5 comics to read this January: War and peace
“There was a war. There is always war,” a magnificent dragon, the last of its kind, tells the enterprising young fox-girl Kippa in the most recent volume of Monstress. “War is the deadliest child of the living… and its appetites are illimitable.”
War is in the air again right now, and though no one can be sure where things might lead, several of the best comics this month are reckoning with the idea of war. Even Star Wars, a franchise that typically depicts war as an exciting adventure to embark on, has comics this month with characters full of regret and uncertainty. Monstress, the comic that portrays even giant magical dragons as survivors and refugees of war, is back this month to reckon with its own impending conflict.
But thinking about war also means thinking about peace, and few comic characters are better at that than Wonder Woman, who gets a super-sized issue this month.
Check out EW’s full list of January comic recommendations below.
Monstress #25 (Image)
Marjorie Liu (writer), Sana Takeda (artist)
We should all know the drill by now: The first six months of the year are for reading new Monstress issues, while the back half is for buying the new collection, ogling the gorgeous Sana Takeda covers, and patiently waiting for the series to return. A new year means it’s time for new Monstress! Coming off the last-minute twist at the end of volume 4, it looks a new war might be finally about to descend on the Monstress world. Who would want to miss what happens next?
One factor that made Monstress one of the best comics of the decade was its unflinching look at the consequences of war. Maika Halfwolf and almost every other character were severely affected by the war that ended shortly before the story began, and all of them have been working to either prevent or kickstart a new one. Given the war drums sounding in real life lately, Monstress could hardly have picked a better time to return.
Pre-order Monstress #25 here.
Star Wars #1-2 (Marvel)
Charles Soule (writer), Jesus Saiz (artist)
Now that The Rise of Skywalker has hit theaters and The Mandalorian has wrapped up its first season, Marvel has you covered for your next Star Wars fix. When the publisher relaunched Star Wars comics back in 2015, it set the stories in the immediate aftermath of the first movie. Now that a few years of stories have passed, Marvel has moved forward in time and is now relaunching its Star Wars books to take place in the immediate aftermath of The Empire Strikes Back. As the first issue makes clear, this is a particularly fruitful moment that hasn’t been explored much in past stories. Readers get to see the kind of wall-to-wall space battles we love from Star Wars, while also experiencing the depressing confusion Luke felt in the immediate aftermath of his father’s revelation.
Wonder Woman #750 (DC Comics)
Various writers and artists
Why should Batman and Superman have all the fun? In the last few years, DC’s two most famous superheroes each celebrated their 80th birthdays and the release of the 1,000th issues of their respective long-running comics (Action Comics and Detective Comics). Wonder Woman is still a couple years away from the 80th anniversary of her first appearance, and her original series, Sensation Comics, hasn’t had the longevity of Action and Detective. Nevertheless, the third member of DC’s superhero trinity gets her own special spotlight in this super-sized issue. Featuring the climax of Wonder Woman’s current story line, this issue will also showcase stories about her past, present, and future from a wide range of creators — including classic Wonder Woman writers like Greg Rucka and Gail Simone and artists like Colleen Doran and Gabriel Picolo.
Pre-order Wonder Woman #75 here.
Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams (Insight)
Steve Horton and Michael Allred (writers), Michael Allred and Laura Allred (artists)
From X-Statix to Silver Surfer, Michael Allred has been one of the most unique and innovative superhero comic artists of the last few decades — with lots of help from the bright poppy colors of his wife, Laura. So it’s amazing to watch them apply their artistic talents to David Bowie, one of the poppiest and most colorful artists of the 20th century.
Graphic novel biographies are a relatively prevalent genre these days (Rod Serling recently got one, as did Jean-Michael Basquiat), but the Allreds’ art and love for Bowie’s work makes this one stand apart.
Order Bowie: Stardust, Rayguns, & Moonage Daydreams here.
Black Bolt hardcover (Marvel)
Saladin Ahmed (writer), Christian Ward (artist))
Saladin Ahmed is making a name for himself as one of Marvel’s most inventive writers. As the first person after co-creator G. Willow Wilson to write Kamala Khan’s primary Ms. Marvel comic, he recently introduced a brand-new Arab American superhero named Amulet into the Marvel universe (along with artist Sara Alfageeh). Artist Christian Ward, too, has been growing a lot lately — both as the artist and co-creator of the creator-owned sci-fi saga Invisible Kingdom (along with Wilson!) and as the writer and co-creator of Tommy Gun Wizards.
It’s a good time, then, for a new hardcover edition of Black Bolt, their 2017 collaboration and Ahmed’s first Marvel work. During the brief period where it seemed like the Inhumans were going to be the next big Marvel adaptation, they produced this fascinating look at the Inhuman king, whose destructive voice prevents him from speaking most of the time. Black Bolt moved its title character far away from royal trappings and locked him in a horrible space prison. The situation allowed Ahmed to write movingly about the prison experience and characterize Black Bolt’s fellow inmates with empathy, while also giving Ward room to do both intimate emotional work (since Black Bolt doesn’t speak unless he has to use his power, his facial expressions are everything) and epic sci-fi grandeur. It is very much worth reading.
In case you missed Black Bolt during its initial run, pre-order the new hardcover (collecting all 12 issues) here — or find it in comic shops now.