As a bookstore and comic shop employee for many years, I understand that picking out the perfect graphic novel is no joke. There’s no end to the variety of original graphic novels and collections gracing store shelves, and with new books arriving every Wednesday, it can be intimidating trying to figure out where to start.
Luckily, that’s what I’m here for. I’ve selected a dozen of the best trade paperbacks (TP) and hardcovers (HC) releasing in April that span the realms of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and superheroes, and is sure to include something for even the most discerning of readers. Happy reading, and be sure to let us know what you’re looking forward to in the comments!
WONDER WOMAN: EARTH ONE, VOL. 1 HC
(By Grant Morrison & Yanick Paquette. April 6 from DC)
Superstar writer Grant Morrison finally presents his take on one of the few DC icons he hasn’t re-invented yet in Wonder Woman: Earth One. The long-awaited project will blend some of the elements of first-wave feminism and bondage that were present in the earliest comic books written by William Marsten. Morrison and artist Yanick Paquette — his collaborator from projects such as Batman Inc. and Seven Soldiers: Bulleteer — will be bringing the original subtext to the fore and shining a modern perspective on it and infusing it with a healthy dose of the similarly sexual Greek myths. Set to be a fascinating and controversial take on one of the biggest characters in comics, this graphic novel is sure to join the previous entries in the Earth One series as an instant classic.
PAPER GIRLS, VOL. 1 TP
(By Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang. March 30 from Image)
Apparently not satisfied with just one smash-hit Image series, Saga writer Brian K. Vaughan teamed up with artist Cliff Chiang, fresh off his epic run onWonder Woman to bring readers his strangest story yet: Paper Girls.
Collecting the first five issues of the series, Paper Girls follows a quartet of teen girls — Erin, Mac, Tiffany and KJ — as they band together to safely complete their paper routes on Halloween night in 1988, and soon find themselves caught up in a conflict that they can barely comprehend. A weird sci-fi adventure involving scarred teenage time travelers and future knights who ride flying dinosaurs, the comic’s focus on the troubled lives of its young cast evokes films like Stand By Me and The Goonies. Chiang breathes life into a lovingly-designed cast and urban setting that is hypnotically colored with a neon-drenched Eighties palette provided by Matt Wilson, and the two create the best kind of visual alchemy together. Any child of the 1980s is sure to find a lot to love here, as will readers of more personal — but engagingly strange — science-fiction stories.
THE NAMELESS CITY HC
(By Faith Erin Hicks. April 6 from First Second)
Faith Erin Hicks — Eisner Award winning cartoonist of Friends with Boys — hasn’t been shy about her influences for latest project, The Nameless City. The first book of a planned young-adult graphic novel trilogy, Nameless City is largely inspired by the folklore and history of 13th century China, and also draws inspiration in varying degrees from some of Hicks’ favorite works like Bone, Full Metal Alchemist and Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The rooftop-running girl named Rat, a native of the titular city, forms a friendship with Kai, a boy born of the city’s newest conquerors, and together they set off to discover the secrets of their mutual home. As Rat attempts to teach Kai about his city, the two will begin to unravel a conspiracy that could change Nameless City’s destiny. The Canandian artist’s perfect blend of manga and Western comic sensibilities is accompanied by the warm, earthy colors of Jordie Bellaire (The Wake), making this a must-read book for adventure fans of all ages.
HARROW COUNTY, VOL. 2: TWICE TOLD TP
(By Cullen Bunn & Tyler Crook. April 13 from Dark Horse)
Cullen Bunn proved himself a master of bringing horror and the supernatural to the American west with his work on The Sixth Gun, and now he’s bringing his dark magic to the backwoods South in Harrow County. Set in the fictional county the book is named after, Harrow County stars Emmy, a farmer’s daughter who the locals suspect — for good reason — of being the reincarnation of a witch they thought they’d rid themselves of years before.
Collecting issues #5-8 of the ongoing series, the second volume sees the arrival of a girl claiming to be Emmy’s long-lost twin — with the burgeoning witch-powers to prove it — and the two are soon fighting for control of the woods and all of its grotesque and macabre residents. Painted in gorgeous watercolors by Tyler Crook, now is the perfect time to jump on board this delightfully dark coming-of-age series and see what all the hype is about before Syfy brings Emmy and her creepy companions to television.
I HATE FAIRYLAND, VOL. 1: MADLY EVER AFTER TP
(By Skottie Young. April 20 from Image)
After earning superstardom at Marvel for his work on Wizard of Oz, Rocket Raccoon, and his “Little Marvels” variant covers, Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Skottie Young has finally brought his Chuck Jones-meets-Dr. Seuss-meets-Bill Watterson style to Image for his first creator-owned series, I Hate Fairyland. The not-so-heroic hero of Young’s tale is the green-haired Gert, a girl who has been stranded for twenty-seven years within a Wonderland/Oz-esque realm — and her own un-aged body — and has come to loathe it all. Along with her chain-smoking horsefly guide, Larry, she tears a bloody swath across Fairyland, much to chagrin of its ruler, Queen Cloudia, who has a few tricks up her sleeve to stop Gert’s rampage. Like an ultra-violent Tazmanian Devil on an acid trip through Candyland, I Hate Fairyland is a wickedly funny and imaginative romp from one the industry’s most unique artists.
THE WICKED +THE DIVINE BOOK ONE HC
(By Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie. April 6 from Image)
Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are one of the most distinctive duos in modern comics, having worked together on Phonogram and put in a renowned run on Young Avengers, but their crowning achievement is their newest series, The Wicked + The Divine. In the world of WicDiv, twelve gods from across the world’s ancient pantheons are reborn into human hosts, where they live two years as the world’s greatest pop stars. A fascinating and mind-boggingly hip and stylish meditation on life, death, music, magic, religion and hero worship, this story kicks off with Lucifer being framed for a murder and only gets crazier from there. This oversized hardcover collects the first eleven issues of the wildly entertaining series, bringing new readers right up to one of the most game-changing and blindsiding cliffhangers I’ve ever read in a comic. Sex, drugs and rock n’ roll has never looked so divine.
WRATH OF ETERNAL WARRIOR, VOL. 1: RISEN TP
(By Robert Venditti & Raúl Allén. April 13 from Valiant)
Following his sacrifice at the end of The Book of Death, the 6000ish-year old Gilad Anni-Padda — the Eternal Warrior — finds himself in a place he’s been several times over his long life: death. Written by Robert Venditti (X-O Manowar) with beautifully moody artwork by Raúl Allen, this volume collects the first four issues of the ongoing series and tells the story of Gilad’s grueling battle to escape the underworld. Venditti utilizes Gilad’s family to add complex layers to the Eternal Warrior’s character while Allen depicts his visceral battles with the demonic denizens of the dead with boldly expressive linework and heavy metal aesthetic. The end result is a fascinating tale of a man being put through both his personal heaven and hell as the line between the two blurs. Any fan of brutal barbarian action should have this on their bookshelf.
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN, VOL. 1: REBOOT HC
(By Brian Michael Bendis & David Marquez. April 6 from Marvel)
Collecting the first five issues of the flagship title of Marvel’s All-New, All-Different lineup, Invincible Iron Man: Reboot is a high-tech, high-octane upgrade for Tony Stark in the hands of super-scribe Brian Bendis and the slick, clean lines of David Marquez. Clearly taking inspiration from what has worked for the character on the big screen, Bendis manages to recreate Robert Downey, Jr.’s voice near-flawlessly and sends Tony on a globe-trotting adventure in pursuit of the newly-magical Madame Masque. The new-and-improved shapeshifting Iron Man armor gives Marquez a chance to show off designs for armors for all occasions, such as samurai armor and a new version of the Hulkbuster. All that plus a mysteriously helpful Dr. Doom is the perfect salve for anyone looking to scratch that iron-itch before Stark returns to the big-screen in Captain America: Civil War.
ALIENS 30TH ANNIVERSARY: THE ORIGINAL COMICS SERIES HC
(By Mark Verheiden & Mark A. Nelson. April 27 from Dark Horse)
Just in time for you to walk to the comic book store in your Aliens Reeboks, Dark Horse releases an oversized hardcover collecting their 1988 Aliensseries! Featuring engrossing black-and-white artwork from Mark A. Nelson, this series acted as the original sequel to the film Aliens until the film franchise continued and changed the story. Nevertheless, Mark Verheiden’s tale of Hicks and Newt’s mission to the xenomorph home planet proved to be a massive hit with fans. A chest-burstingly great way to celebrate the franchise’s 30th anniversary.
I AM A HERO, OMNIBUS, VOL. 1 TP
(By Kengo Hanzawa. April 6 from Dark Horse)
Dark Horse brings the acclaimed, international-bestselling manga to the U.S. is this translation of the first two chilling volumes of Kengo Hanzawa’s series. Mentally disturbed manga art assistant Hideo Suzuki struggles to maintain a balance between his day job, girlfriend and publishing his own work when he witnesses the beginning of a zombie outbreak in Tokyo. He takes it upon himself to be Tokyo’s hero using his shotgun — a rare commodity in Japan. Winner of the Shogakukan Manga Award, I Am a Hero’s pages are disturbing, surreal and dripping with terrifying detail. Horror fans shouldn’t miss this refreshingly unique take on the zombie genre.
STAR WARS: VADER DOWN TP
(By Kieron Gillen, Jason Aaron, Mike Deodato & Salvador Larroca. April 20 from Marvel)
Have you ever wanted to see Darth Vader take on an entire of Rebel fleet single-handedly? Then, boy, do I have the comic for you.
Basically Star Wars: Episode IV.5, Vader Down is an action-packed, suspenseful and character-driven crossover between the ongoing Darth Vader andStar Wars series that finds Vader stranded on a remote planet with nothing but his lightsaber and a lot of Rebels. Luke, Leia, Han and the gang join the hunt and come up against Vader and the other forces of the Dark Side trying to save — or kill — him, leading to the fight you never knew you needed: R2 and Threepio versus sadistic assassin droids Triple Zero and BT-1. A roller coaster ride of a comic with beautiful art, this book is a great read whether you’ve been following Marvel’s Star Wars books or this is your first foray into the four-colored Force.
WYNNONA EARP: STRANGE INHERITANCE TP
(By Beau Smith & various artists. April 13 from IDW)
She’s soon to be gunslinging her way onto Syfy, and so Wynnona Earp is being treated to a 300-page tome of her earliest adventures. The original 1997 Image series is included, as are the later Home on the Strange and Yeti Wars miniseries, in which the monster-hunting U.S. Marshal and descendant of legendary lawman Wyatt Earp slays all manner of things that go bump in the night. Werewolf bikers, mummy assassins, and a Yeti vs. Sasquatch throwdown are just a taste of what awaits readers in these pages. Packed with more supernatural action than you can shake a six-shooter at, Wynnona Earp is the modern weird western you’ve been waiting for.