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My Favorite Graphic Novels of February 2024

Comics are so good. Below you’ll find my favorite graphic novels or collected editions released in February 2024. I’ve ordered the selections in relative preference, in ascending order.

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Chainsaw Man Vol. 14

You can tell Tatsuki Fujimoto is playing a jazz solo only he can hear right now because in Chainsaw Man Vol. 14 one of the biggest mangas in the WORLD goes an entire volume without a SINGLE chainsaw. While the early thrill of Chainsaw Man was Fujimoto’s explosive, hyper-dynamic horror-action, recent volumes have amplified the idiosyncrasies of a creator trying to make sense of landing on top of the world. I’m consistently in awe of just how strange Chainsaw Man can be in part because it’s so difficult to imagine any of the top superhero comics with the courage to sideline their own main players for such extended periods of time (at least without the tired death and rebirth cycles). It’s also tremendously rewarding to see audiences willing to ride out Fujimoto’s quirks, and to evolve with the work through an on-the-fly creative rebirth. Don’t worry, there’s still a fair share of demon-monsters and the dry-as-desert-sand humor that the book has excelled at since jump, but again: A whole volume. No chains!

How is he getting away with this?!

Amulet Book Nine: Waverider

Amulet is one of the leading “I can’t wait to share this with my kids” graphic novels, and it’s wonderful to see Kazu Kibuishi and co. land the series so successfully. Amulet is undoubtedly a fantasy for middle-grade readers, and doesn’t quite touch the impossible all ages crossover of say Jeff Smith’s Bone, but I still marvel at Kibuishi’s pacing, ability to circumnavigate fantasy’s over-reliance on Tolkien, and, my goodness, that ART. I truly haven’t seen comics as strikingly animated as Amulet, a nine book series that feels like your favorite childhood TV series popping off the material page. It’s the kind of comics that look so good you wonder what magic Kibuishi and colorist Jason Caffoe have tapped into that other works don’t yet understand. Very happy for the team to go out on top like this, and really can’t wait to see what Kibuishi has in store next!

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Bad Medicine

I’m a man of simple pleasures. I like trying out new graphic novels I’ve never heard of at my library, and I like sitting and reading alongside my son as he devours the entire Dog Man catalog for the first time. This is what I call a perfect Saturday afternoon.

Of course, no one in Bad Medicine has a perfect afternoon. Christopher Twin’s graphic novel about teen Cree (an indigenous tribe primarily in Canada) telling campfire horror stories blends Cree mythology and societal challenges into a striking, supernatural portrait of marginalized voices. It’s a familiar structure allowing for a variety of short stories centered around the framework of the teen group killing time together, but Twin’s pacing and focus are excellent, whether navigating genuine issues of Cree women going missing or more supernaturally outlandish tales of haunted lakes. As is so often the case, the real world inspiration is scarier than any of the monsters, but this is strong, confident work from Twin that makes me eager to see what they can do next.

Curses

Drawn & Quarterly is re-releasing a version of Kevin Huizenga’s Curses, the cartoonist’s early 2000’s start of his ongoing Glenn Ganges short stories and formal experiments. I came to Huizenga last year, and The River at Night is genuinely one of the more impressive comics I’ve read in my life.

Curses hints at the experimentalism, sardonic wit, and the titular Glenn Ganges as our focal character, without ever reaching the highs of The River at Night. Nonetheless, there are multiple short stories here that nearly brought me to tears, and anyone who can make a Christian scholar’s essay on the reality of Hell this engaging understands something about making comics that most simply do not.

Beneath The Trees Where Nobody Sees

While my intent is to keep these monthly favorites to full graphic novels or trades released in a given month, I had such a good time reading the first three issues of Patrick Horvath and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees that I have to put it on the list. Horvath combines the warmth of small-town anthropomorphic forest creatures with the cold, calculating serial killing of Dexter. Except unlike Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, Horvath is in complete command of the tone and pacing of the work, allowing it to traverse a read that is at once as charming as it is deadly mysterious. This one has The Juice. Expect to see it on most best of the year lists in 2024!

The Night Eaters Book 2

I’ve talked about this before, but one of the things I increasingly value with age is being wrong about art, particularly when it’s the experience of writing something off, but then finding – wait, actually – I love it. In my teens, media consumption was all about formulating taste-based personalities, and taking hardline stances that fit whatever mold of indie-punk I was trying on in a particular week. Hence, an early conviction that Bruce Springsteen was awful based on A) His greatest hits B) Born to Run and C) My Dad liking him. He was a very easy paragon of Boomer aesthetics to (critically) burn in effigy. I still distinctly remember the subsequent experience in my 20s, as Spotify emerged and made exploring entire discographies easier than ever before, as I realized I actually LOVE The River, Nebraska, and probably even Born in the USA.

I was decidedly wrong in an earlier critical write-off. But the cost of that miscalculation was… good art! To enjoy! Even when I lose, I win!

My write-off of Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda’s The Night Eaters, Book 1 was nowhere near as militant, but decidedly as short-sighted. I love Liu and Takeda’s collaborations on Monstress, and while I respected their newest project, The Night Eaters never clicked for me in the same way. I don’t think I even finished Book 1.

Well, here I am re-exploring Book 2 in hardcover from Abrams Comics, and I don’t know what I could have possibly been thinking. Liu and Takeda are straight-up among my favorite collaborations in ALL OF COMICS, and The Night Eaters is this gorgeous blend of wit, dry humor, demons, mythology, and creepy ass dolls. The book walks this incredible line between horror, the supernatural and irreverence, in ways that only come from deeply realized characters and family dynamics that feel wholly immersive.

In short: Holy cow was I wrong! What a gift to find that out now instead of years later!

Mary Tyler Moorehawk

Right up front, I’ll admit that the mere suggestion of a comic pulling from David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest and Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves is exactly the kind of English Major snobbery lab-tested to impress me. At the same time, those are outlandish claims to make about your graphic novel, especially for an up-and-coming creator like Dave Baker. Heading into Baker’s Mary Tyler Moorehawk I was both prepared to be floored and pretty skeptical that the work could live up to its own literary ambition.

Mary Tyler Moorehawk is the front-runner for my favorite comic book of 2024, and on the shortlist for my WIP Mt. Rushmore of vital reads this decade. Baker’s combination of DIY adventure comics, like a fanzine riffing on Alan Moore and co.’s Tom Strong, and magazine columns from a not-so-far-flung American future where physical media has been purged, wears all its ambitions so earnestly that I couldn’t help but fall in love. It captures one of the underlying similarities of all my “Mt. Rushmore” contenders this decade: Naked, raw ambition and the bravery to say, ‘This is what comics can be in MY hands.’ It’s the kind of comic that makes me want to make comics, read comics, live comics, breath comics.

An Unordered list of other New Comics I Read and Mostly Enjoyed!:

Nate Powell’s Fall Through

Zack Soto’s Power Button

Jim Zub and co’s Titan Conan the Barbarian

Jeff Victor’s You Wish

Spy x Family Vol. 10

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 8: Damage Done

Joe Sacco’s “The War on Gaza”

Kyle Stark’s Peacemaker Tries Hard

Way of the Househusband Vol. 11

Dave: Dave is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Comic Book Herald, and also the Boss of assigning himself fancy titles. He's a long-time comic book fan, and can be seen most evenings in Batman pajama pants. Contact Dave @comicbookherald on Twitter or via email at dave@comicbookherald.com.

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