The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of January 2019

New year! New comics!

Hobo Mom, by Charles Forsman and Max de Radigues
Natasha left her family years ago to ride the rails and live the life of a free-wandering vagrant. Tom and their daughter Sissy must endure without her, until the day she shows back up on their doorstep. Tom, still in love, isn’t quite ready to overlook her abandonment, while Sissy just wants a mom. Natasha, meanwhile, has to figure out how much of her independence she’s willing to surrender for her family. This book was crafted via a cross-country collaboration between greats Charles Forsman (The End of the Fu*king World) and Max de Radiguès.

Tony Stark: Iron Man, Vol. 1: Self-Made Man, by Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti, and Edgar Delgado
After a long (somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 issues) run on Spider-Man, Dan Scott jumped right into two of Marvel’s other big books: Fantastic Four and, of course, Iron Man. In this first volume, Slott, Schiti, and Delgado go back to basics with Tony, who is made part of an ensemble team centered around his new venture, Stark Unlimited, plus an old rival who is poised to become a new ally. There’s every reason to think that this is just the ground floor of what will be another long and entertaining run.

Fence, Vol. 2, by C.S. Pacat, Johanna the Mad, and Joana la Fuente
The first volume of this romance-meets-sportsmanship book was among our favorites of 2018, with a soapy, queer take on the type of sports stories that we more typically find in manga. In volume 2, tryouts are underway for the King’s Row fencing team, and Nicholas is desperate to make the roster and get a shot at showing up his whiz-kid half-brother. Unfortunately, Nicholas’ unstoppable roommate Seiji Katayama is just one of the tests he’ll need to overcome if he hopes to make it.

Ghostbusters: Crossing Over, by Erik Burnham, Luis Antonio Delgado, and Dan Schoening
IDW has put a great deal of work into building a vast Ghostbusters mythology, primarily centered around the classic 1984 team. But there have been other iterations, too, plus the team gained access to an inter dimensional portal a while back that they’ve been working to keep control of. The only way to contain the resulting breach is to call on all the iterations of the Ghostbusters: from the cartoons, the video games, and especially the Answer the Call team. It’s a lot to juggle, but the creative team manages to have a lot of fun with the “more is more” aesthetic.

Off Season, by James Sturm
The political is particularly personal in Sturm’s story gauging the impact of the 2016 presidential election on one family. From the primaries through the months after the vote, a couple becomes separated emotionally and, eventually, physically by the stress and rage brought on by our current political reality. Sturm doesn’t draw distinctions between the very real love of a family and the broader world of politics, instead diving into the interconnectedness of both. It’s a story of the daily life of a family surviving in emotionally fraught times.

The Death of Captain Marvel, by Jim Starlin, Steve Englehart, Doug Moench, Pat Broderick, and Jack Abel
This probably isn’t essential prep for the upcoming film, but it does serve as a good introduction (and farewell, for readers who prize efficiency) to the earlier, man-shaped Captain Marvel, to be played in some form or another in the movie by Jude Law. Perhaps more importantly, it’s an all-time classic of superhero comics: as the cosmic Marvel learns that he’s dying of cancer, an entire universe has to help him accept it.

Spider-Geddon: Edge of Spider-Geddon, by Jed Mackay, Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler, Gerard Way, and Gerardo Sandoval
As was the case with the Spider-Verse crossover event, the set-up can be at least as much fun as the main event. The five stories here each spotlight a different Web Warrior in more-or-less standalone stories from all-star creative teams: Spider-Punk Hobie Brown faces an attack from space, while Peni Parker (who you’ll remember from the movie) comes into conflict with her family. The book also introduces two new spiders, and features a return from the Superior Octopus, now protecting San Francisco via highly questionable means.

The New World, by Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, Jordie Bellaire, and Tom Muller
As a series, this one generated a lot of buzz in 2018, and the entire story is collected here. A vegan hacker and a reality TV-star police officer fall in love in a United States changed by the outcome of the Second Civil War. Though the California of the near-future is a vibrant, colorful and diverse place, it’s also a place where airs a reality show involving cops hunting down impoverished criminals, with viewers voting on whether the contestants live or die. The romance is, as they say, fraught.

Southern Cross, Vol. 3, by Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger, and Lee Loughridge
This ambitious sci-fi series has flown a bit under the radar, and that’s too bad: it’s a creepy thriller story set in outer space, with some of the mysteries surrounding the cursed ship Southern Cross coming to a head in this volume. Hazel Conroy and her crew of misfits are trapped on the ship, facing their own secrets and lies, even as the alien-possessed undead are coming for them.

Shade, the Changing Woman, by Cecil Castellucci and Marley Zarcone
This is the latest from DC’s on-hiatus mature-readers imprint Young Animal, which has produced some of the best and most innovative series of the last couple of years, under the guidance of Gerard Way. The Changing Girl no more, Shade has shed her original Earth body for a new one, cutting ties with her past—but the human emotions that she’s forced to confront haven’t let up, especially when she comes face to face with the original Changing Man.

Lucy Dreaming, by Max Bemis and Michael Dialynas
She’s a space princess. A rebel. The leader of a nationwide revolt. Each night, 13-year-old Lucy goes to bed and dreams herself as a different hero from one of her favorite stories. Except, she soon realizes, these dream adventures have real consequences. She’s soon forced to figure out just what her multi-versal journeys mean for her dreaming and waking lives.

Modern Fantasy, by Rafer Roberts and Kristen Gudsnuk
A Ranger, her drug-dealer roommate, and their Dwarf BFF face evil cultists and a Balrog while working the day jobs they need to keep in order to pay off their student loans. The fun and bright series imagines a fantasy world that looks unsettlingly like our own humdrum one.

The Mighty Crusaders, Vol. 1, by Ian Flynn and Kelsey Shannon
Created by Jerry Siegel, this team has an impressive pedigree, even if it hasn’t always been at the forefront. The recent revival follows Archie’s reboot of the various characters across several successful solo books. A prehistoric monster threatens D.C., bringing the team together just in time for the villainous Dr. Iddh to awaken an evil that threatens the entire world.

Empowered & Sistah Spooky’s High School Hell, by Adam Warren and Carla Speed McNeil
High school is hell in the latest story starring Empowered. Though the character has been around for over a decade, this is the first time she’s appearing in a standard size-and-style comic book format, and the standalone story serves as both an introduction to the hero and an origin for Sister Spooky, the obnoxious teammate who sold her soul for hotness. Her Spooky’s former bullies learn that she wasn’t always so hot, and they want that magic for themselves.

Coyotes, Vol. 2, by Sean Lewis and Caitlin Yarsky
In the first volume of Coyotes, women were being hunted by specially engineered werewolves—actually men who don animal pelts that augment their hatred of women and turn them into monsters. In the violent story, Red hunts down these killers, decapitating them to end their reign of terror. In the newest, she continues her quest to bring hunted women to safety, but encounters a group that challenges her once unshakeable believe in the righteousness of her cause.

Letter 44: Deluxe Edition, by Charles Soule, Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque, and Dan Jackson
Soule & company’s recently concluded series is getting a mega-sized rerelease with this new omnibus, and it’s a great way to dig into a gripping, political sci-fi series. United States President Stephen Blades announces the presence of alien life in his State of the Union address, kicking off a global battle for power in the wake of the new status quo. While Earth is distracted, Charlotte Hayden and her crew are heading to the asteroid belt to make first contact.

I Moved to Los Angeles to Work in Animation, by Natalie Nourigat
Nourigat’s newest autobiographical graphic novel is part memoir, part how-to for anyone considering a career in animation. The artist tells her story of moving from Portland to Los Angeles looking to take her work to the next level, and once there climbing high and falling low in pursuit of a dream. In telling her story, she dispenses advice about salaries and navigating studio culture with style and a wonderful sense of humor.

Jinx, by Brian Michael Bendis
Now that Brian Michael Bendis has lived multiple lives as a comics megastar, some of his earliest work is getting reprinted—including Jinx, probably his best known book from back in the day. Inspired by Sergio Leone westerns, but set in modern times, the crime noir follows the title character, a bounty hunter who gets wind of a huge cash treasure but finds that con-artist and felon David Goldfish is hunting it at the same time. The two realize that their chances are better if they work together, assuming either can trust the other.

What’s on your pull list?

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