Required Reading: Comics for 11/2/2016

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Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta

Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Publisher: Image Comics

Fandom may be abuzz with The Walking Dead and baseball-bat fatalities at the moment, but WD maestro Robert Kirkman has been crafting horror far more subtle and insidious in the pages of Outcast, which also has a second small-screen life at Cinemax. It's a weird title for multiple reasons, not the least of which is its pace; while Kirkman speeds through life-changes and developments in his zombie saga and the superhero comic Invincible, he assumes a far more thoughtful, gradual pace in this tale of mass demonic possession. For that reason alone, collections like this—housing the first 12 issues—offer a better inlet to that decompressed storytelling. It's also an excellent portfolio of how well Paul Azaceta's inky, moody art melds with Elizabeth Breitweiser's hallucinatory colors. The experience offers a far more intimate brand of dread, exploring domestic abuse, alcoholism and responsibility under an infernal filter, and this hardback is the perfect gateway into this gorgeous pressure cooker of a comic. Sean Edgar

The Unworthy Thor #1

Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Publisher: Marvel Comics

Writer Jason Aaron has been toiling in Marvel's Norse pantheon since 2012, crafting a grand mythology to match any epic poetry from the 13th century. In addition to transforming a cancer-stricken Jane Foster into the new thunder god(dess), one of the writer's most interesting decisions was to de-deify the traditional Odinson, stripping him of his title in the event Original Sin. Within those pages, international spy Nick Fury whispered a few mysterious words into the character's ears, robbing him of his divine stature. What were those words? And how can Aaron possibly top the intoxicating work he's doing in The Mighty Thor with Russell Dauterman? The Unworthy Thor #1 should answer at least one of those questions, aided by Olivier Coipel's moody, stoic pencils. Sean Edgar

The Wicked + The Divine #23

Writers: Kieron Gillen & Others
Artists: Jamie McKelvie & Kevin Wada
Publisher: Image Comics

Since its debut, WicDiv has been one of the best and most consistent comics on stands, and key to that success is a willingness to try new things, from guest-artist arcs to "remix" issues to this week's combination comic and "fashion magazine." To kick off new arc "Imperial Phase I," Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie enlisted stunning cover artist Kevin Wada and a host of real-life journalists to assemble the November 2014 issue of Pantheon Monthly, pushing the narrative forward via Wada's gorgeously water-colored fashion spreads and inspired interviews and profiles with the characters themselves. Beyond keeping things fresh, this approach offers Wada a chance to provide "interiors" while still playing to his strengths—a huge treat to fans who can't get enough of his work. WicDiv may have passed its halfway point, but with surprises like this, the series is poised to maintain momentum until its very last page. Steve Foxe