Thirsty Thursdays: December's Hottest Comic Book Art

By Allison Senecal — Superhero comic art has evolved at a really impressive rate in recent years...so much so that sometimes it can be a lot to handle. First there’s excitement, obviously, but then that excitement turns into something else...which is why each month we’re running our Thirsty Thursday rankings, a new and different way to look at our favorite comic art. Welcome to a sporadic examination of (as the kids say) the month’s thirstiest comics.

Enjoy!

Martian Manhunter #1
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
I would be remiss as a noted alien…enthusiast to not mention this sinuously-sensual scene at the very top of this month’s column. Deep Space Sixty-Nine anyone?
????? out of ?????

In space, no one can hear you scream.

Shatterstar #3
Artist:
Carlos Villa
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
I’ll be sad when this series ends next month, but at least it’ll clear up a monthly thirst spot for someone else. Who doesn’t want a slice of Shatterstar…
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Not today, fine. What about tomorrow?

Marvel Knights 20th #4
Artist:
Joshua Cassara
Colorist: Matt Milla
This issue really got to me emotionally, and I think that amplified everything. T’Challa absolutely ROCKING those street clothes, too. Any man who does that double hand clasp. Phew.
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

When he apologized to Ms. Cruz? I felt that.

When he apologized to Ms. Cruz? I felt that.

Namor: The Best Defense #1
Artist:
Carlos Magno
Colorist: Ian Herring
FINALLY I remember to put Namor where he belongs: on a thirst list. It’s ok, we’ll go in-depth with more Namor later this month for the first *Thirst Spotlight* (not the official title, don’t quote me).
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Namor… sigh .

Namor…sigh.

Die #1
Artist:
Stephanie Hans
It’s Stephanie Hans, so you automatically know you’re getting gorgeous art and beautiful people, but this literally hits every single one of my favorite fantasy character aesthetics in one go. *weep*
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

This comic had me at  fantasy role-playing.

This comic had me at fantasy role-playing.

Thor #8
Artist:
Mike Del Mundo
AngelaaaaaAAAAAAAAAA. I would pre-order the Heven out of a Del Mundo Angela mini, but I’m sure the man has other things to do besides draw my favorite Marvel ladies. (See: his Elektra series.)
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

Who said anything about worthy? The word is thirsty.

Livewire #1
Artists:
Raul Allen and Patricia Martin
The only other Valiant series I’ve read in its entirety is Secret Weapons, so I was more or less prepared for Amanda McKee being one of my favorite ladies again. Especially pleased to have her back in the hands of Allén and Martín, one of my favorite art teams going into 2019.  
💦💦💦💦💦 out of 5

I, for one, am absolutely electrified.

Coming later in January: NAMOR. Some Namor. More Namor. Followed by oh so much Namor.

Check out The Thirstiest Comics of November.

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.

Best New #1 Comics of December 2018

By Zack Quaintance — This month naturally brings a deluge of year-end lists that can be fairly distracting when it comes to looking athe comics that actually come out in December. That’s why today we want to stick our usual practice of rehashing the Best New #1 Comics of December, because you know what? The last month of the year was actually a really great one for new series.

From new Big 2 superhero books to smaller creator-owned titles about wizards lounging in the sand and D&D, there was a great variety of new #1 comics in December. In fact, there were so many great new series this month that we had to extend our second section to include six choices rather than the usual five (it’s my site, after all, and if I don’t feel like narrowing down my selections, I can do that...this is one of the perks of having a site).

Anyway, let’s get to the new #1 comics!

Quick Hits

As the Stewart Bros. wrote in their Freeze #1 review, this new creator-owned comic has one hell of a central concept.

As I wrote in my Hardcore #1 review, this new creator-owned comic has a decent concept but impeccable execution from its creative team.

Kyle Higgins, arguably the reigning best espionage writer today, teams with Rod Reis on a new Bucky Barnes series in Winter Soldier #1, and the results are predictably great.

Wizard Beach #1 by writer Shaun Simon and artist Conor Nolan subverted expectations so well that it netted d. emerson eddy’s Comic of the Week.

Bryan Edward Hill did a great job grounding Killmonger #1 in the comic book Marvel Universe rather than the world of the movie, the real star of that show, however, was artist Juan Ferraya, one of our Top 2018 Comic Creators.

There was a lot to unpack in Batman Who Laughs #1 from writer Scott Snyder and artist Jock, but we can’t wait to see where the seemingly-madcap plot points are going.

Writer Ed Brisson is essentially the elder statesman of the current crop of X-writers, teaming with Dylan Burnett on the excellent new X-Force title (which you may have missed over the holidays).

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1 from writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javi Garron is a thing of beauty: an exceedingly well-done comic that hits just as this character is making waves in the wider world with a new movie, (the brilliant) Into the Spider-Verse.

The Stewart Bros. also reviewed Prodigy #1, describing it as a ‘blockbuster comic, pure and simple.’ It’s a good one, to be sure, loaded with writer Mark Millar’s fantastic sense of what makes a great comics concept and artist Rafa Albuquerque’s kinetic style.

And finally, Snap Flash Hustle #1 from writer Pat Shand and artist Emily Pearson is another great comic from Black Mask Studios, featuring a great combination of creators who have separately been doing excellent work for a while now. The story they’re telling here is about a secret society of models in NYC that sells drugs. It’s very good and very stylish stuff.

Top 5 Best New #1 Comics of December 2018

Die #1
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
REVIEW: Die #1

We recently wrapped up our Best Comics of 2018 list, which takes into account how many issues a given title released last year. Die, of course, released only one, making its debut in December, and so given that sparsity, it was left off our list. I for one, however, would be utterly shocked if this was the case next year once this series really gets going. Simply put, Die #1 is the start of the next big Image Comic.

I’ve used that phrase before, just once, in my review of Gideon Falls #1. And you know what? I think I was right about that one—Gideon Falls took off last year, growing into (arguably) the biggest new Image comic to hit in 2018. With writer Kieron Gillen and artist Stephanie Hans, Die has the same quality hybrid of super-talented creative team. It also has a concept that plays into the current zeitgeist by exploring tabletop role playing games...and it does it with a darker, more adult tinge, taking the idea perhaps more seriously than others who have attempted to tread similar thematic territory.  

STL102782.jpg

LaGuardia #1
Writer:
Nnedi Okorafor
Artist: Tana Ford
Colorist: James Devlin
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Writer Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning sci-fi novelist who, to my knowledge, made her first forrays into comics writing last year, doing so with Shuri at Marvel Comics and LaGuardia #1 for the Berger Books imprint at Dark Horse. It’s the latter I’d like to spotlight this month, combining as it does Okorafor’s seasoned sci-fi chops with a poignant satire of current events and the incredible and vibrant artwork of artist Tana Ford and James Devlin.

LaGuardia #1 is one of those debut comics that’s so well-built and polished, that you can feel the creators powerful inspiration at work as you read it. There’s a romance angle, a familial angle, and an angle aimed at societal commentary, all working harmoniously within brisk pacing and a compelling plot. There’s also a delightfully-absurd alien race of plant lifeforms that gives Ford a chance to really show off her design chops, even in subtle moments where a certain character appears. Basically, I liked this first issue quite a bit, and I’ve marked the release date of #2 (which happens to be next week). I suggest you do the same.

Livewire #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Raul Allen
Colorist: Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Comics
REVIEW: Livewire #1
To be blunt, it is about frigging time that a character as great as Valiant’s Livewire got a proper ongoing series. Livewire has been kicking around Valiant’s line of comics for some time, stealing entire series where she appears as one of many characters. Now, she’s not only getting the solo series treatment, but she’s getting it from one of the best creative teams in all of comics: rising star writer Vita Ayala and the absolutely stunning artist team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin.

As contributing writer Toren Chenault wrote in his Livewire #1 review, this book stands apart from other superhero comics by putting front and center a rare thing in the genre: a character that has been under-explored. Ayala writes that character with a stunning level of depth, giving the book a moving emotional core to accompany its concept. This is the most-exciting new Valiant series in some time, and we can’t wait to see where it goes.

Martian Manhunter #1
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Riley Rossmo
Colorist: Ivan Plascencia
Letterer: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC Comics
REVIEW: Martian Manhunter #1
Martian Manhunter was the first of two new major DC Comics to debut in December (the other being Shazam! #1...more on that in a second), with Steve Orlando writing and Riley Rossmo providing the madcap martian artwork. Powered by a murder mystery set in the present and an exploration of J’onn J’onzz’ hitherto unknown past pre-martian catastrophe as a corrupt police officer, the story aspires to be an introspective take on what makes J’onn...well, J’onn.

This is a comic that feels like a necessary experimental take on a classic superhero character. Based on the debut, this 12-part maxi-series seems bent on giving J’onn the Mister Miracle treatment, exploring the interiority of an often inscrutable character with unspeakable trauma in his past. Orlando is a writer incapable of half-efforts and Rossmo is the perfect pairing to really give this book a unique aesthetic. This is, simply put, a DC comic to watch in 2019.

Self / Made #1
Writer:
Mat Groom
Artist: Eduardo Ferigato
Colorist: Marcelo Costa
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Troy Peteri
Self / Made #1 surprised me in the best possible way. Despite the presence of Kyle Higgins (espionage and action comics writer extraordinaire), I was unfamiliar with the creative team and adjusted my expectations accordingly. What I found when I picked up this book was an absolutely gorgeous comic that knows exactly where it’s going and is determined to be entertaining as it works its way there.

In spite of the aforementioned relatively novice creative team, this is a polished comic and a great debut issue. It orients the reader right away by establishing a sci-fi/fantasy war premise, atop layers of entitlement and classism. This would be all well and good on its own, but Self/Made also has a compelling twist it alludes to without being too blatant, leading to a powerful ending cliffhanger that simultaneously brings this story into focus and gives readers a reason to come back. I really can’t think of much else I would want from a new #1 issue.

Shazam! #1
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Dale Eaglesham & Mayo “Sen” Naito (backup story)
Colorist: Mike Atiyeh
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC Comics
REVIEW: Shazam! #1
DC’s other big debut in December was Shazam! #1. This comic, however, is a different deal than the other DC December debut, Martian Manhunter. Whereas Manhunter aspires to be an illustrative re-invention of a character readers could stand to know more about, Shazam! Seeks to tease out the core essence of these characters, re-enforcing what made Billy Batson and the rest of the Shazam family so compelling in the first place.

As I wrote in my Shazam! #1 review, writer Geoff Johns and Dale Eaglesham certainly accomplish this in adorable fashion. This is a character who needs to be equal part childish enthusiasm and super-powered mystical adventuring to function property. Johns and Eaglesham go all in on the latter in the main story of this issue, with Johns then doubling down on the former with an ultra cute back-up story drawn by Mayo “Sen” Naito. With bleak stories like Heroes in Crisis agitating large portions of the DC fanbase, this comic comes across as a welcome palliative.

Check out more of our many monthly lists 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 to Buy for December 19, 2018

By Zack Quaintance — December is a weird month for comics, given the disruption to shipping schedules and reading habits created by the holidays. This year, we saw publishers front load the first couple of Wednesdays to get more product onto shelves that are surely going to be browsed by a higher frequency of holiday shoppers.

And with Christmas on a Tuesday this year, the subsequent Wednesday has Diamond (comics lone distributor) giving its staff a week off. As a result, no publisher is releasing very many titles on the final Wednesday of the month. Ack! For the normal comics reader, this is all fairly dry discussion of what goes on behind the scenes. And who really cares about that?! All of us, but we shouldn’t, right? What we should really care about is the comics!

So, without further adieu, let’s get to this week’s releases!

Top Comics to Buy for December 19, 2018

*PICK OF THE WEEK*

Livewire #1
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Raul Allen
Colorist: Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99
ALL-NEW ONGOING SERIES! FOR THE FIRST TIME, LIVEWIRE TAKES CENTER STAGE!
Accomplice. Mentor. Savior. And now, Enemy of the State. Seeking to protect other vulnerable super-powered psiots like herself, Livewire plunged the United States into a nationwide blackout with her technopathic abilities, causing untold devastation. After choosing the few over the many, she must now outrun the government she served - and those she once called allies. With the whole world hunting her, what kind of hero will Livewire be...or will she be one at all?
Why It’s Cool: Livewire is easily one of the best Valiant characters to have never gotten her own series...but that changes this week. The publisher has also found the perfect creative team for this book, pairing rising star writer Vita Ayala (who has another book on our list further down) with one of our favorite art duos, Raul Allen and Patricia Martin, of Wonder Woman and Secret Weapons fame. For more, check out our Livewire #1 advanced review.

Captain America #6
Writer:
Ta-Nehisi Coates
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
Inker: Gerry Alanguilan
Colorist: Sunny Cho
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
"WINTER IN AMERICA" CONCLUDES...
...with a shocking turn of events that will send the Star-Spangled Avenger's life into a sudden dramatic tailspin you won't see coming!
Why It’s Cool: This first Captain America story arc from Ta-Nehisi Coates and Leinil Francis Yu has been fantastic, a slow burn that alternates big ideas about what America stands for (both past and present) with espionage and action sequences. Coates has done his best comic book writing to date within the first five issues of this series, and we’re excited to see what the end of this first arc brings, especially with the preview text promising dramatic surprises (although, doesn’t it always?).

Cover #4
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Mack
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
Max is not having the best year of his career. Sales on his comics series are tanking, and his personal life is crumbling. Could it have something to do with his double life as a spy? Max learns the definition of "in too deep" as his worlds start to collide.
Why It’s Cool: This book is one of the best creator-owned titles in comics right now. We’ve written about it quite a bit in the past, but there’s just never been a look at what it feels like to be creator quite like this one. There’s also something really effective being done with tone here, via the way the aesthetic of the artwork switches depending on what’s happening. When a certain character comes into the protagonist’s life, for example, that character is met with an explosion of color; conversely, when the character flashes back to times in his life he maybe doesn’t remember so well, the figures take on an entirely different (and simpler) shape. Basically, every page of this comic is an utter treat, and we continue to strongly recommend it.

Friendo #3
Writer:
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
It's time to request a clean-up on aisle seven as Leo and Jerry's attempt to rob a hypermarket goes stomach-churningly wrong. Luckily, a mysterious corporate benefactor is on hand to help them with a new mission and an offer they can't refuse. Meanwhile, the owner of the hypermarket chain is in no mood to put up with Leo and Jerry's antics. Enter 'Zaj c the Cremator', a brutal assassin with a predilection for bunny ear headbands. Leo and Jerry's lives are about to become a whole lot more complicated.
Why It’s Cool: Friendo is a series loaded with bleak near-future ideas...and it just might be one of the most prescient looks at the coming (or maybe ongoing?) fall of America as a major global power. This issue also takes a turn into new genre territory, although it’s certainly been foreshadowed in previous issues. In Friendo #3, though, there’s an added layer of dread-inducing aesthetics. Prepare yourself, because this is one intense and provocative ride, one that may hit pretty close to home for the vast majority of American consumers—er, I mean readers. (Read reviews of Friendo #1 & Friendo #2).  

Submerged #4
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Lisa Sterle
Colorist: Stelladia
Letterer: Rachel Deering
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Bound by chains of her making, Ellie sits in judgement before her most dangerous adversary. In order to break free and escape the Otherworld with Angel, she must dig deep within herself and use a weapon that has the power to destroy them all. Every secret of the Puente family will rise to the surface in the final issue of Submerged!
Why It’s Cool: Submerged has been a wonderful deep dive (sorry) into two separate thematic interests: family history and cultural mythology. In Submerged #3, the creative team did a fantastic job of upping each in almost equal measure. The end result has been one of the best-paced graphic stories we’ve read all year. We fully expect more of the same from Submerged #4.

Thor #8
Writer:
Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Del Mundo
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
THE PRISON OF ANGELS!
After waging war in Hel, Thor finds himself a prisoner of the fearsome warriors of Heven. Can even the intervention of Valkyrie and Thor's deadly sister Angela help him escape the unescapable prison of angels?
Why It’s Cool: Every once in a while it’s important to take a step back and be grateful for the long-running books we sometimes have a tendency to take for granted. This week, we’re doing that with Thor #8. Jason Aaron’s Thor is currently the most impressive long-form run happening in all of superhero comics, and it’s not even close, really. There just isn’t another run that’s been this good for this long happening at DC or Marvel. This issue continues the march toward the War of the Realms storyline, which by all indications is going to be the finale for Aaron’s epic work on this character. Don’t miss it!

Top New #1 Comics

  • Defenders: Best Defense #1

  • Freedom Fighters #1

  • Hardcore #1

  • Klaus and the Crying Snowman #1

  • Witcher: Of Flesh and Flame #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #6

  • Amazing Spider-Man #12

  • American Carnage #2

  • Aquaman #43

  • Batman #61

  • Black Badge #5

  • Catwoman #6

  • Deep Roots #5

  • Extermination #5

  • Gideon Falls #9

  • Infinity Wars #6

  • Killmonger #2

  • Long Lost Book 2 #5

  • Middlewest #2

  • The Punisher #5

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. He also writes comics and is currently working hard to complete one.

ADVANCED REVIEW: Livewire #1 is a great start for Valiant’s newest series

Livewire #1 is out 12/19

By Toren Chenault — So far, 2018 has been a phenomenal year for comics. And it doesn’t seem to matter what you’re into. DC, Marvel, Image, AfterShock, BOOM! Studios...name a publisher, and they’ve had a hit this year. Valiant Comics is no different. Valiant Beyond is the new direction for the company, and as part of that direction comes a solo series for one of their most powerful characters.

Amanda McKee, aka Livewire, is an insanely powerful technopath who, just recently, shook up the Valiant Universe during the Harbinger Wars 2 summer event. Most characters now consider Livewire a villain, with very few still calling her a hero. As such, this is a series that comes at a crucial time for the character, and writer Vita Ayala and artists Raul Allen and Patricia Martin handle Livewire #1 with class, creating an emotional and introspective with a hook that makes you eager to learn more about Livewire.

This is Livewire’s first ongoing series. She’s a character who’s been featured in Valiant since its relaunch in 2011 and has subsequently gone through one of the best character arcs in all of comics, not just Valiant. She started off as a loyal student to billionaire and powerful Harbinger, Toyo Harada. Then, she became a superhero and team leader of a group called Unity. And recently, she became a resistance leader with her Secret Weapons team. But that came with a cost. Livewire, using her powers, turned off the power grid of the entire United States. And not everyone came out okay. This new series now serves as great jumping on point for readers as they learn about who Amanda is, while for existing fans, this book is about the the long-awaited fallout from Livewire’s actions in Harbinger Wars 2.

The highlight of Livewire #1 comes from Amanda’s characterization. She’s a weird person. She grew up isolated from the world and was indoctrinated by Toyo Harada. Over the years, she grew past that, but she still never had much of a social life or many friends. Livewire #1 dives into her weird personality and balances it with her love of her team, The Secret Weapons, who are essentially three kids that Livewire helped and trained to become better psiots. The relationship between Amanda and her team is a special one, and one that Ayala does a good job of showing.

But like all relationships, they have their bad times, too, and the emotional core of this issue comes from Amanda confronting her team for the first time since leading her resistance in Harbinger Wars 2. Amanda had good reasons for starting another Harbinger War, but sometimes ends don’t justify the means. To me, this is where the issue truly shines, because Ayala constructs the dialogue in a way that makes readers sincerely care about characters in the moment. There’s also just enough background so that new readers won’t be confused, but rather eager to learn more about Amanda’s past.

The art duo on this comic is the rising star team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. Allen and Martin both worked on Secret Weapons with Arrival screenwriter Eric Heisserer, so they’re not new to Valiant. Their comfort with the characters shows in the art. Bold, detailed pencils and bright colors are some of the ways their art shines. Secret Weapons to me, was structured like a movie. The panels were arranged in a way that made the comic feel extremely fluid. Livewire #1 boast those same qualities.

Every page in the comic seems to have a transparent blue sheet over it as Martin’s colors provide a calming effect. I could write for hours on the quality of this art and just how well done it is, but the last thing that I’ll say is how beautiful they make Livewire look each time we see her. She has a presence, and every time she appears on the page you feel as if something big is about to happen. It’s this awesome combination of Allen’s detailed panel work, well-defined pencils, and Martin’s soft blends of blue, pink, and purple, that make this comic work so well .

Overall: I expected this comic to be a hit for me. It has a lot going on for it. What separates this from most superhero comics, though, is that Livewire is such an interesting character, one who hasn’t been explored too much yet. There’s a moment at the end of the issue that made me tear up because of the depth with which Ayala writes Amanda. And I was not expecting that. Given how this first issue ends, we’re in for a long ride with Livewire. And I can’t wait to take it. 9.5/10

Livewire #1
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: Raul Allen
Colorist: Patricia Martin
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Comics
Price: $3.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Toren Chenault, a native of the Cincinnati area, currently lives in Michigan with his girlfriend. A graduate of Michigan State University, he is a long-time superhero fan who counts Captain Atom, Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Divinity, Nightwing, and XO Manowar among his favorite heroes. Mystic Man is his first book. Buy it now here.