The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of September 2017

Extremity, Vol. 1: Artist, by Daniel Warren Johnson and Mike Spicer
Robots, ravaging beasts, and monstrous humans populate the world of the Rising Plains and the Ancient Dark. It’s a steampunk, Miyazaki-inspired setting that’s also the home of the Roto clan. The family has experience unimaginable loss, and Thea leads them on a quest for vengeance. The beautifully illustrated story explores not only a well-imagined world, but also the cost of revenge on a family.

Rock Candy Mountain, Vol. 1, by Kyle Starks and Chris Schweizer
It’s kind of a hobo-martial arts-action comedy set during the Great Depression. Inspired by the famous song and by hobo lore, the book follows a noob as he’s forced to take on a life of rail-riding and handouts with a guide who actually believes that there’s a big rock candy mountain to be found. It’s full of action, but it’s also a fully imagined vision of a less-explored slice of Americana.

Savage Town, by Declan ShalveyPhilip BarrettJordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles
An all-star lineup of writers and artists behind some megawatt books (All-Star Batman and The Vision among them) team up for a book that gives us a grittier, more realistic version of a Guy Ritchie-style crime caper. Jimmy “Hardy” Savage is an up-and-coming hoodlum in Limerick City, a status that has made him a target for police and rival gangs, not to mention his former best friend and his own mother. The story is loosely based on a real drug war that occurred around the turn of the millennium in the city where Shalvey was living at the time.

Mycroft Holmes and The Apocalypse Handbook, by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Josh Cassara, Luis Guerrero, and Simon Bowland
I don’t want to say it was a surprise that Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s 2015 Mycroft Holmes novel was so well received, but the NBA legend and Sherlock’s uptight older brother seemed an improbable pairing. That novel was cheeky and clever, while also showing a strong regard for the canon. In this further adventure, still set in Mycroft’s early days, he’s called into service to Queen Victoria in order to stop a madman with weapons that threaten civilization.

The Dark Knight: Master Race, by Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, Brad Anderson, and Alex Sinclair
Though he’s become a controversial figure, there are few names who have had a greater impact in comics over the past few decades than Frank Miller, and few books more influential than 1986’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Here he’s joined by some of today’s artistic legends and cowriter Brian Azzarello for the third chapter in the story, in which the daughter of Superman leads an army that can only be stopped by the Batman. But isn’t he dead?

Hap and Leonard: Savage Season, by Joe R. Lansdale and Jussi Piironen
Joe R. Lansdale’s popular dark crime thriller series is coming to television soon, and the first novel is adapted here by Finnish illustrator Piironen. Hap is an white guy from East Texas with a love of the ladies, while his best friend Leonard is agay, black, Vietnam vet. The two are brought into a potentially huge score by one of Hap’s old girlfriends, setting the stage for a lot of violence and mayhem.

Jane, by Aline Brosh McKenna and Ramon K. Perez
Joined by award-winning illustrator Pérez, screenwriter Aline Brosh McKenna has updated the story of Charlotte Brontë’s once-scandalous Jane Eyre and set it in modern-day New York City. This is the debut graphic novel from the writer, whose screen credits include The Devil Wears Prada and the TV series Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

William Gibson’s Archangel, by William Gibson, Butch Guice, Michael St. John Smith, Alejandro Barrionuevo, and Wagner Reis
This is the first graphic novel from legendary cyberpunk author William Gibson. In our present, the political leaders of the United States have wrecked the planet. More so even than in real life: Earth is a radioactive wasteland, but it’s OK—they have a plan: they’re going to escape with a device that will manufacture an entirely new reality for them to mess up. A long career has clearly done little to soften Gibson’s pointed sensibilities, and he’s promised we’ll see this setting again, so consider it a must.

M.F.K. Book One, by Nilah Magruder
Abbie is a young deaf girl who pretty much just wants to be left alone, to live out her life in the apocalyptic world she inhabits. Following the death of her mother, she sets out to travel to the Potter’s Spine, a mountain range where she plans to scatter the ashes. Of course, no one will leave her be. Her once solitary quest brings her into contact with hangers on, friend and foe alike, and ultimately puts her in the undesirable position of having to save the humanity she mostly just wants to be rid of.

Star Wars: Darth Maul, by Cullen Bunn, Luke Ross, and Nolan Woodard
The one figure to survive the rough reception to the Star Wars prequels: the Sith Lord Maul. Even getting cut in half wasn’t enough to keep the Dathomirian down. This book takes place prior to that small setback, however, detailing the origin and the quest for vengeance that eventually brought Maul into the orbit of Darth Sidious.

Now 1, by Eric Reynolds, Eleanor Davis, Noah Van Sciver, Dash Shaw, and Sammy Harkham
This new, thrice-yearly anthology series promises to collect comics from all over the world in a variety of styles. It’s a great way to check out some outside-the-box work from name creators and artists as well as up-and-coming talents. The only criterion is that each story is an assured, inventive use of the comic form. Among the artists in this first collection are Noah Van Sciver (whose Johnny Appleseed is also out this month), and Dash Shaw (Cosplayers, also out this month).

Sweet Tooth, Book One, by Jeff Lemire
Lemire’s Sweet Tooth is the story of Gus, a human-deer hybrid born in the aftermath of the Affliction, a devastating event that killed billions and left the survivors changed. Hunters are on the lookout for people like the innocent Gus, though he’s saved for unknown reasons by a violent man named Jeppard. The two set off in search of a fabled haven, unclear who will influence whom. The first twelve chapters of the quirky, human story are collected in this new edition.

Hadrian’s Wall, by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, Rod Reis, and Troy Peteri
Hadrian’s Wall is a spaceship in the middle of an interstellar cold war—one that could very quickly turn hot after a seemingly insignificant astronaut is murdered. Detective Simon Moore is tasked with investigating the crew, including his ex-wife, and becomes entangled in an elaborate web of intrigue and politics.

The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry, by David L. Carlson and Landis Blair
Charlie knew his father as a quiet intellectual who wrote epic poems in Braille, having lost his sight in what was believed to have been a hunting accident. As a teenager, Charlie gets in trouble with the law, and comes to learn the real story: his father lost his vision as the result of a shotgun blast while he was participating in an armed robbery. Later, in prison, he encountered one of America’s most notorious serial killers: Nathan Leopold Jr., who helped to set him on a more gentle path. It’s an amazing true story.

The Mighty Captain Marvel, Vol. 1, by Margaret Stohl, Ramon Rosanas, and Michael Garland
Writer Margaret Stohl takes over from Kelly Sue DeConnick, who’d become almost synonymous with Captain Marvel over a long run. She brings her own style to the book, as well as a new status quo: Carol is now one of the most popular figures in the Marvel U, even as her Alpha Flight team is suffering from a budget crunch that forces her to parlay her fame into a TV show. Luckily (kinda), alien children are being kidnapped, meaning Carol gets to step away from fame so that she can be a hero.

The Old Guard Book One: Opening Fire, by Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernandez
A bit more action from Rucka and Fernandez in this collection of the acclaimed mini-series. When they say “old guard,” they mean it: Andromache of Scythia has been selling her services as a soldier for a very, very long time, she and her colleagues having been cursed with immortality. In the 21st century, they’re finding their secret increasingly difficult to keep, even as they’re faced with a new immortal.

Sif: Journey Into Mystery—The Complete Collection, by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kathryn Immonen, Ryan Stegman, Valerio Schiti, and Pepe Larraz
DeConnick and Immonen made one of Asgard’s supporting characters a star in her own right in the justifiably beloved Journey Into Mystery series. Sif is a warrior and a champion through and through, but her zeal for battle and impatience with peace make her a dangerous ally. These stories follow her from Asgard to Earth, and see her team up with Beta Ray Bill to save the cosmos. By any means necessary.

Johnny Appleseed, by Paul Buhle and Noah Van Sciver
A bit of counter-programming to the common comics action tropes, Van Sciver and Buhle tell the real-life story of John Chapman, the legendary Johnny Appleseed, separating fact from fiction along the way. He wasn’t just about apples: Chapman also championed nonviolence, vegetarianism, and friendly relations with Native Americans.

Brink, Book One, by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Late 21st-century earth is not looking too good, having become an uninhabited wastland. Humanity’s survivors live in “Habitats,” vastly overpopulated space stations in which crime is rampant and new religious orders are taking control. Bridget Kurtis is an investigator on the trail of a cult that seems to have disturbing plans for the human race.

Pride of the Decent Man, by T.J. Kirsch
Kirsch’s bright, colorful graphic novel is the story of Andrew Peters, born to an abusive family but trying hard to be a good person as an adult. His best friend isn’t quite so supportive, however, pulling him in bad directions until Andrew winds up in prison, writing his only outlet. When he learns that he has a daughter about which he never knew, he resolves to make things right once and for all.

Streak of Chalk, by Miguelanxo Prado
This magical-realist story from Spain’s Prado (Sandman: Endless Nights) is getting a lovely new reprint. The ephemeral plot defies easy description, but it tells the story of Raul, who is brought to a small island by a storm. There he meets the abrasive Sara and her quiet son Dimas. As he gets to know other residents and visitors of the island, it becomes increasingly hard to separate reality from fantasy, even when he believes there’s been a murder.

Slayer: Repentless, by Jon Schnepp, Guiu Vilanova, and Mauricio Wallace
Yes, it’s that Slayer, the thrash band that’s been a dominant player on the heavy metal scene for decades. This graphic novel adapts the recent trilogy of music videos from the band, a vision of a prison hellscape demonstrating they’ve lost none of its ability to shock.

Language Barrier, by Hannah K. Lee
This one defies description in many ways, in that it’s as much of an art book as it is a novel: in a series of art pieces and anecdotes, Lee tells stories about emojis, sexting, shoes, and more using illustrations, text, and beautiful typography.

Mister Morgen, by Igor Hofbauer and Nina Bunjevac
Hofbauer’s expressionistic, largely silent collection of stories channel an upbringing in his former Eastern Bloc homeland of Croatia. The art is often nightmarish, but with a look that blends pop art and noir with the poster art-style for which he’s most famous.

Man-Thing by R.L. Stine, by R. L. Stine, German Peralta, Daniel Warren Johnson, Christopher Mitten, and Kate Niemczyk
Stine, the beloved Goosebumps guy, has made a foray into the world of comics in a rather unexpected way: by taking on Marvel’s soulful muck monster. Things are actually looking up for Manny at the outset of the story, and he’s parlaying his swampy good looks into a life in Hollywood. Things are never that easy, though, as an ancient evil is on the rise and can only be stopped by Man-Thing. He’ll have to decide between California and the swamp before he can restore the natural balance.

Skybourne, by Frank Cho and Marcio Menyz
In our modern world, the characters and creatures of Arthurian legend are alive and well. Literally. Thomas and Grace Skybourne are two of the immortal children of Lazarus who become embroiled in the machinations of Merlin, who finally has a plan to lay claim to Excalibur and, with it, conquer the world. Like one does.

Saucer Country, by Paul Cornell and Ryan Kelly
Saucer Country originally came out in 2012 and 2013 from Vertigo, but we’re getting a fancy rerelease now that the series is moving to IDW and getting a two-part sequel/conclusion next year. Cornell and Kelly leave very few bits of American UFO mythology untapped in the story of Arcadia Alvarado, the governor of New Mexico running for the presidency. That, and an alcoholic ex-husband would be enough of a story, but Alvarado has shadowy memories of having been abducted by aliens, and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it.

Cosplayers: Perfect Collection, by Dash Shaw
Cosplayers collects a series of vignettes and short stories about Annie and Verti and Dash and Assaf, friends with loves of social media, film, and pop culture. The stories are full of easter eggs for cosplay fans, but told in a charming and quirky way that can be enjoyed by anyone. One of the stories, My Entire High School is Sinking into the Sea, was recently made into a feature film with a big-name cast.

Morton: A Cross-Country Rail Journey, by David Collier
This graphic memoir has a great premise: Dave Collier is pursuing his dream to travel the country with his wife and son before rail travel becomes obsolete, and he tries to reconnect with old friends and acquaintances along the way. Collier got his start in R. Crumb’s Weirdo magazine, so the style and humanity of the story are odd, and oddly recognizable.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo—Millennium, by Stieg Larsson, Sylvain Runberg, Jose Homs, and Manolo Carot
There are a lot of different ways to enjoy the dark and gritty adventures of hacker Lisbeth Salander, this being one of the most unique: it’s a graphic novel adaptation of the first book in the series, originally published in France—so it’s an English translation of a French comic based on a Swedish book. Multiculturalism aside, it’s a stunningly beautiful work: the art alone is worth the price of admission.

Ultimate Marvel, by Adam Bray and Roy Thomas
As nerds, the only thing we love more than a thing is a reference work about that thing. DK’s coffee table books combine a love of facts and data with some gorgeous art. This one covers the entire history of Marvel from an in-universe perspective with entries on characters, cars, and locales from the 1940s right through to the present.

What’s on your pull list?

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