I love superhero comics, but they are not the only comics I read. There are some really great comics that have nothing to do with capes and tights. I’ve compiled a list of some of those I feel are most worthwhile.
It may actually come as a surprise to some that Saga is not at the top of my list, but it’s the truth. Transmetropolitian tops any list of my favorite comics, super heroes or not. Warren Ellis perfectly blends the most absurd protagonist ever (who is loosely based on one of my favorite writers) with cutting social commentary that makes for a read I was utterly unable to put down. I can’t remember the last time I devoured a book the way I did Transmet. I spent a considerable amount of time and money that I did not have simply because I absolutely had to have the next trade. I have nearly every issue and I’m also buying the Absolute editions because I have to have this book in every possible form. No other book I’ve read has quite lived up to the expectations set by Transmetropolitian.
I said Saga was not number one, it is however a very close second place. Where Transmet almost beats readers over the head with its insanity, Saga weaves a much more subtle story. Despite being a science fiction epic on the Star Wars scale, it strikes much closer to home. More than anything else, Saga is the story of a family and its struggles. They deal with the same kinds of things that everyday people deal with on a daily basis, but they also have magic, robots, and spaceship trees thrown in for good measure. The characters are uncannily relatable and I honestly empathize with them. When things are going well, I’m happy for them. When they take a downward spiral, I’m also right there with them. It’s the best kind of glorious, emotional rollercoaster.
War comics are nothing new. From WWII to Vietnam, and now Iraq and Afghanistan, every generation has its war and the comics to go along with it. DMZ is something a bit different. Taking place only slightly in our future, DMZ tells the story of a young reporter stuck in Manhattan, a demilitarized zone during an American civil war. Initially there by chance and later by choice, the reporter helps give the rest of the nation and the world a human perspective. Terrible things happen in war and DMZ doesn’t attempt to sugar coat them. Instead, the book embraces these moments for what they are and encourages the reader to examine them in their entirety.
Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland
Nemo is truly a classic. The original title dates back to the 1910s and is one of the greats of its time. Return to Slumberland is a four part miniseries that takes readers back to that enchanted land. This book has some of the best art I have ever seen, filled with color and detail that I didn’t know was possible in comics. Not only is it absolutely gorgeous, but Return to Slumberland is a faithful homage to its parent. As miniseries go, this one is masterfully crafted and a demonstration of all that a series can accomplish in a limited issue count.
Disney’s Scrooge McDuck Titles
Where Little Nemo was an example of what can be done with intricate detail and elaborate colors, Disney’s various Scrooge books are top-tier specimens of the beauty of simplicity. Bold colors and clean, simple illustrations are used to tell stories that are fun for all ages. This isn’t to say that the books are simple; they tell complex stories, often all within the span of a single issue. These books are filled to overflowing with adventure and humor that are often hard to find in modern comics.