HomeComicsArticlesComic Book Countdown: Top 50 Comics of April

Comic Book Countdown: Top 50 Comics of April

With April now over it is time to take a look back at the month that was in comics. I countdown what I feel were the best issues of the month that are worth your time and money.

First and foremost this is simply my list and with that comes a great deal of subjectivity. Any art form is a subjective medium and taste plays a major role. So if you feel my rankings are way off you probably have a legitimate point. My hope is to simply to highlight great books that deserve attention. We too often focus on the negative so why not take some time to celebrate the positive.

Since this is my list that also means I can only rank issues I have actually read. There may be a book that is in your top five that does not make the cut. Please let me know. I try to read as much as I could but I do not read everything. I am open though to learn about titles I am missing out on reading.

In order to be eligible for this list an issue simply needs to be a single issue that was released in the month of March. Reprints do not count. Also for series that had more than one issue that came out this past month I tried to only pick the best one for diversity purposes. With that said now onto the list

Waring: I did touch on some plot details so if you prefer knowing nothing about an issue you may not want to read the finer details. I do try to stay away from the major surprises.

 

 

50. Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1

Writer: Peter Hogan

Artist: Steve Parkhouse

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Previously Ranked: No Previous Issues

The Resident Alien series has been criminally underpraised. Sure it has a quirky premise of a stranded alien trying to hide in plain sight while solving crimes, but it is an oddity that works. Although this first issue of this new series is not a great starting point for new readers it does excite me for what is to come next.

Transition issues are difficult to executive fully. Especially with the format of Dark Horse series where each new storyline is billed as a brand new miniseries. What this does well is frontline the lingering story elements from before and focus the final few pages and what is to come. It is a plot that somewhat comes out of nowhere but it will at least mean we have an entirely new setting for this book which is exciting to think about.


49. Infinity Countdown #2

Writer: Gerry Duggan

Artist: Mike Deodato, Mike Hawthorne,

Publisher: Marvel

Previous Ranks: None

Gerry Duggan has been doing some special things with the Marvel cosmic universe since he took of Guardians of the Galaxy. His work is the closest we have gotten to the days and Abbnet and Landing in the mid-2000’s. What Duggan is doing right is expanding upon the lore of the Marvel cosmic world with the way he is approaching the Groot’s backstory showing he can be more than a three-word wonder. Sure this storyline is probably coming about because of the movie, but outside of the fact both are centered on the Infinity gems, there is little in common storywise.

I do worry that people picking up this mini-series will be completely lost. All Marvel did was take the Guardians of the Galaxy title and keep everything else the same. So if you picked up the first issue there is a good chance you would have no idea what was happening. I understand why the change occurred as this had an event like feel to it with its galaxy-ending stakes and a massive cast of characters. If this is just the prelude to the actual event that is coming Marvel is giving fans of their cosmic universe a lot to be excited about.


48. Green Arrow #39

Writer: Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly

Artist: Marcio Takara

Publisher: DC Comics

Previous Ranks: None

Green Arrow #39 saw a new creative team take over the title and so far I have hopes for the direction they are taking the title. Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly are a creative team that has been doing some solid work together over the years in books like Joyride and Hacktivist. Their material tends to be socially conscious so them taking over a character like Green Arrow makes a great deal of sense.  Green Arrow has had a storied history of incorporating social issues and he makes no qualms about his political leanings.

This issue saw Oliver Queen attempt to save the day without at first dawning his alter-ego persona. He travels to a war-torn country that is no doubt inspired by the current situation in countries like Syria. In a way, this issue represents the naivety of someone like Oliver.  A complex situation can often be overly simplified in the pages of a comic book. How some would like to think the mere presence of someone like Superman could completely change everything for the better. What this arc appears to be doing is showing the problems run much deeper.


 

47. The Punisher #223

Writer: Matthew Rosenberg

Artist: Guiu Vilanova

Publisher: Marvel

Previous Ranks: March – #21

At times making comics comes down to a straightforward formula. Take a character that is a born killing machine that is known for his unhinged ways of inflicting severe punishment and place him into a high powered machine with nearly unlimited firepower. I know some felt placing Frank Castle inside the War Machine armor was a jumping the shark type of moment that pushes things too far. Personally feel that these are comics and every idea sounds utterly ridiculous at face value, and being utterly ridiculous is not necessarily a bad thing. Considering the state of the world that is something unquestionably gratifying about watching a man dismantle some truly evil men in some over the top ways. I can watch the Punisher crush a man with a tank every week and I do not think I would be bored of it.

This issue reminded us though that Castle is just as capable outside of the armor as he is in it. One specific panel saw him making that exact point to an unexpecting foe. What this also sets up is the fact that Castle is now done being a world traveler and is headed back to the mean streets of New York City. I was at first worried that this might go on for too long, however, I do feel like seeing the Punisher start a one-man war against the mob with the War Machine armor behind him could be one hell of a time.


46. Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #2

Writer: Stan Sakai

Artist: Stan Sakai

Publisher: Dark Horse

Previous Ranks: None

Usagi Yojimbo has been one of those comic series that I have failed to catch up with as of now. Being around for over two hundred issues it is somewhat daunting to try to dive right in. With the release of this miniseries it felt like the perfect opportunity to try out the world of Yojimbo and despite my ended up quite enjoying it.

What has been intriguing about this miniseries is how religion has been at the center of it. Typically we see the Western perspective of how Europeans influenced the culture of the East. Here this shows the mindset of those who lived in those areas and what they thought or didn’t think of Christians and their beliefs. A book about a Samurai rabbit can have some insightful ideas about history and culture.


45. The Ballad of Sang #2

Writer: Ed Brisson

Artist: Alessandro Micelli

Publisher: Oni Press

Previous Ranks: None

Constructing this list I realized just how much I tend to appreciate those comics that are willing to go for it and be super ridiculous.  The Ballad of Sang falls right into the category. If you are someone who loves Martial Arts epics and wanted to see a version of Kill Bill that started a mute kid taking revenge you are finally seeing your wish fulfilled.

Alessandro Micelli is not an artist I was at all familiar with before this comic. It does not take long to realize he has a knack for constructing some gruesome and high octane action sequences. This issue also introduced The Vexxed gang. This group of cult-like 80’s rockers who treat their dedication to metal like a blood oath. Anyone who dares not rock big hair is committing a crime worthy of the greatest punishment. I am loving all the different colorful characters and I hope each issue adds another music inspired gang to the mixed.


44. Giants #5

Writer: Carlos Valderrama

Artist: Miguel Valderrama

Publisher: Dark Horse

Previous Ranks: None

Walking Dead at one point asked the question of what happens if that zombie movie you love does not end and you keep following the story after the credits roll. Giants as a series did something similar with the Kaiju genre. Another similarity is how this is more about the humans of this world and their follies rather than the monsters that occupy it.

Personally was hoping this series would go on longer than five issue. There may be a possibility that is the case as we only got a small glimpse of what the world is currently like. For this comic to work scale had to play a role. When you call your book Giants you have to make it feel like these monsters have a major presence to them. Miguel Valderrama’s art did just that. One moment, in particular, saw Gogi and his former friend Zeedo have their final showdown in the foreground while a major giant monster fight happened behind him. That page was one of my favorite moments of this entire series.


43. Robocop: Citizens Arrest #1

Writer: Brian Wood

Artist: Jorge Coelho

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Previous Ranks: No Previous Issues

As a comic book reader, I tend to stay away from most licensed properties. I am learning more and more that it is wrong to dismiss any comic before reading it. When I saw that Brian Wood was writing this I figured it was worth a shot as I have loved his work on books like Starved, Rebels, and Briggs Land. He is no stranger to licensed properties as well. Previously he worked on a number of the Star Wars books back when Dark Horse had the rights.

This takes place in the same universe as the first Robocop film but slightly in the future. The Robocop we know and love has been decommissioned. The police force has been privatized and those companies have created a new way to police the populace allowing citizens to report on each other and reward them for doing so. The process works as New Detroit a shining beacon where people once again feel safe. Although outlining communities do not feel nearly as lucky. Clearly, Wood is taking the satirical nature of the first film and twisting it to tell a new story. It was great world building and I was impressed Wood would be willing to have an issue of Robocop where Robocop is barely even in it. That though makes his likely appearance in the next issue that more anticipated.


42. Marvel 2-In-One #5

Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Artist: Valerio Schiti

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Previous Ranks: None

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Proof of that occurred with how nothing caused the world to care about the Fantastic Four more than canceling their series. Suddenly now there are legions of diehard fans that are brimming with hope the series will return. We learned recently they are in fact coming back and many assumed the writing was on the wall when Marvel 2-In-One was launched. Felt like a backdoor pilot to a brand new Fantastic Four series. Still unsure if that is the case, but as has been shown is that these characters still have some great stories to tell.

Chip Zdarsky is well known for his quick wit sense of humor and at times it shows here. This issue though he can dial back his sardonic tone and construct a story much more fitting for the Fantastic Four. Especially in the way he writes Ben Grimm. He has put a lot of weight on the shoulders of The Thing knowing the search he and the Torch are on is all for not. It has added a strong sense of drama with this overall crazy story.


41. Brothers Dracul #1

Writer: Cullen Bunn

Artist: Mirko Colak

Publisher: Aftershock

Previous Ranks: No Previous Issues

Cullen Bunn is making somewhat of a career in Aftershock constructing stories about historical stories and putting his own spin on them. We have seen that with Dark Ark, Unholy Grail, and now The Brothers Dracul that looks to retell the story of the infamous impaler turned vampire. So far this has potential to be the best of the bunch.

Oddly of all those series, this appears to have the most realistic tone. Where so far no element of the supernatural appears to be present. There have been a countless amount of different interpretations of the Dracula story so you may be asking if another one is actually needed. With this being more focused on his childhood and his relationship with his brother I have a feeling this will bring something new that has not been touch upon previously a great deal.


40. The Avengers #689

Writer: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub

Artist: Pepe Larraz

Publisher: Marvel

Previous Ranks: None

Marvel is at a better place with the Avengers mean something as a team. Lately, that has not been the case. Knowing that and hearing Marvel was going to try a weekly Avengers story this year it had all the signs of failure. Weekly comics are hard enough to pull off when people are excited about them. Was anyone super excited about the idea of ‘No Surrender’? I am not sure about the answer to that question what I can say is that after a few issues this experiment that should not have worked actually started to majorly click.

All though this is not the final issue of the event it is where the majority important elements are resolved. It was a conclusion that felt fitting and reminiscent of classic Avenger tales. Where the entire fate of the world can been decided using a simple parlor trick. The main mission of this entire series seemed to be to remind the world what the Avengers used to be. A comic full of insanely fun stories with larger than life stakes and an odd arrangement of characters that should not work but do. This proved that old adage to be true by making the often disregarded Living Lighting a major player throughout. Perhaps this didn’t need to be as long or a weekly series but the product spoke for itself.


39. Babyteeth #10

Writer: Donny Cates

Artist: Garry Brown

Publisher: Aftershock

Previous Ranks: February – #15

Donny Cates has been exploding in the world of comics these last few years and even with that, this series may not be getting the attention it deserves. That could be due to some dismissing it thinking it is not much more than your typical baby of Satin story. What Cates has been doing is rewriting the rules of how to do this type of story. At the center of it instead of this fear of this child is a mother actually loving her kid despite his potential for evil.

This issue also saw things come full circle. In the first issue, we saw a flash forward to what was assumed was the end of the world. Here we see what is really happening as this book is nearing its end. Along the way, the series found new ways to subvert expectations leading to a variety of possibilities for its final ending. If you have enjoyed any of Cates other work this is a book you want to read sooner rather than later.


38. Infinity 8 #2

Writer: Lewis Trondheim

Artist: Dominique Bertail

Publisher: Lion Forge Comics

Previous Ranks: March – #29

Infinity 8 #2 shows you can go a long way to tell a straightforward story, and that not necessarily a bad thing. The story follows this massive spaceship that stumbles upon the remnants of a past civilization. In this issue what starts as a simple investigation turns into a massive zero-gravity chase sequence.

Dominique Bertail’s art is a key to what makes this series so effective. Making a chase sequence work when gravity is absent is no easy task yet he pulls it off. Characters’ motions fit the setting and he constructs some inventive ways to keep the action going. His creature design has also been a constant highlight. You can see classic references from H.P. Lovecraft to H.R. Giger. This comic is evidence of just how many publishers exist today that are putting out content worth your time.


37. Her Infernal Descent #1

Writer: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler

Artist: Kyle Charles

Publisher: Aftershock

Previous Ranks: No Previous Issues

When reading Her Infernal Descent #1 it took me some time to fully get into it. It is rather dense with ideas and themes that a first time read only allows you to pick up on so much. The story follows a woman who literally travels through hell in an attempt to help some of her recently deceased family members. Throughout her journey she runs into some famous literary and historical figures who use her as a sounding board to discover how relevant their work is to the present day.

That is a gutsy move to include heavy hitters in the literary world like that. You have to have a lot of faith in your writing to think you can properly represent people like Edgar Allen Poe and his craft. There is more here than a book report cameo fest. There is still a lot left to find out, but so far we see the lengths a mother would go to in an attempt to get her family back. It is one of those universal concepts that has such a large amount of relatability you do not need to bog it down with a tremendous amount of backstory. This drops you into it and lets you find your way. As a reader you need to catch up quick and when you do it is worth it.


36. Old Man Hawkeye #4

Writer: Ethan Sacks

Artist: Marco Checchetto

Publisher:  Marvel

Previous Ranks: None

I can never tell where the original Old Man Logan stories lies with most comic fans. I know it is certainly popular otherwise it would not be still going today in a new format. However, I am unsure if it is considered a quality story or not in most people’s eyes. Considering the popularity and strong critical response to last year’s Logan it makes sense they are returning to that world once again even if the focus has changed towards that of Hawkeye.

As a character Hawkeye has changed since the Matt Fraction and David Aja run on the character. This though is much more of an extension of the classic Hawkeye, the former carney turned Superhero who always has that chip on his shoulder. Going as far to finish a major storyline many have forgotten about when Hawkeye was betrayed by the criminals turned heroes team The Thunderbolts. Considering the amount of tragedy he was faced with I am suprised this story has not come sooner. Although we know where his journey will end Ethan Sacks and Marco Checchetto do a lot of work to get you invested into this tale despite that.


35. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #42

Writer: Robert Venditti

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Publisher: DC Comics

Previous Ranks: February – 29th / March – 20th

The last arc of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps was the best the series has been since the start of Rebirth. Bringing in the character of Zod added a level of energy and stakes that felt fitting for this cosmic level story. I was sad to see it end but this new Dark Star Reborn storyline appears to have a lot to offer as well

It is crazy that Robert Venditti has improved so much since Rebirth. At times I cannot believe this was the same guy writing the title during the last days of the New 52. One of the crucial areas that improvement has shown the most is how he sets the stage for each of his stories. This issue is a great example of the question of what is true justice becomes the focal point. Each arc has been grounded in this complicated debate that uses the natural follies of the Green Lantern methodology against itself. Whether it is Zod asking why did they failed to save his planet, or challenging the way the Lanterns punish those who have committed galactic level criminal acts.  It seems that even when they win the physical warn the mental strain only continues to mount.


34. Skyward #1

Writer: Joe Henderson

Artist: Lee Garbett

Publisher: Image Comics

Previous Ranks No Previous Issues

I worry for the day when Neil deGrasse Tyson learns about this series and goes off on a diatribe about how wrong the physics are with this book. Skyward tells the story of an Earth where gravity stops working like it does now. We then flashforward to see how society adjusts and somehow finds ways to move on. As indicated this may not be 100% scientifically accurate but that does not really matter because it leads to a fun playground to have adventures in.

Lee Garbett takes that playground and constructs some fantastic splash pages. Finding new ways to use scope and perspective in the pages of the comic. Considering how much world building was needed in this first issue the script also worked in getting you to care about our main character. From her free loving spirit to her showing her ingenuity by outsmarting would-be criminals a lot of character building was done in a short period of time.


33. Superman #45

Writer: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason

Artist: Patrick Gleason

Publisher: DC Comics

Previous Ranks: None

Superman #45 got back to what made this series so great when Rebirth first started. It was a simple down to Earth story about this extraordinary family. One where the biggest plot point is about them attempting to move without using superpowers. Doing so opens the door to touch upon major story elements that occurred over these last few years. From linking back to Superman’s encounter with Swamp Thing to their trip to the County Fair it resulted in this highlight real of the story Peter J. Tomasi has been crafting.

With Brian Michael Bendis coming into Superman I hope he takes note of what worked with this recent run. How placing family at the center of Superman makes him a much more relatable character. Superman has basically been the dad of the DC Universe so making him an actual dad is a logical step. Something that is usually a kiss of death for a character turned into one of the best Superman stories in some time. Tomasi showed it is possible to use old tricks to create new ideas.


32. James Bond: The Body #4

Writer: Ales Kot

Artist: Eoin Marron

Publisher: Dynamite

Previous Ranks: March – #16

The term gimmick is often used in a disparaging way….well outside of the world of professional wrestling that is. Gimmicks are not always bad though and sometimes can actually work quite well. James Bond: The Body is a series where each issue centers on a different part of James Bond. Whether it’s the body, mind, or in this case the heart we see all the components to the man who has a license to kill. Yes, I would quantify this idea as a gimmick–a gimmick that has led to one of the best James Bond comics.

With issue number four being about the heart this has very little action for a James Bond comic. In fact, the biggest action piece happens off screen. Instead, we see a much more subdued James Bond who is nursing some major injuries. Going into this issue I thought a look at the heart of James Bond would be about his notorious romantic side. That was not the case at all. It was about who Bond is when his persona is turned down to the level of a normal person. Any James Bond fan should be reading this series as it is looking at the character in ways the movies never have.


31. Deathbed #3

Writer: Joshua Williamson

Artist: Riley Rissmo

Publisher: Vertigo

Previous Ranks: March – #30

If Deathbed is doing anything it is showing that Vertigo still has some life in it as a publisher. With the upcoming offshoots, DC has planned and the rise of Young Animal the publisher that helped launch some of the greatest titles of all time is getting left behind. Now Deathbed does not belong alongside books like Sandman or Y: The Last Man but if Vertigo could push more books like it may be the cache of its brand would return.

This series has been about a lot of different things but mostly how a false bravado can lead a person to completely misconceptualized their entire existence. This specific issue also looks into how we as a people can overly idolize our heroes to the point of a cult-like following until we consume so much of them we lead to their inevitable downfall.  This series is giving Riley Rissmo a chance to showcase a style that the main DC books would probably never allow. It has a more cartoony look that maintains an edge about it.


30. Infidel #2

Writer: Pornsak Pichetshote

Artist: Aaron Campbell

Publisher: Image Comics

Previous Ranks: March – #17

The world of horror comics is flooded at this moment and time and with some recent releases by high profile creators books like Infidel can quickly become lost. For me what separates this series from other horror books is how strong the story is without the horror elements. You could just as easily edit some pages out to make it a compelling drama about a family attempting to live together despite their differences that have hit their boiling point due to recent events that they are still recovering from.

Last issue we saw how the grandmother character did not approve of the rest of the families religious practices. It did make her an easy target so it was welcome to see her character rounded out a lot more with this issue. Aaron Campbell can also craft some eerie imagery. Creating images of ghostly beings that would make any sane person’s skin crawl.


29. Quantum & Woody #5

Writer: Daniel Kibblesmith

Artist: Kano

Publisher: Valiant

Previous Ranks: February – #13, March – #25

If you were going to ask me my opinion of creators who are on the brink of breaking out this series would have two of them. Daniel Kibblesmith is, of course, a funny guy. You do not become a writer on The Late Show without having some skills. That has made books like Quantum & Woody and Lockjaw the ideal vehicles for his witty banter. Jokes are not the only thing he can write. Every so often just the right amount of heart shows itself as well.

Kano has impressed me with his inventive panel design. Every issue he finds a new way to utilize the themes of the book through a new visual prism to greatly enhance major moments. Skills like that can help him stand out amongst other artists. It’s sad to see this story come to its end. Next issue sees a new creative team come in and my hope is that both Kibblesmith and Kano will go on to do even bigger things.


28. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26

Writer: Kyle Higgins, Ryan Ferrier

Artist: Bachan, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Simona Di Gianfelice

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Previous Ranks: March – #28

You have to give Boom! Studios and Kyle Higgins some major credit for what they are doing with the Power Rangers comics and the Shattered Grid storyline. Going as far as creating live action trailers to get fans hyped for the storyline. Maybe if more comic companies put in that level of effort overall sales would be higher than they are. Obviously, it helps when you have a major fanbase already. Add to the fact that the quality of the story has been able to back up the hype and you have one of the biggest things going in comics today.

Higgins has been able to take the spirit of the Power Rangers franchise and treat it was a tad more serious tone that lightens the cheesiness to make it more accessible to people outside the age of seven. This issue saw major fallout to the final events of issue number twenty-five letting all know this storyline is willing to go directions you may not expect for a Power Rangers comic.


27. Analog #1

Writer: Gerry Duggan

Artist: David O’Sullivan

Publisher: Image Comics

Previous Ranks: New Previous Issues Released

Analog #1 either had the best timing in the world or the worst timing in the world depending on how you look at it. Right when it was getting set to be released the Facebook controversy broke and many of the ideas it was hitting on where now playing out in the real world. That could make its premise seem more heavy-handed than it was prior, but I suspect this series will be less concerned with providing massive social commentary and more about telling an old-fashioned noir story in a futuristic setting.

This is David O’Sullivan’s first title although you would never know that by reading it. Coming from the world of animation he has a skilled hand for sure. He filled the page with some great world building reminiscent of something like Transmetropolitan just turned down many degrees. He also utilized a variety of different panel designs from keeping the pacing moving and on point. Have a strong feeling this is the first book of many to come his way.


26. Mech Cadet Yu #8

Writer: Greg Pak

Artist: Takeshi Miyazawa

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Previous Ranks: February – #19, March – #24

Comics are better with the series of Mech Cadet Yu in it, which will not be the case for much longer as the series is set to end with issue number ten. What Greg Pak and Takeshi Miyazawa have done with this series so far is something special. Building this story that is suitable for all ages and full of characters that have nuance and levels of development you want not normally expect for a story about giant robots fighting alien monsters.

This is probably the most action-packed of all the issues so far as we see the cadets fly off into space in hopes of warding off the incoming alien threat. As you would want the deck is stacked against them and the hope of success if gradually fading away. This does feel like the type of story where it would go into areas similar books would not. I would not be surprised if not everyone walks away from this encounter despite the fact these main antagonists are children. Not that killing off characters enhances the quality of the story more so that effective all ages books need to be willing to enter into uncomfortable territory with tact and foresight. Something this series has done since its onset.

 

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