It’s time once again for my choices for the Top 10 Comics of the week. A solid week of books I must say with a lot of promising new series debuting. Many of those like American Ronin #1, Getting it Together #1, and Norse Mythology #1 just missed this week’s list.
This was a week with some major milestones as Batman #100 and Amazing Spider-Man #850 came out. Also, some major events like X of Swords are proving to be strong. Yet, what really made this week’s work were the smaller books filled with personal and ambitious stories.
Make sure to check out my other articles this week:
10. Die #14
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: “THE GREAT GAME,” Part Four “Hey, Stephanie, shall we do DIE’s take on the big battles in Return of the King?” “Sure thing, Kieron. Can you add some big emotional messy beats to the visual splendor?” “Sure thing!”
Why It Made the List: One thing that bugs me about the comic book community is that we too easily ignore indie series after they have been around for ten or so issues. We are like petulant children who only want to talk about shiny new toys. A big reason why indie series rarely go beyond twelve issues anymore. Die was a series I was not as high on when it debuted but now feel it is the best it has ever been. Stephanie Hans as grown as an artist in these fifteen issues. Her storytelling ability has evolved especially in the way she is able to capture the more emotional side of these characters. That was massively important this issue as events in the real world seep into this fantasy the characters have become lost in. As someone who is trying to write about comics as the entire world is on fire I can relate.
9. Locke and Key: In Pale Battalions Go #2
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Description: The impossible, reality-bending keys of Keyhouse have always been weapons of war. In the spring of 1915, Chamberlin Locke’s oldest son, John, is desperate to be a part of the greatest war of all… and never mind that he’s too young to enlist. He means to use the power of the keys to turn the tide, and will tell any lie, and try any manipulation, to have his way. Prepare to open a door onto one of the grimmest battlefields of the 20th century, whose darkness might even strike fear into an army of supernatural shadows.
Why It Made the List: As this issue opens it was easy to forget this is a supernatural story. We get this look into what things were like during World War One and how the issue of escalation of force lead to one of the most brutal wars in human history. How machine guns led to trenches, trenches led to artillery, and eventually, you get to a point where forces are using chemical weapons against one another. Personally, I would be in favor of an entire comic just about The Great War, but considering I would be one of the eight people to buy that book I get why they add in supernatural elements. Although that plays a part in the escalation issue as well. What happens when an army that has already shown they are willing to commit evil acts gets their hands on a magical force of power? Looking forward to seeing how that is explored as this series concludes.
8. Thor #8
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Aaron Kuder
Description: HAMMERFALL, PART 2 OF 2. You get a Mjolnir, and you get a Mjolnir, and…everyone gets a hammer! That’s right—come on down to Broxton, Oklahoma, and pick up Mjolnir for yourself! The famed hammer of the Thunder God is free for the taking…no worthiness required???
Why It Made the List: As Donny Cates is taking over titles like Venom and now Thor one of his better skills is showing itself; the understanding of why pacing is so important. Thor has been going a mile a minute since this series debut so a short but pageant arc like this is vital for the narrative to functions a whole. Inject some smaller moments to make those bigger moments mean more. Redemption is at the heart of who Thor is as a character which is a theme Cates has excelled at exploring. Here a man who is trying to overcome past sins gets to see his work is paying off. The art has remained strong and one scene that stood out involved of flight of pure joy. A glimpse of sweetness prior to massive carnage awaiting the thunder god.
7. DCeased: Dead Planet #4
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Gigi Baldassini
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Time is running out for the Justice League to unlock the Anti-Life cure as they face a deadly new threat on Earth—in addition to the billions of the undead! Their final desperate attempt at finding the cure will take them off-planet for the greatest heist in the history of New Genesis!
Why It Made the List: Rarely does a sequel series to a surprise hit lead to such a fantastic book like this. Tom Taylor may be the most consistent writer in superhero comics right now as he continues to shape all his different universes. I have been enjoying this book since the beginning but I was concerned this lacked that major threat you need to keep the series on edge. One that will make you feel time is running out without having a cliche’ timebomb waiting to explode. Well, now things are getting serious aren’t they? Let’s take the biggest threat to the universe and make it even worse. I am game. Also, have to call out the nice nod to the Mister Miracle run by Tom King and Mitch Gerads.
6. Lonely Receiver #2
Writer: Zac Thompson
Artist: Jen Hickman
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Description: As she reels from a breakup with her phone, Catrin’s life spins out of control. Every-thing about her existence was connected to her partner. Now she has no money, no ID, and no way to engage with the world. She’s drifting alone in a sea of connection, except for the pair of disembodied eyes watching her…
Why It Made the List: When reading this series it is hard not to relate it to the film Her as both delve into the concept of someone falling in love with an operating system. Their execution with that concept could not be more different. Lonely Receiver has a far more cynical view of that idea as this series is soaked in loneliness and despair. By a bit of twisted serendipity this book’s message is even more relevant. The isolation that is so vividly demonstrated speaks directly to the world we find ourselves. Reading this it is difficult not to reflect on your own personal addiction to technology and how we can easily value the wrong types of relationships.
5. Coffin Bound #7
Writer: Dan Watters
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: BIG SWORDS! SHARP SUITS! INHERENT DECAY! With more killers on her tail, Taqa must decide whether to trust in God or earthly loved ones for protection. But the closer she comes to death, the closer she inches to her goal. Perhaps she can hold on just a little longer…
Why It Made the List: If I were to tell you that there is a comic that exists where God is a literal drug you may roll your eyes at that heavy-handed metaphor. Sometimes being heavy-handed works as Coffin Bound is demonstrating. When you hit so hard with one hand you can be a bit more complex with the other. This issue, in particular, wowed me in ways I was not expecting. From literal interaction with dialog bubbles to dueling narratives this team is playing with the rules of the medium.
4. Fire Power #4
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Chris Samnee
Description: Things go from bad to worse as Owen and Kellie’s night out turns into a nightmare! Thankfully, the kids are safe at home… aren’t they?
Why It Made the List: Outside of the opening graphic novel this was the most complete issue of Fire Power yet. This is the first time I have ever read a Kirkman book in issue and I was beginning to assume that may be the best way to experience his stories. What worked here was making the choice of not getting bogged down in melodrama. Adults were treated like adults. Owen’s and Kellie’s conversation about the foundation of real love was one of the best bits of dialog I read this week. It cut through the glorified way fiction tends to represent relationships and families to remind us all this stuff is hard, and it is because it is hard that it is worth it. Of course, there was ninja action in there as well. Cannot have a book called Firepower and not have a few punches thrown.
3. Spy Island #2
Writer: Chelsea Cain
Artist: Elise McCall
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Description: Super-agent Nora Freud is fine, thank you. Yes, she’s stuck on an island in the Bermuda Triangle without a clear mission. She’s running low on sunscreen. Her sister has just arrived. And the body of a man Nora recently assassinated just floated in with the tide. But. She. Has. This. Totally. Under. Control. Spy Island is a four-issue special limited series by the creative team that brought you Man-Eaters.
Why It Made the List: Spy Island is a comic I could see not clicking with a lot of people based on how it rejects convention. It looks at the common way narratives are expressed and sticks a Kraken like middle finger at it to do its own thing. What I adore about this book is that I am entertained in new and exciting ways throughout each page. The pacing can be sporadic shifting from one thread to the next. If you take a step back to look at what this is doing in a general sense it is a much more enjoyable experience. It is like a twisted version of Fantasy Island where mermaids are brutal murdering monsters and spies are trying to steal the world’s secrets. There is not just one story here and we are never going to focus just on one thing. Comics need a book like this to stop them from being stale. Either you keep up and enjoy or miss out and get left behind.
2. The Dreaming: Waking Hours #3
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Nick Robles
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: “THE BARD AND THE BARD, PART THREE” In the waking world, Ruin and the fallen cherub Jophiel have teamed up with the sorceress Heather After to try to pull Lindy out of the Dreaming, and home to her newborn daughter…but they’d better work fast. Lindy’s mind is rapidly disintegrating as she reckons with thousands of possibilities for who Shakespeare really was, each one alive and walking around in front of her—and if she can’t keep it together, then she’ll be lost forever!
Why It Made the List: You have to love a book where examining the greatest plays in human history inside of a magical world is only a small part of what this series is trying to accomplish. Lindy is proving to be one of my favorite characters of this year. Watching her come to terms with her own life through her passion has been a cathartic experience. Sure it may be turning her evil. Honestly, I can understand her plight. I will fully admit to being a philistine and not being as well versed in Shakespeare as I should. Even still the admiration this team clearly has for that work and its history makes me want to rectify that as soon as possible.
1. Lost Soldiers #3
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Luca Casalanguida
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: The house where the past goes.
Why It Made the List: Lost Soldiers has been a series I have been enjoying, however, I was not expecting to be slotting issue three in as the best book of the week. I am happy to be wrong. This issue started with a voracious firefight that was brutal in the most gorgeous way. The coloring did a lot of the heavy lifting to make it appear as if this violence was bringing a literal hell on Earth with it. Now having heart-pounding action is one thing. Saying something about that violence is another. In the second half, everything slows down to a brutal halt. It made me think about the scene in The Hurt Locker where Jeremy Renner’s character goes to the grocery store to showcase how out of place he feels in the regular world. This takes it even further by showing what happens after. What happens when a solider becomes so lost he no longer has a real home to go. There is something jarring about seeing a man who barely escaped death sit alone on a messy couch with no real place to go. Like a tool made for a specific function that no longer exists. I loved that this week was so packed with comics filled with ambition. Of everything thing that came out this week this issue best matched that ambition with execution.