July had a ton of great issues come out. At Top of the Pile, the Comic Vine staff takes a look at all of the books from the previous month and let's you know what their favorites were. In July, we saw the end of Batman's ZERO YEAR, as some big turning points in ORIGINAL SIN. Let's see what we loved out of all those books.
Tony's Top Books
The end of Zero Year. It’s almost unheard of to see a big Batman event remain so self contained. There were some Zero Year tie-ins but they didn’t deal directly with the story and were minimal. This has been our chance at seeing a big Batman story in one title without having to worry about what was going on in other titles.
This issue marked the final confrontation between Batman and Riddler. One of the fascinating things about Batman is his villains and how varied they are. This wasn’t a physical battle but one that required quick thinking on Batman’s part. This is still the younger and less experience Batman we’re talking about. That gives the whole story more of an unknown feeling, despite knowing that Batman has to prevail since this is in the past. Knowing that Batman isn’t necessarily at the top of his game and won’t immediately be able to “beat everyone” has made this a fun and exciting story. I can’t wait for it to be collected so I can re-read it all over again.
Oof. How great was this issue? The premise of the story was pretty simple. The dialogue was minimal. Warren Ellis did give us a nice set up but Declan Shalvey’s art and storytelling really stole the show. Moon Knight had to fight his way up five flights of stairs. We joked that it would have been great if he had to go up even more. The action was so brilliantly executed, we simply wanted more.
I’ve long been a Moon Knight fan. Ellis, Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire have done wonders on this series. With each issue being self-contained, this is one you could pass along to a friend that’s never read MOON KNIGHT before to give them a taste of what he’s capable of.
Scott Snyder ended another story arc this month with THE WAKE. He and Sean Murphy’s miniseries has been quite an interesting read. We’ve seen the story spread over time and get some pretty strange revelations in this issue. Snyder’s concepts and Murphy’s art have made this a gorgeous and exciting story. Of course it’s a bummer that it was always set as a ten-issue series. We can’t help but want more. Hopefully someday the two will be able to return to this world they’ve created us so we can see even more.
Joshua Williamson is doing some interesting things in the world of serial killers. In a small town where many past serial killers were “born,” we’re seeing a few mysteries unfold besides the question of why so many have come from Buckaroo, Oregon.
Mike Henderson is doing wonders with the visuals as well. We’ve often seen dark and horror comics fail because the visuals simply can’t capture the mood necessary. Henderson is not having any problems in this department.
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming are continuing to flesh out their new comic book world. Right away, we get treated to a little flashback showing just how the events in this world differed from actual history. The mob has managed to gain control over several territories and it’s pretty cool seeing how things happened. There’s also some heavy things happening in the present. When a US Senator was killed, the question is who would dare do such a thing? Valentine and Jagger have been pulled into a messy situation and just might be in a little over their heads. There’s also more on the revelation Valentine’s mom made at the end of the first issue. Basically, things are pretty messy for everyone. The storytelling and art are really keeping us on the edge of our seats.
Mat's Top Books
Comic books are supposed to be entertaining, right? If that's the case, then CHEW: WARRIOR CHICKEN POYO nailed it in July. The book has nothing to do with CHEW, yet it retains the fun and silliness of the book. This issue is pretty much all dedicated to Poyo being awesome. It's exactly what I want in a comic book from time to time.
One of the things I really enjoy about this issue, as CHEW as a whole, is that artist Rob Guillory packs a lot into a panel, including a whole bunch of fun jokes. It's awesome to see great art that offers readers a tiny bit more. As always, John Layman has a real knack for writing comedy and overall, this was the most enjoyable comic book reading experience of the month.
It's not surprising to see GHOSTED #11 on this list. GHOSTED has wowed me since day one. This is a stand-alone issue, but not one new readers can dive right into, which is what I found extremely charming about it. Issue #11 is a nice little break from Jackson running from ghosts, but not in a Scooby Doo type manner.
Writer Joshua Williamson and artist Goran Sudzuka provide a great story completely about Anderson, who is currently haunting Jackson, and how she got hooked up with Markus. I hope Williamson continues to sporadically do more one-shot-esque issues like this to break up the main story because this one worked so well.
I can't figure out what I love more about MANIFEST DESTINY: the concept or the execution. A book with a concept that is a bit more "out there" doesn't always translate to a great book, but MD works. Utilizing the diary of Lewis and Clark, while taking some monstrous liberties, writer Chris Dingess crafts an incredible adventure comic that is geared towards adults, which is a rarity in comics right now. It has everything you'd want from an adventure book, but with added violence and more adult situations.
This issue was a bit slower than others, but that will happen when you're trapped between a rock and a hard place and that rock happens to be a giant, man-eating frog. What's a lot of fun about this book is that danger and doom are always lurking in the New World. What keeps me coming back is to see what this creative team is going to do what's next.
Easily, this is the best of the Ultimate books. Bendis, Marquez, and Ponsor continue to deliver a thrilling and fun series that feels like a solid continuation to the last volume. Norman Osborn is back and takes on Monica Chang, and Marquez's version of Green Goblin is freaking awesome looking. While seeing Peter come back is a bit of a downer, I cannot wait to see how the Miles/Goblin confrontation is going to work. Plus, this issue had Bendis and Marquez drawn into it as bumbling detectives, which for some odd reason I found myself really loving about this issue.
It may not be the best reviewed book, with the past two issues getting 4/5, but BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA is easily one of my new favorite series to read right now. As a fan of the original film, I had high expectations for this series and it does not disappoint. Eric Powell is really doing a great job at capturing Jack Burton from the film and putting him into the comic.
This issue places Burton and Egg Shen on the Black Road diving into more of the BTiLC mythos and there's a lot of entertaining and many times, hilarious dialogue. BOOM! Studios is doing something awesome with this licensed series and I'm intredibly glad this book exists.
Gregg's Top Books
Elektra's latest volume has been such a wonderful surprise. W. Haden Blackman and Michael Del Mundo are creating an unforgettable adventure for the famous assassin. Blackman's script keeps an absurdly tight grip on our attention and delivers the perfect blend of character depth and excitement. We've been given a great insight into who Elektra is and the new character, Bloody Lips, is one to keep an eye on. And then there's Del Mundo's beautiful art. In fact, it's so immersive and wonderful that calling it 'beautiful" doesn't really do it proper justice. It's something you need to experience for yourself to truly appreciate. Even if you have zero interest in Elektra, this is a book that'll quickly win you over.
If Justin Jordan has a new book with Image, you can bet it's going to have my full attention. The guy has entertained me and then some with the thrilling DEAD BODY ROAD and the totally over-the-top LUTHER STRODE. And, as a huge fan of John Carpenter's The Thing, the premise for his latest project put it immediately on my radar. Thankfully, this debut issue's a blast and left me wanting to see more of this frightening world. Jordan swiftly establishes all of the terrifying basics and what this gruesome world has to offer. Artist Kyle Strahm is the perfect choice to reel us into this horrific world, too. All in all, this first chapter left me wanting to learn more about the two primary characters, witness more man on monster violence, and continue to see what else this scary place will throw our way.
I love Moon Knight and I love the movie The Raid. Well, it just so happens that the latest issue of Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey's MOON KNIGHT is heavily inspired by The Raid (as well as The Protector). So yeah, you can bet I really loved it! There's only a little bit of buildup and then boom! We're thrown right into non-stop fighting. Now, in the wrong hands, this could get old pretty quick. However, Shalvey delivers the cinematic and brutal goods as Moon Knight faces goon after goon and dispatches them in totally different and jaw-dropping ways. Love comic book fights? Well, this is an issue that you need to read!
It's a shame we know Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's time with Oliver Queen will come to an end, but luckily for us, they're giving us one heck of a story before they leave. Richard Dragon's actions in Seattle are producing a thoroughly entertaining and gripping read. This issue ends on a note that has me anxiously awaiting the next chapter and Lemire continues to do tremendous work playing around with Ollie's New 52 mythos. And I just can't get enough of Sorrentino and colorist Marcelo Maiolo's pages! They've done a terrific job breathing new life into this book and they always manage to unleash so much creativity.
BOOM! Studios' brand new volume of ROBOCOP feels like an organic follow-up to the classic film from 1987. Writer Joshua Williamson has duplicated Paul Verhoeven's tone ridiculously well and it feels so good to leap back into RoboCop's gritty and crime-infested world. The plot is off to a fairly basic start, but this first issue did a praiseworthy job showing us what RoboCop's iconic world is all about and kicked off with a great action scene. As a big fan of the first movie, this debut issue has won me over and then some. I'm really looking forward to the second chapter and if you love the classic movie, you really need to check this out.
Corey's Top Books
CHEW: WARRIOR CHICKEN POYO
Ask anyone who's even remotely good at it and most will tell you that humor is not easy. Ask anyone who's tried and failed and they'll DEFINITELY tell you that. Humor in comics is a tricky proposition because it is, of course, a silent medium but also a visual one, meaning that a sense of timing is difficult to ensure. This one-shot for the bizarre superchicken Poyo sidesteps the issue by trading in equal parts parody and absurdity. If it merely parodied fantasy tropes it could be successful, but likely wouldn't stand out so John Layman takes it a step further to it's most insane place, combining his usual food punnery with some amazing lampooning of the things we still take for granted in the fantasy setting while actually parodying Chew itself as well. Rob Guillory's art is, as always, an incredible, kinetic, bizarre feast. His wild proportions work because there's still an internal logic and consistency to them, and his action scenes are like snapshots from another dimension's most offbeat war.
Last issue gave us a glimpse at a world of transitory gods that walk among us. While it was a tremendously interesting initial issue, it also set the bar for what Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie would have to deliver as a follow-up INCREDIBLY high. I'm hoping someone gets on the technology for putting bars in orbit because, at this rate, we are going to need it by year's end. We delve into both the background and the mindset of the charismatic, mysterious Lucifer and while there are still a ton of questions unanswered, we know a great deal more about the rules of this world. There's a deep mystery at the center of this book, but it's surrounded by other, smaller ones and I feel like by answering those, we'll get a better idea of the larger picture. At the very least, this issue has led me to keep asking and keep anticipating.
Speaking of mysteries, I've been waiting for Mark Waid to answer the one about the fate of Foggy Nelson ever since this issue renumbered with him conspicuously absent, but seemingly not gone entirely. The answer I got turned out to not only be a satisfactory one, but one brimming with heart and incredible, impactful emotion. This is also partially due to Chris Samnee's art balancing whimsy and drama perfectly, ensuring the book never descends into overt grimness, but still treats its very tragic subject matter with the gravity it deserves. Along with issue 6, this closes out the introductory arc in a way that lets the reader know that Daredevil is remaining one of the must-watch characters in the Marvel U.
Hope springs eternal and hope is what this title was sorely lacking for the last two arcs. There's something heartening about a redemption arc happening within a redemption arc and I feel like that's what this book's undergone. After faltering due to a abrupt creative team change, Tom Taylor seems to have found his footing and is off and running. While some obviously parallels exist between this and Taylor's OTHER title where Superman becomes an unstoppable dictator, the two titles are different enough that Taylor's able to show another side to his writing ability and that's bringing things to their absolute lowest point before finding a way to launch a believable turnaround rather than conjuring a convenient, but unsatisfying, one from the air. Nicola Scott's artistic vision for this book had scarcely been stronger and her designs for the new characters have been inspired, particularly as one of those characters comes into his own this issue in a startling, dramatic fashion. I've been waiting for the end of this arc for different reasons, but this is the first time I've been truly excited to see what comes next in a long while.
This story's been a series of pits and valleys tonally and just when we appear to have hit the bottom of how dour this arc can get. After an incredible battle between the Illumanit and the Great Society, the fate of an entire, populous world must be decided. Jonathan Hickman could have just given us that, and this would have been a good issue. What elevates it to greatness is his focus on individual characters, in this case: Black Panther. In just a few pages, we get an idea of the internal strife and struggle going on not just with T'Challa, but the other members of the organization. Though Panther's is specific to him, it's written in such a way that it could be about any of them, but in the end what happens could not have happened any other way. Valerio Schiti's art is one of the things that's made all this darkness and horror bearable as his visuals have an air of lightness and his attention to little body language details makes the characters interesting to look at, even when they're engaged in a conversation. Whatever the outcome of the choice made, the journey we've been on to get here as been one of the most worthwhile I've ever read and this issue is one of the reasons for that.
There you have it! Those are the books from July we loved the best. Let us know what your top five books of July were in the comment section below and we'll see you guys next month!