Time to count down the Top 10 Comics of the Week. This week was dominated by Marvel comics which is a big surprise for me. Honestly felt bad including so many books from one of the biggest publishers but sometimes that is how things fall.
Make sure to also check out this week’s other articles:
Now onto this week’s countdown…
10. Usagi Yojimbo #13
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai
Description: The assassins have discovered that Usagi is a traitor, intent on thwarting their plan to kill the Shogun’s emissary. They imprison the entire village in the storehouse and are ready to burn it with a moment’s notice if he does not go through with the plan. Usagi is able to release his old friends Mariko and Kenichi, but they cannot return with help in time to prevent the assassination.
Why It Made the List: It is impressive when you look at the consistency of this series over the last few decades. This series debuted the same year I was born but is still going strong today. Knowing Stan Sakai wrote and drew all those issues makes it qualify for this list just by existing. Luckily it is still good as well. It is deceptively simple. For example, this issue has a specific flashback that will currently come back as this arc concludes the next issue. It gives you a sense of who these characters are while simultaneously setting up the next issues conclusions. If you write comics this is a book to study to see how to construct a book that is welcoming to new readers while remaining fresh for those who have been here for the long hall.
9. Star Wars: Darth Vader #6
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Raffaele Ienco
Description: INTO THE FIRE, PART I THE PUNISHMENT! DARTH VADER failed to turn his son, Luke Skywalker, to the dark side of the Force. No…Luke was too weak to join his father in overthrowing EMPEROR PALPATINE. Vader sought revenge against those who hid Luke from him for all of these years…and in doing so nearly betrayed his master. It did not go unnoticed by Palpatine…time for Vader’s next lesson.
Why It Made the List: This was pure Star Wars fun…well twisted fun. Taking place between films does limit what you can do with these characters. What this issue does is provide insight into the person Darth Vader becomes in Return of the Jedi. In addition, it reminds you that The Emperor may look like a fragile figure but he has a power few can match. The way he plays with Vader is something to be impressed with. Now comes the fun of seeing him get back up.
8. Once & Future #12
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Dan Mora
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: The veil between the Otherworld and the human world is thin, and as the story changes around Duncan and Gran, each foe becomes harder to defeat…and predict. They may be holding the line, but enemies both new and old are closing in fast, and even Gran and Duncan may not be prepared for what’s next!
Why It Made the List: Now this is how you end an arc. When you have a grandmother chainsawing monsters I do not know how to further comics can go. This issue marks the end of the Beowulf arc it brings the heat. Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora have taken classic English literature and updated it to fit the world of today. Beyond just time but also the social and political issues this book is tackling. A lot of series tends to lean too far one side or the other yet this never does. The point of view is strong but it never forgets the importance of telling a story.
7. Seven Secrets #3
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Daniele Di Nicuolo
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: The only thing standing between Caspar and his dream of protecting one of the Secrets-and getting to know the mother who abandoned him-is the Trials. Caspar is pitted against the best and brightest of his generation, fighting for his life-but will it be worth the cost of winning?
Why It Made the List: This series needed an issue like this. One that gave some personal stakes into this worldwide threat scenario. I have mostly been down on this series because the vagueness of the concept has made it difficult to invest. Here we get to see some characters that actually care for one another. Giving you a reason to care about their plight in return. Those small moments are where Tom Taylor has shined as a writer for his DC and Marvel work. Now he is incorporating it into this series.
6. New Mutants #13
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Rod Reis
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: X OF SWORDS, CHAPTER 7 Diligence. Discipline. A sword of the self.
Why It Made the List: When X of Swords started I had little faith it could actually pull off this twenty-two chapter cross-over. That is ambitious to the point of obnoxiousness. If being obnoxious gets us comics this good…be obnoxious more often. Go big or go home as they say. Similar to Seven Secrets this also injecting some much needed personal drama into this massive narrative. Cypher is becoming a major piece of this entire puzzle. Now that death matters again his part in this means a lot more than being a translator. Now that he has to take up the sword he is becoming the ultimate underdog, but if he does not learn quickly his loss will be devastating for the X-Men moving forward. Each part is playing its role. Now I see why it is twenty-two parts.
5. The Devil’s Red Bride #1
Writer: Sebastin Girner
Artist: John Bivens
Publisher: Vault Comics
Description: 16th century Japan. The fates of warlords ebb and flow like tides of blood, none more than the Aragami Clan who follow their lord clad in the ‘Red Devil’ mask into every battle. But when Lord Aragami succumbs to illness, his daughter, the fierce Ketsuko, hatches a plot to save her people, no matter the cost… Years later, as Ketsuko wanders the heaving battlefields of her ruined homeland, she discovers a chance to avenge the terrible wrong done to her clan, even if it means stepping back onto a road steeped in slaughter.
Why It Made the List: This was a big week for samurai. Usagi Yojimbo before and now The Devil’s Red Bride. What is one of the best things about this book? No supernatural twist. Just a classic samurai tale. Taking place at two separate times we see the destitute future our warrior is heading towards. Driving this narrative is a fight against the social norms of the time. From the art style to the story being told this is quite unlike any other monthly comic going. A lot is being built here. Going to be compelling watching it all come together.
4. Rorschach #1
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Jorge Fornés, Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: It’s been 35 years since Ozymandias dropped a giant interdimensional squid on New York City, killing thousands and destroying the public’s trust in heroes once and for all. And since that time, one figure in a fedora, mask, and trenchcoat has become a divisive culture icon. So what does it mean when Rorschach reappears as an assassin trying to kill a candidate running against President Robert Redford? Who is the man behind the mask, and why is he acting this way? It’s up to one detective to uncover the true identity of this would-be killer—and it will take him into a web of conspiracies involving alien invasions, disgraced do-gooders, mystic visions, and yes, comic books. Writer Tom King joins forces with artist Jorge Fornés for a new miniseries that explores the mythic qualities of one of the most compelling characters from the bestselling graphic novel of all time, Watchmen.
Why It Made the List: I know many have issues with the fact this book exists. There’s plenty to argue about how this violates creator rights, but ultimately it exists and I am going to rate a comic based on the content inside. I have been a Jorge Fornés fan since I saw his work on Hot Lunch Special and this could be his coming-out party. When you are playing within the Watchmen universe you need to bring your A-game and he did just that. Unlike Doomsday Clock, he is not trying to heavily homage what Dave Gibbons did. Instead of the nine page grid he using a variety of page designs and a more muted color palette. This also works within the world created by the HBO show last year. A lot of world building is being based on what is in the background like a well placed builboard or poster. As a first issue, this is not trying to force in unnecessary shocks or revelation. Just a well-paced mystery that is just getting started.
3. Hellions #5
Writer: Zeb Wells
Artist: Carmen Carnero
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: X OF SWORDS, CHAPTER 6 Desperation. Help from unexpected places. An advance into the unknown.
Why It Made the List: New Mutants gave X of Swords some personal stakes and Hellions injected it with a heavy dose of levity. This was Mr. Sinister’s party and everyone else was just hoping to be invited. Of all the characters since House of X and Powers of X he is by far the most changed. I could see many long time fans not enjoying this more comedic take. Personally, I think it is working as this issue showcases. Here the Hellions are trying to find a loophole to bring an end to the X of Swords before it even started. When the stakes are as high as they are why not try every way possible to secure victory. Hellions has been akin to The Dirty Dozen by way of the X-Men. Now they have the perfect mission for that concept.
2. The Immortal Hulk #38
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: NO JUST, NO GOD He’s been chained. He’s been suppressed. He doesn’t even know if he’s real. But something is reaching through the Green Door. It wants to hurt Bruce Banner. And when you hurt Banner…the DEVIL HULK takes it personally.
Why It Made the List: Al Ewing and Joe Bennett are now in entering into their third act of this Huk epic. A comic that has redefined the character and been one of the best comics Marvel has published in ages. In this issue, we see the monster behind the monster. Being a product of child abuse Bruce Banner has a lot of internal demons. Previous comics have already established Hulk’s anger comes from this abuse, and this series is now expanding upon that concept. Joe Bennet doing work again with some twisted body horror and creature designs. Once again Immortal Hulk is evolving the lore of everyone’s favorite green monster into compelling directions.
1. Strange Adventures #6
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads, Evan Shaner
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: CHAPTER 6: ANOTHER THING How determined is Mr. Terrific to find the truth? The answer becomes more challenging as the whole world starts to turn against him. Adam Strange is a hero who can save the Earth from alien invasion, and who is Mr. Terrific to say otherwise? The extent of the denial only makes the man more suspicious. Not that the warmongering Pykkts care one way or the other. If Strange is to be believed, they only have one thing on their minds: taking over the planet. Adam and his wife beat them back once before, and the key to doing it again is to dig into the past that Mr. Terrific is so hell-bent on destroying.
Why It Made the List: There was everything else this week and then there was Strange Adventures. Sometimes the gap between books is slim. That was not the case this week. Mitch Gerads and Evan Shaner are two of the best artists in comics today and they are showing it. Their contrasting styles come together to make one beautiful book. What really sold this book was the conversation between Alanna Strange and Mr. Terrific. They are playing this game of mental gymnastics with one another to the point that they eventually land on sincerity. A conversation about dead kids is next level despair even for Tom King dialog. Why it works is because it shows a side of these characters we have not seen before, yet not fully sure is real. Each issue gives you so much to dissect and this issue is not different.