The Best Comic Books of August 2019

Featured Image from the cover of Doctor Mirage #1 by Philip Tan

Best Graphic Novel/Collected Edition

SparrowhawkSparrowhawk [Boom! Studios] – writer Delilah S. Dawson, artist Matias Basla; cover by Miguel Mercado

Dawson’s pitch black Victorian-era fairy tale is the story of Artemesia, the illegitimate daughter of a British Naval captain, unwittingly pulled into Faerie so the evil Faerie Queen can switch places with her and wreak havoc on the human world. Sparrowhawk drips with fatalism from the moment Artemesia finds herself on the wrong side of the mirror. Dawson understands the first rule of tragedy – that the hero must make all the wrong choices for perfectly understandable reasons.

Best Single Issue

House of x 002.jpgHouse of X #2 “The Uncanny Life of Moira X” [Marvel] – writer Jonathan Hickman, artist Pepe Larraz; Cover by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia

A much discussed issue that lives up to the hype. Jonathan Hickman’s re-invention of Moira MacTaggart’s origin and timeline might be the most audacious retcon in the history of comics, with implications that stretch far beyond the already massive story he and Pepe Larraz are telling. But there’s more to this chapter than the lives and timelines of the newly-dubbed Moira X: this is also one of the most gratifying accounts of the Magneto/Professor X rivalry we’ve had to date. And with Hickman now taking the reigns of the X books for the foreseeable future, it means he’s only just getting started.

Runners Up

Die 006Die #6 “Grind” [Image] – writer Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans; cover by Stephanie Hans

After a brief hiatus, Gillen’s and Hans’s take on the LitRPG genre returns with its best issue yet, with Gillen’s furious, high-concept plotting and Hans’s widescreen, dust-blown layouts perhaps the most perfect pairing in comics right now. This chapter finally gives us some background on Ash’s cyberpunk little sister Angela, who makes a heart-wrenching choice at the end.

BR 2019 002Blade Runner 2019 #2 [Titan] – writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson, artist Andres Guinaldo; cover by Christian Ward

I don’t usually go for movie tie-ins, but in all honesty, so far this is turning into the Blade Runner sequel I wish we had gotten on the big screen. Set around the same time frame as the original film but with a completely different set of characters, Blade Runner 2019 feels like period piece set in an imagined future’s past. In this issue, Aahna Ashina’s search for a tech tycoon’s missing family leads her to a “skin doctor” deploying some radical new strategies for hiding replicants on Earth.

Best First Issue

Dr Mirage 1Doctor Mirage #1 [Valiant] – writer Magdalene Visaggio, artist Nick Robles; cover by Philip Tan

Shan Fong Mirage has always been one of the most interesting characters in Valiant’s stable, and Visaggio’s approach, illuminated by Nick Robles’s sleek and trippy art, looks ready to deliver the goods. When the story begins, Shan’s husband Hwen is dead, their TV show cancelled, and her ability to communicate with ghosts is gone. Then a teenager named Grace shows up at her door and turns everything upside down, claiming that they are the ones who are dead and living in hell. The last panel left me wanting more.

Runner Up

Tommy Gun 1Tommy Gun Wizards #1 [Dark Horse] – writer Christian Ward, artist Sami Kivelä; cover by Christian Ward

A retelling of the prohibition-era Untouchables saga, where Capone’s main racket is dealing magic, not booze. Nice retro art stylings, distinctive characters, great world-building, and a touch of goofy humor thrown in just for the hell of it.

 

My Top 10 Current Series (Ongoing or Limited)

(Minimum of four issues and at least one issue published in August)

1 

Im Hulk 22The Immortal Hulk [Marvel] – writer Al Ewing, artists Joe Bennett and Ryan Bodenheim (guest, issue #21); cover by Alex Ross (issue #22)

With an unhinged Banner cycling through his various alter egos by day, and the unchained “Devil” Hulk ruling the night, Ewing and Bennett are still twisting and shaping the Hulk mythos into the flat-out best comic of any genre on the stands today.

2

Die 006Die [Image] – writer Kieron Gillen, artist Stephanie Hans; cover by Stephanie Hans (issue #6)

The first couple of issues of this Lit-RPG extravaganza were a bit too feverish in their pacing, but the story has since settled into a steady rhythm, and the deeper Gillen and Hans dig into the inner lives of the characters and their world, the better this series gets.

3

Fairlady 5Fairlady [Image] – writer Brian Schirmer, artist Claudia Balboni; cover by Jeremy Saliba (issue #5)

Getting a “Complete Fairlady Mystery” every month has been a joy – but the latest (issue #5) comes with a cliffhanger(!!!) and word that the series is on hiatus until next year.

4

Green Lantern 10The Green Lantern [DC] – writer Grant Morrison, artist Liam Sharp; cover by Liam Sharp (issue #10)

The Myrwhydden issue (#7) is the highlight of the Morrison/Sharp run on Hal Jordan’s Lantern, and following it with a Green Arrow team-up and some multiversal madness shows that the emphasis of the book continues to be pure, dorky fun.

5

House of x 3House of X/Powers of X [Marvel] – writer Jonathan Hickman, artists Pepe Larraz (House of X) and R.B. Silva (Powers of X); cover by Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia (House of X #3)

Yes, Hickman’s plotting can be convoluted, and the unusual intertwining of the two ostensibly separate series doesn’t help at all, and the info-dumpy text pages muck up the pacing, but goddamn if this isn’t an exhilarating ride.

6

Sabrina 4Sabrina the Teenage Witch [Archie] – writer Kelly Thompson, artists Veronica Fish and Andy Fish; Cover by Veronica Fish (Issue #4)

“My life needs to pick a genre already”, Sabrina laments. She may be overwhelmed by the three way tug-of-war of horror, romance and teen comedy, but Thompson and the Fishes have found a sweet spot between the teen melodrama and supernatural shenanigans that makes me wish this was an ongoing, rather than a soon-to-be-concluded mini-series.

7

miles 9Miles Morales: Spider-Man [Marvel] – writer Saladin Ahmed, artist Javier Garrón; cover by Patrick O’Keefe (issue#9)

Ahmed and Garrón have been killing it lately, taking Miles’s life/superhero balance in a fun new direction while conjuring up a terrifying new nemesis in the Assessor.

8

Mary Shelley 5Mary Shelley: Monster Hunter [Aftershock] – writers Adam Glass and Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, artist Hayden Sherman; cover by Hayden Sherman (issue #5)

Sherman’s art is still the star of the show, though Glass and Cuartero-Briggs have built a deliciously macabre sandbox for him to play in. The latest issue rounds off the first arc in horrific, viscera-drenched fashion and sets up a new direction for the series, whenever it may resume.

9

Captain America 13Captain America [Marvel] – writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, artists Adam Kubert, Jason Masters, Sean Izaakse; cover by Alex Ross (issue #13)

Coates’s long-game saga of the Captain-without-his-America transitions from Kubert’s roving multi-angle layouts in the prison break arc “Captain of Nothing” to Masters’s more traditional three-quarter straight shots. The story doesn’t miss a beat, but man I really loved having Kubert on this book.

10

Fallen World 4Fallen World [Valiant] – writer Dan Abnett, artist Adam Pollina; cover by Rick Leonardi (issue #4)

Matt Kindt and Clayton Crain are irreplaceable, but this long awaited follow up to the Rai/4001 A.D. storyline holds its own. One year after the fall of New Japan, Rai has sworn off violence while he tries to help humans and positronics build a new world together. That all changes when the authoritarian AI known as Father resurrects in the body of unstoppable nanotech super-soldier Bloodshot.

 

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