By Zack Quaintance — There are plenty of surprises among our Best New #1 Comics of November 2018, including a type of comic that we don’t usually feature. I’m talking specifically here of licensed books. Their inclusion, however, is a trend carrying over from October. Indeed, once again we liked some new comic interpretations of properties associated with other mediums, including Firefly, James Bond, and Go-Bots. What can we say? Good comics are (obviously) good comics.
In this month’s top five, we also have some usual suspects with a trio of new #1 comics from Image. Perhaps more notably, this month we’re also featuring a duo of books from DC Comics, which has maybe needed some new series for a while. And oh how they got them in November! Both new DC titles are fairly psychedelic in concept and aesthetic, refreshing for a publisher as traditionally straight-laced as DC.
Anyway, on to the comics!
Ironheart #1 is a solid start for Riri Williams first solo book, with the artwork from the team of Kevin Libranda and Luciana Vecchio standing out for its clean lines and polished aesthetic. Ewing also writes teen chatting between the characters well.
The Sideways Annual #1 was delightfully Grant Morrisoned out. This title is set to end soon, and I’ll miss it.
Writer/artist Tom Scioli’s Go-Bots #1 came out this month, and you can read more about why we liked it in contributing writer d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week.
Greg Pak was a busy writer this month, helping to a launch a pair of new #1 licensed comics with Firefly #1 for BOOM! Studios and James Bond 007 #1 for Dynamite.
Bryan Hill and Leandro Fernandez keep the Vertigo rebirth going with American Carnage #1, an uncomfortably real-feeling story in which a disgraced FBI agent goes undercover in a white supremacist movement to investigate the murder of a former colleague. This is going to get a whole lot worse before its end...
The new age of Valiant heroes begins with Bloodshot: Rising Spirit #1. This book was strong, but the real headliner of the new line is next month’s Livewire #1 (advanced review here).
Donny Cates’ Web of Venom: Carnage Born #1 is the second auxiliary one-shot for his sinister Venom run, and it sets up the central character’s long-time foil Carnage to make a terrifying return soon. I dug it.
Speaking of Cates, he also wrote Marvel Knights 20th #1, the amnesiatic start of a six-part series honoring that bygone imprint. This comic was confusing but in the right ways.
As for Uncanny X-Men #1, this weekly book sets a tone for an unbound and intricately odd new era of X-Men, maybe? A lot remains to be seen.
Top 5 Best New #1 Comics of November 2018
Bitter Root #1
Writers: David F. Walker and Chuck Brown
Artist: Sanford Greene
Colorist: Rico Renzi and Sanford Greene
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
I’ve maybe written this two dozen times by now, but I loved David F. Walker and Sanford Greene’s collaboration on Marvel’s Power Man and Iron Fist from back in 2016, which was tragically cancelled before its time. I was pretty bummed out when that news came down. It was, however, tapered shortly thereafter with the announcement of Bitter Root, a monster hunter comic set during the 1920s Harlem Renaissance that aims to take on issues of race. I’ve had high expectations for the book, and, now that it’s here, I’m happy to report the comic meets and exceeds them.
Bitter Root is a sharp and kinetic book, powered in large part by Green’s singular artwork and the attention to detail he lends each character and every panel. As I wrote in my review, there’s been a plethora of new monster comics launched this year but none as confident as Bitter Root. The past collaboration between creators is evident, as this book arrives fully formed, wielding great strength right out of the gate. This is one of those Image Comics built to run for a long while, and you’ll want to make sure you’re there from its start.
Electric Warriors #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Travel Foreman
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Publisher: DC Comics
Steve Orlando is a favorite writer here, owing to the gravitas and thought he applies to all his superhero work. Orlando also has a keen interest in exploring DC’s vast continuity, and, to our minds, this often makes for comics wherein characters talk and act in compelling ways while moving through stories unique to the shared universe they inhabit. This is all a means of saying that Orlando is perhaps the perfect writer for this comic, which is set in an era following Jack Kirby’s Great Disaster, not all that far (relatively) from the start of the Legion of Superheroes (which we’d also like to eventually see Orlando write, but that’s a story for another day…).
Orlando isn’t the only great fit on this book, though. Artist Travel Foreman is one of superhero comics’ real visionaries, and he’s in full control of his powers here, creating a distant future steeped in psychedelic neon with designs that carve it out as at once separate from the modern DCU yet linked in logical ways. Add on an airtight plot with heavy themes like duty, family roles, and global coherence, and the result is one of the most intriguing and original DC comics in some time.
The Green Lantern #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: DC Comics
I feel like the creative team sort of explains this choice. Grant Morrison is one of our favorite writers at DC, and in recent years, Liam Sharp has established himself as one of the publisher’s best artists, specifically doing so with his work on Greg Rucka’s Wonder Woman Rebirth run and the recent miniseries, Brave and the Bold, which starred Batman and Wonder Woman. What the duo is setting out to do here is somehow small scale yet cosmically ambitious.
The Green Lantern #1 seeks to reorient Hal Jordan as less of a military man and more of a beat cop, taking on galactic no-goodniks at an almost micro level before their villainy can flower into a threat with the potential to upend planets. Sharp’s artwork is trippy and complex, as psychedelic and imaginative as the other DC book on this month’s list, Electric Warriors. Oh, and this first issue does something I always like in superhero comics: it ends with a spread filled with snippets of what’s coming in future issues, including most notably for my tastes a renewed team up between Hal Jordan and Oliver Queen.
Writers: Skottie Young
Artist: Jorge Corona
Colorist: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letterer: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Publisher: Image Comics
Skottie Young and Jorge Corona had me at forlorn Midwestern coming-of-age comic that features magic and a talking fox. Okay, so that’s a mouthful, but my point stands. I was intrigued by the construction of this comic from the moment I first became aware of it, moreso because I know Young is from rural Illinois, which is where I went to college and also worked my first professional newspaper jobs and internships (once again, more on that is best saved for another time…).
I knew the veteran creator Young had the chops to deliver on this premise, but what comes as more of a surprise is Jorge Corona’s artwork. Corona was previously unknown to me, yet his work here is simultaneously evocative of Young’s general aesthetic while also distinctly his own. He also captures both the lonely feel of life in a flat state and the sense of magic Young’s script seeks to imbue it with. This, like Bitter Root, is a new Image comic that begs to be collected and followed from its beginning.
Outer Darkness #1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Afu Chan
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Publisher: Image Comics
Finally, we end this month’s list with John Layman’s and Afu Chan’s new ghost story in space, Outer Darkness. As I wrote in my review of the first issue, John Layman describes Outer Darkness as the distillation of what I love the most. Science fiction, horror and weird shit. Well, I like those things too, so sign me up to journey into space with this one. The first issue was a fantastic read, and there’s every reason to believe that level of quality will continue.
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Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.