Comics/Graphic Novels

The Best Comics We Read in October 2014

We asked our contributors to share the best comic they read this month. We’ve got capes, science-fiction, slice of life, and much, much more. Some are old, some are new, and some aren’t even out yet. Enjoy and tell us about the highlight of your reading month in the comments.

fusevol1The Fuse by Antony Johnson and Justin Greenwood

The first six issues of The Fuse , collected in TPB format by Image Comics, constitute one of the most satisfying opening arcs of a comics story that I’ve read in a long time. Writer Antony Johnson spins an excellent murder mystery, which just happens to be set on a space station amid a complex social web of haves and have nots. The dynamic between the ambitious new cop and town and his cynical veteran partner is recognizable to fans of crime fiction, but it also feels fresh. This has a lot to do with Justin Greenwood’s artwork, which combines spectacular sci-fi splash pages with sharp mundane details — the way a character scowls or crosses her arms or eats a Pop Tart. The work of colorist Shari Chankhamma completes the package, infusing the pages with greens and browns and oranges, so that the bright red blood really pops off the page. Enhancing the great storytelling is a diverse cast of characters that pushes beyond genre-typical expectations of race, national origin, gender presentation, and age. You can catch up with this great series before the new arc starts in November. – Caroline Pruett


lose6Lose #6 by Michael DeForge

Uncomfortable, in the best way possible way is how I would describe the way most Michael DeForge comics make me feel. Lose #6 certainly upholds that tradition. Lose is a bizarre anthology series that is all over the place in the best way possible. DeForge jumps from body horror that would impress Cronenberg to mock encyclopedia-type comics about bizarre animals, such as the “Canadian Dog”. DeForge has a clean, minimalist style that can become incredibly diverse and highly-detailed with no warning. If you dig Chris Ware and Danial Clowes and want to read a comic that is sometimes morbid and always weird, check out DeForge’s latest, Lose #6. If you’re looking for something a bit longer to immerse yourself in, “Ant Colony” was fantastic as well. DeForge is a real powerhouse, I urge you to look into him if you’re up for something different. – Eric Margolis


punisherblackandwhiteThe Punisher Volume. 1: Black and White by Nathan Edmondson, Mitch Gerads

Frank Castle is a character I’d never really connected with in comics. Actually, that’s putting it too lightly – I’ve always kind of despised the Punisher, a gun-happy, black-clad antihero that seems built for teenage boys who idolize nihilistic vigilantes in pop culture. So I’m as surprised as anyone that the best thing I read this month was the first volume of Edmondson and Gerads’ Punisher, kicking off Castle’s story in the Marvel NOW!iverse. I’d fallen in love with the duo’s work on The Activity over at Image, and they’ve brought the same tight plotting and expertly choreographed action – a credit to both artist and writer – over to the Marvel U. Moving the story from NYC to LA is a boon as well, making a great self-contained story anyone can pick up. And, hell, they even put The Punisher in a Hawkeye shirt when he was in his civvies, referencing another of Marvel’s better recent endeavors. From top to bottom, I loved everything in this book, and hope Edmondson and Gerads are steering this character for a long time. – Josh Christie


hellokittyjustimagineHello Kitty: Just Imagine… by Jorge Monlongo, Jacob Chabot, Ian McGinty, Giovanni Castro, and Sarah Goodreau

The Hello Kitty books published by Perfect Square have quickly become one of my favorite releases because they’re just so adorable and clever and perfect. They’re silent comics, and all-ages, so there’s this added dimension for me: I can share these books with my ESL students, and so far they’ve been delighted by seeing Kitty-chan going on all kinds of adventures. I got to enjoy this book double – first by reading it myself, and then by seeing my students devouring it. There are some great stories in there about friendship and exploring and just plain having fun that appeals to a wide audience. – Kristina Pino


lumberjanes6Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Brooke Allen

With every issue of Lumberjanes I think it can’t get any better, but every issue proves me wrong. As this story arch moves along, we get more monsters, more magic, and more mythological wackiness. More girl power, more quips, and more ass kickery. In the latest issues one Lumberjane’s big secret comes to light, but will it ruin her relationship with her best friends? I wish I could tell you, but I’m waiting to find out myself. – Andi Miller




panzerfaustPeter Panzerfaust Vol 1: The Great Escape by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins

When six young male orphans find themselves fighting for their lives in the early days of World War II, a mysterious and clever British teen named Peter arrives to help lead them to safety. Set in France in 1940, Peter and the six “lost boys” have to sneak out of war-torn Calais under the eyes of the occupying Germans. The muted colors and loose linework sell the harsh reality of the conflict though hints of the light fairy tale that helped inspired this story are presented throughout. This first volume contains the ongoing series’ first five issues with later volumes continuing the story. – Jeff Reid


The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 (Archie Comics)Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1 by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Robert Hack

Horror really isn’t my thing. The genre doesn’t do a lot for me and I don’t really seek out horror tales. So, Sabrina #1 was a bit of a surprise when it landed on my to be read pile. Capitalizing on Sabrina’s darker role in Afterlife with Archie, this new version on Sabrina the Teenage Witch takes us back to the 60s to reintroduce Sabrina and her supporting cast. The book takes its style cues, both in story structure and art, from classic 60s and 70s horror films, and it couldn’t be a better fit. This Sabrina is much different than her Archie origins – and the late 90s ABC comedy many know her from – more pragmatic, more reserved. And she occupies a world mired in autumnal reds, oranges, and yellows. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa delivers the perfect balance of coming of age drama and magic-powered horror, and the two sides play off each other really well. They’re helped by Robert Hack’s heavy-lined, throwback pencils and moody, subdued colors, which give life and depth to Greendale. I’m excited to learn more about Sabrina, Salem the Cat, Ambrose the Warlock and Hilda and Zelda as they deal with an accidentally awakened succubus, who may or may not be on the trail of Archie Andrews. – Brian McNamara


bumperheadBumperhead by Gilbert Hernandez 

“Is punk just an excuse to stay angry all the time?”

In his followup to the riotous exploration of childhood in Marble Season, Gilbert Hernandez turns his attention to the listless abandon of the 70s. Young Bobby’s coming of rage story serves as a chronicle of disaffected youth and the harrowing numbness that comes from never truly engaging. Bobby flits through life, often bruised but rarely cognizant of joy or tragedy. His hair transforms, reflecting the transition from glam to punk, but the boy inside simply persists, riding the crests and troughs of rage. Meanwhile, the reader as surrogate feels everything else. – Paul Montgomery


msmarvel9Ms. Marvel #9 by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona

What praise can I give to this series that hasn’t been heaped upon it already? Kamala Khan is the kind of teenager I wasn’t – I wasn’t nearly that purehearted – but she’s the kind of teenager I would’ve liked to be at that age, and the kind of teenager I want to shove into the hands and hearts of every smart, geeky tween girl out there who adored Guardians of the Galaxy but wished she saw more of herself in it. I adore Adrian Alphona’s scribbly, cartoonish art – perfect for showing Kamala squashing and stretching her way through crime – and Ian Herring’s gentle colors. It looks like no comic I’ve ever read but more like a picture book, which makes it extra-perfect for new readers unfamiliar with the format. And as a DC fangirl who only dabbles in Marvel every couple of years when they put out a new book starring a plucky teen girl (I miss you, Anya Corazon as Spider-Girl!), I can vouch for it being perfectly accessible to a n00b with only the vaguest idea of what a Terrigen Mist is or why that dog has a tuning fork on its head. Why can’t this book be daily instead of monthly? – Jessica Plummer


songofrolandThe Song of Roland by Michel Rabagliati

One of Québec’s best-loved bande dessinée artists for his stories of his semi-autobiographical protagonist Paul, Rabagliati returns with The Song of Roland to tell the story of the life and death of Paul’s father-in-law. From family dinners to end-of-life care, Rabagliati negotiates tales from a life made of vignettes, rendered in his deceptively sparse black-and-white line-art style. This is graphic storytelling at its stripped-down best, emotionally restrained and yet deeply moving: a fine example of what has made Rabagliati so popular.

– Brenna Clarke Gray


saga23Saga #23 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Things have been building to a pitch for a while now, and I was ready for the shit to hit the fan — but oh man. Vaughan and Staples never pull their punches, do they?

– Jenn Northington






giganticbeardThe Gigantic Beard That Was Evil by Stephen Collins

It’s tough to pin this book down. It takes place in a cozy little place called Here and everyone is afraid of There. And then a beard starts growing. And growing. And growing. I don’t think the publisher would ever go so far as to classify it as a horror novel, but Collins’ art is inked with dread and existential despair. It is a book about loneliness, fear and worry that still manages to have a small glimmer of hope nestled in amongst the burly titular beard. It’s a gorgeously illustrated book that takes its time with a simple story while developing some really interesting storytelling techniques. Heartily recommended for anyone looking for something a little different. I probably make it sound like a drag, but it’s not. It’s easily the most engaging thing I’ve read all month. – Chris Rohling


iranianmetmorphosisAn Iranian Metamorphosis by Mana Neyestani

Mana Neyestani was an Iranian cartoonist working at a newspaper in Iran. All of a sudden, he found himself in deep trouble with the regime for “inciting violence” through his cartoons. Neyesteni uses this comic to tell the disturbing story of his imprisonment. The stark black and white lines convey the bleankess of Neyestani’s predicament and his hopelessness at the matter ever being resolved and him being able to go home to his family. It’s a wonderful and thoughtful read. – Swapna Krishna



archie660Archie #660 by Alex Segura and Jeff Shultz

When did I start reading this? How did this happen? I’m not entirely sure, but there seems to be something of a punk rock spirit about Archie Comics right now. Not the punk of pastiche, with safety pins and bleach, but that of Paul Westerberg, whereby you can be a normal-looking janitor in a quiet town, and still be the coolest person on the planet.
In other titles they’re taking risks, pushing the characters in new directions with Sabrina and Afterlife with Archie. On the main title, they’re just having fun. Archie makes the mistake of arrangeing four dates for the same gig and get’s challenged to try and pull it off. The writing is fun, simple and witty. The art manages to be both old-school Archie and modern, with clean lines and great character acting. I’m loving it. – Jay Stringer


wickedanddivine5The Wicked + The Divine #5 by Kieron Gillen, Jaime McKelvie, Matt Wilson, Clayton Cowles

Almost anything I could say about this issue would be a spoiler. I’d like, instead, to refer you to a Tumblr post writer Kieron Gillen made about the series in general:

He says, “This is about people rather than moral lessons. This is a book about discovery and fucking up and flux.” I think we can be assured that The Wicked + The Divine will not conform to expectations. It will not adhere to convention. It will amass its own canon, it will contradict, it will exceed, it will abandon. In this fifth issue, the previous four issues are … recast in a new light. The story I thought I was reading is apparently no longer the story. I now need to go back and re-read those previous issues in order to prepare for the story that is to come.

One-two-three-four. Boom. – Sigrid Ellis


multiversitythejustMultiversity: The Just by Grant Morrison and Ben Oliver.

I know the 90s are generally reviled by the comics community as a period of gritty extremes and an overabundance of gimmicks, but some of my favorite DC legacy characters came from that time period. And now Morrison brings ‘em all back — with a modern spin that makes it all work. Kal-El is dead, but not before he programmed his Superman robots to keep the world safe. The result? A legacy of “heroes” (Kyle Rayner, Connor Hawke, Natasha Irons, Kon-El, among others) with no more battles to fight, which has created a celebrity/dilettante scene of never-ending parties and super-villain battle re-enactments. It’s a great way to bring back some old favorites while giving them a unique spin. – Dave Accampo


letter44Letter 44 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jiminéz Albequerque

So I’ve been traveling a lot this month (shocking, to anyone who knows me) so I haven’t had my stack handy and have been relying on all things digital. Not much of the weekly grind has been standing out of late, so I decided to go back and try to catch up on a book that fasinated me with the first issue but then fell off my radar: Letter 44 by Charles Soule and Alberto Jiminéz Albequerque. It’s just the kind of sci-fi I’ve been looking for; intriguing, mysterious, weird, but focused on a very human story. It’s also an easy book to pitch to peopl new to comics, “You know how the outgoing president always gets a letter from his predecessor? Imagine if Bush wrote to Obama that all the nonsense he started was to prepare us for an upcoming war with aliens.” What more could you possibly need to hear to not immediately want to read issue 1? – Ryan Haupt