I’ve been getting asked a lot on and offline what are my favorite comic books? That’s a loaded question. I had to think about it. There are some great runs in comics. Some great story arcs. But I had to dig down and see what I really liked. What books have I read over and over and over. These are what I enjoyed the most, I’m not saying these are the greatest comic books ever, I’m just saying they appealed to me. So here are my top 10 favorite comics.
10. Identity Crisis The DC Comics crisis events. Mostly just okay stories. Too much going on and not enough time to invest in any one character. But Identity Crisis stands out above the rest. Instead of a multiverse changing, massive story, Identity Crisis focuses on the mystery of who killed Sue Dibny. The wife of the Elongated Man. More and more of the heroes civilian loved ones are attacked and the heroes have a ticking clock to solve the mystery before another loved one is murdered. Written by Brad Meltzer this book focuses on the cost of living a double life. Highly recommended.
9. Young Avengers: volume 2 Not to be confused with Young Avengers volume 1. Volume 2 by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie is nothing short of awesome. A multiverse hoping, teenage super hero daydream. It’s a really great story about teenage love, magic, pop references, LGB, and Loki. Lots and lots of Loki. So if you ship Wiccan and Hulkling, love Kate Bishop, and cannot get enough of America Chavez, you’ll want to read this book.
8. Superman American Alien A lot of people have mixed opinions on this book, but I really enjoyed this unique take written by Max Landis. Focusing on the early years of Clark Kent, it felt more grounded in what Clark would actually be going through on his journey to becoming Superman. Each issue has a different artist which is fitting because each issue focuses on a different year in Clark’s child to teenager to young adult to man journey. It’s a mini series that should be pretty easy to find and I highly recommend it.
7. DC The New Frontier A book paying tribute to the Silver Age of DC Comics. Focusing on the Macarthy era, A time where America couldn’t be less trusting, the story focuses on the super heroes once praised for their services, now find themselves ridden off as outlaws. Multiple perspectives from Hal Jordan (Green Lantern), Martian Manhunter, Wonder Woman, Flash, etc, as they fight for truth, justice, and the American way, accumulating to the upcoming battle with “The Center.” Darwyn Cooke tells an amazing story that you all should check out.
6. Scott Pilgrim Vol 1 through 6 I cannot recommend these books from Bryan Lee O’ Malley enough. 6 graphic novels in total, focusing on Scott Pilgrim’s desire to date Ramona Flowers, his journey to defeat her 7 evil ex’s, and the challenge of being a responsible adult. This book is filled with post high school confusion, punk rock, video games, anime style action, and heart. If you liked the movie, I promise you, you’ll love the book.
5. Ultimate Comics Spider-Man volume 2 My favorite super hero is Spider-Man. In 2011 when they announced they would be making a new Spider-Man of color I was ecstatic. As a person of color it’s been great to have a Spider-Man that fills that need for minority characters. Obviously just having a minority character isn’t enough but Brian Michael Bendis’s run on Ultimate Comics Spider-Man makes you really love the character of Miles Morales. The story of what happens after Peter Parker dies and a new clueless Spider-Man must fill the void, is nothing short of great. It puts you in the shoes of a new character trying to figure out who he is, all while trying to keep the memory of Peter Parker alive.
4. Paper Girls If you like the show “Stranger Things,” you’ll love Paper Girls. Taking place in the 1980s, 4 middle school girls, on their morning paper route get caught up in the strangest day of their lives. To ninjas, dinosaurs, time travel, clones, to apple products, Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang hit you with a sci-fi nostalgia story that will keep you guessing where the next turn is.
3. Justice League International The late 80′s had one of the greatest Justice League runs of all time. Keith Giffen and J.M. Dematteis pumped out some of the funniest and most entertaining comics to date. Focusing on the Justice League as a work place comedy, this massive run follows the adventures of a newly formed Justice League made up of mostly second string characters. The satisfaction of Batman punching out Guy Gardner, the comedy duo of Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, GNORT! If you want your super hero books to be fun and hilarious, this is the book for you. Starting in Justice League #1 through 6 and transitioning to Justice League International, then splitting between Justice League Europe and Justice League America.
2. New Avengers This comic book run written by Brian Michael Bendis is what got me back into comics after an 8 year absence. 6 months after the Avengers disbanded due to the Scarlet Witch killing some of her fellow teammates, a massive prison break, orchestrated by Electro forces Spider-Woman, Luke Cage, Daredevil, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, and the Sentry to come together to put an end to the riot. The book follows the newly formed team on their mission to track down the 42 escaped prisoners, all while trying to solve the mystery who hired Electro and why? New Avengers also brought some of the best characters in Marvel including Wolverine, Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, and more, to join the team. The book became the center stage for Marvel Comics from 2005 until 2012 running through events like House of M, Civil War, Secret Invasion, all the way to Avengers vs X-Men. It’s a fun super hero book that really throws you into the world of Marvel Comics.
HONORABLE MENTIONS Black Science Sex Criminals New Teen Titans (Marv Wolfman) Batgirl and the Birds of Prey Uncanny X-Force (Rick Remender run) Batgirl: Year One
AND NUMBER ONE….
1. Saga If you’re not reading Saga, you are missing out. A Romeo and Juliet story set in a sci-fi fantasy space adventure. In the middle of an intergalactic war, Alona and Marko leave their worlds behind to risk everything for the survival and protection of their newborn Hazel. Hunted by both sides of the war, the two travel across the stars and encountering creatures from all over the galaxy who either want to help them or want them dead. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples take a story about the ups and downs of parenting and throws it into a cosmic and crazy story of awesomeness. Look out for Izabel, Prince Robot the IV, and Ghus. You will smile every time they are on the page.
Favorite romantic moment in the Marvel & DC universes?
Ooh, that’s a tough one. DC’s got lots of moments, particularly involving Ralph and Sue Dibny and Scott Free and Big Barda, but I’d have to land on the Wally West/Linda Park story Hell to Pay. It’s basically One More Day, but with the Flash instead of Spider-Man and an ending that’s heartwarming instead of…well.
God, I love this couple.
As for Marvel, I went through a bunch of different Scott/Jean and Scott/Maddie stuff and even some Peter/MJ stuff before landing on Chase and Gert’s final moments.
Remember that time the Justice League did something that was so terrible it made Batman straight up quit the League? I’ll give you a hint: it had something to do with Catwoman, a gross invasion of privacy, and massive abuse of power that would permanently change their lives.
This all really started in Identity Crisis when it was revealed that after second rate villain Dr. Light had once broken into the watch tower and assaulted Sue Dibny, the wife of Elongated Man. Magician Zatanna at the behest of other members of the League used her magical abilities to mind wipe Dr. Light. The secrets continued to spill when it was revealed that Batman had actually caught them in the act enraged and tried to stop them. Zatanna and the other Leaguers secretly mind-wiped Batman’s memory of the event. Unfortunately Zatanna still hadn’t mastered her abilities at that point and ended up radically changing Dr. Light’s personality, and it’s implied that the mind-wipe caused Batman to have major trust issues. After that the League got a little bit carried away with the mind wiping.
The outcome carried into JLA: Crisis of Conscience. At some point the Secret Society of Super Villains had switched bodies with members of the Justice League and learned about their civilians lives putting their loved ones in danger, and of course Zatanna mind wiped them of the information. Eventually the Secret Society of Super Villains had their memories restored and went for blood.
Batman of course found out and he was pissed. The fallout from such a catastrophic secret divided the League and Batman started avoiding them all together.
So what does this have to do with Catwoman?
Catwoman had just spent the better part of half a decade becoming a reformed whip wielding anti-heroine and defender of Gotham’s east end. Her relationship with Batman, though brash and unpredictable, seemed to be true. For the first time ever really their relationship was allowed to really develop and Batman made a huge step in pushing the relationship forward by revealing his identity to Catwoman a few years prior. Catwoman is overwhelmingly considered to be Batman’s soul mate a position that DC seemed to be cementing in this era. It was Batman’s moral rigidity that caused him to decline Catwoman’s previous advances towards him. When Catwoman moves closer to morality over her more selfish impulses it allowed Batman to sort of reconcile the two.
Surprise, surprise. It is then revealed that the reason that Batman took the news of the mind wipe so hard was because at one point apparently Catwoman was a member of the Secret Society of Super Villains and another victim of the League’s liberal mind wiping campaign. Now Batman reacted badly when he found out about them mind wiping some B rate villain, imagine how he responded when he found out that it was the woman that he loved.
She didn’t reform because she wanted to: she did it because of magic! Years of character development thrown right out of the window in two pages or less. Ed Brubaker should be pissed and we as the fans should not have to accept that shit as canon.