On top of the many things I am interested in – films, games and books – I’m also really into my comics. I read the standard stuff like Batman and Deadpool along with other superhero titles but have also recently checked out some licensed titles like Transformers. So it occurred to me that I should compile a list of 10 Comic Books That Are Well Worth A Look!
I’ve tried to avoid including superhero books and series that haven’t finished as yet – though there are a couple of exceptions because they’re that good. I’d also like to point out this isn’t a top 10 per se, I considered it but ranking in order would have been a total nightmare.
The first up and the first exception on the list as it’s to finish as yet in fact, the series has gone on a little break but should pick up again later in the year. It’s kinda like a fantasy version of Romeo and Juliet if the main characters in that story didn’t commit suicide and ended up having a child. Saga is a smart, funny and touching story of two parents from very different worlds trying to raise a child in the midst of a war between two sides that don’t want that child to exist. There’s a lot of insane characters within the story but they’re all fascinating, I really enjoyed reading this one and looking forward to seeing how the story continues.
How to begin to describe 100 Bullets, it’s full of twists and turns and really isn’t easy to explain. I guess it best described as part revenge thriller and part conspiracy thriller. Agent Graves gives wronged people a gun with 100 completely untraceable bullets to get revenge on the people that wrong them, they have the option to take or leave the opportunity as they want. Graves also recruits new members to the organisation he heads as he has his own hidden agenda. It’s definitely a series that makes you think and keeps you guessing all the way through.
Y: THE LAST MAN
Set in a world where male animals suddenly die, apart from main character Yorick and his pet monkey who somehow survive. The story follows Yorick and his bodyguard (Agent 355) as they attempt to discover why he survived then use the information to find a way to save the rest of humanity from extinction.
It’s a bloody fascinating concept and thankfully the writing is excellent. Yorick is a great character but the supporting cast, such as Agent 355 and Yorick’s sister Hero, are all equally brilliant. Y: The Last Man’s run didn’t go on for too long either, which is always helpful in holding interest. What it did well also was to retain a degree of mystery for the reader throughout opposed to explicitly explaining every little detail.
I could have filled this list with just ten Ed Brubaker books because his writing is simply incredible! Criminal, Incognito and Velvet – to name a few – are great reads, seriously please check out his work.
I’ve added Sleeper on this list though because if there’s one thing Brubaker knows it’s how to write a thriller. The type of thriller that takes you on a ride where nothing is ever straightforward. Holden Carver is a bit of a badass, he’s been fused with alien tech that’s removed his ability to feel pain and given him a healing factor amongst other things. Carver is placed undercover in a criminal organisation and the story develops as his loyalties are pulled into question. I don’t want to go into the plot details any deeper but I really cannot recommend it enough.
I started reading Scott Pilgrim and initially thought it was a realistic tale of a dude and his life, turns out that I was completely wrong! Scott Pilgrim’s story actually turned out to be completely insane.
If you’ve seen the film then you’ll know the basic story about how Scott romances Ramona Flowers and in so doing he has to face-off against her seven evil ex-boyfriends. The movie essentially condenses six books into one movie with a 1 hour 52-minute runtime and while it follows the basic main plotline it does so at the expense of the timeframe the story takes place in. That’s not to say the movie isn’t excellent, because it is, but there are a number of additional subplots in the comic books.
What’s always nice though is that there are still tons of little geeky references through the whole series, as a result of all of this – it’s a lot of fun to read.
Garth Ennis is a genius, a lunatic but still a genius. Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer who has acquired “the voice of God” and is journeying across America to try and find God who is having something of a holiday from Heaven. The voice allows Jesse to make people do what he wants, which isn’t even the most insane part about a series that includes an Irish vampire, an ultra-secret group tasked with looking after the descendants of Jesus and the Saint of Killers (who is essentially an indestructible hitman that Heaven utilise).
It’s a series that very much loves to revel in the absurd. Whether its the main villain getting an injury that makes his head resemble a cock or a character that makes a giant lady – made of meat so he can nail it, naturally – it just shows the sort of humour you’re dealing with here and why it’s so gloriously unhinged.
Technically Akira is not a comic book, in the conventional sense, it is a Manga series but for the purpose of this list I’m including it. Following the same path as the aforementioned Scott Pilgrim, a film was made condensing six books worth of story into a single runtime. It worked well in movie form but when reading the books there’s a lot of expanded storylines. You learn in detail about Tetsuo gaining his powers, Kaneda falling in with the resistance – which obviously both happen in the film. But you also see much more of a focus on Akira who, while discussed in the film, literally appears for about five minutes and doesn’t really have any impact on that particular story.
It’s also interesting that it started being published way back in 1982 and it still holds up amazingly well today.
Jason Aaron is another talented writer who has an amazing catalogue of work, his recent venture on Thor being a prime example. For me, Scalped is amazing because it was one of those series found through recommendation. The story follows Dashiell Bad Horse, an FBI agent, as he’s sent back undercover in the Native American reservation he’d left preceding. By joining Lincoln Red Crow’s rather unpleasant group his mission is to gather evidence on crimes he may have committed in the past.
What makes Scalped so amazing in my eyes is that it does a great job of setting up a history for the characters that impact the story that’s being told. Also, Dashiell’s character works so well because he left his home – as he was desperate to escape his old life – but has never been able to escape the anger it left him with. He uses nunchucks like a badass also which helps.
This series follows Spider Jerusalem as he returns to The City after a self-imposed exile to continue his job as a journalist in a very very dystopian future. As the series develops Spider finds himself going up against a dangerous, corrupt president. On reflection, it’s a bizarre parallel to what’s happening in America, and weird that it was initially published over 20 years ago.
What I love most about this series is that it’s able to shift seamlessly between different tones, it’s got a really dark sense of humour and can veer from being incredibly cynical to having a real sense of pathos. Transmetropolitan is something that’s stuck with me as a result.
Punisher Max is the other exception on the list, it’s obviously a superhero book but it’s reimagined in such a way that our main character is now a much older man. It really grounds him in a world where there aren’t any actual superheroes.
He’s left taking on mobsters, sex traffickers, the military and a whole cast of despicable groups like that. It’s another Garth Ennis series so it really doesn’t shy away from violence, there’s a shit load as you’d realistically expect from a story about a brutal vigilante that kills criminals. It’s a grim series but compelling because it’s a fresh take on an established character.
So there you have it, ten comics worth a look. You’ve also the likes of The Walking Dead, Lazarus, Fables, East of West and obviously this doesn’t even factor in proper superhero stuff. I hope you will give some a read and enjoy them as much as I have, or at the very least suggests things in the comments that I can look into.