The Best Comics We Read in February 2015

This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics

hawkeye-21Hawkeye #21 by Matt Fraction, David Aja, Raul Allen, and Matt Hollingsworth

Y’know, I’m not even sure when the last issue of Hawkeye dropped, which can sometimes be annoying when reading serialized fiction. But any annoyance I may have had just melted away as I opened this comic. In a sense the time between issues doesn’t matter because the plot is fairly simple. Appropriately titled “Rio Bravo,” this is good guys’ last stand against the bros—all set in Hawkguy’s apartment building. And while the story may be simple, the comic book is anything but. Aja’s amazing layouts add a meticulous depth, while Fraction continues to try new tricks in storytelling and dialogue. Just a delightful read. I don’t even care when the next one’s coming out.  — Dave Accampo

BitchPlanet3Bitch Planet #3 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, and Robert Wilson IV

Wow. This one issue did so much to flesh out the horrific dystopian society of Bitch Planet, and it gave us the backstory for Penny. She seemed like a fun character from her first line in issue one. This issue takes all the common stereotypes and misconceptions about large women and kicks them out the airlock. Penny is a beautiful person hardened by the misogynistic society in which she lives, but she refuses to allow the world to change her, to make her less than she is. I love Penny and Bitch Planet #3 with the fiery passion of a supernova. I was a fan of Bitch Planet before issue #3; now I’m all in. Somebody hand this team their Eisner now, please. — Chris Arnone

displacementDisplacement by Lucy Knisley

Lucy Knisley’s newest travelogue from Fantagraphics sees her agreeing to accompany her elderly grandparents on a Caribbean cruise because their mental and physical health is in decline. While her grandfather mostly struggles with mobility, her grandmother suffers dementia, and each presents its own kind of challenge from urinating in airports to getting lost on the cruise ship.  A significant part of the book revolves around her grandfather’s World War II memoir which she takes to re-read on the trip and discuss with him, and it’s a striking juxtaposition to revisit his memories from the prime of his life as compared to his downhill slide as evidenced by their time together on the ship. Knisley’s experience is both enlightening and heartbreaking. This one struck home so acutely for me having watched my own grandparents’ decline and having helped care for them in their later years. This is a gorgeous book in text and illustration and it’s a touching examination of the happiness, love, frustration, and guilt wrapped up in facing our own mortality and the mortality of those we love. — Andi Miller

gunnerkrigg-courtGunnerkrigg Court, Vols. 1-4 by Todd Siddell

I just discovered that the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court has vols 1-4 available on Comixology! This is great for me. My web-habits just don’t support serial webcomics. Even with the aid of feedly.com I can’t keep up and keep track of what’s happening. So I was thrilled to find the first four volumes of GC for purchase on Comixology. (Yes, I paid for them even though they are free on the website. I like paying artists for their work, especially when what I am actually paying for it the privilege to not awkwardly scroll through panels, hit “next” every eleven seconds, and grumble while waiting for pageloads.)

Anyway.

Gunnerkrigg Court! The mysteries of science and magic as told through a bizarre, creepy, and utterly charming boarding school! Best comic I read in February. — Sigrid Ellis

supergirlSupergirl #39 by Mike Johnson, K. Perkins, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, and Hi-Fi.

Let’s just admit right off the bat that as someone with Supergirl both on her phone wallpaper and hanging over her bed, I’m a bit biased, but I’ve long maintained that this series has been an unsung gem in DC’s New 52 lineup. Despite a rotating door of creators and being thrust into crossover after crossover, Supergirl has maintained her heart and her heroism for three and a half years. Now she’s going out with a bang, as the current “Crucible” storyline by K. Perkins, Mike Johnson, and Emanuela Lupacchino is closing out the series next month, in preparation for a fall relaunch to coincide with the premiere of the TV show (!). And guys, “Crucible” has been a joy. Kara’s gotten to be upstanding and true, hang out with superpowered teen peers, and actually have fun — plus, there are a few touching moments between her and Superboy, and Superfamily bonding is a particular weakness of mine. Perkins and Johnson have done some fun worldbuilding on DC’s cosmic side and even reimagined Maxima, always a problematic character, as an AWESOME TEEN SPACE PRINCESS, which is scientifically proven to be rad as heck. And the art is absolutely stunning. I’ll be sorry to see this series go, but I look forward to seeing what this creative team does next — particularly Lupacchino and inker Ray McCarthy, who’ll be jumping over to the new Starfire book in June. — Jess Plummer

squirrel-girl-1The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 – Ryan North & Erica Henderson

My comics shop has me figured out. Early in February there was a dry week where I just didn’t have anything new, and I cannot bear to leave the shop without buying something (it’s a compulsion), so I asked what I wasn’t reading that I should have been. Floyd handed me The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1, and told me to let him know if I liked it so they could add it to my pull list. Did I like it? I LOVED IT. One of my most frequent complaints with storytelling is that too often, narratives get bogged down in drama—or worse, melodrama. Everyone can’t be brooding all the time, right? Or, as Gail Simone put it: https://twitter.com/GailSimone/status/568754400639856641. And you know what Squirrel Girl would never do? Brood. Things can be difficult, she can be confused, or on a deadline, or up against an implacable foe, but she is never humorless. And the body positivity in this issue alone makes me want to get into a time machine and take it back to my puberty-bombarded teenage self.

(And when I went back to the shop the following week? They had already put #2 in my folder. True story.) — Jenn Northington

avengers-worldAvengers World #17 by Frank Barbiere and Marco Checchetto 

Spinning out of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, Frank Barbiere brings us a touching love story filling the gap between the Avengers of 6 months ago and the Avengers that are approaching the end of the multiverse today. Marco Checchetto paints a beautiful picture of an age old story—two star-crossed lovers must choose between having a baby together, commitments to their families, and obligations to an alien military force. Yes, a tale as old as man. I, for one, a man of propriety. I dig stories about family, bro-mances, team-ups, couples becoming more together, all that jazz. And this comic has all of it. And it’s also IN SPAAAAAACE. Smasher is pregnant and is being called back to the Shi’ar Imperial Guard for their baby militarization rituals. Cannonball, the baby daddy, takes his bro-mantic interest Sunspot into space via Young Cyclops and his pirate papa Corsair in order to reunite with his lovely babymomma. Confused yet? Good, keep going! We have action, adventure, beautiful art, and everything positive that tugs at the heart strings with a happy ending. It’s not filler, it belongs. — Dana Silver

louis-rielLouis Riel : A Comic-Strip Biography by Chester Brown

It doesn’t matter how many times I reread this masterpiece of the graphic non-fiction form: I always find new things to be staggered by. Brown and I don’t always align when it comes to comics, but he is a gifted artist and storyteller, and he makes that clear in Louis Riel. This comic tells the story of Métis leader Louis Riel and his attempts to secure rights and representation for his people and his region in the early days of Canadian nationhood. It is a story of blood and trauma, triumph and tragedy, betrayal and injustice. But Brown’s work is also a thoughtful piece of historiography, and he details his process in a comprehensive endnote section that forces readers to confront their assumptions about truth and history. And I get to teach it this week, because I have orchestrated myself the best job in the world! — Brenna Clarke Gray 

immortal-iron-fistImmortal Iron Fist by Matt Fraction, Ed Brubaker, David Aja, and Travel Foreman

We’ve all been suffering these past few months from Hawkeye withdrawal. It’s been an excruciating break, especially consider we only have ONE issue left of this amazing run by Fraction and Aja. In light of this, I decided it would be time to go back and do a reread of Fraction and Aja’s other collaboration, Immortal Iron Fist. The bonus with this run is that Ed Brubaker co-wrote the first few arcs with Fraction, that’s a loaded creative team. Immortal Iron Fist is easily one of the best Marvel runs of all-time. Whether you’re into kung-fu or not, this run is something worth checking out because the level of craft put into this work is impressive. They took a character that was, honestly, a little corny and did a complete overhaul. New costume, fleshed out backstory, a bulkier supporting cast. After reading this run, I have totally been on board with Iron Fist. If you dig Hawkeye, this is certainly worth checking out. I hope Fraction and Aja do another comic together, and soon! — Eric Margolis

irredeemableIrredeemable #1–19 by Mark Waid, Peter Kause, and Diego Barreto

While the idea of an “Evil Superman” story is nothing new (DC themselves have been publishing various takes on that concept for years), Mark Waid brought his version on it to BOOM! Studios in 2009. In Irredeemable, the Plutonian has gone insane, killing almost every single man, woman, and child in Sky City. Things only get worse from there as he continues to lash out against a world who didn’t fully embrace him. His former superhero colleagues in the Paradigm attempt to move against him with chaotic results. This series is dark and upsetting at times, with the Plutonian’s actions becoming more and more sadistic as the series goes on. That’s not usually my favorite type of story, but it’s the serialized nature of the thing that had me downing issues like candy this month. Revelations and secrets about characters’ past actions and motivations are addicting. Each issue ends with a cliffhanger that makes readers want the next issue immediately. Irredeemable lasted for 37 issues, though I recommend reading just the first 19. The plot began to get away from itself as the story continued and the ending isn’t particularly satisfying. However, the journey to get there is more than worth it. That uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach will let you know the story is doing its job. — Jeff Reid

thor-annualThor Annual #1 by Jason Aaron, CM Punk, Noelle Stevenson, Rob Guillory, and Marguerite Savage

Annuals can often be dismissed, they either have no bearing on the story of the title they’re attached to or serve as an extended regular issue. Often you can feel a bit underserved by the higher price tag. But this Annual was just fun; pure, goofy fun. The lead story follows All-Father Thor in the far future as his granddaughters look to create the perfect birthday present for him. There are some great high fantasy ideas tossed around in here and the moody coloring and traditional penciling really sell the mythic nature of the tale. It also serves as a coda to Aaron’s Godbomb story arc. The second story showcases the new Thor as the Warriors Three challenge her to outdo Thor Odinson’s exploits. It’s a great tale that shows the strengths of the new Thor as well as firmly reminding the reader that she’s a more than worthy successor. This story features some neat moments for the new Thor, including racing one of Thor’s goats, and a sort of Filmation/Superfriends inspired art style. Finally, we have the debut comics tale from CM Punk writing a Young Thor (mis)adventure. I admit that this isn’t the story I would have expected from Punk, but it’s a fun and funny look into the much vaunted Asgardian drinking games. Guillory’s penchant for exaggerated physical features really plays off the comedy well and the light gags hidden in the background really round the story out. Loki and Mephisto guest star and we get some fun bits of mischief, and a curious insight into the Asgardian bartender’s repertoire. All around, a really fun way to spend some time in Thor’s realm and a great way to tie into the series without feeling hamstrung. — Brian McNamara

stormStorm, Vol. 1 by Greg Pak, Victor Ibanez, and Matteo Buffagni

I really wish I hadn’t waited so long to start this amazing series. I like the characters in the X-Men, but the universe is way too daunting for me to really be interested in making any inroads into it. Storm is a great place to start; it’s funny, touching, and completely kickass, just like Storm herself. — Swapna

 

 

 

Princeless, Vol 1: Save Yourself by Jeremy Whitley and M. Goodwin — Jess Pryde

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