July has seen a whole number of great releases, including several new series(almost all from Image!), as well as a lot of genre work and great issues from longer standing series. It is always difficult to have to pick a list of the best comics for a given month, though there were a few that we were able to narrow down based on how strong the competition was. You will notice that, again, there is very few titles from DC or Marvel on here. This is partially because the DC relaunch has yet to really get moving, and Marvel’s Secret Wars titles are good, but rarely going to be the top of any list. Vertigology tends to focus on Vertigo and the indie publishers like Image, Dark Horse, Oni, and Fantagraphics, so you will see where our preferences lie.
This is probably the best issue of Effigy that has come, and it is the least tied to the rest of the series. The story goes into a science fiction writer turned “Scientology-like” religious guru whose unique work plays into the core of the Effigy series very deeply. The story itself is plotted incredibly well, and a great way to re-engage readers after the first six issue arc is completed. Effigy has, in general, been a real sleeper hit, not hitting top sales numbers even by Vertigo standards. Pick up the first trade if you have not, even if it is just so that you can get to the stellar issue #7.
If nothing beats it later this year, Airboy is going to be the best miniseries of the year. Focus on a meta-narrative about James Robinson(the writer) and Greg Hinkle(the artist) attempting to write an Air Boy comic and instead having the character himself enter into their world while they are jumping into a drug fueled fury. The second issue has Robinson and Hinkle explaining the world to Airboy, as well as trying to take him on their adventure with him. This issue has been the subject of a lot of controversy because of some transphobic language in it, but it is clear that this is the product of reactionary characters rather than the writer. A great read and a wonderful return to true form for a real writing genius.
Mark Waid is really taking us into a well crafted world of early 20th century Southern racism in a story that takes the historical into the realm of the fantastic. In a comic beautifully painted by J.G. Jones, we are placed into the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 as the white upper class begins turning on the people of color, forcing them into aggressive work to protect their wealth from the disaster. The violence of the KKK is interrupted by a person from the sky, all of which holds as many possibilities as any comic on the stands. This is a modern rendition of Mice and Men, with a focus on the struggles of working class people against white supremacy, which gives us the kind of challenging depth that we are sorely lacking in the world of mainstream comics.
This is just the final issue of the strange and wonderful miniseries that has captivated an otherwise non-Archie centered populace. This is where things gets even more hyper-real in Riverdale as Archie gets loaded with steroids, Predator falls in love with Bettie and Veronica, and a lot of people lose limbs and vital organs. All presented in the classic Archie Comics style, which only adds to the sense of surreal horror and campy irony that really makes it work.
This is the very long-awaited final issue of the groundbreaking Hawkeye comic from Matt Fraction and David Aja. It is so late, in fact, that its follow-up comic, All-New Hawkeye from Jeff Lemire, is already in its fourth issue. This issue was also a part of a storyline that we can barely remember because it has been so long. None of that actually matters because the series is so strong, the writing so crisp, the art so wonderful, and the reading so pleasant that we can jump in anywhere. It is only sad that this is the last one, but if you have not caught up on the last few issues, the fourth trade collection that includes this issue was released at almost the same time!
This was the first issue of the Mark Waid and Fiona Staples reboot of the Archie franchise, which has been well publicized and people have been waiting for with an unexpected excitement. The issue itself is just getting to know Archie, seeing his strange relationship(on or off?) with Bettie, and seeing what the updated Riverdale is like. The comic is a pleasant surprise in that they really do well to update the characters, and even build in things like social media hashtags in clever ways to draw on the teenage focus of the book. We really have yet to see what the series will become, but this is as strong as a start as we could have expected. Though Jughead seems a little dark…
We aren’t entirely sure if it is that issue #3 is really this strong, or just that we love the series that much. Fight Club 2 has been altogether great so far, with the first issue really reminds us of the characters and with the last couple issues really taking off in a new direction. With issue #3 we really are starting to see Project Mayhem as an insurrectionary force, almost fascistic in nature, and the danger that Tyler really presents. We don’t want to ruin any bit of this, especially since so many people interested in the book will be waiting for the big trade of the entire thing, but we are happy to be reading it in single issues.
This has been the best anthology series available for the last year or so, even if it only comes out every three months. Issue #2 of the sound-effect focused run, which will last four issues just like the CMYK color focus, is one that just stands out as each story is a real gem and avoids being a series of surprise endings and awkward political points. This is really how an anthology series with sort, self-contained stories can do it right.