Every must-read graphic novel coming out this fall

There’s never been a better time to get into comics than right now, especially if you prefer reading collected editions rather than month to month. There’s a wealth of options — from historical reprints to new-to-America works to collected versions of stuff you might’ve missed as monthlies.

Sorting through all this stuff is a bit confusing, but we combed through preview solicitations and Amazon listings to bring you the best of the best. Talk to your local comic shop (which you can find at comicshoplocator.com) or hit up your preferred physical or digital bookstore to reserve these.

These are Polygon’s most anticipated graphic novels for the rest of 2019.


A young Harleen Quinzel (Harley Quinn), holds a domino mask in her hands and two paintbrushes in her mouth, at the center of a colorful swirl of shapes and paint, in Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, DC Comics (2019).

Mariko Tamaki, Steve Pugh/DC Comics

Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass

Written by Mariko Tamaki, drawn by Steve Pugh; in comic shops and bookstores today

The heroification of Harley Quinn in the 21st century might be still hard for some to grasp. But there’s no denying that the former “Cupid of Crime” is now one of DC’s most popular characters, period. And with Breaking Glass, an original graphic novel under the DC Kids line for younger readers, DC is banking on that continuing.

Told in a striking mixed-media format by Printa and Caldecott Honor award-winning writer Mariko Tomaki and renowned artist Steve Pugh (The Flintstones), the book sees a 15-year old Harley cast out on her own in Gotham City, alternating between a found family led by drag queen Mama and the deadly sway of the Clown Prince of Crime. No spoilers as to who she chooses, but Tomaki and Pugh offer up a striking new image of one of DC’s most unlikely heroines.


A white cat with one blue eye and one yellow sits on an ornate chair in an art gallery, on the cover of Cats of the Louvre, Viz Media (2019).

Taiyo Matsumoto/Viz Media

Cats of the Louvre

Written and drawn by Taiyo Matsumoto; in bookstores Sept. 17 and comic shops Sept. 18

If you’re familiar with Taiyo Matsumoto at all, it’s probably because of his past pioneering manga like Tekkonkinkreet or Ping Pong (or their equally trailblazing anime adaptations). His latest to reach U.S. shores, Cats of the Louvre, is about a family of cats who live in the attic of the iconic art museum, and are the only witnesses to what happens at night when the museum closes. With sharper than ever artwork from one of manga’s modern masters and a translation/adaptation by Tekkonkinkreet film director Michael Arias, this is definitely one to check out if you’re tired of shouty manga action boys.


A yellow smiley face looks decidedly ill, on a purple background, on the cover of Guts, Scholastic Books (2019).

Raina Telgemeier/Scholastic Books

Guts

Written and drawn by Raina Telgemeier; in bookstores Sept. 17 and comic shops Sept. 18

If you’re a parent or work with or have been around children at any point in the last 15 years or so, odds are, you’ve known about this book for months. But just in case you don’t, this is the third in Raina Telgemeier’s Eisner-winning, billions-selling series of graphic childhood memoirs, after Smile and Sisters. This time out, the cartoonist — who at one point held the top 4 spots simultaneously on the (sadly still gone) New York Times Best Seller List for GNs — tells of an already-difficult middle-school existence thrown into chaos by what turns out to be more than just a simple stomach bug. Plan to read this now to instantly have a topic of conversation with any child you meet until the end of time.


A man with a scarred face goes grocery shopping in an apron on the cover of The Way of the Househusband, Viz Media (2019).

Kousuke Oono/Viz Media

The Way of the Househusband

Written and drawn by Kousuke Oono; in bookstores Sept. 17 and comic shops Sept. 18

If you follow Manga Twitter, you probably were aware of this Kousuke Oono manga long before Viz ever announced that they’d licensed it. At its heart, this is essentially the same arc as Bruce Willis’ character from The Whole Nine Yards. A Yakuza lieutenant so fierce and hard to kill he’s known only as the “Immortal Dragon” leaves his savage ways behind when he gets married … and becomes a stay-at-home husband. There’s no shortage of slice-of-life manga out there, but the ingredients make this one sound special.


A young Dinah Lance, in shorts, ripped fishnets, and a purple jacket, sits surrounded by black birds on the cover of Black Canary: Ignite, DC Comics (2019).

Cara McGee/DC Comics

Black Canary: Ignite

Written by Meg Cabot, drawn by Cara McGee; hitting bookstore shelves on Oct. 29 and comic shops Oct. 23

Also in the DC Kids line, Black Canary: Ignite takes aim at one of the more complex origin stories in the DCU, with Dinah Lance, aka the Black Canary. Uniting the hyper-expressive cartooning of Cara McGee (Dodge City) with the unmistakable voice of YA legend Meg Cabot (The Princess Diaries, Avalon High), the book takes cues from the direction Dinah’s mainstream adult counterpart has gone in recent years and puts its Dinah, aged thirteen, in a rock band. Competing in a Battle of the Bands and also hoping to get into the Gotham City Junior Police Academy to follow in her dad’s footsteps, the teen rocker faces a mysterious man who forces her to dig into the mystery of her mom’s past.


Five vampire women on motorcycles on the cover of Vamps: The Complete Collection, DC Comics (2019).

Will Simpson/DC Comics

Vamps: The Complete Collection

Written by Elaine Lee, drawn by Will Simpson; in bookstores Nov. 5 and comic shops on Oct. 30

DC’s vaunted Vertigo label may be no more, but it still has a huge back catalog to draw on and reprint. Case in point: a complete omnibus of Vamps, a ‘90s horror series by Elaine Lee (Starstruck) and Will Simpson (Hellblazer, Animal Man) containing not only the original miniseries but its never-collected sequel miniseries and bonus material.

Around Halloween is an appropriate time for this too, as the plot concerns vampiresses Howler, Screech, Whipsnake, Skeeter and Mink, who hit the road on Harleys in search of a new beginning after killing their male master. Later, they try to make it in Hollywood. While I’ve never read it, it sounds like a blood-soaked cross between La La Land and Thelma & Louise, and that sounds like a good time.


Superman and other characters on the cover of The Death of Superman: The Wake, DC Comics (2019).

Jerry Ordway/DC Comics

The Death of Superman: The Wake

Written by Louise Simonson, drawn by Cat Staggs and others; in comic shops Nov. 20 and bookstores Nov. 26

The Death of Superman is still one of the biggest events in comics history, in some ways representing the apex of the ‘90s “triangle title” era of Superman comics (referring to how each Superman title told one large story every year, with triangles indicating what chapter of that year’s story that month’s issue was).

The legendary Louise Simonson (co-creator of Power Pack and longtime X-Men editor, among other things) was one of the architects of that era, co-creating one of Superman’s four replacements during that era, Steel. With superstar artists Cat Staggs and Laura Braga backing her up, Simonson returns to that era in the print debut of this digital-first comic. Depicting intervals starring Superman and Jerry Olsen before, during and after the Man of Steel’s fateful battle against Doomsday, this story looks to be a worthy inter-quel to one of comics’ key events by one of its architects.


Rorschach pockets his journal on the cover of Watchmen Companion, DC Comics (2019).

Dave Gibbons/DC Comics

Watchmen Companion

Written and drawn by various; in bookstores Dec. 24 and comic shops Dec. 17

OK, this isn’t technically comics, but it’s worth noting anyway. From 1985-1993, there were 3 editions of a tabletop RPG by Mayfair called DC Heroes, which used a balanced attributes system to put the Justice League together without Superman dominating proceedings. Like any best-selling RPG, there were several supplements. And three of them — a sourcebook and two modules, “Who Watches the Watchmen?” and “Taking Out The Trash” — were based on the legendary miniseries. And, shockingly, they were approved of by Alan Moore, who cooperated with the designers during development.

With the beloved game long out of print, this new Companion is your sole chance to get the only endorsed spinoff by Moore of his and Dave Gibbons’ masterwork, along with other rare material, including an ‘80s issue of The Question that Rorschach guest-starred in. Which is very ironic if you know the connection those two have.


Different incarnations of the Fantastic Four on the cover of Fantastic Four: Grand Design #1, Marvel Comics (2019).

Tom Scioli/Marvel Comics

Fantastic Four: Grand Design

Written and drawn by Tom Scioli; in bookstores Dec. 31 and comic shops on Jan. 1, 2020

Following on the heels of Ed Piskor’s incredibly ambitious, wildly successful X-Men: Grand Design trilogy, which condensed decades of the most complicated continuity, bar none, into a single unified narrative, Tom Scioli (Gødland, Transformers vs. GI Joe) does the same for Marvel’s First Family. While this comes out in two issues in October and November, this collected edition is more convenient. Plus, it comes with Stan Lee & Jack Kirby’s Fantastic Four #1, so you’ll have no excuse not to read what’s possibly the best first issue in comics history.

 

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