The Best Comics & Graphic Novels of October 2019

Wonder Woman, Vol. 1: The Just War (B&N Exclusive Edition), by G. Willow Wilson and Cary Nord
Ares has been imprisoned beneath Themyscira for generations, but when he’s joined by Grail, the daughter of Darkseid, he discovers a means of escape. Reborn on Earth, he makes himself known to Wonder Woman while she’s on a mission to save Steve Trevor, and claims to have turned over a new leaf. Of course, appearances can be deceiving, and War isn’t the only Olympian to have been resurrected. Best known among comics readers for co-creating Kamala Khan (aka Ms. Marvel), G. Willow Wilson proves to have just as sure a hand writing for heroes on the other side of the Marvel/D.C. divide. The B&N exclusive edition of this new series-starter has a variant cover as well as 8 extra pages with pencil art, sketches, and script excerpts.

Goddess Mode, by Zoë Quinn, Robbi Rodriguez, and Rico Renzi
Cassandra Price runs tech support for daily life. At least, what passes for life in a future when all humanity’s needs are provided for and controlled by an artificial intelligence called Azoth. Everything changes when Cassandra discovers a secret world beneath our world, run on metadata and magic, and home to a group of super-powered women battling monsters for the fate of the world.

Monstress, Vol. 4 (B&N Exclusive Edition), by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
The latest chapter in one of the most impressively written and lushly illustrated series running finds Maika and Corvin on the hunt for Kippa across a warped and dangerous landscape. An encounter with a figure from Maika’s past leads to startling revelations relating to a conspiracy threatening the Known World, and finds a war in the offing. The B&N exclusive edition includes a gorgeous poster and alternate cover by series artist Sana Takeda.

Ms. Marvel by Saladin Ahmed, Vol. 1: Destined, by Saladin Ahmed and Minkyu Jung
There’s a lot going on in the latest Ms. Marvel series, kicking off a new era for the Marvel favorite with a brand-new creative team and plenty of heart. An alien invasion in Kamala’s neighborhood leads her to an alien planet and an attack by the Beast Legion (as well as a cute new costume), but the real danger is closer to home, as Kamala continues to find it tricky to balance the superhero life and her daily dealings with family and friends.

The Walking Dead Compendium 4 (B&N Exclusive Edition) by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano, and Cliff Rathburn
This is the end. There are a few different ways to collect The Walking Dead comics, and they’re all wrapping up following July’s shocking planned (but unannounced) series finale. This massive compendium collects issues 145 to 193, beginning in the aftermath of the group’s conflict with the Whisperers, building to a massive conflict at the Commonwealth, and ending with a tragic death and a flash-forward to the future. If you’ve been along for the ride up until now, you certainly need to find out how it all ends. The B&N Exclusive edition includes a poster and a pretty sweet alternate cover.

Critical Role Vox Machina: Origins, Vol. 1, by Matthew Mercer, Matthew Colville, Olivia Samson, and Chris Northrop
A ragtag group of heroes set out on an epic quest, one only completed after 115 episodes of the incredibly popular D&D-themed Critical Role show set in the world of Exandria. With writers/Dungeon Masters Matthew Mercer and Matthew Colville telling the story, this book reveals the origins of the adventurers known as Vox Machina as they combine their skills to uncover dark and dirty dealings in the town of Stillben.

Doomsday Clock, Part 1, by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank
There was bound to be some controversy over bringing characters from the Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons classic Watchmen into the mainstream DCU, but the publisher overcame a lot of resistance by putting an all-star creative team on the book. It’s also consequential: all of the major events of the Rebirth era have ties to Doomsday Clock, and there’s a real sense of the epic at play as we discover where the universe-hopping Doctor Manhattan went after the end of the original mini-series (you can probably guess), and what happens when Ozymandias follows Big Blue to escape the consequences of his drastic bid to engineer world peace. It all has something to do with a superhuman arms race with Superman at its core. There’s no telling if any of these plot points will make there way into the TV series that premieres late this month on HBO, but it sure makes for good reading.

Heroes in Crisis, by Tom King and Clay Mann
Things aren’t quite right in the DC Universe, but fortunately there’s Sanctuary, a secret, highly secure hospital for traumatized heroes. The bad news? Someone’s found out about it, and a surprise attack against the facility leaves several vulnerable patients dead. Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman are called to investigate, but the case gets very complicated very quickly, leading to a shocking conclusion.

Paper Girls, Vol. 6, by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, and Matt Wilson
Brian K. Vaughan’s name appears on two of the most beloved and critically acclaimed series of the last half-decade or so, and one of them* concludes this month. Paper Girls is the story of four teenage girls from Stony Stream who started out delivering papers on Halloween night 1988 and wound up falling into a temporal war that send them traveling through space and time, bearing witness to to a conflict stretching out over eons. The final volume sees them returning home for an emotional finale that leaves each of them deeply changed.

*Surely you know the other one?

Young Justice, Vol. 1: Gemworld, by Brian Michael Bendis, John Timms, and Patrick Gleason
A fun and quirky book from the typically seriousBrian Michael Bendis, Young Justice finds Wonder Girl, Ginny Hex, Robin, Impulse, and Teen Lantern facing an invasion from Gemworld, homeland of the Fae. Joined by Amethyst and reunited with Conner Kent, this is one of the lead books in the Wonder Comics line, spotlighting the younger heroes of the DCU.

The End of the World, by Don Hertzfeldt
Don Hertzfeldt is the filmmaker behind the cult animated film sensations World of Tomorrow and It’s Such a Beautiful Day, among others, but he’s also brought his signature style—deep philosophical noodling and trippy sci-fi explorations by way of simple stick figure drawings—to comics. Originally published in 2013 and newly available in a deluxe hardcover edition, The End of the World assembles some of the ideas leftover from the auteur’s film projects into an experimental graphic novel he likens to “the B-sides” of his film projects. At first what seems like disparate one-joke panels slowly builds into something greater… even if you can’t quite put your finger on what it is.

The Wicked + The Divine, Vol. 9: Okay, by Kieron Gillen, Jamie Mckelvie, and Matt Wilson
It feels like we’ve only just begun, but this month, The Wicked + Divine comes to an emotional and satisfying conclusion in trade paperback after five years, 45 issues, and nine volumes. If you’ve been waiting to binge this series about a cadre of young gods who reincarnate every 90 years to live on Earth—with the caveat that they’ll die after two years—now’s the time. With a twilight coming for the gods, and the future at stake, Lucifer refuses to give up the role in which she’s become trapped, forcing Laura to save her from herself. The rock and roll epic goes out on a high note.

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince—Night of Knives (B&N Exclusive Edition), by V. E. Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri, Budi Setiawan, Enrica Eren Angiolini, and Rob Steen
This original story set in Schwab’s Shades of Magic universe stars the arrogant young prince Maxim Maresh, who will one day become the king of Red London and father to A Darker Shade of Magic‘s Kell and Rhy. Here, though, he’s just trying to win the respect of the port town of Verose by undertaking an impossible challenge that no one else has ever survived. The Barnes & Noble exclusive edition includes a variant cover and 16 pages of bonus content, including character designs, cover sketches, and a script-to-final art feature.

Reincarnation Stories, by Kim Deitch
Kim Ditch is one of the living legends of comics, a key figure in the underground scene of the 1960s whose work has only continued to evolve. His latest stands with the best, and trippiest, work he’s ever done. Four-year-old Kim is accosted on a park bench by a man who believes him to be a reincarnated friend, setting us off on a wild adventure through a unique world of memory and fantasy.

Daybreak, by Brian Ralph
A 17-year-old high schooler named Josh searches for his girlfriend in post-apocalyptic Glendale, California. Alternative cartoonist Ralph brings a deeply unique spin to the zombie horror genre by telling the story in the first person, so that we the readers experience the terror first-hand. The book is on its way to becoming a Netflix series, which should definitely be… interesting.

DC Comics Year-by-Year, New Edition: A Visual Chronicle, by Alan Cowsill and Alex Irvine
Charting the 85-ish year history of DC Comics, this fancy full-color and fully illustrated hardcover goes back beyond the 1938 debut of Superman to detail the debuts of every major hero, villain, and team in the DCU, and also explores the publishing milestones and significant creators of the past eight decades. This revised and expanded edition stretches right up to the present, even covering this year’s 80th anniversary of Batman’s debut.

The Marvel Book: Expand Your Knowledge Of A Vast Comics Universeby Stephen Wiacek
Marvel is celebrating eight decades of superheroes this year too, and with no indications that they plan to retire. This full-color hardcover serves as something like an encyclopedia of the characters and concepts that have made Marvel Comics what they are. Grouped by subject areas (the Multiverse, Science and Technology, War and Peace, Cosmic Forces, Magic and the Supernatural, and Alternate Realities), the book is full of illustrated double-page spreads with texts, charts, and images that offer a deeper dive into the Marvel Universe.

Star Trek: The Q Conflict, by Scott Tipton, David Tipton, and David Messina
In what may well be the biggest crossover in Star Trek history, the crews of the Original Series, The Next Generation, Voyager, and Deep Space Nine join together for the first time (in comics, anyway) as a conflict between the galaxy’s godlike beings threatens all of time and space. Kirk, Janeway, Sisko, and Picard are forced into a rigged competition for the fate of the Earth, but the Captains have a plan to take the fight right to the heart of the Q-Dimension.

Why Comics? From Underground to Everywhere, by Hillary L. Chute
Maybe you’ve made it this far down the list and are still like “what’s up with comics?” No problem: this new edition of Chute’s critically acclaimed book (not itself a comic) explores the evolution of the art form, looking specifically at the major themes that comics and comix seem best-suited to cover. Looking at disasters, superheroes, sex, the suburbs, cities, punk, illness and disability, girls, war, and queerness, Chute explores how comics do what they do, why they’ve evolved the way they have, and why there are some things they do better than any other medium.

What’s on your pull list this month?

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