The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of April 2018

Heavy Vinyl, by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva, Irene Flores, and Rebecca Nalty
Indie record shop Vinyl Mayem is a pretty rad place to work: the punk, outcast teen girls who work there have a cool boss, they’re obsessed with music, and are trying to start a band. Chris is pretty thrilled when she gets a job there, and even more so when she learns the truth: after singer Rosie Riot goes missing, Chris discovers that the gang isn’t just selling records; the whole store is a front for a patriarchy-busting vigilante fight club. It’s all about music, friendship, and fighting the status quo, with bright, manga-inspired art from Nina Vakueva.

My Boyfriend is a Bear, by Pamela Ribon and Cat Farris
Nora has had many awful boyfriends, but things turn around when she meets a charming, romantic bear. (Join the club.) But this is, like, a literal bear: a 500-pound American black bear, to be precise. The two meet in the Los Angeles hills, and it’s love at first sight. Of course, there are challenges: getting friends and family to accept her slightly unconventional romance isn’t easy; also, he hibernates all winter long. It’s an impressively heartfelt and funny book about the trials and triumphs of any relationship. Pamela Ribon also created roller girl saga Slam! and has a writing credit on Disney’s Moana.

Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman Deluxe Edition, by Jim Lee, David Hajdu, Jules Feiffer, Paul Levitz, Laura Siegel Larson, Tom DeHaven, Gene Luen Yang, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster
DC is rolling out the red carpet in commemoration of 80 years of Superman and April’s 1,000th issue of Action Comics. This collection includes favorite stories from the magazine that introduced Superman and company, alongside essays from various luminaries waxing lyrically about the Man of Steel’s impact. Coolest of all, the book includes (for the first time) a once-lost 1940s-era tale credited to creator Siegel and the studio of Joe Shuster.

Terminal Lance Ultimate Omnibus, by Maximilian Uriarte
Uriarte’s slice-of-military-life comic strip, begun in 2010, became popular with readers both in and out of uniform for its knowing and humane, but frequently hilarious, view of life in the service from a career marine. This collection includes over 500 serialized strips, as well as never-before published comics and bonus material.

Star Wars: Darth Vader—Dark Lord of the Sith, Vol. 2: Legacy’s End, by Charles Soule, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Daniele Orlandini, and David Curiel
The Darth Vader books have been among the best in Marvel’s now-extensive SW library, and that trend continues with the second volume of Soule and Camuncoli’s run, set shortly after the birth of Vader in Episode III. Heading up the newly formed Inquisitorius, the Sith Lord is charged with hunting down and eliminating the few Jedi who survived Palpatine’s purge. Opposing them is Jedi librarian Jocasta Nu, determined to preserve whatever remains of the ancient Order.

Gasolina, Vol. 1, by Sean Mackiewicz, Niko Walter, and Mat Lopes
Newlyweds Amalia and Randy don’t have much of a honeymoon ahead of them: fleeing a deadly new cartel in Mexico, they become embroiled in a dark and violent supernatural mystery. The cartel has found a new way to rise to the top and eliminate the competition, employing methods that aren’t for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. Amalia and Randy might be the only hope of stopping them—if they survive.

America, Vol. 2: Fast and Fuertona, by Gabby Rivera, Joe Quinones, Annie Wu, Jen Bartel. Stacey Lee, and Flaviano Armentaro
Though sadly cut short, the America Chavez solo series grew throughout its 12 issues to establish a unique tone and style for the queer Puerto Rican hero. Gabby Rivera ends America on a celebratory note, bringing back several of the artists who contributed to the series for the finale. But first, America will have to face down the Exterminatrox and the Midas Corporation with some help from her newfound family from Planet Fuertona.

Paper Girls, Vol. 4, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matthew Wilson
One of the best, buzziest series continues with this fourth volume. The time-warping adventure is only getting weirder and more elaborate as 12-year-old Tiffany returns from the prehistoric past, only to find herself in an alternate version of 2000 in which Y2K had devastating consequences. Only a time-lost paper girl from 1988 can save us.

Kingsman: The Red Diamond, by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser
Though there have been two movies made from the original Secret Service graphic novel, this is the first printed sequel to the 2012 Mark Millar/Dave Gibbons book. Eggsy returns, following in the footsteps of Uncle Jack, to unravel an international terror plot and to rescue Prince Philip.

Marvel The Avengers: The Ultimate Guide, by the Dorling Kindersley Publishing Staff
Just in time for a new Avengers movie, there’s a revised and updated character guide featuring 18 pages of additional content on comics’ greatest teamup, including entries on more recent team members like the Nadia Pym Wasp, the Jane Foster version of Thor, Sam Wilson, and Ms. Marvel. The classic characters are featured as well, with colorful profiles covering key comic issues and major storylines.

Rick and Morty: Pocket Like You Stole It, by Tini Howard, Marc Ellerby, Crank!, and Katy Farina
Revealed: the true history of the secret Morty fight club. It seems that Ricks have been collecting Mortys from across the multiverse and forcing them to battle in grisly ways, for schmeckles and glory. Our Morty might be their only hope of freedom. Based on the Pocket Mortys game.

The Black Monday Murders, Vol. 2, by Jonathan Hickman, Tomm Coker, Michael Garland, and Rus Wooten
Superstar writer Hickman and company offer up a world in which dark magic is at the root of the entire global economy. Seems entirely plausible, actually. The world’s banking cartels are working with and against each other, alongside Russian gangsters, American millionaires, the IMF, etc., in order to maintain control using incredibly dark magic, and with the help of actual demons. In volume two of the dense crypto-noir, the secret history of the Black Monday market crash is revealed.

Invincible, Volume 25: The End of All Things Part 2, by Robert Kirkman, Ryan Ottley, Cory Walker, and Nathan Fairbairn
Though it hasn’t been thrust in to broader pop culture by way of a popular TV show, following Robert Kirkman’s other long-running series has been a remarkable ride over the past 15 years. This book brings to a close the story of half-human, half-alien superhero Mark Grayson. It’s rare in superhero comics that one creative team gets to tell a story from beginning to end over such a long period of time. This conclusion is a major event.

Aliens: Dead Orbit, by James Stokoe
Writer-artist Stokoe, whose dynamic and idiosyncratic artwork has made him a favorite, is a great choice to take on an Aliens story. Dead Orbit sees a lone engineer on a distant space station forced into a struggle for survival with nothing but a few tools and his wits. The art complements the tense and claustrophobic story perfectly.

Afterlife with Archie: Betty R.I.P., by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla
Granted, the release schedule has been a bit…leisurely (volume 1 came out in 2014); that doesn’t change the fact that this utterly bizarre take on Archie and the Riverdale gang is one of the best (and most disturbing) horror comics going. It’s also the most beautiful, thanks to the art from Francavilla. The latest has the gang out of Riverdale and on the run from an ever-growing horde of the undead.

Royal City, Vol. 2: Sonic Youth, by Jeff Lemire
The first volume of Lemire’s newest series introduced fading literary star Patrick Pike, who returns with great reluctance to the factory town and the family that he thought he’d left behind. Hanging over the entire clan is the specter of death: specifically, the drowning of brother Tommy decades earlier, which haunts them all in different ways. As the story of the family continues, we travel back to 1993 in order to witness the last week of Tommy’s ill-fated life.

Kabul Disco #1: How I Managed Not to be Abducted in Afghanistan, by Nicolas Wild
French cartoonist Wild was on the verge of homelessness when he received a job offer that would take him to Afghanistan. His travelogue explores life in the country with candor and humor, particularly the places where the cultures diverge and, sometimes, overlap. This is the debut book in the Life Drawn imprint from European publisher Humanoids, a series that aims to tell stories that are a bit more down-to-Earth than the company’s more usual sci-fi.

Carnet de Voyage, by Craig Thompson
Another travelogue, this one from award-winning cartoonist Thompson. Researching and preparing for his impressive Habibi graphic novel involved three months of traveling through Barcelona, the Alps, France, and Morocco. Here he presents his travel diaries and sketches of the journey, forming a unique look into the mind and journeys of a beloved artist.

Dead of Winter: Good Good Dog, by Kyle Starks and Gabo
Sparky is a good boy. The former TV stunt dog is helpful and sweet, as well as being a truly exceptional zombie killer in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. The book is based on the popular Dead of Winter tabletop game, but you don’t need to be a fan to enjoy the book. It’s just a violent and funny story of a good dog facing down some bad zombies.

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