Given that today is my birthday, I thought I’d share some of my favorite comics. Most of these are trade paperback or hardcover collections, but they’re also available in individual issues if anyone feels the need to hunt them all down. They are also in no particular order, aside from the order I found them on my book shelves.
Civil War: Wolverine – Civil War is a great event comic, at least in retrospect and my favorite of the numerous tie-ins is the four issues of Wolverine. While most of the other tie-ins focused on how various heroes and teams dealt with registration and whose side they were on, these were about Wolverine doing what he does best. In these, the Knucklehead is hunting down Nitro, the villain responsible for the explosion at Stanford which lead to the Superhuman Registration Act. The story is pretty solid, with several unexpected parties showing up and providing plot twists. This was also my first introduction to Humberto Ramos, who quickly became one of my favorite artists. His crazy style fits this book perfectly and there are some very memorable panels.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns – This one is just an all around classic and is arguably Frank Miller’s best work. The first three graphic novels I bought after my first NYCC were Civil War, Watchmen, and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. Not only did this collection shape my entire view of Batman, but also how I saw what comics as a medium, could be. I love the old, gritty, broken Batman and the lengths he is willing to go to once he comes back. This is also a wonderful example of Frank Miller’s art while he was in his prime. It’s everything I enjoy about it without being over the top like it was in Ronin. I have this in trade paperback as well as the insanely awesome Absolute Edition.
Transmetropolitian – I am a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson. I think that about sums it up.
…I’m kidding of course. Basically this series is Warren Ellis’s telling the story of Spider Jerusalem, a Thompson-like character in the not-too-distant future. The whole series is available in ten trade paperbacks, but in my humble opinion, the first four are the best. These provide an introduction to the main characters, a feel for the world, and set up the conflict for the majority of the series. While there are some great side stories, the main story mixes journalism, politics, and insanity in ways I never thought possible. I love this series so much that I named my cat Spider.
Saga – In the last three years, anyone who has asked me what comic they should be reading has gotten the same answer, Saga. While I would recommend pretty much any of Brian K. Vaughan’s books, this one in particular is amazing. I keep saying that I have no idea what is going on as it happens, but that I don’t care because I’m along for the ride. Wherever Vaughan is headed is fine by me. Although it’s crazy, it is also relatable and oddly familiar. Vaughan develops his world from elements that are recognizable, but wraps them in something that is new and unique. This, coupled with the gorgeous art by Fiona Staples makes it my absolute favorite book that is being published right now (even with the extended breaks). I get super excited every time this book comes out.
Uncanny X-Men: Rise and Fall of the Shi’ar Empire – Admittedly, this isn’t one of the greatest titles ever published. I mean Uncanny X-Men should be considered one, but this particular story line wasn’t necessarily one of the greatest, especially when compared to similar space epics like the Dark Phoenix or Brood Sagas. Having said that, I still really like it. It stars a team of lesser used X-Men as well as Prof. X who go into space after the insane Summers’ brother, Vulcan, who has now set himself up as Emperor of the Shi’ar Empire. Really I just love it because it’s a giant, twelve issue space epic that mixes super hero fights and space ships. It speaks to the Star Wars loving kid inside me. I picked this up shortly after to moving to Virginia and I spent thirty-five dollars that I really couldn’t spare to get my hands on it and it was totally worth it.
Star Wars: Clone Wars – Speak of space sagas, this was an enjoyable series from the mother of them all. Another series with ten trade paperbacks, this one follows various characters and factions through the Clone Wars, starting with the Separatist attack on Kamino and ending with a few Darth Vader focused issues. While there was some great stuff with Yoda, Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Mace, the series also featured some lesser known Jedi that played important roles in the conflict, such as Quinlan Vos. The art in the books is hit and miss since the stories are taken from a number of different comics, but like most of the other Dark Horse Star Wars books, it’s at least middle of the road. The one thing this series doesn’t lack is some serious action. Between clones blasting at droids and Jedi fighting Sith, there was rarely any serious down time, which in Star Wars is alright.
The Immortal Iron Fist – I’ve had an excellent habit of accidentally picking the best books to introduce myself to new characters. I can’t take all the credit, however, as I have been given some great recommendations from friends and podcasts. The Immortal Iron Fist is one of those books that came my way and my brain just melted. The story itself is absolutely awesome, but what makes the book one of my favorites is the art by David Aja. While he has most recently been doing crazy stuff with color and layouts in Hawkeye, this book is more controlled, but equally awesome. I couldn’t have picked a better introduction to this character and I can’t wait for the Netflix mini-series.