Riot Headline 10 Exciting Books to Read this Summer

The Best Comics We Read in June 2015

Jessica Plummer

Contributing Editor

Jessica Plummer has lived her whole life in New York City, but she prefers to think of it as Metropolis. Her day job is in books, her side hustle is in books, and she writes books on the side (including a short story in Sword Stone Table from Vintage). She loves running, knitting, and thinking about superheroes, and knows an unnecessary amount of things about Donald Duck. Follow her on Twitter at @jess_plummer.

the-infinity-gauntlet-1The Infinity Gauntlet #1 by Gerry Dugan and Dustin Weaver (Jenn Northington)

I can’t stop talking about how much I love this comic. Giant bugs! POC protagonists! A future-wasteland setting! Absolutely stunning art! Non-traditional gender roles! Weaver does an amazing job of setting the stage in this first issue for a story that felt like the introduction to Secret Wars I didn’t know I wanted: a brand new character, as new to the battlefield as I am, to follow through whatever comes next.

ivar-timewalker-1Ivar, Timewalker, Vol. 1: Making History by Fred Van Lente, Clayton Henry & Brian Reber (Brian McNamara)

I love time travel. I love stories about time travel and I especially enjoy stories that deal with the physics of time travel. Ivar, Timewalker takes its best cues from Doctor Who but doesn’t feel like a straight homage or pastiche, but rather plays with the basic form of that show to give us something new. Ivar is a compelling – if abrasive – and mysterious lead character and Dr. Neela Sethi is a wonderfully active companion – and soon-to-be inventor of time travel – whose struggle with ramifications of her invention will mean to her on a personal level. This first volume concerns the nature of time. How much an individual can change the timeline, how the timeline course corrects itself and the absurdity of time travel as a concept. Clayton Henry’s pencils take us on a whirlwind tour of the far future, World War II Germany and – my personal favorite – the Battle of Trafalgar, as well as playing with multiple iterations of the same person hanging out at a bar. While rooted in some of Van Lente’s world building in Archer & Armstrong, Ivar is a great place to get a sense of the Valiant world. The same fun spirit that flow through A&A comes through here and leaves you wishing you could jump back to the first time you started the book.

alex-ada-15Alex + Ada #15 by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn (Chris Arnone)

This is a series that crawled up in my heart to stay. Issue #14 had me staring at the last page through welled-up tears. Issue #15 was the conclusion to Luna and Vaughn’s patient little masterpiece, and though a bit saccharine, was fitting and beautiful. For those who haven’t read it, I recommend a binge-read. The pacing is a bit slow for single issues, but perfect for a collected read.

crickets-4Crickets #4 by Sammy Harkham (Eric Margolis)

I’m a binger. I read mountainous stacks of comics in one sitting. I watch entire seasons of TV shows on Netflix in the span of a week. I read thousand page book series in a row, refusing to squeeze another book in between. That’s just my preferred method of consuming media. To my dismay, there are some powerhouse comic creators who just don’t output enough material to do that and it makes me crave it even more. Sammy Harkham is one of those creators. It’s almost better that he doesn’t have a constant stream of material coming out, because it forces us readers to sit down and really digest the work. You never really know when this guy is going to put out a new book, but when he does, you know that he absolutely poured his heart and soul into it. Crickets #4 is no exception. This is one hell of a masterful work in cartooning, something that I’m certainly going to return to many, many times. Crickets #4 is a comic not to be missed and if you’re not familiar with Sammy Harkham, I implore you to check him out. You won’t be disappointed.

giant-daysGiant Days #4 by John Allison, Lissa Treiman, and Whitney Cogar (Hilary Lawlor)

Giant Days has always been fantastic and fun, but #4 is definitely my favorite issue yet. First of all, we get to focus a little bit more on Daisy instead of mooning over Esther all the time, which is fun, because Daisy is adorably strange and her arc in this issue is both hilarious and heartbreaking. But this issue also raises an important question, both with Daisy’s main storyline and Susan’s secondary one: even if your friend is heartbroken, is it fair to blame the one who broke it? Does the heartbreak-ee bear any responsibility for making assumptions out of thin air? DEEP THOUGHTS.

A-Force CoverA-Force #1 by Marguerite Bennett, G Willow Wilson, Jorge Molina, Craig Yeung, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, and Cory Petit (Ali Colluccio)

There has been a woeful lack of Miss America Chavez in my life since Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matt Wilson’s run on Young Avengers. I’ve missed her sass, her kicking holes in the multiverse, her glares in Loki’s direction. Like the comic says, “She’s beauty. She’s grace. She’ll punch you in the face.” In A-Force, she throws an interdimensional shark. This issue has also given me my most favorite exchange in the history of ever. “America, no!” “America YES.” Which I think works both for the character and the country. While America is headed up to The Shield (not to be confused with S.H.I.E.L.D.), I am still really excited to see this team of ladies get to the bottom of why there was a shark in their dimension to begin with.



FI nimona-199x300Nimona by Noelle Stevenson (Melody Schreiber)

I think everyone else on Panels has already read and recommended this, but in case you were holding out… Go read it now! It is SO good. It’s hard to choose a favorite part, but I particularly loved how morality is anything but black and white–and how the characters continuously reveal layer after layer of complexity. OMG GO READ THIS.

gigantic-beardThe Gigantic Beard that Was Evil by Stephen Collins (Monica Friedman)

On the island of Here, everything is ordinary and understandable; change and difference are feared until the event of Dave’s evil beard. You could read this graphic novel as a straightforward tale about a guy whose facial hair grows unchecked until it takes over an island, or you could enjoy it as an allegory about the dangers of conformity and the freedom that comes with embracing a little chaos and uncertainty in your daily existence.

midnighter-1Midnighter #1 by Steve Orlando and ACO (Jon Erik Christianson)

I’ve never particularly been drawn to comics that feature hyper-violent characters. More often than not, it’s all blood spatter and no substance. But when I heard the DC was launching Midnighter, a series starring a gay male protagonist as written by a queer male writer, I had to bite the bullet. I’m glad I did. Between the cleverly articulated action sequences (featuring x-ray filters that make the violence more brutal but less gory) are character vignettes that highlight Midnighter’s fragile relationships with family, romantic partners, and himself. This comic has physical and metaphorical guts.

loki-agent-of-asgardLoki, Agent of Asgard by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett (Michael Chasin)

I can’t believe I’d missed out on this one until now, especially considering how much I loved the Young Loki saga Kieron Gillen wove throughout his runs on Journey Into Mystery and Young Avengers. For whatever reason I hadn’t heard enough buzz about Al Ewing and Lee Garbett’s follow-up work with the character to convince me it would be of the same quality, but if anything it’s better. This is Loki at his antiheroic best, a lying, scheming, well-intentioned but never virtuous agent of mischief as he fights (quite literally) against the destiny everyone expects him to fulfill in a surprisingly emotional meta-commentary on the struggles of changing as a character when confined to a reality that constantly reverts to the status quo. The most recent issues have felt like both the culmination and the next logical step of the five-year epic that began in JiM, and while I expected he would grow tiresome after all of the mainstream attention he’s gotten from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki is instead one of the characters I’m now most excited to continue following once the dust of Secret Wars settles.

dr-fateDr Fate
#1 by Sonny Liew and Paul Levitz (Marcy)

This comic is my biggest surprise of the month. No one had been talking about the new Dr Fate comic. It had no buzz but I thought I’d give it a go as I’ve never read any Dr Fate before. It’s good, I really enjoyed it. It has diversity, some solid artwork, and a crisp script that gets across everything you need to know. It doesn’t leave you head-scratching like so many recent number 1s, I’m looking at you Marvel. This is a great starting point for new readers and I highly recommend it!



all-star-section-eightAll-Star Section Eight #1 by Garth Ennis and John McCrea (Mart Gray)

One of the best aspects of the DC relaunch is that we’re getting funny books that are actually funny. There’s Bat-Mite, Prez, Harley Quinn, Bizarro, and this, the return of a team unseen since the classic Garth Ennis/John McCrea Hitman series ended more than a decade ago. One reason Section 8 hasn’t been seen is that most of the membership – Defenestrator, Bueno Excellente, Friendly Fire, Jean de Baton Baton, Flemgem, Shakes and my favourite, Dogwelder – were killed fighting the good fight. Sole survivor Sixpack – a super-drunk without the ‘super’ – believes only Section 8 can stop some nameless threat that’s coming. Can he somehow get the old gang back together? And is that really Batman parked illegally by the ATM outside Noonan’s Sleazy Bar? Sixpack’s efforts to recruit the Caped Crusader are a delight thanks to Ennis’s witty script and McCrea’s equally irreverent art. If you enjoy gloriously off-colour gags, humorous art homages and a surprise serving of poignancy, this sly wink at the excesses of the DC Universe is for you.

wicked-divine-12The Wicked + The Divine #11 by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson, and Clayton Cowles (Hattie Kennedy)

I know this is sort of a no-brainer but I was honestly so struck by this issue that brought to a close the second story arc of this series. I had to sit and just wordlessly gape for quite some time after I turned the final page on Comixology. Flabbergasted might well be the appropriate word to describe me. I’m not going to indulge in any spoilers, fear not, but I enjoyed seeing the resolution to a few ongoing questions or storylines and have found myself really excited to see where the story is headed next. I’ve heard a lot of good theories and I have a few of my own, so bring on Issue 12 and a series of guest artists that are coming on board for the next arc!

black canary 1Black Canary #1 by Brenden Fletcher, Annie Wu, Lee Loughridge, and Steve Wands (Katie Schenkel)

Like a lot of first issues, Black Canary #1 can only do so much. There is a lot of story still to be told and considering his excellent work on the recent arcs of both Batgirl and Gotham Academy, I completely trust writer Brenden Fletcher to build the story of Dinah and her band over the next few months. It’s a slow build with this story and I’m in for the ride. However, the reason I chose #1 as my pick for June? The art. Annie Wu is stellar in this issue, bringing her cool style to not only the main characters but also the various background characters the band meets from venue to venue. My favorite thing about Wu’s art is how she draws women’s faces. During the scene where Dinah and Lord Byron chat, there are little details like the lines around Dinah’s eyes and her weary smile that says just as much as the dialogue. Wu lets her women look tired and by doing so, they feel more real. The neon colors from Lee Loughridge are near perfect. My only complaint is the skin tone on Heathcliff — I suspect it might be part of the issue’s shadowing, but his skin tone looked much lighter this issue than it did back in Gotham Academy. I hope that gets rectified in issue 2 — and I’m definitely picking up issue 2.

daredevil-mark-waidDaredevil, Vol. 1: Devil at Bay by Mark Waid, Chris Samnee, and Peter Krause (Jessica Plummer)

I’ve never been a Marvel girl, but darned if the Netflix show didn’t get me hooked on the Man Without Fear. This trade, the first of the soon-to-be-ended current run, was an impulse buy at Special Edition: NYC, and I didn’t regret it for a single panel. The book is gorgeous and laugh-out-loud funny, but there’s an undercurrent of genuine emotion – grief, loyalty, a battle with depression that cuts very close to home for me – that grounds it in Matt’s overall history. Also, did I mention that it’s gorgeous? Can Chris Samnee just draw my actual life from now on? Please and thank you!

imposters-daughterThe Imposter’s Daughter: A (True) Memoir by Laurie Sandell (Swapna)

I have a weakness for graphic memoirs, so reading this one, in which Sandell discovers that her father isn’t the main he claimed to be (and is, in fact, a con artist) is fascinating. Sandell documents her obsessive quest to know the truth about her father, and the damage that does to her family. It brings up interesting questions of how much of a family story is your own to tell, as well as focusing on how much Sandell needs her father to be a good person. It’s beautifully illustrated and is a book that will draw you in completely.