With the ever-growing popularity of big budget superhero franchises there has been a renewed interest in comic books and geek culture. I have talked to many people who have watched the films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy and have told me they want to start reading comics, but don’t know where to start. In all honesty it is hard to tell someone where to “start” with comics because there is no right answer.
Let’s say for instance that you want to start reading Spider-Man. Do you start with the latest issues? Do you start after Civil War or before Secret Wars? Or do you start all the way back in 1962 with Amazing Fantasy #15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man)? It could be very confusing. Honestly if you want to read every Spider-Man story ever told you wont be seeing daylight for a long, long time. That is why I never recommend starting from the beginning or focusing on a specific character or brand. My favorite stories are the ones that have an ending. Some of the best comic books ever written have a beginning, middle, and end.
So I present to you short list of some of the best comic book series that have a start and a finish. Most of these stories are self-contained, meaning you don’t need to know anything about the story going in. The characters, their backgrounds, and everything about the story are contained within the pages of these books. The rest of the books listed are about well-known comic book characters, but the stories themselves are not ongoing. To help make your options even easier I have divided these stories not by brand, but by price. Here are the best bangs for your buck books.
Your Jackson Buys You:
All-Star Superman, by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely
Grant Morrison is one of the biggest names in comics and for over twenty years has reshaped the DC Universe and some of its greatest heroes. Pair that with artist Frank Quitely and his masterful artwork, you have a dynamic duo on par with Batman & Robin. In 2007, they teamed up for All-Star Superman. It was not a retelling of the Man of Steel’s origin, which has been done over and over again since he first appeared in the pages of Action Comics #1 in 1938. No Morrison and Quitely told a story we had always wanted to see, what if the world’s greatest hero was defeated? In twelve breathtaking issues we see Superman face off with his most famous of adversaries, while protecting the ones he most cares about. Morrison not only writes a phenomenal Superman story, but it could act as the last one ever told.
Silver Surfer: Requiem, by J. Michael Straczynski and artist Esad Ribic
If Morrison is known mostly for his work on Batman, J. Michael Straczynski made a name for himself as the definitive writer for Marvel’s Spider-Man. Coincidentally back in 2007 Stracynski wrote what could act as the final story for the Silver Surfer. Paired with incredible artist, Esad Ribic, the 4-issue story tells the tale of a dying Silver Surfer making a final voyage to where his journey started. It’s a fantastic story about one of the most underutilized characters in the Marvel universe.
Your Grant Buys You:
Scott Pilgrim Precious Little Box Set, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
If you have never seen director Edgar Wright’s incredibly faithful adaptation of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series, you are doing yourself a huge disservice. That being said, the original comic series is also fantastic and is essential for any comic book fans collection. The series follows Scott Pilgrim, a 23-year-old Canadian slacker who falls in with Ramona Flowers, a mysterious young American girl he meets at a party (and in his dreams). When Scott begins to date Ramona, he soon realizes that if he wants to continue dating her (and also living), he must first defeat her seven evil ex boyfriends. Fans of music, video game references, and great writing will definitely enjoy O’Malley’s unique storytelling paired with his excellent artwork. For under $50 you can own all 6 volumes of Scott Pilgrim, then you can finally watch the amazing movie that was based off it.
Your Franklin Buys You:
Y: The Last Man, by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra
I don’t remember why I started reading Y: The Last Man, but I am so glad I did. It was the first series that got me obsessed with comics. The story centers around a young man named Yorick Brown, an amateur escape artist living in New York. On July 17, 2002, a plague hits the entire world killing every living mammal with a Y chromosome except Yorick and his pet monkey, Ampersand. The world falls into chaos as society begins to crumble without the hope for the continuation of existence. Yorick becomes humanities last hope for survival. The story is told in sixty issues and there is not a wasted moment. Writer Brian K. Vaughan weaves and incredible story and shows that every man’s fantasy, might be there worst nightmare.
This Weeks Recommendations:
Comic of the Week:
Tiny Titans: Return to the Treehouse #1, by Art Beltazar and Franco
Art Beltazar’s Eisner award winning series returns in this six issue mini series starring adorable child versions of the Teen Titans. In this series the little rascals search for their missing treehouse. In a medium filled with dark storylines and adult themes, it’s a breath of fresh air to read something that is just fun. It’s also the perfect series to give the young reader in your life.
Graphic Novel of the Week:
Wolverine and The X-Men Omnibus, by Jason Aaron and various writers
Back in 2000, X-Men became a blockbuster smash and spawned an awesome animated television series X-Men Evolution. The show only lasted three seasons, but it focused on one of the most crucial aspects about the X-Men; teaching mutants. That’s why this collected omnibus of Jason Aaron’s run on Wolverine and The X-Men is so great; it shows what happens when Wolverine returns to Westchester to teach at the Jean Grey School. Collecting WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #1-35, #38-42 and ANNUAL #1, Logan and his staff must balance teaching the future X-Men while dealing problems such as the new Hellfire Club, Frankenstein’s Murder Circus, and battling The Avengers. Professor Logan has his work cut out for him.
Al Mannarino is a Senior Writer and a frequent contributor to the Singles Party column for Pop-Break. He graduated Rowan University with a degree in Radio/TV/Film & History and is currently a Promotions Assistant for Clear Channel Media + Entertainment. When he isn’t writing he is either trying to build his own TARDIS or taking a nap. Follow him on Twitter: @almannarino