The best comics and graphic novels of October
October was a pretty good month for comics. Hardly a week went by without a number of great titles hitting the stands, both digital and physical—so many, you may have missed a few. So before you dive ahead into November, take a look at these comics that came out in October. It’d be a shame if you missed them.
Image Comics continues business as usual. While it may seem boring to continue praising widely praised books like Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s Sex Criminals or Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staple’s Saga, both titles are still going strong—and aren’t pulling any punches as of late, with both series taking sudden, heartbreaking turns. Sex Criminals #8 introduces a new character, Robert Rainbow, and a mean cliffhanger. Meanwhile, Saga #24 marks the end of the series’ fourth arc, and the start of another hiatus. It’s the perfect time to catch up on one of the most imaginative, honest, and entertaining series in comics, so you can be all caught up when the series returns with #25 in 2015.
Don’t miss Image’s newer books, either: Low, Rick Remeder and Greg Tocchini’s deep-sea sci-fi tale about loss and hope, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillip’s Old Hollywood noir The Fade Out, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s exploration of art and gods as pop stars The Wicked and the Divine, (which just finished it’s first arc and will be getting its first collected edition, The Faust Act, next month), and Wytches, a horror title from Scott Snyder and Jock.
The most meta series in comics continueswith The Multiversity: The Just #1 by Grant Morrison and Ben Oliver.The third part of Morrison’s DC multiverse magnum opus takes place in a world where the children of DC’s most popular heroes have inherited their parents mantle—except their parents did such a good job at fighting crime, there’s nothing left for them to do. As the cover, styled to look like a gossip mag—suggests, the superheroes of Earth-ME are now just celebrities, basking in the attention of a world they’ll probably never have to save. If you’re a reader of EW and interested in superhero comics, you might find this plenty intriguing.
Marvel’s endless parade of event comics marches onward. October saw Wolverine’s death unfold in The Death of Wolverine 1-4 by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. It’s a big blockbuster sendoff for one of Marvel’s most popular characters, but on the whole it feels a bit slight—and even undermined by the fact that Paul Cornell’s recently concluded Wolverine run dealt with a nearly identical plot, and the flood of spinoffs that follow only seem to dilute Wolverine’s death even further.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Edge of Spider-Verse miniseries bears all the signs of mainstream excess—it is, after all, a miniseries tying into the leadup to a big crossover, not the crossover itself. But it has yielded some pretty fantastic stories. Each part of the five-issue miniseries was written and illustrated by a different creative team and tells the story of the Spider-Man (or woman) of a different universe—many of which we’re seeing for the first time. This month saw the miniseries’ final two issues published. Issue #4, by Clay McCleod Chapman and Elia Bonnetti, is a horror story that imagines what happens if the spider bit an angrier, vindictive version of Peter Parker (here he’s named Patton Parnell) and became something monstrous. Issue #5 is by Gerard Way and Jake Wyatt, and tells the story of Peni, a girl who’s the only person in the world capable of using an advanced mech suit called SP//dr. It’s a great single issue story that also doubles as an homage to a number of Japanese anime like Evangelion and Akira (if you look closely you’ll spot Kaneda), and a great note to end the Edge of Spider-Verse anthology on.
Also this month in Marvel: the first act of Axis. Called The Red Supremacy and spread over three issues (with a two week break before Act II starts in November), the crossover is the climax to the story writer Rick Remender has been telling in Uncanny Avengers over the past two years. The Red Supremacy is essentially one big fight scene that would probably better served if it were confined to one issue. It does, however, remain surprisingly entertaining (albeit expensive) for a big event. You’re on your own when it comes to all those tie-in books, though.
For an event that’s a little less sprawling and actually really fun, check out the Marvel 75th Anniversary Celebration, a series of short stories.
A new status quo for Gotham City. A few months back, DC Entertainment hired Mark Doyle, formerly of the publisher’s Vertigo imprint for mature readers, as the group editor for its Batman line of comics. In the intervening weeks, Doyle has assembled some of the most interesting creative lineups the Batbooks have seen in some time—and now the resulting books are finally available.
Batgirl #35 marks the start of Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr’s run on the character. True to what was announced back in July, the issue sees Barbara Gordon moving to Burnside, Gotham’s hip youth mecca, and coming up with a new look after losing her Batgirl gear in a fire. The issue is a pretty straightforward-yet-stylish superhero story—but it pulls of the surprisingly rare feat of having a comic book character look and act in an age appropriate manner. Barbara Gordon looks and feels like a twentysomething in a big city, and that’s pretty huge. We all might miss Barbara as Oracle, but this isn’t half bad.
Similarly, Catwoman #35 marks a huge shift in circumstances for Selina Kyle, Batman’s sometime lover and full-time frenemy. Written by Genevieve Valentine and illustrated by Garry Brown, the issue takes Catwoman off Gotham’s rooftops and sits her across the table from some of Gotham’s biggest movers and shakers. When the fallout of the Batman Eternal weekly series left Selina as the de facto heir to the Calabrese crime family, the former thief suddenly has immense power and influence over Gotham at a crucial, vulnerable point. And that makes everyone uncomfortable. Catwoman #35 is the most interesting start to a Catwoman story this side of Darwyn Cooke and Ed Brubaker.
Also amidst the Bat-shakeups are two new series: Arkham Manor, by Gerry Duggan and Shawn Crystal; and Gotham Academy, by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl. The former takes place after recent events in Batman Eternal (a lot seems to be happening there) leave Bruce Wayne without his fortune and mansion, and Arkham Asylum in ruins—so the Gotham City government is able to lay claim to Wayne Manor, and turn it into a new Arkham. Of course, something goes wrong. Gotham Academy, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be so directly tied to recent events. In fact, it’s quite simple and self-contained in nature: what’s it like to grow up and go to prep school in a city as disturbed as Gotham? What if said prep school was haunted? Wouldn’t that be fun to read about?
Oh, and Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s fantastic Batman run starts a brand new arc with #35, and it’s a doozy.
Ales Kot continues to have a hell of a year.Now makes for a pretty good time to check out the work of Ales Kot—his excellent Image comics series Zero returns with issue 11, “Killshot.” Illustrated by Ricardo Lopez Ortiz, Kot’s fractured spy narrative jumps to Iceland in 2025 to where Edward Zero is in hiding. Over at Marvel, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier pairs Kot with Marco Rudy, one of the boldest and most experimental artists working in mainstream comics today, for a sci-fi spacefaring story that’s strange and idiosyncratic and warrants multiple reads—much like the work Kot delivers with all the other artists that collaborate with him on Zero. Also available: the first Secret Avengers trade by Kot and Michael Walsh.
A legendary Wonder Woman run comes to an end. Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang’s three-year run on Wonder Woman finally comes to an end with issue 35. One of the few great successes of DC’s New 52, Azzarello and Chiang reinvigorated Wonder Woman with a fresh take steeped in Greek mythology. Entirely self-contained, never once intersecting with the wider DC Universe, Wonder Woman was allowed to flourish and remained one of DC’s most interesting books for all of its thirty-five issues. The series will continue next month under the direction of Meredith and David Finch—but Azzarello and Chiang’s run truly stands alone for giving Wonder Woman the grand, sweeping tale she deserves.
In addition to that, here are a few graphic novels you might want to check out.
Meteor Men, by Jeff Parker, Sandy Jarrel, and Kevin Volo — a wonderfully illustrated, forlorn-yet-optimistic story about a teenager left in charge of the family farm after his parents’ death—and an alien invasion.
All-New Marvel Now! collected editions — Earlier this year, Marvel’s All-New Marvel Now! initiative resulted in a number of fantastic new titles led by strong creative teams. This month, the trade paperbacks collecting the first arcs of these series are hitting stands. Of those, Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire’s Moon Knight, G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel, Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s Magneto, and Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s She-Hulk are exemplary.
C.O.W.L: Principles of Power, by Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis — frequently described as ‘Mad Men but with superheroes,’ the first paperback collection of the Image Comics series introduces readers to the Chicago Organized Workers League (a sort of labor union/police department for superheroes) and the city that has outgrown them.
Southern Bastards: Here Was a Man, by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour — Earl Tubb returns home to Craw County, Alabama to find it hopelessly corrupt. So he decides to clean the place up with a giant stick.
Sugar Skull, by Charles Burns — the final graphic novel in the strange and disturbing trilogy that began with X’ed Out and The Hive.
Strong Female Protagonist, by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag — an excellent webcomic about what happens when the world’s strongest heroine decides that there are some problems in the world that can’t be solved by punching them is now available in print. But you can read the entire, ongoing series here, for free.