Wake up, wake up, it's the first of the month! That means it's time for the staff of Comic Vine to come together and let you know what they thought were the top picks of May! This past month had so many amazatastic issues that is was incredibly hard for some of us to pick just five. Below, you'll find the books we throw on the top of the pile when we sit back in our favorite chair to read!
Tony's Top of the Pile
This was simply an epic issue. Set at sixty pages, it was a brilliant ending to Geoff Johns' nine-year run. Even though the recent Wrath of the First Lantern crossover arc wasn't my favorite, it did set up some great situations that played out beautifully here. Johns gave us so much closure with all the characters and it's going to be hard to continue reading the series since there's such a feeling that this should just be the end of the series. Doug Mahnke has been drawing the characters for the past four years and he went all out, drawing nearly all of the sixty pages. It was a massive book and one that will not be forgotten. It was well worth every penny of the $7.99 price tag.
Last month's issue #9 was pretty crazy in itself but Francesco Francavilla and Matt Fraction take us on a different journey this week as we find out more about Kazimierz Kazimierczak aka the Clown. As if Fraction' story wasn't enough, Francavilla's layouts add another layer to the storytelling. As we see Kazi's interaction with Kate Bishop, you start to feel uneasy knowing what he did last issue. Plus we see some of the "Bros" once again.
And now for something completely different. We know Scott Snyder can write Batman like a mofo. We know he can make vampire stories cool and interesting. He can even write creepy stories set in the past. Now he's giving us something else. Teaming up once again with Sean Murphy, THE WAKE starts out with a mystery set beneath the ocean surface. We have a character with a checkered past, an interesting cast of characters and some epic depictions of water and waves. Snyder and Murphy set it all up and then knock us down with a cliffhanger ending that will have you wondering what's coming up for the 30 days as you wait for issue #2.
Brian Wood is on a hot streak. Aside from his great X-MEN #1 (which I'm sure someone else will have on their list), his take on the classic Star Wars characters is spot on. Month after month I'm amazed that Wood can continue to create new stories set in between Episodes IV and V and make them so compelling. But this, I mean we know what is going to happen to the characters immediately after this period but the events will get you hooked. The only complaint is each issue feels too short as there are different events going on and we don't get to see enough of each character.
Was this a ground-breaking issue? Did it forever change the way we see Supergirl (or Power Girl)? No. Was it a blast to read? Absolutely. Comic books don't need to be completely serious all the time. Michael Alan Nelson and Mahmud Asrar gave us a hilarious look at the two Supergirls fighting against Kara's base, Sanctuary. Forget WORLDS' FINEST, I want to see more team ups between these two. The jibes they trade back and forth and Asrar's brilliant depiction of facial expression and emotions made this a joy to read.
Mat's Top of the Pile
What a fantastic start to a brand new series. Sure, there are way too many X-titles. Yes, the solicts really play up the fact this is an all-female team, but the book never touches on it, but the actual book itself, if you actually take the time to read it, is brilliant. Brian Wood does a fine job at setting this book up and providing the reader with a team that seemingly works very well together. As a on again, off again X-Men reader, I was also very happy to see the return of a character from my favorite X-Men story arc. If that doesn't sway you enough, then made some really awesome art from Olivier Coipel will make you dive right in. I had high expectations for this book because of the creative team, and I was not let down. That rarely happens.
Kyle Higgins is doing something with NIGHTWING I've been waiting for a long time. He's slowly, but surely, separating the character from the rest of the Bat-family. Grayson is a strong enough character on his own that he doesn't need to live in the shadow of the Bat, and by moving Nightwing to Chicago and having him to deal with things in his past that aren't necessarily connected to Batman, he's made this series stronger and a stand-out in the New 52. Plus, it doesn't hurt that Brett Booth is doing the art. If you'd like me to be even more clear. Brett Booth's art, on this issue especially, is rainbows dipped in unicorn's blood. Now, you have a full understanding of the amount of awesomeness contained within this issue.
Vertigo book: check. Scott Snyder's writing: check. Sean Murphy's art: check. They should have just called this book "Our Key Demographic is Mat Elfring." Sadly, that title is a bit too long, and honestly, a bit too silly. What a great start to a mini-series. I love the fact this plays out like a horror film, since we don't get to see too many horror comics that actually work on the page. Plus, Sean Murphy's art is fantastic throughout the issue. I know it's only one issue in, but I like seeing these two creative guys work together. Solid issue and very solid ending.
The brutality is back! Yes, I'm a X-O MANOWAR cheerleader but for a very good reason. This issue was off da hook (do people still say that?). This book mixes action and story so well, and this issue features my second favorite kill of the series. I love what writer Robert Venditti is doing with the series, and this is the perfect reboot for a whole new generation of comic book readers. This should be on your pull list.
Who likes the Epic of Gilgamesh? Who likes the Epic of Gilgamesh with Armstrong, the Eternal Warrior, and the Timewalker in it? This was a fantastic zero issue as were learn more about these brothers and their epic adventure. It's also a great look into what makes Armstrong the immortal man he is today. Fred Van Lente has been a writing all-star on A&A. On top of everything else, Clayton Henry's art work on this series is stunning. This is another book you need to have on your pull list.
Honorable Mention: There was a ton of great books, this past month, and it was really hard to nail down five of my favorites. Here's three books that came so close to making the cut. SUICIDE SQUAD #20 (Patrick Zircher's art is super-pretty), ALL STAR WESTERN #20 (The Booster Gold/Jonah Hex team up works so well), and TEN GRAND #1 (HELLBLAZER fans will love this book). Also, anyone else really bummed there was no issue of SAGA this month?
Gregg's Top of the Pile
Are you a Ninja Turtles fan? If the answer is even "kind of," I demand for you to rush to your shop (be it physical or on the great interweb) and purchase this issue right now. It's the beginning of "City Fall," the first major story for the heroes in a half shell, and IDW has done a beyond brilliant job kicking it off. It's totally new reader friendly (there's a wee bit of exposition thrown in there for ya), and turns out to be a real shocker -- especially if you've been a fan of the franchise for awhile now. To make matters even more amazing, Mateus Santolouco takes over as the primary artist for the ongoing series and his work is simply stunning.
Grand. Epic. Phenomenal. All of these words without question describe Geoff Johns' swan song for GREEN LANTERN. Well worth every penny of the expensive cover price, Johns somehow managed to wrap everything up perfectly. All of the key players are here and each have their little moments to chine. But in the end, it's of course Sinestro and Hal who steal the spotlight in a series of absolutely fantastic segments and the way it all comes to an end is nothing short of masterful.
This issue had my face hurting from too much laughing and smiling. An uneasy team-up between Deadpool and "Spider-Man" + The Blandtastic Four = ridiculously fun. Virtually everything was at the top of its game here. Co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn kept the jokes sharp and frequent and artist Mike Hawthorne provided some exceptional panels. This book has definitely been a far more lighthearted take on the merc with a mouth, but when things take a dark turn, they really manage to deliver on the moment. When a pre-cog asks why he can't see what's about to happen, Deadpool doesn't pop a joke. He's finally in serious mode and just plainly states,"Because I kill you." Complimented by a jaw-droppingly cool panel of Wade, this instance reminded me that despite the sea of silly situations, there's still the potential for some great and serious Wade moments in here, too.
Jimmie Robinson continues to make this a witty and merry limited-series. It's a nice escape from the variety of dark, overly dramatic or broody books in my pull list. It's a chance for a fun escape into an animated and somewhat heartwarming world filled with delightfully unique characters and conflicts that are sure to keep you guessing. The only downside to this book is the fact it'll end next month, but maybe if we're extra lucky it'll generate a follow-up. Please make that happen, Image Comics and Jimmie Robinson!
Superior who? I say Scarlet Spider is where it's at when it comes to the Spider-Man world! This issue was a true gem. Christopher Yost filled it with cute humor from "Hummingbird" and a truly exciting direction for Kaine. Yes, Iceman was severely downplayed and I have no idea how Storm was sleeping through all of that chaos, but who cares when we're being distracted by such hugely amusing material? To top it off, Carlo Barberi gave the book some lovely visuals which felt like the perfect tone for all of the madness that was unfolding in the script. I have no idea how so many people are overlooking this title, but you should rectify that mistake immediately.
Corey's Top of the Pile
Having only followed the Dark Knight sporadically, I was reticent to pick up the annual, but once I started reading, I realized I'd made the right choice. Taking place as a standalone story, the tale of Penguin, Scarecrow and Mad Hatter all answering a missive from the other two to appear at a spooky, deserted house turns into a tense stand-off when it becomes clear they've been lured into a hilarious trap. Hilarious, you say? In a Bat-book? That ISN'T campy and self-aware?? Yep, watching these three blunder about, trading war stories is one of the most purely entertaining single issue reads I've had in any book this week and maybe this year.
This issue, I felt, finally and truly cemented what this book was going to be about. Despite being originally pitched and promoted as "THE X-FORCE TEAM WITH GUNS! GUNS! GUUUUUNS!", the book is actually trading far more on a hard sci-fi feel with plenty of witty banter and a focus on character interactions. It's also finally made one of the most disparate team rosters this side of the Champions click in a major way as their plan comes together in all the right ways at just the right times. Add in art that I can't believe Salvador Larroca continues to deliver on-time, and this book has fully won me over.
Dark, grim modern noir that also seems to involve a strange amount of angels, ghosts and demons with a dash of titanic personal tragedy. It's a tough balancing act to release a book that's going to hinge on a mystery and tease JUST enough to fascinate the reader without just being obtuse and vague for the sake of being obtuse and vague, but I personally can't wait to see what Straczynski has in mind for this as it very broadly reminds me of one of my favorite early stories of his: Midnight Nation. Templesmith is also honing his craft as this is one of his clearest, but still strangest, issues to date.
I have a hard time talking about what made this issue great without just flat-out spoiling massive swaths of plot, but here goes. Massive swaths of this plot resolved arcs and developments that have been building and building for months without end until...well, they ended but in spectacular fashion that rewards people who've been following the book loyally for years. And this isn't even the final issue of the entire run! Parts of this completely and fundamentally change the status quo of the Marvel U, though in a way that they can be, for better or worse, ignored by other creators. But for a dyed-in-the-wool fan like me, this issue was a pure delight (mixed with a healthy dose of plot-relevant heartbreak).
This issue of Suicide Squad completely blindsided me with how amazingly high-quality it was. We finally get to see the Squad not just in their downtime, but actually growing and developing as characters and it's done in such a way that we, the readers, get to know certain members of it extremely intimately with little-to-no clunky exposition or contrived situations. We get to see how each one responds to a very specific stimulus administered in a very specific way and all for a VERY specific purpose that is integral to the ongoing plot, and it's absolutely fascinating. This issue also marks a perfect jumping on point, and I can only hope that its quality is indicative of the quality going forward.
Mat's Trade Recommendation of the Month
This is another of one of my favorite on-going series, and I've very excited it's finally in trade, so I can double dip. Image Comics/Skybound has another hit on its hands here, and I've been trying to sing the praises of this series since the first issue.
CLONE is about a man (Luke) whose life gets turned upside-down as he finds out that there are many clones of himself running around. His life and pregnant wife are taken away from him, and Luke finds himself at a camp surrounded by himself. While all this is happening, the Vice President must decide to vote on stem cell research which could help his daughter, which ties in greatly to Luke's world.
This is the first time, that I can remember, where I've seen cloning done right in almost any medium. Aside from the incredibly solid storytelling from writer David Schulner, artist Juan Jose Ryp somehow creates these insanely detailed pages and gets them out on time every month.
For $12.99, you get issues #1-5 of this series, which is actually cheaper than the cost of the individual books, in total. On top of that, there's a few early character designs as well as some commentary on it all. It's a great deal for the start to a great series. Scrape up some bones and pick this one up!
Now that you saw what we loved for May, what books were your favorite? What issues grabbed you by the feet, flipped you upside down, and took the change that popped out of your pockets? Let us know!
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