REVIEW: Lois Lane #1 is character-driven wish fulfillment for journalists and those who love them

By Zack Quaintance — I’ve always appreciated a good Lois Lane story. Moreover, I’ve long considered Lois Lane my favorite character in comics. I wrote a longer piece about this some time in the past, but both my wife and I are reporters. My wife is also considerably better at being a reporter than I am. As silly as it sounds, reading about Superman (himself a reporter, of course) and his wife, Lois Lane, the world’s greatest reporter, is a big kick for me. 

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GET HYPED: Greg Rucka and Mike Perkins’ Lois Lane

By Taylor Pechter — Lois Lane #1 by writer Greg Rucka and artist Mike Perkins is dropping in a couple short weeks (July 3!), and I could not be more excited. Not only is this the first solo series she has had since the Silver Age—granted, this one is in a more limited capacity being only a twelve-issue maxiseries compared to an ongoing—but this new book is being written by Greg Rucka. I have sung Rucka’s praises many a time on this site, whether for his work on mainstream projects like Wonder Woman or Checkmate, or for his indie projects like Lazarus or Queen and Country.

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Comic of the Week: Action Comics #1007 is a must-read chapter in the Bendis Superman run

Action Comics #1007 came out 1/30/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Last year, Brian Michael Bendis walked across the aisle in terms of Big Two comics publishers. After nearly two decades of shaping the Marvel Universe, he hung up his Spider-tights and donned a pair of red underoos at DC. It was a pretty big deal, probably one of the biggest exclusivity changes we've seen in the past 10 years. Some people cheered, some jeered, some waited patiently to see what would occur. I shrugged, because I wasn't reading any DC Comics at the time of the announcement and wouldn't again until recently. I just knew I was going to miss Bendis' writing on Jessica Jones and Defenders.

Fast forward to late last year, when the temptation for The Sandman Universe and Jinxworld titles became too great. I started with those titles, before giving the broader DC Universe a chance again. Although I may have some trepidation at some bleaker corners of their publishing, I feel like Brian Michael Bendis has become like a shining light for them, a light in the darkness. With the Superman titles, Wonder Comics, and Jinxworld, I feel like he's been rejuvenated. Some of his familiar writing quirks are still there, but not to excess. The dialogue tics and decompressed storytelling approaches are present, but not at the point where they feel overboard. And Cover and Pearl (with the inimitable David Mack and Michael Gaydos respectively) feel like some of the freshest, most inventive work that he's written in years, possibly ever.

It could be the excitement of playing in a new sandbox, but that joy, wonder, and freshness carries over into the Bendis-penned Superman titles as well. People may argue about Superman itself, but I feel like he's nailing Action Comics month in and month out. Action Comics #1007 begins “Leviathan Rises” (or “Leviathan Rising” if you go by the cover) that promises to unearth secrets of the DC Universe, and this is a promising start. There have been hints of things going on since #1001, but this issue starts with a bang when it comes to someone targeting other shadowy organizations. It's a decent hook, but what particularly puts the story over the top here is a personal moment between Lois Lane and her father. I won't spoil it, but it's a conversation that will have huge ramifications and is something that you probably don't want to miss.

Steve Epting joins the series to provide the line art for this arc, a perfect choice. Shadowy conspiracy and espionage-tinged stories are his forte, and he shines here. Despite the brightness of Superman's world, he brings a tinge of darkness from the corners in the attacks on the other secret societies and black ops organizations. Those attacks are also beautifully enhanced by the explosion effects provided by Brad Anderson. It's nice to see the contrast between Superman's bright, bold colors and the darkness of an organization like Kobra as well. I'd also go back to the conversation between Lois and her father, wherein Epting and Anderson play it out like a spy meeting her handler for the first time in years in its composition and coloring, adding a nice tension to the entire scene. And Josh Reed serves as the backbone again for the series with his lettering. There's a quite nice effect with the “Faith to Kali Yuga!” chants.

Overall, Bendis, Epting, Anderson, and Reed provide a good jumping-on point here with Action Comics #1007. Although it does build on what's come before, it's not absolutely necessary to have read since the run started with #1001, giving you more than enough to be hooked by this issue alone. The mystery of the attacks and the character work pretty much make this unmissable if you're a Superman fan. It's also laying some of the groundwork for the future of the DC Universe. I'd suggest getting in now.

Action Comics #1007
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Steve Epting
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

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 to Buy for January 16, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This was an interesting week for comics, in that many of the best creator-owned books coming out were well into their runs or midway into their first arcs. There are, of course, some interesting new #1 titles (there always as are, as that’s where the money is at, and all), including Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy, Black Widow, and Invaders. There’s also Marvel Comics Presents #1, which is the one I’m personally most interested in.

Still, great creator-owned books like Black Badge, Gideon Falls, Lodger, and Wic + Div all seem to be caught mid-arc. So, we’ve done what any good comics recommender would...read the issues and sorted them out and come up with some recommendations—even if there aren’t any good jumping on points to be had, except for Isola (more on that in a moment). We hope you’ll find it all helpful!

And now, onward to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for January 16, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Babyteeth #14
Writer:
Donny Cates
Artist: Garry Brown
Colorist: Mark Englert
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Price: $3.99
So, hey, welcome back, folks. How about that issue 13, huh? I told you it was bananas. Anyway, look, I'd like to be able to tell you this one is easier or nicer somehow, but real-ly...have any issues of this book not been insane and weird? Would you even believe me If I said it was? No. You wouldn't. So, yeah, this issue is more of all that. Plus: BETRAYAL! (Dramatic music cue!)
Why It’s Cool: This issue really teases out writer Donny Cates’ abilities as a humor writer, which were last seen this directly during his first Marvel work on Doctor Strange and Thanos. Meanwhile, artist Garry Brown also gets some great chances to shine here in what is the first issue back after a bit of a break, using his design skills to also get in on the humor tip. It’s not all laughs though—this issue also raises some pretty stark questions about the devil and God, and, by extension, about our concepts of good and evil. Basically, this is the first issue in a while that really makes good on the immense promise Babyteeth had at launch way back when, so much so it makes me absolutely elated I stuck with this series.

Black Panther #8
Writer:
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Kev Walker
Colorist: Stephane Paitreau
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE INTERGALACTIC EMPIRE OF WAKANDA: THE GATHERING OF MY NAME" Part 2 For years, the Maroons have lain dormant, planning the next stage of their rebellion. At last, it is time to strike - with a treasure hunt for unstable Vibranium! And with the Black Panther once again in their ranks, they're certain of victory. But what will victory cost? When the chips are down, will the Maroons rise to heroism, or are they doomed by the trauma of their past?
Why It’s Cool: Writer Ta-Nehisi Coates just keeps getting better and better at the comics game, and while his best work may be taking place over in Captain America, his current bonkers intergalactic arc on Black Panther is really no slouch. It’s a bit hard to make out what exactly is going on here—my guess is something funny with a wormhole...thank you to the Shuri title for the tip—but the imagination involved with the story is absolutely off the charts. Kev Walker also returns for another issue, which I’m all about because I thought Black Panther #7 was stunning.  

Electric Warriors #3
Writer:
Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Colorist: Hi-Fi
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The revolution starts now! Inceptor accidentally digs too far into the memories of the Electric Warrior from Gil'Dishpan and uncovers a conspiracy at the heart of the Covenant. The planet games are meant to bring profit and keep the various peoples across the galaxies in check, rather than encourage peace and cooperation. If Inceptor can convince the other Warriors of what he's learned, it might just spark the revolution that will free a galaxy.
Why It’s Cool: Simply put, Electric Warriors is the Big 2 comic right now that not enough people are talking about. It’s an impeccably-told future-set tale with a savage sci-fi concept. This issue pushes that concept a step further by—well, I won’t tip into spoiler territory but I will tell you that you should without question be reading this book. Especially if you fancy yourself any sort of DC Comics continuity buff, or even a hardcore DC fan.  

Isola #6
Writers:
Brendan Fletcher / Karl Kerschl
Artists: Karl Kerschl / Msassyk
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Olwyn has returned from the land of the dead, but did she return alone? The journey to Isola continues...NOW BI-MONTHLY!
Why It’s Cool: Isola is the best-looking comic coming out today (with apologies to The Dreaming), and this is the start of a new arc. The first trade is out there at the super reasonable $9.99 Image introductory price. It’s also a fairly decompressed comic, which means that with $10 and an afternoon, you can get caught up for this new jumping on point. And trust me when I tell you it’s very much worth. Not only is the art absolutely stunning, but the world is well-built and the characters compelling. The narrative is also paced with a rewarding rate of revelation, doling out enough to stay interesting without ever tipping into overly wordy dumping of exposition.

Superman #7
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Ivan Reis, Brandon Peterson, and Jason Fabok
Inker: Oclair Albert
Colorist: Alex Sinclair
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
It's the moment you've been waiting for: the shocking return of the son of Superman! A year spent traveling the stars changed Jon Kent. Are parents Clark and Lois ready for the all-new, all-different Superboy? Secrets are revealed, a new look debuts and Superman's world is changed forever!
Why It’s Cool: There’s a reason that Brian Michael Bendis dueling runs on Action Comics and Superman made our Top 5 Comics of 2018: they’re both really really good. Action grabbed me right away, but I must admit it took just a tiny bit longer for Superman to really reel me in. Now that it has, however, I just can’t get enough of this book. Superman #7 is another fantastic installment with top-tier art and a plot that keeps the pages turning. It also has something that Bendis is proving himself impressively adept at: a new iconic moment largely shaped by logical ways in which the rest of the city, Earth, or galaxy would come to view someone as powerful and benevolent as our guy Clark Kent. These are exciting and special superhero comics, and I feel lucky to be reading them in real time as they come out.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Adventure Time: Simon and Marcy #1

  • Black Hammer Director’s Cut #1

  • Black Widow #1

  • Invaders #1

  • Marvel Comics Presents #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #7

  • Amazing Spider-Man #13

  • Black Badge #6

  • Catwoman #7

  • Conan the Barbarian #2

  • Detective Comics #996

  • Gideon Falls #10

  • Hawkman #8

  • Ironheart #2

  • Lodger #3

  • Middlewest #3

  • Supergirl #26

  • Venom #10

  • Warning #3

  • Wicked + Divine #41

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.


Top Comics of 2018, #1 - #5

By Zack Quaintance —  A difficult thing about a strong year for comics (like this one) is doing a retrospective 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 the third and final and (let’s face it) best part, which features in descending order selections #5 to #1 (Top Comics of 2018, #16 - #25 and Top Comics #6 - #15 are also up now, btw), 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 finish this bad hombre!

Top Comics of 2018

The Immortal Hulk by Alex Ross.

5. Immortal Hulk
Writer:
Al Ewing
Artists: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Issues in 2018: 10

The first of the Big 2 titles to make my Top 5 Comics of 2018 is the Al Ewing and Joe Bennett-driven Immortal Hulk, a startlingly-blunt take on a long-time hero that reads more like a creator-owned book than a shared universe corporate story. We’re late in the superhero trajectory, with comics having constructed, deconstructed, and exported the concept to other mediums plenty. Our best modern stories are those that get closest to capturing a character’s core, and rarely has a title done this as well as Immortal Hulk.

At the same time, this book has found a darker place that was always there, taking existing elements and extrapolating them so thoroughly they feel novel. It’s found ground not possible for the sensibilities of the 1960s, Hulk’s heyday. Both artwork and audience have evolved, becoming more sophisticated and thereby allowing Ewing, Bennett, and others to push Hulk further into monster territory while at the same time making Banner the emotional blank slate he was perhaps always meant to be. In this book, Banner is backgrounded, standing in for humanity at large as darker base impulses drag him places no one wants to go (ahem, hell). The Hulk is not the hero—that honor goes to anyone who can live a contented and peaceful life.

On the surface, this comic has also benefited from consistent artwork from Bennett who has needed few guest replacements, plus early chapters that provide satisfying narratives independent of what came before or will come after. This is a bit of a lost art, but still very much welcome, and it’s something that Immortal Hulk did expertly.

This gem by Ryan Sook and Brad Anderson from Action Comics #1006 is quite possibly the comic book page of the year.

4. Action Comics / Man of Steel / Superman
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artists: Patrick Gleason, Yanick Paquette, Ryan Sook, Ivan Reis, w/Doc Shaner, Steve Rude, Jay Fabok, Kevin Maguire, & Adam Hughes
Inkers: Wade Von Grawbadger, Joe Prado, & Oclair Albert
Colorists: Alejandro Sanchez, Nathan Fairbairn, Brad Anderson
Letterers: Josh Reed
Issues in 2018: 5 / 6 / 6

In 2017, Brian Michael Bendis—a leading voice at Marvel Comics for almost 20 years—announced a jump to the distinguished competition, leaving fans with questions that ranged from whether Bendis could thrive there to which titles he would take over. Some suggested this would spark a creative rejuvenation for Bendis, a chance to recapture energy from bygone days. Here’s the thing, though: Bendis had quietly been doing some of his best work at Marvel. Following the stumble that was Civil War II, his Infamous Iron Man, Jessica Jones, and Defenders titles were all excellent.

This is my way of saying I predicted Bendis at DC would be successful. He’s generally praised most for early work on Daredevil, as well as for creating Jessica Jones and Miles Morales (who’s having a moment with new film Into the Spider-Verse). What gets lost is that Bendis is likely the most prolific comic writer of a generation, consistently producing three to five monthly titles and rarely (if ever) suffering delays. As I’ve written, part of what I love about comics is the deadline-driven schedules force creators to just do the damn work, to put forth ideas without belaboring them as one must in film or prose writing. When it comes to embracing child-like excitement, love of comics history, and just doing the damn thing—Bendis is the best.

Still, even I didn’t predict what he’s doing with DC’s Superman titles. Flanked by the best artists to work on the character in decades, Bendis is telling a story that breaks this hero and his mythos down to its core before (seemingly) building it back up with slight tweaks for 2018. His Action Comics, Superman, and Man of Steel miniseries have all felt both classic and progressive as he revels in iconic stature while viscerally having a blast using the DC Universe that’s been off limits for so long. The end result is that both Action and Superman continue to rise, as satisfying as they are epic.

From Monstress #18. Artwork by Sana Takeda.

3. Monstress
Writer:
Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

This was the year of Monstress, with Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s expansive creator-owned fantasy hitting big at the Eisner’s and (presumably) finding a much larger audience. For fans of the book from the start, it was incredibly rewarding to see this story get its due. Liu’s world-building is phenomenal, drawing loosely from traditions while first and foremost exploring original elements. Takeda’s artwork, meanwhile, is second to no artist keeping as regular a release schedule (save for possibly the great Fiona Staples), with an intricate manga-influenced look that makes every panel of Monstress feel like the product of months of design work.

This year saw Monstress play out its third arc, a grandiose story heavy with confidence. The world-building continues, but it’s not as noticeable as it was in earlier arcs (both of which were also phenomenal, btw). The real focus of the story now is the journey of the main character. Given this is a fantasy comic (the fantasy comic of the decade), we wouldn’t have it any other way.

What started as a revenge story in 2015, has grown into a powerful young woman reckoning with a range of life: her relationship with her history, with her mother, with the mysterious power inside her, with the most responsible way to use it, and with the repercussions for noble actions that grew out of a simple desire to escape oppression and survive.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom, Quantum Age, Doctor Star, and Chtu-Louise.

2. Black Hammer
Black Hammer: Age of Doom / Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows /  Quantum Age: From the World of Black Hammer / Black Hammer: Cthu-Louise
Writer:
Jeff Lemire
Artists: Dean Ormston, Rich Tommaso, Max Fiumara, Wilfredo Torres, Emi Lenox
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Todd Klein
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Issues in 2018: 7 / 4 / 5 / 1

This past year also saw the establishing of a new superhero universe: Black Hammer. Technically, this homage-heavy universe was created back in 2016 with the advent of Black Hammer #1 from writer Jeff Lemire and artist Dean Ormston. That issue was the start of a specific story. The wider universe grew later, doing so with an adjacent miniseries that broadened the plot in 2016 (Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil from Lemire and artist extraordinaire David Rubin).

In 2018, however, we got an even broader expansion. This past year, the Black Hammer universe continued with its main title, while adding two more miniseries and a one-shot. Add to that all kinds of rumors about what’s coming in 2019—from Lemire himself writing/drawing a 12-issue series, to a crossover between Black Hammer and DC Comics—and all signs point to this universe being here to stay. I had a chance to interview Jeff Lemire at San Diego Comic Con, and he agreed, saying as much.

I point this out as a way to note Black Hammer is so well-done that it has found a strong foothold in a market over-saturated by superhero concepts since basically 1970 (if not sooner). This is Lemire in all his brilliant Lemire-ness, following his deepest ideas and tragic lonesome sensibilities. He’s created a tone that allows him to write a few pages of funny before lapsing into full-blown meditations on the nature of generational comic book stories. Shared superhero universes function best with a strong guiding voice or perspective (see Marvel in the ‘60s). Black Hammer is doing just that, and I for one feel lucky to experience it in real time.

Saga #50 (cover by Fiona Staples) finds the family in happier times.

1. Saga
Writer:
Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 6

I’ve written about this often, but it’s easy to take long-running creator-owned comics for granted, forgetting what a rare thing it is to have talented writers and artists string together wholly original stories with only their keyboards and pencils. For many of us, our lifetimes have been marked with a mainstream comic selection dictated by corporations and distributors, plus whatever experimental work was on the fringes. In recent years, this has changed, and, leading that change, has been Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ familial sci-fi epic, Saga.

This year, however, was one in which we were all but forced to stop taking Saga for granted. The first reason for this was Saga’s latest story arc (which ran in issues #49 - #54, and wrapped up in July) was obscenely consequential. I don’t want to give anything away, but $@#% goes down and it’s bad, so bad I wrote about why it hurts, partially to make sense of why I was so devastated. It’s a testament to this story that it can hit such intense emotional beats so far into its run.

Second, the book announced it would be going on a year-long (minimum) hiatus. Obviously, you can’t take something for granted once it leaves you. Kind of bummer (we’re compensating with a year-long Saga re-read), made all the more bumming (is that a word? ah well) by how good the comic got before the announcement. There really is, quite simply, nothing else like Saga, not in terms of the scope of the story, the artful thematic explorations undertaken within, or the industry-best action and design graphics generated a whopping six times a year (or more!) by the massive talent that is Fiona Staples.

This site is dedicated to discussing comic books in thoughtful and analytical ways as the medium enjoys a new golden age. To us, Saga remains the leader of an ongoing renaissance, and a big part of the reason we think it’s so important to volunteer time to cover the artform. It is an absolute honor to give the book and its devastating 2018 story (kind of fitting, in sooooo many ways) our Top Comic of 2018 honor.

Check out Best Comics of 2018, #16 - #25 and Best Comics of 2018, #6 - #15! And check back later in the week for more year-end lists, including our Best Single Issues and our Top Creators of 2018!

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 January 2, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — Oh hey, would you look at that? We got the date for this piece right! Though, we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a challenge. Basically, the New Year has arrived folks! Bringing with it those always-confusing date problems that take place in writer’s heads before we’ve fully adjusted.

Last week’s post-Christmas crop of comics was pretty barren (although it wasn’t without some great titles). This week’s bunch is a bit better, at least in terms of volume. What’s also great is that some of our favorite series from 2018—namely Action Comics and Immortal Hulk—have new installments! Pair that with the start of Jason Aaron’s highly-anticipated run of Conan the Barbarian, and hey, maybe this year will be starting off special.

All that said, let’s take a closer look!

Top Comics to Buy for January 2, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Action Comics #1006
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Ryan Sook
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The Red Cloud sets her sights on someone close to Superman, but how can the Man of Steel stop a villain he can't touch? As the invisible mafia controlling Metropolis' underworld steps more into the light, its leader finally stands revealed with a secret that will have massive implications for Superman and Clark Kent!
Why It’s Cool: At this time last year, the vast majority of comic book fandom didn’t even know which DC characters long-time Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis would be taking over when he made the jump to DC. Fast forward to now, and it’s almost hard to remember that Bendis didn’t spend all of last year writing Superman stories. His work on the character has been (in my personal opinion) fantastic, and leading the way is the Daily Planet-heavy story taking place in Action Comics. It continues to build this week with an expanded look into corners of Metropolis that have rarely been seen, setting as it does some track for more major happenings later on in the year. Also, competition is fierce, but of all the top-tier artists Bendis has collaborated with since coming over to DC, I do believe that Ryan Sook is my favorite. This may be his last issue of Action Comics for the foreseeable future, but later this year he and Bendis will be collaborating on something larger, which is definitely something to keep an eye on. Oh, and speaking of last year: can you believe some yutz suggested Bendis was taking over Green Arrow? Absurd!

Conan the Barbarian #1
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Matthew Wilson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
BY CROM, THE GREATEST SWORD-AND-SORCERY HERO RETURNS TO MARVEL!
From an age undreamed...hither came Conan the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandaled feet...Robert E. Howard's creation returns to comics, in an epic tale as only MARVEL could bring you!  Conan's travels have brought him to the far reaches of the unkown, from his birthplace in Cimmeria to the kingdom of Aquilonia and all in between. As his fighting prowess allows him to carve his way through life, so too does it attract the forces of death! The all-new ages-spanning saga begins here, by writer Jason Aaron (THE MIGHTY THOR, STAR WARS) and artist Mahmud Asrar (UNCANNY X-MEN, ALL-NEW, ALL-DIFFERENT AVENGERS), as Conan's destiny is forever changed!
Why It’s Cool: Jason Aaron has done absolutely incredible things with the Thor franchise, crafting what is currently the best years-long superhero run in all of comics. He just has a knack for the epic, nigh-biblical brutality inherent to norse mythology. And what, if any, comic book franchise just so happens to feel like a close cousin to norse mythology? That’s right, Conan the Barbarian. Aaron takes the keys of that book with Conan the Barbarian #1, the first in a trio of new Conan comics from Marvel, who snagged the rights for the character last year. As Thor starts to wind down with this year’s War of the Realms event, Aaron looks to start another all-time great stretch of comic book writing right here with this one.

Crowded #6
Writer:
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ro Stein
Inker: Ted Brandt
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Publisher:
Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Trapped with the psychopathic streaming superstar Trotter on one side and all of Los Angeles carrying a weapon and a two-million-dollar-dream on the other, Charlie and Vita have only each other-and a few of the secrets they've been keeping from each other-to rely on for their survival.
Why It’s Cool: There is no shortage of stories in comics right now that envision terrifying futures. Hell, there’s no shortage of stories in comics right now that envision terrifying near futures. That said, Crowded has distinguished itself as one of the best, doing so with a mixture of big ideas and seasoned pacing moves from one of the best writers of creator-owned comics in the industry today: Christopher Sebela. Of the many excellent new Image Comics launched in 2018 (more on that next week...stay tuned!), this is one of the best.

Immortal Hulk #11
Writer:
Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Ruy Jose
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
"HULK IN HELL" PART ONE!
Jackie McGee is in hell. Carl Creel is in hell. Walter Langkowski is in hell. Eugene Judd is in hell. Carl Burbank is in hell.  Los Diablos is in hell. Shadow Base is in hell. New Mexico is in hell. Planet Earth is in hell. We are all in hell...
 ...and so is the IMMORTAL HULK.
Why It’s Cool: As you may or may not find out in this week’s forthcoming Best Comics of 2018, our committee of one absolutely loved Immortal Hulk last year, finding it to be a comic that both spoke to the essence of a classic character while pushing this franchise into novel new territories. This book, in other words, could do no wrong, and because of this, we’re very much excited to see where it’s all headed in the New Year. Based on preview text, that place is clearly hell, which, awesome.

The Walking Dead #187
Writer:
Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letterer:
Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE ROAD BACK"
Can Rick Grimes bring peace to the Commonwealth-or will he tear it apart?
Why It’s Cool: Although the jury is still out on whether it’s working, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard are clearly trying to sophisticate and evolve the central metaphor at the heart of their long-running Walking Dead comic, perhaps to avoid the ironically slow death that seems to be afflicting the television show (what with the lead actor begging out, and everything). It remains to be seen, of course, whether they stick the landing, but the emotional heart of this current plotline is Michonne, and it’s pretty well-done, so much so I find the book engaging in a way it hasn’t felt since before Negan got put in that cage. There’s a weird metaphor at work here too, wherein the governor of the town where everyone is content and cared for, yet class discrepancy runs wild, looks a whole lot like Hillary Clinton, which has the lasting effect of reminding us of simpler times with more understated political problems. Kirkman et. al clearly thought like most of us that she would win and are left holding the bag...if only they could bring back Negan, who, let’s face it, is basically Trump.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Champions #1

  • Infinity Wars: Infinity #1

  • Man Without Fear #1

  • Star Wars Age of Republic: Obi-Wan Kenobi #1

  • Wolverine Long Night #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Archie 1941 #1

  • Archie #701

  • BPRD Devil You Know #12

  • Detective Comics #995

  • Giant Days #46

  • Hex Wives #3

  • Justice League Odyssey #4

  • Marvel Knights 20th #5

  • Redneck #18

  • Shatterstar #4

  • Terrifics #11

  • Titans #32

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #7

  • Unnatural #6

  • Winter Soldier #2

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.


Superman is many things, and boring isn’t one of them

By Maya Kesh — Superman is boring. At this point, that criticism has become so tired that it’s become boring itself. Still, I can’t help but wonder why it’s such a common attack against one of fiction’s greatest character. Why? The answer is invariably that he’s too strong, leaving no reason to fear that anything will happen to him. Never mind that realistically there also isn’t fear that something will happen to Batman, Wonder Woman, Spider-Man and the rest—the underlying conceit of every superhero story is that good triumphs over evil.

Beyond that, however, I don’t understand why Superman’s powers translate in to him being called a boring character. I’ve been contemplating this criticism a lot lately, and in this piece I’d like to directly address it, making a case for why Superman is easily one of the most compelling characters in all of comics by looking at everything from his powers to his origin to the humanity he displays as Clark Kent.

Superman’s Powers and Origin

He doesn’t use his powers to help himself (Silver Age goofiness aside), as such, he’s not an arrogant god. As many (if not all) fans know, Superman in 1938 was far less powerful than he is now. He was a more of street level character who couldn’t yet fly. The bare bones were there. A baby from another planet. Disguised as Clark Kent. Worked with Lois Lane, etc.

Action Comics #1 (1938).

As the years went by the character’s abilities grew and grew. Soon he could fly. He could move planets around. He was the most powerful character in the DC Universe.

One thing that did not change, however, was his origin. He stayed an alien even as his childhood backstory was expanded upon. Instead of nameless kindly motorists, Jonathan and Martha Kent found him and raised him as their own. He grows up to disguise himself as Clark Kent, who works as a reporter at the Daily Planet. This itself is remarkable. He could do and be anything, and he decided to be a reporter to uncover injustice as he also fought it as his alter ego.

Superman: Birthright

Superman: Birthright

Superman’s Values and the ‘Nice Guy’ Argument

His core goodness is another trait often pointed to as a problem. He’s too good. Where are his flaws? I’ve always felt this is a larger misinterpretation of what good means. Too often we celebrate the tortured anti hero. Something terrible must have happened to our hero to send him off to right wrongs. How could a man brought up in a stable household with two loving parents understand struggle? What is his motivation?

This brings me to some questions of my own: why does there need to be a motivation to want to help the world to be a better place? Why is a core of decency something to sneer at or dismiss as dull?

This isn’t the same thing as the “nice guy” argument, wherein people performatively act a certain way in order to get rewards. “Why won’t she go out with me…I’m such a nice guy!” That kind of talk is passive aggressive hostility, expecting the world owes one something.

That is not Superman. He is doing what he does because he cares about the planet, never expecting a return on his investment. He truly is a complex character. Just imagine being flung out as a baby in to space, crash landing on another planet, and then as time goes on you find you can do things nobody else can or ever could. You have to hide that side of yourself out of fear that the world would turn against you. You are neither human nor Kryptonian. You walk a line where you never know what it is like to truly belong. 

Superman and Clark Kent, a Complex Whole

I’ve always disliked the “Superman is what I can do, Clark is who I am” line from the Lois and Clark TV show in the ‘90s. I think it is far too simplistic. 

Superman is more than what he can do. Being Superman is an essential part of who he is. Meanwhile, Clark is not all that he is either, because he spent his life on the fringes. He couldn’t race to school. He couldn’t play rough games with his friends in fear of hurting them. He had to learn to control his powers, powers that are as much a part of him as our senses are a part of us.

Superman: Birthright

Superman and Clark Kent are parts of a whole, a whole he can only share with a few trusted people in his life. His parents, a few childhood friends, and, later, Lois Lane.

When he first makes his debut as Superman, you’d expect the population to fear him. Writer Mark Waid and artist Leinil Francis Yu’s Birthright mini-series explores this really well. We see that as Superman our hero is really worried about how he’ll be received. As a result, his joy when Lois Lane meets him as Superman and is not in the least bit afraid is a wonderful moment.

Superman: Birthright

The emotional toll it takes hiding parts of himself on a daily basis, never able to fully be himself as either Clark Kent or Superman is just so rich with storytelling possibilities. 

Action Comics #850

This is a character with emotions, and a character who gets angry and jealous. Sad. Petty. All the normal emotions everyone feels. Being a fundamentally good person doesn’t negate that these emotions roil around within him, and certainly does not make him boring.  However, he does have a greater burden because of his immense power, and he has to be very careful not to abuse it.

There is a scene in the movie Man of Steel where he has to endure the harassment of truckers at a truck stop where he’s working. He indulges his petty side by messing with the trucker’s truck. His momentary lapse doesn’t then mean he’s not living up to the Superman mantle. Not doing something like that is a level of perfection (which I contend is unattainable) that he himself aspires to achieve. He is not a perfect man, no matter how badly he wants to be. Ultimately, he’s flawed like everyone else. 

Superman’s and misconceptions

Another misinterpretation is that he is naïve, that because he sees the best in humanity somehow means he doesn’t understand the worst. I don’t agree with this. I think he understands the worst. He understands evil. How could he not, fighting what the sort of threats he fights? That he manages to rise above the cynicism and continues to battle for justice in hopes that, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr., the moral arc though long will indeed bend towards justice. This isn’t willful blindness to the horrors around us but a deep belief that we and he are better than the lowest common denominator.

This, I think, sometimes gets lost. In the rush for the superficial complexity of the tortured hero driven by external forces, we lose sight of the true complexity of those doing good because of a natural internal drive. We as a society have, I think, become cynical towards this idea that people do good because it is the right thing to do. Our default mode is to wonder what the catch could be.

Superman in 2018

I don’t think Superman is boring, especially not given the nature of our modern times. In fact, I strongly believe that Superman needs to be written in the time he is living in. These days the blinders have been lifted, and many of us are seeing first hand a rising threat from global nationalism. A push back against immigrants. A fear of those who look and talk differently. It all makes me wonder: if we can’t accept each other, how would we accept a man from another planet?

The world Superman lives in today is a lot more complex because we’re globally connected in ways we’ve never been before. Communication is instantaneous. The character though doesn’t need to respond with darkness to the events around him.  There will, of course, be frustration. However, not succumbing to that frustration and becoming Batman-lite, if you will, is its own challenge, and a fascinating one at that. How do you live day to day seeing all the destruction happening around you while knowing you could stop it in a second? How do you live while having immense power within and not devolve in to megalomania?

Superman does this literally every day. His core decency and honor should not be dismissed as naiveite or mocked as boy scout behavior. Instead, it should be seen for what it is: a fascinating study of what makes a hero driven by the belief that the universe is better than what he sees in front of him. 

We need heroes like this, heroes who do what they do because they only want to do right. They aren’t searching for external praise or validation or even revenge. There is huge difference in my mind in understanding the challenges of the world around us in a realistic way without succumbing to the cynicism that there is no hope, that we're a doomed species.  

Superman, I think, is one of the hardest of characters to get right because to do so, one has to let go of the idea people are fundamentally in it for themselves, or that believing in nobility is for the foolish. I really don’t think it is. I don’t think honor is a boring trait. I think Superman’s core of kindness, compassion, empathy and decency makes him a fascinating character. It’s easier to fall prey to despair; it’s harder to keep from falling in to cynicism. Yet he does this. Day after day. 

Superman is so much more than the sum of his powers. He is a man who could control the world but instead cherishes the people around him and sees himself as one of us, not an infallible god. When we look beyond the punches?  We see the true hero, and he’s one for the ages.

Maya Kesh is a lifetime comic reader and a writer whose articles often focus on how women are portrayed in comics. You can follow her on Twitter at @mayak46

Best New #1 Comics of September 2018

By Zack Quaintance — Some of our favorite newly-launched books this month have been a long time coming, including new titles from Vault Comics and the Vertigo Rebirth-leading Border Town, among others. The important thing, though, is that they’re here now and the response has been fantastic. As you’ll also see in a second (I’ll wrap this up quick, promise), September also brought us some interesting repurposings of old and celebrated franchises, specifically Archie and Sandman. I (obviously) don’t know what the future holds, but this to me is starting to seem like an era we’ll all look back on one day, shaking our heads at how good we had it with so many good ideas coursing through comics. It’s almost overwhelming.

Anyway, enough chatter...let’s do this!

Quick Hits

Faith: Dreamside #1 cover by Sibylline Meynet.

I thought Batman: Damned #1 was...fine. Obviously, the actual comic got lost in all the hoopla over Batman’s gear gear, but this comic was...fine. I’m not always into excessively dark Bat-takes, but this one’s supernatural angle is...fine.

Heroes in Crisis #1 was also…fine. It was well-done, both in art and scripting, if a little thin. I’m in favor of starting major events with double or oversized debuts (or quick second issues) to give monthly readers extra substance and clarity, fully acknowledging that stories these days demand to be written for trade.

Jody Houser writing Faith continues to be an absolute delight with Faith: Dreamside #1, drawn by M.J. Kim. Every iteration of this book has just been so optimistic without ever feeling saccharine. It’s also as a whip-smart pop/geek culture satire, with jokes grown from an endearingly deep love and understanding of this space.

I liked Mark Waid’s Archie reboot a few years back, especially the insight into Archie history he gave us via back matter in early issues. Archie 1941 #1 has some of that in its DNA, as it uses the WWII time period for a well-done and serious take on these characters.

Vertigo Rebirth kicked off in September with the release of writer Eric M. Esquivel and artist Ramon Villalobos’ Border Town #1, a story about monsters, teens, and the complex politics of the U.S.-Mexico Border. A promising start. Read our full Border Town #1 review!

Another debut off to a promising start, Man-Eaters #1 from Chelsea Cain and Kate Niemczyk is a satirical take on gender politics told with incredible wit and detail. As I wrote in my Man-Eaters #1 review, this is a great setup for a book with important things to say.

DC’s Sandman revival launched in earnest this month. Confession time: I skipped Dreaming #1 because its so directly tied to the classic series, which I’m reading now for the first time. Basically, I don’t want to spoil anything. House of Whispers #1, however, was intriguing and fresh, a perfect entrance point, I’d wager, for readers old and new.

Competition is fierce, but I think Phillip Kennedy Johnson writes the best dystopian America in all of comics. His Warlords of Appalachia was an August 2018 New Discovery, and now he’s joined here by artist Flaviano for Low Road West #1, treading similar America is hella broken territory in all new ways.

Top 5 Best Comics of September 2018

Cemetery Beach #1 by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard

As I wrote in my review for Cemetery Beach #1, I was a big fan of Warren Ellis and Jason Howard’s previous collaboration, Trees, and I’m pretty comfortable in saying that if you dug that book, you’ll likely dig this one too. I also think that if you didn’t quite connect with Trees, you might still find a lot to like about Cemetery Beach, which has all the deeply high-minded sci-fi supposing their first book did, with breakneck other-world action and a bit of a wink—or at least characters who are kind of funny.

This book reads to me like Warren Ellis writing a summer blockbuster, and I mean that as the highest of compliments. It’s a seven-part story, and my impression is that this narrative will largely be driven by twists. It’s also the type of comic that I’ve thought about often since finishing it early on in the month, doing that old-school periodical reader thing where I anxiously await the next installment. How quaint.

Cover #1 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Mack,

I’ve been enjoying the craft-heavy creator-owned books Brian Michael Bendis and his talented collaborators are putting out on his revived Jinxworld imprint, which is now at DC. Cover #1 by Bendis and David Mack, however, has easily been my favorite. As Bendis noted at Rose City Comic Con, there are plenty of movies about making movies or about rock music or about whatever other field of creativity. Comics, however, have largely not had the meta stories about what it’s like making comics.

This is, essentially, what Cover is setting out to do—along with telling a normal guy-becomes-a-spy story, based on experiences Bendis and Mack have had as attaches with the U.S. State Department. It’s a simple-yet-ambitious book, one that Mack brings to life with a beautiful watercolor palette that moves in and out of hazy focus as serves the clarity of the story. If this first issue is any indication, this is a series not to be missed. (Oh, and another Jinxworld debut, United States of Murder Inc. #1 by Bendis and Michael Oeming, is real strong, too).

Fearscape #1 by Ryan O’Sullivan and Andrea Mutti

It’s been a few years now since I’ve been a comic book fan whose reading choices are dictated by allegiance to character (okay, more than a few). I think this is a natural transition for readers who stick with comics into adulthood: we’re drawn in at young ages by appealing heroes who represent our aspirations, and we stay for love of the craft, paying more attention to the writers and artists than the long-standing often corporate-owned characters on the pages. I think this compulsive love of storytelling is a big part of what made Fearscape #1 resonate so strongly with me.

To put it in inelegant terms, Fearscape #1 is a writerly book about writing, about wanting to write, trying to write, failing to write...WRITING. It’s a send up of literary pretension that’s tonally-laden with that intangible drive that pushes artists to create. It’s a fantasy story with a beating heart rooted in a blowhard whose artistic skills are massively dwarfed by his need for validation. It’s deep and nuanced and unlike anything else in the industry. As I wrote in my Fearscape #1 review...I can’t recommend this book enough.

Friendo #1 by Alex Paknadel, Martin Simmonds

Like Fearscape #1, Friendo #1 is a new comic from Vault Comics, one of my personal favorite publishers in the indie game right now, and also like Fearscape, this is a comic bent on exploring nuanced ideas. Rather than the plight of the frustrated (and disingenuous) artist, Friendo immerses itself in larger ideas about the intersections of commerce, government, society, technology, and daily life.

This is somehow a comic that feels at once prescient and very much of this scary moment, told with great expertise by writer Alex Paknadel and artist Martin Simmonds. The debut issue does a fantastic job of laying track (presumably) for twists to come, and I can’t wait to see where they take this story. The solicit copy, for example, promises heavily involvement by a personalized marketing VR (the titular Friendo, I’m guessing), and so far we’ve only gotten the tip of it. Check out our Friendo #1 review here!

Ahoy Comics’ High Heaven #1 & Wrong Earth #1

Wrong Earth #1 asks: what if a dark and gritty ‘80s/‘90s portrayal of a hero (think Batman in The Dark Knight Returns) swapped earths with a campy Silver Age equivalent (think Batman in ‘60s TV show, Batman). In Wrong Earth #1—debut of new publisher, Ahoy Comics—this concept is executed to clever perfection by veteran creators writer Tom Peyer and artist Jamal Igle. Wrong Earth is, simply put, superhero satire at its finest. There’s a bit of Venture Bros. and a bit of Grant Morrison (who provides related prose for the book’s back matter), and the result is an absolute treat for savvy fans, folks who enjoy heroes but can get far enough outside to appreciate the inherent absurdity of continuity-beholden corporate comics.

High Heaven #1, meanwhile, is the second Ahoy launch title, and it’s a book that basically depicts the afterlife as an institution as broken as everything is in real life. Food is free but awful, everyone gets a mansion...or rather a dorm room with a fancy name, and life is dictated by attitude. The premise isn’t as intriguing as Wrong Earth but the deeper literary aspirations at the heart of the company are once again present. This one is again written by Peyer with art by Greg Scott, plus another host of back matter contributors.

Overall, these are dense and fascinating comics for folks drawn to strong and experimental stories. It’s fascinating (and quite welcome) to me that three of Vertigo’s defining editors now preside over eclectic new lines: Karen Berger with Dark Horse’s Berger Books, Shelly Bond with IDW’s Black Crown, and now Peyer with Ahoy Comics. As I say often, we’re in a second golden age...and as fans we can sit back and enjoy the output while the finances sort themselves out.

Check out 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 October 3, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — Fall has always been the time of year that I most closely associate with reading comic books. I’m from the Midwest (Chicago suburbs, to be exact), and the weather in that part of the country turns windy and chilled in October, with the leaves changing colors and falling from the trees as winter bears down upon us. Furnaces go on, jackets and sweaters come out, and time for reading, writing, and introspection goes way up. It’s great.

It’s also (obviously) Halloween month, and it’s always fun to see what comics publishers do around that. This week, our Top Comics to Buy for October 3, 2018 certainly has some scary stuff in store for readers, from ongoing fantastic work out of IDW’s Black Crown imprint to a weekly month-long crossover that takes Wonder Woman into some of the scarier spaces in the DCU. The end result is another very strong week for comics readers in a year that’s been full of those.

Let’s check it out!

Top Comics to Buy for October 3, 201

Blackbird #1 (Read our review)
Writer:
Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Layout Artist: Paul Reinwand
Colorists: Nayoung Wilson, Jen Bartel
Letterer: Jodi Wynne
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
In this neo-noir fantasy, Nina Rodriguez is positive that a secret magic world ruled by ruthless cabals is hiding just beneath the veneer of Los Angeles. The problem: everyone thinks she's crazy. The bigger problem: she's not crazy - she's right. Can she unravel the mystery before the Great Beast catches up with her?
Why It’s Cool: This is a gorgeous book with an aesthetic that contrasts its tone in a way that does real work for the overall mood of the story, making it feel alternately vibrant and forlorn. There’s a grandiose vision at work here, and, after a great first issue, we’re super excited to see where it goes.

Euthanauts #3
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99
There's nothing worse than someone coming into your life and solving all your problems. The mess of inheritance burdens Thalia with the ghosts of Mercy's past while Indigo presents the future. Saga meets The Sandman in a series that explores death, dynasties, and psychonautic mindspaces.
Why It’s Cool: The first two issues of Euthanuats were a fantastic 1-2 punch of intriguing premise and structural composition that seemed to set this book up for a lengthy run. With fantastic Nick Robles art and Tini Howard doing her best to find poignant space between life and death, we’re so happy this book seems poised to be around for a while to come.

House Amok #2
Writer:
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Shawn McManus
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99
The Sandifers weren't always nuts. They were made that way, by stories, conspiracies and coincidence. As Dylan continues to recount how she spent her summer vacation full of murder, the truth behind how she and her family infected each other with madness come out. Secrets and blood run deep, but family is forever, no matter how deranged they might be.
Why It’s Cool: House Amok #1 was as dark a tale of childhood as we’ve come across in recent memory, using assured narration to examine ways that young realities are inherently shaped by parents, and what happens when those parents doing the shaping have unhinged and dangerous views. Simply put, House Amok seems to be a horror book wherein the main characters are the ones enacting the horrors, and what’s at stake is innocence.

Lone Ranger #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Bob Q.
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite
Price: $3.99
A sparking new adventure from multiple Eisner Award nominee MARK RUSSELL (The Flintstones) and BOB Q (The Green Hornet '66 Meets The Spirit)! 1883. The advent of barbed wire is creating havoc in the Texas panhandle. A corrupted state senator conspires with dirty ranchers to make land unnavigable for open rangers and native tribes, passing new laws allowing cattlemen to kill anyone caught cutting the wire. Good people are getting hurt, and The Lone Ranger must act. But to truly stop this rampant villainy, he'll need to go all the way to the top, and rely on an old friend for help... Featuring a brilliant silver foil logo!
Why It’s Cool: Writer Mark Russell is easily one of the keenest satirists tell stories in any medium, and with his past fantastic work on licensed properties like The Flintstones and Snagglepuss, he’s shown a preternatural aptitude for taking old franchises or characters and finding new ground that’s searingly relevant for 2018. We expect no less from Lone Ranger, a franchise primed for that sort of handling if ever there was one.

Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark: Witching Hour #1
Writer:
James Tynion IV
Artist: Jesus Merino
Colorist: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
Hecate, the witch-goddess of magic, always knew a day would come when the monsters she stole her magic from would return. Now she must activate the Witchmarked, humans within whom she secreted vast stores of power. And the most powerful of the Witchmarked? Wonder Woman!
Why It’s Cool: We’ve been loving all things Justice League since Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, and Josh Williamson redirected the line with the No Justice weekly event, spinning out a main Justice League title, a cosmic Justice League Odyssey book, and, our personal favorite, the mythic and magical Justice League Dark. This October, Justice League Dark and Wonder Woman will be telling a five-part Witching Hour story, and it starts here! We’re so there for this one...

Top New #1 Comics for October 3, 2018

  • Batman and The Maxx: Arkham Dreams #1

  • Dead Rabbit #1

  • Death Orb #1

  • Errand Boys #1

  • Jook Joint #1

  • Lollipop Kids #1

  • Shatterstar #1

  • Sparrowhawk #1

  • Umbrella Academy Hotel Oblivion #1

  • What If? Spider-Man #1

  • What If? X-Men #1

  • X-Men: Black - Magneto #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Batman #56

  • Border Town #2

  • Cosmic Ghost Rider #4

  • Death of the Inhumans #4

  • Deep Roots #4

  • Eclipse #11

  • Green Arrow #45

  • Justice League #9

  • Magic Order #4

  • Nightwing #50

  • Paper Girls #25

  • Tony Stark: Iron Man #4

  • The Unexpected #5

  • Walk Through Hell #5

  • Walking Dead #184

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.

Top Modern Superhero Artists: The Sultans of Style at Marvel and DC

By Taylor Pechter — In comics, there’s always debate over what is more important: writing or art. These discussions can go either way, but they almost always conclude that both are equally important in different ways. Writers give characters their personalities, desires, and struggles, while the artists give motion and create a flow to the story. Artists also give characters different body types, faces, and ticks that writers can’t show with words alone. They are, simply put, storytellers in their own right.

Through the many decades of comics history individual artists have helped inform the style of the time. From legends like Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby in the Golden and Silver Ages, to the sleek photorealism of Neal Adams in the Bronze Age, to the incomparable detail of George Perez that helped usher in the Modern Age of comic art. However, in the past 20 years, a handful of artists have helped push the medium forward, while defining the company they belong to. This has been dubbed house style.

Exactly what is considered house style has changed during the past few years, but, even so, what I’d like to look at today are the artists who who have helped define their respective superhero universes.

DC

1. Jim Lee — Arguably the most popular artist of the 1990s, Jim Lee rose to fame drawing the X-Men for Marvel in the early years of the decade before breaking away to form Image and his company, WildStorm Productions. In the late 90s, he sold his company to DC, bringing his signature style over to the brand. Lee’s style contains heavy linework, chiseled jawlines, extreme detail, and dynamic action. This style has helped define the look of the modern DCU by making it grander and more epic in scale. Currently, Lee serves as Chief Creative Officer of DC Entertainment.

Notable Works:

  • Batman: Hush

  • All-Star Batman and Robin: The Boy Wonder

  • Justice League: Origin

  • Superman: Unchained

2. Ivan Reis — Coming to American comics all the way from Sao Paulo, Brazil, Ivan Reis has quickly become the go to event artist for DC of the past decade. Combining the sleekness of Neal Adams, the cinematic flair of Bryan Hitch, and the sheer scale of George Perez, Reis is a defining artist of the current generation. He’s also a notable collaborator with modern DC architect Geoff Johns, and his delicate-yet-cinematic style has helped bring new prominence to characters like Green Lantern and the Teen Titans. He’s currently drawing Superman, which is written by Brian Michael Bendis.

  • Infinite Crisis (With Phil Jimenez, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway)

  • Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

  • Blackest Night

  • Teen Titans: Titans of Tomorrow

3. Gary Frank — English superstar Gary Frank is a roughly 23-year veteran of the business. Frank got his start at DC helping co-create the Birds of Prey team with legendary Bat-scribe Chuck Dixon. He later honed his craft at Marvel, drawing the Incredible Hulk and also collaborating with J. Michael Straczynski, but he eventually returned to DC to become one of, if not the defining Superman artists. With his keen eye for detail, simple-but-effective panel layouts, deep shadows, and expressive faces, Frank has become a favorite of mine and of many others.

Notable Works:

  • Superman: Brainiac

  • Superman: Secret Origin

  • Batman: Earth One

  • Doomsday Clock (currently ongoing)

4. Alex Ross — Arguably the most recognizable artist of this bunch, Chicago-based painter Alex Ross combines the photorealism of Norman Rockwell with the grandeur of the DCU. Ross depicts superheroes the way they were always meant to be seen: standing taller than life in the face of adversity. Using vast landscapes, strong postures, and smiles galore, Ross has become a multimedia sensation, not only drawing comics but also creating posters for film and video games.

  • Kingdom Come

  • The World’s Greatest Super Heroes

  • Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come

5. Jason Fabok — The newest artist on the DC block, Canadian Jason Fabok rose to prominence during DC’s New 52. While starting on smaller stories in Detective Comics, he later became popular via the mega Bat-event Batman Eternal followed by a run on Justice League with Geoff Johns. With his blend of realism, glossy texture, cinematic layouts, and brutal action, Fabok has fast-become one of the most acclaimed DC artists of the decade.

  • Batman Eternal

  • Justice League Darkseid War

  • Batman/Flash: The Button

  • Three Jokers (upcoming)

Marvel

1. Joe Quesada —  Coming from New York City, Joe Quesada, much like his contemporary at DC Jim Lee, had a hand in crafting Marvel’s signature style coming out of the 90’. With inker Jimmy Palmiotti, Quesada redefined what street-level Marvel meant, fueling the creation of Marvel Knights. Quesada’s use of overly exaggerated proportions, dense and heavy shadows, and cartoony-yet-expressive faces is part of the blueprint for Marvel to this day. He now acts as Chief Creative Officer for Marvel Entertainment.

  • Daredevil: Guardian Devil

  • Spider-Man: One More Day

2. David Finch —  Another comics superstar hailing from the Great White North, David Finch started drawing in the late 1990s for Marc Silvestri’s company Top Cow before moving to the House of Ideas in the 2000s. An early collaborator with a young Brian Michael Bendis, Finch’s heavy shadows, musclebound heroes, and cinematic action helped Marvel craft a denser and darker universe. He now works as a freelance artist and is husband to writer Meredith Finch. Most recently he has drawn issues of Tom King’s ongoing run on DC’s Batman.

  • Avengers Disassembled

  • New Avengers: Breakout

  • Moon Knight: The Bottom

  • Ultimatum

3. Steve McNiven — This is the last Canadian artist on this list, I promise. McNiven has been a Marvel mainstay since the early 2000s, when he did many covers for the publisher. His big break, however, came in 2006, when he was tapped for Marvel’s biggest event of the decade, Civil War. After that, McNiven started a partnership with Mark Millar. He is a king of rendering, using different styles of fabric and metal to do so. He adds many layers of texture that help lend to his somewhat stylized photorealism. His explosive panel layouts and eye for epic moments have led him to become one of Marvel’s blockbuster exclusive artists.

  • Civil War

  • Wolverine: Old Man Logan

  • Death of Wolverine

  • New Avengers: The Sentry

4. Olivier Coipel —  Magical, mythical, grandiose...these are all words that have been used to describe French artist Olivier Coipel’s work. Rising to prominence as a frequent collaborator of Brian Bendis, Coipel helped tear down and rebuild the Marvel Universe many times over. With his delicate linework, his characters move with a certain grace along with detailed architecture and lush landscapes that help create truly stunning comics.

  • House of M

  • Thor (2007)

  • Siege

  • Unworthy Thor

5. Leinil Francis Yu —  Last but not least we come to Filipino artist Leinil Francis Yu, who got his start his start in the late 90’s, his claim to fame being a major stint on Wolverine and other X-Men titles. His style is much looser than the others on this list. Yu uses many different lines to add intricacies. During Marvel’s big resurgence in the 2000’s, he became, much like Coipel and McNiven, a go to artist for the blockbuster events and headlining books. His action is frenetic and that helps greatly set the pace for the books that he draws.

  • Wolverine

  • Secret Invasion

  • Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk

  • Captain America (currently ongoing)

In the end, these artists have all been mainstays of certain universes with styles that while influenced by many great artists before them, are still uniquely their own. They have all played significant roles in creating the house styles that differentiate the two superhero universes, with DC having a more detailed, almost photorealistic look, while Marvel features a more exaggerated, cartoony, and fantastical aesthetic. These artists have helped redefine their universes; they are true sultans of superhero style.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.