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Taking the plunge...COMICS!

30 Jul 2015 13:09 #207472 by quozl
Replied by quozl on topic Taking the plunge...COMICS!
Yeah, when I wanted to check out comics I just checked out everything my library had. Found some good stuff and found some crap.

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30 Jul 2015 13:26 - 30 Jul 2015 13:33 #207476 by Mr. White
Oh, I totally forgot about the short story at the end of the 'Confession' trade...'The Nearness of You'. Itself worth the price of the tpb. One of the best single issue stories ever penned and only at about 16pgs. This tale is a great example that even spandex comics can tell deep, heart wrenching tales.

"A man named Michael Tenicek keeps dreaming about a woman he never met it is causing him to resort to drugs to not dream of her.

The Hanged man tells him that there was a battle with a time-traveling supervillian named Time Keeper that broke the time continuum and reality, that the heroes fought and won, but there has been some changes after the reconstruction of reality, and this woman was his wife in the present version of reality because her grandparents never met. The Hanged man offers to erase these dreams but Michael decides to keep the dream so he can still remember her even though he never really knew her.

#06 on Wizard Magazine's "100 Best Single Issue Comics Since You Were Born" list."

Looks like Confession is getting a new hardback release this September.

Alright, I've done all I can here. Hope you dig into at some point.
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 13:33 by Mr. White.
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30 Jul 2015 13:43 #207478 by Jackwraith
Lot of good suggestions here. I've been reading since the 70s, wrote for our own studio in the 90s, and am now back to occasional reader, so a lot of the stuff I'll recommend on the characters you mentioned is older (i.e. trades and hardcovers.)

The stuff I'm reading right now is almost exclusively non-superhero, since I absorbed about as much as any human can stand of that genre. The lone exception is Astro City, because Busiek remains one of the better writers in the medium's history. If you begin to appreciate his storytelling there and like Conan (the barbarian, not talkshow host), I'd highly recommend his work on Dark Horse's Conan re-telling that started a few years back. They're attempting to tell the Howard stories from beginning to end, but also to fill the gaps (so if he was in Argos in one story of the Carter/de Camp chronology and in the next was in Koth, they tell the story of how he got there.) He was later replaced by Tim Truman and Roy Thomas and the quality fell off a bit, but they're still good Conan stories. I've been buying the collections (which is how I read most comics these days) and I think they're up to the 17th.

If you're really interested in superhero stuff, I would recommend a couple things you don't already have listed: Marv Wolfman's run on Amazing Spider-Man in the 70s (#180 or so) and Roger Stern's work for two years on the same book (around #224) in the early 80s are excellent examples of very human stories interwoven with superhero adventure. I agree with San's take on Walt Simonson's run on Thor (widely regarded as the pinnacle of that book) with one caveat: the dialogue is BRUTAL. Simonson is a great storyteller, both conceptually and visually, but his characters could be wooden. Still, his mythological modern approach was great stuff.

On Captain America, I'd veer back farther to the late 60s and 70s, around the time Steranko was drawing (former) and Steve Engelhart was writing (latter.) That period focused more on the social overtones of the day and I found it more interesting than the splashier eras that followed (although I'll always have a place in my heart for the Serpent Society of Mark Gruenwald in the mid-80s.) Have to recommend John Byrne's Fantastic Four work in the 80s as the high point of that title, since he humanized the entire team and had some really far-reaching storylines, akin to Claremont's more cosmic stuff (Shi'ar, etc.) on the X-Men when Byrne was drawing. Also, speaking of Engelhart, his work on Batman and Detective in the 70s (later collected as "Shadow of the Batman" in the 90s) was the perfect definition of that character, including the best Joker story ever told: "The Laughing Fish."

Speaking of cosmic, if you like galaxy-spanning stuff and can find them, I'd suggest old issues of Epic Illustrated for Jim Starlin's Metamorphosis Odyssey and its standalone sequel, Dreadstar. Great work from a former master that is both sci-fi and superhero-y. Speaking of Epic, the entire run of Alien Legion and Coyote (also Engelhart) are well worth searching out. Also, if you like a more political sci-fi bent, Transmetropolitan is one of the greatest things ever committed to a comic page. I've read little of Warren Ellis' superhero stuff, since I was already out of the genre by the time he did serious work, but Transmet is one of the books that I will always recommend (and I'll get to recommend a prose anthology that he's part of with me if I ever stop posting here and finish my story...)

Agree with MB's take on Hellboy, Dredd, Swamp Thing, and Bone (especially sticking to B&W on the latter; don't let the color distract you from the great linework.) Also, I don't find The Dark Knight Returns dated at all. It's still a great story if you can accept Miller's somewhat heavy-handed politics. On Swamp Thing, if you enjoy Moore's take, I'd also recommend Hellblazer, especially the Jamie Delano and Garth Ennis runs. And, yes, if you like Saga, you NEED to read Y: The Last Man.

What I'm currently reading, other than Astro City, is Saga, Manhattan Projects, Lazarus, Rat Queens, anything Grendel that Matt Wagner occasionally does (most recent was Grendel vs The Shadow), and Fell, if Ellis ever comes back to it. There's about a million other things I could recommend, ranging from Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol (overrated, but still interesting) to Juan Diaz Canales' Blacksad (painted, in hardback and, thus, expensive, but a great example of noir storytelling) to Larry Marder's Beanworld, but I'll stop here.
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30 Jul 2015 13:43 #207479 by Shellhead

Egg Shen wrote: Tier 3 (Individual Stories...I guess)

Daredevil: Born Again
DC: The New Frontiers
Kingdom Come
Civil War
The Dark Knight Returns
The Killing Joke

Daredevil: Born Again - Though I enjoyed the first Miller run on Daredevil, this one didn't impress me at the time so I skipped it after flipping through the first issue. Just not a fan of the Mazzucchelli artwork, I guess.

DC - New Frontiers - a revisiting of the beginning of DC's silver age. Good story but I disliked the retro art.

Marvels - Nice artwork, but the story is an average joe's view of some major events from Marvel's silver age. Until you are more familiar with that era, you won't enjoy it much. I got the references but found it so underwhelming that I have never re-read those issues since.

Kingdom Come - Most comics got too grim, gritty and shitty in the '90s. Kingdom Come is an excellent rebuke to that trend, and a decent story in its own right. However, the comic is crowded with characters that you may not recognize in many cases, so this is a better story for an experienced DC reader.

Civil War - In the silver and bronze age of Marvel, heroes often got into misunderstandings with other heroes and spent an issue fighting. By the 21st century, nearly all the Marvel heroes were on a first-name basis, having fought side-by-side through so many money-grabbing crossover events since the mid-'80s. The Civil War (and Secret Invasion) were heavy-handed editorially-mandated events to give the heroes permission to fight each other again. They intended to set things up to polarize and energize the fanbase, but instead set up Captain America as The Good Guy and Iron Man as The Bad Guy, and then had too many other characters acting way out of character, for bullshit reasons. Avoid this mess like the plague.

The Dark Knight Returns - mandatory reading for Bat-fans and most other comic fans. The sequel, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, is terrible and should be avoided at all costs.

The Killing Joke - great art, good story, but Alan Moore now regrets having written it. I would still recommend it if you are interested in Batman.
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30 Jul 2015 13:47 #207480 by Mr. White
Great, multi-post breakdown, Shellhead.
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30 Jul 2015 13:56 - 30 Jul 2015 13:59 #207481 by Shellhead
If you are looking to get into reading regular monthly issues of individual comics, this is actually a bad time to start. Both DC and Marvel are rebooting their respective continuities, which could potentially make for a great starting point. But both companies seem to be proceeding with a lack of cohesive vision, so the results are likely to be a sloppy mess that will be rebooted again soon. DC's last reboot was just four years ago, and it was a mistake.

There have been some great non-superhero comics over the years, especially in recent years. Here are a few modern ones off the top of my head:

Y, the Last Man - All the men died, except for one guy. What happens after that is a great story. My girlfriend had never read comics before, but she read the first 56 issues in one marathon sitting, until 3 AM. And then she was very annoyed that it took six months for the last four issues to come out.

Locke & Key - Kids get into wild adventures with magic keys. Great characters, good artwork, and an amazing story. Might be the best comic of the 21st century, so far.

Scalped - Life on a native american reservation with a new casino, featuring lots of bad people screwing each other over. The story digs into everybody's past, showing how they became so fucked up, making you feel unwanted compassion at times.

FreakAngels - Psychic powers, post-apocalypse, great characters, nice art. The whole story is free online somewhere, but I bought the set because I prefer to read from comics instead of computer screens.

EDIT: FreakAngels for free starts here:

Jonah Hex - weird western tales, nearly all one-issue stories. Don't bother with the movie.
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 13:59 by Shellhead.
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30 Jul 2015 14:30 #207486 by Egg Shen
Damn, lots of great info to chew on. I knew this was the place to pose this question. Y'all rock!

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30 Jul 2015 14:35 #207487 by SebastianBludd
The positive side to trying to figure out what to read from some of these long-running titles is that you can just read certain arcs or writers' runs that interest you and ignore most of the rest. For instance, you'll notice that a lot of people in this thread will advise you to read "So and so's run on X". That's because most people don't read every single issue of every characters' series they like and you shouldn't feel obligated to or that you're missing out on a lot. Barnes had some excellent advice in another thread: try to narrow it down to writers you like rather than characters and then read other work by that same writer after you've read a few TPB's and you've identified whose work you enjoy.

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30 Jul 2015 14:48 - 30 Jul 2015 15:35 #207490 by Egg Shen
Hey I thought of another series to ask about....

EC Comics - any of em. Are these worth tracking down? I'm a huge fan of the HBO Tales from the Crypt and I've always had an interested in the original comics. Anybody ever dabble in them?

San - Apparently they released the Tintin stuff in hardcover volumes. Looks like you can get this fairly cheaply.


Any thoughts on Ghost Rider and Deadpool?
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 15:35 by Egg Shen.

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30 Jul 2015 15:04 - 30 Jul 2015 15:06 #207492 by VonTush
Replied by VonTush on topic Taking the plunge...COMICS!
Also, check out Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald. Great story that came out about the same time was Watchmen where a group of superheroes (Marvel's version of DC characters) attempt to use their powers to create a utopian society.

Jonathan Hickman I think is fantastic with some great ideas (sometimes execution is a little rocky). Check out his work from Image like Nightly News and Pax Romana. And I've heard his runs on some Marvel properties is pretty good, though I haven't read.

A fun book is the collection of Wrath of The Spectre by Michael Fleisher. Pretty controversial at the time it is kind of like mashing up a Superman and Tales from the Crypt so you get this vengeful all powerful being doing some pretty bad stuff to bad people in pretty horror filled ways.

Matt Fraction is someone I need to read but has come very recommended by the locals at my comic shop. I've heard his run on Immortal Iron Fist is very, very good. Sex Criminals has a strange premise where two people realize that when they have sex and orgasm they freeze time and pull of heists, which is the hook, but from what I understand it is more about relationships and more personal topics rather than just doin' it. This is up on my list to read.

Jason Aaron is who wrote Scalped that Shellhead recommended and I'd second. I really enjoyed The Other Side by him which tells the tale of two soldiers fighting in Vietnam, one an American GI and the other a North Vietnamese trooper.

Dennis Hopeless is a local KC guy that my shop promotes a lot, but I haven't had a chance to read yet. But as he's local (as is Jason Aaron) I'll hype them a bit.

Chris Ware is great. If you can find Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid on Earth, get it and read it. Ware does some fantastic stuff with the medium. The Acme Novelty library is a brilliant mix of laughs and emotions.

Marvel I read early on and I thought it was great, because it was new and a style I wasn't used to. As my knowledge base grew though I realized that it is good, but where it was a landmark for me at the time, in the grand scheme not as much.

100 Bullets I've tried to start a few times but it never grabbed me. I've started and stopped a few times now, just felt more like work to try to get through the end.

G Willow Wilson is an author to check out as well. Cairo was a fun adventure. Air is a series that I'm in the middle of reading, I just finished the first trade and have the second on my nightstand. In an industry so dominated by a similar voice she brings a very different voice and take to the table.

Manhunter: The Special Edition by Archie Goodwin is also an overlooked tale. Used to fill pages at the back of Detective Comics the story is very compressed and keeps moving at a really nice clip. I should pull this back out tonight to read.
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 15:06 by VonTush.

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30 Jul 2015 15:24 - 30 Jul 2015 15:25 #207494 by Mr. White

VonTush wrote: Also, check out Squadron Supreme by Mark Gruenwald. Great story that came out about the same time was Watchmen where a group of superheroes (Marvel's version of DC characters) attempt to use their powers to create a utopian society.

I had heard a lot about this back in the day and still mean to check it out. Know if there's anything to a rumor that Gruenwald had his ashes mixed in with the pages?..or something odd like that...
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 15:25 by Mr. White.

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30 Jul 2015 15:32 - 30 Jul 2015 15:34 #207495 by VonTush
Replied by VonTush on topic Taking the plunge...COMICS!
Yeah, I heard that rumor.
And according to Wikipedia it's true. And that's what I recall reading in the forward, that the first print run of SS did have his ashes mixed into the ink.


COMIC URBAN LEGEND: Mark Gruenwald’s ashes were mixed in with the printing of a comic book.


When Mark Gruenwald tragically passed away at the “too young” age of 42 in 1996, one of his farewell wishes was that he be cremated, and that his ashes be mixed in with the print run of a comic book.

Bob Harras and his widow, Catherine, decided on the first printing of the trade collection of perhaps Mark’s most memorable series, his 1985-86 mini-series, Squadron Supreme.

“This is something that he really wanted because he really loved comics,” said Bob Harras, Marvel’s editor-in-chief. “He wanted to be part of his work in a very real sense.”

Marvel has since done newer printings of the trade, so they do not currently sell copies with Gruenwald’s ashes mixed in, but I’m sure you can find some on Ebay!

Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 15:34 by VonTush.

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30 Jul 2015 15:43 #207498 by Million Dollar Mimring
I'm enjoying Jason Aaron and Jason Latour's Southern Bastards. It starts off as a retelling of Walking Tall, but goes off on a new path starting with issue #5. Each arc, they've just started on the third, peers into a different bastard that inhabits Craw County. From the outside, the book seems to have a lot of cliche elements, but Aaron makes them interesting enough to keep moving forward. Southern Bastards hasn't hooked me as much as Scalped did, but I would say the two books are definitely spiritual cousins.

Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine Delandro presents a very patriarchal society where disobedient women can be incarcerated for the most minor of infractions. The first four issues begin with a newly arrived prisoner being tasked with gathering a group of women for some futuristic sporting event. In interviews, DeConnick mentioned how she wanted to play on the women in prisons tropes. I've been pleasantly surprised with the book and look forward to each subsequent issue.

Nameless by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham appears to be Morrison's take on space horror with the occult thrown in for good measure. Scientists have discovered a giant asteroid that will collide with the Earth in X amount of days. The catch is the asteroid contains some occult images and they enlist the help of a John Constantine style character who officially has no name. Things immediately go wrong and it appears that Armageddon has come to Earth.

Finally, The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips is another great crime series by this team. It involves the dark side of McCarthy era Hollywood. I've heard that Fatale is also a very good crime book. All I can say is that I've read most of Criminal by this team and I've loved that series.

I'll second, or third, the dislike of 100 Bullets. I really did enjoy the first few trades, but the story eventually becomes a convoluted mess that really fails to hit a satisfying conclusion. I thought the moral framework surrounding the 100 Bullets made for a much interesting story as to why the briefcase, or group behind the briefcase, was ever created/introduced. It's not that I minded the Illuminati reveal; it's that the story needed a reveal in the first place.

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30 Jul 2015 15:48 - 30 Jul 2015 15:55 #207499 by Mr. White
Damn, you all!!

This thread has me wanting to rebuild a mini comic collection. Well, maybe a mini tpb collection. Astro City is back in. I'm finally gonna get to that Squadron Supreme, I might go in on that Busiek Conan, but there are two other titles that I'm not familiar with that I have high interest in:

* Animal Man - I want the Grant Morrison run. Is that the first three trades? Are those the essential ones?
* Swamp Thing - Is Alan Moore's run really that good? Which trades do I need here?

Also, importantly, I don't need any shelf toad comics. I found Astro City to be very re-readable. Are these others? I don't want to buy read-once-and-shelf titles.

Thanks again, Egg....

EDIT: How about those Swamp Thing movies? I think I remember seeing the first one...or maybe I just remember Adrienne Barbeau... Are they worth a visit for fun?
EDIT II: I just read there was also a TV show....wha?
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 15:55 by Mr. White.

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30 Jul 2015 16:26 - 30 Jul 2015 16:28 #207502 by Josh Look
DARK KNIGHT RETURNS. Read it. Then read it again. No bullshit.

DAREDEVIL - So much to recommend here. Frank Miller Visionaries Vol. 2 is a good starting point. I know, what about Vol. 1? He didn't write that, only draw it, and it's really has little to do with where he would take it. You can watch the super hero comic grow up issue by issue in Vol. 2 though. 3 has some cool stuff, too. Born Again and Man Without Fear are also terrific, especially Born Again. The entire Bendis run is excellent as well and it closest in tone to the Netflix series. Mark Waid made him bright and fun again and guess what, the character still rules. DD has been my favorite Marvel character for years now.

DOCTOR STRANGE - The Oath is what you want. Love that one. Do a Google search on "Best Dr. Strange stories," I picked up some single issues and had good luck with that.

BATMAN - I'm going to say _don't_ star with the Morrison run. It is really good and kind of encompasses everything the character has ever been, but by no means does that make it definitive. The books everyone mentions are the way to go, the aforementioned DKR, YEAR ONE, THE LONG HALLOWEEN, THE KILLING JOKE, HUSH...all excellent. If you're looking for some good lesser known Bat-tales, check out PREY, BLIND JUSTICE, and STRANGE APPARITIONS. PREY is a really well done Hugo Strange story, BLIND JUSTICE touches upon some really great, subtle stuff about the character, and STRANGE APPARITIONS is a really fun Detective Comics run from the 70's that really helped establish the look of Gotham. There's a O'Neil/Adams omnibus coming this year, can't wait to get my hands on it as it's pretty much the only landmark Batman stuff I don't own in some form.

If you want something really weird, super fun, hilarious, and very smart I can't recommend SEX CRIMINALS by Matt Fraction enough. I really can't explain what it's about and successfully sell it. I get to the part about "E.T. dick" and people typically give up on me, but trust me, this book is insanely good. Read everything on the page.

Do you love the original STAR WARS trilogy? Marvel's current Star Wars books. All of them. They have yet to put out anything bad.
Last edit: 30 Jul 2015 16:28 by Josh Look.
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