Thursday, April 4, 2013

Comic Recommendations 2.0

Okay, people have been asking for recommendations ever since the show started on what to read and where to get them. Well, I put together a list about two years ago of my recommendations... and then a month or two afterwards DC announced its big reboot and so a lot of my recommendations became obsolete, a continual problem due to the nature of monthly comic books getting cancelled/relaunched/etc.

Still, the question comes up so this new version of the list will reflect the state of comics as they are right now, with less emphasis on ongoing series and more on specific creator runs that I am aware of or stuff that has been sent my way that people want me to read but I've never read myself.

I've never read comics before, but I want to start. What should I read/buy to get started?

There is no answer to this question. I'm sorry, but there simply isn't. The thing is that there's a wide variety of subjects that comic books cover, just as much as regular fiction. This recommendations list assumes that people mean "Superhero comics" and not just comic books in general, since superheroes are a GENRE, just like fantasy, romance, or westerns. Comic books are a MEDIUM, the way in which the stories are distributed. As such, there are just as many topics as other forms of entertainment.

Assuming you want to start with superhero comics, there is no single document you can read that can serve as a primer to getting into them. Many of these superheroes have been going on for over sixty years and a story from the 50s or 60s won't necessarily have the same relevance that it does today, but they're still in continuity or etc., etc. Simply put, there are too many stories for too many characters. Most of the time, I honestly recommend that you head into a comic book store or a book store, head over to the trade paperbacks or graphic novels and just look for something that you think looks good to you.

However, assuming you want someplace to start, this list will serve as my personal recommendations of things that I enjoy and you might enjoy yourselves. I will also state in the descriptions of these recommendations how difficult it will be as a new reader to understand some of the plot points occurring within them.

Why didn't you include "Such and Such?"

Because I didn't think of them, because I don't read them, or I don't actually like them myself. By its very nature as a recommendation, I am giving my own personal suggestions from my own experiences. And sure, if I actually DO forget something I'll try to go back later and add it, but I'm not perfect.

Why aren't there any more suggestions for ongoing series?
As I stated above, by the very nature of monthly comic books, series will get cancelled. I hate having to redo this list every four months because books got dropped or a book's quality has diminished under a different creative team.

I really hate to have to keep reiterating this, but honest to God: the best way to get into comics is to just shut up and pick up. Find something that you think you'll enjoy and read it. If you don't like it, toss it away and look for something else.

Erg, I want to read it from the very beginning or I can't get into superhero comics otherwise!

If you say so, but that attitude doesn't really work with most superhero comics. See, let's look at this like we look at a show like Doctor Who. Doctor Who began in 1963 and the show in 1963 is very much a different show then what it became when the show was relaunched in 2005. Yes, it's the same character and the show is continued from there, but you can start watching Doctor Who from the revived series having never watched a single one of the original show's run from 1963 to 1989 and still understand the show and its mythos. The 2005 series, while containing references to the old series, does so without being bogged down in continuity and swimming in it. Hell, just the manner in which they're written differently shows that - the 2005 series is written like a TV show from 2005. Each series of Doctor Who reflects the year it was made in, with scientific jargon, special effects, and the way the characters are portrayed reflecting that, as well.

Likewise, some characters are over 80s years old. And of course during that time, character personalities, writing styles, and entire backstories have been completely rewritten and redesigned. You do not need to read Superman's stories from 1942 in order to understand Superman as he's being written today. A hundred different people have written him. Hell, off the top of my head I can think of three different stories written in the last ten years that are all retellings of Superman's origin story, but written and drawn by different people.

A good writer should enable you to enjoy a story without needing to have read everything that came before it. A GREAT writer will make you want to read it because you think it'll make an already good comic even better.

Okay, but if I want to learn about character histories outside of reading endless amount of backstory, anyway?

I would recommend just doing a google search for the character and looking at places like ComicVine, Toonopedia, Wikipedia, or in a pinch there's always the great summarizing articles you can find at Comics 101, the same site and column that helped provide me with a lot of backstory on certain characters when I was beginning to expand outside of just stories about The Titans. Subsequently, if you can find a book, they actually DID release an actual published book called "Comics 101" that detailed a lot of the most popular characters in superhero comics while also discussing various other parts of the industry.

With all of that out of the way, click "Read More" for the full list.

These are books that are complete and it is very, VERY unlikely that there will be continuations for them or were just made so long ago that the individual stories of the characters are difficult to find.

Ones That I've read

JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative
I think I've gone over this one in detail quite enough in actual video form, but in case you missed that episode or skipped it, this is my favorite comic book ever. It's a three-issue miniseries that was meant to get the ball rolling on a new Titans series and it succeeded. The basic premise: an alien force grabs hold of the moon and starts kidnapping every member of the Teen Titans that's ever been on the team.

Admittedly, this one might be difficult for new readers, however this is also the book that got me into comics books to begin with. It gives enough history within its pages that you know what's going on without needing to consult wikipedia and it makes you want to read more about the characters instead of simply being confused by them. It is also the book that I hold as the benchmark for comparison to all other "Event" comics.

This one is also difficult to find since it's out of print, but it's worth trying to find it.

Watchmen is another one that I often will compare other comics to, basically because it is considered by many to be the GREATEST COMIC EVER MADE. I don't necessarily agree, but at the very least it's the "Citizen Kane" of comics. As good as the movie was, it could never hope to capture the actual comic and the multitude of themes and events transpiring within it, plus it changed details here and there (not just the squid thing that I harp on a lot).

The premise is basically that in the 30s and 40s, people were inspired by superhero comics to actually try to become crimefighters themselves. By 1985, it's looked at as a forgotten fad and now one, the Comedian, has been murdered. If a local comic book shop or book store DOESN'T have a copy of Watchmen, even if they don't regularly carry graphic novels, you should wonder what the deal is with it.

V for Vendetta
Another Alan Moore story, but this one's a hell of a lit more grim and washed-out than its barely-recognizable movie adaptation (Hugo Weaving as V being the exception in that).

V for Vendetta is a story about fascism vs. anarchy, not any standard left vs. right politics. The characters are rich and complex, with interweaving plots about attempts to grab power among those already among the elite and a man's quest for revenge who could be easily interpreted as either hero or villain for his actions. This story contains a TON of memorable moments, but for me, none is better than a simple line, "Give me a Viking Funeral." Should be easy to find and does not require any previous comic knowledge.

If you've seen my "Justice League: Cry for Justice" reviews, you should be familiar with the name James Robinson. Robinson is NOT a bad writer and Starman is proof of that. Even I, someone who hates Cry for Justice with every fiber of my being, cannot bring myself to fault him for Cry for Justice that much because of this series.

Starman is the story of Jack Knight, the son of the Golden Age hero Starman. When Starman's old enemy The Mist begins a massive crime spree to destroy his nemesis and everything he olds dear, Jack must reluctantly take up the mantle of Starman to save his father and Opal City. Along the way of Jack Knight's journey as a hero, he gains allies from across the DC Universe, both heroes and villains, and his story has a definitive conclusion that to this day no one has interfered with out of respect to that character and to James Robinson himself for it.

The series is currently collected in the six Starman Omnibus books, which all should be fairly easy to find or order. While it is built HEAVILY on the mythos of the DC Universe, pretty much every character's backstory is explored and given to the readers, so any supplementary reading just enhances the experience. There are the occasional issues, though, that connect to events occurring in the greater universe at the time, like DC's "One Million" event, but again, it's nothing you NEED to know in order to get the point of the story.

Avengers: Forever
I freely admit that I'm more of a DC fan than Marvel. That isn't to say that I'm not a fan of some Marvel things, but I'm just not as into the Marvel Universe as others. However, I had read a long time ago about how Avengers: Forever was supposed to be really good, so on a whim I picked it up... and it is glorious.

The premise is that the Avengers' longtime ally, Rick Jones, has been targeted for elimination by the being known as Immortus. An alliance of other cosmic forces gathers seven members of the Avengers from across its past and future to protect him and discover the greater plot in play to destroy mankind.

Again, this one may be more difficult for newer readers, but as someone with only a passing knowledge of the Avengers, this was still incredibly fun for me. This one may also be a bit harder to find, but it's well worth it.

After the events of the DC event book "Infinite Crisis," the world must now continue without Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman within it. The series was released weekly for an entire year and it was glorious, told in real time to that year. What began as a way to fill in the gaps between Infinite Crisis and the DC books at the time which had "jumped ahead one year later," instead evolved into a story about minor characters in the DCU like Steel, Black Adam, Booster Gold, Renee Montoya, and more exploring various corners of the DC Universe.

There's something for everyone here - a story about a supervillain seeking redemption through the rebuilding of his home nation, a cosmic story about three lost heroes trying to find their way back to earth, one man's quest to bring his wife back to life through magic, and, again, much more.

This one should be easy to find and I'm pretty sure is still in print, but it's a story about the DC Universe as a whole, so of course there are going to be references to events transpiring within it and things that have happened before, but I think should be easy enough for newcomers, especially when reading it again and picking up on all the little things that were hinted and foreshadowed from earlier.

There's no easy way to define this series. At its core, it's fantasy. The entity known as Dream (AKA Morpheus, AKA the Sandman) has been trapped for 70 years by a sorceror, but now he's gotten free and rebuilds his domain as the weaver and lord of dreams. Throughout the run we meet some heroes of the DC Universe both past and present, but for the most part this is a story that is all its own, since at the time the DC imprint Vertigo wasn't certain of whether it was really a part of the DC Universe or not.

It's got romance, parables, action, and even a sojourn into hell in one of my favorite issues ever, "A Hope in Hell." This one's still in print, too, and it's honestly that good, though the art style may not be to everyone's taste. It has both beauty and horror and both are given their proper exploration.

Crisis on Infinite Earths
One of the first "Event" books from a major comic company and it's also one of the best. In 1985, the DC Universe had A LOT of alternate universes and timelines. For many, it wasn't difficult to follow, but for new readers it was considered a challenge trying to figure out who was from what world. As such, it was decided to bring them to an end in one of the first "event" comics.

A massive wall of anti-matter is traveling through every parallel universe, wiping them out. What's causing it? How will the worlds survive? Starring EVERYBODY that DC owned, it's the very definition of epic, and really the point where modern DC Comics began. It's also still in print, so it shouldn't be difficult to find. It might be a little difficult for new readers since there are a lot of characters in it who are either dead or have changed over the years, but the principle characters like Batman and Superman are there and you'll have fun wanting to know about some of the other heroes highlighted in it.

Secret Wars
Those are the first words of a being known as the Beyonder, who brings forth a large group of heroes and a large group of villains to duke it out on an alien world. It admittedly can be confusing at times and it's VERY action-oriented, but for an event comic it's got a lot of good character moments and it's also the origin of Spider-Man's black costume. It's got enough great twists and turns to keep you interested and just great superhero action. You don't need to know very much about Marvel history to get this one - most of the history or the like is given in-comic.

Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes, Pre-2011 reboot)
Jaime Reyes' story spun-out of the event book Infinite Crisis, wherein he was given a supposedly-mystical scarab that granted him an armored suit. In his solo series, we see him having to learn how to be a hero while exploring the legacy of the two previous Blue Beetles, paying tribute to those characters. Many people didn't give Jaime a fair shot while he was Blue Beetle, but you can still find the trade paperback of the series, which for a while was my absolute favorite book on the market.

My update here is that I gave the first five issues of the 2011 reboot Blue Beetle a shot and, well, I hated them. I felt that everything that made the book so beloved in my eyes (Jaime's open identity with his family and friends, the strong friendship and camraderie not only with said family and friends but with the scarab, the sense of fun and adventure into a world he had never dreamed of being in, the legacy of the Blue Beetle) had been lost, emphasizing action, violence, and a complete misunderstanding of the original book, instead telling a clich├ęd story of a reluctant hero battling with the armor possessing him. If you're going to pick up a Blue Beetle series, go with the trades that started with "Shellshocked."

After the abysmal Countdown, it would've been very easy for the third weekly series from DC to be even worse, but thankfully it wasn't. Taking a cue from 52, the series is self-contained. Instead of a world without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, this series asks what if ALL THREE of the them were taken out of the world's entire history and creates new heroes and resurrects several formerly dead ones. While at times the artwork isn't anything spectacular, it's a great story in my humble opinion and definitely worth checking out, though it does continue some elements from the next recommendation.

Krona, a powerful scientist seeking to understand the origins of the universe, makes a bet with the Marvel villain called the Grandmaster. Both pit each universe's respective super-team on a scavenger hunt for some of the most powerful items in their universes. The two teams must learn to respect the other and eventually join forces to save all universes from Krona. This one can be confusing for people new to comics, but it was a load of fun for me, especially the ending confrontation when members of both teams' history keep appearing and disappearing to help. Simply put, it's flippin' awesome. Besides, where else will you see Superman wielding Captain America's shield?

Booster Gold
BOOSTER GOLD! He protects the past to ensure your future! I would actually recommend two readings before jumping head first into this series. First is Showcase Presents Booster Gold, a black and white reprint of the original Booster Gold series from the 1980s. It's inexpensive and really shows that despite Booster wanting to make a business out of crimefighting, he ISN'T just in it for money and never was, despite what many modern writers like to have him be written as.

His other series continued on from the events of 52, which is another thing I highly recommend reading before jumping into this (but isn't necessary). However, the premise of that series was basically that Booster Gold traveled through time to right wrongs in the timestream, visiting past events of the DC Universe and stopping people from altering events.

Secret Six
Holy crap I cannot recommend this series enough. However, if one wants the full backstory, they should first pick up the series that got them together, known as "Villains United." That book was a tie-in to the event Infinite Crisis (itself a sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths), but it sets up the main characters of the Secret Six. From there, there was a Secret Six miniseries "Six Degrees of Devastation" that set up some more character bits, but otherwise the main series itself is AWESOME.

It has a strong focus on the characters. What we have here are six B-list villains who have joined together because they honestly have noone else. It's often both heartwarming and sad, yet at other times disturbing. They've dealt with some of the worst, most evil people (not just supervillains - honest-to-god EVIL people) in the world and yet have still come out as likeable and making you want to read more about them. This is, simply put, one of the best damn books I've ever read. While the series had to end in a rather rushed fashion because of the 2011 reboot, it still had an ending that felt like it reflected the themes of the book perfectly.

Birds of Prey
On the other side of the villain/hero divide is Birds of Prey, also by Gail Simone. While Chuck Dixon was the first writer on the book during its first run, Gail really made it her own. The basic premise has Barbara Gordon, AKA Oracle, organizing heroes to run missions for her. Her usual agent is Black Canary, who is NOT a psychotic Irish ninja and has instead been trained by some of the best martial artists in the world.

Really you should be able to jump into any issue or trade without needing to know TOO much more, since any backstory is revealed to the readers in the dialogue. After Gail left the book a few years ago to work on Wonder Woman, Sean Mckeever took over and while it still had good elements, it just didn't quite work the same way, but it's still worth checking out if you become a fan. The 2011 reboot series was just BLEH in my mind, but I've heard good things about it.

Justice Society of America/JSA
I want to particularly emphasize the run by James Robinson, David Goyer, and Geoff Johns. The book spun out of events happening in JLA that showed that the original Golden Age characters (and those who inherited their legacy) still had plenty going for them in modern times, creating a VERY enjoyable book that explains all of its backstory when needed while still possessing a diverse amount of characters rooted in so many different origins. All the trades are worth checking out, as well as the follow-up Justice Society of America book that came following Infinite Crisis.

Speaking of the Justice Society, at the time of this post, they are not a part of the rebooted DCU. However, they instead got their own world to play in - a world that has been through a devastating war with Darkseid, but are now coming into modern times with new heroes emerging and slowly forming a new team. I'm currently enjoying it, but time will tell if this one will stand the test of time.

World's Finest
Aaaand spun off from the Earth-2 concept, the daughter of Batman (the Huntress) and the Supergirl of Earth-2 (Power Girl) have found themselves stranded in the rebooted DCU, trying to find a way home. I know many people have objections with the book, mostly relating to Power Girl and her costume and personality, but personally I haven't ha dany big objections to them. Is her personality different? Yes, but not in a way that I have found frustrating as of yet. Plus I actually liked her costume (they fixed some of the issues I had with it from the preliminary pictures of it), but I hear she's getting the classic boob hole costume again, so whatever.

Like so much else, there is no single place to start looking at the Merc with a Mouth. I would strongly advise looking for trades of Cable and Deadpool, where the two Liefeld creations work awesomely together with Cable the straight man and Deadpool being jokey and breaking the fourth wall. Deadpool's current solo series is an hilarious read and the previous one was awesome, as well.

Green Lantern/Green Lantern Corps.
Several years ago, Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern, went bad - killed the entire Green Lantern Corps., then tried to remake the universe. Twice. Writer Geoff Johns made it his goal to repair that creative error and has built up a massive amount of mythos around the Green Lanterns.

While at times both series can be a little convoluted and event-crazy, both series are definitely worth checking out for a mixture of superhero action as well as space police kind of fun. Start with the trades, though - at any given time, there might be an event or the like happening and you'll be walking into it without any context as to who is what and where. This book is also one of the least affected by the 2011 reboot, so you have plenty of ground you can cover without worrying too much.

Justice League of America/JLA
The quality of the Justice League's main book tends to ebb and flow. Sometimes it's great, sometimes it's average. Personally I think it's at its best when it embraces its tagline of "The World's Greatest Superheroes," which is why if there's a place you want to start from, I'd suggest start with a trade collection of "A Midsummer's Nightmare," which in turn leads into the series "JLA" as written by Grant Morrison.

At times, Grant Morrison's work can feel like you're reading something that just skipped two pages, but this stuff is the height of epic, combining multiple storylines at once to raise the stakes for the heroes and truly make it seem like even though they're the most powerful superheroes in the world, they have a true challenge on their hands. I have not enjoyed the current verison of it at all.

Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman
Because of the natures of these books with often-rotating creative teams, recommending the "Current" run of any of them will inevitably become outdated. As such, here are just some recommendations for runs I recommend you seek out:

-Batman/Detective Comics runs where Dick Grayson initially starts out as Batman. While him currently being Batman is also good, I think the initial energy of when he started is excellent, particularly under Judd Winick or Grant Morrison (though again, the warning for Grant Morrison's book stands - almost every piece of dialogue becomes important in some fashion). Another recommendation there would be anything by Scott Snyder. While his "Death of the Family" arc wasn't as good, IMHO, it was still fairly enjoyable for the most part.
-Superman: I enjoyed Kurt Busiek's run on the book, but of course with a character like Superman your mileage is always going to vary.
-Wonder Woman: I HIGHLY recommend Gail Simone's run on the book, but if you really wanted a look farther back, Greg Rucka's run is full of heart and great mythical action.

Teen Titans
The Titans have had a looong history. If you wanted to start in the past, I'd recommend looking into the run written by Marv Wolfman in the 1980s, considered the very best of the book. Beyond that, Devin Grayson's run on the book, with the team as adults helping teach some of the old guard, is my personal favorite run. The current series written by J.T. Krul has been good so far, but it's only been about three or four issues so far. Geoff Johns' run has been liked by many (and is the start of where the current volume of the book began), but for me it was very hit and miss in some of its aspects, but still recommended. I felt it was really starting to get good again with J.T. Krul's run that ended at issue 100 due to the 2011 reboot. The current ongoing is... bleh.

Darkwing Duck
For those of you who enjoyed the original cartoon, this one picked up a few years later after the series and manages to tell just awesome superhero stories while building on the continuity of the show and having an ongoing storyline. It's exciting, humorous, AND dramatic. Just awesome, but sadly ended some time ago, but still worth picking up in trade.

While I still object to Barbara Gordon being back in the Batgirl suit after the spectacular work done with Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown in the role, Gail Simone was the only person that could be trusted to make Barbara as Batgirl work again and the book has been phenmonenal, despite a few shakey early issues.

Kingdom Come
An Elseworlds tale set in the future of the DC Universe. Superman retired after it became clear that the people embraced more violent, aggressive, and murderous anti-heroes. However, some years later a group of heroes causes a disaster in Kansas that forces Superman to come back and make things right. However, will he actually help or only make things worse?

Squadron Supreme
While Watchmen is heralded as one of the pioneer works of making superheroes more "adult," Squadron Supreme dealt with more adult issues a year earlier. Basically the Squadron are pastiches of DC characters, but made by Marvel for a story in their books. During a time back in their own world, they attempt to create a utopia by seizing control of the world, forcibly rehabilitating criminals, and ending the world's problems. It seems pretty cut and dry described like that to make them the villains, but honestly the book is about them trying to come to terms with the ideas they're presenting and their slow realization that they have become a totalitarian state. Highly recommended.

Demon Knights
This is one that's currently ongoing in the DC Reboot (or, if it's cancelled by the time you read this, pick it up in trade). A sword-and-sorcery fantasy tale that's set in the medieval times of the DC Universe. Several heroes and villains who existed around that time find themselves united to face off against various threats. It's highly quotable and has great characterization and art.

Shazam and the Monster Society of Evil
A retelling of Captain Marvel's origins as done by Jeff Smith of Bone fame (Bone in the "I have not read" section below). Young Billy Batson gains the power to become a powerful adult known as Captain Marvel to stop an evil being called Mr. Mind. Very fun, highly recommended, and a good book for kids.

Rapunzel's Revenge
Speaking of books for kids, this one's great. The story is a reinterpretation of Rapunzel, wherein she escapes from the tower herself and uses her hair as lassos against the various people after her while also seeking to topple the regime of the evil Queen who pretended to be her mother for so many years.

Books I have not read/Read Some Runs Of

There are a number of books that I don't read, just because I'm not all that interested in them or haven't had time to really look at in greater detail. However, that isn't to say they're bad and I've heard people recommend them to me over the years, so here's just a general list of titles currently ongoing that you may want to check out for yourself.

Captain America - The series as written by Ed Brubaker, which introduced the concept of the Winter Soldier, which fans of the Captain America movie may want to read in preparation for the sequel.

Incredible Hercules - The series spun out of Incredible Hulk and I believe it was written by Greg Pak, though don't take my word for it.

Annihilation - Space Adventure stuff - end of the Marvel universe as we know it, but focuses on Marvel's space heroes fending off the oncoming threat.

Nova - Kind of like Green Lantern, but is the follow-up to Annihilation. I really only read the first few issues, where Nova chews out Iron Man for being too busy with the Civil War crap to stop the Annihilation wave. (It has been pointed out that the ongoing series has been canceled, unfortunately)

Thor - The series written by J. Michael Straczynski. I admit I only read a few issues, but I hear the series has continued to be good even after JMS left.

Amazing Spider-Man - At least, the times when it was written by JMS. One More Day notwithstanding, the series up until that point was actually pretty damn good, with Aunt May discovering Peter's identity and changing the nature of their relationship for the better. Sure, there are some flat-out WEIRD things that happen during the run, but they're not necessarily all that bad compared to others.

Astonishing X-Men - Many have recommended Joss Whedon's run on the book as a good place to start for those looking to get into the X-Men.

Y: The Last Man - A science fiction story set in a future where a disease has killed off all men except one, a man named Yorick. I've only read snippets, but it's very enjoyable and very smartly written, with naturally lots and lots of earth's remaining population reacting differently to how this kind of catastrophe would affect the world.

The Walking Dead - If you've seen the TV series or at least the Longbox of the Damned episode that talks about the first volume, you should know that it's a pretty smartly-written zombie apocalypse story about a group of survivors as they travel across the land seeking shelter from the walking dead.

Fables - A fantasy series by Bill Willingham with, like, a bajillion volumes and still ongoing, if I recall correctly. The basic starting point is that the fairy tale world still exists and all those characters are still in modern times, having to deal with the various magical politics between them.

Bone - I honestly know nothing about Bone, but I have the first trade and I've heard it's really, REALLY damn good. I also hear it's child-friendly, so there's that.

That's all I have off the top of my head. I'll probably update this list as time goes on or more people hand me recommendations to add. However, this is what I've got personally.

I'd like to once again emphasize that really, your best bet for getting into comics is simply walking into a comic book store or a book store, finding something that looks good, and going from there. Maybe you'll like it, maybe you'll be disappointed, but walking into a store and picking up JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative from a comic book store is how I got my start and it seemed to go pretty well for me.


Joshua Ford said...

Sadly 52 Volumes 3 and 4 are no longer in print. I'm actually trying to track Vol 4 down myself. However it is available in an omnibus. I second Linkara's recommendation and I assure you guys that the 52 Omnibus is worth EVERY penny it costs.

arw1985 said...

Wow, that's a long list. What's even better is that I have about a quarter of the list.

I really want to get all six volumes of the Starman Omnibus. I've read the whole series of books through my hometown's public library and they're awesome from beginning to end.

I have the first three volumes of 52. Unfortunately, volume 4 is hard to find.

Thoom said...

DC much? Even the one Marvel recommendation in the "comics you've read" list was inspired by the JLA! LOL.

Lewis Lovhaug said...

"DC much? Even the one Marvel recommendation in the "comics you've read" list was inspired by the JLA! LOL."

Hey, let's be fair - I put in Avengers Forever, too. XD

But yeah, it shouldn't be news by now that I'm mostly a DC guy. Hell, the few Marvel Now! books that caught my eye were just kind of meh or boring to me aside from Captain America, which I just want to get back to earth soon.

Lewis Lovhaug said...

Also: Deadpool.

GreaterGaming said...

what's kind of funny is that I actually like the new 52 runs on the Teen Titans and Batman. Red Lanterns was ok, but I think 2 old comics I could really recommend are Blackest Night and the Sinestro Corps War.

Anonymous said...

Been reading:

Nova is pretty good (Haven't picked up the Sam Alexander-Nova series because I'm wary of Jeph Loeb). REALLY need to read Annhilation.

Incredible Herc was a fun book that needed to last longer.

Mark Waid's Daredevil run is good because it's Matt's life not being grimdark 24/7.

Astonishing X-Men has some good Whedonese dialogue.

Scarlet Spider has an upcoming issue with Kaine paying the Jean Grey Institue a visit and a storyline involving fighting avatars of the Aztec Pantheon.(Shame you can't read this series because of OMD, Lewis.)

MetFanMac said...

May I humbly submit the Marvel all-ages Power Pack miniserieses (family-friendly and fully awesome) and Atomic Robo (Not "Big Two"? No problem!).

Anonymous said...

Forgot to include Claremont & Davis' run Excalibur. It's got some good humor, good action, character development, and several nods to Doctor Who, including Alistaire Stuart who in his initial appearance looks almost exactly like, well... look him up.

implejr said...

My coolest comic experience was a result of my first con experience; upon discovering that I had just really started collecting/reading comic books, a gentleman I met at a booth offered me the entire single-issue runs of both 52 and Countdown to Final Crisis for $38. If I was a DC guy before that, getting 52 sealed the deal.

Also, as a Geoff Johns fan, I'd also recommend the comics from the Blackest Night event. It was the last event I invested in and I had a blast. It was chockablock fulk of "only in comic books" moments like Hal Jordan and Barry Allen fighting a zombified Black Lantern Martian Manhunter.

For my bizarre Marvel pick, I recommend Hit-Monkey:

"His name is Hit-Monkey. He's a hitman. Who's a monkey. You don't believe me. Look around you, dude -- he's real." -Deadpool

FrumGeek said...

I made a list of my own not long ago

I think you're missing some great elseworlds like Superman: Red Son or Superman: Secret Identity, as well as some just plain old fun superhero comics, like the Amanda Conner run of Power Girl, or Formerly Known as the Justice League, or Impulse.

JB said...

Bone : I don't think the first trade is quite representative of the series (it gets even better). Child friendly ? About as much as The Hobbit was, going from a gentle beginning to a climatic, epic battle and not chying away from characters death.

Jhawh said...

I've heard tons and tons of recommendations for Prison Pit. But it might look funny on the table here. :3

My favorite comic of the past few years though is Orc Stain. Well, that and Asterios Polyp.

Bluecho said...

The problem I found with "Death of the Family" is the fact that it couldn't follow through with the high concept elements it brought up. This is because, first and foremost, Batman has a status quo, and anything that would threaten that status quo is quickly squashed. Of course the Joker can't REALLY kill off the entire Bat-family, because then the status quo would be ruined. And of course, whenever he shows up again (give it two years tops), he'll have his face restored with skin grafts or something, so in the end nothing will have changed.

And that's what soured it. It couldn't follow through with change.

This list contains a number of my personal recommendations, but I should add my own just for the sake of it.

-Dial H: a wonderful and offbeat series about an overweight man who discovers a phone dial that allows him to assume the identity of a random superhero and fight evil. The series then shows just how such things would pan out in a relatively realistic manner. Also, the various heroes he dials are awesome. Personal favorites include Boy Chimney and Pelican Army.

-The Thanos Imperative: A whole opens in space, and the forces of an alternate Marvel universe come pouring out. In the Cancerverse, life killed death, and now they've grown so big they need an entire other universe for breathing room. The Guardians of the Galaxy must team up with Thanos, avatar of death, to put a stop to the invasion at its source. Great if you wanted more Thanos after the Avengers film teased him, or if you wanted to get a heads up on that Guardians of the Galaxy movie coming out next year. Be warned: it also heavily ties into the death of the original Captain Marvel (Marvel's Captain Marvel, not the DC one).

Speaking of which...

-The Death of Captain Marvel: Heroes die all the time. For Captain Mar-vell, he didn't get to do it fighting a villain or saving the universe. He died the way many people died: cancer. One of the most emotional and relevant stories ever put to comics, and exhibit A on what both the medium and the superhero genre can do.

-Anything by Greg Rucka. Whiteout, Queen & Country, parts of 52, Gotham Central, The Punisher. You name it, he's made it and made it awesome.

-The 2011 Defenders series. Part journey into the unknown, part love letter to the old pulp stories, all excellent. It's only twelve issues, and it dares to explore possibilities other series would shirk. Mostly because it had some time travel involved. It also had one issue where the Defenders traveled to an alternate universe and fought Frankenstein Adolf Hitler. That's all I need to say on the matter.

-Much of what Valiant is doing. I wholeheartedly recommend both Harbinger and Bloodshot (which is good because as of this writing they're embroiled in a crossover). But I've also heard great things about XO Manawar, Archer & Armstrong, and Shadowman.

-Lastly, and this is really out there, but check out Mister X. It's an older series, but a great one. A mix of noir, art deco, and German expressionism, Mister X tells the tale of a futuristic city like what you'd find out of Metropolis, but one past its prime and racked by madness induced by the city itself. Literally, as in the architecture causes mental problems in its citizens. And one drug-addicted insomniac - who may or may not have been one of the city's architects - is on a sleepless quest to find the flaw in the design that's driving his city insane.

I would recommend the original series except for two things: 1) if the above concept sounds unbearably abstract and cryptic, there's no helping it. And 2) because the original series is collected in only one huge book, an omnibus that costs about eighty dollars. Try out the various attempts to restart the franchise, like the Mister X: Condemned miniseries, or the recently released one-shot Mister X: Hard Candy, to see whether its to your taste.

There's also going to be a new series coming this May called Mister X: Eviction. Check it out.

Unknown said...

I found "Death of the Family" to be the best Batman story in decades (and the best Joker story since "The Killing Joke") mainly because its impact was subtle but effective. Because the Bat-Family is now emotionally estranged, their structure as a family has "died." We of course know that their going to reconcile at some point, but the story of how that happens has so much potential, more than just another story about a character's resurrection. Even resurrection stories still have some potential to be good. Seeing our heroes overcome such adversities and grow a bit stronger as a result is part of the appeal of long-running superhero fiction.

William Ngo said...

Personally, I think Batgirl is overrated. I've bought every issue, and I am enjoying it, but I don't think it's that great. It's good, no doubt about that, and I like what Gail Simone is doing with the character, but I just don't think it deserves as much praise as it gets. That said, I'm a big fan of Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown.

Oh, and seriously, DC? You introduce an extremely talented fighter, who is mute into the DCU (Birds of Prey)?! I wonder who else could have filled that role?!
I get the feeling that editors didn't let Swierczynski use Cass, but still, what the hell? Expy much?

Anyway, Scott Snyder's Batman run is really enjoyable. I have issues with the way Death of the Family ended (Bruce honestly went to confront the Joker without his costume?), but it's just a small bump on an otherwise great run.

I don't mind the change to Power Girl's personality and costume (I actually like the lack of 'boob window'). Rather, I'm just bored when reading World's Finest. I just don't care for it. I wanna give it another shot, but probably in the shop.

I'm about halfway through Booster Gold. Other things have kept me from finishing it, although I really need to.

I read the first issue of Earth-2, and what bothered me was how Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman were the focus. I know it's just set-up, but it annoyed me. I was gonna give the book another shot, and then I saw Hawkgirl's costume. Personally, I HATE her hair. Still, I'm willing to buy the trade.

Honestly, one of my favourite ongoings has to be Aquaman. This book is how you introduce people to Aquaman. It is GLORIOUS.

Oh, and thanks for responding to my tweet (@XSpectreGreyX) and keeping my friend away from Teen Titans. I gave up on the book after about 8 issues, but she's a huge fan of Young Avengers, Avengers Academy and Runaways (well, the first run), and of teenage characters in general. Since I gave up on the book, and you are a big Titans fan, I value your opinion on whether Teen Titans is any good. It's a shame it's so mediocre.

Anonymous said...

For people who really want to start at point zero, I have several recommendations from the ongoing and recently canceled titles

O.M.A.C., Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E.

soon to be canceled
Sword of Sorcery, I Vampire

Demon Knights, All-Star Western, Dial H, Action Comics, Wonder Woman

David 2 said...

Kudos on your list of recommendations, Lewis! I'm surprised that you would include the DCnU listings of Earth-2 and World's Finest, but I do have to say that World's Finest did catch my attention as well, as well as the Huntress mini-series, which did a great job setting up the other two books.

Kudos as well for including Watchmen, Kingdom Come, and V for Vendetta. I would love to see you point out the connection between Watchmen and Kingdom Come when you review the latter.

Pyrodafox said...

I know Mr. Lovhaug and I will disagree on this but I would personally recommend the current volume of Flash. That does not mean I condone or accept DC editorial's abysmal treatment of Wally West, but I always showed preference towards Barry Allen. (And it should be worth noting that Francis Manapul wanted reintroduce Wally but Dan DiDio or someone else higher up vetoed him.) As much I enjoyed Waid, and later Johns' first run on the title, Barry's adventures possessed a certain charm to them that I found lacking in Wally. Maybe it is because Barry Allen was always a bit geeky and socially awkward in his civilian ID so I could always identify with him more. Hell, he was reading issues of the Golden Age "Flash Comics" in his first appearance in 1956, which makes him (one of) the first comic book fans to become a superhero. And perhaps it is because Barry had a stronger background in science because of his career as CSI, which brought a more "realistic" edge to science-fiction elements of the title such as the multiverse.

The current Flash series is smartly written. Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato surprised me with the quality of their writing and brought back some of that magic from the Silver Age. However, Wally West fans will be disappointed and I believe that they will have little reason to read the title, which is a shame.

ShadowWing Tronix said...

I should write one of these for my site. I like that you do these now and then.

As for your list, the only two I've been able to catch are JLA/Avengers, which I love, and the current Worlds' Finest, which I also enjoy. It might help that I haven't read a lot of Huntress and Power Girl stories prior to the New 52 so any changes don't react with me as much. And I like Power Girl's new costume so I'll be sorry to see it go.

JLA/Avengers shows the differences that exist (or used to until DC became Marvel lite) with how the DC and Marvel universes work, and therein how they're written. It's not that one is better than the other (although like Lewis I'm a DC guy) but they have their own styles that play to certain audiences. I wish DC still remembered that.

Ryan Drouillard said...

I just got into comics a coupe of years back. I originally wanted to read about a character I already knew and liked, so I looked around for a good Superman story and found Kingdom Come.

After reading, and loving, that book I found that there was a follow-up story in Justice Society of America. So I started reading that. I absolutely loved the team dynamic of multiple generations of heroes joining together with golden age and silver age heroes training the heroes of tommorrow. JSA has become my favouirte superhero team.

Then from JSA I started reading Power Girl. I is a very fun and enjoyable series (first 12 issues are the best) with great witty writing by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey and fantastic artwork by Amanda Connor. Connor's artwork is unique in that it is sort of cartoonish without being simplistic or childish. Because of those 12 issues Power Girl is my favourite series and superhero.

So thats how I got into comics. After that point, I just went from there. If I came across a character in a book I was reading, I made a mental note to go check out their book later.

P.S. I am a huge fan Lewis and I love AtFW, but I have to disagree about World's Finest. It's a pretty terrible book; Paul Levitz seems to be just going through the motions without any real passion. And to me and most of her fans, Power Girl is written very badly. She was once a strong, mature, and intelligent hero, but Levitz has reduced her down to a bubbly, impuslive bimbo. Plus, I'm going to say it; her new costume is terrible. I don't care about the boob window, I just wanted the new costume to be inspired by the old one, like Huntress'. Also the new one is just terribly generic. But, in spite of all that the book could be saved by a good writer (but will probably be cancelled first)

Information Geek said...

You've been so nice to us with recommendations, I feel it's only fair to recommend something to you!

The Movement: It's Gail Simone's upcoming DC comic. I remember a tweet of yours that it sounded like you weren't all that interested. However, the latest interview came out and frankly, this sounds completely up your alley. Read here and I'm pretty sure your interest will rise:

Talon: It's a spinoff from The Court of Owls storyline, where it focuses on Calvin Rose, an ex-Talon (minus the healing factor) who is on the run from the Court. Teaming up with a mysterious character with a grudge against the court, the two of them head to war with the evil group. The characters are such great (a loveable child character in this!), the action is stellar, and the writing continues to evolve and improve over time. Written by James Tynion IV (the co-writer of the backups in Batman), this is a really good book you should check out.

Detective Comics #13 and Up: Written by John Layman, it is a series of one-shots with an overarching plot about a new crime boss growing in Gotham. The comic puts more emphasis on Batman using his brains to figure out problems, revitalizing and expanding on the Batman villains in this new world, and contains a sense of humor as well. Hell, the first issue of the run opens up with Batman thinking to himself about how he recently donated a lot of money to the local hospital, so he doesn't feel as bad about punching a guy out.

Captain Marvel: You like character progression right? Here's a great example of this as Carol Danvers, formally Ms. Marvel, takes on the role of Captain Marvel and the adventures she gets into. It's hard to explain, but it's all so super fun and a great character piece.

Robert J. Hendriks said...

About a year and a half ago I did exactly what he said; I went to a comic book store and picked up a few trades. In my case, Wonder Woman: The Circle, World Of Warcraft Book 1 and X-23: The Killing Dream.

From that point, I just did some research about recommendations and delved a bit into character history and writers and artists that are supposed to be good.

So yeah, just try something out that looks good to you and go from there.

Also, some stories that I enjoyed (that are not on Lewis' list):

- Blackest Night
- Batman: The Long Halloween (though I had to get used to the art at first)
- Batman: Hush
- Power Girl
- Terra
- The OMAC Project + Infinite Crisis
- Planet Hulk
- The All-New Atom
- Star Wars: Legacy (I know, it's not superheroes)

From the books on his list that I do own, I can honestly say I really like 52, Watchman, Birds Of Prey, Green Lantern (Corps), Booster Gold, Batgirl and Crisis On Infinite Earths.

I know, his liking DC more than Marvel has rubbed off on me. Thanks man!

DangerMoose said...

These are great recommendations, Linkara! I have personally read at least half of them and own about a third, so I can vouch for this list being a great starting point.

In lieu of additional recommendations, I offer a piece of advice.

Get to know your local library system.

I am blessed here in the Denver area that many of the Colorado library systems are linked together through a system called Prospector that allows anyone with a library card in one system to request books in any other system. Using this and the Interlibrary Loan system, I can read nearly every graphic novel or trade paperback published. I purchase any that I know that I will reread (currently up to four shelves of graphic novels), but the library allows me to try new characters and writers to see if they're worth my time and money.

For new comics, there is no substitute to going down to the local comic store. If the companies don't see the sales numbers, the book will naturally be cancelled. And, as I stated above, I do buy quite a few graphic novels. I truly believe in supporting the stores, the artists and writers, and the companies that bring us these stories. But for those people that are unfamiliar with a book and want to see whether they will enjoy it, the library is a great place to start.

DaveWire said...

Of those that you've read (a few I picked up actually on your suggestion such as 52, Starman, & Blue Beetle), I have to agree with quite a few. However, I wouldn't recommend the previous Deadpool series. Daniel Way is an atrocious writer (on par with Rob Liefield).

On those you haven't read (which I have), Incredible Hercules was one of my favorite series when it was out and lead to three limited series and finally an ongoing series (that was sadly so atrocious and in such an opposite direction to the previous series that it was quickly cancelled). It's odd too because they were all written by Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente. I think the latter series just got involved in too tie-ins to lackluster events that it never got to its own stories.

Annhilation and Nova were fantastic. Anyone who wants to read them should add Guardians of the Galaxy to the list and read Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's complete cosmic saga from Annihilation to the Thanos Imperative. Both Nova and Guardians were recently rebooted for Marvel NOW! with Jeph Loeb writing Nova and Brian Bendis writing Guardians (though I don't particularly have much hope for Bendis' run with him quickly shrugging off the finale to Abnett and Lanning's run).

Some items I would add to the list:

Sword of the Sorcery (which sadly is about to be cancelled) is a New 52 book that takes cues from Game of Thrones as a political fantasy).

Swamp Thing and Animal Man (also New 52) are fantastic series and both just ended their long arcs that began a year and a half ago. I haven't read them, but I have heard great things about the older series when they were written by Alan Moore and Grant Morrison respectively. Hellblazer, a spin off of Swamp Thing, which was only recently concluded after 300 issues was a great series. It has since been rebooted into the New 52 as the latest series Constantine which currently has only 1 issue out.

Volume 3 of Incredible Hulk written by Jason Aaron features an all out war between Hulk and Banner and it asks what Banner is without the Hulk?

Kieron Gillen's run on Journey into Mystery starring a teenage Loki was one of the most fun reads ever. Sadly, it has ended (but you can pick up all the trades like I did). Kid Loki's further adventures are now being chronicled in the latest volume of Young Avengers (also written by Gillen) which has only just begun with only three spectacular issues out so far.

A few other honorable mentions: Robert Kirkman's Invincible (sort of "What if Superman had a teenage son with all of his budding powers?"), the current volumes of Venom and Scarlet Spider (Spider-Man but darker and dirtier), Sandman Mystery Theatre (Noir series starring Golden Age Sandman but sadly hard to find in trades), and a bunch of early Batman stories such as Batman Year One (written by pre-insane Frank Miller), Batman: Gothic (Batman's first encounter with the supernatural and a mystery from his past written by Grant Morrison), Batman: The Long Halloween (a simply fascinating mini-series that I once had to read for a college course written by Jeph Loeb and drawn by Tim Sale).

Anonymous said...

No thoughts on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? That was essentially my first comic book (if people actually call it that).

GoldenKing said...

Hey Linkara, you forgot to add the Megaman comics that you promised to look at during one of your live shows. ;D While they are probably not good enough to add to this list, make sure you start looking at them now, before a ton of them start piling up.

SchweitzerMan said...

I agree with you recommending Blue Beetle. After him being the breakout character of Young Justice: Invasion, as well as your tribute video to the character, I decided to go out any buy the trades.

Very well worth it and I can't wait to pick up the other volumes as well.

lordjim6 said...

The Marvel "Essential" line of reprints is the perfect way to get into classic comics at the ground level. Heck, that's how I got into comics at age ten. However, I've had much a much less stellar time with "Showcase Presents", the DC version of "Essentials".

Thomas Petrie said...

I know people are constantly saying what you should add, so sorry but here's my suggestions.
If you're interested in more Marvel stuff there are some great ongoings right now, and some more great older stories.
Venom - I've been reading this since issue 1 a couple of years ago and have never regretted it. It follows Spidey's old bully Flash Thompson. After losing his legs overseas he becomes a government agent bonded with a (hopefully) tame Venom symbiote. This probably isn't a book that people will be talking about years from now, but it's a fun read that explores themes of redemption, forgiveness, and addiction.
Daredevil - Mark Waid's current run has won ALL the awards, and for good reason. The book has been criticized by some as being to silly. There are elements of Silver Age humor in it, true, but it comes of more as swashbuckling fun than childish gags.
Hulk: Planet Hulk - A story from a few years ago, currently collected in one trade. The premise is that a group of leaders in the superhero community called the Illuminati send Bruce Banner/Hulk into space where he cannot hurt anyone. However, he ends up on an alien planet where he must fight to survive in the gladiator pits. Combining elements of superhero comics and old pulp series like John Carter of Mars, it makes for a fairly unique story. You may need some prior knowledge to follow the story, but I had never read a Hulk book before this and didn't feel lost at all.
Infinity Gauntlet - Just who was that mysterious figure at the end of The Avengers last summer? He was Thanos, and if you wanna know why he's such a threat then read this book. Thanos is an alien conqueror in love with Death (the actual personification, not the concept) who gathers a series of powerful items called Infinity Gems to gain the power of a god. Now this book does require a bit of knowledge about the Marvel Universe, and required several trips to Wikipedia on my part, but was thoroughly enjoyable nonetheless.
Marvel 1602 - Written by Neil Gaiman, this is a story of the Marvel universe, if the age of heroes had happened 400 years earlier. It's not exactly an instant, but fans of Gaiman's work should enjoy it a ton (I did)

The Sixth Gun - A western adventure published by Oni Press. It's written by Cullen Bunn (an author who recently took over the Venom series, making it even better), and is easily the best western comic I have ever read. Currently it's been going on for a couple years, but the trades aren't that hard to find. Plus: Magic Guns!

Who/Where is Jake Ellis? - Image. At first it seems like a standard action/adventure spy story, and in many ways it is. But that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's superbly written with a unique hook. Jon Moore is a former CIA analyst on the run from a shadowy organization. What keeps him safe is his mysterious "partner," Jake Ellis, who no one else can see. Who is Jake Ellis? is the first series, Where is Jake Ellis? is the current one. They're both only five issues long, but manage to tell a story that gets better the more you think about it.

Megan said...

Very good list. I have to admit, superhero comics are not really my genre, though. I much prefer fantasy/horror/drama comics. This could stem from the fact that the first comics I ever recall reading were the Tales from the Crypt and the companion Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear.

I love Sandman. (Granted, Neil Gaiman could write a book about the history of the shoelace and I would read it) My bookstore has the entire collection in a series of trades, and I have the first one, Preludes and Nocturnes, though my favorite story (and also the one that made me bawl my eyes out) is the last one featuring Morpheus as Dream. Endless Nights is also excellent. Despair's story is tragic and scary.

Sandman has so many memorable characters, too. Favorite Endless for me is Death, and favorite Dream Servant-tie between Lucian and Mervyn(the pumpkin head guy)Favorite 'normal' person is Hob Gadling.

Linkara: sort of off topic, but have you heard of a series called 'American Vampire'? My bookstore had a trade of the first few issues, and it's pretty good. Hell, the story was written by Stephen King and Scott Snyder! The artwork is very grim and gritty, and the vampires look *really* scary. I think Moarte would like it. ;)

Youssef abd al Actdie said...

No Love for Saga from image?

E. Wilson said...

You haven't read Whedon's X-Men? Would you like to? The bookstore I work at has some overstock, and I'd be glad to donate the run. =D

10reapaer01 said...

If I may ask, what do you think is wrong with the new Justice League? While I can agree that some of the past runs on the JLA series have been better, I still think it's pretty good. My problem with it, though, is that the team really doesn't have any relationship as a team: Flash and Cyborg get alone, but not with the others; Superman and Wonder Woman are dating (not a major problem for me), but don't really care for anyone else; Aquaman and Batman have a sort of begrudging respect for each other growing, but stay to themselves, not to mention that the Trinity isn't really a thing at all in the new universe. It is kind of sad that one of the best writer and artist duos couldn't come up with a better title, but it's still pretty good, in my opinion.

As for a recommendation, I'd go Hellblazer. It's not for everyone and a lot of people would really dislike it, but if you enjoy darker fiction with magic and not-so-heroic heroes, there's nothing that compares. In a lot of peoples' opinions, Hellblazer IS Vertigo. The only problem is that they haven't released trades of the whole series yet (I think they're only up to 160-180), so reading it from the beginning (and it is important to have an idea of Constantine's history when you read it) could be a challenge. Not exactly the best beginner book, but one of my all time favorite comics.

Samwise the Brave said...

Oh come on guys! Where is the love for Matt Fraction's Hawkeye book? It's by far my favorite comic ongoing today and really makes Hawkeye a standout character and far more then that guy with a bow on the Avengers.

Shanethefilmmaker said...

Judas Contract and That issue of Iron Man where he nearly killed himself to beat the hulk (Pre Hulk Buster days) are what got me into comics.

Torkuda said...

Something I thought you might like to know Lewis, seeing as you're a big power rangers geek and trying to do a special on them infrequently (no this is not a rude nudge about that), it looks like pretty much all seasons are going up on netflix instant.

doctordoom85 said...

Great list, Linkara!

A few other ones I think are worth checking out:

DC: The New Frontier - a terrific Elseworlds comic that shows the DC heroes during the 1930's-50's. Lots of great stories, action, and meaningful themes. Also a visual treat with the artwork

The 2009 Batgirl series and 2009 Powergirl series - both series are great for someone for looking for more light-hearted fun adventures. Sadly, both are mostly OOP, however a source showing the upcoming trade release of DC suggests the first 12 issues of Power Girl (along with JLA Classified 1-4) will be re-released in one large trade early next year.

Runaways (Brian K Vaughn) - a great Marvel comic about a group of kids who have to use their powers and skills to survive in a world where not even their parents can be trusted. Kind of felt like Marvel's version of Teen Titans, but it definitely stands on its own as well

All-Star Superman - yeah, don't let the "All-Star" title scare you, unlike Frank Miller's wretched Batman and Robin, this book is considered by many to be the best Superman story ever, so if you want to see what makes the character work in the hands of the right writer, look no further

Legion of Superheroes: The Great Darkness Saga - the entire saga is still available in a deluxe hardcover. Legion continuity is a tricky thing, but if you want to see one of their best stories, here you go. The book slowly lets you get to know the large cast and it all builds up to a battle where the stakes pitted against the heroes are insanely high. Paul Levitz is still writing Legion and no longer is as good a writer as he used to be IMHO, but his run in the 80's (which this arc began) is worth checking out.

Rising Stars (J. Michael Straczynski) - a non-Marvel/DC comic where a comet explodes above a small town granting a few dozen infants super-powers and shows how their lives progress and where they all go. I admit, it's been a long time since I've read it so I forget many plot details beyond that, but it was a great read

Locke & Key (Joe Hill) - three kids and their mom move into a place called Key House after the father is murdered. The story becomes a unique horror/drama as magical keys are found, each with their own unique trait/power (being able to go anywhere in the world, turn you into a ghost, etc.)

Anonymous said...

I am very pleased that you threw Bone onto the list. Speaking as someone who has read the ENTIRE series, I can tell you that it is nothing short of BRILLIANT (though I will admit it got a little bit weird near the end, but ended in an epic way). If you ever get around to reading it I'm sure that you'll love it.
Another series I'd like to bring up is Invincible, written by none other than Robert Kirkman, who also wrote the Walking Dead. It's a really interesting take on superheroes, often going into deconstruction territory while still giving good superhero fun. Though I will warn you that it does also slip onto the gory side of things, but again, it's Robert Kirkman.

GrayMorality said...

With regards to Deadpool, I strongly recommend then Deadpool kills the Marvel Universe series and the current follow-up, Deadpool Killustrated. Killustrated has Deadpool fighting Captain Ahab while Sherlock Holmes assembles a team to go after him.

Have you read any of these, Linkara?

Dave said...

You've probably mentioned it in earlier lists, and it is to some degree continuity porn, but Kingdom Come deserves a spot here too.

I'm biased a bit, because back at Comicon 2001, I saw Mark Waid and had him sign my copy. He was there for Dark Horse and for whatever reason, there was no line. And, I am not kidding you, he gushed for at least 10 minutes about how glad he was that my copy was pretty obviously not only read, but read frequently. Apparently, he had signed way too many copies that went right back in the plastic bag after he signed.

DMaster said...

I can not say it enough: DEMON KNIGHTS! AQUAMAN! EARTH-2! (I would suggest Sword of Sorcery...but alas.)

Two Vertigo titles not mentioned here:

The New Deadwardians: fascinating murder mystery in a zombie apocalypse alternate history with vampire upperclassmen, though such terms aren't used. Unique, enthralling, deep.

The Unwritten: haven't read the first 34 issues, I simply must get around to it, because everything I have read is enchanting in its depth of art and language and just how far it goes in creating this world of stories coming to life in the real world and potentially dying en masse. I don't think it's underrated as Vertigo titles go, but it's criminally underrated overall.

Dark Patrician said...

Unknown: "Because the Bat-Family is now emotionally estranged, their structure as a family has "died.""

I never thought about it like that, actually makes the story better. Although the whole "chopped off face" thing still creeps me the hell out. Snyder did better with Detective Comics and the Court of Owls.

I realized recently that I enjoy Earth 2 and Dial H for Hero, even though I know next to nothing about the source material other than Brave and the Bold #27 where Batman met the boy from the old Dial H's case, because they are world building comics. They are written so you don't need to know the backstories because you'll get told them eventually.

Out of curiosity, any recommendations for one-shot issues? Do they even make one-shot issues anymore or are they writing for the trades?

KKDW said...

There's a fair it here I've read, and some of it I went into from your previous recomendations (JLA/Titans, Blue Beetle and 52 which is where I really started).

At some point soon I plan on starting my own review series', one of them will be focussed around recommending good comics which'll include some of those listed here, so hopefully that'll go well when I get round to it.

Bluecho said...

Most of the time comics are written for the trades, which is why you'll have a story that could easily be told in three issues spread out to five or six. So it's not often you find straight up one-and-done issues. Although I guess it ultimately depends on what genre you're looking for.

The two things that immediately spring to mind are Haunted Horror, a collection of Golden Age horror comics, and Mister X: Hard Candy. The former is still being released in issue format, and most issues contain four or five tales each, all having nothing to do with each other.

The latter, Mister X: Hard Candy, is a three part storyline from the pages of Dark Horse Presents, collected into a single issue. It's kind of the latest in a line of attempts to restart the Mister X franchise from twenty five years ago, but the story itself is basically self-contained.

And I promise that's the last time I'll mention Mister X on this post.

Cannon said...

Funny that you should post this, as I was just about to thank you over Twitter for getting me into comics and not just the adaptations. This allowed me to discover my great love for Green Lantern and that is something I can never truly express enough gratitude for. Thank you so much!

In Brightest Day, In Blackest Night!

P.S. I am curious about your thoughts on Final Crisis, I personally enjoyed the book myself (reading from the absolute edition), but it is one of those mixed opinions kind of things and am curious about yours.

Hound_bound said...

It's inexpensive and really shows that despite Booster wanting to make a business out of crimefighting, he ISN'T just in it for money and never was, despite what many modern writers like to have him be written as.

Thank you. Thank you thank you THANK YOU.

Booster's one of those characters like Wonder Woman or Guy Gardner (like all of them I assume, but I see it more with some specific ones) where some writers don't always bother to learn the nuance and just stick to a almost caricaturish depiction - which can work if it's supposed to be comedic, but most of the time... no. Just no.

Volvagia said...

Another one that might be very interesting for to get readers interested in American stuff: I Kill Giants. It's an easy hundred pager that, though the character designs are very much "manga-esque", is MOSTLY American in approach (no cruciforms, no sleep bubbles, no super deformation and American style panel construction). As a transitory comic for a Manga fan to get into American pacing styles, I couldn't imagine a better first step.

Anonymous said...

NO Spider-Man: the other, or Identity Crisis? Well as a DC man what about superman electric RED and Blue? BATMAN: the long holloween, the killing joke, Dark Victory, Batman returns, Batman RIP. at least you like Deadpool, and Linkpool =D

what about La Devina Comedia?

reservoirdogs said...

From my personal collection:
-Daredevil: Guardian Devil
-Joe the Barbarian
-Long Halloween
-Marvel 1602
-Doctor 13
-Doctor who: The Forgotten
-Infinity Gauntlet (best event comic)
-Astonishing Spider-Man and Wolverine
-Flex Mentallo
-Red Son
-Punisher Max (bei it Ennis or Aaron)
-JLA: Ultramarine Corp/Seven Soldiers/Final Crisis
-Warren Ellis's Secret Avengers (though the final issue will tick off any Cap fans)
-Death of Jean DeWolff
-Batman:Year One
-The Filth
-All Star Superman (Favourite comic)
-New X-Men
-God Loves, Man Kills
-Thunderbolts (personally prefer Ellis's run)
-Silver Surfer: Requiem
-Spider Man:Blue
-Spider-Man: Reign

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is a fun list ^^
Well since other people are putting forward their recommendations I feel the need to do the same and put forward some titles that I personally loved and think other people would really enjoy.

Sonic the Hedgehog (archie comics)
A world conquered by a mad genius whose skill with robotics lead to him inventing a device that turns organic matter into machines, Doctor Robotnik has the world in his grasp and threatens to end all life.

Standing in his way is a young lad named Sonic, one of the few survivors of Robotniks usurpation. Gifted with superhuman speed, Sonic works with a group of other survivors in an effort to take back their world from the mad genius.

This series is firmly entrenched in the superhero genre and has had over the years writers from marvel and dc tackling this hedgehog. At 247 issues its had a longer living continuity than most comics and its about a rebellion against a baddie who succeeded in taking over the world.

You don't need to play the games to get this as most of the plot is comic original and though personally i only liked it from issues 26 to the one year later timeskip, Theres something in it for everyone. The magic of the royal line, aliens, alternate realities, LOTS of robots and an ancient prophecy? Whats not to love?

Set in an alternate reality where when the green goblin kidnapped parkers daughter, Kaine had rescued her, this spider-man lost his leg in the final struggle that resulted in the green goblins demise and handicapped, he decided to hang up his costume and retired.

Now, 16 years later, his daughter may 'day' parker is mutating and developing spider powers of her own and decides to take up the mantle of spider-girl in a world with new heroes and villains.

This comic is wonderfully written and keeps a pretty steady narrative of awesomeness. You get to see what the marvel universe would be like if everyone didn't stay the same age forever and ever and what would happen if most of the marvel heroes were to hang up their capes and leave it to the next generation.

It has a sorcerer supreme who runs a comic book store and Jubilee running the x-men~ XD
Characters include the great grand daughter of the vulture and the new generation of the fantastic four. Its a great story with a satisfying conclusion and I recommend it.

Admittedly not the model of superhero genre but if Demon Knights count then this certainly does. XD

Set when Rome claimed France for their own, the roman armies have conquered all of it save for a small gaulish village on the coast which is protected by Asterix, a great hero with a potion that grants him superhuman abilities and Obelix, a large fellow whose might is matched only by his appetite. Their adventures take them all over and the pair are always there to keep their village from the hands of the romans.

Anonymous said...

You should check out the 1995 run of Legion of superheroes or the 'Reboot' run.
It tells great stories and it is a wonderful mix of character interaction, drama and suspense that I say mirrors Titans during its better years.

friendly reader said...

Double-triple-quadruple recommend "Gotham Central," which was mentioned above. It's basically where I started on the DC universe, with my only other experience being the Batman cartoon series and the DC movies. I had to backtrack a bit to "No Man's Land," which introduces a number of characters from the cartoon series into canon. While not as good as "Gotham Central," I think it did a good job of introducing you to all the characters of the DC universe - including the new Batgirl. Both of the series focus a lot on the Gotham City Police Department, as as someone raised on cop/crime/mystery shows, they're basically that, only set in the DC Universe.

FugueforFrog said...

A couple recommendations for a guy who respects comics but isn't the biggest of collectors:

-Avengers: The Korvac Saga: Simply put: a villain from an alternate Earth ends up on our universe; a team known as the Guardians of the Galaxy (not the one with the raccoon and tree) pursue him; yet while they ask the Avengers to get him back, pretty much every known member of the team starts vanishing, all while a mysterious super-powered man begins to make his move to become our universe's new god. While it has a huge cast, everyone pretty much gets a character established and it easily introduces a huge section of Marvel characters of the time of publishing and sort of asks questions on how far someone can go in changing the world, whether with good intentions or not. It's pretty easy to track down too and there are more things going on than what I just said.

She-Hulk: Even with the train-wreck of his post-OMD stuff, Dan Slott did write a great comic book, taking big green's sexy cousin and making her use her brains and brawn to tackle cases throughout the Marvelverse. It's rather unique and sort of goes into many facets people take for granted in comic books. Plus it has a cube-headed robot assistant.

David Hoszowski said...

I'm a huge fan of Charlie Huston's run with Moon Knight, and the run after he left. Even the 2011 relaunch-while not my favorite-was still quite enjoyable.

I know its not a superhero comic, but I loved Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis. Detailed, colorful art, but it doesn't pretty up the messed up, greasy as all heck world they live in. Oh, and the writing was dynamite!

Love your show, by the way. :

Cobra said...

How dare you forget Alan Moore's Tom Strong even if you mentioned one of your videos shame on you :D .

Speaking of Alan Moore I highly recommend Miracleman my all time favorite Alan Moore story .

For the guys who wanted to start Batman , I recommend to start graphic novels and limited series like Cult,Arkham Asylum,Long Halloween,Monster Men,Absolution
and Frank Miller's early works before he goes crazy The Dark Knight Returns and Year One". Some elseworld stories are good too like Red Rain , Gotham by gaslight
and Nine lives.

Jarkes said...

"Bone - I honestly know nothing about Bone, but I have the first trade and I've heard it's really, REALLY damn good. I also hear it's child-friendly, so there's that."

Bone is rather schizophrenic in tone, actually. It starts out rather humorous, but gets dark rather quickly, and then frequently goes back and forth between the two.

Incidentally, I've been watching Batman: The Brave and the Bold lately, and in that series at least, Jaime still had a secret identity. At least, early on. It might've changed later to reflect the way his series was going at the time(Brave and the Bold started in 2008). It also had some of the "Scarab (or rather, the Reach) tries to take over the suit" thing, so I have my doubts that the reboot entirely made that up.

Anonymous said...

Great list but World's Finest really?

Am I the only one who hate that book, not for the new PG costume I like her new costume just fine. But the way they portray her as not really heroic girl who's only running a company for profit compare to trying to save the world by developing new technology like she did in her old series AND SLEEP WHIT MISTER TERRIFIC TO STEAL HIS STUFF!

Plus they kill another character that I love Helena Bertinelli in the most unceremonious way to kill a superhero off panel and without any meaning to her death she's just a burnt ID card,a prop for making Helena Wayne the new Huntress nothing more.Thanks for that DC.

John R. Ellis said...

I would recommend Stan Sakai's long running adventure/historical fantasy comic, USAGI YOJIMBO.

One reviewer aptly described it as "Akira Kurosawa meets Carl Barks"...basically, it's a samurai epic where all of the characters are funny animals.

I can't recommend this one highly enough. Usagi is a complex character, his stories are exciting and fun, each collected edition aims to be new reader friendly.

Anonymous said...

Personally I just cant get into the alien scarab blue beetle ^^; Every time I hear the name my mind defaults to a policeman with indestructible chainmail and a super strength formula ^^; Otherwise known as the original Blue Beetle which DC rewrote into being an archeologist

Lewis Lovhaug said...

"Personally I just cant get into the alien scarab blue beetle ^^; Every time I hear the name my mind defaults to a policeman with indestructible chainmail and a super strength formula ^^; Otherwise known as the original Blue Beetle which DC rewrote into being an archeologist"

To be fair, it wasn't DC that did it so much as Charlton Comics. And hell, during the VERY original days there was a time he was a government agent, too. ^_~

Anonymous said...

"To be fair, it wasn't DC that did it so much as Charlton Comics. And hell, during the VERY original days there was a time he was a government agent, too. ^_~ "

Plus with the original blue beetle being public domain they needed to differentiate THEIR blue beetle from the public domain one for understandable ownership reasons ^^;

One of the nice things ultimately about comics is I suppose that there is a character for everyone from the policeman who dons a mask to deal with the crimes in a way that breaks police procedure, to an archeologist with a magic scarab which he uses to fight crime to a brilliant inventor who has his own beetle mobile to the kid with the alien symbiote retrospect recommendation lists are a devil to make with a hundred years of content to choose from ^^;

Anonymous said...

Hey Lewis I was just wondering if you had an opinion on Preacher I know your not the biggest fan of Garth Ennis (Preacher's the only thing I greatly enjoy from him, The Boys is just... ugh)so I was just wondering if you had the same feelings on Preacher as you do for the rest of his work.

Crystal Master said...

Having scene your recamendings of GL/GL Coros, i have to ask your opinion of Green Lanturns New Gurdians. I've read the first 5 issues before i had to drop the book for economic reason. Does it continue to be awsome or does it loes its momentum? I personally think Kyle is the best GL so im interested in your response.

Ave said...

The first comic for which I read the entire run was volume 2 of Doom Patrol. Really, I was reading it for the transgender characters that appeared, but the stories were simply amazing. Okay, Kupperberg had standard superhero fare and nothing spectacular (no trans characters at all!), but I read it to anticipate the Grant Morrison issues, as I knew I'd want a segue into it. Now, I torrented it, because the vast majority of it is out of print and I have no money besides, but it is available in that outlet (and I started buying the issues as I could find them--the physical copies are really better than any digital copies)--but the reason I mention the torrent is that it was presaged with Secret Origins Annual #1, which explained the Doom Patrol's history quite well as a lead-in to the series (although, again, this was in the Kupperberg run).

In fact, I recommend the Doom Patrol run for anybody trying to get into Grant Morrison stories. Granted, I majored in English in college and therefore can pay attention to detail given quite well, but I didn't see anything confusing in Morrison's run. It was a natural extension of the Kupperberg run and I realized that I didn't necessarily need to read what came before in order to understand and enjoy it. The book went from an X-Men pastiche to a very adult book. And by adult, I don't mean nudity (though there is some) or sex (there is some mentioned), but in themes of psychology and the nature of the real world.

Following Morrison is my favorite run on the book, by Rachel Pollack, and the bit of it actually in the Vertigo imprint (Vertigo had yet to be created when Morrison wrote it). It's an unabashedly feminist view of the title and very deep. It's not a run recommended without reading the Morrison run, since it's actually more complex and weirder than him, though it is a nice bridge to go from the weird to the really weird. Pollack also didn't start as much from scratch as Morrison did, so it's harder to get into her run without that backstory. Her footing is not established into a little bit of her run, though, with the first storyline feeling too much like she's trying to be Morrison than her own writer.

All three writers also take the book forward and make significant character changes. It's a title to read if you want to see things actually progress and have some weight to them. In fact, the only resurrection retcons occur in Kupperburg's run.

Ave said...

More recommendations, double-posted because that previous one was quite long and focused on one title:

Time Breakers - Rachel Pollack, after Doom Patrol was canceled, still stayed at DC for a little, and this is one of two other series she did (the third was New Gods, which I haven't really read much of because it's honestly a bit boring). It was for DC's short-lived Helix imprint and is a self-contained mini-series about time travel. Specifically, the heroes, rather than trying to avert paradoxes, actively create them, because paradoxes sustain time, rather than weaken it. Their goal in the series is to create the Great Paradox, which is what caused human life to exist, racing against the clock (and a group bent on stopping them) as time crumbles away.

Vertigo Visions: The Geek - it's a one-shot, but I wanted to mention more Pollack weirdness. Time Breakers was pretty straightforward, but this is deliciously odd and interesting. I read it with no knowledge of the Geek (or Brother Power or whatever you want to call him) and didn't need it--I just needed a keen eye and a mind open to overall oddity in comics, which Doom Patrol gave me. Pollack also did a Vertigo Visions for Tomahawk, but I can't remember what it's like at the moment, likely because not having the physical issue prevents easy accessibility for me (I read physical issues more than digital).

Deathwish - this is for the Milestone imprint of DC and I read it because it featured a transgender character and was written by a transgender writer (it was the same thing with Doom Patrol--Pollack is transgender). Despite the 90s-type name, it is actually a story about a transgender cop who is chasing a killer. The titular character barely shows up in the issue, so I know the writer was doing what she wanted in the framework of an assignment to write about Deathwish. The artist is a young JH Williams III, for any fans of his art, and the writer is none other than Maddie Blaustein (going by Addie or Adam Blaustein at the time), the voice of Meowth in Pokemon's English dubs. I'm not a Pokemon fan, but I'm sure others might find that nifty, if nothing else.

Generation X - when I was in middle school, I tried to subscribe to Wolverine, but checked all the boxes on a Marvel subscription form before realizing their offer was only for one series and tried to write that I wanted Wolverine, but put it in a way that they didn't see, so I got this series, starting in an issue directly after the Onslaught saga. It was fun and entertaining, written by Scott Lobdell and drawn (mostly) by Chris Bachalo. The characters felt like teenagers and though I knew who Jubilee was (kinda) and had heard of the names of Banshee and Emma Frost, I didn't need any knowledge of the characters going in to enjoy it (I HAD heard of Artie and Leech, still my favorite team in all of Marvel, but they were side characters). It went quite a few issues without any supervillains, but I didn't care because it was about the interpersonal relationships and I could relate to the characters acting my age at the time. Then that Operation: Zero Tolerance hit and made the books a confusing mess. Yay for big events!

All-Star Superman - I wanted to close with this because it's an obvious oversight by Linkara. I think he just forgot. But a story about the glory of Superman, written with so much respect to every character involved is going to be amazing. And no need for backstory: it's an Elseworlds.

Shifter's Haven said...

Actually, you could buy JLA/Titans: The Technis Imperative on comixology. It called there just JLA / Titans. Bought it myself a while ago and like it (for a most part). So finding part is not that hard )

James Randome said...

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction. I know someone already suggested it, but it's a great ongoing, that is a good place to start up. Each issue is self contained story, (Outside the two part tape for issues 4 and 5) there is an under running plot, but it's easy to pick up on. (Hawkeye pissed people off, oh no...)

So, yeah, I've added nothing new, most of the other stuff I read isn't all that...grand.

Brad said...

If I may add a suggestion, I personally liked 'The Nail'. It starts with a poem: For want for a nail a shoe was lost, For want for a shoe a horse was last, For Want for a horse a knight was lost, For want for a knoght a kingdom was lost. All for a want for a nail.

Basically, in this DC elseworld tale the Kents didn't go to town the day Kal'el landed because of a nail in a tirer.

So basically, there is no Superman. There are a few Red hairings to whom the villain is.
And the ending has a very interesting twist where we learn what happen to Kal'el in this world.

Give it a try if you have time. Also, Sorry for my poor spelling and grammar. I'm not overly focused today

JB said...

I recently read and enjoyed Kurt Busiek's Power Company.
A 18 issues series with a 7 issues introduction, it's probably not the most cited of Busiek's work.
The Power Company is a heroes-for-hire agency featuring mostly new characters (Bork is a reformed one-shot villain from a Batman/Flash team-up, and Manhunter is a clone of the original, Paul Kirk)
Although some of the characters seem to be glory hounds, they all have layers. On the other hand, the extremly idealist leader (Skyrocket) is not always that appealing, preaching her partners for mixing super-heroics and business (she even gets called on it by the head of STARLabs, which she saves while not under its payroll)
Finally, it contains or reintroduces awesome concepts : the first issues feature a villain called the Dragoneer, riding and invoking dragons (obviously) while the final arc sees the Power Company teaming up with a new Haunted Tank led by the spirit of the WW2 character Jeb Stuart to stop a hostile takeover from an eldritch creature.

kkhohoho said...

Nice list there, Linkara, And going off your 'Avengers Forever' suggestion, I'd also recommend the first five volumes of Avenger,Vol.3. Kurt Busiek the writer for Avengers Forever, as well as Trinity, also had a run that started around the same time he wrote 'Forever', and -- having read nearly every single issue of Avengers all the way from it's beginnings in 1963 to 2011, (and still working my way through,) I can safely say that Busiek's run on the title is one of the best in the history of the title. It takes everything from two of the most defining runs in the series up to that point, (Roy Thomas and Steven Englehart, from the late 60's to the mid 70's,) and takes everything great about that era, (and a few other things from other runs too,) while still moving foreward. Past characters relationships are further built upon and strengthened in natural ways; new characters are introduced in ways that make sense, and develop believably; and the stories incredibly enjoyable to read, and fun. It also makes good use of continuity. Whereas someone like Brian M. Bendis (the biggest Avengers writer of the last decade,) just prefers to seep past continuity under the rug and pretend that it's only tangentially there, Buseik makes full use of it, bringing up countless old stories and characters from Avengers past, and making it important to the stories he wants to tell. But even if you're confused at first, he always explains what he needs to when appropriate, and by the time the run is done, you'' probably have a far better feel of Avengers history up to that point then someone like Bendis; you aren't just hearing an event mentioned here or there, you instead feel like you know that event deeply and as fully as you can, because it's truly relevant to the story at hand. It also uses a lot of past Avengers up to that point; most of them aren't on the main Avengers team of Buseik's run, but rest assured, you'll be seeing a lot of old faces by the time you're done. In short, Buseik's run is highly recommended, and I really suggest everyone give it a shot, especially (but not only,) if you've read Bendis' run. IMO, Buseik blows Bendis straight out of the water.

Oh, and you can pick it up via the Avengers Assemble TPB collection, which collects all of Buseik's run in five big Hardcover's. You might also want to pick up the 4-Issue 'Avengers Infinity' miniseries, made during Buseik's run; it's not absolute necessary, but it does fill in an event or two during Vol.4 that might not be explained well otherwise.

gotenks6 said...

I read 52, and I couldn't put it down. I was just compelled to keep reading. I like books that take you along for the ride instead of just trying to build up to the conclusion, and while they do lead up to something, their story seems pretty focused in the now.

One thing I would recommend if you don't want to gamble your money away on a book that you are not sure you'll like is to take advantage of your local library(s). They usually have a collection of comics, and in trade paperbacks.

harmonicajay said...

Kingdom Come was the first comic book/Graphic Novel I ever read. And it is my favorite Story ever. JSA was what made me both a DC fan and a Geoff Johns fan. It's why I cannot hate him after all that has happened. His bland run on Teen Titans 2003, his lackluster miniseries Flashpoint, and of course my most hated comic of all time: Justice League. I. Hate! that comic. But... I can't hate him. He and the JSA have this chemistry where he shows his true colors. Not as a writer that kills characters on a whim, but someone that can make you care about characters as people. Plus, he created Stargirl, my favorite female superhero of all time and one of my favorite heroes (he actually based her on his sister).

I would recommend Justice League of America (volume 3). It is in its second issue and aside from Catwoman needing to zip up, it is a solid team book so far. Hell, I would call it the bizarro Justice League since its first issue introduced all the main characters lickity-split without wasting time. Also, Vibe. ... I know that seems odd, but trust me and read it.

harmonicajay said...

Also, read Saga, the story of a couple newly becoming parents and fighting to survive with their newborn baby. The first issue alone persuaded me to name it the best comic of 2012.

Anonymous said...

Ever read 1602 or Powerless?

1602 is by Neil Gaimen of sandman fame and is great re-imagining of the marvel universe if it had started in the 1600's add a couple of clever plot twists and you got yourself a brilliant story.

Powerless is by Peter Johnson and is a great what-if story of how the marvel universe would be like if there was no superpowers. starring Matt Murdock, Peter Parker and Logan along with many other marvel characters. totally worth reading.

SailorCardKnight said...

I really appreciate you doing this Linkara. I've already picked up some of the series you mentioned already (like 52, Gail Simone's run on Wonder Woman, Rapunzel's Revenge), and I enjoyed all of them. I just wish I had money to burn so I can pick up other titles you mentioned that catch my interest that I can't get at my local library. (And Bone I already read back in High School, this guy in my art class let me borrow his complete collection over the spring break. It was VERY good!)

As for the Darkwing Duck comic (which I picked up long before you you recommended it to your fans, as it is one of the two most beloved properties of my childhood, the other being Sailor Moon), I also highly recommend people pick that up...but the first 3 trades ONLY. The 4th story arc, the election campaign, was very...meh. There where some golden moments, particularly the parts where Darkwing faced off against the new villains, but the whole Darkwing/Laughpad running for mayor was just plain stupid, even Tad Stones (the creator of DW) himself didn't care for it.

And the Ducktales crossover, *twitch* never before had I EVER wanted to torch something so badly after reading it. Not only where there soooooo many continuity errors for not only Darkwing, but Ducktales too, and the story made no sense! Then the cherry on top of the crap sundae is what they did to Negaduck's character, my favorite DW villain! Once again, there where golden moments like the last arc, but UNLIKE the last arc these moments are overshadowed by the mountain of crap. But outside of those last 2 arcs, I loved reading every page of that series, and it made me feel like a kid again, back when I first saw the show on TV. I even have the trades proudly placed along side on the self of beloved manga collection. I enjoyed it so much it made me seek out Boom Studios other Disney comic offerings.

Also, the original editor responsible for bringing the Darkwing comic to life and the artist are trying to get the comic going again. They even have it ready to publish, they are just waiting on Disney themselves now. With the remake of the NES Ducktales game on the way, and knowing how well the DW and Chip n Dale: Rescue Rangers comics comics sold despite the lack of adverting (getting Disney's attention), a full possible renaissance for the Disney Afternoon is looking bright.

SailorCardKnight said...


Oh yes. I've also been reading the My Little Pony comic by IDW. Which I find is a very enjoyable comic for all ages, and can still be enjoyed by those who only have little knowledge of the show itself. And also, like Boom Studios and thier Disney comics, because of IDW's MLP i've been eyeing their Doctor Who comic (wouldn't be the first time ponies where one of the reasons that got me to try Doctor Who, you being the other)

Also, I thought you where going to review the MLP comic for your "$20 Target lamp review" due to the sheer amount of requests you must've been getting for it.

Jordan Miller said...

My suggestion would be to read Avengers Academy, at least the first 20 issues. It brings together teenagers with powers who were tortured by Norman Osborn during the Dark Reign of HAMMER. Really great character development, art is gorgeous, and really has a lot of fun at points. Though I have read the whole series the quality seemed to have gone downhill with the addition of new characters after Fear Itself. Still, a good book to check out.

thorondragon said...

...kay kinda semi related, but i just realized a BIG plot whole with the whole superman concept.

my question is this. why hasn't anyone tried shanking the man of steel with an enchanted weapon? i mean..... really?

magic is one of superman's truly largest weaknesses, despite what some might think. it is the only thing that is compeltely abundant and can bypas his super endurance so easily. all anyone would really have to do to end superman right now is to have some evil magician enchant a great sword, give it to solomon grundy, and send the zombie after sups.

superman would be immediately bisected because, well, why would he even suspect the blade would be able to hurt him?

which makes me think of another point as well. technicalyl speaking, wonder woman could kick superman's ass hands down. she was made by godly magic, so he very fists can pulverize superman. combined with the fact she has access to supernatural weapons, especialyl in her latest incarnations, and is more than superhuman enough already to match him, even if superman turned murderous suddenly, she very well could humble the greatest man alive. especially considering superman is merely a brawler, and wonder woman is fully trained.

actually i think i am one of the few people who was not entirely surprised that wonderwoman would be the first superhero to just up and end a fella. technically she was trained to kill to begin with.

either way, i think i might declare this a plot hole. superman might have survived being beaten to death once, but no amount of plot convenience or regeneration could keep him alive if grundy goes Highlander on his ass. hell technically this would be the perfect plan. one could jsut enchant assault rifles and they would put an end to superman.

Lewis Lovhaug said...

Plenty of people have tried. The thing is that the magic doesn't UNDO his speed, strength, and skill. It just means he's vulnerable to it.

Gareth said...

Nice list.

V for Vendetta is my favourite Alan Moore comic. While I enjoyed Watchmen it was V for Vendetta that I loved.

Jla/ Avengers - the thing I loved most about this book is how the universes were shown to have separate properties so that they didn't just have different planets, people, etc the very nature of the universes was different. My favourite example of this being what happened to Wanda when she tried to access the chaos magic of the DC universe.

Thorondragon said...

which is whyi used solomon grundy as an example. the fact remains there are dozens of villains, and even heroes, that can get close enough to him to attack him with enchanted weapons. if not oen with super strength, then someone with super speed or agility.

hell here is a brilliant plan, though i feel villainous thinking of it. get deadshot inolved, provide him a case of sniper bullets enchanted, and trick superman into protecting someone from the bullets. superman would go right in front of them and get a hole blown through him because of the bullet's enchant would bypas most of his super endurance. and unfortunately the man of steel would be shocked and surprised by the injury long enough to be finished off with a headshot.

perhaps a very dark thoguht, but one i am shocked the likes of luthor has not come up with before. it is cruel and takes advantage of superman's purity.

basically it is taking advantage of a weakness superman would not be expecting. he owuld expect kryptonite and such, but since he has survived magical attacks before most might think him not vulnerable enough. but if a weapon is giving mystical characteristics that empower a physical object, something superman is not use to encountering, thing the magic would imbue the object with magic's characteristic of bypasing superman's super endurance.

of course if superman is suspecting this he would not be so easily killed. but think of it. how often has someone gone after him with an enchanted weapon? hell that might be an intersting storyline. someone is selling mystical weapons across the world, and superman finds himself truly vulnerable to even simple bank robbers for the first time ever. he might be faster than a speeding bullet, but then again he has never been known for actually running away from them to begin with.
it would probably really change things for him. albeit i admit something mass produced and not given exceptionally powerful magic would not be isntantly fatal, but an enchanted assault rifle would make the man od steel bleed, and truly wounded if shot too much.
though as i am saying him being attack not by magic energy, but a physical item with a fairly powerful enchantment over it. i guess one could say a layer of magic that would allow it to bypas superman's supe endurance and cause direct damage. if the magic is strong enough, it could simply ignore his endurance and affect him as if he is but a mortal man.

....okay i tyhink i might be gaining the mind of a supervillain here. i lvoe superman as much as the next guy, but i have always been somewhat curious of why a villain has yet to actually do something like that. i would dare guess because the plan would guarantee superman would die. perhaps people would think it was far too measely a death for superman, but i think it is disturbingly fitting. it would mean someone went thorugh an extreme amount of effort, and actually used resources of the dcu outside of plot conveniences to accomplish it. and the subtlety of it all would make it all the more tragic too.

of course, as said, superman does have a lot of abilites he could use to avoid a magic blade. albeit he would Have to know to avoid it. superman is an intelligent man of course, but he does not have batman's paranoid genius, nor is he actually a trained combatant. he has had no reason too because he is so strong and has yet to fight someone hwo has had true combat training in a seirous way, such as wonderwoman who likely was holding back during whatever circumstances she fought him before; magic fists hitting him right could break his bones if need, and she would know which parts are most likely to break. batman or wonderwoman would try to avoid a blade or bullet. which is the point of this evil plan. he would not try to avoid it, for he is neither trained nor would he be used to seeing a mere bulelt or blade done anything more than break against his body.

thorondragon said...

hmmm, guess i am somewhat operating on werewolf or vampire logic there. while both are resistant to normal harm, special supernatural tools can be used to harm them far more severly.

superman is able to heal from injuries at an accelerated rate i am sure, but he does not have a healing factor alla wolverine or said werewolf or vampire to fall back on if a potentially mortal wound is inflicted. kidna the reason why he did not wake up just a few hours after he was pulverized by doomsday. me a favor and do something to make sure these ideas are never, ever heard by dc. god knows they would just screw up the whole idea. probably make it that it was mrs. kent shot him with a magic bullet to teach him vulnerability and accidentally killed him or something, if most of the crossovers you reviewed are evidence. probably reveal superman raped powergirl or something during the storyline as well... not good.

Jenkins said...

I know it has already been said,
but Atomic Robo is awesome! The great thing about it is that it's fun, which is more of a rarity in comics these days.

Nick said...

I'll mention Peter David's amazing X-factor run (the current series) there are so many reasons.

1) He's currently in the hospital so every penny helps.

2) It's been an amazing series w/almost no need to read the other X books.

3) He actually made Shatterstar an interesting character. Proving that all Liedfield's creations just need someone writing them not named Liedfield (also Liedfield hates what has been done with Shatterstar so you know it must be good.)

(Also people go read Booster Gold! That series was glorious!)

Christopher James said...

I know this is a little late as well as the pinnacle of unasked for advice but I'd like to personally recommend absolutely anything by Darwyn Cooke. I know a lot of people have reservations about "Before Watchmen" and that's fair people are entitled to those opinions but Cooke's work both on "Minutemen" and with Amanda Conner on "Silk Spectre" really do stand beyond being unneeded additions and gain a life of their own. Maybe I'm just a sucker for the pulp writing and the silver age artwork but I can't personally get enough of the guy's stuff. His series "New Frontier" is also a pretty loving look at the Gold and Silver Ages which is also a great period piece.

That said the guy's art is super stylized, if you like Bruce Timm and the DCAU you'll probably get a kick out of it.

Hope that helps anyone, keep up the awesome work Linkara!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed Fables right up until the Great Fables Crossover, but Jack's treatment of Rose Red and everyone else just going along with it like they didn't notice his "relationship" involved fucking a woman with depression so severe she could barely dress herself kind of soured me on the series.

Unknown said...

Dear Lewis,

Thank you for recomending and introducing me to Earth 2. Now the only reasons I wait a month is this series and Rosario + Vampire.

PS Look at ROsario + Vampire for Longbox of the Damned or for one of your live shows. Despite the fanservice and some stupid ideas here and there, it proves that vampire romance doesn't always need to be a Twilight clone and can be awesome (seriously the most current is awesome and is better than most shounen I've read so far.) Hell, this series can make you sympathize with a succubus and not feel dirty about it.

avinharr said...

gail simone's run on wonder woman was boring. rise of the olympian was okay. that's as good as it got. brian azzarello's current run is a far more interesting read.

William Ngo said...

I am now fully caught up on Earth 2. It's actually a pretty good book. I like the faster pacing (especially when compared to Justice League), and the characters are all likeable (I still hate Hal Jordan), the team dynamic is nice, and the stories are just a lot more epic than in Justice League.
That said, of all of Justice League's stories, the only one I really like is Throne of Atlantis.

Anonymous said...

One word... Runaways from Marvel. Not bogged down in continuity, compelling characters, and a great story. Check it out.

Jarkes said...

Something I don't entirely get: is Geoff Johns a bad writer, or does he just have more off days than other people do?

Unknown said...

The way that I really got into comics was by randomly picking up trade volumes from my high school library. I found alot of heroes and stories that I have bought and still have today like Superman: Red Son, Batman: Hush and Kingdom Come. From there I started regularly buying issues.

One book I would like to recommend you put on this list even if you have never read it or have no interest to read it is Brian K. Vaughn's Runaways. It's, IMHO, the best book that Marvel has put out in the last decade. The story is about a group of kids who find out one day that their parents are all super villains and that they plan on destroying the world. With that knowledge they runaway from home and set out to stop their parents and make up for all the evil they have done. This book is filled with great likable characters, interesting plots, good art(though I will admit that the art in the beginning can be weird at times), good humor and drama and some great twists and turns. I would really only recommend BKV's run and maybe Joss Whedon's. The third volume was okay but nothing especially good.

Ming said...

My list of comic recommendations:

-- Irredeemable and Incorruptible by Mark Waid
-- Darkwing Duck from Boom Studios
-- Fables (and various spin-offs) from Vertigo Comics
-- G.I. Joe (the original Marvel Real American Hero incarnation and IDW's official continuation, Devil's Due/Disavowed, and IDW's current titles)
-- Geoff Johns' runs on the Flash (Wally West and Barry Allen)
-- Brightest Day core series
-- Justice League Generation Lost
-- Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck
-- Kick-Ass by Mark Millar
-- Justice League: The New Frontier
-- League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
-- Superior by Mark Millar
-- Mega Man (and Mega Man/Sonic crossover Worlds Collide) from Archie Comics
-- My Little Pony Friendship is Magic from IDW comics
-- All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison
-- Batman: Year One
-- Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

So, Linkara, given that Doug Walker had come up with the worst 11 films featured on the Nostalgia Critic (original run, 2007-2012), are you considering doing an episode on the worst comics you have reviewed on the show?

Aaron said...

A few sugestions I could give are X-23 both the orginal short miniseries by Craig Kyle and Christ Yost.

But esspcially Marjorie Liu's short series (the art by Sana Takeda is godly)wich had a great charcter arc and actually made me think "vampire Jubilee" was not that stupid of an idea.

Other recomendations would be Kelly Sue Deconnick's Captain Marvel, also GEneration Hope wich was funny and well written.
also the New 52 versions of

Batwoman and Aquaman although these are kind of personal choices as there the two titles that got be into American Comics.

Aaron said...

Some of my recomendations would be Marjorie Liu's X-23 series wich had great art and made X more than Wolvirine's "oppisite sex clone." Also the latter art by Sana Takeda was godlly.

Geoff John's New 52 Aquaman made me a comic book fan along with J. H. Willams Batwoman from great art to good story telling there both ones I'd recomend.

Captain Marvel Kelly Sue Deconnick's new series was another that I would recomend though fans are pretty devided on the art after Dexter Soy left.

Also Hawkeye by Matt Fraction wich is almost slice of life requires no real in depth knowldge of his back story and has orginal art and a "man of the people" vibe to it that makes him IMHO the first "working class super hero"

J said...

I personally recommend Superman: Birthright, since that's what got me into comics and especially Superman.

While I never disliked the man of steel, nothing about him really interested me. Sure, he was powerful, heroic and all, but just kinda boring. This comic showed a different side, almost like a God in mortal guise, not exactly rejecting his power to fit in but not quite sure what to do with it. The contrast to Lex Luthor was fantastic, giving the man an incredibly sympathetic feel as a mortal aspiring to be God.

Anyway. I'd recommend this to anyone who want's to know why Supermans a great hero.

Thunderforge said...

You left a very important recommendation out of this post: check out your local library!

Just about every library these days has some collection of comic trade paperbacks, which you can check out for free. At my library, they've got four, six-foot tall shelves full of them. If you're new to comics, you can check out a few that seem interesting and learn which series you're interested in and which ones you aren't, all without paying a cent!

Jay said...

It's been mentioned a couple of times, but Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener is absolutely amazing. Using SCIENCE to battle the likes of a creature beyond time, a nazi brain in a jar, and the crazed Dr. Dinoaur (who is actually a dinosaur)! The series really is about trying to be as fun and ridiculous as possible. I started with the third trade, which is The Shadow Beyond Time, but all of them are new reader friendly.

Anonymous said...

Well I like this list for the most part and will give most of these books a chance since I'm trying to get into DC more, but I really think you should add more Marvel stuff to these lists if you do a 3.0 version if only to give people more variety. Personally I think the Mark Waid and Jonathan Hickman runs of Fantastic Four are the best runs of those books, I'd recommend you read them yourself Linkara, I'm sure you'd love them. The Fantastic Four is probably more about fun than most of Marvels books. Say, any clue how long it'll be until we get a Titans/Young Justice Graduation Day review, I've been waiting for that one since your Titans retrospective videos.

Shademaster24601 said...

Excellent! I'm glad I finally found the recommendations list. Nice job, Linkara. If I could make a suggestion, I'd recommended Solomon Grundy. Writer/artists Scott Kolins does, in my opinion, an excellent job in telling the story of DC's undead goliath. I got it in trade paperback, so it's collecting not just the miniseries, but also the Faces of Evil issue that covers the origin story and a recap of major events in DC history that Grundy played a part in. The seven-issue miniseries stars Grundy, his long dead alter-ego Cyrus Gold, Alan Scott, Phantom Stranger, and a nice little collection of some of DC's more monstrous villains. Scott and the Stranger are trying to help Cyrus rid himself of the curse of constant death and resurrection into Grundy, within a seven-day time frame. It might make a nice AT4W review or a LongBox of the Damned segment, but like I said this is just a suggestion to a cool, dark, mystery story exploring a character, which also acts as a prelude to Blackest Night. Give it a look if you ever have the chance.