If you’ve been following me on Twitter or Facebook, you know that the last month has been CRAZY for me. I’ve barely been active on either site and, for the most part, I have neglected some of the comics I’ve been working on. This is obviously a huge bummer. My Top 10 lists have also been neglected and for that I apologize. To kick things back in gear, I’m taking a look at the best monthly comic books that I’m currently reading! Hit the jump to see my list.
Note: I didn’t include any comics on this list that I read in trade. Here is a partial list of books that I’m behind on reading because I only read them in trades: Walking Dead, Fables, Morning Glories, Skullkickers, Chew, Thief of Thieves, Invincible, Ghostbusters, and Super Dinosaur.
Honorable Mentions: All-Star Western, A+X, Batman, Bravest Warriors, Doctor Who, Star Wars, Thor: God of Thunder, and Wolverine & the X-Men
10. ADVENTURE TIME (Boom! Studios)
Licensed comics have a long and spotty history, so when Cartoon Network’s bizarre cartoon Adventure Time was announced as an ongoing comic from Boom! Studios all-ages line, I was initially hesitant. Adventure Time is such a surreal program that relies so much on visual twists and music that I had some difficulty imagining how it could successfully translate into a comic. Obviously, I was wrong as this award winning series perfectly captures the tone and sensibilities of the source material while taking advantage of the conventions of the comic book medium. Between the strong main arcs and the often bizarre back-up stories, Adventure Time’s comic adaptation is not only one of the best licensed comics I’ve read, but one of the best comics I’m reading right now (as a side note, I have done everything in my power to get noticed by the editors of this series so I can contribute a back-up, including teaming up with an Eisner Award-winning artist, but as of yet I have not been tapped to write a story).
09. TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (IDW Publishing)
Speaking of licensed comics… The longstanding Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic franchise relaunched shortly after the property was purchased by Nickelodeon. While many, myself included, were expecting that the main comic would mimic the tone of the then-upcoming animated series, the comic actually matches the tone of the original gritty Mirage Studios release that launched the phenomenon in the 1980s. While it does match that tone, the series actually completely revamps the origin and mythos of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which made it accessible to new readers without alienating longtime fans. If you’ve ever enjoyed the Ninja Turtles in any incarnation, this series should be incredibly enjoyable for you.
08. GI JOE
GI JOE: SPECIAL MISSIONS
GI JOE: COBRA FILES (IDW Publishing)
I’ve been a sucker for the GI Joe franchise since my early childhood. From the toys to the cartoons to the comics to the second live action movie, the eternal struggle between the Joes and COBRA is completely ingrained into the fabric of my nerdiness. That being said, I think that IDW’s take on the characters might just be the perfect imagining of the series. Perfectly mixing the colorful characters that made the franchise a phenomenon in the 80s with a realistic take on military action, this GI Joe covers all bases and much like IDW’s new version of the Ninja Turtles, it should satisfy longtime and new fans alike. The most recent volumes are still in their infancy so it should be easy to track down, though I highly recommend checking out the first wave of GI Joe books from IDW that were running for a few years strong before the books restarted at #1s earlier this year.
07. CAPTAIN MARVEL (Marvel Comics)
Perhaps the biggest cult-hit currently running from the Big 2 right now, Captain Marvel is under the radar of most casual readers but has a very dedicate fanbase that I am proudly part of. Carol Danvers has never been my favorite character, but has been an enjoyable enough part of the Avengers that I thought I would give the new series (which rechristened Carol from her former moniker as Ms. Marvel into the newest Captain Marvel) a shot. I was hooked from the beginning. Kelly Sue Deconnick is one of the best character writers in mainstream comics today and this series is a perfect example of what she is capable of putting together. With a great take on the very relatable main character and a strong supporting cast, Kelly Sue has elevated what could have been a throwaway character into a fan-favorite. While I normally hate the idea of “gendering” comics—I think comics should be acceptable and marketed to both males and females—this comic makes Captain Marvel the perfect hero for girls. She is strong-willed and righteous without being preachy or pandering to a female audience. This is the hero you want your daughters to idolize, but in a comic that anyone can enjoy.
06. SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN (Marvel Comics)
Taken completely out of context, an ongoing series about Doctor Octopus taking over as Spider-Man after the death of Peter Parker in a bizarre body-switch might just be one of the worst-sounding ideas for a monthly series. Maybe it could work as “What If…” miniseries, but an ongoing? Well, when you put into the context of the brilliant Dan Slott run that closed out Amazing Spider-Man and add in a rotating art group that includes Humberto Ramos, Ryan Stegman, and Giuseppe Camuncoli, it becomes one of the best comics on the stands today. This series defies all expectations and thumbs its nose at critics, proving that you don’t need Peter Parker to tell one of the best Spider-Man stories of recent memory. We all know that Peter will be back eventually, but as long as Slott is at the helm, I am in no rush for the original web-slinger to be back under the mask. Oh yeah, and did I mention Slott is bringing Spider-Man 2099 back? How freakin’ awesome is that?!
As part of Marvel’s NOW promotion, which shifted a large number of longstanding creative teams onto new titles, Brian Michael Bendis took the reins for the X-Men franchise. At the center of this was All-New X-Men, a new title that follows the original five X-Men, plucked from time and dropped into the present by Beast as a reaction to the actions taken by Cyclops in A vs X. Anchored by great dialogue and incredible heart, All-New X-Men is easily the strongest of the X-titles at the moment, which means quite a lot given how strong these books have been over the last year. When you add in some incredible art by the likes of Stuart Immonen and David Lafuente, you get one of the best superhero books launched in the last few years.
I’ve had a hard time explaining Revival to other comic book readers, but that has not stopped me from recommending it to anyone and everyone that will listen to me. The creative team, Tim Seeley and Mike Norton, describe it as “rural noir,” which certainly captures the tone. Taking place in a small town in Wisconsin, Revival follows the lives of various townsfolk who are reeling from the fallout of their loved ones returning from the dead—but not as zombies (it’s about as far from Walking Dead as you can get). Combining surreal mysteries and fantastic characters, this series is the comic book answer to Twin Peaks…and it’s just as good, too!
I have been singing praises for Richard Starkings’s Elephantmen for YEARS now. It was my favorite comic during my days as a comic book reviewer and has remained one of my favorite books to this day. I don’t think there has ever been an off-issue of this sprawling sci-fi epic that follows the lives of rehabilitated animal/human hybrid soldiers in a futuristic Los Angeles. The series recently hit its 50th issue (which does not count the extra issues, Hip Flask side-series, and the AMAZING War Toys prequel miniseries) and every single one of them has been utterly fantastic. I’m not sure that I can accurately convey the beauty and horror of this series in words, despite the fact that I’ve been writing about it since 2007. You really must experience Elephantmen to understand just how amazing it is. Plus there is a character named after me that debuts in the 25th issue and appears sporadically throughout the next 24 issues (I won’t spoil my own fate) and my dog Lebowski even made a cameo appearance. That alone is worth the price of admission.
Believe it or not, I had always favored DC Comics titles/characters over Marvel. It was until about a year ago that the pendulum swung the other way and Marvel became my company of choice for mainstream superhero books. Hawkeye is a prime example of why Marvel is coming out on top for me. It’s a book that takes chances with the types of stories it tells and how it tells those stories, with the end result being one of the most innovative superhero comics ever produced. Matt Fraction and David Aja were completely magical when they teamed with Ed Brubaker on Immortal Iron Fist a few years back, but they surpass it with this series, which covers the life of Hawkeye when he isn’t running around with the Avengers. It’s a comic about a non-powered hero that makes questionable decisions and doesn’t always come out on a top, with awesome character work and simply gorgeous art. It has been nominated for dozens of awards over the last year and deservedly so. This is THE superhero comic book on the stands right now and should not be missed.
Saga being at the top of this probably won’t be a surprise to most people. This is THE comic of the last year and half. It’s won awards and been at the top of “Best of” lists. Each issue has gone into multiple printings. It’s the IT book right now and deservedly so. The imaginations of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples have completely exploded onto the pages of Saga. This bizarre sci-fi opera is one of the most surreal comics you’ll ever see and yet it is completely grounded in the very real relationships between its characters. If you have been living under a rock since 2012, Saga tells the story of two young parents on the run with their baby from various forces—all because they are soldiers on opposite sides of an interplanetary war. Saga is as beautiful and well-written as it is shocking. There is a reason this is the most talked about comic being released right now and there is a reason almost all of that talk has been positive. You need to be reading Saga.
What are your favorites?