It’s a busy week in comics, but not everybody can buy every title. So that’s what our rankings are for; every week, we’ll rank comics based on accessibility, quality, and fun. With that in mind… who took #1 this week?
1) Vision #1
The Vision has built himself a wife! And kids! Which is weird! And now he’s moved to the DC suburbs and is trying to live like a normal human being, while still being The Vision, publicly. Tom King, also writing DC’s brilliant Omega Men, throws in all the classic suburban worries: Money, fitting in at school, keeping up with the Joneses, until the last few pages, where it turns into a sort of suburban noir. Gabriel Hernandez Walta gives the book a superb sense of unease, playing off King’s future-tense narration to deliver a wallop of a book. Highly recommended.
2) Unfollow #1
Rob Williams and Mike Dowling deliver a unique technothriller where, on the surface, 140 people are the luckiest people alive: They’ve been randomly chosen by the dying head of a social-media mogul to receive 1/140th of his billions. Needless to say, there’s more to it than that, but Williams and Dowling leave that for another issue and simply focus on the characters, which deepens the mystery and makes you genuinely curious as to what’s happening next.
3) Saints #2
What would you be if you were a saint returned in the modern era? That’s what Sean Lewis and Benjamin Mackey explore in their new series. A nice touch is that none of these saints are terribly pious people; they’re decent folks stuck in a situation that freaks them out, making them far more relatable than you might expect. Oh, and the superpowers help. Hey, don’t complain, read your hagiographies sometimes; saints had ridiculous powers back in the day. Clever, funny, and often very touching.
4) Midnighter #6
It says a lot about Steve Orlando’s writing that you feel bad for Midnighter at the climax of this issue. And the issue opens with him brutalizing Multiplex with a meat tenderizer, so that really tells you something about this issue’s arc. Aco’s bizarre, kinetic layouts really bolster the action, although the final twist does feel at a reserve because he can’t quite dial it back. Either way, though, there’s nothing like this book on the stands, so go out and read it.
5) Velvet #12
Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting continue to deliver the single best dirty-martini spy fiction out there, period. This new arc, featuring superspy Velvet Templeton hunting down a dangerous conspiracy and the even more dangerous man they locked up, is a great place to start with a gorgeous book. Highly recommended.
6) Howard The Duck #1
Howard just wants to go home, in this relaunch… but Chip Zdarsky and Joe Quinones aren’t going to let Howard off that easy. I won’t ruin it, but suffice to say his efforts to go home and avoid trouble backfire spectacularly, and not just on a literal level. Marvel’s funniest book, and a must-read.
7) Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #9
David and Maria Lapham’s noir book is the best kind of noir, using human failings and character flaws to ratchet up the tension as our “heroes” careen toward a bad heist. As always, a superb read.
8) James Bond #1
Opening with a stark and violent showdown in Helsinki, Warren Ellis and Jason Masters waste no time with setting the stage, bringing in Moneypenny, M, Q, and a mysterious villain, as well as this iteration of Bond. Over the course of a few short pages, Ellis reintroduces fans to a classic Bond: just as capable (yet damaged) as Daniel Craig’s current version, but with a bit more cheek. As we follow him to Berlin, it’s sure to be a cracking good time. — Alyssa Fikse.
9) Black Science #17
Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera bring back their neo-pulp science fiction series, and we’re all the better for it. Don’t be intimidated by the issue number: This is a new arc that essentially relaunches the series after a three-year gap, reintroducing Grant, the dickish scientist who… well, let’s say karma can really suck, as ol’ Grant is learning the hard way. Funny, action-packed, and surreal, there’s nothing quite like this book, so give it a read.
10) Star Wars #11
Luke gets a taste of fighting giant monsters in Jason Aaron and Stuart Immonen’s ongoing reminder that these characters can be a lot of fun when you don’t mire them with Gungans. As usual, a must for Star Wars fans.
11) Dark Corridor #4
Rich Tommaso shows off his action chops in this issue, which has car chases and Amazon women storming mob ships and killing everybody aboard. This series has quietly become one of Image’s best books in the last few months, and it’s ideal comic-book noir.
12) The Darkseid War: Superman
Francis Manapul and Bong Dazo essentially bring Superdickery to its natural conclusion in this one-shot, but there’s a sense of heartache that ultimately pervades this issue and makes it something special. Superman loves the human race, but he’s not human. And in the end, they don’t understand him, to the point where even though he’s turned not-quite-evil, they decide he’s a hero. It’s oddly touching and profoundly sad at the same time, and thus worth reading.
13) Klaus #1
Grant Morrison writes the origin of Santa Claus, wherein a trapper discovers a town crushed by an evil dictator/Grinch and Klaus gets high and makes toys. I’m not kidding. That said, Dan Mora’s art is well suited to the high fantasy tone, and this book is just too weird not to read.
14) Batman: Detective Comics #46
Jim Gordon is now part of the Justice League, and they take him to a crime scene they’ve found… a 200-year-old one, with a giant skeleton as the only clue. What follows is Peter Tomasi and Marcio Takara more or less writing an episode of Superhero CSI, which is fun until Tomasi twists the knife in the final few pages; like a lot of real world murders, the motive is what’s important, and it’s often a tragedy in more ways than one. A great one-off of casual readers, and a good change of pace for this book.
15) Ninjak #9
Ninjak’s sins come home to roost in this clever finale to an arc by Matt Kindt, Clay Mann, and Seth Mann. He’s got one more member of a cabal of international arms dealers to put in their place… but it turns out a master thief can be a tougher fight than he looks. Kindt’s usual slick espionage stylings and Mann’s smooth, kinetic art make for a blast of an action read.
16) The Hangman #1
Archie’s mix of horror and superheroes takes an interesting turn right from the opening issue, as a truly vile man gets his comeuppance… and fate might have a few more swift kicks in store for him even after he’s dead.
17) The Darkseid War: Flash
Rob Williams and Jesus Merino take the old chestnut of a superhero learning he can’t save everybody and give it a little twist here: The Flash is trying to save everybody from what he’s turning into, namely the Grim Reaper. It’s a smart bit of character work, which is why it ranks here: By the end, you genuinely feel bad for the Flash.
18) Bob’s Burgers #5
The saga of “Tinablanca” comes to a fitting end, and Louise is on the trail of a pest-control conspiracy in “Pester-geist.” “Captain Gene-O” may not shine quite as bright as the previous saga of “Genederella”, but it’s still a delight for fans of 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea and fart jokes. All in all, the Bob’s Burgers team continues to hit it out of the park. — Alyssa Fikse.
19) Invincible Iron Man #3
Well, it took three issues, but this book finally digs out just why we should care about this Tony Stark, with an extended romantic interlude where we discover Tony does have some humility after all. Shame, even! That doesn’t stop him from screwing with Doctor Strange, but hey, it’s personal growth.
20) UFOlogy #6
James Tynion IV, Noah Yuenkel, and Matthew Fox wrap up their book of UFO conspiracy theorists getting it right on an oddly hopeful note. At first, anyway; the finale has a few sequel hooks that are… attention getting, and a good wrapup to the first arc of this series.
21) Batman And Robin Eternal #5
This weekly series delivers a great issue as Dick decides to live up to his name again and investigate Tim Drake’s parents. What he finds is … well, let’s say it’s a little worrying. Definitely worth a read, especially for Batfans.
22) Joe Golem: Occult Detective #1
Admittedly, aside from the setting of a quake-ravaged New York and, well, Joe, Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden aren’t exactly pushing themselves here. The real draw is Patric Reynolds’ moody, scratchy art, which is great. Worth a read for pulp fans.
23) Toil And Trouble #3
This retelling of Macbeth from the witches’ perspective finally picks up a bit. Mairghread Scott’s story, it turned out, needed Lady Macbeth to give this book the focus it needed, and Kelly and Nicole Matthews manage to mesh well with the story, even if their style is a bit light for the goings-on.
24) Insufferable #7
After a slow few issues, Mark Waid and Peter Krause put this book back on track with some old-fashioned superheroics. It’s not quite what made this book special, but it’s fun and a hoot of a read.
25) Survivor’s Club #2
Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen can keep the script moving, and do play with some of the slasher-movie chestnuts they’ve deployed in clever ways. But while Ryan Kelly delivers some great art, they’re just not pushing this book hard enough or far enough; it feels like it should be a lot scarier than it is.
Other Books Available This Week
Green Lantern #46: The arc of Grunge Hal saving the universe wraps up this issue, and it’s pretty fun, although it does raise the question of why he’s Grunge Hal anyway.
Green Arrow #46: Just once I’d like to see a Mexican drug cartel that doesn’t use Day of the Dead iconography. Come on, it’s such a cliche.
Lobo #12: This story of a generic space bounty hunter is fun, if tilting a bit toward self-parody in the narration. But come on, this isn’t the Main Man, DC.
Harley Quinn/Power Girl #5: OK, the bit with Harley forcibly waxing Vartox was pretty funny, I’ll give this book that.
Doctor Strange #2: We get a tour of the Sanctum Sanctorum, and Chris Bachalo stands out by having fun with the classic Ditko ideas for the Sorceror Supreme.
Hercules #1: Dan Abnett lingers on old dogs having to learn new tricks, comparing Herc to Gilgamesh. As in, Gilgamesh is crashing on Herc’s sofa. It’s that kind of book.
Extraordinary X-Men #1: Great setup, but no real payoff; hopefully the next few issues will follow up on the great ideas we find here.
Drax #1: CM Punk’s comics debut is a wee bit unfocused, but a fun read.
Nova #1: This book has a great idea that it promptly flushes in the last few pages, which is a real shame.
Deadpool #1: Making jokes about Deadpool’s excessive popularity doesn’t make it feel less forced, even if this book does make excellent use of some backbenchers in the Marvel catalogue.
Lazarus #20: Greg Rucka’s cyberpunk story continues to be a great read.
Axcend #2: You know, I’m not sure anybody involved with this book has even played a video game. Fun story, with kind of a ’90s feel, but the gamer angle feels forced.
Monstress #1: Beautiful, rich art from Sana Takeda can’t make a lumbering, unsubtle story any more readable, sadly.
Citizen Jack #1: Sam Humphries’ political satire lands with a thud, alas; it’s laid on far too thick.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III #1: Larry Hama doesn’t bother to let us get to know these grunts, and thus, nothing interesting really happens.
Dead Vengeance #2: Every noir cliche possible, plus zombies, makes for an amusing but painfully slight book.
Lara Croft And The Frozen Omen #2: Lots of exposition, but fun for fans of the game, if nothing else.
Cagehero #1: Kevin Eastman writes a comic book about MMA superheroes. Really. Yes, it’s as ridiculous as it sounds.
Vampirella/Aliens #3: A pretty standard book, if the title didn’t give that away.
Rowan’s Ruin #2: Lots of talk, little action.
John Flood #4: This book’s all build-up, no payoff; a fun read but hardly essential.
The Woods #17: James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas are a little too wrapped up in their own mythology at this point. God help you if you haven’t read the last 16 issues. But still a fun read.