The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of April 2019

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Firefly, Vol. 1: The Unification War (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Greg Pak, Joss Whedon, Dan McDaid, and Marcelo Costa
This new series set in the official continuity of the beloved, short-lived Joss Whedon sci-fi saga takes a step back to finally reveal the full breadth of the war that set everything in motion. Mal Reynolds and Zoe Washburn are hunted by mercenaries deputized to find war criminals, and in the process, reveal the history and secrets of their pasts. The B&N Exclusive Edition has a variant cover by superstar artist Jock (which is cool) and a bonus 40-page story that reveals the origin of crafty con artist Saffron (which is even cooler).

Catwoman, Vol. 1: Copycats, by Joëlle Jones, Fernando Blanco, and Laura Allred
With a wedding no longer in the offing, Catwoman’s back on the streets of Gotham and doing things on her own terms (as any respectable cat would). Unfortunately, her crime-fighting efforts are complicated by a copycat who’s pulling off heists all over Gotham, drawing unwanted attention to both of them from the GCPD. Eisner Award-nominee Jones writes and illustrates the new series, which more than proves Selena hasn’t run out of lives yet.

Is This How You See Me?: A Locas Story, by Jaime Hernandez
2014’s The Love Bunglers proved that, even after all this time, the Love and Rockets-related work of Jamie Hernandez isn’t just good—it’s essential. Here, the Locas are reunited, in a sense, as Maggie and Hopey head out on the road to visit their old neighborhood. Flashbacks to the hopeful and chaotic punk scene of 1979 are juxtaposed with reality of life in the intervening decades.

Return of Wolverine, by Charles Soule, Steve McNiven, Declan Shalvey, Jay Leisten, and Laura Martin
Soule, McNiven, and Leisten—the team that killed Wolverine back in 2014—are back together once again to explain exactly how it is he’s returned from the dead (which, c’mon… you knew would happen). This book teases out that mystery until the very end, but it spoils nothing to say it begins with a missing body and involves a powerful mutant named Persephone caught up in a plot that requires Logan’s very special talents.

War Bears, by Margaret Atwood and Ken Steacy
There’s a fascinating  and little-known history around the Canadian comics scene circa WWII—paper shortages and import difficulties meant that Canadians didn’t have access to some of the big-name American books, so artists rose up to fill the void, thriving creatively in the absence of competition from Superman and Wonder Woman. It’s that history that Atwood and Steacy are playing with here, as they tell the story of (fictional) comic book creator Al Zurakowski, and of his creation, the nazi-fighter Oursonette.

Transformers: Unicron, by John Barber, Alex Milne, Sara Pitre-Durocher, Andrew Griffith, and Kei Zama
After 13 years and 400+ issues, IDW brings their Transformers universe to a conclusion with the introduction of Unicron in a story that sees Optimus Prime gathering every human and Cybertronian possible together in order to halt the deadly progress of the planet-killer. In the process, they’ll need to unravel the dark secret of Cybertron’s past that’s drawn the renewed attention of their ultimate adversary. The book also includes several back-up stories, as well as interview with creators who’ve been involved with this particular generation of Transformers stories for years (oh, and don’t worry—the line is getting a reboot, so more Autobot-on-Decepticon action is on the way).

Archie Meets Batman ’66, by Jeff Parker, Michael Moreci, Dan Parent, and J. Bone
A brilliant premise, backed up by a creative team that’s just about perfect. The villains of Gotham City decide that Riverdale might make for easier pickings, naturally not reckoning on the intervention of Archie and the gang from Riverdale High, nor the imposition of undercover students Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon. How has this not happened before now?

Planet of the Apes: When Worlds Collide, by Matt Kindt, Pierre Boulle, Dan Abnett, Ryan Ferrier, and Jared Cullum
There’s some very impressive talent on the masthead of this collection of short comic stories celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original Planet of the Apes film. The stories are set in both in the era of the original film series, as well as continuity the more recent trilogy that concluded with War for the Planet of the Apes, including one set after that final film’s conclusion. Among the other tales recounted are a story of the ape who lives in the Statue of Liberty, as well as the history of Caesar’s rescuer Armando.

Plastic Man, by Gail Simone, Adriana Melo, and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Every generation or so, Plastic Man is rediscovered and reimagined as a representative of everything that superhero comics can be when they’re willing get a little silly. Former petty thief Eel O’Brien, believed to have been killed by a gang of criminals, is now running a strip club and maintaining his secret identity to fight crime in increasingly inventive ways. A spy tries to blackmail him over his secret identity, which draws an innocent kid and all the dancers at his club together in one deeply, delightfully convoluted caper.

Supergirl, Vol. 1: The Killers of Krypton, by Marc Andreyko and Kevin MaGuire
In her 6th decade, Kara receives a new lease on life in the form of a revived series from Andreyko and MaGuire. Spinning out of the current Superman books, Supergirl, joined by Krypto, has tasked herself with discovering the truth behind claims that Krypton’s destruction was intentional. She heads out for an extended voyage in space, encountering new friends and new enemies along the way.

Asgardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 1: The Infinity Armada, by Cullen Bunn, Matteo Lolli, and Federico Blee
Nebula wields the most powerful Asgardian weapon imaginable, and she plans to use it to conquer the galaxy. Standing in her way? Valkyrie, Thor’s half-sister Angela, Skurge the Executioner, Thunderstrike, Frog-of-Thunder Throg, and an unknown weilder of the Destroyer armor. Cosmic adventure starring some of the greatest heroes of Asgard? Sounds thoriffic.

Leaving Richard’s Valley, by Michael DeForge
Omar the Spider, Neville the Dog, Ellie Squirrel, and Lyle the Raccoon are exiled from their perfect world and lives in the valley when they displease the community’s cult-ish leader. With no where to go but the big city, the group of animal companions embarks on something of a hero’s quest to find a new home, discovering all of the different types of people that live in the city and coming to terms with different ways of living along the way. It’s a cute and funny book that also has a lot to say about the meaning of community.

ExorSisters, Vol. 1, by Ian Boothby, Gisele Lagace, Pete Pantazis, and Taylor Esposito
Supernatural mysteries abound in this fun new series starring Cate and Kate Harrow, identical twin sisters who take on the cases that no one else will. Ever made a deal with the devil and come to regret it, or had a loved one dragged off to hell? They’re the ones to call. (The rates are very reasonable.)

Seven to Eternity, Vol. 3: Rise to Fall, by Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, and Matt Hollingsworth
In the latest volume of the gorgeous dark fantasy series set in the fascist dystopia of Zhal, Adam Osidis is on the hunt for a cure to his wasting disease, but his way forward is blocked by the Skylord Volmer, on a quest for revenge against the demagogic God of Whispers. Even though Adam has no love for the ruler who killed his father, he has no choice but to stop Volmer and save the king if he wants to live.

Oblivion Song by Kirkman & De Felici, Vol. 2, by Robert Kirkman, Lorenzo De Felici, and Annalisa Leoni
Oblivion was once part of Philadelphia, until 10 years ago, when it was lost in an event that left 300,000 people trapped in an apocalyptic hell-dimension. Following the dramatic revelations as to the initial cause of the disaster that concluded the first volume, Nathan Cole finds himself facing consequences for his actions on both sides of the divide, even as the secrets of Oblivion begin to reveal themselves.

Iron Man by Fraction & Larroca: The Complete Collection, Vol. 1, by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca
This popular and consequential run of the now-biggest hero in the Marvel U has been out of print for some time, so this first installment of complete collected edition is most welcome. It begins with a challenge from Tony’s younger, smarter rival Ezekiel Stane that triggers a slow decline in Iron Man’s fortunes and mental facilities and eventually leaves him on the run from… just about everybody. Forced to safeguard his tech by erasing knowledge of it from his own mind, Tony reverts to increasingly older and less complicated versions of his armor as his mind degrades.

The Boys Omnibus, Vol. 1, by Garth Ennis, Darick Robertson, and Peter Snejbjerg
Rude, crass, wickedly funny, and incredibly violent, The Boys opens with the violent death of lead character Wee Hughie’s girlfriend—collateral damage during a superhero fight. In this world, superheroes aren’t motivated by noble intentions so much as greed for power, money, or sex. When they get out of line, the titular CIA-backed team is charged with keeping shoving them back in, if necessary, putting them down for good. There’s a TV series in the works, so it’s a fine time to catch up with the book, and this deluxe omnibus makes that easy.

Harley Quinn, Vol. 2: Harley Destroys the Universe, by Sam Humphries, John Timms, Sami Basri, and Lucas Werneck
Most people would be thrilled to learn that they were featured in a comic, but Harley Quinn’s discovery of a book chronicling her own adventures leads to a continuity collapse that threatens the entire universe. Canon is shattered as current heroes are rebooted, old heroes return, and Harley’s mom disappears entirely. Only Harley and her new partner, the continuity cop Jonni DC, have any hope of putting things back together. It’s a delightfully Harley sort of story.

Regression, Vol. 3, by Cullen Bunn, Danny Luckert, and Marie Enger
A very impressive horror series comes to a conclusion with this volume. In Regression, past lives aren’t just a novelty or a fantasy, they’re very real, and can worm their way into your present. That’s what’s happened to series lead Adrian, who’s been entirely subsumed by his own past, forced to fulfill the schemes of Gregory Sutter and the Valgeroti demon worshippers. But now, resistance to the cult is rising from every direction on the timeline—past, present, and future.

What’s on your pull list?

The post The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of April 2019 appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.

Everything You Need to Know About The Walking Dead’s New Creepy-as-Hell Villains


The Walking Dead comics, and in turn the show, have always been defined by the generations of villains Rick Grimes and his fellow survivors have faced, from the dead themselves, to the Governor, and then most famously, Negan. With The Walking Dead back on AMC this weekend, here’s what you need to know about the next…

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Collection Builder: Our Favorite Graphic Novels

The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog

Superhero movies have turned comic book heroes into pop culture icons, but comics and graphic novels are about so much more than high-flying fisticuffs and heroes in tights.

In the interest of convincing you that there’s an amazing illustrated narrative out there for every type of reader, we’ve assembled a collection of some of our favorite graphic novels, any of them a great starting point for anyone looking to explore a whole new section of the bookstore (though even if you’re an experienced reader, chances are decent there’s a brilliant book you’ve yet to read here too).

Here’s the full list, and here are 10 standouts; consider this your comic book collection starter pack.

Sandman, Vol. 1: Preludes and Nocturnes, by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth, and Mike Dringenberg
The setup: An occultist attempting to capture the physical embodiment of Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70-year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus, goes on a quest for his lost objects of power to reclaim his reign. From there, one of the greatest series in the history of the graphic novel genre begins…
Why we love it: We feel safe in saying that without Sandman, Neil Gaiman wouldn’t be Neil Gaiman. In fact, there’s a strong case to be made that this reboot of a theretofore unheralded DC comics character is Gaiman’s magnum opus, bringing to bear all of his predilections (reinterpreted mythology, sprawling casts of colorful characters, style to spare) in one gorgeous package. The series remains iconic for a reason.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters, by Emil Ferris
The setup: The fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.
Why we love it: Ferris debut became an Eisner-winning sensation pretty much out of nowhere, and it’s easy to see why: it’s odd mix of gritty art (presented entirely on lined notebook paper, it’s purportedly the work of the 10-year-old narrator), propulsive storytelling, and pur pulpy passion is irresistible.

The Walking Dead, Vol. 1: Days Gone By, by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore
The setup: The world we knew is gone. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no grocery stores, no mail delivery, no cable TV. In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.
Why we love it: The television adaptation turned Robert Kirkman’s long-running survival story into a sensation, but the comics offer,let’s just say it, the better version of the story—and, perhaps, the definitive zombie narrative for the 21st century. We’ve met the monsters, and they are us.

March, by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell
The setup: Congressman John Lewis is an American icon and key figure of the civil rights movement, and March is a vivid first-hand account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis’ personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement.
Why we love it: Anyone who thinks of comics as merely kids’ stuff would do well to pick up Lewis’s emotionally charged, revelatory graphic novel-as-memoir, which solidifies a lifetime of powerful stories in searing visuals that speak just as loudly as the congressman’s own powerful words.

Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening, by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
The setup: Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900’s Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steam punk, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both and make them the target of both human and otherworldly powers.
Why we love it: Like something out of Jim Henson’s nightmares, Marjorie Liu and Sana Tekada’s dark fable of female empowerment is a darkly beautiful, bloody coming-of-age tale with an unforgettable protagonist, a diverse cast of heroes and villains, gorgeously rendered monsters, and talking cats.

Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, Vol. 1, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
The setup: Scott Pilgrim’s life is totally sweet. He’s 23 years old, he’s in a rock band, he’s “between jobs,” and he’s dating a cute high school girl. Nothing could possibly go wrong, unless a seriously mind-blowing, dangerously fashionable, rollerblading delivery girl named Ramona Flowers starts cruising through his dreams and sailing by him at parties. Will Scott’s awesome life get turned upside-down? Will he have to face Ramona’s seven evil ex-boyfriends in battle?
Why we love it: Packed with lovable anti-heroes, sardonic humor, and a plethora of pop culture references, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s breakout series has become something of a bible for the self-aware hipster, and the manga-inspired art is too cute to resist.

Saga, Vol. 1, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
The setup: When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to bring a fragile new life into a dangerous old universe. Saga is the sweeping tale of one young family fighting to find their place in the worlds.
Why we love it: Saga accomplishes the remarkable feat of marrying a sprawling space epic, soap opera storytelling, and intimate family drama, and making it look easy. Reading it, we’ve laughed, and cried, and gasped audibly more times than we care to admit.

Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1: No Normal, by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
The setup: Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City—until she is suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the all-new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm! As Kamala discovers the dangers of her newfound powers, she unlocks a secret behind them as well. Is Kamala ready to wield these immense new gifts? Or will the weight of the legacy before her be too much to handle? Kamala has no idea either. But she’s comin’ for you, New York!
Why we love it: Not since Peter Parker has there been a scrappy teen superhero so winning. Kamala Kahn is the hero we need right now: feisty, fearless, flawed, and filled with love for her working class city.

American Born Chinese, by Gene Leun Yang
The setup: Jin Wang is the only Asian American boy in his new school; Danny is a young man deeply embarrassed by his visiting Chinese cousin; a Monkey King is desperate to be treated like a god. Three very different characters, one simple goal: to fit in.
Why we love it: This coming-of-age story employs a clever structure (three separate stories of clashing cultures and the search for acceptance) to make a powerful point about the things that divide us and the truths that are universal.

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 1: Madly Ever After, by Skottie Young
The setup: Gert, a forty-year-old woman stuck in a six-yea-old’s body, has been trapped in the magical world of Fairyland for nearly thirty years. Join her and her giant battle-axe on a delightfully blood soaked journey to see who will survive the girl who hates fairyland.
Why we love it: Like a Lisa Frank notebook torn from the Upside-Down, I Hate Fairyland allows Skottie Young’s id to run amok in the truest sense of the word. It’s a candy-colored, blood-soaked romp that gleefully smashes through the wall between childhood innocence and extremely bad taste.

Shop our complete list of graphic novel favorites in the 2018 Holiday Gift Guide.

The post Collection Builder: Our Favorite Graphic Novels appeared first on The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog.