The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of May 2018

Black Panther: Shuri—The Deadliest of the Species, by Reginald Hudlin, Ken Lashley, Paul Neary, and Paul Mounts
The 2009 Black Panther series has been out of print for a minute, and now is a good time to revisit it. Not only did Reginald Hudlin put a distinctive stamp on the character for several years, this book (now renamed to give Shuri pride of place) forefronts the tech genius and younger sister to T’Challa who almost stole away the recent blockbuster film adaptation from the title character. Here, she takes the throne of Wakanda, as well as the mantle of Black Panther, when the king is brutally injured. She needs to learn to defend her nation quickly, as the ancient villain Morlun has returned to devour the Panther totem and destroy the nation.

Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn, by Ryan Heshka
Ryan Heshka has a sleek, retro style perfectly suited to the story of the Mean Girls Club:  Pinky, Sweets, Blackie, McQualude, Wendy, and Wanda, six ’50s-era gals who positively live to subvert stereotypes. They’ve been throwing the town into chaos for years with their secret rituals and love of chaos. Mayor Schlomo’s had enough, and blackmails a young mechanic named Roxy to infiltrate the group. Of course, Roxy soon finds herself torn between the mayor’s threats and her newfound friends. Resembling an old noir film on acid, Heshka’s pink-and-black art is the big draw here.

Paradiso, Vol. 1: Essential Singularity, by Ram V, Dev Pramanik, Dearbhla Kelly, Aditya Bidikar
Centuries after the collapse of global civilization in an event known as “The Midnight,” humanity still lives and thrives in the living mega-city Paradiso—but only there. A stranger arrives at the city with a device capable of bringing the world’s dead technology back to life, setting off a struggle between the humans, the bionic Guardians, and the city herself for control of what could be the ultimate power in the new world.

Dark Days: The Road to Metal, by Scott Snyder, Jim Lee, Andy Kubert, James Tynion IV, and John Romita Jr.
This collection sets the stage for DC’s just-concluded (in floppies) Dark Nights: Metal series. In the crossover, a years-long investigation undertaken by Batman comes to fruition as he discovers a dark multiverse just beneath the surface of his own reality, connected by mysterious metals he’s encountered in his crime-fighting career. A dark god is planning to unleash seven evil Batmen from other realities with the goal of spreading darkness across all the interconnected earths. In the run-up, Batman learns the Joker infected himself with one of the rare metals, and therefore has key information about the coming apocalypse.

The Pervert, by Remy Boydell and Michelle Perez
Perez and Boydell’s story is told as a series of vignettes drawn in a deceptively simple watercolor style. The story features a young trans woman doing sex work in Seattle, struggling to survive in a dangerous and stressful environment. At first refusing to work as anything other than a woman, she eventually gives in and passes as a rent boy when money gets tight. There’s hope to be found as well, but nothing comes easy in this powerful work.

The Ideal Copy, by Ben Sears
Sears Double+ adventure series has been steadily gaining in popularity since 2016’s Night Air introduced charming rogue Plus Man and his even-tempered robot pal. The books are all-ages fun—bits of science fiction, action, and comedy tossed together to impress. In the latest, the boys have been blacklisted from treasure hunting, and so find themselves with cater-waiter jobs at a swanky hotel. Naturally, things don’t stay quiet for long, as the two come up against a team of counterfeiting crooks.

Fight Club 2, by Chuck Palahniuk, Cameron Stewart, David Mack, Nate Piekos, and Dave Stewart
The 100 percent official graphic sequel to Palahniuk’s 1996 novel is now in paperback. Sebastian has been trying very hard to put Project Mayhem behind him and live a normal life. His wife Marla, though, has gotten bored with their humdrum existence, and concocts an ill-conceived plan to resurrect Tyler Durden. It works. Project Chaos ensues.

Runaways by Rainbow Rowell, Vol. 1: Find Your Way Home (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka,
For a time, Runaways was one of Marvel’s buzziest series, but in the wake of the book’s cancellation, the various characters (Alex, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Molly, telepathic dinosaur Old Lace, and others) have since dispersed into the larger Marvel U. Novelist Rowell made it her mission to get the old gang back together, reassembling almost the entire original team—even if it meant literally resurrecting its (deceased) heart and soul, Gert. This continuation welcomes new readers but feels absolutely of a piece with Brian K. Vaughan and Adrian Alphona’s original run, and the fashion-forward art from Kris Anka (with popping colors from Eisner-winner Matt Wilson) is like candy. The B&N exclusive edition features a variant cover and a bunch of goodies in the back of the book.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses, Vol. 1, by David Lapham
Since 1995, Lapham’s crime noir series has been among the most influential books in the genre. After a break of a few years during the 2000s, it has made a big comeback over the last few years, moving over to Image Comics. It’s an anthology that tells stories of people whose lives spin out of control, and the latest involves an ill-fated scheme by a Baltimore couple to bring down the underworld. Continuity isn’t an issue, so the latest volume is as good a place to start as any.

Star Wars: Han Solo, by Marjorie Liu and Mark Brooks, Jason Aaron, and Stuart Immonen
Just in time for the movie: this miniseries sees Han split off from the gang at the behest of Leia in the time between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back. Han is given an undercover mission involving the extraction of several important rebel informants—and the job just happens to revolve around an infamous starship race, the Dragon Void Run. Han’s always dreamed of winning the Run, and so this younger scoundrel, not yet fully committed to the rebel cause, finds himself more than a little distracted. The new hardcover edition also includes “Showdown on the Smuggler’s Moon,” the five-part story from the flagship Star Wars book that introduced Han’s old partner Sana Starros.

Star Wars: Poe Dameron, Vol. 4: Legend Found, by Charles Soule, Robbie Thompson, Angel Unzueta, and Nik Virella
This volume marks a big milestone for the ongoing series: not just 25 issues, but a culmination of the first major arc. Black Squadron’s hunt for Lor San Tekka in the months prior to The Force Awakens has been an undercurrent through all the team’s adventures to date. Here, the legend is finally found, in a story that leads directly into the the events of Episode VII.

Love That Bunch, by Aline Kominsky-Crumb
Artist Kominsky-Crumb was a foundational figure in the honest, raunchy, and raw Bay Area comics scene of the ’60s and ’70s, and as writer, artist, and editor, she’s due for a popular and critical rediscovery. Her work unapologetically spotlights her secrets and insecurities as a woman who came up in an era of growing feminism and sexual freedom, struggling to reconcile the conflicting demands of her times. This collection of work from throughout her long career includes a new 30-page story, and reflects her oeuvre right up to the present day.

Animosity, Year One, by Marguerite Bennett, Mike Marts, Rafael de Latorre, Rob Schwager, and Marshall Dillon
This new collection of the buzzy animal liberation series gathers the first year of the book into an appealing hardcover. One day, the world’s animals awoke and decided they’d had enough. Many also decided it was time for a little payback. Eleven-year-old Jesse is lucky, though—her beloved dog Sandor remains committed to her protection as she sets out on a cross-country journey to find her half-brother amidst the chaos.

The Ballad Of Halo Jones, Vol. 1: Book 1, by Alan Moore, Ian Gibson, and Barbara Nosenzo
Moore and Gibson’s ’80s-era work was incredibly influential, and remains vibrant to this day. This new edition presents a colored and remastered Halo Jones, as originally anthologized way back in 1984 in the pages of 2001 AD. Eighteen-year-old Halo lives in a 50th-century council estate called The Hoop, a life she decides to abandon in favor of the greater universe after a particularly wild day of shopping ends with her finding her flatmate murdered.

Now #3: The New Comics Anthology, by Eric Reynolds
The third volume of Fantagraphics’ thrice-annual anthology series assembles a global array of established and up-and-coming talent for a wildly diverse array of comic stories. This book offers limitless opportunities for creators to show what they can do, and spotlights the work in a full-color, reasonably priced format.It’s a great way to check out what’s going on in the broader world of comics, and discover work you might otherwise miss out on.

The Hookah Girl: And Other True Stories, by Marguerite Dabaie
Illustrator Dabaie is making her major comic debut with this semi-autobiographical collection of stories about growing up a girl of Palestinian heritage living in the West. From her upbringing in a refugee family, to the plight of being a Christian Palestinian in the fraught climate of the modern United States, Dabaie offers her own unique, personal perspective on the parallels and contrasts between East and West.

Bug! The Adventures of Forager, by Lee Allred, Laura Allred, and Michael Allred
Jack “King” Kirby’s creations are always worth a look, and Forager may be one of his weirdest. Raised among the sentient insects that live beneath the surface of Supertown on the planet of New Genesis, Forager only thinks he’s a bug; actually, he shares a heritage with the Gods who live above. In this revised take on the original material from DC’s (consistently wonderful) Young Animal imprint, Forager wakes up in a basement with no memory, and only a talking teddy bear and ghost girl for companionship. He soon sets off across the multiverse to stop a madman, encountering various other Kirby creations on his way.

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