Best comics of the week: Wakanda and 7 other spectacular comics to check out
From 'Mockingbird vol. 1' to 'World of Wakanda'
2016 has been a big year for comics, between star-studded debuts like Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Black Panther and DC’s line-wide resurgence thanks to the DC Universe: Rebirth initiative. The industry isn’t showing signs of slowing down in the final months of the year, either. November has seen a plethora of intriguing new series debuts alongside touchstone moments for familiar characters. Here’s a list of comics any prospective fan should check out this week. Some are out already, some hit stores this Wednesday, but all are worth reading.
Mockingbird vol. 1: I Can Explain, written by Chelsea Cain with art by Kate Niemczyk and Joelle Jones
Bobbi Morse (a.k.a. Mockingbird) has been around for a while, having served on various Avengers teams over the years, before recently starring as one of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Unfortunately, this more-than-deserving hero found herself in the spotlight recently when she and writer Chelsea Cain were attacked online for a recent cover that featured the Morse wearing a t-shirt that said, “Ask me about my feminist agenda.” But sales surged for the series’ first trade collection, making it a best seller before it was even on sale — and introducing even more readers to Cain’s masterful writing and Kate Niemczyk and Joelle Jones’ stellar art. The first five issues, collected in this volume, are designed as a puzzle box, so readers can read them in any particular order and still get the full story, which means that fans can experience this character again, and again, and again.
Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special, written by various with art by various
EW recently named Wonder Woman our top superhero of all time, and this extra-sized 75th Anniversary Special does a great job of showing why we did. Comprised of multiple stories from different creators — including Gail Simone, Hope Larson, Jill Thompson, Renae de Liz, Yanick Paquette, and Fabio Moon, among many others — this issue shows all the different facets of Diana: An inspiring maternal figure, a ferocious fighter, an important teammate, a picturesque bombshell, a defender of the weak, and above all, a hero eternally questing for justice and peace, always looking for the best in her enemies as well as her friends.
Black Panther: World of Wakanda #1, written by Roxane Gay and Yona Harvey with art by Alitha Martinez and Afua Richardson
The all-female Dora Milaje are traditionally the King of Wakanda’s elite bodyguards. But thanks to recent events in Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run on Black Panther, they’re more than ready to leap into the spotlight and act as the leads of their own spinoff series. So, it’s only perfect that Coates called on friend, fellow writer Roxane Gay and poet Yona Harvey to tell the story of these fierce women and the love they have for their country—and in the process, make Marvel history.
Invincible Iron Man #1, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Stefano Caselli)
Marvel made a splash when they announced that Tony Stark would no longer be serving as Iron Man and that instead, 15-year-old newcomer Riri Williams would be taking on the role. Writer Brian Michael Bendis is no stranger to featuring new characters picking up familiar mantles, having created the Miles Morales version of Spider-Man, and he works that same magic again here. Riri may be choosing to use her incredible intelligence to save the world—but her biggest strength is actually her heart.
Midnighter and Apollo #2, written by Steve Orlando with art by Fernando Blanco
Midnighter and Apollo were originally created by Warren Ellis in 1998 as a gay pastiche of Batman and Superman, but writer Steve Orlando has carried them past parody into a pair of thoroughly modern and viscerally entertaining heroes, who also happen to have a fulfilling, realistic romantic relationship. The two collections of Orlando’s recent solo Midnighter series are must-reads, but at only two issues in, the new sequel series offers its own perfect jumping-on point. The psychedelic influence of writers like Grant Morrison can be felt everywhere, as the ruthless crimefighter Midnighter races across time and space to save his solar-powered boyfriend from Hell itself.
Champions #2, written by Mark Waid with art by Humberto Ramos
Civil War II, this year’s big Marvel crossover event, has not really matched the dramatic stakes of its famous predecessor, but it has highlighted some important fault lines in the Marvel Universe, primarily those between younger and older superheroes. Frustrated with their role models’ behavior in that series, a cadre of young heroes (Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Spider-Man/Miles Morales, and Nova/Sam Alexander) have left the Avengers and formed their own super team alongside Amadeus Cho/Hulk and Viv Vision. The Champions are now trying to find a new type of superheroics that improves on their predecessors’, but first they need to figure out each other. The second issue takes place entirely around a campfire, as the young heroes trade secrets about both their powers and teenage emotions.
X-Men ’92 vol. 1: The World is a Vampire, written by Chad Bowers and Chris Sims with art by Alti Firmansyah and Cory Hamscher
For many children of the ‘90s, their first experience with Marvel’s uncanny team of mutant superheroes would have been the X-Men animated series. But with so many X-Men titles to choose from, diving into the comics might be a tough task for new readers. Enter X-Men ’92. Thanks to artists Alti Firmansyah and Cory Hamscher’s cartoon-inspired artwork and writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, this first volume, which features the series’ first five issues, is the perfect entry point for anyone looking to tap into their nostalgia, while still reading a “current” X-Men series.
The Wicked + the Divine #23, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Jamie McKelvie and Kevin Wada
Two years in, Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie’s ridiculously inventive reimagining of mythic gods as modern pop stars is at a crossroads. The most recent arc of The Wicked + the Divine was collected in the fourth volume, “Rising Action,” and resolved many of the series’ initial storylines. Where to go from there? How about an issue structured like a prestige fashion magazine, featuring profile interviews between fictional gods and real-life journalists alongside lush art from Kevin Wada? It’s the latest bit of ingenious invention from one of the most consistently original comics around.