We dig into our new release singles and break down the Top Five comics you'll want in your pull box.
Welcome to our new weekly column, Top of the Hump. Here's where we will celebrate the best comics that drop on every New Comic Book Day (#NCBD). For us comic book maniacs, Hump Day is the best day. The weekend is in sight, and our pull box arrives to carry us through these final work hours. We can make it, gang.
The comics selected below are the ones we had the most fun with this week, which is saying something cuz this Wednesday is jammed with primo material. Narrowing it down was a challenge, so we've also included a list of honorable mentions at the bottom. You can't do wrong with any of these titles.
Milestone is back, baby! After years and years and years of fandom demands (and a little litigation), the Dakota Universe returns. And it does so in a big, big way. That right there is worth celebrating alone. Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer continue to slay on Beta Ray Bill. The Blue Flame roars to life and is not at all what we expected it to be - fools we were! Made in Korea hits the gut from issue one, giving Image Comics another must-read series. And then there is Zig Zag. Whoa. Zig Zag. Um, put that in your box now. Or better yet, jab it into your eyeholes and let it live in your brain forever.
Beta Ray Bill #3
Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer don't miss. If they're knocking out a comic this week, you can bet it will be at the Top of the Hump. We haven't read everything they've done together (and we will), but we've loved everything we have consumed from this writer/artist/colorist team. Special bonus, Beta Ray Bill is one of our favorite Marvel characters. So, we were always in the bag for this comic.
With that in mind, Beta Ray Bill issue three is the best one yet! Skuttlebutt's transformation into a walking sentient sidekick is a brilliant addition to the mythology. Not only that, we're thinking these two might be perfect for a Comic Book Couples Counseling session once this storyline is all wrapped up.
Skuttlebutt's rebirth reflects the changes happening within Bill, and he's put on edge by the notion. Johnson has concocted another brutally badass comic book steeped in mayhem and violence, but as usual, the comic is an emotional, character-driven experience at it's core. The search for the Twilight sword will prove more rewarding than its acquisition.
The Blue Flame #1
Your new meta-superhero is here. Writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Adam Gorham deliver an exhilarating cosmic adventure before pulling the rug out. The Blue Flame takes you to the far reaches of space, but more significantly, it drops you into the bustling bizarre, and ordinary realm of Milwaukee's superhero scene. What is real? What is fantasy? Can both exist in the same space?
There are many questions by the time The Blue Flame wraps up, and you'll be sticking around for answers. The comic's final moments dropped our jaws. It's a real "Oh damn" moment. We're physically itching to see what appears on page one of issue two.
Gorham's art is equal parts decadent and classic. It's easy to see Dave Gibbons in his pencils, and with them comes Watchmen's memory. The story doesn't appear nearly as cynical, but it's thrilling to be playing in such self-awareness. The Blue Flame is a comic lover's comic book.
Made in Korea #1
Humanity is doomed. Our seeds are rotten. Our A.I. is taking over. Made in Korea imagines a desperate future where parents turn to robot children to satiate their painful need to parent.
Writer Jeremy Holt and George Schall pump their gorgeous first issue with dread, sorrow, and hope. The comic is a profoundly emotional experience. Of course, there's mystery swirling around everything, and you'll want to know what's going on, but there is no doubt regarding the heartache beating beneath the plot.
We got to the end, and our cheeks were wet? It's true. Made in Korea sneaks up on you, slowly drawing you into its' characters plight. If we're already here with issue one, we're kinda scared to imagine where we'll be by narrative end.
Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0
We've ached for Milestone's return for so long that it seems strange that it's finally here. The impulse is to couch our expectations, to get cynical about sales, and already start planning for the resurrected to return underground. But no! Milestone Returns: Infinite Edition #0 is too damn good to believe any of that nonsense. This comic is going to land well, we think. Readers have heard enough clamoring for these characters, and they're interested. All DC Comics had to do was deliver a real banger, and boom, they did.
This zero issue operates like a tour through the Dakota Universe and the characters that populate it. We see The Big Bang again, but this time coated in the Black Lives Matter movement. They're not pulling punches here. The comic is as hard-hitting, politically angry a creation as it was back in the day. Reginald Hudlin doesn't miss a beat; his script tears right into the issues raging inside characters like Static, Hardware, Icon, and Rocket. And a massive team of artists delivers the goods. Sure, it's rad to see Jim Lee put his pencil to these designs, but Denys Cowan and his superstar inkers Bill Sienkiewicz and Jimmy Palmiotti deliver the greatest pleasures. Feels like Dwayne McDuffie would be pretty damn happy with what goes on here.
Our curiosity is secured DC Comics. Now put your marketing resources and talent budget into the long haul with the solo titles. The new era of Milestone is brewing something special.
How to explain Zig Zag? The Tweet review would go something like this, "Zig Zag is a gorgeous, trippy blend of Jack Kirby and Métal Hurlant." We know this because that's what Brad tweeted earlier this morning. Lol.
Will Sweeney's glossy one-shot from Fantagraphics is a wordless epic that follows The Mindseye Trooper as they invade an enemy dimension to take down a deplorable despot. Whenever we have a wordless comic, we try to slow down. There's an urge to race toward the end and capture all the wild, weirdo images as quickly as you can.
No. Don't do that. Take your time. Sweeney's panels are overwhelming. You must soak them in. The trick is to linger. Give them a minute. When consumed in such a fashion, you fall into Zig Zag's world. You trudge alongside The Mindseye Trooper, and his mission becomes your mission. You're here to help them topple an empire. When it's over, you'll want seconds. And you'll certainly seek out more work from Will Sweeney.