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This Week's Essential Comics: 12/30/13

These are the comics you're looking for.

2014 is almost here and because of that, we're being treated to all-new comics a day earlier. Tomorrow, a flood of new issues will arrive and we're going to make sure you're prepared for 'em. The list is always intimidating and narrowing down the choices can be difficult, especially if you're working with a limited budget. Don't worry, though, because we're here to help you out. After looking at the list of this week's new releases, we've each selected a few that we're really excited about and we're going to tell you why they're worth considering.

Are you buying any of the comics we've listed or does your list of essential comics look a bit different? Don't be shy, let us know below.

Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero picks

DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #1

Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland are back. The two boys were first introduced way back in SANDMAN #25. Both were students at a boarding school and died. Having left the school, the two boys decided to become detectives, despite the fact they're both dead. They are willing to take on any case while hoping Death doesn't come back to claim them and take them away.

This new series is just the sort of comic we would expect and want from a Vertigo series. Here's a spoiler, I've read the issue already. Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham do a great job with the story and script. It fits perfectly with what we've seen before of the characters and also makes it new reader friendly. What can be said about Buckingham's art besides the fact that it's always a delight to see.

Do yourself a favor and end the year/start the new year with this new series for a chance to try something different.

JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #26

I've always liked JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK but usually hasn't been at the top of my reading list. What better way to capture the attention of readers than to insert a FOREVER EVIL tie-in?

FOREVER EVIL has been picking up and we've seen Constantine try to make due while the Crime Syndicate and villains of the world rule over everything. What makes this issue even more intriguing is the fact that the Aquaman from the Sydicate's world is back. He made a dramatic entrance at the end of Trinity War and his death came too quickly.

The series is in great hands with J.M. DeMatteis and Mikel Janin. This should be a FOREVER EVIL tie-in you won't want to miss.

Visit Nerdist for a look at another preview page.

SUPERMAN UNCHAINED #5

This series may have an odd schedule (issue 5 was released on November 6) but Scott Snyder and Jim Lee make each issue worth the wait. There's quite a bit going on here. We have Superman working with Wraith, even though this alliance may not last forever. Lex Luthor is up to his usual shenanigans so there's no telling what might happen there. Jimmy is at Lex's mercy and it's not looking too good for him. And what's going to happen to Lois?

This story feels more like a journey we're going through. You can feel the story building up with each issue and it looks like we'll be getting more answers about Wraith as well.

Newsarama has more preview pages.

Honorable Mentions: TWILIGHT ZONE #1, LEGENDERRY #1

Mat 'Inferiorego' Elfring's picks

CLONE #13

Last issue, this book took an extremely interesting twist! (What a twist!) While there is a giant anti-clone movement across the United States, we get to see how the pitchfork and torch bearing folks in the world handle the clones with a hint of vigilante justice. I love this new character that's holding Luke hostage. She's nuts and seems to think her ex-husband's, whom she killed, soul is now trapped in Luke's body. She wants to have a child with him, since the clones can't have kids.

This series keeps getting better and better and the stories are pretty nuts. This is one of my favorite Image series.

ALL-STAR WESTERN #26

I was digging this series when Jonah Hex was running around collecting bounties. When he shot into the present, I was a bit skeptical, but overall, Palmiotti and Gray made a Hex in the present storyline work extremely well.

In more recent issues, there's be the addition of the occult to this series as well as John Constantine. Again, this really works well, and it really has me excited for the series again. What really makes this an amazing series is the art of Moritat. I can't imagine Hex being drawn by anyone else now.

This is a series you have to give a shot because it's highly underrated and one of the coolest on-going series at DC.

Check out Newsarama for an extra page.

Gregg 'k4tz' Katzman's picks

LARFLEEZE #6

How can I resist the next chapter of DC's most lovably comedic book? Not only have co-writers J.M. DeMatteis and Keith Giffen been filling the pages with plenty of sci-fi spectacle and massive laughs, but they did something hugely important in the last issue: they added a whole new layer to the book. The series has done a great job making me smile and awe at the cinematic madness which is spreading across the universe, but now they've proven they can successfully hit us with some excellent emotion and a more serious tone, too.

It turns out Larfleeze's isn't quite as one-dimensional as you may have previously thought. Here's hoping we see more of that element sprinkled from time to time. Even in its absence, the sharp comedic writing and visually pleasing cosmic action is more than enough to keep me coming back for more. Come Tuesday, this book shall be MINE!

SUPERIOR FOES OF SPIDER-MAN #7

Well, it looks like Tuesday is going to be full of joy for me. Marvel keeps dubbing this book the "sleeper hit of the year," and I gotta admit, I agree with them. Nick Spencer's series is a pure delight to read each and every month and, with the return of a Spider-Man villain I happen to really like, you can bet I'm stoked to see what'll happen next.

If you're looking for these characters acting like badasses and living up to their true potential as villains, then you're bound to be disappointed. But, if you just want to enjoy some impressively solid writing and a wonderfully hilarious and creative course of events, then you should absolutely be reading this series. If you really need more convincing, pick up the last issue and the Doctor Doom segment should sell you on how fun this book can be.

Enjoy the Preview Theatre video for this issue here.

Jen 'MissJ' Aprahamian's picks

THE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #17

Always an essential pick from me, MANHATTAN PROJECTS will close out the year in a big way -- we've been watching four secret projects unfold and the team split into various factions, and now it's time for everything to collide. And by collide, I'm guessing "explode," although with this series, one never knows. MANHATTAN PROJECTS is wildly unpredictable -- in the best way possible -- and I adore the petri dish of chaos that Hickman and Pitarra have been cooking up month after month. (There's also a new MANHATTAN PROJECTS tshirt. Don't think I haven't pre-ordered that.)

JUICE SQUEEZERS #1

Making the latest of late-year debuts (seriously!), JUICE SQUEEZERS is an adventurous, creepy story involving giant bugs and tweens with moxie. On the surface, it's younger-reader fare, but let's not forget that it's coming to us from STRAY BULLETS' David Lapham (p.s. if you haven't grabbed those first four issues for free and gotten totally hooked, do that NOW). Expect on-point storytelling and plenty of action, and with a solicit that makes comparisons to E.T., Goonies, and Stand by Me, some serious nostalgia factor.

Corey 'Undeadpool' Schroeder's picks

DAMIAN: SON OF BATMAN #3

Artists also handling writing has often been a dicey proposition in comics. For every Eric Powell or Mike Mignola, there seem to be five...well, let's not name names, but most of us know it when we read it. Andy Kubert is certainly one helluvan artist and he's the one who drew the original BATMAN #666 on which this issue is based.

While I do think it is over-written at times, the overall plot has been fascinating to read with some great twists and turns along the way and an economy to the storytelling. I'm also someone who really enjoyed the glimpse into the 666 storyline, and while this is obviously departing from the tone and content of what Morrison established, it's still great to read a Batman that is similar, but brutally different, from the one we're used to seeing.

Go to CBR for the final preview page.

NEW AVENGERS #13.INH

Jonathan Hickman is still on New Avengers? Well, that's all I need to hear...Tony, put away the cattle prod!! New Avengers has become my favorite Avengers title by virtue of it taking the Illuminati in some completely unique, strange directions, but also for the sheer audacity of being a massive, mainstream superhero book that contained very, very little action per issue. Which, of course, just made the action all the more impactful when it did occur. I'm along for the ride on anything Hickman decides to do with the title at this point. We also get new series artist Simone Bianchi and while I absolutely ADORED Mike Deodato on the book, I'm intrigued to see what Bianchi's surreal, muddy visuals do for the tone and storytelling of the book.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #10

The solicitation for this reads like Bendis is doing another girls' night, only this time with Angela and Gamora. Except instead of hitting the town for downtime, they'll be on the hunt, which is just as good if not better. Whether or not that winds up being true, I can't wait to see the further adventures of these characters, a group of cosmic heroes that are also somehow relatable, interesting and, since it's Bendis writing them, witty and entertaining. While I'm not terribly familiar with Kevin Maguire's work, he's definitely got an impressive resume so I eagerly await seeing his take on these characters.

Honorable Mention: RED LANTERNS #26

Follow us on Twitter: Tony, Mat, Gregg, Jen, Corey.

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Edited by yo_yo_fun

Aquaman #26, Rocket Girl #3 and Twilight Zone #1 for me this week.

And maybe, Dead Boy Detectives #1 and All Star Western #26.

Edited by Bezza

Superman unchained, welcome back! Hope the wait was worth it, because whilst you have been away, Action Comics has stolen your thunder!!

Posted by Trodorne

@lifeboy said:

MotU- Can I get a 'WHAT WHAT!!' from my MotU people! :)

"What What!!"

The art is a huge step up with Mike O'hare doing the art duties on this.

Edited by lifeboy

@trodorne: I cantt wait to see sheRa and shadow weaver back in the comic! I would go so far as to say that I like the MotU character, better than my Dc characters :)

Posted by lifeboy

@trodorne: the art hasn't been that bad for me, but I'm angry that they haven't setup to start a second regular series. I want a MotU series and at Etheria/Frightzone series :p