Welcome back to another amazing month of comic books! With every month, the staff here at Comic Vine picks out their top five books for the last month and tells you why these issues and series were at the top of their reading pile. This month, Corey, from Comic Vine podcast fame, makes his debut. Let's get right down to it. What issues from last month really got us "amped?"
Tony's Top of the Pile
Clint Barton is one of the greatest Avengers but he's also a massively flawed character. By that I mean, he's not perfect. That's just one of the charming aspects of this book. Clint tries hard but often has things blow up in his face which results in his semi-destructive behavior. Matt Fraction manage to cram in so much fun and action into this comic and then still catches us off guard with the crazy ending.
I honestly still have no idea what Jonathan Hickman's overall plan for this series is. And I don't want to know. I'm enjoying watching the story unfold issue by issue. Hickman and Nick Dragotta are creating a great new world and we're seeing more supporting characters show up that fills in some details on this world and time period but we still don't know what the endgame is. It's a great comic you can just jump in and enjoy, witnessing everything happen.
Aside from a couple minor issues I had, we had a great opening with the showdown between the GCPD and "Bruce Wayne." Seeing Capullo's art on a scene taking place during the day was a trip. Scott Snyder also has Batman doing detective work which is always great to see.
Geoff Johns is throwing quite the mystery at us. We saw a break in at the Batcave along with several new developments and more details on characters. You can feel that Johns is ready to take the League to the next level in the New 52. Plus the continuation of the SHAZAM! back up is a added bonus.
I loved this series when it first came out and the trade puts it all in a nice package. Sean Murphy's art is gorgeous. His story is ambitious and completely sucks you in. It has an epic feel to it given the span of time during the story. This is definitely a comic I'll read over again and again.
Mat's Top of the Pile
While I've loved this book, I felt that prior to this issue, this book could only really run 8 issues. Clone #6 really opened this book and the world it lives in and finally, this feels like it has the makings for one epic on-going series. The tone changes here a bit because there's a bunch more writers on this book, but we finally get to see the world open up a bit more as the Beta Clone is really introduced. Ryp's art is just so darn good on this series, and while I love this book, month after month, it's his art that puts it at the top of the pile for April. This may not be the best place to start for new readers, but you guys should really give Clone a shot. You won't be disappointed.
This is how digital comics should be done! This was a really fun start to this new digital series. The Eighth Seal does a fantastic job at utilizing this format, much like the Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite has been doing. This is a pretty cool mystery/horror piece with a few insanely disturbing pages from artists Jeremy Rock. Writer James Tynion IV has a very cool story here, and I'm very excited for future issues. In addition, you can get this for free on Thrillbent.com or for 99 cents on Comixology. I'm hoping that if you buy it, these guys get a cut because they deserve it for this book.
It wouldn't be a Top of the Pile without me drooling over another issue of Saga. The issue really focuses in on Prince Robot IV trying to find Alana, Marko, and Hazel. While the biggest controversy was whether or not this issue was banned because of a couple of racy pictures in the opening of the issue, Saga #12 provides yet another amazing story. Writer Brian K Vaughan makes two guys in a room talking into a fantastic and thrilling piece, and as always, Fiona Staples is an art master. Everything about this book is a beautiful masterpiece. Books like Saga are the reason I love reading comics.
Normally, I put a Trade Recommendation of the Month at the bottom of most of these articles, but this one stands out so much that I wanted it on my list. On top of that, Tony also put it on his list, so I feel a bit more comfortable with putting it on here. I double dipped on this one, meaning I own the single issues and the trade. This was an outstanding mini-series and man, Sean Murphy's art is tops. If you pick up any trade in the next couple of months, make it this one. If you pick up two, get this one and Joe The Barbarian. Buy everything Sean Murphy draws, while you're at it.
This issue made me so happy. For too long, Chicago has been an overlooked city in the world of comics, and writer Kyle Higgins brought Nightwing over to the Windy City to fight some crime/find Tony Zucco. Nightwing in Chicago works so well. This is a great starting point for new readers. Brett Booth takes over art duties, and it is stunning! Lastly, the Prankster gets a revamp. Everything about this issue put a big, dumb smile on my face. This is one of the few "super-hero" books I look forward to every single month.
Honorable Mention: X-O Manowar #12
If you follow me on the Twitters (hint hint), I made numerous complaints that last month had way too many awesome books. Out of the 11 books I originally picked for this month's TOTP, X-O Manowar was the last cut. How dare I make a rule for this article to only pick five books! Seriously though, this Planet Death story line is amazing.
Gregg's Top of the Pile
This issue was beyond funny, delivering at least 5.5 laughs per second. Clearly inspired by the classic DEADPOOL #11, this issue goes back in time and is filled with all kinds of hilarity and great moments. If you want a stupid smile plastered on your face, then do yourself a favor and read this issue right now. Seriously, go.
Holy funkmaster flex, this is a truly phenomenal issue. If you've played the game, you know the twist that's coming, but knowing it just doesn't prepare you for how powerful it is. It's a real gut-wrenching incident. Jaw-dropper aside, this issue had topnotch action from both Superman and Batman -- so badass it'll possibly get you to cheer outloud. Additionally, we were treated to some of Mike S. Miller's best artwork. Simply put: this is a must read issue.
This issue was perhaps a bit too cheesy for some out there, but for me, it was almost flawless (rushed art was the only aspect I didn't adore). If there is only one thing I can say to sell this issue, it's that it has without question the best use of Armadillo ever. And everyone loves Armadillo, right? ... right? But really, not only was it hysterical and heartwarming, it also serves as a huge tease for what's to come in the title. I know most of you are head over heels about Superior, but this is easily my favorite Spider-Man-related book.
Let it never be said that this series isn't consistently fun. While some may be concerned it has been rather formulaic up until this point (Tyler goes head-to-head with a club, discovers weakness, VICTORY!), writer and artist Jimmie Robinson has informed me the title will switch gears in the next (and penultimate) issue. Regardless of where he takes the title, I'm completely confident it'll be an experience worth reading.
'City Fall's' narrative is off to a slow start, but that hardly matters because A) Kevin Eastman and B) Amazingly entertaining fight. While the story doesn't truly move forward until the end (but it's fantastic if you've read Secret History of the Foot Clan and you did, yes?), the combination of Eastman's signature visuals and a super exhilarating fight made this issue a total blast. Sure, the reveal was fairly obvious, but this issue was all about the journey, and the journey was a damn good time! It really is a great time to be a fan of the Turtles -- this and the show are tremendous.
Corey's Top of the Pile
Comics once being referred to as "funny books" is somewhat ironic as many of them struggle with humor. Between the written word not really being able to convey a sense of timing and the fact that dialog has to be kept clipped from panel-to-panel, humor just doesn't fit neatly into comics very often, but this book conquered every last bit of that problem. From the opening "recap" page setting up the meta-joke of the issue having been written in the 80s to Deadpool rocking a kicky headband and changing his own title on a whim, to his perfect, retcon-worthy insertion into one of the most dramatic, memorable storylines in comic book history even all the way to the letters page being filled with comedians' "childhood" write-ins, every single page has something to chuckle at. The ending of the book in particular had me on the floor and the fact that this storyline is apparently going to integrate into the main Deadpool narrative is just icing.
Ah, sweet, succulent, comic book selling controversy. Not that a book like Saga needs the extra publicity, and of course the creators have made nice with both Comixology and Apple (the latter of whom turned out to be mostly innocent in the entire affair), but it's still awfully nice to have customers walk in and immediately request "the controversial book." But looking beyond that, Saga #12 is a PERFECT cliff-hanger issue, and it's going to be one HELLUVA hang since Vaughan and Staples are going on a well-deserved hiatus again to let the trade spread the word (and likely to give Staples a chance to get ahead). This series is batting 1000 as far as I'm concerned, there's not been a single bad or even filler issue, but this one leaves us pretty much knowing (seemingly) the entire cast of major players and what their roles will be in the future of the book. Of particular note in this issue is the absolutely spectacular, tension-filled interrogation of the author who may have inspired the love story that spans the entire...well, saga.
Last month, the DCU was shown a character with the fortitude to stand up to Batman and tell him that, while he's got every right to operate the way he wants to, he doesn't get to just order everyone else around. That person was Batwoman and it was an intensely satisfying moment, not even because I dislike Batman (I absolutely adore him) but because it's so rare to see someone defy him without it either turning out to be a catastrophic mistake or a part of an evil plot, and if #19 is any indication, it's neither. Kate not only goes into why she defied The Bat, but why she wears a variation on his symbol and what it, and Gotham, mean to her. She doesn't get along with her bosses, her ersatz mentor, even her sidekick has issues with her, but she's such a fascinating character that you find yourself thinking it's the rest of the world that's wrong.
Apocalypse VS Thor...centuries in the past...on Earth....HOW DID NOBODY HAVE THIS IDEA UNTIL NOW?! It was hard enough coming up with enemies that could credibly dent the God of Thunder's pride, let alone his physique, and I think this is one of the most clever and consistent they could have come up with. At this point I'm unsure how it will shake out, but I'm sure it will, in the upcoming issues, but I can't wait to see the pay-offs, particularly from the third party that seems to be playing both sides against one another. This was also an excellent return to form for Remender, whose run on the book had, so far, been lackluster compared to his spectacular previous works, so it's a relief to see the book get on-point and highly entertaining. The art by Daniel Acuna was also pitch-perfect for the medieval battle between two immortal beings, particularly during the outdoor rainstorm scenes.
Jonathan Hickman is already putting in a massive effort at Marvel, bringing his sci-fi sensibilities to the capes-and-tights set, but he's not resting on his laurels in the creator-owned space. Joining with Nick Dragotta in a tale where a massive cataclysm in America's past changed its future forever and marrying sci-fi aesthetic with fantasy sensibilities, Dystopian comics are about as dime-a-dozen as zombie ones, and while people can talk all they like about how sick to death they are of them, all it takes is a unique spin to set a book apart from the competition, and this book achieves that within its first few pages. East of West isn't content to merely be a sprawling epic, but also a deeply political one with heaps of intrigue to complement the metaphysical, inhuman characters. This is becoming one of the most fascinating new books to come out in awhile.
Hey guys! Thanks for reading this month's Top of the Pile! Did you read something you thought was amazing that wasn't on any of our lists? Put it in the comments below and tell us why it's so rad! See you guys next month!