every last penny. Capitalism! That said, in between the cash grabbing Marvel has been providing really strong stories, and—carping about the cost aside—there’s no reason to believe this one will be any different. The X-world has been on the rise as of late (now that Marvel has its film rights back...ahem) led by a group of young writers who clearly grew up fans of the comics. Brisson, Thompson, and Rosenberg are chief among them, and we can’t wait to see what they do with this series. But also, did we mention it costs $7.99??!

Wonder Woman #58
G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Mick Gray
Artist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Far below Themyscira, Ares, the God of War, has been imprisoned for generations, repenting his past sins. But his new cellmate Grail may have an unexpected effect on him...and the plan they've come up with will change Themyscira-and the world- forever! When Wonder Woman rushes to Eastern Europe to rescue Steve Trevor from a mission gone wrong, she'll find herself face-to-face with a very new, very different God of War!
Why It’s Cool: G. Willow Wilson is a big get for Wonder Woman, a smart and thoughtful writer, Wilson has built the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel character into one of the most exciting teen concepts in comics. This is a whole other challenge altogether—building on decades of continuity within a much-loved and venerable franchise. We very much think that Wilson and her artistic collaborator Cary Nord are up for it.  

Top New #1 Comics

  • Black Order #1

  • Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #1

  • Comics Comics Quarterly #1

  • Firefly #1

  • Infinity Wars: Infinity Wraps #1

  • Terrible Elisabeth Dumn Against The Devils in Suits One Shot

  • William Gibson’s Alien 3 #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Amazing Spider-Man #9

  • Avengers #10 (#700)

  • Cemetery Beach #3

  • Captain America #9

  • Cosmic Ghost Rider #5

  • Euthanauts #4

  • Fantastic Four #3

  • Friendo #2

  • Gideon Falls #8

  • Hawkman #6

  • Infinite Dark #2

  • Ms. Marvel #36

  • Murder Falcon #2

  • Oblivion Song #9

  • Proxima Centauri #6

  • Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer #4

  • Thor #7

  • Skyward #8

  • Supergirl #24

  • Superman #5

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our 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 BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.