Comics Of Note, Ranked, For June 17

This week, we’ve got Mad Max, gorillas rocking out, and supervillains defiling couches. What topped our rankings?

Remember: These rankings reflect accessibility, quality, and, of course, your critic’s informed opinion. A book that’s harder for new readers to get into will thus rank lower than a book just as good that anybody can pick up and read. Now, let’s talk about gorillas who want to rock.

1. Astro City #24

Sticks just wants to play his music, but, well, he’s a gorilla with military experience who can talk. In other words, he’s supervillain bait, and how can you play in a band when the Majordomo might show up? This heartwarming issue, though, is all about finding a way to follow your dreams, and yet another argument for Astro City as one of the best comics in print. Highly recommended.

2. Mad Max: Fury Road: Furiosa

This one-shot doesn’t “explain” Furiosa’s origin. We don’t find out why she was declared Imperator, or why she has a mechanical arm. We just learn that there’s only so much a human being can be party to before they have to fight back, and that’s what makes this book great. Spend the money and get it; it’s superb.

3. Bloodshot Reborn #3

Bloodshot’s quest to keep his nanites from killing continues. One sequence, in particular, is going to stick with you; Bloodshot’s always been a killer, but a dispassionate one. But losing his nanites means regaining his humanity, and death no longer comes quite so easily to him. It’s grim stuff, but it’s well done grim stuff, and a clever way to give a simple anti-hero a lot more depth.

4. Southern Bastards #9

Think you can’t find any more hate for Euless Boss, the crime lord/high school football coach of Craw County, Alabama? Think again. Jason Aaron and Jason LaTour’s brutal, sweaty noir switches focus to the sheriff, and along the way shows us just how toxic Euless really is.

5. Archie vs. Predator #3

Let’s just say you should not give this book to anybody who thinks Archie is sweet and innocent and nothing bad could possibly happen to the cast. Because it does. Like, constantly. And gorily. Alex de Campi, though, actually has a lot of fun with Archie tropes as well; you actually feel bad for Dilton by the end of this one, for example, as he notes Riverdale is hell for anybody not coupled up. In all, it’s a hoot, and not to be missed.

6. Black Canary #1

Dinah is on stage and wowing everybody… including, apparently, things from beyond our world. This kung-fu road movie of a book gets off to a great start, albeit a somewhat conventional one for Canary. Still, Brenden Fletcher and Annie Wu make an excellent team, and I’m looking forward to more.

7. Ivar, Timewalker #6

The most elaborate comedy in comics continues with chip-based fascism, time travel, and time-loops. Also, Ivar trying to reconcile his drunken brother with his overly responsible one for just long enough to chew out a hive-mind of Internet trolls.

Look, it makes sense when you read it. And you should read it, because it’s hilarious.

8. Ms. Marvel #16

Kamala Khan’s ex-boyfriend turns out to be an even bigger jackass than we thought, this issue, and worse, the world is ending and she has to deal with that first. It’s just another day in what remains the single most delightful book Marvel puts on the stands. As usual, make a point of reading this one.

9. Doomed #1

Reiser is a smart kid living the dream. He’s interning at STAR Labs, he’s impressed an attractive writer, he’s living in Metropolis… and, uh, he’s gotten himself infected with the Doomsday virus. That part may not work out for him. Scott Lobdell and Javier Fernandez deliver a book that’s slight, but breezy enough that you’ll want to give it a read.

10. Astronauts in Trouble #1

Some hard-bitten TV newsmen track a murder from their city to a secret missile base. Larry Young and Charlie Adlard like the noir cliches and ’40s tough-guy speak a little too much for this book to entirely escape the cheese factor, but it’s a fairly pleasant pulp adventure book and, of course, has gorgeous art from Adlard.

11. The Fiction #1

David Rubin manages to deliver some superb art that elevates Curt Pires’ script substantially. Essentially, four friends, back in high school, disappeared into a book; one of them didn’t come back, and now the book is apparently after them both. Pires is basically retelling Narnia just slightly, here, with a dash of It, and it doesn’t quite transcend the parts. But Rubin gives it all a gorgeous look, and that makes it a compelling read.

12. Secret Six #3

What happens when you take six supervillains with severe emotional problems and put them in the suburbs? A lot of asses get kicked, that’s what. Also, couches are defiled, in case you thought that cover was a joke. The book feels a bit like it could pick up the pace, but it ends on a superb reveal that makes me want to keep reading. And really, that’s the best thing you can say about any comic.

13. Superman/Wonder Woman #18

Superman’s identity has been revealed, and that has consequences. Far more consequences than he thought, as it turns out. Peter Tomasi is really at his best writing stories about how people deal with loss, so he’s in his element here, and the result is a strong issue as much about Superman’s character and how people feel about it as it is about the plot.

14. Martian Manhunter #1

Basically, this is They Live as a superhero comic. And yes, I know how odd that sounds. Honestly, the book’s a little unfocused and slowly paced, but it does at least have the virtue of being interesting and having an unsettling tone. If it can tighten up the ship, we might have a great little horror book on our hands.

15. Thors #1

Ultimate Universe Thor and Beta Ray Bill as hard-bitten detectives? Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Chris Sprouse and Karl Story? And they beat up Ghost Riders? Either you read those rhetorical questions and left a hole in the wall running to buy this book, or you are completely confused. If in the former camp, this is a must read. If in the latter… well, there are a lot of great books this week!

16. Robin: Son of Batman #1

Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray deliver a rather trippy book that’s part Batbook, part Stanley and His Monster, and part Tom Swift. Damian essentially wants to make right on all the terrible things he did… but, well… he’s Damian. The kid doesn’t know “subtle,” and it’s about to bite him. A fun read, although perhaps not for everyone.

17. Empty Zone #1

Jason Shawn Alexander can sure draw a pretty comic book, but unfortunately what he wants to draw drives the plot a bit too much, here. Okay, so we have a punk anti-heroine with a cybernetic arm who can see ghosts and lives in a bleak future Pittsburgh… and the book does almost nothing with that. There’s also an extended sex scene that really just makes this book feel like a rejected Heavy Metal strip, although it does manage to salvage that a bit. In all, a good book for cyberpunk fans but desperately in need of a point.

18. Runaways #1

Don’t get too excited; Marvel isn’t really bringing back their beloved team book. But they are running another high school-set action-comedy book, and with Noelle Stevenson and Sanford Greene at the wheel, it promises to be at the very least entertaining. Worth picking up if you’re an action fan.

19. X-O Manowar #37

This book goes full-on space opera in the Dead Hand finale. It’s a grand old space fight, and amusingly over-the-top. Not precisely a new story, but an old kind of comics story told well.

20. Doctor Fate #1

Paul Levitz and Sonny Liew try a little too hard with this book, but if nothing else, it’s a fun twist on an old character as Khalid, an Egyptian pre-med student, finds himself with the Helm of Fate. Also, the pretentious Doctor Fate being reinvented as a skinny kid in a hoodie is probably not going to stop being funny any time soon. Worth a look if you’re a DC nerd.

21. Prez #1

On the one hand, I’m torn. Seeing DC deliver a book this dense, goofy, and out of the superhero comfort zone without sending it straight to Vertigo is great. But the book itself, about a teenager who winds up as President… eh. The overly broad social satire from Mark Russell wants to mock everything from pompous politicians to ennui-ridden YouTube stars, but it just doesn’t quite click; it feels like Russell doesn’t know about, or have much interest in, what he’s sending up. Ben Caldwell and Mark Morales honestly do a better job of satirizing the world we live in, packing the frame with ridiculousness that actually makes a strange sort of sense, like real-time Like tracking. If it can find its feet, it’ll be one of those unique books we need DC to put out, but that might take longer than it should.

22. Squadron Sinister #1

Especially in the wake of DC doing two clever riffs on its own “Injustice League” concepts in recent months, this book’s got a high bar to clear and it just can’t do it. It’s a solid, engaging story of a group of supervillains and those working to take them down, but it doesn’t have enough of a twist to be much more than a standard book.

23. Ghostbusters Get Real #1

The ’80s cartoon and the comic book cross over in this amusing, if slight, story. Entirely for fans of the Ghostbusters, but worth a chuckle or two if you happen to fall into that group.

24. Sinestro #12

DC just does not know what to do with Cullen Bunn. Clearly they like the guy; he’s working on two of their books, and they both survived the latest reboot. But just like Lobo has turned into the kind of book it’s supposed to satirize, at this point you find yourself wondering why Sinestro deserves his own book. Soranik is the real protagonist here, and frankly the more interesting one, which is kind of an issue when her name’s not on the title of the book. Sinestro just has no real complexity here; he’s a smug douche, and smug douches are only fun to read about when they’re getting hit. It’s not bad, but I can’t really tell you what this brings to the table, unless you’re a huge fan of Green Lantern villains, and that’s a problem.

25. Oh, Killstrike #2

Max Bemis and Logan Faerber continue their story of a smug hipster douchebag and his journey to find his dad with Killstrike, the worst anti-hero of ’90s, along for the ride. And honestly, Bemis knows all the jokes, but he can’t quite actually make them land; when our “hero,” such as he is, dreams about his wife being stuffed in a fridge, it feels facile and pandering, like a school principal trying out leetspeak. “See, nerds, I’m not a rock frontman dabbling in comics! I’m a real fan like you!” But at least I don’t want to see the protagonist beaten up, so that’s an improvement over the first issue.

26. Wonder Woman #41

Wonder Woman talks to her friends and picks up some dry-cleaning before having some idiot pick a fight with her for reasons that are poorly explained. It’s a fairly leadenly paced story and unless you’re a serious Wondy fan, it’s probably not worth throwing on the sub pile.

27. Harley Quinn and Power Girl #1

I’m not the biggest fan of Harley Quinn’s ongoing, and the buddy-cop dynamic with Power Girl doesn’t exactly address the book’s biggest problems. But it does at least keep the plot moving and makes the book’s forced wackiness and ditz jokes serve a purpose other than just being there. So, that’s improvement? I guess?

28. JLA #1

So, DC’s been making a big deal of Superman being de-powered, Batman being Jim Gordon in a power suit, and… well, I guess that’s it, actually, Wondy’s just got some new pants. Is any of that reflected in this new #1? No! And boy, do you ever wish it was!