Graphically superior

When I speak to many enlightened people about graphic novels, there’s typically a common theme. Whilst it’s what they are most frequently associated with, most folk that I know don’t tend to read Superhero stories. I don’t know why, maybe they are seen as being a bit beneath them, or maybe, with so many to choose from, they just don’t know what to try.

Let me see if I can help. I know that world of Superhero-dom can be a confusing one, with a multitude of characters each with long histories and back stories a-plenty, but they aren’t all like that, and many of the better modern writers can draw from that history and make them accessible and likeable. Or they can just give a tasty morsel of a story with familiar characters and no background reading required.

With those requirements in mind, here are some of my favourite Superhero graphic novels (or trade paperbacks) that I hope will be enjoyable and not frustrating…

Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer : This DC based story sees many DC heroes well-known, and not so well known, finding that someone is attacking their loved ones rather than themselves. Even with several less well-known characters taking the fore-ground there’s plenty to enjoy and be engrossed by. With a story that is more of a whodunnit than a series of fisticuffs and plenty of drama and tragedy along the way. (If you like this then try “Tornado’s Path” again by Meltzer with a twisted take on Pinocchio as super-robot Red Tornado get’s his wish of becoming human made a reality.)

The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller : It’s so obvious I feel daft putting it in here. A must-read for anyone with any passing interest in graphic novels of any kind. With an elderly Batman being forced out of retirement in a world where many others have fallen or been twisted by time, this story helped to redefine Batman and remains a classic of its type. (If you like this, then try Frank Miller’s more recent take on Batman with “All star Batman and Robin”, a reworking of Robin’s origin story and a hard-hitting take on what makes the pair tick.)

Marvels by Kurt Busiek : A walk through the beginnings of many Marvel Universe heroes told through the eyes of a reporter. Beautifully drawn – or rather, painted – by Alex Ross and with an emphasis on the impact that the rise of all major Marvel heroes had on the world around them.

JLA : Earth 2 by Grant Morrison – A very easy to pick up and read JLA story. The Justice League come under attack from another dimensions’ version of Justice League called the Crime Syndicate. Is it a battle that either side can ever really win? (An even easier to pick up, but with no established superheroes in it, book by the excellent Grant Morrison is We3. To quote a fellow comic book lover, “the best cat/dog/rabbit superhero story I’ve read”.)

Empire by Mark Waid : Again, a nice story to just pick up and an interesting take on the whole superhero story. In this one, they’ve lost. A Doctor Doom like supervillian called Golgoth has conquered almost the entire world, fighting a one-sided battle against a few who try to fight on. It’s dark and got some pretty unpleasant scenes in it, but i think it’s a real treat to read and there’s nothing else like it.

Top 10 by Alan Moore : Everyone knows Moore from “Watchmen”, “V for Vendetta”, or “League of Extraordinary Gentlemen”, but for me, “Top 10” is one of his finest moments. In an incredible world where everyone is has a superpower filled to the brim with cheeky little jokes and imaginative ideas, the police force of Top 10 have to try and deal with a variety of superpowered crimes. Ranging from a Jack The Ripper-esque prostitute murderer to an invisible sex pest, with a dash of superpowered drugs and deicide thrown in, this sits comfortable with the rest of Moore’s excellent work and so far no-one’s upset him by making a film about it either!

Geoff John’s revival of Green Lantern : I’m going to put this in here mainly because i think it’s awesome. If you start at the beginning with “Secret Origin” and “Rebirth” you shouldn’t struggle too much with moving onto the Sinestro Corps Wars, which is chock full of epic battles and rich characters. A bit more work is required to span the gap between Sinestro Corps Wars and Blackest Night – which again is incredible – as Geoff introduces Lantern’s for each colour of the spectrum. It’s well worth the effort though and has plenty of shock twists and brilliant story-telling.

Published in: on 20/12/2010 at 2:55 pm  Comments (1)  
Tags: ,