This week’s New Comic Book Day really brings the weird; some of the best books this week are decidedly off the beaten path. What took No. 1?
1) Negative Space #2
We’ve all met somebody who believes in the power of positivity, and it makes them incredibly annoying. The genius here is that all those upbeat positive people fighting bad vibes also happen to be fighting an alien invasion. Ryan Lindsay’s story, needless to say, has something of a skew to it, and it’s ably backed by Own Gieni’s hilarious, sometimes gory, sometimes deadpan art. There’s nothing quite like this on the stands right now, and that makes it a must-buy.
2) Rumble #7
John Arcudi and James Harren are back, with their story of ancient gods living in a working class neighborhood and dealing with aging and depression. Which doesn’t sound hilarious, but trust me, this offbeat action comedy is worth making room in your comics budget. There’s nothing quite like it, with an almost Jim Jarmusch feel to it and utterly unique.
3) S.H.I.E.L.D.: Fury #1
David F. Walker smartly uses the current Nick Fury, a biracial son of the old spy, to comment on race and the past. Walker’s pretty smart here about what he pulls off; Fury Sr. is angry about the racial situation in 1965, but he doesn’t have as strong a grasp on it as he thinks, for example. It’s a smartly written and considered one shot, and definitely worth buying.
4) Astro City #27
Joe Infurnari takes over art chores on this, the secret origin of American Chibi. And, because Kurt Busiek is writing, it’s almost absurdly heartwarming. As usual, a must-read.
5) Arcadia #5
If you like science fiction, Alex Paknadel and Eric Scott Pfiffer are delivering some of the best SF in comics right now. Bouncing between a plague-ravaged world and the virtual reality most humans live in, this thriller is a riveting piece of work. Pick it up, right away.
6) Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1
Dan Abnett and INJ Culbard are back with their second mini, mashing up The Wind In The Willows and The War Of The Worlds… and it’s great. The contrast is bizarre but it gives the story much more urgency, and Culbard is able to expand the world greatly. Plus, you have to love literary types being pissy with each other. Highly recommended.
7) Wolf #3
Ales Kot and Matt Taylor continue their sun-bleached paranormal noir. It’s Chandler-esque, naturally, but Kot works in enough black comedy and Taylor creates a perfect atmosphere. If you like urban fantasy or noir, this is a must-buy.
8) Grayson #12
Tim Seeley, Tom King, and Mikel Janin pay off their superspy story in some touching ways. What I like most about this is they’ve avoided the usual Nightwing arc. Dick’s not sulking, his house hasn’t been burned down, his love interest hasn’t been shot. He’s pulling a scam, and it’s awesome to read.
9) Nameless #5
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham argue that God is a serial killer trapped in an asteroid in a war between two universes left behind. Believe it or not, it’s even weirder than it sounds, and even better that the talent behind it would imply.
10) Fight Club 2 #5
With each issue, this sequel gets better and better. To be honest I was skeptical the first few issues, but as Palahniuk has warmed to the potential of comic books, and as Cameron Stewart has been allowed to cut loose, this book has only improved.
11) Gotham By Midnight #9
Sadly, this book is not long for this world: It wraps up this December. So Ray Fawkes and Juan Ferreyra decide to send it off with a bang, as basically everything goes wrong for the GCPD’s unofficial paranormal investigation unit at once. The finale especially is… shocking, to put it mildly. A must-read for horror fans.
12) Invisible Republic #6
This SF story from Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko smartly intertwines two plotlines: The scruffy heroic rebel fighting a repressive regime… and the fall of the repressive regime that scruffy rebel built. It’s a clever look at the ways power corrupts, even if it doesn’t really cash in its supposed future setting in any real way: 2843 looks a lot like 2015 here, even if the hard lines and Jordan Boyd’s nearly black-and-white coloring create a vivid atmosphere.
13) We Are Robin #4
A change of artist to James Harvey (with help on inks from Diana Egea) really helps Lee Bermejo’s script this issue. A shift in perspective also helps: Riko is a more interesting protagonist, and Harvey’s crowded, information-packed layouts really help get you into her head and understand why she wants to help… but isn’t sure to what degree. This is a good place to pick up this book, as it’s a new arc, and really the first time this book has clicked. Worth getting.
14) Deadpool Vs. Thanos #2
This goes pretty much exactly how you’d imagine, so… well, it’s hilarious, not least because Thanos can’t kill Deadpool. Or anybody for that matter, so they might as well fight talking, death-worshiping rabbits. You heard me.
15) Mythic #4
Honestly, as amusing as the main story is, the backup, which explores what happens when a purely rational human dies and is unimpressed by the afterlife… and the paperwork that follows. Honestly, Jesus yelling at Anubis about the new rules is almost worth the cover price by itself.
16) Power Cubed #1
Aaron Lopresti’s new book is a ’90s throwback in some ways: Our teenage hero gets a cube that lets him turn anything into anything else. But it works not least because Lopresti teases the tropes he uses and has a little fun with it. Sure, it’s wish fulfillment, but it’s funny and entertaining wish fulfillment. Really, that’s all you can ask.
17) Book Of Death: Legends Of The Geomancer #3
Fred Van Lente and Juan Jose Ryp have essentially been writing a creation myth all this time, and while it’s an odd choice for a comic, it’s an increasingly compelling one. The creative team isn’t shy about pointing out that balance in life sometimes requires ugly choices, and that makes this a bit weightier than the last two issues of barbarian action might imply.
18) Hellboy In Hell #8
This book wraps up its two-parter with a question: if Hellboy refuses to destroy the world… what does that mean for hell? Nothing good, as it turns out, and with Mike Mignola’s usual moody angular art and melancholy deadpan, it’s an oddly affecting story.
19) Batgirl #44
An entertainingly breezy read. For all the silliness on message boards about “Batgirling,” the simple fact is this book is often a fun, straightforward book of superheroics, and that’s pretty refreshing in and of itself.
20) Book of Death #3
I’m still not sure this needed to be an event/crossover, but it’s a fun take on Valiant’s mythology from Robert Venditti, and Robert Gill and Doug Braithwaite have a lot of fun with what Venditti throws at them. Definitely worth a read for good old fashioned mystical superheroics.
21) Justice League 3001 #4
Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis team up with Scott Kolins (and apparently didn’t pay him what he’s worth if the credits page is telling the truth) for a fun one-shot issue exploring this book’s version of the Flash. It’s a great place to get on board if you’re curious about the book.
22) Red Sonja #18
This has all the subtlety of a beheading, but hey, you don’t read about barbarian warriors because they’re elegant and graceful in their speech. Gail Simone and Walter Geovani deliver an entertaining slab of action and backstabbing here, very appealing for those that love it.
23) He-Man: The Eternity War #10
Dan Abnett and Pop Mhan really do an excellent job giving a beloved yet terrible ’80s classic a facelift. This book doesn’t have a ton of depth, per se, but it’s being told on a sweeping scale. More importantly, they’re taking it seriously; as a result, it’s a big, grand weird book.
24) 1872 #3
Marvel heroes and villains in the Old West? And anybody can die? This stuff is catnip for a nerd like me. If you’re a fan of alternate histories and alternate takes on superheroes, this is one to read.
25) Thief of Thieves #31
There’s not much to Andy Diggle and Shaun Martinborough’s wrap-up of this book’s current arc. But if you’re a fan of heist movies, there really doesn’t need to be, and the emotional moment at the end does give this book a little weight.
26) Rivers Of London: Body Work #3
This take on the paranormal investigation is amusingly tongue-in-cheek, if a little slight. If you’re in the mood for a breezy ghost story, this will do the job nicely.
27) Power Up #3
Kate Leth and Matt Cummings continue their riff of normal people suddenly flung into a Sailor Moon plotline. It’s amusing, but it could use a little more character depth. Either way though, it’s a good read for kids and a clever idea.
28) Weirdworld #4
I admit, Mike Del Mundo’s art makes this a must read for me, but the mash-up of all of Marvel’s weirder old books is a lot of fun. If you like beautiful art and obscure Marvel series, give this a read.
29) Tech Jacket #11
Joe Keatinge, Dave McCaig, and Khary Randolph deliver a loving tribute to the cartoons of the ’80s, specifically giant mechs. If you fondly remember Voltron, this is a book worth picking up.
30 The Spire #3
This story of a city in the far future with pure humans and a genetically engineered underclass at each other’s throats. It’s a solid fantasy book, but Simon Spurrier needs to match Jeff Stokely’s art for creativity.
This Week’s Other Books
John Carter: Warlord Of Mars #11: Amusingly straightforward pulp, ideal for fans looking for light-hearted action.
Reyn #8: A straightforward fantasy book that’s fun, but forgettable.
Deathstroke #10: Basically Tony S. Daniel gets to draw whatever he wants: It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but at least it looks good.
Empty Zone #4: Jason Shawn Alexander can draw cyberpunk like nobody’s business, but it’s not terribly coherent.
Sinestro #15: It’s hard to root for the bad guy when he’s dedicated to being not just a villain, but kind of a dick, to boot.
The Shrinking Man #3: Not a bad adaptation, but it just doesn’t bring anything new or engaging to the table with this story.
The Blacklist #3: Bad pacing and less than credible writing derails this book.
Harley Quinn/Power Girl #4: This book’s greatest achievement is that it’s got three artists and you won’t notice.
The Tithe #5: Do you love reading juvenile arguments about religion on Twitter? THEN DO I HAVE A COMIC BOOK FOR YOU! To be fair it tries to be a bit more balanced than that, but you can only roll your eyes so many times.