For a weak week in terms of quantity of releases, a lot of titles that came out this week easily had some of their best issues of the year thus far. I finally care about Superman again, Uncanny X-Men brought back Chris Bachalo for art, Tony Stark died in the Ultimate Universe, and Suicide Squad had one hell of a cliffhanger.
but this is the best of the best. (at least in my mind.)
1. Avengers Arena 012
Avengers Arena has been a series for 12 issues that has showed potential, but never really grabbing the reader and making it a gripping series. for the past 11 issues, I feel like the series has been trying to find a sweet spot, and we have finally hit it.
i may be a bit biased because Dennis Hopeless brought back one of my personal favorite characters from a very sloppy and haphazard death (Nico from Runaways), but it finally feels like Avengers Arena has gotten into a rhythm of a week to week guessing game of death, mystery and quick teenage wit. It finally felt like Kev Walker's amazing pencils finally got the justice they deserved from the writing and plot. I really was just totally enamored with this book this week. It was so much fun, so fulfilling and had a great cliffhanger. for the first time ever, i cannot wait for the next issue of Avengers Arena.
2. Chew 035
Chew is easily a contender for one of the best books of all time. every issue, John Layman & Rob Guillory bring some sort of plot twist, craziness, or introduce an entirely new character/plot device that keeps this book feeling fresh, fun, and still engaging after 35 issues.
with the conclusion of the 'Bad Apples' storyline in this issue, Agent Chu and the gang are preparing for the oncoming war of food powers and abilities, all while delivering the bleak, dark humor that has become the series' trademark. we were introduced to a hortamagnatroph this week, and i doubt it's the last time we'll see that specific ability from the food-verse. the art is incredible, the colors pop and wherever Chew takes us next i will be ready to have my mind blown.
03. Batman 022
as I stated last week, Synder & Capullo's Batman book is seriously one of the best books out right now, and this is absolutely no exception. the only reason this isn't number 1 is due to a really cluttered opening sequence on a plane involving Bruce Wayne, the Red Hood Gang and the Penguin without any real resolution.
an encounter between Edward Nygma & Bruce Wayne later in the issue results in easily what could be one of the best page layouts of the year if not ever, but there are still a ton of plotlines being thrown around in the Zero Year arc so far with absolutely no direction or focus. while i know Snyder & Capullo are going to pull through for me, but right now, it does feel a little weak. then again we're only at part 2 in a 12 part series. maybe i should have prepared for a slow burn.
04. Young Avengers 07
Jamie McKelvie & Kieron Gillen seriously have a masterpiece on their hands with Young Avengers. every issue there is some sort of plot device or page layout or character interaction that is an absolute game changer, and this issue is no exception.
you might be wondering why this issue is lower than Avengers Arena. it mostly has to do with the fact that Young Avengers has started a new storyline with issue 7, so there's a lot of buildup and exposition, but no real payoff besides a trip through the multiverse. now you might be wondering why this book is number 4 instead of number 5 then. it's plain and simple.
Kid Loki + Instagram. seriously. read the book. be amazed.
5. East of West 04
after his legendary run on Fantastic Four, then move to Avengers & the amazing New Avengers; Jonathan Hickman has been really shining and saving his best stuff for his creator owned projects. while The Manhattan Projects speaks for itself - East of West is a different beast with various themes and plots involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, socioeconomic problems, religion, war and family at the forefront that are somewhat always shrouded in mystery while we wait for the big reveal. like a daughter beheading her father on the steps of his kingdom.
the exposition in this issue did get a little melodramatic for my tastes and the battle scenes did seem a little bit cluttered, but ask for a brand new original comic as good as this for only 4 issues deep and you won't be able to find one. Nick Dragotta absolutely slaughters the pages with his art. Hickman may over do it this issue, but it's just a great, smooth, and enjoyable read.