In a tight economy, it's not always clear what you should spend your hard-earned money on, and with comic books getting more and more expensive, your dollar doesn’t go as far at the comic shop as it did in the past. We here at Complex feel your pain, so we're providing you with a rundown of the best comics coming out on May 18, 2011.

Avengers #13

What it’s about: With Brian Michael Bendis on writing duties, a reinvigorated roster, and a blockbuster movie on the horizon, Avengers has become one of Marvel’s most high-profile books again, regaining the glory of the '60s, '70s and '80s. Even though it occasionally relies too heavily on Hollywood-esque explosions and some shallow stories, the book is still a lot of fun to read and always supplies some much needed thrills.

What to expect this month: The Fear Itself event firmly underway, and the Avengers have to deal with the appearance of the God of Fear and help keep the world safe from its presence. The good thing about this book is that it isn’t required reading in order to fully understand Fear Itself, but it will fill in the blanks of the story and create a much more well rounded reading experience.

The job of a good tie-in is to get into the characters' heads more and add some depth to the supporting cast that the main story doesn’t necessarily have time for. 

 

 

Invincible Iron Man #504

What it’s about: A decade ago Iron Man was on life support. People weren’t buying the books, creative teams wouldn’t stay for long, and fans seemed apathetic towards Ol’ Shellhead. But after the success of the first Iron Man film and the comic storyline Extremis, Invincible Iron Man is once again one of Marvel’s premiere titles. Writer Matt Fraction is in the middle of perhaps one of the best runs that the book has ever been a part of.

What to expect this month: This is another Fear Itself tie-in, as Iron Man travels to Paris in order to face off against one of the God of Fear’s avatars of destruction. But much to Tony Stark’s surprise, the whole city is turned to stone. And of course all of that is the calling card of one of Iron Man’s oldest foes, the Grey Gargoyle.

Transformed into something significantly more powerful than before, Stark must stop this newly enhanced Grey Gargoyle before he permanently leaves the City of Light trapped in stone.

 

 

Batman #710

What it’s about: Batman has been one of DC’s longest running and best selling titles since its debut in 1940, but with a slew of new Bat titles on the shelf, the book currently faces some stiff competition. Thankfully, artist and writer Tony Daniel has crafted a book that holds up the quality expected of Batman while also separating it from the other titles that the Caped Crusader currently stars in.

Concentrating more on the superhero aspects of the character, Batman isn’t the gloomy and atmospheric affair that Detective Comics is, and it also isn’t the surreal joyride that Grant Morrison is writing in Batman Incorporated. It is a book that is easy to swallow for casual fans but with enough substance to keep diehards entranced.

What to expect this month: Batman is on the lookout for a mysterious killer that is attempting to knock off high-profile mobsters. And with Two-Face and Kitrina Falcone on the hit-list, Batman is going to have to save them before it’s too late. Fans who grew up with Batman: The Animated Series and the two recent films will find much to like about Tony Daniel's Batman and it may be the most logical book to grab for new fans. 

 

 

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1

What it’s about: Scott Snyder has made a name for himself over the past year as DC's premiere Batman writer. He portrays the character in a much purer way than Grant Morrison’s more experimental and heady approach to the Caped Crusader. But just because he doesn’t take the same risks as Morrison doesn’t mean that he isn’t just as talented.

In fact, when it comes to the basic understanding of what most Batman fans want, Morrison isn't even in Snyder's ballpark. And in his new mini-series, Batman: Gates of Gotham, Snyder sends the Dark Knight down a road that ties together everything that he, Morrison and Tony Daniel have done over the past few years.

In order to solve a mystery, Batman must dive headfirst into the history of Gotham City itself and some of its most powerful residents. Studying high profile families such as the Waynes, the Kanes (Batwoman’s family), and the Elliots (family of Hush) Batman realizes that the history of Gotham is just as twisted as the criminals that currently inhabit it.

While most mini-series are nothing more than pointless cash grabs, Batman: Gates of Gotham will not only delve into Gotham’s sordid past but it will also set up important storylines for the future. Any fan obsessed with knowing all that there is to know about Batman’s world should definitely pick this up.

 

 

Zatanna #13

What it’s about: Sexy Zatanna is DC’s resident magician and she has also been a member of the Justice League since the late '70s. But for some reason the character could never acquire a big enough audience to garner her own long running solo series. That’s where veteran comic writer Paul Dini comes in.

As the man responsible for some of the best episodes of Batman: The Animated Series and, more recently, Detective Comics, Dini has had the magic touch over at DC for the last few years. So, when the company decided to launch a Zatanna solo series, Dini was the perfect choice to write it. He infused  the character with some long overdo vulnerability and made her much more relatable. He has also focused on Zatanna’s rogue's gallery, especially Brother Night, and, in turn, made her adventures more dangerous and engrossing.

What to expect this month: Stripped of his powers, Brother Night finds himself locked up in a lowly prison. Like any good villain, he won’t stay that way for long. Zatanna is forced to confront Night again and protect those closest to her. Pick up this issue and the other collections while you can because there is no telling just how long this title will last. That's unfortunate too because the book has become such a welcome change of pace from the usual roster of heroes that line comic book shelves. 

 


Powers Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?
(Collects: Powers #1-6)

What it’s about: While superheroes get all of the glory in the newspaper and on TV, homicide detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim sift through the grit and grime in order to solve the city’s less glamorous crimes. And when one of the city’s most popular heroes, Retro Girl, turns up dead, Walker and Pilgrim’s world collides with the world of the heroes.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Michael Avon Oeming, Powers blends the detective stories of a great police procedural with the over-the-top action of a superhero comic. Bendis deftly blends the two genres into one of the most unique and gripping comics of the decade. He also pays special attention to the fact that these superheroes aren’t the upstanding citizens that they claim to be. They’re nasty, violent, and sex crazed, and they need to be watched just as much as the criminals.

Even though it may fall under the Marvel banner now, Powers is one of  the best examples of an independent comic that succeeded solely off of the creative team's efforts rather than name recognition of the main characters. This fist volume is just one small step towards fully understanding the brilliance of Powers. Intricately plotted, beautifully drawn, and filled with tons of dark humor, Powers is one of those comics that remind us how important and innovative the medium of comics can truly be.