The best comics from October: Bigfoot roars, Catwoman gets older and wiser
November is here, marking the annual transition from spooky season to holiday season. But before October is totally in the rear-view mirror, check out EW's picks for the best comics of last month — which was particularly strong when it came to superhero stories.
Best new book
Catwoman: Lonely City #1 (DC Black Label)
Cliff Chiang (writer/artist)
There are so many Batman stories. The most popular superhero in the country has dozens of comics, multiple animated shows, and so many live-action films that he's about to be played by three different superstar actors (Robert Pattinson, Ben Affleck, and Michael Keaton) on the big screen in the very near future. Unfortunately, so many of these Batman stories feel painfully similar: Blah blah dark and gritty, blah blah avenge the death of my parents, and so on. Even for those of us who love Batman, the repetition is starting to get boring.
What a relief, then, to have Catwoman: Lonely City, the new series from writer/artist Cliff Chiang that reimagines the world of Batman in a whole new way. First things first, there is no Dark Knight to speak of: Lonely City is set more than a decade after Batman's death, an as-yet-unexplained event that landed his old flame Selina Kyle in prison for 10 years. The story picks up with Selina re-entering a Gotham City ruled by Mayor Harvey Dent (whose acid-marked face doesn't pose an impediment to public approval) and patrolled by terrifyingly militarized BatCops. Eager to prove she's still got game, Selina tries out a couple robberies on her old stomping grounds, but finds her aging hips and slowed reflexes a dangerous impediment.
The idea of aging Gotham vigilantes was of course iconically tackled in Frank Miller's classic masterwork The Dark Knight Returns, but that story has been so ground into mush by countless adaptations that it's refreshing to see these struggles through the eyes of Catwoman instead — not least since Selina's troubles are very much informed by her soul-breaking stay in prison.
On top of these fascinating themes and gorgeous art (any good Catwoman comic must be able to capture her kinetic movements, and Chiang certainly does that while also littering the background with fascinating world-building details), Catwoman: Lonely City also sets up plenty of plot teases for subsequent installments. What exactly happened on "Fools' Night" all those years ago? Has Harvey Dent actually given up on his villainous ways? We can't wait to find out.
Best new collections
The Department of Truth, volume 2: The City Upon a Hill (Image)
James Tynion IV (writer), Martin Simmonds (artist)
By trying to encompass every popular American conspiracy theory, the creators of The Department of Truth have certainly given themselves a lot to work with. After starting off the series with Flat Earth, Lee Harvey Oswald, and Satanic panic, Tynion and Simmonds got into even weirder territory in their second volume — both in terms of content and form. The two-issue Bigfoot story was particularly remarkable for the way it rooted the American tradition of a forest-dwelling missing link creature in family drama. Tynion's characteristic wordiness is given artistic form via a heartbreaking letter from an old man to his son apologizing for the way his Bigfoot hunt destroyed their family and his failure to "show you how big and strange and wonderful the universe is."
Far Sector (DC Comics)
N.K. Jemisin (writer), Jamal Campbell (artist)
Having writers from other media coming into comics doesn't always yield dividends, but luckily novelist N.K. Jemisin had artist Jamal Campbell (Naomi) to help bring her Green Lantern saga to life. The story of Sojourner "Jo" Mullein trying to maintain peace in the emotionless space civilization known as the City Enduring, Far Sector was already one of EW's favorite comics of last year, but the collected edition is worth highlighting. Now, readers can pull it down off the shelf and get lost in Campbell's sumptuous sci-fi visuals and Jemisin's characteristically rich world-building anytime they want.
Immortal Hulk #50 (Marvel)
Al Ewing (writer), Joe Bennett (artist), Alex Ross (cover)
A modern superhero epic came to its conclusion this month. Immortal Hulk has popped up on EW's annual comics lists in the past, and it was a true delight to read new issues each month; we'll definitely miss the series on our reading list as the Hulk now heads in a different direction. That said, endings are a tricky business. Immortal Hulk pulled on too many literary themes and played with too much cosmic horror for it all to fit in one (even mammoth-sized) issue, and the last-minute flashback drawing a new connection between the Hulk and the Leader felt a little slapped-on, but this series is known for its handsome collected editions as well as its monthly fun, so we look forward to further contemplation and endless rereads.
Inferno #2 (Marvel)
Jonathan Hickman (writer), Stefano Caselli (artist)
As EW reported in August, Inferno will be House of X mastermind Jonathan Hickman's last X-Men comic for the foreseeable future — but thankfully, he's changing up the board one more time before he goes.
The first issue in September spent much of its page count revisiting a crucial scene from House of X, suggesting there might be more angles to the enmity between the reincarnated Moira X and the prophetic mutant Destiny than we thought. October's Inferno #2 built on that setup by finally bringing the moment that readers have been waiting for: The resurrection of Destiny and her reunion with Mystique, who can finally be acknowledged on page as her wife after decades of original creator Chris Claremont being forced to keep the nature of their relationship obscure. Most of the page count this time was spent on the political machinations required for Mystique to pull off that resurrection, and it's always delightful to see how the sausage gets made on Krakoa. Charles Xavier and Magneto might finally be starting to lose their grip on the mutant society they founded...
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