Comics Of Note, Ranked For July 29

It’s New Comic Book Day, and once again, we’ve got everything from witches to raunchy lesbians to rank in our look at this week’s notable comics.

As always, we rank based on accessibility and quality, to tilt the column at those new to comics. So, keep that in mind, especially the lower we get on the scale; a low ranking doesn’t necessarily mark low quality. And with that!

1) The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4

Sabrina’s love Harvey Kinkle has just stumbled on a Black Mass of witches, initiating Sabrina into their ranks. Yeah. That’s not going to end well for ol’ Harv. The brilliance of Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack is that even when the book explicitly makes it clear we’re still in an Archie universe, it doesn’t pull any punches. Easily one of the best, cleverest horror books on the stand, and a must read.

2) Sex Criminals #11

It’s back! It’s back! The funniest sex comedy in recent memory is back! And it’s even weirder, more hilariously perverted, and funnier than ever! Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky go all out with this return, which follows Douglas D. Douglas, who is unique even by this book’s standards of time-freezing orgasms and astral projections, also caused by orgasms. Really, if that didn’t sell you on this book, there’s nothing I can say.

Oh, except be sure to read past the letter column. Poor Jon is getting screwed, and not in the good way.

3) Resident Alien: The Sam Hain Mystery #3

Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s superb story of an alien quietly hiding among us as a country doctor wraps up one of the more powerful arcs it’s had, as our hero unravels a murder mystery with an end that’s more messy and complicated than the novel that started all this, to say the least. This book moves at a quiet pace, but it’s got enough flow, warmth, and character to make it consistently one of the best reads on the stands.

4) Justice League: Gods and Monsters: Superman

This one-shot supporting DC’s latest alternate take on its heroes asks what Superman would be like if he were raised as a migrant worker from Mexico. Angry, is the short answer. The long answer is a fascinating take on power and controlling yourself from J.M. DeMatteis, ably supported by Moritat’s clean art. If you like alternate takes on superheroes, this is a must-read.

5) Jem and The Holograms #5

Kelly Thompson and Sophie Campbell continue their smart reinvention of probably the cheesiest of the ’80s cartoons. It’s worth noting this is aimed squarely at teenage girls, but A) it doesn’t talk down to them and B) that translates to a gentle, thoughtful story. Okay, also juvenile pranks, but hey, who doesn’t love juvenile pranks?

6) Past Aways #5

Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins continue their deconstruction of/tribute to two-fisted time-traveling bands of heroes, this time with a very Kirby-esque villain sneaking into their compound. It’s action packed, it’s funny, and it’s got a truly gross moment in it that with horrify you and make you laugh at the same time. Truly, this book has it all.

7) Gotham By Midnight Annual #1

Ray Fawkes and Christian Duce make a pretty credible bid to reinvent cheesy villain The Gentleman Ghost into a genuinely interesting character. It’s a pretty slick ghost story and a fun read, not to mention a solid introduction to DC’s best horror book.

8) He-Man: The Eternity War #8

Dan Abnett has been, with this book, doing the seemingly impossible: Taking He-Man seriously, and having it work. It helps that Pop Mhan can walk the line between loving tribute and his own spin. It’s undeniably cheesy, but it works, and better than it should considering the source material.

9) Lazarus #18

Greg Rucka’s dystopian future, where a new feudalism meets new-future technology, continues with an almost Shakespearean vigor. Michael Lark and Tyler Boss have a grim, spare style that fits the tone, and this serves as a pretty fascinating look at what our future might be like if things go very, very wrong.

10) Grindhouse: Drive in Bleed Out #7

I confess, I’m a little surprised Dark Horse let Alex de Campi, John Lucas, and Ryan Hill get this explicit in a story of two female astronauts abducted and coerced by angels into hot lesbian sex. As such I’m kind of unsure how to rank this, if I’m being totally honest. I guess if the phrase “hot lesbian sex” catches your interest, this will be a book for you, but despite the book being quite funny in places, I wish de Campi had pushed this to be more than just that.

11) Batgirl Annual #1

Essentially, this annual crams in an entire month-long string of crossovers into one single issue, right down to using the key artists from books like Gotham Academy. To the point where you wonder if this wasn’t, in fact, a crossover DC decided against. Still, following Batgirl all over Gotham as she runs into nearly the entire non-Batman Batfamily is a great idea, and kind of a hoot.

12) Ninjak #5

This issue shows Ninjak for what he is: Protecting our interests… but not terribly heroic about it. Still, Matt Kindt wraps this book’s first arc on an interesting note, with Ninjak deep undercover, and Clay Mann’s action scenes give the book a clean, kinetic feel that serves the book well.

13) Daredevil #17

Daredevil is at the mercy of Ikari and Wilson Fisk. Unfortunately for both of them, they’ve made an important mistake: There’s more than just Daredevil in play. Mark Waid and Chris Samnee are wrapping up their excellent run on Daredevil in style, and really, it’s one of the key books you should be reading.

14) Southern Bastards #10

Donnie Ray wants to save someone’s soul. Unfortunately, he’s decided to try and save the soul of one Esaw Goings, Coach Boss’ right-hand man, and possibly the evilest, stupidest bastard in Craw County. Jason Aaron and Jason Latour take what counts as a “breather” in this book, although it has to be said that aside from Esaw’s discovery that football actually involves, you know, strategy, it’s a bit flat compared to some of this book’s highs. Still, it’s an engaging crime story, as always, and a superb read.

15) Superman #42

While Gene Yang and John Romita, Jr. deliver a fun riff that actually reasonably explains why Superman would give up his secret identity, the problem is they’re late to the punch; the rest of the Superbooks are already dealing with this idea, and this just looks like it’s lagging behind. It doesn’t help that Lois’ motives don’t quite jibe; whenever Lois discovers Clark is Superman, it always has to be this huge betrayal, which honestly never seems to quite match Lois as a character. Still a good read, but arriving a few months earlier would have helped.

16) Batgirl #42

This issue is actually at its strongest not where Babs is fighting, but when it lingers on how her father has, misguidedly, tried to protect her throughout the years from crime and crime-fighting. It spices up what’s honestly a generic fight issue against a bland villain, and makes it worth a look if you’re curious about Batgirl.

17) The Shrinking Man #1

Ted Adams and Mark Torres take on the unenviable task of adapting Richard Matheson’s classic story. And they do a pretty good job; Adams balances the domestic and medical drama that largely drives the plot with the story’s memorable finale, where our 5/7th inch hero seeks crackers and fights a spider. That said, the proceedings can feel a little EC Comics, and I have to question why we need another take on the story. But it’s still a great story, and a good introduction to Matheson for those who don’t know his work.

18) Escape from New York #8

This adaptation of the ’80s cult classic is a passable action comic, but it never really seems to have any ambition beyond that. If you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll enjoy the book, but non-fans need not apply.

19) Mythic #3

Phil Hester and John McCrea continue their story of a group of magic practitioners who, well, keep the magic out of the way of us Muggles. It’s not a terribly creative concept, on paper, and in truth Hester’s not really breaking a lot of creative ground here with the idea. Mostly, it’s a vehicle for McCrea to show off his striking creature design and the two of them to display a snarky, engaging sense of humor. And, really, that’s enough to make it a fun read.

20) Mulan Revelations #2

This cyberpunk story of Chinese demons and the reincarnation of folk hero Mulan continues on its generic way. Marc Andreyko and Micah Kaneshiro do a good job of making it action-packed, but there’s just not much unique to this; it almost feels like a reprint of a comic from twenty years ago. Solid, but unspectacular.

21) Hacktivist Vol. 2 #1

The original comic was teetering on the verge of being a CSI: Cyber episode, and this new mini pushes it all the way over. Colin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing just throw recognizable computer terms at us and kinda hope we won’t notice, and never give Marcus To anything compelling to draw. It’s a silly book, and it can’t overcome its own silliness effectively enough to click.

22) Rasputin #7

Rasputin, in this book, isn’t the Mad Monk of legend, but kind of a cross between Constantine and Jesus. Which is an interesting idea from Alex Grecian, but it’s not really clear where he’s going with this plot, or what the point is. Riley Rossmo’s art is attractive, as always, but this needs a bit more to it to be in Image’s top tier.

23) The Flash Annual #4

This annual is a side-story explaining how Professor Zoom assembled his version of the Rogues. Needless to say, Zoom is just a bit misleading, but it’s a useful intro to these misguided villains for those curious. Still, really more for completists than anyone else.

24) Deep State #8

Justin Jordan has some good ideas here, but the rushed finale to this book, combined with Ariela Kristantina’s rather loose-feeling art, just doesn’t send this story of the government within the government off the way it’s supposed to. Unfortunate, since it was a fun read, but perhaps this creative team will get another shot.

25) Wayward #10

Jim Zub can do fantasy action like no other writer, but I find myself wondering why this book needed to be set in Japan. Essentially Zub and Steve Cummings are writing a manga, here, and not a particularly original one. The Japanese setting is more distracting about this story of teenage gods than interesting, and I kind of wish the book trusted itself more. Solid, but not a particular standout.

26) Deathstroke Annual #1

Deathstroke and Wonder Woman take a journey to the center of the mind to fight a mad Titan that, uh, Deathstroke kinda sorta unleashed. Tyler Kirkham takes the opportunity to draw a very metal version of Tartarus, but his design takes a back seat to some excellent action work. That said, there’s not much to this book other than Deathstroke feeling bad about nearly getting his family killed, Wondy feeling guilt over being the God of War, and so on.

27) The Tithe #4

An interesting idea, of a criminal group hitting corrupt megachurches, is… not followed up on in the conclusion to Matt Hawkins’ and Rahsan Ekedal’s miniseries-turned-ongoing, which is a fairly generic crime book. The problem is really neither of them have anything particularly interesting to say about religion, and it barely comes to play in this book. Combine that with the oddly drab coloring by Mike Spicer and you have a book about criminals and FBI agents that’s oddly uncompelling.

28) Material #3

It kills me to poorly rate this book: Ales Kot and Will Tempest are trying to tell a sprawling story of change and revolution on a huge scale, and there’s both ambition and talent to spare on display here. But Kot can’t keep the book focused as it jumps from plotline to plotline, and Tempest’s art can slip from abstract to mildly sloppy in places. It’s a sad state of affairs when a book’s marginalia leads me to a more interesting story than the book itself, but that unfortunately is the case here, and I have to rank it accordingly.

Lobo Annual #1

Cullen Bunn crosses over his two DC books as Lobo goes after Sinestro. It’s a great idea, to be honest, but this book is just so damn self-serious, and Lobo talks to himself so much, I could link you to the notorious Doom comic and you’d have the same reading experience.

The Full Retail List, Courtesy Of ComicList

I.C.E. Bayou Blackout #3 (Of 3), $3.99

Men Of Mystery #97, $29.95

Herald Lovecraft And Tesla #5, $3.99
Kids Of The Round Table #3 (Of 4), $3.99
Princeless Be Yourself #2 (Of 4), $3.99
Vamplets Nightmare Nursery #5 (Of 6), $3.99

FUBAR Declassified TP, $11.95

Conditions On The Ground HC, $29.95
Study Group Magazine 3D (not verified by Diamond), $16.00

Comic Fandom Quarterly #2, $5.95

Archie #1 (Jae Lee Variant Cover Dual Pack With Bonus Book)(Dynamic Forces), AR
Archie #1 (Jae Lee Variant Cover)(Dynamic Forces), AR
Sabrina #4 (Robert Hack Carrie Variant Cover), $3.99
Sabrina #4 (Robert Hack Regular Cover), $3.99
Sonic Boom #10 (Ben Bates Epic Connecting Poster Part 10 Variant Cover), $3.99
Sonic Boom #10 (Patrick Spaziante Regular Cover), $3.99
Sonic Boom #10 (Reilly Brown Variant Cover), $3.99