Emil Ferris/Fantagraphics
Emil Ferris/Fantagraphics

The 10 Most Interesting Comics of February

Emil Ferris/Fantagraphics
Emil Ferris/Fantagraphics

Each month, we round up the most interesting comics, graphic novels, webcomics, digital comics and comic-related Kickstarters that we recommend you check out.

1. The Wild Storm #1

By Warren Ellis, Jon Davis-Hunt and Ivan Plascencia
DC Comics

Twenty years ago, Warren Ellis began writing Stormwatch for superstar artist Jim Lee’s new company, Wildstorm. That title would lead directly into The Authority, a comic that would influence the storytelling style of superhero comics from that point forward and made Wildstorm (by then owned by DC Comics) one of the most important publishing imprints of the early 21st century. Things change quickly in comics, though, and by 2010, DC shut down Wildstorm, folding some of its characters like Grifter and Midnighter into the newly rebooted DCU.

Now, DC has recruited Ellis to curate a new line of Wildstorm comics beginning with a 24-issue series called The Wild Storm, written by Ellis himself along with artist Jon Davis-Hunt. Some classic characters and concepts like The Engineer, Jenny Sparks, Wetworks, and the HALO Corp. will get rebooted and some new ideas will be introduced, all with Ellis’s familiar penchant for political paranoia, tough female leads and cutting edge technology.

2. My Favorite Thing is Monsters

By Emil Ferris

Flipping through this 300-plus page graphic novel, you can understand why it might have taken its author 15 years to create. Made to look like the notebook diary of a 10-year-old girl, each page is filled with elaborately rendered drawings done in ball point pen on lined paper. But Ferris’s early process on her debut book was dramatically disrupted when she contracted the West Nile Virus, becoming paralyzed from the waist down and losing the use of her right hand. This did not deter the 40-year-old single mom from re-focusing her life on making art and finishing her book. If that wasn’t enough, Ferris faced one more obstacle when the shipment of final printed copies of the book was detained by the Panamanian government after the shipping company went bankrupt, delaying the release of this book by four months.

The first of two volumes, My Favorite Thing is Monsters is a fictional memoir about a young girl in 1960s Chicago who is trying to solve the murder of her upstairs neighbor, a Holocaust survivor. Ferris pulls in elements of horror films and pulp magazines as well as an aesthetic of 1960s underground comix to tell a challenging story about history, family, outsiderism, adolescence, and murder.

3. Wonder Woman Rebirth Vol. 1: The Lies

By Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp and Laura Martin
DC Comics

The first volumes of DC’s Rebirth-branded trade paperbacks are hitting bookstores six months after the relaunch of all of DC’s ongoing titles. Wonder Woman has been one of the best of these Rebirth comics, spearheaded by fan-favorite writer Greg Rucka, who returned to the character with the mission of fixing some continuity discrepancies that arose during DC’s last reboot. Published biweekly, the comic has an interesting publishing schedule because it jumps between two ongoing stories every other issue: the first, a “Year One” tale of Diana’s first encounter with Steve Trevor and the world outside her Amazonian home, and the other, a present day adventure with Trevor, Etta Candy, and Barbara “Cheetah” Minerva in which Diana journeys back home to rediscover her past. DC is logically collecting each story separately so Volume One contains just the present day story. Veteran comic creators Liam Sharp and Laura Martin produce breathtakingly detailed work here, full of stunning exotic locales and a visual rendition of Wonder Woman that is beautiful and regal yet also physically solid and intimidating.

4. Pretending is Lying

By Dominique Goblet
New York Review Comics

Goblet’s 2007 graphic novel is being published in English for the first time through the brand new comics division of the venerable New York Review of Books. It is a personal, revealing memoir told with a variety of experimental art styles, jumping between multiple narratives. Each section explores Goblet at a different point in her life from childhood to motherhood. The award-winning artist came out of the Franco-Belgian independent comics scene of the 1990s and was an early contributor for influential publisher Frémok. She crafted the stories that comprise Pretending is Lying over the course of 12 years, and while they are ostensibly about Goblet herself, they are even moreso about her relationships with the three most important people in her life: her father, her boyfriend and her daughter.

5. Black History in its Own Words

By Ron Wimberly
Image Comics

Though really more of a book of illustrations than a comic, this book is a labor of love from an exciting new voice in comics. Wimberly manages to pick thought-provoking quotes from a range of influential African-American voices and work them into a striking portrait of the subject done in his bold, graphic, and energetic style. His choices of subjects are interesting and, in some cases, more contemporary than you might expect for a “black history” project. His subjects include Angela Davis, Spike Lee, James Baldwin, Laverne Cox, George Herriman, Dave Chapelle, Serena Williams, Ice Cube, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and more. Wimberly’s project began at The Nib in 2015 and has since turned into something of an ongoing project with this book debuting some brand new portraits.

6. Weird Detective

By Fred Van Lente, Guiu Vilanova and Mauricio Wallace
Dark Horse Comics

Comics are rife with homages to the work of horror novelist H.P. Lovecraft, but there’s never been one that is so reverent and irreverent at the same time. Best described as “Law & Order with Cthulu,” this five-part series (released this month in trade paperback form) follows an NYPD detective whose body is inhabited by a tentacle-ridden creature from another world. His uncanny ability to instinctively solve almost any crime paired with his complete and total inability to act normal when interacting with other people is simply explained away by fellow cops as his “being from Canada.” His charade gets more difficult when he gets a new partner who has been charged with investigating him. With a lot of deadpan wit, Van Lente makes otherworldly, unspeakable Lovecraftian horror accessible and often hilarious while still being really unsettling.

7. Angel Catbird Vol. 2

By Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain
Dark Horse Comics

Acclaimed novelist and geek culture ally Margaret Atwood is back already with the middle volume of her graphic novel trilogy, which launched last September. This tongue-in-cheek tale of animal-human hybrids gets even more fanciful by introducing some faux-mythological characters in the vein of volume one’s Count Catula like Queen Nefer-kitty and Atheen-owl. This is a light-hearted comedy-adventure with a message that intersperses facts about caring for stray cats with the type of loony storylines you would find in Golden and Silver Age era comic books.

8. Dissolving Classroom

By Junji Ito

Junji Ito is one of Japan’s great horror manga creators, known for works like Tomie and Uzumaki. His latest book, making its English language debut this month in the States, is a collection of loosely connected short stories. Ito’s ultra-realistic style is intricate with extra attention paid to grotesque scenes depicting horrific things like melting faces. There is a satirical bent to these stories that explore societal issues surrounding beauty, vanity and more.

9. Lovers in the Garden

By Anya Davidson
Retrofit Comics

Exploitation comics have been a popular trend for the past few years, with a number of comics deriving their lo-fi aesthetic and storytelling style from blaxploitation and grindhouse films as well as underground comics. Davidson’s addition to the genre is part blaxploitation, part feminist crime noir set in 1970s New York. This 64-page graphic novel follows an ensemble of characters including a black female reporter, two Vietnam vets, and a drug dealer who cross paths in a violent and engaging romp full of quirky, Tarantino-like conversations.

10. Spaniel Rage

By Vanessa Davis
Drawn & Quarterly

Originally published in 2003, Spaniel Rage is a collection of daily sketch comics about Davis’s day-to-day life as a single woman in New York City. It’s a little more Curb Your Enthusiasm than Sex in the City though. There’s some dating, but also a lot of self-doubt, awkward encounters with co-workers, honest conversations with friends, and self-deprecating jokes. The comics are all very loosely drawn, full of mistakes and smudges which only add to their honest and approachable charm. Davis has proven to be an influence on a lot of today’s young female cartoonists and this re-release aims to show that the work retains its relevance and influence more than a decade later.

Live Smarter
Nervous About Asking for a Job Referral? LinkedIn Can Now Do It for You

For most people, asking for a job referral can be daunting. What if the person being approached shoots you down? What if you ask the "wrong" way? LinkedIn, which has been aggressively establishing itself as a catch-all hub for employment opportunities, has a solution, as Mashable reports.

The company recently launched "Ask for a Referral," an option that will appear to those browsing job listings. When you click on a job listed by a business that also employs one of your LinkedIn first-degree connections, you'll have the opportunity to solicit a referral from that individual.

The default message that LinkedIn creates is somewhat generic, but it hits the main topics—namely, prompting you to explain how you and your connection know one another and why you'd be a good fit for the position. If you're the one being asked for a referral, the site will direct you to the job posting and offer three prompts for a response, ranging from "Sure…" to "Sorry…".

LinkedIn says the referral option may not be available for all posts or all users, as the feature is still being rolled out. If you do see the option, it will likely pay to take advantage of it: LinkedIn reports that recruiters who receive both a referral and a job application from a prospective hire are four times more likely to contact that individual.

[h/t Mashable]

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Essential Science
What Is a Scientific Theory?
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In casual conversation, people often use the word theory to mean "hunch" or "guess": If you see the same man riding the northbound bus every morning, you might theorize that he has a job in the north end of the city; if you forget to put the bread in the breadbox and discover chunks have been taken out of it the next morning, you might theorize that you have mice in your kitchen.

In science, a theory is a stronger assertion. Typically, it's a claim about the relationship between various facts; a way of providing a concise explanation for what's been observed. The American Museum of Natural History puts it this way: "A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts."

For example, Newton's theory of gravity—also known as his law of universal gravitation—says that every object, anywhere in the universe, responds to the force of gravity in the same way. Observational data from the Moon's motion around the Earth, the motion of Jupiter's moons around Jupiter, and the downward fall of a dropped hammer are all consistent with Newton's theory. So Newton's theory provides a concise way of summarizing what we know about the motion of these objects—indeed, of any object responding to the force of gravity.

A scientific theory "organizes experience," James Robert Brown, a philosopher of science at the University of Toronto, tells Mental Floss. "It puts it into some kind of systematic form."


A theory's ability to account for already known facts lays a solid foundation for its acceptance. Let's take a closer look at Newton's theory of gravity as an example.

In the late 17th century, the planets were known to move in elliptical orbits around the Sun, but no one had a clear idea of why the orbits had to be shaped like ellipses. Similarly, the movement of falling objects had been well understood since the work of Galileo a half-century earlier; the Italian scientist had worked out a mathematical formula that describes how the speed of a falling object increases over time. Newton's great breakthrough was to tie all of this together. According to legend, his moment of insight came as he gazed upon a falling apple in his native Lincolnshire.

In Newton's theory, every object is attracted to every other object with a force that’s proportional to the masses of the objects, but inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This is known as an “inverse square” law. For example, if the distance between the Sun and the Earth were doubled, the gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Sun would be cut to one-quarter of its current strength. Newton, using his theories and a bit of calculus, was able to show that the gravitational force between the Sun and the planets as they move through space meant that orbits had to be elliptical.

Newton's theory is powerful because it explains so much: the falling apple, the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and the motion of all of the planets—and even comets—around the Sun. All of it now made sense.


A theory gains even more support if it predicts new, observable phenomena. The English astronomer Edmond Halley used Newton's theory of gravity to calculate the orbit of the comet that now bears his name. Taking into account the gravitational pull of the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, in 1705, he predicted that the comet, which had last been seen in 1682, would return in 1758. Sure enough, it did, reappearing in December of that year. (Unfortunately, Halley didn't live to see it; he died in 1742.) The predicted return of Halley's Comet, Brown says, was "a spectacular triumph" of Newton's theory.

In the early 20th century, Newton's theory of gravity would itself be superseded—as physicists put it—by Einstein's, known as general relativity. (Where Newton envisioned gravity as a force acting between objects, Einstein described gravity as the result of a curving or warping of space itself.) General relativity was able to explain certain phenomena that Newton's theory couldn't account for, such as an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury, which slowly rotates—the technical term for this is "precession"—so that while each loop the planet takes around the Sun is an ellipse, over the years Mercury traces out a spiral path similar to one you may have made as a kid on a Spirograph.

Significantly, Einstein’s theory also made predictions that differed from Newton's. One was the idea that gravity can bend starlight, which was spectacularly confirmed during a solar eclipse in 1919 (and made Einstein an overnight celebrity). Nearly 100 years later, in 2016, the discovery of gravitational waves confirmed yet another prediction. In the century between, at least eight predictions of Einstein's theory have been confirmed.


And yet physicists believe that Einstein's theory will one day give way to a new, more complete theory. It already seems to conflict with quantum mechanics, the theory that provides our best description of the subatomic world. The way the two theories describe the world is very different. General relativity describes the universe as containing particles with definite positions and speeds, moving about in response to gravitational fields that permeate all of space. Quantum mechanics, in contrast, yields only the probability that each particle will be found in some particular location at some particular time.

What would a "unified theory of physics"—one that combines quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity—look like? Presumably it would combine the explanatory power of both theories, allowing scientists to make sense of both the very large and the very small in the universe.


Let's shift from physics to biology for a moment. It is precisely because of its vast explanatory power that biologists hold Darwin's theory of evolution—which allows scientists to make sense of data from genetics, physiology, biochemistry, paleontology, biogeography, and many other fields—in such high esteem. As the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky put it in an influential essay in 1973, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Interestingly, the word evolution can be used to refer to both a theory and a fact—something Darwin himself realized. "Darwin, when he was talking about evolution, distinguished between the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution," Brown says. "The fact of evolution was that species had, in fact, evolved [i.e. changed over time]—and he had all sorts of evidence for this. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain this evolutionary process." The explanation that Darwin eventually came up with was the idea of natural selection—roughly, the idea that an organism's offspring will vary, and that those offspring with more favorable traits will be more likely to survive, thus passing those traits on to the next generation.


Many theories are rock-solid: Scientists have just as much confidence in the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, plate tectonics, and thermodynamics as they do in the statement that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Other theories, closer to the cutting-edge of current research, are more tentative, like string theory (the idea that everything in the universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings or loops of pure energy) or the various multiverse theories (the idea that our entire universe is just one of many). String theory and multiverse theories remain controversial because of the lack of direct experimental evidence for them, and some critics claim that multiverse theories aren't even testable in principle. They argue that there's no conceivable experiment that one could perform that would reveal the existence of these other universes.

Sometimes more than one theory is put forward to explain observations of natural phenomena; these theories might be said to "compete," with scientists judging which one provides the best explanation for the observations.

"That's how it should ideally work," Brown says. "You put forward your theory, I put forward my theory; we accumulate a lot of evidence. Eventually, one of our theories might prove to obviously be better than the other, over some period of time. At that point, the losing theory sort of falls away. And the winning theory will probably fight battles in the future."


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