Comic Book Power Rankings – August 2015

Nobody here at Hush Comics loves sports metrics more than I do. A die-hard NBA fan, I frequently rank players, teams and track stats every night to see who I should be picking up on the waiver wire (a term I know, but still do not understand at all) in our fantasy basketball league. It’s not really to be the best, but largely because I love the processes behind it; I love spreadsheets and systemic processes in how I arrive at these decisions. I even made a House of Quality together in order to break down which qualities I value in comic book series. This was all inspired by the creation of our Best of 2014 Comic Books collection of articles (which you should check out! A lot of hard work from our team went into those articles), when I realized that we had not been keeping track of which books were the best throughout the year.

Below is a list of what I consider the Top 20 comic books of the previous month. The opinions of these rankings is solely mine (unless noted), although they are influenced by the weekly review grades that our team doles out. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of the comic book industry, and I admittedly can’t read every book out there, but as long as I have this awesome platform to force my opinion on readers, why not use it? As always, we LOVE sparking conversations about the things we love, or even the things we don’t, so commentary is encouraged!

Rank Book Title Publisher Issues In Previous Movement
1 Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra Marvel 1
  He’s just a normal family guy, trying to cut it in the blue collar goon industry. Trying to place the normal within the insanity that is Battle World creates comedy gold.
2 Prez DC 3
  As far as political satires go, Prez is hands down the funniest, and is so hyperbolic that the fact that it’s relatable at all is appalling. Root for the little guy in one of DC’s rare non-cape books.
3 Rasputin Image 8
  Rasputin is my favorite comic at the moment. So far it’s the only book that’s compelled me to send fan mail. It’s a well written narrative, beautifully drawn, and spectacularly colored. I get something out if every issue I read and feel satisfied. Totally in love with this series. – Jené
4 Ms. Marvel Marvel 17
  Although Kamala briefly got caught in the web that is Secret Wars, her last issue, a heart-warming team up with Captain Marvel herself gave this book a special place on my shelf.
5 The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Marvel 8
  Three of the top five books are led by young women. Coincidence? Hell no! Squirrel Girl is hilarious and relatable – which says a lot since… ya know, she’s a squirrel.
  Not even shell-shock could stop Donnie! Things are getting heavy as a battle royale contest between the turtles and Foot knock down the door of the upcoming #50 spectacular.
7 Justice League DC 43 5 -2
  This is the best JL story since Forever Evil, and the most desparate time we’ve seen the team in of all New52. Geoff Johns continues to write an amazing book.
8 Batman DC 43 2 -6
  This is not the same book we read with Endgame. Bruce is in identity crisis mode and Gordon has taken over as Batman. Wacky story aside, Snyder/Capullo produce.
9 We Stand On Guard Image 3
  With the right creative team, even Canadians can be interesting. Brian K Vaughan’s new title makes you hate America more effectively than Donald Trump’s presidential run.
10 Bizarro DC 3
  Bizarro no am good book. Bizarro am very bad book. Book no am funny. Art is very ugly. Bizarro very normal, and Jimmy Olson (Bizarro’s worstest enemy) never wear disguises. Bizarro no am have hijinks. – Montgomery
11 Superman DC 43 8 -3
  We finally learned how Lois spilled the beans about Superman’s identity, and it’s refreshing to see Superman fight an enemy he can’t defeat by punching.
12 Old Man Logan Marvel 4
  While I love seeing an out-of-place Wolverine wander around Battle World in a confused rage, it’s Andrea Sorrentino’s panel layout that really keeps me engaged.
13 Groot Marvel 3
  As much as I loved the recently-retired Skottie Young Rocket Raccoon book, Groot is just as adorable. It’s good for all ages, with feel-good lessons in friendship and kindness. Aww.
14 Deadly Class Image 15 5 -9
  While the Remender/Craig tag-team reigns champion, I can’t get over just how scathingly manic-depressive this book got this month. It’s a downer for sure.
15 Nailbiter Image 15 16 +1
  The deeper we keep falling into the mystery, the further the bottom seems to be. It’s a phenomenal book, but I feel just as lost now as I did at square one.
16 The Walking Dead Image 145 4 -12
  I still look forward to this book every month, but the more I read it, the more I realize that Robert Kirkman is becoming George Lucas 2.0. There’s just too much TWD in the world for me right now. That being said, this new threat is gonna bring back the funk.
17 E is for Extinction Marvel 3
  Thank you, Chris Burnham, for making unsexy comic books cool. His raw art is perfect for this post-Morrison, Morrison-style book, which is as awesome as it is awkward.
18 Giant Sized Little Marvel AvX Marvel 3
  This book makes me feel like vomitting rainbows with each issue. It can be formulaic, but it’s just so darn cute – how could anybody not love this??
19 Postal Image 19 11 -8
  Mark, the autistic one-man Scooby gang, is tearing this conspiracy wide open. Although, just because it’s getting bigger doesn’t mean it’s getting better…
20 Batgirl DC 43
  It can be silly at times, but that’s part of the charm. Babs Tarr’s art has definitely grown on me. I’m fully on-board after some post-Gail Simone withdrawals.


Notably absent:

Most of the Secret Wars: I’m burnt out on Secret Wars. Marvel must be murdering DC in sales as of late, but their long game is tiring fans out.

Shutter and Birthright: For books that started as two of my favorite Image titles, the convoluted stories in both books have derailed their momentum significantly. I don’t expect that too last, though, as both books have the creative teams to handle it.

Wonder Woman: David and Meredith Finch have been a refreshing addition to the book, but the last couple issues have been noticeably lacking in substance or style. Plus, Donna Troy is completely one-dimensional and incapable of independent thought.

Retired books/ Hiatuses (Hawkeye, Saga, Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals): Some of the best books in the biz took the month off, making way for some newcomers to really shine this month!

Comic Book Reviews 08-26-15

Review Scale:

The mythical A+: Classic comic book material. Belongs next to your copy of The Notebook and The Joy of Cooking.

A: Would definitely recommend to all comic book readers. Even more so to fans of the genre or characters

B: Enjoyable read. Fans of the genre or characters will especially like.

C: Non-essential read. Can be enjoyable for fans of the genre or characters, but likely for only one or two events in the books.

D: Unenjoyable book. Read at your own risk. Might find satisfaction if major flaws are overlooked.

F: Please don’t buy this book. Donate your money to a local comic book writer’s workshop instead to inspire future generations to write something better than this trash.

Pick of the Week:

hank johnson hydra 1 POTW panel 08.26.15

Hank Johnson: Agent of Hydra #1 – A
Holy crap I love this book. Seriously, this comic is amazing. Meet Hank Johnson, the normal family man doing his best to support his family while being a simple minion for HYDRA. Hank is your typical guy; however, when you place a typical guy in the world of Marvel, the end product is genius. This book had me laughing the entire way through and all I want to do is read more. It’s funny to think that not everyone in the Marvel universe is a super-powered mega force designed for either good or evil. Yet, normal, below average people exist! It’s comical to think that all of these underlings who work for organizations such as HYDRA are made up of completely normal people. So when you read a comic and you see Nick Furry kick one of those dudes in the face, you don’t even stop to realize that the guy who just got his face kicked in is nothing short of mediocre. In fact that guy who got kicked in the face may be worried about being sexually harassed by his boss. It’s all ludicrous and ridiculous; however, that is what I love most about it. Hail HYDRA and hail Hank Johnson! – Evan

Second Opinion (A)You know who the real hero is?!  Hank Johnson.  Hank mother f-ing Johnson! – Taylor

Other Reviews: 

BOOM! Studios:

Over the Garden Wall #1 – B
What is the point of this comic? I’m not really sure, all I know is that it is pretty damn funny. It’s difficult to explain this comic besides stating it about a “down on his luck” boy, his dimwit half-brother and his frog, and a talking bird who are trying to catch a ride…somewhere…for some reasons. Either way, none of it matters. When you read comics like this, you simply have to throw all of your desire for story behind and accept that the pure nonsense you are about to read is both ridiculous and amazing. This comic had a lot of good jokes and I’m happy I got the chance to read it. – Evan

Second Opinion (C+)The best part of this book was the bluebird. He looked so cute, but he is so menacing. He gives the worst advice, but it ends up saving Wirt and Greg. Also, Greg is absolute nit-wit, and I love it. I’m personally more interested in the cartoon now, but this book isn’t for everyone; it is not very action packed. – Adrian

DC/Vertigo Comics:

Justice League 3001 #3 – A
This book keeps it up with the creative reveals. Batman starts to suspect Ariel isn’t Ariel; Booster Gold and Blue Beetle bungle keeping The Planet Formerly Known As Earf safe; Superman continues to be the dumbest guy in the room; and Batman discovers he might not be the only aped crusader in the universe. This book is so cool u gais. Fun fact: since working in the children’s bookstore, I’ve spotted no fewer than three books written by J.M. DeMattias, the very same writer for this here book. What can’t that man do? – Montgomery

Superman #43 – B+
Months later, we finally find out how and why Lois Lane reveal’s Superman’s secret identity to the world. With as much build-up as it got, it sure did feel spontaneous. This tech mogul, HORDR – whom I have been calling “Hodor” in my head, is threatening to reveal Superman’s identity if he doesn’t go through a demonstration of his new solar flare ability. Before he even gets knee-deep into one, Lois pulls the trigger and does it herself. Naturally, Superman is pissed. It’ll be interesting to see what fallout comes from this. And with the way DC does things, it’ll take some fortitude to continue with this continuity… but it’s DC. F*ck continuity. – Sherif

Batgirl #43 – B
Babs Gordon leads quite the busy life. Balancing super-heroinism with trying to be a good friend – on top of a full course load – sounds really stressful. Batgirl is investigating cases of tiger attacks aimed at tech companies. This tigers are mind-controlled. Of course they are. Tigers just don’t get up and attack nerds. As things get deeper, those around Barbara put themselves in a bad spot. As far as the story goes, it’s interesting enough, but what really sold me here is Babs Tarr’s phenomenal art. It’s cute, yet fierce. And as the first issue in a new arc, really worth your time to pick up. – Sherif

Prez #3 – B
This issue was a lot of getting things in motion. But what I liked most was the Neil deGrasse Tyson-esque character calling a crowd “stupid mother fuckers,” without really calling them that. And the Wal-Mart Angel of Death. That was good, too. – Adrian

Deathstroke #9 – C+
How screwed is Slade? Not screwed enough apparently. This entire issue was spent with the same approach of “stab the bad guy,” which is fun to look at but doesn’t offer a whole lot of substance. This time, Superman joins the mix, which makes me believe that this story might shift away from Deathstroke‘s book and into the Superman/Wonder Woman book, too. While this book is very pretty too look at, the book is turning into one long continual fight scene, sort of like Dragon Ball Z. – Sherif

Batman – Arkham Knight – Genesis #1 – F
Here’s another cash-grab attempt to familiarize people with the story of the return of Jason Todd. There’s absolutely nothing in this issue that you can’t find out by either playing the damn game or reading a copy of Under the Red Hood, or watching the animated feature. Listen, don’t waste your time reading this. It’s pointless regurgitation of a pretty solid book, and if you played the game the whole way through, then you were likely just as disappointed in the direction Rocksteady chose to go with the story. Leave this garbage in the past and read something new and creative. – Sherif

Second Opinion (C): Jason Todd in a metallic, robot, Batman suit?!?!  You scary Arkham Knight! – Taylor

Dynamite Entertainment:

Drive #1 – C
Do you like the movie drive? Do you like comic books? Then you are sure to like this book…I think. Overall I did enjoy reading this comic; however, I think it was only due to the fact that I have seen the movie, and I know how badass it really is. The only issue I truly have with it is a lot of things I loved about the movie, it is near impossible to translate to a static medium. For example, in the movie, my favorite scene is at the beginning where the driver is eluding the police and ends up parking at the Staple Center when the basketball game is getting out. No offense to comic books, but scenes such as that simply do not translate. Yet, this comic does have a subtle badassness to it. Short work bubbles, gritty panels, and a general sense of danger allows this comic to progress. One thing I do hope, is that this comic choses to stray away from simply drawing the movie. I want to see new stories and different characters, and if this comic plans to simply retell the movie version, I fail to see the point in continuing. Oh and one last thing, Driver (because I don’t believe his name was ever stated), his neighbor Irina, she be coming on just a little too strong. Yup, that’s right people, I’m choosing to end my review this way, and I’m doing this simply because this is how Driver chooses the jobs he takes…I think. – Evan

Second Opinion (B): My favorite part of the movie Drive was the opening scene. The OCD-like approach to how he handles a job. We get more of that in the debut issue, but there’s also a lot of cliché bad guy stuff going on. If you liked the movie, you’ll enjoy the book, but it doesn’t quite measure up when you consider the intangibles that the movie provide. – Sherif

IDW Publishing: 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April #3 – B+
Well things have certainly gotten rather creepy for April and Casey this issue and has them battling what I can only describe as the worst acid trip in the history of drugs, all thanks to the Rat King and what seems to be Kitsune in a different form than we have seen her before. This series definitely has a more horror film feel to it, which fits The Rat King perfectly, unless we are talking 80’s-90’s cartoon Rat King. Mariko Tamaki does a sensational job of adding a very different feel to the TMNT series while also making sure we realize this is April and Casey and at the heart is a tale of a broken relationship mending its wounds. Irene Koh’s art for this issue is spectacular and has a very anime style feel to the characters While again not straying too far from the source material to distract you and seemingly see Casey and April as different characters in a TMNT related story. I look forward to the next issue and seeing how much Casey and April beat the crap out of the Rat King! – Jacob

Godzilla in Hell #2  B
The second issue of Godzilla in Hell took a pretty big departure from the first one. While the first issue had no words and was more of a slightly goofy romp, this issue took on a far more serious tone. I still have no idea why Godzilla is in hell, or if it is even an actual hell or simply the remains of the earth after mankind has finally destroyed it. Either way, the world he is in has been left to the Kaiju, and in this realm they are seen as demons and Godzilla as the Leviathan. A well written, if not a little too poetic, narration follows Godzilla through his journey as he encounters one foe after another in an ever changing landscape. The writing is not what has me into this book, it is almost entirely the artwork actually. Each page is stunning, with an insane use of color and jaw dropping detail and beauty. This comic may not be for the masses, as it’s kind of odd and its reason for existing is still kind of lost on me. But this is still a great pick for Godzilla fans and lovers of incredible artwork. – Keriann 

Image Comics:

Rasputin #8 – A
This comic is the shit and everyone should be reading it. I feel this Rasputin has something for everyone. Mystery, political intrigue, magic, and historical fiction swirled in. This comic is also key to the series and a critical read.  The first issue let us know he would be killed by his friends. I’ve been anticipating his death/his rebirth for the past 8 issues and now that it’s happened I have even more questions than when I started. The team working on this is phenomenal. – Jené

Roche Limit: Clandestiny #4 – A
Uh…Holy mother-fucking Hera. I am still processing what the hell just happened in this issue. It was a nail biting, edge of the seat, heart racing sort of read that doesn’t come around all that often. The books I’ve read have been on point today. This issue is an intense rush to destroy an evil ship and crazy monster things that are on their way to earth to wreak havoc. Sasha totally just ripped her friend’s head and spinal cord from his body and used it as a weapon. Yeah, that totally happened… – Jené

Marvel/Icon Comics:

Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #4 – A
What a great and emotional ending to a rather campy story. I enjoyed this whole run but it definitely was cheesy and if you have not read the original secret wars it may have left you a bit confused. This issue takes the story to a more dramatic area and makes Deadpool out to be the savior of the Marvel universe as well as adding a very human side to good ol Wade Wilson. This side of Deadpool is always very entertaining to me, just as much so as the bad ass mercenary we all know and love. We get such a large dynamic this issue seeing Wasp and Deadpool’s relationship as well as the sacrifice Deadpool made to save everyone and especially the ending. Overall, I think Cullen Bunn wrote a great Deadpool arc here and one that ultimately changed Marvel history, while also keeping it exactly the same… which may not make much sense. Matteo Lolli and Matteo Buffagni do a spectacular job with the art giving it a very vintage Marvel feel while Ruth Redmond comes in and adds color that makes this entire series pop and ultimately make this my favorite series from Secret Wars. – Jacob

E Is for Extinction #3 – A
Man, this is the book that keeps on giving. The army of evil Hank McCoys at the end of the last book? Turns out it’s a super intelligent virus that traveled Battleworld recruiting Beasts into its army (which, half of that sentence should be familiar). It’s such an exciting read, I feel like sirs Burnham, Culver, and Villalobos are doing Morrison proud. The best moment, by far, is when Emma fuses with Cuckoos to form a Kali-style super psychic. Not only does she become a take on the six armed goddess, but the picture of their union contains ten eyes (including the two made with fingers), in a roughly-Kaballah-Tree-of-Life configuration. Saint Morrison smiles above us. – Montgomery

Second Opinion (B-): The whole thing ended rather conveniently. In just two pages, some of the most outlandish crap I’ve ever seen solved the entire “Beast Wars” problem. I enjoy reading this book to see how all the Stellas get their grooves back, but the actual story is reaching. It’s the exact kind of weird that Morrison fans love, but it just happens too quickly for me here. – Sherif

X-Men ’92 #3 – B+
Putting aside for a second the fact that the numbering of these issues makes no sense, and that Marvel’s Infinite Comics is sort of a lame idea, I love everything about X-Men ’92. In the midst of a Secret Wars that seems like a big ol’ love letter to the X-Men, it’s the lovliest of all letters: it’s art style mimics the art of 90’s X-Men, and it incorporates every bonkers badass idea the X-Men ever had (well, so far I haven’t seen any Apocalypse or Phalanx). For someone who still hears the original cartoon voice actors in my head when I read an X-book, it’s wonderful fan service full of badass moments. For sure my favorite moment is a brain washed Wolverine being unable to use his claws to free a woman trapped in a car snapping out of it when she asks for a favor: bring me Cyclops. Lololololol. – Montgomery

Second Opinion (A)Why can’t this be the show and not a comic? Seriously though, it makes me have all sorts of warm feelings inside despite never remembering Deadpool, Domino or Psylocke as being huge parts of the show, which their presence makes the warm feelings even warmer this issue. – Jacob

Ant-Man: Last Days #1 – B+
The great thing about this issue is that even in light of the world ending, the feel of Ant-Man was still there. Scott Lang was as funny as ever. Most enjoyable for me was finding out who Miss Morgenstern really was. Her retirement community for superheroes from the 50’s was fun to see, too. I was not expecting to find out who she was really was in this book and how important it is for the Secret Wars arc, but I’m glad that loose end was tied up. The last two pages of the issue were absolutely hilarious. This year’s Ant-Man series has been one of my favorites. We get a new issue in two months, and I hope it keeps the same air of funny. – Adrian

Lando #3 – B
Lobot is down!  The space-ninja cats battle Red Guards!  The Boba Fett wannabe scores a ride in Darth Maul’s old ship Infiltrator!  In other words, this issue is awesome.  The story seems to be progressing slowly, but then I realize that this is only the third issue.  I’m loving the character dynamic and the developing plot.  Interestingly enough, Lando is more of a background character while his cohorts and combatants take center stage.  I’m okay with this as it’s only a matter of time before Lando flashily jumps back into the spotlight.  The big kicker this issue is we finally see what’s behind door #1 (Palpatine’s secret room).  I have a bad feeling about this…  Not really, I think this comic will continue to be great; Just couldn’t resist the line drop! – Taylor

Old Man Logan #4 – B-
I want to love this series so much but find it harder and harder as the issues go on. This series is well written but seems to be all over the place and  it’s not moving the story along. It seems more of a monster of the week sort of story telling by just showing us a new Marvel universe and how Logan gets in and escapes said universe. I’m still overly optimistic at how this will all turn out writing wise especially with Brian Michael Bendis at the helm, and I really enjoyed seeing She-Hulk for a little bit this issue, but still felt this issue fell flat by the end. I may just be being a purist here for the original series since it still holds as one of my absolute favorite story arcs in all of comics, but another aspect that gets me is the art by Andrea Sorrentino. Despite the art being gorgeous, it seems to meld together to a point where I cant even tell what is happening at certain points. Overall though I imagine by the end it will come around, so I will keep holding my breath here. – Jacob

Second Opinion (A):  Old Man Logan: love it for its simplicity, violence, style, and art. – Montgomery

Marvel Zombies #3 – B-
I knew the Deadpoolification of Secret Wars was on the horizon. It’s like The Rockbiter in The Neverending Story talking about The Nothing: It came. Sure enough, the zombies eat bits of his brain, to stave off the hunger and stay smart. And the book tries to make you think this is the last we’ve seen of him, but, come on, book, we’re smarter than that. Anyways, the kid gets rescued and, apparently, is zombie proof. They escape to the coast, where they encounter a particularly convincing villain. Mostly, this is yet another Secret Wars book that feels like it’s perpetually just carving circles in the air waiting for something else to happen. This kid better turn out to be important to the overall Secret Wars arch which, at this point, seems bewildering. What’s the secret part? What’s the war part? – Montgomery

Civil War #3 – C+
This story has gotten a bit out of control. Everybody is switching sides, or switching costumes, and it’s gotten difficult to really find myself invested. The most important piece to take away from this issue is that Peter Parker is not a fun guy anymore; he has extreme PTSD and is much more Bucky Barnes (personality wise) than Spider-Man anymore. Also, Kingpin has been turned into some cyborg monster like the one in Afro Samurai. It’s all surreal, but it’s also a lot of fun to see just how things have changed in this world. However, it’s not the Civil War I know, and with Secret Wars really wearing thin, it’s is beginning to come across as just another way to sell copies. – Sherif

Funniest Panels:

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Panels with the Most Awesomeness:

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That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!

All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to all the publishers for putting out great books.