1. X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever (No. 3, June 2016, Marvel) – Max Bemis, Michael Walsh & Ruth Redmond
Feeling old? Lost that inexpressible X that you had when you were nine? Why not dip your toes back into the magical ectoplasmic world of youth & fantasy this Saturday during Free Comic Book Day? Even if you didn’t really read comics as a child, these days your local comics retailer will also most likely carry tabletop role-playing games and action figures. However you decide to treat yourself this weekend, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of the latest issue of X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever. Written for both the casual fan and the diehard X-Men sweaty, musician and writer Max Bemis‘ coming of age narrative follows the trials and tribulations of Bailey Hoskins, a seemingly unremarkable high school student who wants nothing more than to be special & take a cool girl to prom. As it turns out Bailey is indeed special: he’s an x-gene carrier, i.e., a mutant. The bad news: his only mutant ability is to explode. Literally. Lethally. Only once. With no special healing factor a la Wolverine/Deadpool, our young protagonist is left to ponder over the seeming futility of his newfound ability to spontaneously combust. What could he possibly learn at Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters? Could he even ever really be an X-Man? An excerpt of the anticlimactic exchange in issue #1 between Dr. Hank McCoy, aka Beast, and Bailey:
BAILEY: C’mon, Dr. Hank! What can I do? / Can I grow space-wings? . . . What about shooting lasers out of something? . . . At the very least I gotta have a healing factor!
BEAST: Well, to reduce it into the simplest explanation possible . . . / Your (something you’d have to google to understand) runs concurrently alongside your (google fodder) and stimulates (wikpedia is your only hope) into ignition.
BAILEY: I don’t think I understood any of that at all.
BEAST: I’m sorry. I have a propensity for sesquipedalianism. [Huh?] I say big words too much. / Bailey, essentially, what I was able to discern is that you have the ability to explode on command, and control both the density and shape of the combustion . . . / . . . a kind of human firework.
BAILEY: What? Amazing. It’s like Gambit but I’m my own playing card.
BEAST: Well, not exactly that, per se . . . / The thing about it is . . . were you to use your power . . . you would actually just explode. Like anything else exploding.
BAILEY: Wait . . . you mean I wouldn’t be able to, like, magically reform my molecules?
BEAST: No, you will have just blown up. / You’d just be dead . . . because you just exploded.
BAILEY: That is, by far, the worst super-power ever. / That’s basically the same as not even having a super-power.
BEAST: It doesn’t mean you’re not a mutant, Bailey . . .
2. Dark Knight III: The Master Race (No. 4, June 2016, DC) – Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello, Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson & Brad Anderson
Whether you grew up praying at the altar of the Dark Knight or just consider yourself a casual fan of the Christopher Nolan trilogy, Frank Miller’s earnest return to the character that made him a patron saint in the minds of so many readers is the one legitimate Bat-title out right now that’ll remind you why the Bat-mythos is so compelling in the first place. An era in the making, Dark Knight III has quickly earned the reputation of simultaneously being grin-inducing and impossibly frustrating as there will be multiple panels in the series that will make you ask: Now, why didn’t Zack Snyder do this in Batman v Superman? You have it all: A bloodied and resigned Superman. A badass maternal Wonderman. A grizzled, veteran, one-foot-in-the-grave Batman. A cheeky, sprightly girl Robin. And even a funky Miller-drawn, neon pink and green hooded Batgirl. An all around crunchy bowl of awesome, the newest issue will particularly intrigue long-time DC fans as it showcases a particularly brutal falling out between Superman and his elseworld daughter Supergirl.
3. Giant Days (No. 14, May 2016, BOOM! Box) – John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming & Whitney Cogar
Quite easily the best written new series of 2015, Giant Days is one of those special non-cape-and-cowl titles that will convert even the most ardent of non-comic book readers. Particularly charming & resonating about the newest issue is how writer John Allison’s creative team has captured the perennial university drama of cohabitation. ESTHER: “Can’t we just stay here? It’s got everything we need. Some heat, weak light, basic walls. And it’s not that nice so you don’t have to worry about looking after things.” SUSAN: “We can’t. Imagine being here with next year’s first years. We’re now mature, experienced women of the world . . . They’re the screaming hellions we used to be.” DAISY: “I just want to be . . . house proud.” Poignant and hilarious, Giant Days will strike a chord with 99% of Entropy readers.
4. Spider-Man (No. 3, June 2016, Marvel) – Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli & Justin Ponsor
Not unlike the film industry, Marvel & DC have from their very inception struggled with an entrenched white supremacist ideology. With the recent inclusion of a softly rebooted Black Panther, an African American Captain America, and a Korean American Hulk – it’d appear that segments of the industry are more inclined than ever to confront and transcend the medium’s less than ideal racial legacy. Case in point: Bendis’ interpretation of Miles Morales, a.k.a., the other Spider-Man. If you care anything at all about minority representation in popular media, this issue in particular will be of interest to you as our highschooler hero Miles is assisted by a fellow teenage Avenger Ms. Marvel, a.k.a., Kamala Khan. The obstacle: Miles’ fiery tough love Brooklyn gramma. Comic readers of Black Hispanic descent in particular will appreciate the characterization of Miles’ family dynamic. Much like how writer G. Willow Wilson went out of her way to fully express Kamala Khan’s Muslim, Pakistani American, Jersey background – writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli do an astonishing job of fully embracing Miles Morales’ Puerto Rican, African American, Brooklyn identity.
5. Empress (No. 2, July 2016, Icon) – Mark Millar, Stuart Immonen, Wade Von Grawbadger & Ive Svorcina
Star Wars meets Bladerunner, Millar & Immonen’s newest foray into galaxies unknown taps into that deepest of anthropological suspicions that previous human civilizations have far exceeded our very own primitive understanding of space and time. If the first two issues are any indication, Empress may just rival Saga in its sheer creative strength to transport readers into an ancient cosmic world that is both frighteningly alien and surprisingly familiar. An ideal introduction to Mark Millar and Stuart Immonen, if you’ve never had the pleasure.