Mr. Higgins, Luther Strode, and 7 more scary-good October graphic novels

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Fall is here, and that means it’s time for you to start reading again! Whether it’s for school, for pleasure, or because you didn’t get through all the summer reading you wanted, there’s no time like the fall to curl up with a good story. Except maybe winter, but that’s beside the point.

The point is, there’s no time like the present to check out all the great graphic novels releasing in the month of October! Whether you’re looking for a quick and fun read, a tale of tragedy, or something in between, we have a list of the nine trade paperbacks (TP) and hardcovers (HC) you should be on the lookout for next time you’re perusing the shelves of your preferred purveyor of printed publications.

This month features original graphic novels from horror masters, collections of superhero classics and classics-in-the-making, huge action, imaginative fantasy, gripping sci-fi, and more beautiful artwork than you can shake a longbox at. So check out the list below, support your local booksellers, and don’t forget to let us know what you’re reading in the comments!

MR. HIGGINS COMES HOME HC

By Mike Mignola & Warwick Johnson-Cadwell. Cover art by Mike Mignola. October 18 from Dark Horse Comics.

Halloween or not, when the comic book master of horror himself releases an original graphic novel, it’s going to be required reading. And while Mike Mignola’s latest tale is one of gothic castles, werewolves, vampires and their hunters, and even the devil himself, you’ll probably remember Mr. Higgins Comes Home more for its laughs than its screams.

Mr. Higgins Comes Home is the story of two vampire hunters and an adorable old institutionalized man, who they’ve recruited to help them take out all of the vampires that are about to arrive at the nearby Castle Golga for their annual Satanic bash. As is often the case, things don’t go how they planned.

Charmingly illustrated by Warwick Johnson Cadwell, Mr. Higgins is both a timeless fable and a cheeky send-up of Victorian vampire tropes, and it’s utterly delightful. Cadwell’s style lands somewhere in the middle of the best of Cartoon Network and The New Yorker, with a healthy dollop of Mignola’s influence in there for good measure, allowing him to faithfully portray the overwrought drama of the setting, while infusing it with an infectious liveliness. Anyone who’s read a good amount of Hellboy knows Mignola can land a punchline when he needs to, but he’s in top understated form here. I was sold by page three, when a man awakens to find a vampire looming over him and dryly informs him “We’ll have none of that.”

This graphic novel is the perfect blend of humor and horror tropes that needs a spot on every comic fan’s reading list.

 

SUPER SONS, VOL. 1: WHEN I GROW UP… TP

By Peter J. Tomasi, Jorge Jimenez, & Alejandro Sanchez. Cover art by Jorge Jimenez & Alejandro Sanchez. October 11 from DC Comics.

What’s better than a team-up between Batman and Superman? How about a team-up between their sons?

The World’s Finest pairing has always been an interesting one because of the two heroes drastically differing personalities, but similar commitment to their ideals, and the dynamic between Superboy and Robin is the same, but without the decades of familiarity and experience. Their interplay is hilarious and genuine, with the two constantly at each other’s throats as Damian barks commands with unearned authority, and Jon gleefully ignores them, generally for the benefit of others. Writer Peter Tomasi crafts a revealing first adventure for the two boys, as they find themselves up against a seemingly reformed Lex Luthor and the terrifyingly powerful Kid Amazo. It’s all beautifully drawn by Jorge Jimenez, whose lines crackle with an energy and vibrant joy that’s perfectly suited to the series.

DC’s universe-wide Rebirth has produced many gems, but none is more indicative of the spirit of its success than this one. Super Sons is filled with a contagious optimism, a youthful thirst for adventure, and an unwavering sense of justice that will remind you what makes superhero comics worth reading.

 

LUTHER STRODE: THE COMPLETE SERIES HC

By Justin Jordan, Tradd Moore, & Felipe Sobreiro. Cover art by Tradd Moore & Felipe Sobreiro. October 11 from Image Comics.

I’m not one to toss out hyperbolic praise undeservedly, but I will confidently say that not only is the Luther Strode trilogy one of my personal favorite comic books series, but it is also going to go down as one of the greatest comic book series of all time. But let me back up and tell you what it’s about first.

Consisting of three six-issue miniseries — The Strange Talent of, The Legend of, and The Legacy of — Luther Strode is the tale of a painfully mediocre teenager who decides he’s sick of being scrawny and orders a bodybuilding program from an ad in a comic book. But The Hercules Method unlocks much more than muscle mass within Luther (though it does plenty of that), it also makes him an unrivaled force of destruction and violence. Over the course of the series, Luther is hunted by and tries to resist the murderous ways of the cult behind The Hercules Method, leading to awe-inspiring clashes with some of the greatest killers in history.

While the story of Luther Strode is undoubtedly top-notch, the main attraction here is the artwork of Tradd Moore. Luther Strode features the most fluid and innovative fight scenes to have ever graced a comic book, and Moore does things with speed lines, panel layout, and movement that I can say I have honestly never seen anything like in any other series. If you’re a comic book reader who places any value at all on action or artistry, you can’t go another day without adding Luther Strode to your collection.

 

MYSTERY SOCIETY DEFINITIVE EDITION TP

By Steve Niles & Fiona Staples. Cover art by Fiona Staples. October 11 from IDW Publishing.

Are you a fan of the odd? The inexplicable? The — dare I say — mysterious? Then you just may be a fan of the daring team of oddballs who seek such things out, known as the Mystery Society. Who are they, you ask? They’re a vigilante ghoul with a taste for preemptive justice, a pair of superpowered twins rescued from Area 51, and the brain of Jules Verne in a robot body, and they’re led by their deadly and wealthy benefactors Nick Hammond and Anastasia Collins, aka Nick and Ana Mystery.

If somehow that team roster doesn’t entice you enough to want to investigate this mystery, then the creative team’s lineup definitely will. This book is by multi-Eisner Award-winning artist Fiona Staples just before she began her groundbreaking run on Saga, paired up with Steve Niles, the writer best known as the mind behind 30 Days of Night and Criminal Macabre. This was a painfully short-lived five-issue series from 2010-2011, but despite it not lasting what we did get was a lot of fun, and as is to be expected from Staples, looked incredible. It’s absolutely worth checking out if you’re a fan of Saga and want more Fiona Staples, or if you just enjoy offbeat and imaginative comic book adventures.

 

PLANETOID, VOL. 2: PRAXIS TP

By Ken Garing. Cover art by Ken Garing. October 4 from Image Comics.

It’s hard to imagine a time when there weren’t a smorgasbord of quality Image science fiction titles on the stands, but it really wasn’t that long ago that the current movement started. Saga is cited as the driving force behind the trend, as it was closely followed by Prophet, Manhattan Projects, Drifter, East of West, and so many others since. But one quality science fiction series that I always felt got lost in the shuffle was the fantastic 2012 series Planetoid by writer-artist Ken Garing.

The original Planetoid starred a man named Silas, whose ship was mysteriously drawn to a small planet, where it crashed and was unable to leave again. As Silas explored the planet he discovered the hostile world, he discovers it’s covered in nothing but scrap metal, and inhabited by all sorts of mechanical monsters, as well as a handful of tribes who, like himself, find they are unable to leave the planet. Silas leads the resistance against the forces responsible, and clears the way for a better way of life on the world.

Now, many years later, Praxis picks up many years later, and follows Onica, the world’s new leader, who must navigate the complexities of leadership, as she deals with new invaders from the outside, and echoes of old tensions from within. It’s an intelligent, riveting, and entertaining series that is lavishly and gorgeously illustrated by Garing, who gives the world of Planetoid a Euro-comics vibe, but a design sense all his own. Fans of classic space-faring science-fiction cannot miss this series.

 

RAPTURE TP

By Matt Kindt & CAFU. Cover art by Mico Suayan. October 4 from Valiant Entertainment.

If you’re a regular reader of this feature, you already know that I want you to read all of the Valiant comics. But if for some reason you’ve yet to try them out, their latest trade paperback release is a perfect point to jump in with a self-contained story.

Rapture is the latest event series from Valiant, and while the word “event” tends to make readers shy away, thanks to the sprawling mega-crossovers that bigger publishers are fond of, this one shouldn’t scare you away. As with all of Valiant’s events, Rapture stands completely on its own, not requiring any other reading, but will definitely still reward fans who have been keeping up with the characters.

Those characters, by the way, are Ninjak, a deadly superspy and ninja who is equal parts Batman, James Bond, and Deadpool, Shadowman, a tortured hero who wields the dark power of a loa, Punk Mambo, the edgiest practitioner of the paranormal arts you’ll ever meet, and Tama, a 12 year old girl who is the avatar and protector of the Earth that brings them altogether. The unlikely group of heroes cross over to the Deadside — Valiant’s tumultuous underworld — to chase the subject of Tama’s vision: a single warrior who is singlehandedly fighting off an army of demons trying to invade Heaven. Rapture is packed with action, magic, and intrigue, and the perfect superhero event to splurge on this October.

 

THOR VS HULK TP

By Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, Steve Englehart, Erik Larsen, Peter David, Ed McGuinness, and many more! Cover art by Sal Buscema. October 4 from Marvel Comics.

October may be about Halloween, but November is about an even bigger holiday. I’m referring of course to the celebrations surrounding the almighty Green Scar’s salvation of the planet Sakaar.

Okay, so maybe I’m a bit more excited for the Planet Hulk bits of Thor: Ragnarok than I am for Thanksgiving, but can you really blame me? Not only does that movie adapt elements of my favorite Hulk story, it’s using them to settle the nerdiest grudge match of them all on the big screen: who would win, Thor or the Hulk?

Of course, this question has been asked many a time in the pages of Marvel Comics, and the publisher has put together a handy collection of comics that feature many of the times throughout history that the two titans have tussled. This collection features their first fight in the pages of The Avengers by their creators, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and continues on through their clashes in crossovers like the Avengers/Defenders War and even modern-day battles Thor has had with a Hulk of a different pigment. It’s always a joy to see how wild superhero comics can get when they really cut loose, and these stories are really the epitome of that, with an appropriately incredible lineup of artists using their skills to render the clash of two beings whose power defies comprehension. Who is the definitive winner? Is there one? You’ll have to read to find out.

 

THE WILD STORM, VOL. 1 TP

By Warren Ellis & Jon Davis-Hunt. Cover art by Jim Lee & Scott Williams. October 18 from DC Comics.

Wildstorm might not be the powerhouse studio and imprint that it used to be, but the house that Jim Lee built wasn’t going to let their 25th anniversary slip by without a new book on the stands, and they made sure it was a darn good one.

For this completely fresh take on the Wildstorm universe, DC enlisted the talents of a writer who changed their old universe forever—and redefined superhero comics for the modern age—in the pages of Stormwatch, The Authority, and Planetary, the one and only Warren Ellis. For his new vision of this world, Ellis has heightened the realism, making the Wildstorm Universe even more like our own, and filling it to the brim with shadowy conspiracies, corporate espionage, and deadly, reality-altering secrets. If you’re a fan of the characters, you’ll find new versions of Grifter, Zealot, Engineer, Deathblow and more waiting for you (and looking better than they ever have, thanks to the hyper-detailed linework of Jon Davis_Hunt), but even if you’ve never heard of any of them before, you’ll have no trouble digging into this fascinating and complex new world.

The Wild Storm is a fresh, modern take that pushes the Wildstorm universe into the future, and gives it a feel unlike any other superhero world on the stands.

 

BLACK CLOUD, VOL. 1: NO EXIT TP

By Jason Latour, Ivan Brandon, Greg Hinkle & Matt Wilson. Cover art by Greg Hinkle & Matt Wilson. October 11 from Image Comics.

Zelda has ideas, and they aren’t always good ones. Normally, that wouldn’t be a horrible thing, but Zelda isn’t from around here. She’s from another world, one where ideas are reality, where stories shape existence, and where the wrong idea can grow bigger than anyone ever imagined.

In Black Cloud, Zelda, a former member of the aristocracy of this realm of stories is slumming it in real-world New York City, when the mayor gets wind of her unique nature. He pays her to make his troublemaking son disappear for the rest of the election cycle, which she does, but the consequences of that action have massive consequences for both worlds. As Zelda tries to make things right, we learn of her history, the nature of her world, and what she was doing exiled in New York City.

This wildly imaginative new series comes from Spider-Gwen writer Jason Latour, Drifter writer Ivan Brandon, The Rattler artist Greg Hinkle, and Eisner Award-winning colorist of basically everything, Matt Wilson, who come together to create pure comic alchemy. This book has all of the huge scope, spectacular visuals, and powerful humanity that only the best of comics can pull off, and does so effortlessly. Fans of fantastic comics should be prepared to ravenously read through all of the first volume of Black Cloud in one sitting and be anxiously awaiting more.