The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of April 2017

We Stand on Guard: Deluxe Edition, by Brian K. Vaughan, Steve Skroce, and Matt Hollingsworth
Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Paper Girls) has never shied away from politics, and We Stand on Guard is certainly no different. Set approximately 100 years from now, it’s the story of a brave band of Canadian freedom fighters who are tasked with defending their homeland from invasion by a powerful, technologically superior adversary with imperial aspirations: the United States. I’m certain that no offense will be taken by anyone. You can now get the whole series in a deluxe hardcover edition.

Saga, Vol. 7, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Speaking of Vaughan, he and Fiona Staples are also back with the seventh volume in their fan-loved, critically acclaimed, bestselling series Saga. The latest takes a break from some of the ongoing plot threads to focus on Hazel and the family as they’re reunited on a comet that’s at the center of dispute between Wreath and Landfall. Even though there’s a somewhat more self-contained story here, the war for Phang has been building for some time, and the fallout is likely to affect Alana, Marko, and company for a lot longer.

All Star Batman, Vol. 1: My Own Worst Enemy (Rebirth), by Scott Snyder, John Romita Jr., Danny Miki, and Declan Shavley
Fresh from his long, already legendary run on Batman’s flagship book, Scott Snyder is joined by John Romita Jr. for this graphic novel telling the story of a particularly dangerous road trip. Batman and former Gotham DA Harvey Dent (aka Two-Face) are traveling together, ostensibly as part of a plan to fix Harvey’s scarred face and thus eliminate the threat of Two-Face. Of course, it’s not at all that simple, and the two are soon trapped together as a string of assassins and bounty hunters take the opportunity to off the Bat.

Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, Book 3, by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze
T’Challa’s sister Shuri has been trapped in the Djalia, a place of Wakandan memory where she’s learned the truth of the African nation’s past, present, and future. Now she has returned, and is ready to stand at Black Panther’s side as the revolution sweeping Wakanda comes to a head. Coates has brought new life to the world of the Black Panther, and this new volume continues the trend.

Imagine Wanting Only This, by Kristen Radtke
Moving away from action and superheroes, Radtke’s graphic novel memoir conveys her fascination with ruined and abandoned places, which began with the death of a beloved uncle in college. The narrative tells of tragedy in Radtke’s own life as well as in the life of all of America, as we visit deserted cities and towns in the US and around the world. It’s a moving exploration of all the things we leave behind.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, by Brenden Fletcher, Kelly Thompson, Daniele Di Nicuolo, and Tini Howard
The new movie may have gotten mixed reviews, but the recent comics have been more universally praised. Superstars Brenden Fletcher (of Batgirl and Gotham Academy fame) and Kelly Thompson are joined by artist Daniele Di Nicuolo to tell a story of original Pink Ranger Kimberly Hart. After giving up the her powers, Kimberly is confronted by an invasion of monsters that threatens her home and parents. There’s a bit of continuity, too, as the story bridges the first series with Power Rangers Zeo.

Lumberjanes, Vol. 6: Sink or Swim, by Shannon Watters, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Kat Leyh, and Brooke Allen
Lumberjanes is about girl-power, butt-kicking, and friendship (to the max). It’s kinda the best. In the latest volume, the focus turns to counselor Seafarin’ Karen. When her boat is stolen by some selkies, the Lumberjanes find themselves beset by shapeshifters and strange portals as they learn more about the mysterious Karen.

Henchgirl, by Kristen Gudsnuk
Gudsnuk’s Henchgirl is a unique hybrid: it’s got an indie style and sensibilities, with hints of mainstream superhero DNA. It’s about Mary Posa, stuck in a low-paying, dead-end job working as a henchman (er, girl) to one of Crepe City’s baddest villains. Complicating matters, her parents are famous superheroes. This story of life as a super-sidekick is a kick.

Velvet: Deluxe Hardcover, by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Elizabeth Breitweiser
Masters of the modern noir Brubaker and Epting (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) have done it again in this recently concluded series. It’s the story of Velvet, ostensibly the humble secretary to the world’s top spymaster, who also happens to have once been the agency’s deadliest weapon. The oversized deluxe edition includes the entire series, along with all sorts of extras.

The Complete Phonogram, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie Mckelvie
Fans of Gillen and McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine (and anyone who loves music) will appreciate this definitive collected edition of the duo’s critically acclaimed earlier work. It’s the story of phonomancers: mages who wield the power of Britpop to create magic. The collection includes the recent concluding storyline, Immaterial Girl, as well as the first volume, Rue Brittania, in color for the first time.

Sunstone, Book One, by Stjepan Šejić and Linda Lukšić Šejić
Sex and the comics, at least in the mainstream, have always had something of a fraught relationship, with attitudes often less than entirely healthy. That’s changing. This series began life as a webcomic on DeviantArt from Witchblade writer and artist Stjepan, joined by artist (also his wife) Linda. The first of a planned four part series focusing on different characters, this volume collects the story of Lisa Williams and Ally Carter, two women exploring not only a budding same-sex attraction, but real, growing love—and a Mistress-Sub relationship. Yeah, it’s a comic, but it also offers a mature, measured view of BDSM.

Small Favors: The Definitive Collection, by Colleen Coover
Speaking of sex, this collection brings Colleen Coover’s even more explicitly grown-up stories back into print in a fancy new edition with a new intro (from Kelly Sue DeConnick!) alongside previously uncollected material. It’s oddly charming and cute (not to mention woman-and-sex-positive) for a story about a masturbation-crazed bisexual nymphomaniac and her companion, the six-inch-tall manifestation of her conscience who’s no less sex-obsessed.

Afar, by Leila del Duca and Kit Seaton
The latest from Shutter’s del Duca is the story of Botema, whose astral travel leads to her inadvertently possession of the bodies of people far, far away. While in another body on a distant world, Botema accidentally hurts someone. Meanwhile, her brother is on the run, having been caught spying on illegal business dealings. The two team up to fix the mistakes they’ve each made. It a powerful story, whith beautiful art from a creator who impresses us more with each book.

Guardians of the Galaxy: Creating Marvel’s Spacefaring Super Heroes—The Complete Comics History, by Mark Sumerak
The Guardians are coming back to the big screen, but movie fans might not know their whole long, incredibly weird history. The team formed up in 1969, developing a fanbase over nearly a half-century even as the line-up of scoundrels and weird creatures changed dramatically. This book deals with the creation and evolution of the Guardians in five decades worth of art and interviews with the creators who’ve brought the team to life.

Marvel Guardians of the Galaxy: The Ultimate Guide to the Cosmic Outlaws, by Nick Jones
MOAR GUARDIANS. This book celebrates the 50-year history of the Guardians with an in-universe focus, with a decade-by-decade accounting of the rise of the team in all its various incarnations. There’s a ton of information on their friends, allies, and enemies, as well as background on the key issues and storylines from over the years.

Batgirl and the Birds Of Prey, Vol. 1: Who Is Oracle? (Rebirth), by Shawna Benson, Julie Benson, and Claire Roe
Barbara Gordon, the Batgirl, was also once the superhero super-hacker Oracle, manning the computers on behalf of the heroes of the DCU. That job has been vacant since Barbara regained the ability to walk and put the cowl back on. So who is the new Oracle? Babs teams up with Black Canary and the Huntress to solve the mystery.

The Hunt, by Colin Lorimer and Joana Lafuente
The critically acclaimed horror series begins at the deathbed of Orla Roche’s father. She encounters the Slaugh, soul-stealing spirits too nasty and evil for even hell to take them. Orla faces the truth of what happens after we die when her encounter sends her on a hunt for her father’s soul, which she believes still exists in the netherworld.

Roughneck, by Jeff Lemire
Lemire’s latest solo work is a harrowing tale of a brother and sister who reconnect in a secluded hunting cabin. He’s a former hockey player whose career ended violently, while she’s on the run from an abusive boyfriend. As in some of his best work, Lemire both writes and draws a story that’s both suspenseful and deeply human.

Sand & Bone, by J.T. Krul and Andrea Mutti
Krul’s latest is the timely story of Sean Hitcher, an Iraq veteran just returned home, and facing the very real horrors of readjusting to life after war. Violence begins to spread throughout his home town, mysterious acts that seem to strangely align with the nightmarish visions that he’s been suffering. Is it PTSD? Hallucinations? Or is there a real-world link between them?

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