There were a lot of issues that I wanted to put on my list this week, but then after reading them I was disappointed and had to fall back onto some old standbys to get me through. So as much as I like to mix it up and try to give a variety of monthlies and one-shots, I ended up picking the next issue in some series’ I’ve already featured because even though I grabbed a couple dozen comics this week, including a lot of DC #1’s, these are my five best overall stories.

1) DC – Red Hood and the Outlaws #1: So this one came a little out of left field for me because I haven’t been the staunchest of Red Hood supporters, but from the get-go this comic sucks you in with a lot of action, throws in some spectacular art of Starfire coming out of the ocean in the middle, and then leaves you with a cliffhanger mystery ending. This comic screams pick me up and I got to love a writer and artist who both agree that the best part of their first issue together was the above panel because it was my favorite as well. My friends and I several years ago came to the conclusion that the three hottest chicks in comics were She-Hulk, Mystique, and Starfire (no particular order) and this comic shows that we were at least correct on that last one for sure.  Seriously though, this comic has such awesome potential and the three characters are such stark contrasts to each other, but play so well together that every page written by Scott Lobdell was a joyous read and combine that with the great art by Kenneth Rocafort and I’m sold on Red Hood and the Outlaws. Only question will be, can they keep it up?

2) DC – Nightwing #1: I think part of the reason why I disliked Dick Grayson so much as Batman was that it stepped out of character for him too much. He was trying to be Bruce Wayne and fill that shadow and just when he might have been starting to turn that corner, he goes back to being Nightwing. After reading this comic though by Kyle Higgins, I can say without a doubt that was where he should always have been. Dick is back to being the jovial, do things his way, screw up with a smile and Higgins’ writing pulls it off as if the character never missed a beat and there was never that year when he was Batman. I also like the prospect of new villains being introduced as it can help Dick to become his own character again much like when he first took the Nightwing mantle. Also loving the Batman Beyond-esque red logo to show that the character has changed somewhat from his time as Batman. Definitely a must pick up as in terms of the Bat-family, it feels like things are starting to get back to normal.

3) Marvel – Uncanny X-Men #543 (Fear Itself Tie-In) – I don’t think there was any way I could not feature this issue after reading it. Colossus has taken the power of Cyttorak away from the Juggernaut, with help from his sister Illyana, in an attempt to weaken the Juggernaut enough in the hopes that fighting magic with magic will be enough to save San Francisco. How Colossus describes his mindset once he is empowered by Cyttorak gives brand new insight into both his character as well as that of the Juggernaut’s after so many years and to see Colossus, the X-Men’s gentle giant some would say (or at least powerhouse), so easily bent to the will of Cyttorak and his hunger for chaos is a sight to behold. This also opens up so many new paths for Colossus and Juggernaut as characters once Fear Itself ends that we could really see the X-Men turned even more on their head with Schism wrapping up soon as well. Once again, this is proof positive why any comics featuring the X-Men are must reads if you’re a Marvel fan.

4) Marvel – Heroes for Hire #12 – I’m going to admit it was a toss-up between this and Daredevil this week as my second Marvel title. I’ll probably get to him next month, but I wanted to feature Heroes for Hire because I feel it’s a book that isn’t getting a lot of love, but is a lot of fun to read. You never know what heroes are going to show up and it offers Marvel a chance to feature several heroes who may have become buried in recent years due to all the major events going on. For example, this issue features Stingray and Silver Sable. Next month though could feature Spider-Man and Big Bertha or Punisher and Squirrel Girl for all we know. And the same goes for villains as it’s also already featured Fantastic Four classic villain Puppet Master in its opening arc. It’s this unpredictability combined with the solid writing to work all these characters in to make this a worthwhile read. And since next issue will be the Fear Itself tie-in, I feel this a good standalone issue to jump onto the series bandwagon if you haven’t already.

5) IDW – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 – Again, there were some other indie comics that caught my eye this week including some Star Wars titles, but the best book I picked up hands down was the next issue in the new TMNT. We see Raph’s legendary friendship with Casey Jones begin to develop as well as via flashback see how Hob the Cat and the Turtles all mutated. The flashbacks interestingly enough also foreshadowed the appearance of the Foot Clan at some point down the line. We also learn that Raph is suffering from amnesia, and although we can speculate why from the flashbacks, not everything may be as it seems as the other turtles are continuing to look for their lost and wandering brother. I’m really loving the old school art and hard lines seen in most panels and seeing the turtles in their old school universal red bandanas still brings a smile to my face as most people from my generation think of them in the more widely recognized purple, blue, orange, and red that were used to differentiate them beyond just their weapons and fighting styles and you know this move to go old-school has Kevin Eastman written all over it. Any child of the 80s must pick up this book, period.