UPROXX’s Top Fifteen Comics For March 16

Thanks to it being a five-Wednesday month, this New Comic Book Day is a bit light. But there are some great books on the stands every Wednesday, and this week is no exception. What took No. 1?

1) Starve #7

The chef at the center of Starve has been booted off his kitchen competition show and can’t open a new, high-end restaurant. So he opens a chicken shack instead and makes high-end food anyway. Brian Wood and Danijel Zezelj focus here on the mechanics of food, of building a restaurant and how the job of a place that sells food is to nourish the community, not just the customers. And it does it without being preachy, which is a small miracle in of itself. Starve has become more and more fascinating with each passing issue, as the near-future trappings have dropped away and Zezelj has given the book an angular, almost mosaic-esque style all its own. If you’re looking for something different, it doesn’t get more different, or better, than this.

2) A&A: The Adventures of Archer and Armstrong #1

Armstrong, the drunken immortal, and Archer, his overly sober teenage ninja sidekick, are back, and exploring Armstrong’s mysterious, bottomless satchel. Why? Booze, of course, or at least that’s how it seems. Rafer Roberts and David Lafuente give this already bizarre concept a heavy dose of Alice in Wonderland and it’s a surprisingly funny mix. If you’re looking for something very, very offbeat, this is the perfect book for your pull-list.

3) Spider-Woman #5

Jessica Drew faces her greatest challenge: Not turning into either a helicopter parent or a complete wreck. Dennis Hopeless has a few observations about how new parents lose it, but the best moments here are Jessica revealing who the father is, and Javier Rodriguez’s absolutely hilarious string of panels that wordlessly show Jessica becoming slowly convinced her babysitter is burning down the building during her supposed “night off” with her friends. New parents will likely relate, and it gives the book an offbeat feel Marvel’s best books, lately, have needed.

4) Huck #5

Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque have deconstructed the idea of Superman as morally innocent… and now they’re putting it back together. It’s a smart tack not least because it keeps Huck, the corn-fed Iowa superman doing one good deed a day, from being an asinine goody-goody, and also, truthfully, when it comes to meat-and-potatoes superheroics with a little soulfulness to them, Millar and Albuquerque are pretty damn good at it.

5) Power Man and Iron Fist #2

Luke Cage and Danny Rand are friends, but they’re not partners. Or, at least, that’s how Luke sees it, but the reality of the situation is a bit more flexible than he cares to admit. David Walker and Sanford Greene pull off a relaxed buddy comedy here that’s full of funny lines and, more importantly, character. Even minor supervillains get funny scenes here, like a duo arguing over whether to confront Luke and Danny or supervillains hanging out and sharing gossip. At its best, it feels like a superheroic Pulp Fiction,.

6) Superman: American Alien #5

Max Landis and Francis Manapul are on well-tread ground, here, as Superman and Lex Luthor establish their relationship/shared enmity. But it’s the details that make this piece of the origin work; Landis echoes previous Superman origins, but the way he characterizes almost everybody is what drives the book and makes it great. Manapul, meanwhile, has some superb fight scenes and ends the book with one of the funniest splash panels you’ll read this week. It’s too bad they can’t take over a Superman book when this is done, because they do a great job with him.

7) Turncoat #1

Alex Paknadel and Artyom Trakhanov have a great setting here: Marta Gonzalez used to be a cop working for the Management, alien invaders who fled three years ago for unknown reasons. Now she’s a PI who isn’t particularly beloved by either the current human police or the loyalists. This book spends a little too much time talking about its concept, but it’s a great concept and it has a lot of promise, especially if Paknadel and Trakhanov dig deeper into it. After the superb Arcadia, Paknadel has earned some trust, and we’ll be interested to see where this goes.

8) James Bond #5

Warren Ellis and Jason Masters consistently deliver what can only be called a great Bond movie, month in and month out. The current arc, Vargr, just has the feel and pacing of a good Bond movie, complete with lurid villains with abilities just this side of credible, a creepy plot, and a vicious mastermind. It’s a thrilling, cynical ride, and something no Bond fan can resist.

9) Big Trouble in Little China #22

Jack Burton is trapped in 1800s San Francisco with the daughter of his best friend and a lot of magicians, demons, and who knows what else. Fred Van Lente and Victor Santos are having a lot of fun with historical San Francisco, especially the, ah, outdated racial perceptions of the time. It’s a hoot as always, and a must-read.

10) Astro City #33

The return of Steeljack, the metal-clad ex-con turned PI and fixer, is appropriately noir-esque. But Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson love nothing more than to give a seemingly obvious plotline a surprising twist, and we won’t ruin what he discovers here except to say the bad guy in this plot is decidedly unexpected. Busiek and Anderson weave in themes of nostalgia and regret into this book, which gives it a weight the otherwise conventional story wouldn’t have. Astro City is consistently one of the best comics you’ll find, and this issue once again underscores why.

11) Dragon Age: Magekiller #4

Greg Rucka turns Dragon Age‘s fairly generic fantasy setting into something highly compelling, not least because he focuses on a handful of people instead of the sprawling story these games generally insist on telling. It’s not quite what Dark Horse has pulled off with The Witcher, but fantasy fans will love seeing what a writer can do with this setting.

12) Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #5

In this book, designed to get new readers on board, we meet our hero in his early life, when he has his first child… and how that goes horribly awry. Juan Jose Ryp gets really, really gory here, but it’s in service to a larger point: The Eternal Warrior’s life is, to some degree, a bloody, endless cycle, and it’s worth asking why he’d stick with it, something Robert Venditti has been exploring in this series. This book is more Conan than actual Conan comics, and this makes a perfect place to start.

13) Martian Manhunter #10

Rob Williams and Eddy Barrows manage to find some touching moments in the middle of an interplanetary war involving Martian blood magic, thanks, largely, to the Martian Manhunter’s id. This book explains, to some degree, how its core concept is even possible, but it’s how it pays off that concept that matters, and it says something that this book can have a dozen characters and yet have you so attached to all of them. This book is building to a big, climactic payoff ahead of Rebirth, and we’ll miss it, but hopefully Williams and Barrows aren’t quite done with J’onn just yet.

14) International Iron Man #1

Despite the title and cover, this isn’t a book about Tony jet-setting around the world and being all James Bond-esque. No, this issue instead focuses on a young Tony who’s going to grad school and meeting who he thinks will be the love of his life. Tony as a twenty-year-old is oddly appealing, not least because Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev ditch the slow-burn that’s marked their previous work. A lot happens in this issue, just not a lot of things explode, and it’s a nice change of pace.

15) Mystery Girl #4

Paul Tobin and Alberto Albuquerque wrap up the first arc of their book with gratuitous male nudity and mammoths. This quirky series is a little too loosey-goosey with the plot, perhaps, but it’s funny and it’s got an unexpectedly dark edge at the end. An unusual read, but a good one.