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.\n\nFirst 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.\n\nSince 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.\n\nIn order to be eligible for this list\u00a0an 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\n\nWaring: 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.\n\n \n\n \n50. Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #1\nWriter: Peter Hogan\nArtist: Steve Parkhouse\nPublisher: Dark Horse Comics\nPreviously Ranked: No Previous Issues\nThe 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.\nTransition 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.\n\n\n\n49. Infinity Countdown #2\nWriter: Gerry Duggan\nArtist: Mike Deodato, Mike Hawthorne,\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: None\nGerry 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\u2019s. What Duggan is doing right is expanding upon the lore of the Marvel cosmic world with the way he is approaching the Groot\u2019s 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.\nI 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.\n\n\n\n48. Green Arrow #39\nWriter: Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly\nArtist: Marcio Takara\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nGreen 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.\u00a0 Green Arrow has had a storied history of incorporating social issues and he makes no qualms about his political leanings.\nThis 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.\u00a0 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.\n\n\n\n \n47. The Punisher #223\nWriter:\u00a0Matthew Rosenberg\nArtist:\u00a0Guiu Vilanova\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: March - #21\nAt 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.\nThis 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.\n\n\n\n46. Usagi Yojimbo: The Hidden #2\nWriter: Stan Sakai\nArtist: Stan Sakai\nPublisher: Dark Horse\nPrevious Ranks: None\nUsagi 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.\nWhat 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\u2019t think of Christians and their beliefs. A book about a Samurai rabbit can have some insightful ideas about history and culture.\n\n\n\n45. The Ballad of Sang #2\nWriter: Ed Brisson\nArtist: Alessandro Micelli\nPublisher: Oni Press\nPrevious Ranks: None\nConstructing this list I realized just how much I tend to appreciate those comics that are willing to go for it and be super ridiculous. \u00a0The 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.\nAlessandro 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\u2019s 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.\n\n\n\n44. Giants #5\nWriter: Carlos Valderrama\nArtist: Miguel Valderrama\nPublisher: Dark Horse\nPrevious Ranks: None\nWalking 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.\nPersonally 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\u2019s 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.\n\n\n\n43. Robocop: Citizens Arrest #1\nWriter: Brian Wood\nArtist: Jorge Coelho\nPublisher: Boom! Studios\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issues\nAs 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.\nThis 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.\n\n\n\n42. Marvel 2-In-One #5\nWriter: Chip Zdarsky\nArtist: Valerio Schiti\nPublisher: Marvel Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nAbsence 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.\nChip 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.\n\n\n\n41. Brothers Dracul #1\nWriter: Cullen Bunn\nArtist: Mirko Colak\nPublisher: Aftershock\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issues\nCullen 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.\nOddly 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.\n\n\n\n40. The Avengers #689\nWriter: Mark Waid, Al Ewing, Jim Zub\nArtist: Pepe Larraz\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: None\nMarvel 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 \u2018No Surrender\u2019? 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.\nAll 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\u2019t need to be as long or a weekly series but the product spoke for itself.\n\n\n\n39. Babyteeth #10\nWriter: Donny Cates\nArtist: Garry Brown\nPublisher: Aftershock\nPrevious Ranks: February - #15\nDonny 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.\nThis 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.\n\n\n\n38. Infinity 8 #2\nWriter: Lewis Trondheim\nArtist: Dominique Bertail\nPublisher: Lion Forge Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #29\nInfinity 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.\nDominique Bertail\u2019s 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.\n\n\n\n37. Her Infernal Descent #1\nWriter: Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler\nArtist: Kyle Charles\nPublisher: Aftershock\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issues\nWhen 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.\nThat 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.\n\n\n\n36. Old Man Hawkeye #4\nWriter: Ethan Sacks\nArtist: Marco Checchetto\nPublisher: \u00a0Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: None\nI 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\u2019s eyes. Considering the popularity and strong critical response to last year\u2019s Logan it makes sense they are returning to that world once again even if the focus has changed towards that of Hawkeye.\nAs 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.\n\n\n\n35. Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #42\nWriter: Robert Venditti\nArtist: Ethan Van Sciver\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: February - 29th \/ March - 20th\nThe 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\nIt 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.\u00a0 It seems that even when they win the physical warn the mental strain only continues to mount.\n\n\n\n34. Skyward #1\nWriter: Joe Henderson\nArtist: Lee Garbett\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks No Previous Issues\nI 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.\nLee 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.\n\n\n\n33. Superman #45\nWriter: Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason\nArtist: Patrick Gleason\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nSuperman #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\u2019s 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.\nWith 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.\n\n\n\n32. James Bond: The Body #4\nWriter: Ales Kot\nArtist: Eoin Marron\nPublisher: Dynamite\nPrevious Ranks: March - #16\nThe 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.\nWith 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.\n\n\n\n31. Deathbed #3\nWriter: Joshua Williamson\nArtist: Riley Rissmo\nPublisher: Vertigo\nPrevious Ranks: March - #30\nIf 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.\nThis 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. \u00a0This 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.\n\n\n\n30. Infidel #2\nWriter: Pornsak Pichetshote\nArtist: Aaron Campbell\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #17\nThe 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.\nLast 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\u2019s skin crawl.\n\n\n\n29. Quantum & Woody #5\nWriter: Daniel Kibblesmith\nArtist: Kano\nPublisher: Valiant\nPrevious Ranks: February - #13, March - #25\nIf 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.\nKano 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\u2019s 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.\n\n\n\n28. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #26\nWriter: Kyle Higgins, Ryan Ferrier\nArtist: Bachan, Daniele Di Nicuolo, Simona Di Gianfelice\nPublisher: Boom! Studios\nPrevious Ranks: March - #28\nYou 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.\nHiggins 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.\n\n\n\n27. Analog #1\nWriter: Gerry Duggan\nArtist: David O'Sullivan\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: New Previous Issues Released\nAnalog #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.\nThis is David O'Sullivan\u2019s 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.\n\n\n\n26. Mech Cadet Yu #8\nWriter: Greg Pak\nArtist: Takeshi Miyazawa\nPublisher: Boom! Studios\nPrevious Ranks: February - #19, March - #24\nComics 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.\nThis 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.\n \nContinue to 25 - 1\n\n25. The Dead Hand #1\nWriter: Kyle Higgins\nArtist: Stephen Mooney\nPublisher: Image\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issues\nLike many, I enjoy a great twist ending. Of course, not all twist endings work and sometimes the need to artificially construct a twist ending leads to some pretty silly story choices. If I never see a final reveal that it was a dream the whole time or that they are actually in purgatory I would be perfectly content. \u00a0When an organic twist occurs that enhances an already solid level of enjoyment a twist is working correctly. That is what happened with Death Head #1.\nNow a big benefit of a twist occurring in the first issue of a comic series is that the story keeps going. Certain writers like Bryan K. Vaughn have perfected the craft of creating a first issue that leaves off on a breathtaking cliffhanger. What worked about this issue is how it slightly adjusted its genre as the story went on. At first seeming like a Cold War-era spy thriller, then a different take on something akin to A History of Violence, to eventually turning into something much more. Now the question becomes if this can follow up on that twist without writing itself into a corner.\n\n\n\n24. Astro City #51\nWriter: Kurt Busiek\nArtist: \u00a0Brent Anderson\nPublisher: Vertigo\nPrevious Ranks: None\nKnowing that Astro City was nearing its end of coming out in issue form I was curious about how Kurt Busiek would approach this final arc. Although this is the second part of a three-part series it works as a prime jumping on point. Even if you never read an Astro City book before (and there are a lot of them) this gives you everything you need to understand. It centers on characters that are typically collateral damage in most comic stories. It centers on this group of individuals who have lost loved ones in superhero-related tragedies share their stories.\nThe cold open gave me an emotional impact that I rarely get with an entire comic let alone just an intro. A woman shares her story about that day that forever changed her and her family. When the page turned and we learn about her fate the image burn itself into my memory and I still think about it until this day. It then shifts focus to the main plot where we learn the leader of this group is hiding a secret about his own loss. Some begin to question the honesty of his words and wonder if he was simply there to exploit the grief of others. Without giving much away Busiek approaches the idea of if it is better to love and loss than ever love at all. Personally, I am enjoying his answer to that question.\n\n\n\n23. Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1\nWriter:\u00a0Jeff Lemire\nArtist:\u00a0Dean Ormston\nPublisher: Dark Horse\nPrevious Ranks: None\nJeff Lemire is doing some tremendous work in building the universe of Black Hammer. Although there has not been an issue released of the main book in some time the scope of that universe has rapidly expanded with the spinoff series. Considering where the last issue of volume two left off I assumed going into this we would have some major revelations that would forever change this series moving forward. I should have known better because has Lemire has taught us time and time again he is not in a hurry and neither are his characters.\nWhat I have found fascinating about this series that involves magic powers, cosmic level beings, and alien robots is how the dramatic tension tends to get boiled down to small moments like simply trying to have a dinner together. Here a large bulk of the story is just this group of characters sitting around a kitchen table talking to one another. However, this comic has built up these characters in such a way so that simple conversation carries a lot of weight.\n\n\n\n22. Oblivion Song #2\nWriter:\u00a0Robert Kirkman\nArtist:\u00a0Lorenzo De Felici\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nOne of the series I got the most flak for not including in last month\u2019s list was Oblivion Song. I expected that would be the case as Robert Kirkman\u2019s name carries a lot of weight and I too did enjoy the first issue. There was something holding me back though as I felt the ending that was designed to be a major cliffhanger made me concerned it was undercutting the potential of its premise far too early. (Full Review Here)\nIssue two showed my concerns may, in fact, be unfounded. In a way, this issue should not work nearly as much as it does. Most of it is made up of exposition as these characters travel around a museum highlighting the day when oblivion occurred. Why it worked though is because how much of that exposition was tied to the viewpoint of our main character. How in one way we were seeing the images of the actual event unfold while at the same time tieing in the personal stakes of this massive story. That is one of Kirkman\u2019s greatest strengths as a writer. No matter how big or brutal a story may be his characters are always at the center of it all.\n\n\n\n21. Incognegro: Renaissance #3\nWriter: Mat Johnson\nArtist: Warren Pleece\nPublisher: Berger Books\nPrevious Ranks: February - #30, March - #21\nWhat I love about comics is that at any given time you can look back at the month that was in comics and see such a large variety of titles covering every genre, subject matter, and topics you could think of or dream about. Incognegro: Renaissance\u00a0is an example of that as it covers race relations in Harlem during the 1920\u2019s. It\u2019s more than that of course as that is the subtext to this mystery around a possible murder.\nThe main character Zane Pinchback is a reporter during that time and although he is African America has a lighter complexion so with the help of some makeup and keen acting ability is able to pass as caucasian thus allowing him to get into places he otherwise would not be allowed. In this issue, he discovers he may not be the only person utilizing this tactic and it leads to a deep conversation about societal expectations of race and gender that are born from a time gone by but also inform us in how we got to where we are today.\n\n\n\n20. Batman #45\nWriter: Tom King\nArtist: Tony S. Daniel\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nTom King\u2019s run has been polarizing with comic book fans. Many, like myself, have been enamored with his work while I know others find the direction he has taken this story is not what they want from a Batman title. For me what I have enjoyed about his run is that on a rare occasion Batman\/Bruce Wayne is the main part of his own story. It\u2019s not about what evil plan Joker has created or stopping a massive bomb from destroying Gotham. It is about what drives Bruce to keep that cowl on for all these years and what would happen if being Batman was no longer the most important thing in his life.\nWith that said this issue has little Batman actually in it as we see Booster Gold try to get him the ultimate Wedding present. King gets to demonstrate his twisted humor and dark sensibilities from the way he writes Booster Gold to some of the offshoot moments like a car commercial involving Jason Todd. Sure he may be milking this wedding story for everything he can but if it leads to issues like this I\u2019m all for it.\n\n\n\n19. Descender #29\nWriter: Jeff Lemire\nArtist: \u00a0Dustin Nguyen\nPublisher: \u00a0Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #12\nAs Descender nears its end some major developments have been occurring with these last major arc. Rise of the Robots has rapidly expanded the scope of this comic but this issue brought it back to a more personal story with the boy android Tim-21 at the center. Lemire doing what he does best. Having a narrative with a scope that feels never-ending yet keeping in grounded to a relatable personal level.\nWhat has made Descender such an effective story throughout these twenty-nine issues is how there is no true hero or villain of this story as of yet. Sure they are characters you sympathize with and those that are more morally compromised than others but the motivations for every character no matter how small are sound. When this comic finally comes to an end it will no doubt go down as one of the best of this decade.\n\n\n\n18. The Amazing Spider-Man #799\nWriter: Dan Slott\nArtist: Stuart Immonen\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: None\nI know many are extremely happy that Dan Slott is leaving Spider-Man after all these years. It does feel like the right time as an idea Slott has had in his back pocket is now coming out. The idea of Norman Osborn taking the Carnage symbiote and becoming the Red Goblin sounds like the worst of the 90\u2019s coming back to haunt us. Slott has shown he can take ideas that should not work, like Doc Ock becoming Spider-Man, and make great books out of them.\nWithin this issue, some of Slott's best attributes are demonstrated. One is how he has built this family of characters around Spider-Man\/Peter Parker and how he can use them against him. As comic creators often do he will give Parker everything he thinks he wants only to take it away from him in the most brutal fashion. Red Goblin becomes this major threat so despite the fact he is kind of ridiculous as he works as a character.\n\n\n\n17. Grass Kings #14\nWriter: Matt Kindt\nArtist: Tyler Jenkins\nPublisher: Boom! Studios\nPrevious Ranks: March - #12, April - #14\nLast month also saw this series nominated for an Eisner and I believe it is well deserved. Considering the lack of discussion of this series I was somewhat surprised it got nominated for best new series. \u00a0As cliche\u00a0as it may sound the biggest success of this book has been the building of the Grass Kingdom to the main characters of this story. It is a setting that has meant different things to its different citizens but ultimately been this beacon of freedom that has slowly been chipped away.\nThe last issue of Grass Kings was this action-packed invasion that was so different than any other so far. Knowing that the question became how exactly would they follow that up. Things took a step back as we learned more about this secret killer that has been in the shadows of this comic since its early beginnings. Despite the drastic shift, it felt like a natural transition before the final bit comes next month.\n\n\n\n16. X-O Manowar #14\nWriter: Matt Kindt\nArtist: Ariel Olivetti\nPublisher: Valiant\nPrevious Ranks: March - #23, April - #27\nX-O Manowar #14 marks a transition issue as Aric travels back to Earth after spending the last calendar year off planet. The arc Matt Kindt constructed saw him start off as a local farmhand looking to find peace to the eventual leader of the planet due to his sense of duty and desire to overthrow those that would cruelty subjugate others. It is the classic case of trying to find peace yet seeing that no matter where you go peace does not exist.\nPlot-wise you cannot get much simpler than this. It literally is about getting from point A to point B. By limiting the plot it opens the door for personal reflection on how Aric got to this point. Going back to his childhood to what drove him off the planet in the first place. All that makes this issue a good starting point especially as it is a prelude to the Harbinger War 2 event happening this summer.\n\n\n\n15. Antar the Black Knight #1\nWriter: NNedi Okorafor\nArtist: Eric Battle\nPublisher: IDW\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issues\nSometimes it can be hugely beneficial to just pick up a new series without knowing anything about it or who the creators are. That happened to me when I picked up Antar the Black Knight #1 and become majorly impressed with everything I saw. Quickly into this book, I knew this was a series I would be sticking with until the end.\nWhat impressed me the most was how much story was packed into this first issue without feeling overloaded. It has that feel of the sand and sword epics like Ben-Hur but one that is much more aware of the culture and society of that time period. Where the people of that world are the heroes of their own stories. Eric Battle has been doing art for some time and this is some of his best work. Expanding outside the world of superheroes has opened up his work with a welcome level of creativity.\n\n\n\n14. Thanos #18\nWriter: Donny Cates\nArtist: Geoff Shaw\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: March - #8, April - #7,\nThanos #18 brought the inevitable end of the Thanos Wins storyline, which was one of the most fun and twisted things to happen in Marvel comics in some time. As a writer, Donny Cates as this notion of just going for it and so far it has worked brilliantly. The success of this series brought his name to the same ranks of the biggest comic writers.\nOne of the more stranger things was how this issue depicted Death. She felt more like the Vertigo version of the character rather than the person who led Thanos to nearly destroy the universe on many occasions. Those who require consistency may not be able to get over that fact but for me, it was not a big deal. Geoff Shaw also deserves a lot of credit as his work was a big reason this series worked as well as it did. Thanos is a tough character to depict right on the page and he gave him the epic level scale he needs to make his presence have an impact. I would have loved to see this team continue on this series but have to give them credit for ending because the story they wanted to tell is now over.\n\n\n\n13. Batman: White Knight #7\nWriter: Sean Murphy\nArtist: Sean Murphy\nPublisher: \u00a0DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #6, April - #13\nSean Murphy was born to draw Batman especially in the world of Gotham. I find myself just sitting back absorbing his art. Especially love how he draws vehicles and this issue provided a major abundance of cars depict. If you are a fan of the Batmobile chases are your favorite one is represented here in a major way.\nWith one issue left in this series, this sets up major pieces in motion. Finally going back to the opening pages of issue one where see what finally brought Jack Napier to seek the assistance of an imprisoned Batman. For the majority of this series, Murphy approached Batman in a slightly more unhinged manner. Making it seem like he was setting up a complete 180-degree switch from the normal Batman mythos. As it has progressed it has evolved to be something a tad more subtle picking apart the problematic nature of a character like Batman but also underlying the benefit. A specific moment that stood out with this issue was when he spoke with Dick and Barbara over the true reason he does what he does. Sure we know why Bruce became the Bat but we see the reason he stayed focused on his mission is less about what happened to him in his past and more on what could happen in their future.\n\n\n\n12. Abbott #4\nWriter: Saladin Ahmed\nArtist: Sami Kivela\nPublisher: Boom! Studios\nPrevious Ranks: March - #10, April - #16\nThere is not a book currently on the shelves that oozes more style than Abbott. From its overall design, use of color, character creation, and panel layout every piece goes into maintaining an aesthetic of the 1960\u2019s. It gets to the point that I forget this book was made today and not over forty years ago.\nAlthough it feels of the time it does not feel dated because the character of Abbott is so strong. In this issue, Abbott is up against the wall recently being fired from her job as a reporter. She does not get overly down on herself and continues to do her job despite those obstacles. There is a take charge aspect to her that makes it so easy to route for her. This series has been able to utilize the more supernatural elements without taking around from the more grounded issues. I was at first concerned about the more magical pieces but they have fit in so well they have not detracted in any way.\n\n\n\n11. Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #4\nWriter: Mark Russell\nArtist: Mike Feehan\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #18, April - #23\nWhat has made Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles work so well as a series is that it never takes a second to reflect on the fact it is a book about a giant pink cat who wears no paint. It takes itself seriously which would normally be a detriment to a series like this but when you are as smartly written as this is you can get away with it. For those who enjoyed The Flintstones series if you are not reading this book as well, you need to correct it. It may not be as humorous but find the overall narrative actually deeper as Snagglepuss has morphed into this rather complex character.\nI recently got the opportunity to talk to Mark Russell (Listen to the Interview Here) about this book and his overall career. It was a treat being able to pick his brain about his process for creating his stories. Comics are better when writers like Russell are writing them. Providing an intellectual exploration into some complex ideas through unexpected means. He did so with The Flinstones and is developing something even deeper with Exit Stage Left.\n\n\n\n10. Deadly Class #33\nWriter: Rick Remender\nArtist: \u00a0Wes Craig\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: April - #5\nWith the Deadly Class TV show close to its debut it feels like this series could explode even more in the world of pop culture. If that TV show is done right and in the spirit of the comic it could easily reach near the popularity of something like The Walking Dead or at least demonstrate to the world how comics can cover a varied ground outside of just superheroes and zombies.\nThe last issue was this love letter to Frank Miller and ended up being one of the best issues of the series thus far. This issue keeps the momentum going as Marcus and Maria return to the world they previously left behind. Threads that have been building from the very first issue hit their boiling point showing that this series has no intention of slowing down.\n\n\n\n9. The Mighty Thor #706\nWriter: Jason Aaron\nArtist: Russell Dauterman\nPublisher: Marvel Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #3, April - #1\nThe Mighty Thor has come to its end. An ending we all knew was coming but wondered what exactly that meant for the character of Jane Foster and her Asgardian alter ego. I could see why some may not be a fan of how this eventually ended. Wondering if it should not have gone further with its premise. For me why it worked was by the end of this issue the entire character of Jane Foster came full circle which was evident through the way Odin gained a level of respect for her that is matched by nearly no one.\nHowever, Odin\u2019s respect did not validate her as a hero as she never needed validation. Despite complaints of many Jane Foster\/Might Thor has grown into one of Marvel's best characters. Aaron has been putting together one massive epic of a tale since he took over Thor. Now as we enter the third act it is a good time to reflect on what he has put together thus far. The amount of story he has build up is awe inspiring and if he nails the landing will go down as perhaps the greatest Thor run ever.\n\n\n\n8. Kill or Be Killed #18\nWriter: Ed Brubaker\nArtist: Sean Phillips\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #9, April - #8\nWith issue twenty being the last of this series there is a lot of room to cover before this story finally concludes. Personally sad to see this end as it felt like a book that could go on for much longer. I would rather see it end too soon than not at all which is often the case with indie titles. The story is in a weird spot where it feels like it is coming to its logical conclusion but at the same time could easily see a few things change and the series goes on for another twenty issues.\nIf you are a person who loves procedural crime stories this was like crime story catnip as we followed Detective Lily Sharpe throughout her process to track down who the real vigilante killer is. Ed Brubaker is the master of telling stories like this. Gradually progressing the narrative bringing us into the mindset of a great detective. Not many would not have their main character appear once with only a few issues left, but clearly, this is a creative team that feels confident about the story they want to tell.\n\n\n\n7. Captain America #700\nWriter: Mark Waid\nArtist: Chris Samnee\nPublisher: Marvel\nPrevious Ranks: March - #22\nMark Waid and Chris Samnee\u2019s run on Captain America was everything the character needed. One that brought the character back to basics and told stories that reminded the world what makes Steve Rogers works best as a character. Add to that the magic of Chris Samnee\u2019s artwork and you have one of the best runs on the character in years.\nOutside of the fact this was the 700th issue of Cap it was also Samnee\u2019s last issue on the run and last issue with Marvel for the foreseeable future. Sad to see him leave but glad he was able to team up with Waid once again to produce such a quality run. This was also the end of the \u2018Out of Time\u2019 arc that got better with each issue. This also included some great Jack Kirby art with Waid adding his own script. It was an interesting experiment to take classic pieces of art, stitch them together, and add in new dialog like the most delayed version ever of the Marvel method ever. I am unsure how successful the experiment was as a hole but showcasing Kirby's art was the right choice to make.\n\n\n\n6. The Highest House #3\nWriter: Mike Carey\nArtist: Peter Gross\nPublisher: IDW\nPrevious Ranks: March - #6\nIf you were going to ask me what is the most beautiful book on the shelves is right now that answer would be quite easy. It is\u00a0The Highest House. With its larger book size, it has this gorgeous spacious look. Despite being physically larger than most books not no space is wasted. You can quickly see why they decided to construct the book the way they did as it is as important to establishing the atmosphere of the book as anything. This will make for the perfect oversized hardcover once it finally comes out.\nThis issue saw the development of the character of Moth continue to grow as he deals with the shocking conclusion of the second issue. It is also becoming more and more clear that Obsidian has some devious plans of his own. Overall this is as well structure as you can get when it comes to comics. One of this year\u2019s best surprises for sure.\n\n\n\n5. Action Comics #1000\nWriter: Peter J. Tomasi, Tom King, Scott Snyder, Geof Johns, Brian Michael Bendis & more...\nArtist: John Cassaday, Clay Mann, Olivier Coipel, Patrick Gleason, and more\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nI struggled a great deal of where exactly to place this on the list. Easily the most hyped comic book issue of the year and a major milestone for the industry. It would be wrong for it to not show up somewhere. Have to also commend DC for how they handled this release. Having as many Variant covers as they did and charging normal cover price when they easily could have charged more and probably sold the same number of copies.\nNow all that is moot if the issue is not good. When you combine some of DC\u2019s best writers and artists you hope your return will be some quality stories. For me there was and even if I did not love every story I felt that issue as a whole did a great job representing the character of Superman and his legacy. My only major gripe with the book was that they could have done more to honor the legacy of the creators as well. I know there has been a long legal battle regarding the character of Superman but this felt like the ideal time to put that aside and recognize the unmatched impact that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster had on the industry.\n\n\n\n4. Isola #1\nWriter: Brenden Fletcher\nArtist: Karl Kerschl\nPublisher: Image Comics\nPrevious Ranks: No Previous Issue\nReading the first issue of Isola was a revelation. It was one of those moments where you feel like you are at the beginning of something special. The last time I was this blown away by the art of a book was when I first picked up Saga. Will this series have the same level of notoriety as Saga or been nearly as good? Time will tell. For now, I am just excited about the promise this first issue provided.\nIn regards to actual storytelling, this felt similar to the way Hayao Miyazaki tells his stories. Where you get dropped into a magical world with little to no explanation. You find your way eventually but at first, you feel like you missed something. As if you are jumping into the sequel to a story that was never made. This could be off-putting to some but if done right allowing the reader to learn through osmosis can give you an even greater sense of where the characters are coming from.\n\n\n\n3. Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #2\nWriter: Jeff Lemire\nArtist: Max Fiumara\nPublisher: Dark Horse\nPrevious Ranks: March - #9\nWhen Jeff Lemire announced he was going to make spin-off series of his much acclaimed Black Hammer series it made a lot of sense. He was creating a world that was rife with possibilities and the potential to tell classic superhero stories the way Lemire would want to tell them. Taking what Kurt Busiek did with his Astro City series and putting a new spin on it. Some may ask if there is still room to revisit archetypes of yesteryear. Can we continue to deconstruct what has been ripped apart and rebuilt time and time already? Well, when you get books as good as Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows the answer is an emphatic yes.\nIt also helps that I am a sucker for father and son stories. Especially when they revolve around the price of sacrifice and how our own selfish dreams can have longing effects we failed to prepare for. What makes Lemire\u2019s take on the downfalls of superherodom unique is that although his characters make mistakes and cause others pain they are not inherently bad people. They may make wrong choices and act selfishly at times but their overall sense of being is much more nuanced than someone from the world of Watchmen. It is not necessarily saying one way is better than the other simply that there are still ways to reexamine the genre of superheroes.\n\n\n\n2. Mister Miracle #8\nWriter: Tom King\nArtist: Mitch Gerads\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: March - #2\nAlthough Mister Miracle has many people who adore it, myself included, I know it may have just as many detractors--or at least they are twice as loud. Those who claim its abstract storytelling style is a crutch to make up for a loosely tied together narrative that lacks basic sense and cohesion. As if this series is an \u2018Emperor has no clothes\u2019 situation where people are putting much more into it there is actually there.\nWhile I can somewhat understand where a point of view can come from as different comics will work with different people, I feel that dismissive mindset is at best a tad short-sighted and at worst just plain lazy. Can I tell you everything this series is about and exactly what it is trying to say? No, but just because there are no exact answers does not mean there are no answers. I do feel each issue has a clear theme that is brilliantly plaid out. On a basic standpoint, you have the idea of taking the surreal and subjecting it to the mundane. Here where actual combat is juxtaposed with the everyday conversations of raising a child. Clearly, King\u2019s own personal background of being a former CIA Agent gives us some clues to where this story is going. Do I expect there to be a gigantic aha moment where everything is explained by the time the series ends? No, and it would be better for it. Great stories do not have to provide exact answers. Allegorical implications tend to die the moments a story starts to do just that. Great craft should be respected for how well it is constructed and you do not get much better constructed than Mister Miracle.\n\n\n\n1. Batman: Creature of the Night #3\nWriter: Kurt Busiek\nArtist: John Paul Leon\nPublisher: DC Comics\nPrevious Ranks: None\nWhen it came to naming the best comic of this past month it was quite the challenge. In all honesty, if I were to do this list again in a few weeks I could see myself completely reshuffling the top 3. Ultimately the most important thing is that these are great comics that deserve a lot of major attention. Kurt Busiek is a comic legend that has created some of the greatest comics over the last few decades, yet he is still finding new ways to approach the concept of heroes.\nWith Batman: Creature of the Night he is taking a similar idea to what he did with Secret Identity that blends the lines of reality and fiction. Where the act of fandom can work as a coping mechanism to overcome the greatest of tragedies, but also how that same avoidance can lead to unintended consequences. John Paul Leon\u2019s work also needs to be called out for how he is doing things from a creative standpoint. He uses a more realistic construct that separates it from most superhero stories. Making you feel like you are witnessing a world that is much more like ours. This also feels more cynical than what I am used to with Busiek. Where every piece of hope is not only diminished but destroyed in a way that is utterly devastating. With the way this issue ended, there is an inkling not all is lost. By the end, the emotional journey is worth it even if it leaves you wallowing in sorrow.