When it comes to literature, comic books have received something of a bad reputation. Long thought of as teenage flights of fancy they have never been give much respect when it comes to literary review or teachings. I would like to give my readers a list of comic books they should read. These are what is commonly known as a “graphic novel” and they usually contain one entire story arc of a comic book series or character.
Most people have seen the Sin City movie by now and while the movie does do the comic book justice (especially the special edition DVD), there are so many more wonderful stories in the Sin City universe. This book comes in at number five, only because if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve pretty much seen the comic book.
Number 4 is a tie between Runaways Volume 1 and Ultimate Spiderman Volume 1. Both are available in nice hardcovers and both contain awesome stories. Runaways is about a group of teenagers who discover that their parents are part of a organized crime group that’s got roots in the occult. Their solution is to runaway and defeat their parents. Ultimate Spiderman Volume 1 collects the first story arc of the Ultimate Spiderman series. The Ultimate line from Marvel Comics is basically a way for a new reader to jump on board with some of Marvel’s more popular characters without having to know 50-60 years of back history. While the last story arc for Ultimate Spiderman was less than stellar, Volume 1 gives insight to the beginnings of a great series.
Coming in at number three is Vertigo/DC’s Bite Club. The cover is probably a perfect introduction to what this book contains but not what it is about. Bite Club takes place in Miami where a vampire family “runs” the city. When the leader of this family is brutally murdered it creates a power vacuum among the remaining family and what happens is something like the Sorpranos meets vampires. Great book, superb writing, and a story so good that you want more at the end.
Number two is Astonishing X-Men written by the man Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly/Serenity) himself. Picking up where Grant Morrison’s horrible run leaves off, Whedon quickly brings wit and humor back to the X-Men. This story is good and with what takes place after this arc it’s only getting better. At the end of Morrison’s run, the X-Men are shattered and Professor X is no where to be found. Cyclops and Emma Frost come up with a plan to get the X-Men back together with the intention of “astonishing” the world again. Joss Whedon is doing some of his best writing here and it is not to be missed.
And finally, the number one graphic novel everyone should read is The Dark Knight Returns. This tale spun by Frank Miller takes a look at a Batman who has aged well into what is probably his eighties. At the time this story was written this was an almost entirely new concept, no one had ever thought about what Batman would be like in his later days. The result is probably one the best and most notable Batman stories ever. This book is not to be missed.