The 10 Best Comic Books of October, 2011

As we all know, October is the best month of all time: Halloween, my birthday, some other stuff, I’m sure. So it’s only appropriate that it was also an excellent month for comic books. The downside? It was really, really hard to figure out what the ten best comics were… But hey, we did it, cause we love you guys (and also feel bad for skipping the past two months):

10. Xenoholics #1

It’s not that surprising that writer Joshua Williamson and artist Seth Damoose delivered a fun, funny story about alien abductees, some of whom are a little addicted to their late night probings. What is surprising is how well the team blew up the concept of the book in the first issue, introducing a complicated cast, and then thrusting them into the worst possible situation they could imagine. If you’re a fan of other quirky Image books like Chew or Skullkickers, it looks like you’ve got another title to add to your pull list.

9. Legion of Monsters #1

I’ve already said a bunch about this book in my review of it, but suffice to say this is everything you’d want from a murder mystery monster book set in the Marvel Universe. It’s insanely over the top, hilarious, and next issue, monsters on motorcycles. We could keep alliterating about how much we like Legion of Monsters for a long time, but we’ll let it be before we… Something else with an “L.”

8. Who Is Jake Ellis #5

I’m extremely excited that this innovative series from Nathan Edmonson and Tonci Zonjic has gotten the team incredible acclaim and more work in the industry. I’m also extremely excited that this issue isn’t the last we’ll see of the fascinating world of intrigue, spies, double-crosses and sci-fi the team has set up. This issue brings the first part of the series to a satisfying conclusion, answering questions while leaving others open – and potentially changing the whole premise. We can’t wait to read more.

7. Batman #2

Batman #1 was easily one of the top books from DC’s New 52, so we’re happy to say it only gets better in issue two. Scott Snyder’s super smart writing is filled to the brim with exhilaratingly new ideas; and Greg Capullo’s art channels an all-ages vibe that invites new readers while still paying homage to the old. The perfect mix of Batman new and old; movies, animation, and comics… This is a pretty much perfect Batman comic.

6. Dead Man's Run #0

Normally, when you get a new transmedia property, or whatever you want to call it, it feels calculated, and off-putting. Leave it to writer Greg Pak to introduce an awesome new world we can’t wait to see more of in any media, whether it’s comics, TV, movies, or video games. The idea? Jailbreak. From Hell. And if that wasn’t awesome enough, the author deftly introduces one of the most bad-ass new characters in any media, and brilliantly sets up the series with a #0 issue that actually feels like a prologue, rather than a repurposed number one. When is that issue getting here, by the way? Because it ain’t soon enough.

5. Fear Agent #31

We’re going to have to drink a whole bottle of whiskey when this landmark series concludes next month. But until then, we have the penultimate issue, which flashes back in time to show Heath Huston’s life before he was a half-blind, aged alien fighter with the hopes of the entire universe on his back. And at the same time? A time-spanning conflict thirty issues in the making gets boiled down to several spectacular action sequences. It’s a perfect issue of what is one of the best written (and drawn) comic books of all time.

4. Spaceman #1

There were pretty high expectations going in to this Vertigo collaboration between Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso, particularly given their last series – 100 Bullets – is pretty much perfect. Thankfully, this delivers, and presents an entirely different vision of the future than we’ve ever seen before. From a unique future-slang that seems sadly prescient, to some spectacular sequences by Risso (a rock hanging in the air for a brief moment takes full advantage of everything that makes comic books a unique art form), this is a book that – particularly for only a buck – you can’t miss.

3. Captain America & Bucky #623

We’ve been pretty much in love with this look back into the past of the recently deceased Bucky since it (re)launched, but this final issue set in World War II is a gut-wrenching look at the realities of the war, and how sometimes being a superhero isn’t enough to solve every problem. Chris Samnee has the unenviable task of drawing some truly horrific images, but this comic never feels exploitative, and that has everything to do with his subtle touch with the pencil. Also credit to Ed Brubaker and Marc Andreyko, who deliver one of the best superhero war stories ever, something that will sit nicely on the shelf with Greg Pak’s Magneto: Testament.

2. Wolverine & The X-Men #1

Again, this was covered at length in my review, but this comic just feels exciting, and more than anything? Different. For fans who complain that Marvel and DC’s comics are an endless series of recursive storylines and interchangeable fights, this book presents something new, something exciting. This is nothing you’d expect from a Wolverine or X-Men book, but everything you could want.

1. The Shade #1

I didn’t expect to love this book. I certainly didn’t expect it would be the number one book on my list this month. But from the ballsy, purposefully pretentious first page, to the stomach rattling violence of the last, this is a perfect comic book. In between, we get a book that: has a philosophical conversation that introduces character, ideas, and is also funny; a innovative use of cross-cutting with the panels; a sex scene that is actually both sexy and appropriate, and isn’t exploitative; and even a few fantastic fight scenes. This is writer James Robinson at his best, working on a character he knows better than anyone, and we couldn’t be happier.

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