REVIEW: Road of Bones #1 is an immersive walk through hope and oppression

By Zack Quaintance — Let’s start at the beginning of Road of Bones #1 (I’m told that is generally a very good place to start): artist Alex Cormack delivers one hell of an establishing shot. I’m a sucker for grandiose scene-setting in comics, and this book certainly delivers that. Road of Bones #1 introduces us to its world and subject matter with a detailed and gritty splash depicting a snowy prison camp within 1950’s USSR. You can practically feel the cold as the prisoners shovel and the guards scowl, ready to reprimand (beat down) any who step out of line. It’s one hell of an intro, perfectly chosen for this story about gulags and hopes and impossible odds and the compromises men make for…

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Comic of the Week: Ghost Tree #1 is a well-done opening chapter for a horror story

By d. emerson eddy — I'm a sucker for fairy tales, folklore, and mythology. It doesn't really matter to me where it's from, I'm always interested in what different cultures and peoples came up with for their morality tales, for their explanations of natural events, and everything that formed their core beliefs. There's often a lot of overlap and similarities between the stories, but also some very unique differences that give a perspective to how a culture, or parts of a culture, thinks about certain concepts. Like household gods or ancestors being tied to a family's home serving them as a kind of supernatural protector. And I enjoy seeing differing cultures interpret those folktales from other lands, though I can certainly understand people being put off by…

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Comic of the Week: Dungeons and Dragons - A Darkened Wish #1, another excellent comic based on the RPG

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1 is out now.

By d. emerson eddy — For some time now IDW has been producing entertaining Dungeons & Dragons comics, with some of the most recent stories following an adventuring party made-up of many pre existing characters from the video games. These books have been largely written by Jim Zub, and the most recent was a hilarious and fitting crossover with Rick and Morty. This new mini-series promises new characters and a new beginning on the Sword Coast of Faern. I suppose it's fitting to set it within the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, since there's a lot of world-building already accomplished, allowing the creators a lot of toys and rules to play with, including some new favorites like kenku, a race of crow-like avians that can mimic the sounds of others.

After starting in the middle of a chaotic battle, B. Dave Walters, Tess Fowler, Jay Fotos, and Tom B. Long flashback to introduce us to a group of adventurers through the point of view of a young wizard, Helene, and her friends as they leave their hometown for the promise of adventure with the White Sails mercenary company. We get some interesting characters in the twins, Karrin and Kerrin, the kenku, Solivigant, and the mysterious dragonborn, Rayonde. Through misadventure following a trip to a tavern, we definitely get the impression that Helene and her friends, new and old, are a bit out of their depth, but still capable at this early stage. Contrasting the formation of the party versus the battle in the present is compelling, hooking us well into trying to figure out what's going on and what happened to move the characters to this point. It's a great set-up for the story and characters, also giving that anticipation for what happens next that you often tend to feel when playing D&D.

What elevates the story even further is the gorgeous artwork from Tess Fowler and Jay Fotos. Fowler is a master of fantasy art, from her work on Rat Queens through to her artwork featuring the characters from Critical Role. She expertly captures and presents unique and captivating designs for human and non-human fantasy characters, giving an immense level of detail when it comes to populating and filling this fantasy world. Just the opening splash page alone gives us a breadth of different and unique attacking forces of Morayans and it only gets more fascinating from there as we're guided through our main cast and finally getting to Mintarn.

Jay Fotos enhances the line art with a rich colorful palette, well-fitting the fantasy setting, with some very nice effects when it comes to depicting magic. The action scenes, in particular, like the opening battle and an early fight with a pack of wolves, show a very nice variety to how Fowler and Fotos are working together to create some visually interesting sequences. Tom B. Long also nicely embellishes the story with some banner-like headers for sequence starts that adds to the feel of the fantasy world.

Overall, I've been impressed with this first issue from Walters, Fowler, Fotos, and Long. It has some richly developed characters and an intriguing hook to see what happens to the party, all with some beautiful artwork.

Dungeons & Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1
Writer:
B. Dave Walters
Artist: Tess Fowler
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Publisher: IDW
Price: $3.99

Check out more of d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week feature on our Lists Page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on Twitter @93418.

TRADE RATING: Euthanauts is a transformative Memento mori for our time

Euthanauts Vol. 1, Ground Control is out 2/27/2019.

By Harrison Stewart — I’ve always appreciated Alan Moore’s definition of magic. Instead of focusing on specific words or iconography, he posits that magic is simply a “purposeful engagement with the phenomena and possibilities of consciousness.” I can’t say for certain whether the creators of IDW’s Euthanauts had this exact definition in mind when crafting their work, but I can say this: There is true magic at work within these pages.

Ostensibly a trippy space opera with a Gothic twist, Euthanauts defies simple classification. It isn’t quite horror, despite loving nods to genre tropes. Nor is it pure adventure, despite prevailing senses of discovery and wonder. The story floats comfortably in the middle, employing familiar trappings to introduce novel ideas.

Chief among them is the notion that we have the power to define our own relationship with death. The concept may have ancient roots in many world cultures, but there are inherent difficulties in relaying such a message to an Anglophone audience. Social and religious pressures have long rendered engagement with the subject taboo. And when we do speak of death, our lexicon is strictly pejorative. Fear of the thing is prescribed even by our language.

Keenly aware of these innate discomforts, writer Tini Howard wisely turns to humor and allegory. The dialogue snaps, moving at such a clip that any sense of disquiet never has the chance to settle. Characters feel alive and fresh, each unique yet bound by the same forces. Howard establishes deep connections with her cast simply by allowing them to breathe and hold their own opinions on the strange events unfolding.

Initially, I was frustrated by the lack of clear boundaries to the world. The exact rules and functionality of the central technology are often confusing, at times even incomprehensible. But in the end, these concerns prove to be a forest-for-the-trees situation. I was thrilled in hindsight by Howard’s resistance to heavy-handed exposition. This is a writer who not only trusts but rewards her readers’ intelligence and patience, monthly release schedule be damned.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the story’s distinction between suicide and euthanasia. Though the line is often thin, Howard walks it with the utmost nuance and grace. She carefully sidesteps the temptation to conflate the two, painting violence and despair as the cancerous agents that corrupt our ability to claim “The Good Death.” In doing so, Howard stakes out a truly unique and sympathetic position in the conversation that has become increasingly relevant to our social media saturated generation.

While Howard’s words alone would make for a fine novel, Nick Robles’ art elevates them to soaring heights. Nearly every page is a feast for the eyes, demanding your full attention and appreciation. The imagery and visual motifs are as wildly ambitious as they are effectively mesmerizing. Oftentimes, I would simply stare at a page for minutes on end, occasionally backtracking because I still couldn’t believe he’d pulled them off with such apparent ease.   

Robles masters the art of drawing your eye across the page. And that is no small feat in a book that isn’t afraid to shirk traditional panel structures. As topsy-turvy as the plot that drives them, the pages are delightfully innovative and clean. By visually melding the worlds of the living and dead, Robles puts his own stamp on the story, demonstrating the importance of writer/artist pairing in comics.

This is just a some of Euthanauts’ incredible artwork. By Nick Robles and Eva de la Cruz.

I love this book. And the experience is only enhanced by the collected edition. This is a story that is meant to be read and reread, each time offering new and exciting revelations. You’ll pick up on little nods and plot threads that seemed insignificant the first time around, only to reveal themselves upon closer examination as carefully planted seeds that will come to full bloom. Editor/curator Shelly Bond and the Black Crown imprint et al are to be commended for allowing such a potentially off-putting comic to come to print – the medium is better for it.

It was only after my third reading that I realized the impact of the spell that had been cast. The work haunted me, but I couldn’t say why. The death-positive undertones were entirely new to me, but I now stand indebted to the creators for a fabulous introduction. Though Euthanauts takes time to fully appreciate, the end result forms a delicate and sophisticated Danse Macabre that eschews morbidity for unabashed optimism. It is a timely invitation to join the conversation about the one thing which binds us all: the end. You would do well to accept.

Euthanauts, Vol. 1: Ground Control
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Colorist: Eva de la Cruz
Letterers: Aditya Bidikar, Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Release Date: 2/27/2019

Check out more installments of our TRADE RATING original graphic novel reviews!

Harrison Stewart is an aspiring human being whose goals include solving the mathematical equation for love. Follow him on Twitter for more writing stuff.

Most Anticipated Comics of 2019

By Zack Quaintance — For a certain type of comics fan (which is, indeed, most of us) part of the fun of the hobby involves looking to the future. We ogle distributor solicitations the way some folks plan vacations, vicariously living out our forthcoming book purchases months in advance. Essentially, the excitement is as much in the anticipation as it is in the actual consuming of the story. This isn’t just a comics thing (people freaking love movie trailers and speculation these days, if you hadn’t noticed), but this is a comics site, so we’re going to go ahead and focus on that.

To that end, today we’d like to take a look at some of our Most Anticipated Comics of 2019. This is inherently tricky business. Books that have been teased but not solicited are liable to drop right off a publisher’s radar (remember that Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jen Bartel Storm comic? Yeah....). Meanwhile, some of the most prominent titles for 2019 are yet to be announced. Just think, Heroes in Crisis, Wonder Comics, and Immortal Hulk were all just glimmers on some whiteboard in Manhattan or Burbank at this time last year.

Anyway, knowing what we know now, here’s a list of the Most Anticipated Comics of 2019. Enjoy!

Top 10 Most Anticipated Comics of 2019

Age of Conan: Belit
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist:
Kate Niemczyk
Publisher:
Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Why It’s Cool: Tini Howard is a rising star writer, earning her way to more interesting/higher profile comics and consistently making the most of them, and Kate Niemczyk is dynamic an artist as I’ve seen of late. It’ll be interesting to see how she handles slightly more serious IP, given that her two most recent books (Man-Eaters and Mockingbird) essentially featured a pop art aesthetic.

Assassination Nation
Writer:
Kyle Starks
Artist:
Erica Henderson
Publisher:
Image Comics - Skybound
Release Date: March 13, 2019
Why It’s Cool: This book brings together two of the funniest visual storytellers in all of comics, with Kyle Starks (Rock Candy Mountain, Sex Castle, Mars Attacks) doing writing duties while Erica Henderson (Unbeatable Squirrel Girl) does the art. This concept is also really funny...the former greatest hitman in the world hires the 20 other greatest hitmen in the world to be his bodyguards/investigate who’s trying to kill him. Expect laughs, and lots of ‘em.

Black Hammer ‘45
Writers:
Jeff Lemire & Ray Fawkes
Artists:
Matt & Sharlene Kindt
Publisher:
Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Why It’s Cool: As noted in our Top Comics of 2018, Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer line of comics is one of our favorite ongoing graphic sequential stories. Part of what we like about is that it’s enabled him to apply his sensibilities to so many different comics concepts. This one sees Lemire teaming with his friends Ray Fawkes and the Kindts to homage classic war comics like those of Joe Kubert.

Female Furies
Writer:
Cecil Castellucci
Artist:
Adriana Melo
Publisher:
DC Comics
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Why It’s Cool: It’s a Fourth World book written by Cecil Castellucci, whose last DC project was the artful Shade, The Changing Woman. She’s teamed here with rising star artist Adriana Melo, who most recently collaborated on a Plastic Man mini-series with writer Gail Simone.

G.I. Joe: Sierra Muerte
Writer/Artist:
Michel Fiffe
Publisher:
IDW Publishing
Release Date: February 6, 2019
Why It’s Cool: Hate to be simplistic about this, but this book is freaking Michel Fiffe (Copra) writing and drawing G.I. Joe. Instead of typing that again, I’ll just go ahead and refer you to my previous sentence. Michel Fiffe!

Invisible Kingdom
Writer:
G. Willow Wilson
Artist:
Christian Ward
Publisher:
Dark Horse Comics - Berger Books
Release Date: March 20, 2019
Why It’s Cool: It’s such a great mix of talented creators and high-minded sci-fi concept. It’s also being published by Dark Horse’s Berger Books imprint, which is one of the most thoughful imprints in comics.

Outsiders
Writer:
Bryan Edward Hill
Artist: Dexter Soy
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: TBD
Why It’s Cool: Originally slated for late 2018, this book looks great. Dexter Soy is a fantastic artist, and Hill is fresh from doing career work on Marvel’s Killmonger.

Second Coming
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist:
Richard Pace
Publisher:
DC Comics - Vertigo
Release Date: March 6, 2019
Why It’s Cool: This book envisions Jesus returning to Earth and rooming with a Superman analog, exploring the idea that few of the world’s problems can be truly be fixed with superpowers. The opportunities for killer satire abound.

Sentient
Writer:
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Publisher: TKO Studios
Release Date: Spring / Summer 2019
Why It’s Cool: These two creators have a sympatico sensibilities, and I can’t believe they’ve never before worked together. Also, I dig TKO Studios distribution/printing format.

War of the Realms
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artist:
Russell Dauterman
Colorist:
Matthew Wilson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Release Date: April 2019
Why It’s Cool: Jason Aaron has spent more than six years writing Thor, with a significant part of that building toward War of the Realms. Through in Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson—hands down one of the best art teams in comics—and you’ve got one highly anticipated comic.  

Wonder Twins
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist:
Stephen Byrne
Publisher:
Wonder Comics - DC Comics
Release Date: February 13, 2019
Why It’s Cool: Mark Russell has risen to prominence taking quirky and discarded (and sometimes lame) characters and then using them to tell powerful stories rich with meaning. Stephen Byrne is also arguably the best artist he’s work with to date.

Original Graphic Novels

Are You Listening
By:
Tillie Walden
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: September 10, 2019

Bad Gateway
By:
Simon Hanselmann
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: July 16, 2019

Black Canary: Ignite
Writer:
Meg Cabot
Artist: Cara McGee
Publisher: DC Zoom / DC Comics
Release Date: October 2019

Cannabis: The Illegalization of Weed in America
By:
Box Brown
Publisher: April 2, 2019
Release Date: First Second

How I Tried to Be a Good Person
By:
Ulli Lust
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: June 11, 2019

Is This How You See Me?
By:
Jaime Hernandez
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: March 27, 2019

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me
Writer:
Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Publisher: First Second
Release Date: May 7, 2019

Mister Miracle TPB
Writer:
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Publisher:
DC Comics
Release Date: February 13, 2019

My Favorite Thing is Monsters Vol. 2
By:
Emil Ferris
Publisher: Fantagraphics
Release Date: September 24, 2019

Superman Smashes the Klan
By:
Gene Luen Yang
Artists: Gurihiru Studios
Publisher: DC Zoom / DC Comics
Release Date: TBD 2019

Individual Issues

Detective Comics #1000
Writers:
Peter Tomasi, Brian Michael Bendis, Warren Ellis, Kevin Smith, Christopher Priest, and more
Artists: Becky Cloonan, Doug Mahnke, Dustin Nguyen, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, and more
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 27, 2019

Doomsday Clock #12
Writer:
Geoff Johns
Artist: Gary Frank
Colorist: Brad Anderson
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: July 2019 (maybe)

Saga #55
Writer:
Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: TBD

Seeds #3
Writer:
Ann Nocenti
Artist: David Aja
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Release Date: March 6, 2019

The Wild Storm #24
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: June 2019 (maybe)

Others Receiving Votes

  • Ascender by Jeff Lemire & Dustin Nguyen

  • The Banks by Roxane Gay and Ming Doyle

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Jordie Bellaire & Dan Mora

  • Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky & Marco Checchetto

  • Dial H for Hero by Sam Humphries & Joe Quinones

  • Eve Stranger by David Barnett & Phillip Bond

  • The Forgotten Queen by Tini Howard & Amilcar Pinna

  • GLOW by Tini Howard & Hannah Templer

  • The Grand Abyss Hotel by Marcos Prior & David Rubin

  • Guardians of the Galaxy by Donny Cates & Geoff Shaw

  • Heathen Vol. 2 by Natasha Alterici & Ashley Woods

  • Incursion by Alex Paknadel, Andy Diggle, & Doug Braithwaite

  • Lazarus: Risen by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark

  • Little Bird by Darcy Van Poelgeest & Ian Bertram

  • The Magnificent Ms. Marvel by Saladin Ahmed & Minkyu Jung

  • Marvel Action: Black Panther by Kyle Baker, Vita Ayala, Juan Samu & Arianna Florean

  • Naomi by Brian Michael Bendis, David F. Walker & Jamal Campbell

  • Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt by Kieron Gillen & Caspar Wjingaard

  • Red Sonja by Mark Russell & Mirko Colak

  • Thanos (and Gamora) by Tini Howard & Ariel Olivetti

  • Tomorrow by Eleanor Davis

  • Under the Moon: A Catwoman Tale by Lauren Myracle & Isaac Goodhart

  • What’s the Furthest Place From Here by Matthew Rosenberg & Tyler Boss

  • When I Arrived at the Castle by Emily Carroll

  • Wyrd by Curt Pires & Antonio Fuso

Check out more great lists about comics!

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.


Comic of the Week: Euthanauts #5 establishes this series as a truly special comic

Euthanauts #5 is out 1/9/2019.

By d. emerson eddy — Every once in a while a comic comes along that changes the landscape. Something that redraws a neighborhood or delivers a new map. Sometimes it's just a few new houses that no one's seen before, other times it's an entire continent. Watchmen, Sandman, The Walking Dead, Hellboy, Preacher, American Flagg, The Vision, Spawn, Sin City, The Invisibles, From Hell...each of these works charted new regions and territories for comics storytelling to go into, sometimes in simple ways, other times profound. Euthanauts is one such title, charting a new course into an undiscovered country of thanateros.

This series has been one about acceptance. Of death. Of love. Of change. Of identity. Individually and all together in numerous permutations. Of Thalia coming to accept her strange nature and using it to try to help people. It spirals out into the strange, but always snaps back to stark reality.

This is never more apparent than through the artwork of Nick Robles and Eva de la Cruz. Robles is a genius of perspective and design, working through the weird of deathspace to the continued infection of Oscar's personality upon the world. His style through this series has reminded me a lot of both Jill Thompson and John Ridgway's work, with beautiful character designs, but still having a real grit to the presentation. Particularly impressive are his double page spreads, creating his own maps as Thalia and Mercy reforge their own connection and Mercy tries to explain the impossible. Atop Robles line art, de la Cruz's colours enhance and deepen the weird and mundane.

It's all grounded, though, through the narration provided by writer Tini Howard. The script is full of beautiful, mad ideas, but it's measured through simple concepts, observations of nature, tiny facts that keep us thinking about normal things while working through the connections to the stranger, broader fanciful ideas of deathspace. Or having an identity subsumed by a relative whose ego is too large to let go after he dies, whose dialogue is interestingly represented by a different font and word balloon approach from letterer Neil Uyetake. It's also often funny as hell as symbolic representations of what might happen in the real world spontaneously manifest. There's a very interesting exploration in this issue of the core concept of the title, as represented in Thalia presenting Circe's wishes for her funeral/remains to handled. To experience a happy death. And there are killer Bowie references.

Overall, Tini Howard, Nick Robles, Eva de la Cruz, and Neil Uyetake have crafted something unique here. Delving into death and dying from a different perspective that requires a bit of reflection and understanding to deal with, similar to how loss can strike us in profound and unexpected ways. All while opening up a new avenue to explore human connections and family. It's been beautiful and strange.

Euthanauts #5
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Colorist: Eva de la Cruz
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99

Check out past Comic of the Week selections by d. emerson eddy on the list page.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on twitter @93418.

Top Comics to Buy for January 9, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — Ah, after a few weeks with a lesser volume of new comics releases, it’s nice to get back to full strength. Yes, this week’s Top Comics to Buy for January 9, 2019 involves a far higher volume of books than the last two weekly installments, once of which fell the day after Christmas and the other a day after New Years (side note: already shaking my head about next year, when both Christmas and New Years will actually be on a Wednesday, leading to a rough two-week new comics hiatus, I reckon).

Anyway, this week was great for quality as well as quantity, especially as it pertained to creator-owned comics. I think I read more Image review previews this week than I did in the past three weeks combined. So many of the series from that publisher that launched late last year continued this week, and you’ll see many of them present on our list below, along with some of the usual mainstays.

So with all that in mind, let’s get to that list of Top Comics to Buy for January 9, 2019!

Top Comics to Buy for January 9, 2019

Batman #62
Writer:
Tom King
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Now features the Story solicited for #61 written by Tom King with art by Mitch Gerads. The Eisner-winning creative team behind MISTER MIRACLE is back together as artist Mitch Gerads rejoins the Bat team for a special issue! Professor Pyg is loose in Gotham, and you know that means things are going to get weird... and bloody!
Why It’s Cool: When this run is on, it’s one of the best long-form superhero stories in comics. This week, regular series writer Tom King is joined by his Mister Miracle/Sheriff of Babylon collaborator Mitch Gerads (one of comics biggest artistic talents right now), and you know what the result is? That’s right: this run is on. Since really catching the broader industry’s attention with a 12-issue Vision maxi-series for Marvel Comics in 2015, King has had a fast rise, powered in part by his fearlessness when it comes to experimenting with comics form. This issue sees him back at it, trying a new device (second person) that to my knowledge shows up for the first time in his work here. This Batman run aspires to humanize one of the most inscrutable characters in comics, and King’s use of second person here creates an interior familiarity that is often elusive in comics. Up there with the Cold Days arc and Batman #54, this is one of the best issues of this run.

Bitter Root #3
Writers:
David F. Walker & Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorists: Rico Renzi & Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
With violence erupting on the streets of Harlem and his cousin possessed by a demonic force, Cullen Sangerye reaches out for help from an estranged family member. Meanwhile, in Mississippi, Ford Sangerye fights for his life at the gateway to Hell.
Why It’s Cool: Holy cow, this is the issue where all hell breaks loose, almost literally. As we noted in our Bitter Root #1 review, this is a well-constructed comic that looks amazing. It’s also moving at a brisk pace, with this being only the third issue and so many of the conflicts that were foreshadowed early on coming to a head. It really speaks to the confidence the creative team has in this story. They know they’ve built it well, that they have the audience hooked, and so it’s time to deliver on early promises. We’ll have a Best New Image Comics of 2018 piece coming later this week, and you can damn sure expect Bitter Root to be on it.

Euthanauts #5
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Colorist: Eva De La Cruz
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Publisher: IDW - Black Crown
Price: $3.99
Thalia has learned that you don't get to the afterlife without breaking a few eggs and planting a few seeds. In this issue-people die. Some of them stay quiet about it. When the ego is destroyed, what remains? Find out in the final issue of our first arc, Ground Control.
Why It’s Cool: This comic has just been such a gorgeous tryst through blurred lines of life and death, and with a solicitation that promises characters will die (duh), we expect big things from the finale of this first arc. There’s been an ominous morbidity hanging over every last issue of this comic (it is called Euthanauts, after all), and if fourth issue is any indication, it’s in this chapter that the creative team will likely deliver the demise that has been foreshadowed. The only question is which member of the cast is likely to go. One last point: writer Tini Howard and artist Nick Robles both landed in our Top Comic Book Creators of 2018, and we highly recommend getting on board with their work now. There’s still time (just barely) to say you were here before they blew up.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1
Writer:
Tom Taylor
Artist: Juan Cabal
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
Spider-Man is the worst neighbor EVER! There are always crazy villains and property damage and drama and...and he CATCHES the villains. And he tries to fix the damage and he helps carry your groceries and actually that property damage keeps the rents down. You know what? Spider-Man is the best neighbor ever and this book will give you a closer look at Spider-Man's (and Peter Parker's) neighborhood than any book ever. Also, it wouldn't be a Spider-Man adventure without a threat that could destroy not only Spider-Man, but all his neighbors.
Why It’s Cool: Writer Tom Taylor keeps getting comics that are adjacent to Big 2 flagship titles (the third X-Men book, an alternate reality Superman/Batman comic, etc.), and he in turn keeps absolutely crushing them. I fully expect his localized Spider-Man comic to be yet another example of this. I also continue to call for Taylor to get a chance to write a more prominent Marvel or DC comic, bordering on outright begging at this point.

Self / Made #2
Writer:
Mat Groom
Artist: Eduardo Ferigato
Colorist: Marcelo Costa
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
With Amala's true nature revealed, her creator has just one night to figure out how and why this miracle occurred... before Amala is lost forever.
Why It’s Cool: Even though the debut issue came out at the end of last year, Self / Made by newcomers Mat Groom and Eduardo Ferigato (edited by Kyle Higgins) is my pick for best new title of early 2019. This book is just so good. The first issue was entertaining and high-concept, reeling readers in with a standard high fantasy war scenario that quickly gave way to something more complex: the characters were actually—hey! No spoilers! Anyway, this issue extends the surprise twist of the debut further, pushing it to a place where it questions the very nature of existence without sacrificing any forward plot momentum to do so. Yes, it’s only two issues old, but this book is rapidly becoming something special.  

Gunning for Hits #1.jpg

Top New #1 Comics

  • Barbarella / Dejah Thoris #1

  • Captain Marvel #1

  • Criminal #1

  • Gunning for Hits #1

  • Turok #1

  • Young Justice #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Avengers #12

  • Cemetery Beach #5

  • Deathstroke #39

  • Die #2

  • Dreaming #5

  • Freeze #2

  • The Green Lantern #3

  • House Amok #4

  • Justice League #15

  • LaGuardia #2

  • Martian Manhunter #2

  • Outer Darkness #3

  • Prodigy #2

  • Thor #9

  • Unexpected #8 (final issue)

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics of 2018, #16 - #25

By Zack Quaintance —  The most difficult thing about a strong year for comics (like this one) is doing a year-end Best Of list. Now, to be sure, no one mandates websites do rankings. That would be a clear violation of civil liberties. There is, however, a part of the pop culture blogger brain that goes wild for it, whispering all year long...where does this one rank...and if you don’t satisfy that beast—well, bad things happen.

So, here we our with ours, freshly formulated for 2018 by our committee of one. Before we dive into part 1, which features in descending order selections #25 to #16 (the other two parts are coming tomorrow, worry not), let’s lay down ground rules:

  • No trades or OGNs: Building out our OGN coverage is a priority for 2019. We’re just not there yet. So, while I absolutely loved work like Tillie Walden’s On a Sunbeam, Box Brown’s Is This Guy For Real? The Unbelievable Andy Kaufman, and Ryan Lindsay and Eric Zawadzki’s Eternal, you won’t find them here. Ideally, next year’s we’ll have an entire post dedicated to OGNs.

  • No webcomics, manga, or newspaper strips: Again, our site is a bit deficient covering these (if you are into these things, we’d love to chat about you writing for us!). I should, of course, mention that in 2018 someone under the pen name Olivia James took over the long-running Nancy strip and did amazing things with it (Sluggo is lit), but, again, you won’t find it on our list.

  • Longevity matters: New this year, you will find what I consider a key stat—how many issues were published this year. Late debut series like Die, Electric Warriors, and Bitter Root have tons of promise. They just haven’t been around enough to be a definitive comic of 2018. Ditto for comics that ended in April or earlier.

There you have it: guiding principles of our Top Comics of 2018. Now, without further adieu, let’s get this bad hombre started!

Top Comics of 2018, #16 - #25

25. Snotgirl
Writer:
Bryan Lee O’Malley
Artist: Leslie Hung
Colorist: Mickey Quinn
Letterer: Mare Odomo
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 4

In 2018, Snotgirl returned from hiatus with an every-other-month schedule, which ended up spreading four issues over the year. Its steady publication schedule gave it a decidedly 2018 feel. We also saw the plot in this story evolve, using its Instagram-driven L.A. ego hellscape motif to dip a toe into ideas of the supernatural.

Moreover, this book has a singular look and feel. O’Malley’s scripting is satirical and biting, using our increasingly-intense desire to appear perfect online as fertile ground for true existential horror. More credit, however, is owed to the art of Leslie Hung and colors of Mickey Quinn. From Hung’s disheveled-yet-shapely men and women—all of whom are equally gorgeous and barely hanging on—to the vibrant greens Quinn lands somewhere between snotty and stylish, the visuals work in perfect harmony with the story. It’s really something special.    

24. Abbott
Writer:
Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Sami Kivela
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Issues in 2018: 5

Our committee of one won’t be able to sum up this book better than contributing writer Maya Kesh in our Best Comics of 2018: Contributor Picks. So, go check that out. When you’re done, I’ll be here trying to add to Maya’s excellent thoughts on this series. Like our #25 pick before it, Abbott is a singular comic in everything from its protagonist to its setting to the concerns of its characters.

It’s set in the ‘70s in Detroit—a place and time dismissed as of late by most stories in pop culture. Add a black female protagonist who works as a reporter, and you’ve got a collection of story elements that stand on their own as different and intriguing. Writer Ahmed and artist Kivela don’t, however, rest on that. The story they tell is tense and mysterious, rich with themes of oppression and the paranormal. Basically, I’m with Maya when she says she hopes we haven’t seen the last of this character.

23. Long Lost Part 2
Writer:
Matthew Erman
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Publisher: Scout Comics
Issues in 2018: 5

This is, perhaps, cheating, seeing as the finale to this series is due in 2019 but I’ve already read (and loved) it. I won’t, however, let the ending slip. Long Lost is a poetic and understated story about change, the past, and family. From husband-wife team writer Matthew Erman and artist Lisa Sterle, Long Lost is a literary and confident comic with much to say about our transient generation, so bent on putting withering hometowns behind us.

And it says these things with a mix of ideas and imagery. The penultimate issue came out on 12/19, and as I wrote in my Long Lost Part 2 #5 review, it saw the creators expressing what this story is about: “Long Lost is about leaving your hometown...yet feeling a pull to return, a call home from our past. When we arrive, the place is nigh-unrecognizable. Relatives we thought we knew are so different as to be irreconcilable with who they once were in the past. They’re acting in strange ways, motivated by the hopes of enticing a magic cure for suffering, unemployment, sickness...with methods making them all uglier.” It was a great read in 2018 will be collected in trade this spring.

22. Skyward
Writer:
Joe Henderson
Artist: Lee Garbett
Colorist: Antonio Fabela
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 9

My reaction to Skyward #1 was: where did this comic come from and how is it so polished and fully-formed? The answer on both fronts is that this book was written by Joe Henderson—a TV veteran who most recently oversaw Lucifer—who I came to find out (via the Word Balloon podcast) has a long history of involvement with comics dating back to Bendis’ message board. He’s teamed with powerhouse artist Lee Garbett on this one.

There’s a lot to like about Skyward. It’s narrative structure is ironclad, leaving no holes or lapses to distract reader attention. The science within extrapolates a world-altering event similar to how Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra did in Y: The Last Man, and it’s characters’ tones are so earnest and hopeful that one could probably even read this comic with family. It’s also kept to a regular release schedule, which is so key for creator-owned books like this one, jockeying for attention on a crowded rack.

21. Euthanauts
Writer:
Tini Howard
Artist: Nick Robles
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: IDW Black Crown
Issues in 2018: 4

This is another book that a contributor summed up so perfectly earlier this week (this time it was Allison and you can and should read it here). Yet, once again as the official committee of one, I will do my best to inject something new into this conversation. Euthanauts is, quite simply, one of the most gorgeous books on the stands. It’s the type of story you let wash over you like a poem, finding intense ideas and moments of beauty as you page through it.

Writer Tini Howard and artist Nick Robles are both powerful talents, destined for greatest things in the industry. Before they get there, however, I for one feel lucky to be around to see their beautiful book of life and death unspooling in real time. There are many great books right now on Shelly Bond’s Black Crown imprint (House Amok and Lodger both could have made our list had they published more issues), but Euthanauts is the crown jewel of that collection.

20. Royal City
Writer/Artist:
Jeff Lemire
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 7
Royal City wrapped up in August, which I found surprising, possibly because the ever-prolific Jeff Lemire (who pulls double duty here both writing and doing art) has put out so much work since this one concluded. And while a hefty volume of that work is to be celebrated (more on that as we get closer to the top), none of his stories had the intense emotional core that Royal City did.

A spiritual and semi-direct successor to Lemire’s seminal work on Essex County, this is one of the rare comics in 2018 that moved me to tears, doing so with its story of love, loss, adolescence to adulthood, and perseverance in the face of life’s small-yet-crushing defeats. I would love to get a hardcover version of these 14 issues to keep forever on my shelf, which given the space limitations that plague my collection these days, is a high compliment indeed.

19. Submerged
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Colorist: Stelladia
Letterer: Rachel Deering
Publisher: Vault Comics
Issues in 2018: 4

The first—but certainly not the last—of the Vault Comics on our list, Submerged launched in July and concluded in December. It’s a haunting story of family discord that ultimately manifests in a tangle with mythology during one of the most dangerous storms New York City has weathered in modern history. Vita Ayala is one of the brightest rising stars in the industry, and they do incredible work with this one, expertly balancing the revelations about family backstory with the paranormal threats faced in the present by our characters.

Lisa Sterle (who you may remember early from our writeup of Long Lost) once again creates grounded-yet-disturbing imagery to go along with Ayala’s scripting. This is one of those four-part stories you’ll want to go out and get in trade, so you’ll have it to page through often at your leisure. The impression it leaves is indelible, and Ayala and Sterle are both clearly creators to watch in the coming year.

18. Cover
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Mack
Digital Coloring: Zu Orzu
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Issues in 2018: 4

I saw Brian Bendis and David Mack talk about this book during Rose City Comic Con this September in Portland. Bendis noted that most other mediums—movies, music, books, etc.—have had myriad stories told about what it’s like in their industry. Not so with comics. Cover, however, sets out to change that, detailing what it feels like to table at cons as a semi-notable pro...while also working for the CIA.

The espionage subplot is, to be sure, the engine propelling this comic further, but the emotional core has to do with artistic accomplishments and satisfaction, with finding the places where ones art ends and real life begins, with examining how much artistic achievement can wash away loneliness, solitude, and rifts between family. On top of that thematic goodness, this one is expertly rendered by Mack, who uses visual flourishes often to convey intensity of emotion.    

17. Crowded
Writer:
Christopher Sebela
Artist: Ro Stein
Inker: Ted Brandt
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: Cardinal Rae
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 5

After what I personally perceived as somewhat of a down year for new comics in 2017, Image (our committee of one’s favorite publisher) bounced back with a vengeance in 2018, launching a dozen new series and mini-series with major staying power (more on that next week...so stay tuned!). Chief among those great new books was Crowded from writer Christopher Sebela and artists Ro Stein, Ted Brandt, and Triona Farrell.

There was no shortage of comics this year that look at terrifying near futures. What Crowded did, however, was extrapolate a startlingly-realistic idea (crowdfunded assassination bounty apps) with as taught of a buddy-drama/chase thriller narrative as we’ve seen as of late in any medium. This is a story built to elicit white knuckles, both in terms of what’s happening on the page and what it has to say about the current direction of society.

16. Gideon Falls
Writer:
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Steve Wands
Publisher: Image Comics
Issues in 2018: 9

This book has a special place in our committee of one’s heart: It was the first comic we ever reviewed on this site, all the way back in January. We gave it a glowing review, predicting it would become the next big Image comic. Thankfully, time was on our side. This comic—from the well-worn creative team of Jeff Lemire and artist Andrea Sorrentino—hit the ground running and is yet to let up.

It started as what felt like an homage to Twin Peaks. The end of the first arc and the first half of the second, however, has built this story into a creepy mystery all of its own, establishing it as something different with expert use of a dual narrative. Sorrentino’s artwork is also absolutely it’s own thing, as visionary as anything on the monthly comic stands right now. It’s 100 percent a testament to the strength of comics this year that a book as good as Gideon Falls finishes #16 overall on our list, but here we are. Oh, and worry not Lemire fans...his other work will be landing higher (much higher!) on this list.

Check back tomorrow for our Best Comics of 2018, #1 - #15! And check back later in the week for more year-end lists, including our Best Single Issues and our Top Creators of 2018!

For the history-minded readers, you can find our Top Comics of 2017, Part 1, 2 and 3 online now!

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.