Hellboy & The BPRD
Written by Mike Mignola and Chris Roberson, Art by Paolo Rivera and Dave Stewart
Written by Tom King, Art by Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Revenger & The Fog
Written and Art by Charles Forsman
Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Greg Smallwood
It has not been too terribly long since Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey put what many consider to be an indelible spin on the character of Moon Knight....two years to be exact. Now Jeff Lemire has taken over the mind of Marc Spector and has once again taken the anti-hero in yet another unexpected, yet welcome direction. This Moon Knight does an excellent job right out of the gate of not only honoring what has come before, but tossing Marc Spector in a brand new direction that is unusual and twisted, but works exceedingly well. Without spoiling to much, imagine if you thought you had lived your life as this crazy vigilante, only to wake up in a mental institution and being told your "memories" never happened. If Marvel Studios decides to adapt Moon Knight to Netflix, I want them to turn to THIS run first. It's that good. This is, of course, in no small part due to the fantastic work of Greg Smallwood and Jordie Bellaire. This series is only three issues in, so it's in a nice sweet spot where it is both easy to pick up and easy to wait for trade. Take your pick.
Written by Jeff Lemire, Art by Dustin Nguyen
Descender is an interesting little comic for me. This is mostly due to the fact that I only read the comic in trade. With two volumes out already, though, Descender is quickly becoming not only one of my favorite comics of 2016, but one of my favorite comics right now. In this Image book, Jeff Lemire crafts the story of Tim-21, a robot who wakes up one day to a world where robots are hated and hunted for scrap. If you need one of these modern comparisons, think Saga meets Wall-E with a dash of Short Circuit. Technically, the film rights to this comic were bought before issue 1 even debuted, so if you want to have a leg up on moviegoers before this becomes even more popular, now's your chance. Dustin Nguyen's art shines just as much as Lemire's unique story. The use of water color adds a grace and beauty to a world that is missing quite a bit of both of those things. You owe it to yourself to check this comic out.
Written by Chris Sims and Chad Bowers, Art by David Nakayama
Who would've thought that a spin-off of a Secret Wars tie-in would end up being one of the best X-men books Marvel has published in years. Maybe it's because I got really into comics by reading 1990's X-men, but X-men '92 is just too much fun. I was a bit lukewarm on the Secret Wars tie-in of this, primarily because I felt that the art tried way too hard to look exactly like the work Jim Lee did back in the day. Fortunately, with this on-going series, David Nakayama takes a lot of visual cues from Jim Lee and the popular X-men: The Animated Series, but makes things feel perfectly modern. Set in a world all its own, X-men '92 sees the classic team of Wolverine, Psylocke, Storm, Jubilee, Bishop, Gambit, Beast, and Rogue take on threats including Omega Red and Dracula. This is the kind of fun X-men story I've been dying for in a world that seems to love having the comics and movie X-men be dark, gritty, and ultra serious. X-men '92 may not win any Eisners for its writing, but I always come away from each issue with a grin on my face.
Sheriff of Babylon
Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads
Written by Tom King, illustrated by Mitch Gerads
We're pretty big fans of Tom King around here. The formalist writer came out of nowhere after years of government work, and immediately grabbed some attention working on Grayson with Tim Seeley. But it was on Marvel's The Vision and Vertigo's Sheriff of Babylon that he really started garnering acclaim. Kyle discussed The Vision above, but Sheriff of Babylon is if anything a denser, more personal work, Middle Eastern noir that takes place during the American occupation of Iraq. The book follows an American police officer tasked with training the new Iraqi police confronted with the corpse of one of his trainees, and the investigation that follows. Illustrated and colored by Mitch Gerads, the book is gorgeously gritty, and Gerads has a talent for creating character in his figures, the way they move or hold themselves saying a lot. King and Gerads make a phenomenal team, and Sheriff of Babylon particularly lets them play around with structure, often utilizing page layout and panels to create expectation and dictate tone in a way that I haven't seen many other teams attempt. Sheriff of Babylon isn't as attention grabbing as The Vision, but it's every bit as worth your attention.
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Emma Ríos, colored by Jordie Bellaire
Let's be frank: There's nothing on the shelves like the lyrical, mythic weird Western that Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Ríos, and Jordie Bellaire are crafting at Image Comics. The second volume of Pretty Deadly was long-awaited by fans, and if anything, Ríos and Bellaire have surpassed their work on the first one. DeConnick has almost faded into the background and let the art team create some of the most surreal, chilling visual storytelling in mainstream comics today, marrying a quasi-World War I story with an apocalyptic vision of the afterlife. Pretty Deadly is one of the few books out there that can haunt my dreams with its vision of the past.
Written by Alex de Campi, illustrated by Carla Speed McNeil, colored by Jenn Manley Lee
4 Kids Walk Into a Bank
Written by Matthew Rosenberg, Art by Tyler Boss
I know, I know, we're only one issue in, but it left a hell of an impression! Rosenberg has created some great characters with the group of titular kids, and the combination of his endearingly comedic scripting and Boss's stylistic paneling work made for an exciting debut. While the title hints at some criminal activity looming in the future, for now we have a fun introduction full of imagination that dips into Hawkeye hipster territory, but plays it just right. Easily the most exciting first issue so far this year.
Written by Chris Samnee and Mark Waid, Art by Chris Samnee
Brought to you from the familiar team that helmed an impressive run of Daredevil over the last few years, they're not bringing their particular brand of character driven action to Natasha Romanova. From the nearly wordless first issue that set the stage to the ultra-stylized 2nd and 3rd issues, it's clear that Samnee is taking a much larger role in the scripting that more than justifies his co-writing credit. Samnee's impressive visual storytelling skills are on full display here, and each issue so far has been a thrilling experiment with the form.
Written by Warren Ellis, Art by Jason Masters
The prospect of turning a character that has spanned dozens of novels and been played by no less than six actors into a new comic character is one that fascinates me, and Ellis and Master's take is absolutely worthy of the name. They nail the character's core personality while avoiding most of the misogynist pitfalls that usually come along with it, and Masters gives the book a unique sleek-but-gritty look that sets it apart from typical property-driven comics. As a big fan of Bond, it's exciting to get a new story that feels true to form and yet a fresh take.