“April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain,” is how T.S. Eliot began his iconic modernist poem The Waste Land back in 1922. Nearly a century later, April remains a month of contradictions — at least in the realm of comics. EW’s list of comic books to check out this month brings together all kinds of heroes and villains, from across space and time, in unlikely ways.
Action Comics #1000 (DC)
Various writers and artists
This year marks the 80th anniversary of Action Comics #1, when Superman first arrived on the pages of newsstand comics and changed pop culture forever. DC is celebrating in style with this jam-packed issue. In addition to bringing back Superman’s red trunks (which had been excised from the character’s costume during his 2011 redesign), Action Comics #1000 will also feature the DC debut of longtime Marvel writer Brian Michael Bendis, who will follow this issue by writing multiple Superman comics for the foreseeable future. Bendis isn’t alone, however: The massive roster of creators on the super-sized Action Comics #1000 includes Batman writer Tom King, Superman movie director Richard Donner, the DC Rebirth Superman team of Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, longtime Superman writer and artist Dan Jurgens, Brad Meltzer with John Cassady, Scott Snyder with Tim Sale, and many more. Any fan of the Man of Steel would do well to check out this very special issue.
Exiles #1-2 (Marvel)
Saladin Ahmed (writer), Javier Rodriguez (artist)
This month sees the release of Black Bolt #12, the final issue in an incredible series that redefined the Inhuman king and challenged the use of prisons in a superhero story. (Among other things, it earned a place on EW’s favorite comics of 2017.) But fans shouldn’t worry too much, because Ahmed is sticking around at Marvel with Exiles, a new series about a team of dimension-hopping heroes. The lineup alone should get fans excited for whatever Ahmed and Rodriguez have in store: The mutant Blink leads a group that includes the Tessa Thompson version of Valkyrie, a battle-scarred Kamala Khan from a dystopian future, a young Kang the Conqueror, and a literal cute cartoon version of Wolverine. Read Ahmed’s breakdown of the lineup here, and note that the first two issues both land this month.
Vampironica #2 (Archie Comics)
Megan Smallwood (writer), Greg Smallwood (writer/artist)
If you think Archie and his friends get up to wild adventures on Riverdale, just remember that comics can always get weirder. While the main Archie comic carries on with normal high school adventures, Archie Comics’ other books take the characters into wildly different universes and genres. The Archies introduces the Riverdale kids to real-life bands like CHVRCHES, while more horror-themed titles like Jughead: The Hunger turn characters into monsters. Vampironica hails from the latter category, with its story of Veronica Lodge gaining vampiric powers and fighting undead monsters. But as seen in the first issue last month, Vampironica balances its supernatural shenanigans with interesting exploration of Veronica’s character.
“Veronica’s character has always had this brevity to her, you always know where she’s coming from — usually a place of selfishness or vanity,” Megan Smallwood told EW back in February. “As a fan, I’m used to her playing opposite to Betty’s good-naturedness, but Vampironica will be a little different in that aspect. The story and supporting cast is seen through Veronica’s perspective, and that lends itself well to building more complex aspects of her personality.”
Xerxes: The Fall of the House of Darius and the Rise of Alexander #1 (Dark Horse)
Frank Miller (writer/artist)
300 finally gets a sequel! Twenty years after Frank Miller first depicted the legendary last stand of Spartan warriors valiantly holding off overwhelming Persian invaders, the celebrated comic artist returns to continue the story of ancient Greece’s struggle with Persia. The first issue opens with the Battle of Marathon, and the rest of the series continues to explore the gradual fall of the Persian Empire and the rise of a new Greek force led by the young prodigy Alexander, who will one day grow up to be Great.
Deathstroke #30 (DC)
Christopher Priest (writer), Carlo Pagulayan (artist)
Christopher Priest’s Deathstroke run has been a DC standout since it first launched in 2016 as part of the DC Rebirth initiative. The comic just wrapped a fascinating multipart arc called “Defiance,” in which Deathstroke assembled a few young superheroes into his own superteam. Now that’s over and Deathstroke is back on his own, just in time to find himself face-to-face with the Dark Knight. The six-issue “Deathstroke vs. Batman” series-within-a-series kicks off this month. The showdown could foretell a coming cinematic showdown between the two (as teased by Joe Manganiello’s appearance as Deathstroke in the Justice League post-credits scene), but with Priest and Pagulayan at the helm, it’s a good bet these comics will be as entertaining as any movie.