Now’s that time when we all come together and talk about the most enjoyable reads of the month! I even included a couple of graphic novels that I think everyone should pick up!

Punk Rock Jesus

Vertigo

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This is the book I’m currently forcing on all of my friends. We’ve all had movies, books, or albums that we’ve shoved in a pal’s face, “You have to watch/read/hear this!”

Well, Punk Rock Jesus is that sort of graphic novel.  A) It’s a complete story with a beginning, middle, and end so nobody will be waiting 6+ months to see what happens next. 2) It’s full of complex ideas that everybody will form an opinion about and want to discuss. When you lend it to someone and they come back, they won’t just say “Yeah. That was good.” It’s material that stirs up thoughts and feelings which lead to meaningful conversation.

Punk Rock Jesus takes place in the not-so-distant-future, where reality TV has gone too far by attempting to make their own clone of Jesus from some DNA residue found on the Shroud of Turin. The plan is to put the child on television 24/7 and become the biggest show of all time. Writer and artist, Sean Murphy, approaches this concept seriously enough and makes sure we get a wide variety of perspectives. We see the world’s reaction through the media, political leaders, Christians who believe this is the second coming, Christians who see it as an abomination, atheists that view the whole thing as a joke, the scientific community, etc. And there’s even a sub-plot regarding the child’s bodyguard, who was once a member of the IRA! It’s as character driven as it is plot driven.

If this story can get you debating religion, genetic engineering, the IRA, and (much later in the book) punk rock music, well then that’s pretty damn good science fiction. This is a funny, emotional, and thought-provoking book full of great artwork and memorable characters. The only drawback I found with the material itself is that the message gets a little heavy-handed in the later chapters and that I still have mixed feelings about the ending…but maybe that’s just because I wanted more.

I highly encourage you all to read this book, but I do think that Vertigo could’ve produced a better edition than this. The paper stock is rather cheap for one of the best books of 2012 (but maybe that cheap newsprint is all a part of that punk rock, unkempt feel). Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus deserves a deluxe, hardcover edition.

SCORE: 9/10

Watchmen Deluxe Edition

DC Comics

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If you’re on a website for comic book news and reviews, chances are you are well aware of what Alan Moore’s Watchmen is so I won’t get started on that. Hell, if I started talking about this masterpiece, I honestly don’t know when I would stop and it’s such an important and overly discussed work that anything I could say would likely have already been said a hundred times over. It’s Watchmen. Everyone should read it.

In my recommendation of Punk Rock Jesus I talked about books you lend to friends, well my original copy of Watchmen is all beat to hell because I’ve passed it along to so many people over the years. So I’m pretty happy to now have a pristine edition in my collection and boy is it a good one. Sure, I don’t like the dust jacket all that much. It’s got a chalky texture, and the Brady Bunch design with yellow saturation isn’t doing it any favors either, but you pull that jacket away and you get a more classic Watchmen cover that’s glossy and colorful.

Since it’s a deluxe edition, the page format is much bigger than you would find in a traditional comic or graphic novel and the paper stock is very high quality. I often complain about how most of DC’s graphic novels are too tightly bound, but that’s definitely not the case with the Watchmen Deluxe Edition. This book opens up beautifully so you get a full look at every page of artwork without putting any stress on the spine. None of the imagery is lost. It’s really well put together.

If you don’t already own a copy of Watchmen or are looking to upgrade your own beat-up copy like me, the Deluxe Edition is terrific. Not only is it an attractive presentation, but it also includes a brand new introduction by Dave Gibbons and several pages of bonus material, primarily sketches.

SCORE: 10/10

Best May Comics

Here’s a list of the best comics I read this month. I didn’t get a chance to flip through as many possible contenders as I usually do, but I think it’s a pretty healthy list. I always try and check out as many new #1’s as I can because those are the ones that anyone can easily hop aboard. Luckily for all of us, there were more than a few brand new series in May that show a lot of promise! As always, make sure to list your own favorites in the comments section at the bottom of the page that way we can get a discussion going and ensure that the best books get the attention they deserve. And make sure to create your own Disqus account or tie your username with a twitter or facebook account so you can give yourself a cool little avatar.

 

Half Past Danger #1

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IDW

New Reader Friendliness: High

This features some of the best drawn, most intense action scenes I saw all month. Issue #1 doesn’t make it clear what exactly we’re getting ourselves into, but what you get here is similar to The War that Time Forgot, but far better executed. It’s WWII soldiers in the Pacific who stumble upon a jungle full of man-eating dinosaurs. That may sound corny, but it gets really brutal really quickly. It’s a fast read and a highly entertaining one.

 

Dream Thief #1

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Dark Horse

New Reader Friendliness: High

On May 15th, two comics were released: Dream Thief and Dream Merchant. “Thief” was by Dark Horse and “Merchant” was by Image, I read them both and found “Thief” to be the better book. Actually, I kind of lost interest in “Merchant” and didn’t even finish it if you want full-disclosure. Dream Thief is about a slacker who gets drunk at a museum fundraiser and decides to pocket an aboriginal mask just for laughs. The problem is that the mask is magical and now he can’t fall asleep without waking up with the damn thing on his face and bodies of dead bad guys at his feet! The guy can’t take a nap without going into a state of murderous-super-hero-sleep-walking. Every morning he opens his eyes to the horrific task of disposing dead bodies and then he spends the rest of his day trying to figure out how the heck he can get rid of this cursed mask. It’s definitely different and it has my attention.

 

The Wake #1

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Vertigo

New Reader Friendliness: High

The artist of Punk Rock Jesus, Sean Murphy, teams up with Batman writer Scott Snyder to give us a horror story set in the ocean depths of the arctic. Can’t say we get too many of those, can you? This is the first of a 10 part mini-series and it already looks like it’s going to be pretty fantastic. As much as you may like Scott Snyder’s Batman, the man is a horror writer first and foremost and since his American Vampire series has been on hiatus for a while, it’s good to see him delivering scares again. There’s definitely some influence from The Abyss and The Thing built into this story so far so if you love either of those works then this is a must-buy for sure! But not only is The Wake shaping up to be a scary story, it’s also going to feature a bit of science fiction as well as it explores the origins of man and leaps 200 years into a frightening future.

 

God of Thunder #8

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Marvel

New Reader Friendliness:   Low (It’s basically the 8th chapter in a very big story)

With 5 weeks of comics in May, it’s interesting to see how well the first Wednesday’s books still hang in memory at the end of the cycle. All-New X-Men #11, for instance, was written down as one of my favorites of week one, but when it came time for me to write this article, guess what? I couldn’t remember what happened. So I cut it. But God of Thunder #8? You better believe I still remember that there were three Thor’s on a quest to stop a “God Bomb” and that someone got smacked with a space-shark. Tid-bits like that manage to linger in your mind. This comic is one of Marvel’s best books both in artwork and writing. A must-read series.

 

Green Lantern #20

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DC Comics

New Reader Friendliness: Medium

It might come as some surprise that the $8.00 anniversary/goodbye to Geoff Johns/Wrath of the First Lantern finale is actually pretty new-reader friendly! The first few pages not only gave me a rundown of what’s been going on in the large Wrath of the First Lantern epic, but it summarizes EVERYTHING that’s happened in Johns’ 10 years on this series. I’m familiar with Rebirth and the first volume of the New 52 series, but that’s it. I opened this book up expecting to be lost and ultimately put it back on the shelf in defeat, but I couldn’t put it down. I was captivated from start to finish. This was awesome and instead of spoiling 10 years worth of comics for me, it actually got me curious to go back and read all of Geoff Johns’ run! An $8 issue is a tall order, but I thought that Green Lantern #20 totally delivered one of the most memorable comics of the entire month. And the most amazing thing is that Geoff Johns ended it in such a way that, really, you could stop reading Green Lantern forever after this issue. It feels like a nice conclusion to entire Green Lantern saga.

 

X-O Manowar #13

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Valiant

New Reader Friendliness: Medium

I can always look forward to X-O Manowar each month. It’s such a dependable series! Where else can I see a pissed off Visigoth in the universe’s most powerful armor take out his frustrations by conquering an alien planet? There’s truly nothing quite like it. It’s one of those comics that I read and can’t help but think about how great it would be as a movie or a TV series.

 

Shadowman #0

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Valiant

New Reader Friendliness: High

You don’t need to know anything about Shadowman to enjoy this Zero Issue. It’s a done-in-one issue about a plantation owner who dabbles in the occult and tries to train his two children in the dark arts. It’s a rather creepy and unsettling story.

 

Daredevil #26

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Marvel

New Reader Friendliness: Low

I can’t say much about it without spoiling what’s basically a mystery that’s been unfolding since issue #1. Daredevil is one of the most well written and drawn comics out there and it’s easily one of my top 3 favorite comics every. Single. Month. And that’s saying something. I mean, I never gave a crap about Daredevil before but every issue of Mark Waid’s run has been superb. And look at that cover by Samnee, look close at the clothes. They spell “Daredevil”! I wish I could say more about this plus-sized issue, but I really don’t want to spoil any of it. The main story is dark and deadly serious and there’s a back-up tale about Foggy that’s quite heartwarming. It’s a nice balance. You get it all in Daredevil #26.