May all of May be with you! It's another fabulous edition of Top of the Pile where the staff of Comic Vine picks out their top 5 books for the previous month and lets you know in an easy-to-digest list. There were a ton of great books last month, so let's get right to it,
People have been waiting for more Batman in action in Zero Year and that’s what we got in this issue. I’ve said it many times and I’ll keep saying it, I love this arc and time period. I find myself vastly more interested in this period than I am in the current day New 52 Batman timeline. There’s something really fascinating about seeing a younger and less experienced Batman that doesn’t always easily have all the answers to everything. We’re seeing him in a more raw state and he’s having to make due with what he has instead of relying on all his fancy Bat-equipment.
Scott Snyder has made Riddler a true villain to be respected compared to the bumbling goof he was before. Greg Capullo and Danny Miki’s art is fantastic and FCO Plascencia’s colors blow me away. I do not want this storyline to end.
With each issue of MOON KNIGHT and each bit of praise and excitement I hear from others, the smile on my face gets bigger and bigger. Moon Knight was one of those characters I immediately found myself drawn to in the early 80s even though he wasn’t necessarily on everyone’s radar. It’s great to see everyone enjoying the character I’ve dug all these years.
This is the issue where Warren Ellis had Moon Knight go up against some ghosts. It’s pretty crazy and I loved every page. The new costume Declan Shalvey created for that fight was insane. Jordie Bellaire’s colors are breath-taking as always.
Kyle Higgins and Rod Reis have given us a phenomenal new comic to enjoy. This is far from your average superhero comic and you can see this is the story Higgins has been waiting to tell. We are introduced to a new world, set in the early 60s. The characters are fascinating and it leaves you wanting to know and see more. Rod Reis’ art astonishes me every time I see something new from him. There’s been a lot of buzz over this book already so hopefully you don’t miss out on the beginning.
Josh Williamson has been winning over us with GHOSTED and CAPTAIN MIDNIGHT. Here, things are going down a darker path (even though GHOSTED has taken some slightly dark routes before). Williamson takes us to the world of serial killers. When a small town has the history of giving birth to sixteen past serial killers, you have to wonder why that is. What is it about this town that breeds these killers. That’s what one investigator wanted to find out and did. But then he disappeared before he was able to share the information with his buddy, a former Army interrogator. Now we’re starting to see this town and the glimpses of darkness that are lying in wait. If you read the first issue, you’ve likely been hanging on the edge of your seat waiting for the second to be released.
Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming have created a new world and series where mobsters control a big part of America. There’s nothing more refreshing than being introduced to a brand new series. I went into this one without having any idea what the series was about. Having these two creators on board was all the incentive I needed. Things aren’t always as they seem and I immediately fell in love with the series, tone, and world. I need that next issue like right now.
Honorable: SECRET AVENGERS #3
This is how you kick off a new volume of a series. A lot has changed in the Ultimate universe, since Galactus invaded and tried to eat everything, like he does. It may not be the best of starting points, but it's still new reader friendly enough to make most folks comfortable. Brian Michael Bendis starts this series and introduces some cool new villains, brings back an old one, and it has one of the most shocking reveal pages in recent memory. More than anything else, the art from David Marquez and Justin Ponsor is spectacular here. This is easily the best of the new books from the Ultimate line and fans will really love this new story line. Plus, tons of Ganke. Who doesn't love Ganke?
This really blew me out of the water. The first volume of EMPIRE was good, and I figured that a new series, a decade later may not have the same impact as the first, Well, I was wrong. Writer Mark Waid continues the story of Golgoth here and it's interesting to see how the world works now, with Golgoth in control and his daughter recently passed. The first issue really sets the tone for the rest of the series, and I love it. Barry Kitson's are is really great here, and while you need a subscription from Thrillbent in order to get this book, EMPIRE alone with worth the $3.99 a month price tag alone.
What most excites me about DETECTIVE COMICS #31, and DETECTIVE COMICS as a whole since Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato took over, is that it feels like a detective book again. As a reader, you're right there with Batman, learning what he's learning as the story progresses, which is really cool to see the pieces of the larger puzzle come together. This is the first time we get to see Sumo in action, and the solicits don't do it justice. He's a really cool character and we got treated to a really cool fight scene that has some brilliant artwork from Manapul. This is the first time, in a long time, I've been excited for DETECTIVE COMICS.
It finally happened, something I thought would never happen. A Fantastic Four book made it onto my Top of the Pile list. I've never been the biggest fan of the team, but James Robinson's run on this book has been incredibly fun. This issue pretty much takes place entirely in the court room. Yes, this is a court room drama issue and it works so well. What makes this issue and this series so great is the fact that it embraces the history of the team, no matter how silly... even Malice. There's a lot of love for the history of FF here and the way the story is moving is a bit out there, but it's a bit of a refreshing tale. Robinson and Kirk are doing fine work here.
The second arc of GHOSTED wraps up here and what I'm loving about this particular issue is that is puts the whole series into perspective. However, this issue also broke my heart and it broke the hearts of fans everywhere. Josh Williamson is really doing a fantastic job on this series, but he also enjoys playing with my heartstrings by killing off people I love. It's ok though because this book is about ghosts, so we should see them again, right? Seriously though, what's great about this last issue is that is moves the book forward by making this more of a single-character focused book rather than a ensemble. Look, Image has a lot of good series, but month-to-month, this is one of my favorites.
Honorable Mention: WONDER WOMAN #31, NAILBITER #1
Hey, have you liked the Ghostbusters at any point in your life? Maybe you enjoy the movies or appreciated the cartoon when you were a kid? If so, you need -- yes, need -- to give this latest story arc an honest chance (it began with issue #13). Mass Hysteria! is a brilliant follow-up to the two movies and this issue is proves that. It not only pays so much respect to the franchise and embraces its past, but it also does a lot to make it a refreshing story. Writer Erik Burnham's script is sharp and Dan Schoening (pencils) and Luis Antonio Delgado's (colors) pages are marvelous and loaded with energy. Seriously, this story'sridiculously fun and it'll keep you smiling. Even if you never gave the franchise a shot, this event could very possibly turn you into a fan.
This book has reached a point where the title should honestly be changed to THOR: GOD OF AWESOME. In fact, calling Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's book "awesome" isn't even giving it proper credit. Yes, it's that good. Aaron's script is absurdly engaging and manages to balance all of the elements perfectly. The action is big and glorious, the plot has me hooked, and the characters are given great dialogue. And then there's Ribic's art which is downright epic. I was never much of a Thor fan, but this series quickly changed that.
The finale of Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera's DEAD BODY ROAD is every bit as thrilling as you'd expect it to be. Not only does Jordan hit us with plenty of huge moments, but he also manages to make character a priority in this one. It's a massively satisfying conclusion and manages to say a whole lot without being weighed down by an overabundance of dialogue. Then there's Scalera and colorist Moreno Dinisio's visuals. Jordan gave these two a gritty script and they managed to produce pages that are both beautiful and packed with intensity. DEAD BODY ROAD is a gripping revenge story and, assuming you're not faint of heart, you should dive right in.
Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Marcelo Maiolo continue to make GREEN ARROW my favorite DC book. As always, this series has immensely creative artwork and it pulls you right into Oliver Queen's adventure. It's without question one of the best looking comics out there. To top it off, Lemire's doing huge things with Green Arrow's mythos. Not only did he create a fulfilling conclusion to The Outsiders War, but he has me beyond excited for the next story. I'm sure I'm not the only person that had their jaw dropped after seeing that final page. Since jumping on the book with #17, this creative team has been nothing but fantastic. Here's hoping the next story is every bit as good as everything that has come before it!
Co-writers Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn sure know how to make me laugh. This issue is hugely entertaining and filled with a variety of comedy that is sure to make everyone laugh out loud at least once. The adventure is so over the top in the best way possible and it's insanely enjoyable. And then there's that ending. If you've been following the series, there's about a 100% chance it'll grab your interest. As if the experience couldn't get any more exciting, Scott Koblish and Val Staples produce panels that are the perfect compliment to Duggan and Posehn's crazy script. I absolutely loved this issue.
Honorable: Elektra #2
Charles Soule has been on something of a roll with his melding of action and comedy, but there's one title that definitely leans more toward the latter than the former and that is She-Hulk. The book's tone is, mostly, surreal comedy, but when it decides to get dramatic it works very, very well. A critical part of this tone are Javier Pulido's visuals, bringing the surrealism home while also emphasizing the comedic absurdity of it all. All I'll say about the humor is that there is a giant Doombot that insists it not be smashed during diplomatic negotiations involving Dr. Doom's ill-gotten progeny. This book is HILARIOUS.
Warren Ellis has always been a forward thinker, both in terms of comic books and existence itself. Transmetropolitan, for instance, now reads as incredibly prescient, Global Frequency is a trendsetter, Crooked Little Vein has point after point to make and with Trees, Ellis has made a story out of the notion that if alien races had mastered interstellar travel, would they even recognize humanity as "intelligent"? This is an alien invasion story where the aliens didn't invade, they merely saw Earth as a dumping ground. Jason Howards' gritty, dark visual style matches Ellis' ideas perfectly. This isn't a flashy, shiny high science fiction story, it's a gloomy, bleak sci-fi tale with plenty of room to breathe and expand, continuing to ask questions that much of fiction doesn't.
Ongoing series starring villains are one of the trickiest propositions in comics. Limited series are easy enough, it doesn't matter if the baddie is likable by the end, just that the team has provided some kind of insight into their character. But to make a villain compelling enough to return month in and month out is the REAL challenge. Cullen Bunn seems to know and respect that fact, delivering a Thaal Sinestro who will never be called "heroic," but will definitely be called "motivated." And a motivation that's realistic and even resonates on some level. If not in methods, then certainly goals. Sinestro's efforts to reign in his Corps in the wake of his disappearance are brought to stylized, legendary life by Dale Eaglesham's art, lending credence to the notion that this is not just Sinestro's story, but his legend. My vote for most compelling DCU villain has often gone to Sinestro, and this book seems poised to give me plenty of reason to continue thinking that.
I have...just NO idea of what to think of Moon Knight at this point. Between the incredible, bizarre writings of Warren Ellis and the ultra-detailed, in-depth art of Declan Shalvey, Moon Knight has scarcely been more interesting. Rather than trying to convince the reader that he's a very serious, legitimate character, these creators seem to be running the opposite direction, saying that "No, he is, in fact, QUITE INSANE! But in an AMAZING way!" So we've had dapper Moon Knight, warrior Moon Knight, and now: spiritualist Moon Knight. Or perhaps more accurately: ghostbustin' Moon Knight. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the storyline being split into standalone parts, but it's been three issues, and thus far I love its ability to accommodate storylines of COMPLETELY different style and tone.
Crossovers are something of a mixed bag for me. When they work, they're absolutely incredible and able to encapsulate and bring together themes, characters and stories that wouldn't normally work well together. Uprising is such a crossover, allowing each title to breathe and maintain its own tone and cast but having each one feed into the greater narrative. This one gives us John Stewart not only embarking on a great jailbreak sequence but founding a character seemingly forgotten in the annals of Green Lantern tales AND the New-52 shakeup. Van Jensen knows exactly where to focus: on the strange, wonderful Green Lantern Corps supporting cast, while ensuring Stewart makes an amazing, plot-defining appearance. Bernard Chang's visuals bring this strange, wonderful Corps and universe to sharp, detailed life, helping seal the title's status as standout among the DCU.
Thanks for checking out our top picks, but we want to know what books you loved in May! Let us know in the comment section below! Also, follow all of knuckle heads on the Twitter. (Comic Vine, Tony, Mat, Gregg, and Corey)