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Essential Comics for 12-23-15

These are the comics you're looking for.

Each week, hundreds of new comics are released to the masses at local comic shops and through the digital market through apps like Comixology. With such a large selection, it can be tough to figure out what books are worth your time and money.

If you're looking for something to pick up this week, here's a selection of ten books to keep your eye out for and why they're worth your time.

Tony's Picks

ART OPS #3

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Publisher: Vertigo

(W) Shaun Simon (A) Michael Allred, Matt Brundage (CA) Michael Allred

ART OPS introduced us to a strange world where paintings can come to life. In some cases, like with the Mona Lisa, characters in the paintings are removed and replaced with a double in order to protect them from vandals or thieves. This resulted in the Mona Lisa ending up in the real world. When the members of the Art Ops disappeared, it came down to the leader’s son, Reggie Riot to reluctantly take over. Bored with sitting around a safe house, Reggie decided to take the Mona Lisa to a punk night club in New York. We’ll also get some follow up to an earlier Art Ops case when Reggie was a toddler.

Shaun Simon’s story has been bizarre and fascinating. Combined with Mike Allred and Matt Brundage’s art with Laura Allred’s colors, this has been an interesting read with great visuals. There’s a great world here that’s getting fleshed out and each issue makes you want to find out more.

DEADLY CLASS #17

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Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

(W) Rick Remender (A/CA) Wesley Craig

Being in high school can be tough. It’s always difficult to figure out where you fit in. In a school for assassins, you can imagine how much harder and deadlier it can be. With the first year nearly over, the final exam is to kill the rats in the school. The rats are those students that don’t come from a dynasty of killers or have any ties to a criminal empire. It’s up to our main character, Marcus, and his friends to try to survive the killings.

Rick Remender and Wes Craig have had me hooked from the first issue. With the story set in the late 80s, it’s had a great vibe and things always get pretty crazy. With this current story, there’s no telling where things are going to go. Let’s hope our favorite characters can survive.

DAREDEVIL #2

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Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

(W) Charles Soule (A/CA) Ron Garney

Matt Murdock is back in New York City and the first issue made me really realize how much I missed him being there. Matt Murdock has a new job at the District Attorney’s office and a new villain is being set up. Tenfingers seemed like an okay new villain but in this issue, we’re really seeing what he’s up to and how he will approach building his empire. We also have the mystery of how Matt Murdock managed to make everyone forget about the fact he’s also Daredevil.

Charles Soule has dived right in and taken the reigns with the character and series. Ron Garney’s art has evolved into a gorgeous beast setting up a different tone from what we’ve seen recently. This has been a great year for Daredevil in the comics and with his Netflix show. Soule and Garney are going to continue the greatness into 2016.

EXTRAORDINARY X-MEN #4

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Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

(W) Jeff Lemire (A/CA) Humberto Ramos

This title has become my favorite X-title in the All-New, All-Different Marvel launch. Jeff Lemire has given us an interesting mix of X-Men and we have the Terrigen Mist problem that is shaking things up for the mutants. What really fascinates me is the addition of (young) Jean Grey and Old Man Logan. With the eight month gap after Secret Wars, it really feels like a different era for the X-Men. Hopefully, they’ll be able to survive the Mists and the M-pox that is affecting them.

I’m also digging Humberto Ramos’ art on this title. He has a great enthusiasm that really spills onto the page to make everything feel a little more energetic. I’ve been enjoying the X-Men titles recently, but there’s just something about this title that really gets me excited.

PATSY WALKER AKA HELLCAT #1

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Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

(W) Kate Leth (A/CA) Brittney Williams

Patsy Walker is getting her own comic once again. After seeing her grace the pages of Charles Soule’s SHE-HULK, Patsy is back and Kate Leth is bringing over the light-hearted tone to set this apart from some other books. There may be some that want their comics to be dark and edgy, but this has the potential to add some fun in our regular weekly comic book reading.

Joining Kate is Brittney Williams on art. There’s an interesting vibe coming off the preview pages and it’ll be interesting to see how the series goes. The book might not be geared towards everyone, but I will definitely be checking it out to see what Patsy is up to next.

Mat's Picks

DARTH VADER #14

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Publisher: MARVEL COMICS

(W) Kieron Gillen (A) Salvador Larroca (CA) Mark Brooks

The current Star Wars event, Vader Down, is the first of what we can assume to be many crossovers in the Star Wars universe. Before Empire Strikes Back, Vader realizes Luke Skywalker is his son and Vader searches him out. What we have gotten thus far is a whole bunch of Vader beating the heck out of everyone. The story has been great, the action has been great, and as a whole, the crossover delivers consistent storytelling. With this particular issue, we're getting Gillen and Larroca who have been giving fans a stellar Darth Vader series, so if you like Star Wars at all, then Vader Down is a top priority this week.

DARK KNIGHT III MASTER RACE #2

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Publisher: DC COMICS

(W) Frank Miller, Brian Azzarello (A/CA) Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson

Before DKIII came out, there was a lot of talk to whether or not this book would hold up to The Dark Knight returns, which was released in 1986. While we've only seen one issue so far of the third chapter in Frank Miller's series, the world has changed and the focus of this book is a bit more spread out. There's a lot going on with Wonder Woman, as well as what happened to Superman. In addition, there's a huge reveal at the end that really changes the whole book up. Andy Kubert, Klaus Janson, and Brad Anderson deliver a really visually appealing book and I'm excited to see what is next in the world of the Dark Knight.

LAST GANG IN TOWN #1

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Publisher: DC COMICS

(W) Simon Oliver (A) Rufus Dayglo (CA) Rob Davis

I didn't know much about this upcoming series until talking to writer Simon Oliver last week. He really piqued my in this new book, which follows a group of punk rockers in the 70s and ventures into the world of British crime. Conceptually, this sounds like a really great new book, which will give people reading it a better sense into England's history and culture. I've enjoyed Oliver's work on COLLIDER FBP and Vertigo has always been a great home for his work, so I'm excited to see what he brings to my favorite imprint next.

BLOODSHOT REBORN #9

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Publisher: VALIANT

(W) Jeff Lemire (A) Butch Guice (CA) Mico Suayan

It's the finale to the second arc of BLOODSHOT REBORN and this arc is leading up to one huge fight where Bloodshot will be taking on Bloodshot. This and DIVINITY are the two stand-out books from Valiant this year and Jeff Lemire has really turned Bloodshot into a top-tier book and made him into a compelling character. This issue is going to have a bit of action in it and per usual, it will have quite a bit of violence in it. Butch Guice has been doing a stellar job with the art and gives this series a feeling of grittiness is justifiably deserves.

SAGA #32

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Publisher: IMAGE COMICS

(W) Brian K. Vaughan (A/CA) Fiona Staples

SAGA has been off my radar for a few months. I'm still picking up the issues but never got a chance to actually sit down and read it until recently. The series is still top-notch and going strong. Brian K Vaughan has been using an interesting form of storytelling during this arc, jumping back and forth a few years and centering a bit more around Hazel as a 4-year-old and Hazel as a baby. She's also narrating the series a bit more as well. As always, Fiona Staples delivers some amazing artwork, month after month, and SAGA is still one of the top comic book series being published.

That's it for this week. Let us know what's on your pull list for this week's releases!