Break from Batman: best June 2013 comics List

June is at an end and that means its time for us all to huddle together and talk about the best books we read this month! No single person can read every comic that lands in stores or goes digital-first on sites like Comixology and Thrillbent (most of the Thrillbent books are free, by the way) so here’s our chance to get the word out about our personal favorites so we can each build a better pull-list and get excited about comics. I’ll mention what I had time to read that made taking a break from Batman worth it and hopefully you’ll do the same in the comments section at the bottom of the page. Now, I like to talk a bit about a graphic novel too, but I’ll just point you in the direction of that massive Man of Steel special I did a few weeks ago. In that article, you’ll find my reviews of a handful of Superman graphic novels as well as Superman Unchained #1 and Adventures of Superman #1. Next month’s Break from Batman will have a wide variety of graphic novel reviews including Green Lantern, Dial H, maybe some Phantom Stranger, and a few other things.

Now, listed in no particular order, here are the best comics that I read this month…

Locke & Key Omega #5


Publisher:   IDW

New Reader Friendliness:   Very, very low — go pick up Volume 1

I spent the start of the month catching up on all of the graphic novels of this series and that was definitely one of the best decisions I’ve made this year. Locke & Key is one of the very best comics I can recommend and I caught up on it just in time. The series will end in an oversized 2-parter that’ll release in August and last week it was announced that Universal bought the rights so they can make a movie out of it. Fox had already tried making a TV series (the pilot is on Youtube, but it doesn’t look like they did a very good job of capturing the book) but they never picked up the pilot. Now that Universal has the rights I’m hoping that they turn it into 2 films or maybe even a trilogy.

If you’ve never read an issue of Locke & Key, check out my review of the first story arc collected in the volume “Welcome to Lovecraft” — if just reading the name “Lovecraft” excites you then you need to get your hands on this book ASAP.


East of West #3


Publisher:   Image

New Reader Friendliness:   Low

Heard a lot of good things about this from a few of you in the comments section a month or two back so I caught up on this bizarre western and found it to be really interesting. There’s definitely not anything else like t right now. The story follows the four horsemen of the apocalypse roaming about a dystopian future. It’s cowboys, sci-fi, and fantasy all rolled up into one and while the first issue didn’t exactly sell me on that high-concept, by the end of issue #2 I was hooked.


Black Beetle #4


Publisher:   Dark Horse

New Reader Friendliness:   Low

The best, most stylish pulp comic you’re going to read. I suggest you start with issue #0. There won’t be another issue until August so you have plenty of time to catch up. Francesco Francavilla has proven to be a creative tour de force. Black Beetle has an incredibly unique atmosphere, dynamic action scenes, and fun dialogue. As I’ve said in previous Break from Batman articles in  which I’ve praised this series, Black Beetle is as close as you’ll get to a new series featuring a 1930’s Batman.


Breath of Bones: A Tale of the Golem #1


Publisher:   Dark Horse

New Reader Friendliness:   High

This will eventually turn into a story about the Jewish legend going on a Nazi-killing rampage, but issue #1 is a quiet introduction to a great cast of characters and stunning artwork featuring a washed out gray that adds to the dreary tone of the work. It’s a haunting story so far and I think it shows all the signs of being a quality mini-series.


Thor: God of Thunder #9


Publisher:   Marvel

New Reader Friendliness:   Low

“As Mjolnir flew, Thor strained to hold fast. Asteroids shattered in his wake. Stars flickered.” — “Nuff said!


Thumbprint #1


Publisher:   IDW

New Reader Friendliness:   High

Yeesh! This was a hard read, but a good read. Jason Ciaramella adapts Joe Hill’s (Locke & Key author– but I can’t stress enough that Thumbprint is way, way different than Locke & Key) short story into a comic book mini-series. The story is about a female soldier who did some very terrible things when she worked at the Abu Ghraib prison. Now back home, her past sins are coming back to haunt her. It’s a challenging read, very dark, and the torture scenes will likely even make you uncomfortable, they did me. It’s a book that stuck with me long after I finished it


American Vampire: The Long Road to Hell #1 (one-shot)


Publisher:   Vertigo

New Reader Friendliness:   Medium

American Vampire has been on hiatus for some time now, but series artist Rafael Albuquerque was apparently just as anxious to get back to these characters as the fans. The Long Road to Hell is Rafael’s first attempt at both writing and drawing the book and this one-shot is a really entertaining read that I think even the uninitiated could pick up and enjoy (although longtime fans might be the only ones willing to pay the price tag). The only drawback to this one is that the price is rather high at $6.99 but at least it’s a complete story and the art is fantastic. I liked it and I’m a reader who actually fell out of love with this series after the story passed WWII.


 Wild Blue Yonder #1


Publisher:   IDW

New Reader Friendliness:   High

I enjoyed Wild Blue Yonder more and more with every page. This is a brand new series about a world so devastated by pollution that civilization has turned to the skies. There are those who wish to live in peace among the mountain tops, those who soar across the heavens in giant fleets and will do whatever it takes to achieve sky supremacy,  and those who still struggle to survive on the blackened earth below. If the idea of dogfights and sky pirates sounds interesting to you then you’ll want to check this out for sure. It’s got the potential to be a really great adventure with a really colorful cast of characters. Without a doubt one of the most memorable books of the month for me.


Indestructible Hulk #9


Publisher:   Marvel

New Reader Friendliness:   High

A powerful weapon has been stolen out from under S.H.I.E.L.D’s nose and it’s up to an unlikely pair of heroes to do the detective work and recover the weapon before it falls into the wrong hands. If you keep up with Break from Batman, you’ll know that Mark Waid is one of my favorite writers and his Daredevil book is one of my favorite series month after month. In this issue we have the Hulk teaming up with The Man Without Fear and it’s just as fantastic as I had hoped it would be. It’s really funny and it has a great mystery to kick off an arc that new readers can hop aboard easily. If you know the basics (What’s S.H.I.E.L.D.? Who is the Hulk? Who is Daredevil?) then you can enjoy Indestructible Hulk #9. It’s a great way to get an idea of whether or not you would be interested in this series and Waid’s Daredevil as well.


Archer & Armstrong #10


Publisher:   Valiant

New Reader Friendliness:   Low

I wish this issue was friendlier to new readers because it looks like it’s going to be the most fun arc of Archer & Armstrong yet. The duo break into Area 51, have a run-in with an alien, some old friends and enemies, and even open a portal of some sorts. It’s crazy! Pere Perez does a great job drawing it and Fred Van Lente has written one of the best odd-couples in comics. Those up for some lighthearted adventure are doing themselves a disservice by not picking up this book. I recommend reading it from the start with issue #1, however. Also, it should be noted that Valiant produced some of the best variant covers this month with each title getting its own retro NES inspired covers. Archer & Armstrong‘s cover an homage to Donkey Kong.


Aquaman #21


Publisher:   DC Comics

New Reader Friendliness:   Medium

Probably the best $2.99 book that DC puts out and definitely one of the best things to come out of the New 52, Geoff Johns’ Aquaman is a triumph. There’s a hell of a lot going on in this chapter and we are a couple issues deep into this new arc but I think there’s enough exposition in the opening pages to bring new readers up to speed as long as they know the New 52 Aquaman basics. This issue features The Bermuda Triangle, a rival underwater city, an evil Ice King, a bubbling rebellion among Aquaman’s forces still loyal to his fallen brother, and the reinvention of a classic Aquaman villain! Plus, I like that cover. It’s so simple, yet so beautiful. The Aquaman series hasn’t had a bad arc yet!


Daredevil #27


Publisher:   Marvel

New Reader Friendliness:   Very Low

Everything has lead to this. If you’re a Daredevil fan then this is a must buy, but if you’re new to Hell’s Kitchen you’ll want to wait until a new arc begins next month. Every horrible thing that has happened to Matt Murdock since issue #1 has been orchestrated by a single enemy and issue #27 is the last step in his master plan. This comic is practically dripping in menace!

I really loved all the reveals in this and as always the art by Samnee is worth the price of admission alone, but even though I thoroughly enjoyed this issue a part of me was let down that the Daredevil vs. Lady Bullseye & Ikari fight scene. It was too simple and over in a flash. The Daredevil vs. Ikari fight we saw just two months ago was one of the most intense slug-fests I’ve ever seen in a comic in years and the re-match between these two didn’t measure up when it should have been even greater now that Lady Bullseye entered the fray.

Tell us what the best books were that you read!