It's not always easy to know what to pick up at the comic book store every Wednesday. In an industry overrun with endless crossovers, relaunches, reboots, retcons, prequels and sequels, an advanced degree in Comics 101 is required just to navigate the spinner racks at your local shops.
Even for lifelong fans, a simple trip to the comic store can be overwhelming. And with comic book prices on the rise, a wrong choice has never been more costly.
That's where we come in.
Every week, we're taking a look at the best comics coming out from both Marvel and DC to help newcomers and longtime fans alike make the right choice. Check out the best of the best arriving on July 8:
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
What It's About: With Bruce Wayne "dead" (remember, death in comics is only a temporary annoyance), someone had to fill in as Batman, and that honor now belongs to Jim Gordon, who donned the Dark Knight mantle as part of a new police-approved Caped Crusader campaign. Decked out in a cold blue mech suit and backed by a whole squad of supporting officers, this new Batman strikes fear in the hearts of criminals, while playing ball with the GCPD and the mayor's office.
Why You Should Care: This is still Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo on Batman, so while no billionaire playboys are under the cape and cowl, fans can expect the same gripping plots and top-notch visuals to remain. And if you don't like the idea of Gordon as Batman? Well, the creators even address that right from jump (via Nerdist):
Oh, and don't worry, the new Batman does have a new Batmobile:
Plenty of other people have been Batman in the past, but Gordon's time as the Dark Knight is the most intriguing as he attempts to balance the Batman's one-man war on crime, while staying within the bounds of the law and within the scope of the GCPD.
Random Thoughts: Look, we all know Bruce Wayne will be back soon enough - as if the tease at the end of last issue didn't spell that out clearly enough. But similar to what Dan Slott did with Peter Parker during The Superior Spider-Man, this direction could add more layers to the Bruce Wayne character through his absence than if he were actually still wearing the tights. Plus, I think we could all use a little break from Bruce - the dude is a bit of a bummer.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Leinil Francis Yu
What It's About: Superheroes fighting each other might be one of the most well-worn tropes in comics now, but when Mark Millar's Civil War came out in 2006, it was exactly what the industry needed. On one side you had Tony Stark, who was in full support of a new program designed to regulate superheroes and have them on the government payroll. On the other side was Captain America, who thought exposing every hero's identity and forcing them to blindly work for the United States government would turn the Avengers into pawns and superpowered beings into weapons for the U.S. They fought, fans loved it, and the original story is still the measuring stick that no crossover has surpassed.
Why You Should Care: This isn't a reboot or remake of the original Civil War story - it's yet another Secret Wars tie-in. But in this alternate take on the Marvel Universe, civil war has been raging for six long years, and President Tony Stark and General Steve Rogers are engaged in a seemingly never-ending battle of ideals.
Fans looking for something different than the mainstream Marvel U can now visit a world where these two characters - who would hate each other in any reality - finally stop playing nice and show how they really feel. You can expect a whole lot of this:
Random Thoughts: The Secret Wars tie-ins have been enjoyable across the board, but this is probably the most important one for Marvel. Not only is it revisiting one of the company's most successful storylines, it's also synergizing with the studio's upcoming Captain America: Civil War movie. That pretty much checks all the boxes for the House of Ideas.
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Gerardo Sandoval
What It's About: When the accidental death of Professor X alters history, a new, terrifying future emerges where Apocalypse takes control of Earth, and mutants and humans are nothing but fugitives living under his rule. In this Secret Wars tie-in, the age never ended, and it's up to the X-Men to finally finish Apocalypse for good, although they might wipe out the Earth in the process.
Why You Should Care: For those of you (like me) who want to revisit one of the more over-the-top storylines in Marvel's history, this is the most dignified way to go about it without loading up your Amazon shopping cart with overpriced hardcovers and forever polluting your Related Items with Rob Liefeld collections. Now that we're so far removed from the shoddiness of the original Age of Apocalypse series, you won't have to feel bad about picking this up under the guide of nostalgia. Plus, it's being written by Fabian Nicieza, one of the architects behind the original Age of Apocalypse story, so if you want authenticity, this is it.
Random Thoughts: You can't get any more '90s than gatefold covers, and Marvel nails it here with a gatefold variant by Gerardo Sandoval:
Some holograms, more pouches and a few astronomical bust lines would have really sold that '90s flair, but, hey, it's close enough.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Alex Maleev
What It's About: The Star Wars Universe's biggest scoundrel is back, as Lando #1 takes a look at the life of Lando Calrissian before he helped destroy the Death Star and before he was in charge of Cloud City as he embarks on the biggest ship heist of his young career. Of all the classic Star Wars characters, Lando's early days have always been a mystery - how exactly did this gambling, smuggling charmer become one of the most important pieces of the Rebellion? Looks like we're about to find out.
Why You Should Care: Unlike previous Star Wars comics, everything under the Marvel banner is now considered official universe canon, so these stories are actually important to franchise lore - ya know, if you're into that sort of thing. Plus, the best part is that writer Charles Soule told CBR that reading all of Marvel's other Star Wars books isn't necessary to getting into Lando: "You don't have to have read those to pick this up at all. Your experience may be enhanced if you do but if you have seen the movies, you'll be fine."
So if you haven't read those other titles yet, you can still hop into Lando and get your fill of the smuggler with a heart of gold.
Random Thoughts: Seeing more of Lando's backstory is exactly the small corners of the Star Wars universe that Marvel should be tackling. We don't need more Vader (he's better off left to our imagination) and we certainly don't need unnecessary changes to canon (like Han Solo's wife) - what we do need to know more about, though, is the bromance between Lando and Lobot.
We were all way too casual about this dynamic.