The question most often asked of the ComicsAlliance staff is a variation of, “Which comic books should I be reading?” or, “I’m new to comics, what’s a good place to start?” The Wednesday deluge of new comic books, graphic novels and collected editions can be daunting even for the longtime reader, much less for those totally unfamiliar with creators, characters and publishers, and the dark mysteries of comic book shopping like variants, pre-ordering, and formats.

It’s with these challenges in mind that we’ve created Best Comic Books Ever (This Week), an ongoing guide curated by the ComicsAlliance staff. This is where new comics readers and seasoned Wednesday shoppers alike can find our picks of the best books the medium has to offer.

  • BUYING GUIDE

    NEW SINGLE ISSUES

    Single issues are periodicals, usually around 20 pages in length and priced from $2.99 to $4.99, and published in print and digitally. Single issues are typically published monthly, but some titles ship twice a month or even weekly. Single issues are the preferred format for many longtime comic book readers, and ideal if you enjoy serialized stories with cliffhangers.

    TRADES & GRAPHIC NOVELS

    Trades: Colloquial term for paperback or hardcover compilations of comic book stories originally published as single issues. The preferred format for readers who enjoy comic book narratives in substantial chunks.

    Graphic Novels: Typically any comic book that is a complete story in a more-or-less novel-length format. The term is sometimes used interchangeably with trades.

  • THE TWILIGHT CHILDREN #1

    Writer: Gilbert Hernandez

    Artist: Darwyn Cooke

    Publisher: DC/Vertigo

    Gilbert Hernandez and Darwyn Cooke made a comic book together. If you need more motivation than that, I just... I just don't know you anymore. Hernandez and Cooke are both genuine storytelling masters, and although that isn't a guarantee that the final product will be great, it should at least pique everybody's curiosity for this alien invasion story. The few pages teased in Vertigo Preview didn't give away much (and did contain a really early instance of obtuse dialogue), but they did confirm the two creators' styles mesh very well, with Cooke's exceptionally clean, classic lines capturing the richness of setting and nuance of character needed for any great Beto story. Even if The Twilight Children turns out to be a disaster, it will surely be a beautiful one. [John Parker]

  • I HATE FAIRYLAND #1

    Writer/Artist: Skottie Young

    Publisher: Image

    If you've ever read the adaptations of the Oz books that Skottie Young collaborated on with Eric Shanower, you know that Skottie Young draws gorgeous fairy tale worlds stuffed with childlike wonder and whimsy. But they say you should kill your darlings when it comes to your creative output, and that's what Skottie Young is doing here — setting an axe-swinging eternally young six year old in the middle of a fairy world, and counting the severed heads as they roll past. Thirty years is a long time to hear the teddy bear song, and anyone would tire of the dance of the sugar plum fairies after three decades — but I'm still a lot ways off from being over Skottie Young's delightful art and storytelling, and I'm looking forward to this series a lot. [Charlotte Finn]

  • TYSON HESSE'S DIESEL #2

    Writer: Tyson Hesse

    Artists: Tyson Hesse, Mariel Cartwright, Jim Campbell

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    One of my favourite hyphenated words is "world-building", because the idea of just constructing an entire existence is such a whole, incredible concept to try and take in. Which is why I liked the first issue of Tyson Hesse's Diesel so much — it caught me by surprise and offered me a cohesive sense of scale, where I was expecting it to just be a slight, fun throwaway. There's a huge amount of thought put into the characters and story here, hints of greatness within each panel. It's also incredibly entertaining, with dialogue that sings on the page and fizzles up into the sky. I found myself distracted by side characters each time — everybody feels like they have their own story to tell, and it's playing out in the margins of our heroine's life. Hesse is also a really expressive worker of faces in his stories, and he can convey emotion in subtle — and very much unsubtle — ways, simply through his approach to characters. I adored the first issue of this series, and I'm incredibly excited for the next. [Steve Morris]

  • SPONGEBOB COMICS #49

    Writers/Arists: Various

    Publisher: United Plankton Pictures

    Here's a pretty good example of just how great a horror artist Kelley Jones is — he can apparently make anything look scary, as he proves on the cover of this October-appropriate horror issue of SpongeBob, in which the title character and his friends are rendered as terrifying monsters. Jones isn't the only unlikely talent attached to this issue; Stephen Bissette will join the always eclectic creative line-up of James Kochalka, Maris Wicks, Gregg Schigiel, Derek Drymon and others. And that's one of the great virtues of SpongeBob Comics. It always offers an unpredictable line-up of great cartoonists, making it the most predictably satisfying comics anthology available today. [Caleb Mozzocco]

  • WAR STORIES #13

    Writer: Garth Ennis

    Artist: Tomas Aira

    Publisher: Avatar Press

    At this stage, Garth Ennis could probably write a decent war story in his sleep, awakening to find an exhaustively researched and expertly paced outline written on his bedsheets. Over the course of his War Stories comics, he has written stories ranging from four men hiding in a ditch during the Spanish Civil War, to the famous Nachthexen female fighter pilots of Russia in the second World War, to the fate of the pilots unlucky enough to be piloting a Hurricane fighter loaded into a catapult, literally flung from a ship with no means of landing. In this story, he touches again on the fate of the fighter pilot in the early days of aviation warfare, with this issue beginning a three parter about pilots tasked with escorting Allied bombers all the way from Iwo Jima to Japan and back. Ennis rarely disappoints in the first place and hardly ever does so when it comes to warfare, and any war story from him is always worth checking out. [CF]

  • GI JOE: COBRA WORLD ORDER PRELUDE

    Writer: Larry Hama

    Artist: SL Gallant

    Publisher: IDW

    Over the past few years, Larry Hama and SL Gallant's run on GI Joe: A Real American Hero, a continuation of Hama's classic run on the franchise in the '80s and '90s, has been quietly becoming one of the most over-the-top action comics that I've ever read. Just to give you an idea, the story's about the ninja cyborgs that are trying to take over the world were some of the slower issues, and the ones about Snake Eyes dying and being secretly replaced with a new Snake Eyes who has a history dating back through 20 years of comics and was injured in a battle with giant transforming robots powered by a combination of a giant alien brain and a clone of history's greatest military villains? That was probably the weirdest comic of the year. Now, we're on the verge of the next big storyline, and if you haven't been catching up, this is a solid place to start: A prelude issue that takes the form of a tour through the Pit to make sure that everyone's on the same page with how things are before Cobra Commander and his henchmen make their latest attempt at conquering the world. The downside, of course, is that if you're an existing reader, then you already know everything that's going to be covered, but, well, there's also cutaway diagrams of the Pit, and it's never the wrong time to see one of those. [Chris Sims]

  • MY LOVE STORY!! VOL 6 TP

    Writer: Kazune Kawahara

    Artist: Aruko

    Publisher: Viz Media

    Forget about being one of the best romance comics on the stands, or one of the best comedies, or even one of the best books in the massive metagenre that is manga as a whole: My Love Story is one of the best comics out there, hands down, end of sentence. Like One-Punch Man — a series that it otherwise bears zero resemblance to — it's a series built around a single joke that seems like it would get old fast, but it never does. The romance between Takeo and Yamato is almost unbearably cute without ever being cloying, and the character-driven comedy nails its mark every single time. There's also an anime available to watch at Crunchyroll now, but the beautiful art and incredible comedic timing of the manga is well worth picking up. [CS]

  • TWO BROTHERS HC

    Writers: Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon

    Artist: Gabriel Ba

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    One of the big releases of the week — perhaps the year — is the new project from Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon. They've been working on an assortment of projects over the last year, some perhaps better than others, but they've always sought to make sure that their collaborative works are something special. Two Brothers is about just that — two brothers, who have a fractured relationship that nobody seems able to repair. Adapted from the novel by Milton Hatoum, the central twist of this tale is that there is no reliable narrator, and no authoritative voice to determine who is in the right and who is in the wrong. This is a situation where there are no heroes, villains, winners or losers. It's a matter of family, the most difficult thing there is, told by two brothers themselves who are at the top of their game. If nothing else, Gabriel Ba is handling the artwork for the project — if that isn't enough to get you interested, I don't know what is. [SM]

  • THE BIG GUY AND RUSTY THE BOY ROBOT HC

    Writer: Frank Miller

    Artist: Geof Darrow

    Publisher: Dark Horse

    Say whatever you want about Frank Miller, but the guy knows how to make propaganda fun. Despite the apparent messages in Big Guy And Rusty The Boy Robot, it's probably the most joyful book to bear Miller's name; an over-the-top frenzy of action infested with dumb dialogue and mad ideas, gleefully reminiscent of adventure comics of the Silver Age. Geof Darrow, co-plotter and artist, certainly gets the lion's share of the credit, with his hyper-detailed, clear-lined style bringing an incredible scale to robots, kaiju, and levels of megacity destruction that put Man Of Steel to shame. Ignore all the stuff about America saving the rest of the world from itself and just enjoy this rampage of a book for its pure, unbridled, comic-book insanity. [JP]

  • PEANUTS: A TRIBUTE TO CHARLES M. SCHULZ

    Writers/Artists: Various

    Publisher: Boom Studios

    The late Charles Schulz's universally-beloved comic strip turns 65 this year, and to celebrate the milestone birthday, Boom, the Schulz estate, and 30 of the best cartoonists you can image have gotten us a present. This 100-page love letter to Schulz and his famous creations includes comics, pin-ups and writing from some of the most notable creators in the various fields Peanuts has influenced, from animation (Matt Groening, Dan Hipp) to comic strips (Patrick McDonnell, Keith Knight, Lincoln Pierce, Richard Thompson) to children's books (Mo Willems), to comics (too many to name, but rest assured one or eight of your favorite artists are in here somewhere). [CM]