Yes, Sabrina is No. 1 this week. It’s not the Melissa Joan Hart series we’re talking about, but a dark, gory, Lovecraftian twist on the idea. Plus the rest of this week’s notable books, ranked.
Just a note on rankings: These are less about overall quality — although that’s a factor — and more about accessibility and what excited my critical sensibilities the most. That’s a nice way of saying these rankings are subjective, and if you disagree with me, let me know why!
1. The Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina #2
Reinventing Sabrina as a Warren-Publications style horror book has turned out to be a brilliant idea, as this long-awaited second issue reveals. Using minor character Madame Satan to full effect, it fairly cleverly sketches in her character and makes it clear Sabrina’s in for a bad time. It’s smart, it’s scary, and it’s definitely worth picking up, even if you don’t recall the first issue.
2. Shaft #5
David Walker and Bilquis Evely have, as you might have noticed from my rave reviews, done a superb job reinventing John Shaft as not just the sex machine who gets all the chicks, but a private detective and a wounded, angry human being. This particular issue brings the last four together, and sets up a blowout of a finale for this arc. If you’re not reading Shaft? Start.
3. The Fox: Fox Hunt #1
Dean Haspiel and Mark Waid reinventing The Fox for modern times was great as a cleverly done miniseries… and the ongoing has a lot of promise. The Fox is working as a photojournalist, and is sent back to his old hometown, which is about to be flooded to make way for a reservoir by the supervillain Mister Smile. It’s mostly just about fond memories for him… at least until the last supervillain he expects shows up. It’s an oddly bittersweet start to an ongoing series, very much about fathers, sons, and the grip even a thin rind of the past can have on us. It’s not your typical superhero book, even with the fights, and it stands out because of it.
4. Bloodshot Reborn #1
Bloodshot is just a normal man again… and he’s not dealing so well with his past, as we see all too clearly in this newly relaunched book. He’s basically trying to get by, admittedly using some rather poor coping mechanisms, until an old man dressed as him attacks the public. Bloodshot… does not take that well, and Jeff Lemire’s not shy about having the script take some weird turns. While it feels a little familiar, it’s an excellent read, and a great introduction to the character.
5. Archie vs. Predator #1
6. Ms. Marvel #14
Kamala’s crush sweeps her off her feet and then… well, it’s a comic book, and he’s the perfect guy. Of course there’s something wrong with him. Still, what stands out most about G. Willow Wilson’s writing, here, is a scene between Kamala’s brother and the guy crushing on Kamala which is simultaneously insightful and a bit grating. What she wants, tellingly, never comes up in her brother’s little speech, and one suspects that might be an issue later on. In other words, it’s the usual high quality work we’ve come to expect from this book, and as usual, always worth buying.
7. Giant Days #2
This low-key book about English college students being… well, college freshmen, actually bumps up its game this issue, becoming much funnier as the entire cast gets the creeping crud and treats it in ways ranging from sulking to getting very, very high on cheap cold medication. It’s a much looser, funnier issue this go-round, with Lissa Treiman stretching her artistic muscles quite a bit. Worth picking up if you want a laugh. Or if you’re quitting smoking.
8. The Tithe #1
Matt Hawkins has a great idea, although admittedly one cribbed from Richard Stark; a group of bank robbers start hitting megachurches with corrupt pastors. Unfortunately, he nearly ruins it by being incredibly preachy about how religion is bad when used for profit, with a character who’s basically every tiresome atheist on the Internet which he attempts to “balance” weakly with a religious FBI agent. It even opens with a lengthy whine about Jim Bakker. If you can ignore Hawkins’ clumsy fumbling for a larger point, it’s a fun book, although Rahsan Ekedal’s art could use a brighter palette. But Hawkins either needs to get genuinely complex with the issue, or not waste our time telling us his opinion.
9. Convergence #2
There’s a particular moment that we see, that I won’t ruin here, that’s oddly heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure in this book, and gives what’s a fairly lightweight crossover so far some genuine and much-needed heart. And the plot’s okay, too, which helps.
10. Unity #17
This book continues its one-and-done character profiles by visiting with Livewire (the technopath with all the gadgets) and exploring the difficulty one can have connecting with others when you can know literally everything about them. And also the problems of telepathic transcription software when you have a filthy mouth. It’s a low-key issue, but that’s good not least because it takes Livewire out of her overly dramatic usual context and gives her a humanity she needs. Worth picking up for those curious about the book, and those looking for a slightly more low-key take on Valiant’s heavy hitters.
11. Resurrectionists #6
Fred Van Lente’s story of relentlessly reincarnated Egyptians looking to steal back their souls in the modern day hits a climax. It seems likely this book will wrap up an arc and that’s that, which is too bad. But at least it’s a fun read.
12. Convergence: Justice League International #1
If you grew up reading DC in the ’80s and ’90s, you probably grabbed this issue sight unseen. And, truthfully, Ron Marz nails what makes that long-running team book so beloved, especially the snarky, but heroic, Ted Kord. That said, it adheres to the Convergence formula we’ve seen so far, and it needed a little more humor. Either way, if you fondly remember the JLI, or just want to know about the team, this is a good introduction.
13. Runlovekill #1
Jonathan Tsuei and Eric Canete deliver a pretty decent first issue, the problem is that it doesn’t do anything with its central idea. Tyrannical city-state, hot female assassin who wants out, blah blah blah we’ve seen this before, and they just don’t do anything new with it. It’s got solid action sequences, thanks to Eric Canete, but it needs to deliver more than his gritty and loose Aeon Flux inspired art to be anything interesting.
The Full Retail List
Cerebus Volume 2 High Society 30th Anniversary Remastered Gold Edition TP (not verified by Diamond), $30.00
Indie Comics Magazine #9, $6.49
ACTION LAB ENTERTAINMENT
Hero Cats #5 (Marcus Williams Regular Cover), $3.99
Hero Cats #5 (Marcus Williams Variant Cover), $4.99
Nutmeg #1 (Jackie Crofts Regular Cover), $3.99
Nutmeg #1 (Josh Eckert Variant Cover), $4.99
Pirate Eye Exiled From Exile #3 (Of 4), $3.99
Princeless The Pirate Princess #3 (Of 4)(Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt Paper Doll Variant Cover), $4.99
Princeless The Pirate Princess #3 (Of 4)(Rosy Higgins & Ted Brandt Regular Cover), $3.99