The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of August 2018

Assassinistas, by Tini Howard, Gilbert Hernandez, Rob Davis, and Aditya Bidikar
Octavia, Charlotte, and Roslyn were three of the world’s top hit-women before they all moved on and went their separate ways. Now, Octavia’s been pulled out of retirement to thwart a kidnapping, and must get the gang back together, along with with her son Dominic and his boyfriend Taylor. This retro-cool book is one of the first from IDW’s creator-owned “Black Crown” imprint.

Rise of the Black Panther, by Evan Narcisse, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Paul Renaud, and Javier Pina
Journalist Evan Narcisse is joined by Ta-Nehisis Coates to bring to light T’Challa’s earliest days as Black Panther and dive deep into the story of Wakanda itself. The death of a king changes the course of the nation’s future, ultimately bringing it into contact with the outside world and into conflict with Doom’s homeland of Latveria. The origin story of the hero is also the tale of his country.

Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, by Mark Russell and Mike Feehan
Here’s a book that has no business whatsoever being as good, nor as interesting, as it is: the Hanna-Barbera character is reimagined as a gay southern playwright in the late 1950s who draws the attention of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Seen as a threat and a subversive, Snagglepuss loses almost everything before playing his last card. It shouldn’t work, but it’s nevertheless kinda brilliant.

Fence, Vol. 1, by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, Rebecca Nalty, and Joana LaFuente
Troubled fencing prodigy Nicholas Cox gets accepted into the prestigious Kings Row only to find himself facing down his half-brother as well an an unbeatable rival. Inspired by the best sports manga, it’s an old-school coming-of-age story full of athletic competition and queer characters from the author of the Captive Prince novels. The art is bright and crisp, capturing the fluidity of the fencing scenes and the delicate character work with finesse.

Jughead: The Hunger, Vol. 1, by Frank Tieri, Michael Walsh, Bob Smith, Joe Eisma, and Jim Amash
He’s sooooooo hungry. And who can’t relate? But Jughead’s hunger has a deeper, darker root in this standalone series, in which he has to decide whether to fight or embrace the Jones’ grim family legacy. A series of murders in Riverdale are traced back to Jughead, and his friends line up on opposite sides of the debate over whether to cure him of his bloody urges or end his reign of terror forever.

Sex Criminals, Vol. 5: Five-Fingered Discount, by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
Fraction and Zdarsky’s gleefully smutty ongoing series stars Suzie and John, a couple who can freeze time with their sex magic and use the spare moments to commit near-unstoppable crimes. Or they did, anyway, until they broke up. Six months later, Suzie’s living with her mother and John’s working at a porn shop. As the two edge toward on some kind of rebound, a blackmail plot threatens to complicate their lives even further.

Come Again, by Nate Powell
Fresh off a number of awards for his work with John Lewis on the March trilogy, Powell is back with his first solo book in seven years. Taking place at opposite ends of the 1970s, the story is set in a hippie commune called Haven Station, where Haluska live with her son and the husband of a good friend with whom she’s having an affair. As secrets been to undermine the community, Haluska has to fight to save her family and the people she cares about.

Old Man Hawkeye, Vol. 1: An Eye for an Eye, by Ethan Sacks, Marco Checchetto, and Andres Mossa
Set in the apocalyptic future of the original Old Man Logan, the series sees Clint Barton living in a wasteland 45 years from now. He’s one of the last Avengers left alive. As he realizes he’s going blind, he decides that he wants something more than survival—he wants revenge on those who turned on him and his back in the day.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II, by James Tynion IV, Ryan Ferrier, Freddie Williams, and Jeremy Colwell
In this sequel to the series that threw two of comics’ most popular franchises together, Bane has escaped from Arkham Asylum and is making his way to the Turtles’ version of New York City. Batman and Robin construct a device that transports them to the other universe where they discover that Bane has taken over not only the city, but the entire Foot Clan. Team-up time.

The Librarians, Vol. 1: In Search Of…, by Will Pfeiffer, Anthony Marques, and Rodney Buchemi
The show is sadly no more, but this fun spin-off is a very solid consolation prize. The Librarians are drawn into a mystery surrounding the death of the producer of schlocky, ’70s-era documentaries about things like Bigfoot and Noah’s Ark. Naturally, there’s some truth among the fiction, and the entire team is called upon to prevent an otherworldly incursion.

I Hate Fairyland, Vol. 4: Sadly Never After, by Skottie Young
Skottie Young’s series is a delightfully bloody romp through a magical land ruled over by a little girl who can never grow up, and is sick of it. In the latest, Gertrude’s impact on Fairyland is explored with the help of supporting characters like Larry and Duncan Dragon, who take the spotlight.

Star Wars, Vol. 8: Mutiny at Mon Cala, by Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larroca
The Rebel leaders are in desperate search for a new base and new allies in the wake of the destruction of the first Death Star. They turn their eyes toward the Imperial-occupied world of Mon Cala, home planet of the soon-to-be Admiral Ackbar. When the Empire imprisons their king, the Mon Calamari are forced to choose: keep quiet and avoid further reprisals, or join Princess Leia and fight to reclaim their home.

Spider-Man: Kraven’s Last Hunt—Deluxe Edition, by JM DeMatteis, Stan Lee, Richard Howell, Glenn Herdling, and Mike Zeck
The best Spider-Man story of all time? Its certainly in the running, in spite of it being one in which Spider-Man loses definitively to his arch-nemesis Kraven. On his deathbed, the hunter decides he’s had enough of the games he and Spidey have played over the years. So he kills him. But his plan doesn’t end there. What follows is intense and more than a little disturbing, and the artwork matches the creepiness beat for beat. This deluxe edition includes the sequel story as well as some early appearances from Kraven.

Judas, by Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka
With striking art, this book follows Judas Iscariot through hell as he contemplates his own role in the Bible. One of the greatest villains, he was also essential to the story, his fate inescapably tied up with that of Jesus. As he tours the underworld, the sympathetic figure explores the path that saw him take on the role of the betrayer, and meets up with some of the Bible’s other great villains.

Idle Days, by Thomas Desaulniers-Brousseau and Simon Leclerc
AWOL from the Canadian military during World War II, and coping with his father’s death, Jerome takes refuge in his grandfather’s remote house. Of course, he’s not alone in the woods, and the house has a morbid history all its own. It’s a spooky story perfect for readers who can’t wait for fall.

Coyote Doggirl, by Lisa Hanawalt
Cartoonist Hanawalt, best known as the designer and producer of Bojack Horseman, goes west for the off-kilter story of Coyote, a half-dog, half-coyote cowgirl who takes off on a journey across the prairie. It’s snarky, funny, and weird, with rather lovely watercolor-style art and a real sense of the adventure of traveling the American west.

Windhaven, by George R. R. Martin, Lisa Tuttle, and Elsa Charretier
Martin and Tuttle teamed up for the novel Windhaven waaaay back in 1982, and it’s now getting the graphic novel treatment courtesy of artist Elsa Charretier. Set on the planet of Windhaven, it’s about a young girl named Maris, a fisherman’s daughter who dreams of flying on the coveted wings used by flyers who travel between Windhaven’s communities. When her unworthy stepbrother stands to inherit a pair, she defies the law and challenges the traditions of her people.

VS, Vol. 1, by Ivan Brandon, Esad Ribic, Nic Klein, and Tom Muller
Black Cloud writer Ivan Brandon teams with artist Esad Ribic (Uncanny X-Force) and colorist Nic Klein for an ambitious science fiction saga set in a dark future in which war has become mass entertainment. Superstar gladiator Satta Flynn rules the games, but when a new crop of soldiers arrives, his legacy—and his life—are put at risk. The story is a slightly familiar mashup of dystopian tropes, but the art is gorgeously bloody—Ribic’s eye for action and detail is perfectly matched with Klein’s painted colors.

Gear, by Doug TenNapel
Doug TenNapel has become a controversial figure in comics in recent years, largely for reasons that have nothing to do with his work and everything to do with his anti-LGBTQ+ statements. Yet as a historical piece, this 20th anniversary edition of the first comic from the man who gave us Earthworm Jim is a fascinating oddity. The story, about a group of bumbling cats who steal a giant robot in order to use it in an ongoing war between felines and canines, is as bizarre as you might expect, but the art shows an evolution of TenNapel’s style which would continue in his later, more polished works like Ghostopolis.

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