Before I begin, know that this is in no way a definitive list of comic books you should read. I’m pretty Marvel-biased, and I also like my more youth-oriented and wacky comic books. Still, if you’re looking at getting into comic books, these are some good suggestions.
This comic book may not strictly be a superhero comic book, as the main character is Dream (slash Morpheus slash Sandman). He is one of the Endless (a group of entities that are beyond gods), which makes him pretty damn powerful. However, a lot of the stories aren’t about him solving things, but about people (and on occasion, cats).
2. The Ultimates
A brilliant series. The Ultimates is a very modern reimagining of the original Avengers. In the core group, we have Iron Man (Tony Stark), The Hulk (Bruce Banner), Thor, Captain America (Steve Rogers), Giant Man (Hank Pym), and the Wasp (Janet Pym). They’re joined by agents Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) and Hawkeye (Clint Barton), as well as two X-Men, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch (Pietro and Wanda Maximoff).
These are chock full of twists and turns, so I’ll avoid spoilers (except for one: there’s a huge ass fight scene in which heaps of Marvel superheroes show up and battle).
3. Captain Marvel
Alright, this may be my love for female superheroes showing, but I love the newest Captain Marvel. Kelly Sue DeConnick does a great job writing it, and can I just say I love that she actually has clothes? I don’t have any problem with showing skin, but a lot of female superhero costumes are just ridiculous.
I think that Carol Danvers is a badass, and the stories in the first trade are well worth reading (time travel, guys! Time travel!)
4. Avengers Academy
I love me some high school angst, and the Avengers Academy has it, mixed in with a good, healthy fear of becoming evil.
The kids that form the inaugural class of the Avengers Academy are different from other superheroes. Norman Osborne has manipulated (and in most cases, tortured and experimented on) young superheroes that he believes have the potential to be his next super villains. Fairly traumatic for a group of teenagers, right?
Another youth-oriented comic book! Runaways is based on a group of teenagers who realise that their parents aren’t just annoying or strict, but actually an evil supergroup which controls most of the activity in Los Angeles.
Upon finding out, they realise they all have different powers (including alien powers, mutant ones, and oh! there’s a velociraptor involved!)
6. Doom Patrol
Well aren’t these guys the wackiest group of superheroes to ever walk the planet?
In a nutshell, the Doom Patrol was a comic book about creepy ass misfit superheroes that reached its peak popularity during the 80s with Grant Morrison writing it.
I recommend starting from #19 of the relaunch (no disrespect to the not-Grant Morrison writers and artists). I don’t even know how to describe this series. Morrison goes to the most bizarre, surreal places (Dadaism included), and his “heroes” include Robotman (a man’s brain in a robot’s body), Crazy Jane (62 personalities, each with different superpowers, whaaaat), and Danny the Street. Yes. He is a street.
Don’t even get me started on the villains.
Well, this is a no brainer. Watchmen is frequently celebrated, not just as a stunning example of the comic book medium, but as actual literature. It depicts an alternate universe where superheroes exist in the 1940s and 1960s, and are around for various wars and the events that follow.
It’s quite dense, but if you can follow it, it’s well worth it.
8. Scott Pilgrim
Ahh, Scott Pilgrim. Every slightly-nerdy/geeky person saw the movie, which is one of my all time favourites.
But Bryan Lee O’Malley’s series is a joy to read. It’s a little bit Japanese comic book, a little bit traditional Western, and is pithy, jam packed with pop culture references (which we love!) and all kinds of adventures.
9. Umbrella Academy
Another weird one. This is written by Gerard Way (yeah, the singer in My Chemical Romance), but if you’re not a fan of the music, try not to let it cloud your judgement too much. Way’s writing is weird, wonderful and at times, absurd.
At one point in the original series, the Eiffel Tower is revealed to be a spaceship, and flies away.
Yeah, okay Gerard. (Can you tell that he cites Grant Morrison as one of his major influences?)
The art is gorgeous too. Gabriel Bá is one of my favourite comic book artists (and you should check out his work, because it’s pretty amazing. I recommend Daytripper.)
Alright, I admit it. I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and also most of the work Joss Whedon has ever done (Firefly, anyone?) Fray is no different. It’s set way off in the future. Dystopian, naturally, and Melaka Fray is a badass thief who is also a Slayer. (Slayers are basically superheroes, but without the capes!)
Joss Whedon wrote it, so it’s kind of brilliant.
You should read it.
Again, these are by no means the best or most important superhero comic books out there, but the ones I recommend.
Feel free to comment with superhero comic books you think would be in your top 10!