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This Week's Essential Comics: 6/23/14

These are the comics you're looking for.

New comic book day is right around the corner and we want to make sure you're prepared for the big event. Plenty of new issues will go on sale and we're here to make sure many of the exciting ones are on your radar. The Comic Vine staff has reviewed the latest list of new releases and each of us have picked a few comics that we're very anxious to check out. Once you're done seeing what we've selected, feel free to chime in with your own list of "essential" comics.

*Some previews may be in reverse order*

Tony "G-Man" Guerrero's picks

BATMAN #32

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Zero Year is approaching its ending. Last issue we saw Batman challenge Riddler is his battle arena of wits which lead to an interesting fight with some deadly four-legged creatures. Batman is getting closer to trying to end Riddler’s reign over Gotham and with the flashbacks we’re getting to Bruce’s younger years, there’s no telling what’s coming up next.

The entire Bat-team on this title has been doing wonders with this look at Batman’s early days. We may be separated from the current day continuity but you won’t hear any complaints from us. This journey has been spectacular and we can only hope that after this story ends next issue, it won’t mean the end of the exploration in this period of Batman’s career.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #3

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Remember when Doc Ock was swinging around in Spider-Man’s body and came across Black Cat? Remember how he decked her in the face and caused her to get arrested? You can be sure Felicia still remembers. We’ve seen her manage to get out of jail, and she is not happy. Everyone else in Peter’s life easily accepted the explanation over his odd behavior once he finally returned. That likely won’t be the case with Black Cat.

Besides Black Cat, Dan Slott and Humberto Ramos are fleshing out other areas in Spider-Man’s life and showing us that Peter’s return isn’t going to be an easy one. Peter’s also going to have to deal with other things.

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JUSTICE LEAGUE #31

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The Justice League already have their hands full trying to deal with Lex Luthor, the hero, and things are only going to get worse.

FOREVER EVIL took a toll on the team and while the ‘bad guys’ may have been defeated, they haven’t seen the last of all traces of the Crime Syndicate. When Power Ring was defeated, his ring went off to find a new host. That new host has been found and we got a glimpse of her trying to deal with what’s going on.

Can the League handle this new Power Ring? Will they be able to work alongside Lex Luthor? Could be possibly see Simon Baz make his way back into comics? Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis give us the answers this week.

SUPERMAN #32

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There’s not much else for me to say about this issue. We posted an early review last week. Geoff Johns returning to Superman does bring back memories from his pre-New 52 ACTION COMICS run. This also marks John Romita Jr’s first time working at DC Comics.

Check out the review. It’s the beginning of a new “era.”

Visit Entertainment Weekly for one more preview page.

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Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring's picks

X-O MANOWAR #26

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It's the start of a brand new story arc for Aric and his magic (not really magical) armor! I reviewed ARMOR HUNTERS #1 recently, which this book ties into, and I felt it really lived up to the hype and what felt like almost over-promotion of this event. Seeing as X-O MANOWAR ties into ARMOR HUNTERS and they both have the same writer, Robert Venditti, so I'm really looking forward to this issue.This is the first time, in quite some time, where Aric is actually up against an enemy that he may not be able to beat. Finally, there's a chance that this armor isn't what it seems, as revealed in ARMOR HUNTERS #1. Some seriously cool things coming out of Valiant right now.

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SAGA #20

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It's SAGA. You know, that book I've been talking about since issue #1. It's still one of my favorite comic book series. The book jumped forward a couple years and things are very different for Alana, Marko, and crew. What really hooked most readers into that last issue was the final page. If you love having your heartbroken by big changes in a story or in a family dynamic, without a character being just killed off out of no where, then this is the book for you. On top of everything else, it's Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples doing this book, and they are one hell of a creative team. And finally, when the solicit is "something terrible happens," you may wanna check it out

MS. MARVEL #5

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This book has quite a few elements that I'd normally turn my nose up at because I'm a giant comic book snob. I'm not really a fan of the Inhumans, and Ms. Marvel got her powers from the Terrigan Mists, and I've never been the biggest Ms. Marvel (Danvers) fan. However, this book is a ton of fun. C. Willow Wilson writes a fantastic series that is a portal into another culture that most Americans are not familiar with. What really puts this book over the top is the art from Adrian Alphona. Everything about this series is awesome, so far, and you'll love it too.

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Gregg "k4tz" Katzman's picks

GHOSTBUSTERS #17

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It's so sad to hear this series will soon come to an end, but at least it's leaving one heck of an impression while it's here! The latest story, Mass Hysteria!, is pure fun. It takes everything we love about the classic movies and then adds plenty of new twists and turns. It hits you with a heavy serving of nostalgia and does more than enough to remain refreshing, too. It really does feel like a third film... it's that enjoyable.

You can tell this really is a passion project for writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening and they've done a terrific job making this such an entertaining series. Burnham's script remains sharp and Schoenig's style is such a fantastic compliment to the book's lighthearted tone. Seriously, give this book a shot. If you feel like playing catch-up, Mass Hysteria! began with issue #13.

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OUTCAST #1

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A new horror book by Robert Kirkman? Yeah, sign me up! The writer has more than proven his ability to produce interesting character and solid scares with THE WALKING DEAD, so you can bet I'm stoked to see what he'll bring to the table with this new series about demonic possession. As you can see from the preview, Paul Azaceta does a mighty fine job when it comes to establishing a dark atmosphere and producing some creepy panels. Then again, Azaceta proves that he's more than capable of handling the tone with that cover, doesn't he? I'm very anxious to see what this new horror series has to offer.

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DEAD BODY ROAD TP

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Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera's limited series is 6 issues of awesome. Now that the violent revenge story is collected in this trade, it'll essentially feel like one very epic thrill ride. Jordan's script is fast and fierce (some may even say "furious"), but the month-long wait between issues was felt every time you picked up a new issue. But now it's all packed into this trade and this is a story that'll absolutely benefit from being able to read all of it in one sitting. And considering how exciting the events are, it's guaranteed to be something you'll want to read all over again someday.The issues always had a firm grip on my attention, so as a collection, this trade is sure to keep you glued to the pages until you reach the very last one.

I just cannot praise Scalera's illustrations enough. Jordan's story is all kinds of crazy (one issue is basically a chase scene) and the artist does a brilliant job packing these panels with such a huge amount of energy and intensity. It's a great looking ride, for sure.

I loved reading along as every issue was released, but this is the kind of story that'll definitely thrive when you can experience it all in one dose.

Honorable Mention: LARFLEEZE #12

Jen "MissJ" Aprahamian's picks

C.O.W.L. #2

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Pay up those union dues, and take a deeper look at what's going on in the world's first superhero labor organization. C.O.W.L. is quickly developing into a series that's so much more than its premise, with sharp dialogue and smart thematic overtones that complement the period backdrop rather than relying on it. We're looking forward to getting to know these heroes on a personal level -- and finding out the lies they tell themselves -- and drinking in more of Rod Reis' gorgeous painted pages.

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TREES #2

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Warren Ellis and Jason Howard dropped a different flavor of sci-fi on us last month with the debut of TREES, and our interest was definitely piqued. Alien life forms with a substantial, visible presence that do...nothing? If that's not curiosity-inducing, I don't know what is. This week's issue promises glimpses of things all over the globe -- from Italy to the Arctic -- and that means we can anticipate some world-building beyond the mysterious trees. And possibly some clues about what's going on (though, with Ellis, it's probably going to be entertaining even if we don't know what exactly is happening!). Bonus: if you missed TREES #1, it's available for free on the Image website/comiXology until Tuesday!

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Honorable Mention: UNDERTOW #5, SAVAGE HULK #1

Corey "Undeadpool" Schroeder's picks

RED LANTERNS #32

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The throwdown between Atrocitus and Guy Gardner has been brewing ever since Gardner stole leadership of the vicious Lanterns out from under the raging shaman's non-nose. With both sides seeking new recruits and deciding to go their separate ways for now, the battle may have to wait but Gardner's got other things to worry about: like whether or not Kara Zor-El is ready to stand toe-to-toe against Atrocitus. Charles Soule has done a fantastic job not just writing Kara well, but writing her into the story seamlessly, so I'm hoping against hope that she's here to stay. Alessandro Vitti's continuing on art, and as far as I'm concerned he's as much a part of defining the book's look and tone as Soule.

Newsarama has a preview.

UNCANNY AVENGERS #21

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Time travel, other-dimensional heroes and villains, and planetary destruction are just a few of the highlights along the ride of the last sixteen issues that have made up this storyline. Rick Remender has been weaving one larger story in-between the various arcs, and while the knowledge that most of the horrors visited upon heroes and worlds alike weren't going to remain permanent, but it's made the story no less enjoyable nor intense. Daniel Acuña's art has always been spectacular and I'm sure he'll be pulling out any stops that may have been tenacious enough to stick around after all these issues.

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CHEW #42

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Speaking of great comics that hit an extreme dark patch, John Layman's always been great at striking the balance between horror, action and comedy. We've started a new storyline with the semi-titular Tony Chu basking in newly-minted wedded bliss to Amelia and a hero to his peers, but the congratulatory vacation provided little respect as the Cibopath Collector has reared his fanged head once more. Last issue was a great example of something else this book does extraordinarily well: plant the seeds of new plot threads in seemingly one-off storylines, making it almost impossible to predict what will happen from one issue to the next. Rob Guillory's had some of the most consistently excellent, background jokey panels in all of comics and the fact that he's remained on this book since the beginning and it STILL comes out so consistently is nothing short of incredible.

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Honorable Mention: DEADPOOL VS. CARNAGE #4

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