Quite possibly the best and most overlooked current Avengers title, even at its weakest issue. For even when Mike McKone is too rushed to ink himself, his work here is still some of his finest, and just generally good, with its chiseled good looks and dynamic storytelling. And even if this issue’s climax doesn’t completely flip the narrative on its head, Christos Gage is producing some of his best work, too. Two creators at the top of their game, telling a beautiful coming-of-age-and-so-much-more story, complete with hilarious vibrator jokes.
4. Fantastic Four #582
Hickman’s been on this series for about a year now, and though it’s all been good, this issue feels like a culmination. Nathaniel Richards from SHIELD, the father-son theme, the Franklin and Val attention, Dr. Doom killing Richards, the damn Anachronauts. They’re all highlighted within this one issue. The amount of action and emotion will shatter your senses. This might be Neil Edwards’ last issue on Hickman’s run. He’s grown a lot during his brief time here.
3. Hellboy: The Storm #2
A storm’s brewing. It’s in the damn title, but it’s so apt. Two decades of Hellboy stories, all starting to collide in a brief 22 pages. Why, yes, that is kid Hellboy you see above these words. You’ll see a dozen other callbacks, as well as biblical witches, not one but two undead armies, and a cuddly little champion who’s the last of a dying race. Ontop of all that, you’ll see Duncan Fegredo rendering career-best work, all colored by the best in the biz, Dave Stewart.
2. Casanova #2
A little Shogun Assassin, anyone? It’s an early cue to another father/son theme. Hey, it’s a cool theme! Anyway, another reprint of Casanova makes my top five, but at least it’s not number one again. Again, yeah, they’re reprints, but they’re still the best comics on the stands. And they’ve got new colors, new hand lettering, and new backmatter. This issue contains two Casanova issues, one of which is probably my favorite from “Luxuria”. Besides the father/son theme, it’s got a hell of a lot of the Fab Four. The name of the damn issue is “Pretty Little Policemen”. The other issue is a bit of tribute to Whedon’s Firefly. Remember “Out of Gas”? Well, there’s similar narrative trickery here, with Fraction just showing the hell off.
1. Astonishing X-Men #35
Yes, the conclusion to Ellis’ second arc on Astonishing X-Men, the self-proclaimed “doomed work” from Ellis that only a few people realize is much better than Whedon’s overrated run. This arc was written almost as a series of one-shots, all with an overarching theme, of course. Well, that theme concludes here, but not in the hurried manner you may think. No, Ellis is too professional for that. Too suave. He can still make room for hilarious banter and double-page spreads before dealing with the big baddie. In fact, the conclusion with the villain of these five issues is boiled down to about seven pages. But what seven pages! I could write an essay on these seven pages. It’s a poignant commentary on the X-Men and their detractors that’ll have you loving and hating the X-Men at the same time. And, perhaps more importantly, Ellis keeps you laughing along the way.