Chimp's Comic Book Recommendation Thread

ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
<div class="IPBDescription">for new and old readers alike</div>Comic books are one of the most daunting (and misrepresented) forms of entertainment out there. I know many people would like to get into comics, but there's always one question for new readers: where should I start? This topic is intended to answer some of those questions, and show that not every book has to do with men in tights fighting the same villains month after month. These first 3 books are probably the most critically acclaimed on the list, and the ones that new readers have most likely already heard of.

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Written by Alan Moore, art by Dave Gibbons</b>

This story by Moore and Gibbons is not only a great story, but also the only comic book to be named one of Time Magazine's top 100 books of the 20th century. Although this book deals with Superheroes, it does so in a fairly realistic way. Set against the backdrop of the early 80s and the Cold War, Watchmen follows Rorschach and Nite-Owl as they try to uncover the mystery behind the murder of an old colleague. The deeper they go, the more evidence they find that someone is killing off "masks" like themselves. Great storytelling and great art combine to tell an unbelievable story of good, evil, and the shades of grey in between.

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<b>V for Vendetta
Written by Alan Moore, art by David Lloyd</b>

Although Alan Moore denounced the movie adaptation of this book, donating his share of the profits to charity, the movie does a fair job of following the book, although it comes off as "V-lite". In a time where the balance between freedom and security is becoming more of an issue than ever, this book gains more and more relevance.

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<b>Sandman volume 1 (Preludes and Nocturnes)
Written by Neil Gaiman, art by various</b>

"Epic" is the one word that comes to mind when I think of Sandman. Gaiman creates his own mythology with this book, which tells the tale of Morpheus, Lord of Dreams. Whether making deals with William Shakespeare or talking to his sister (who happens to be Death), Morpheus makes for one of the most compelling and interesting characters in literary (or at least comic book) history. Many people who read the first volume of this book don't get hooked (understandably so, as the first volume is by far the weakest of the 10 volumes), so I would recommend you read at least the first two before you decide whether or not to read the whole series.

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<b>Ultimate Spider-Man volume 1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Mark Bagley</b>

I try to avoid recommending superhero books since I know a lot of people have the misguided conception that all comics need guys in tights and women with ginormous assets. However, since Spider-Man is such a popular character, I felt that he needed some representation on this list. This book is a modern retelling of the Spider-Man mythos and is easily accessible to new readers so you won't have to worry about 40+ years of history.

(I got tired of finding pictures after this point)

<b>Fables volume 1 (Legends in Exile)
Written by Bill Willingham, art by Mark Buckingham and others</b>

This book is, in my humble opinion, the single best series being currently published. It takes Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, and all of your other favorite storybook characters and places them in modern day New York as they've been chased from their Homelands by a mysterious conqueror named The Adversary. This first book deals with the murder of a famous Fabletown resident, and the ensuing investigation by the town's only lawman, Bigby Wolf (aka the Big Bad Wolf). I recommend this book to anyone and everyone, and if you enjoy the first volume, be sure to check out the other volumes (with my favorites being "The Homelands" and "March of the Wooden Soldiers) as well as the recently released graphic novel "1,001 Nights of Snowfall".

<b>The Exterminators
Written by Simon Oliver, art by Tony Moore</b>

This book is not for the faint of heart or those especially squeamish when it comes to bugs. This book follows the employees of the Bug-Bee-Gone company in their battles against all things that can be exterminated. When a popular roach poison starts mutating roaches instead of killing them, it's up to Bug-Bee-Gone to take them out. This book has beautiful and ultra detailed art by Tony Moore.

Written by Grant Morrison, art by Frank Quitely</b>

Homeward Bound meets Robocop. This book tells the story of 3 animals (a dog, cat and rabbit) and their escape from a government facility that turns animals into war machines. Grant Morrison weaves a heart-wrenching yet often humorous story, while Frank Quitely provides some of the most beautiful art I've ever seen.

<b>The Walking Dead
Written by Robert Kirkman, art by Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard</b>

Kirkman is one of my favorite authors right now, with this book being one of the primary reasons. Although the book starts off like any random zombie movie, its real strength lies in the characterizations and interactions between the characters as they struggle to survive in a zombie-plagued world. Although many people may be turned off by the black and white art (I know it kept me from picking it up when it was first released), it's phenomenal and at times frightening (especially the first couple stories with art by Tony Moore).

Written by Frank Miller, art by Lynn Varley</b>

Based on the legendary Battle of Thermopylae, this fictionalized version follows King Leonidas of Sparta as he leads the 300 men of his personal guard against the might of the Persian Empire. There is an upcoming movie based off this book, and I would recommend you check this out before the release date. This is quite possibly Frank Miller's best work, and even though he didn't do the art in this book, Varley superbly handles it.

Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith</b>

Taking one part Disney and one part Lord of the Rings, Jeff Smith tells the story of the 3 Bone cousins: Fone, Phoncible, and Smiley. When chased out of Boneville because of Phoney's shady business practices, the Bone cousins find themselves in a Valley of magic and adventure. Although it starts off as a lighthearted adventure, the story soon takes a decidedly darker route (although not completely forgetting its lighthearted beginnings) as the Bones (along with unforgettable supporting characters like Thorn and Grandma Ben) set off on a journey to defeat the dark power that is plaguing the Valley.

And that's it for this post. I plan on adding a couple other lists in due time, including the greatest Superman stories of all time. If you have any questions or recommendations of your own, feel free to post.


  • Crono5Crono5 Join Date: 2003-07-22 Member: 18357Members
    Thanks, this post looks really helpful! But do the comics have previews or something you can read on the internet, or should I just go to a bookstore and sit down?
  • ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
    edited January 2007
    I know that my local library has a fairly good collection of TPBs, so that's a good place to start. As for online previews, I know there are some out there, but none for the books I mentioned. If you'd still like to read them, I can find the links and post them here.

    edit: also, I know amazon has previews for a lot of books, so that's also a good place to look.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu Anememone Join Date: 2002-03-23 Member: 345Members
    You missed the only good one!

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    Written by Warren Ellis, Art by multiple people</b>

    The only non-Star Wars comic I've ever really been interested enough to read (that and Sin City but those are more one-off sorts of things). Transmetropolitan is about a gonzo journalist named Spider Jerusalem, and it's set in the future where everything is completely crazy. It's a little bit cyberpunk and a little bit Heinlein and a whole lot of funny. It's very well written, it's hilarious, and it's quite well drawn most of the time. If other comics were this good, I'd be reading them!

    I think.
  • puzlpuzl The Old Firm Join Date: 2003-02-26 Member: 14029Retired Developer, NS1 Playtester, Forum Moderators, Constellation
    Wow, a great list. I've read most of them, and I'll try to check out the ones I haven't.

    I would have included at least one hellblazer too, probably "Dangerous Habits" by Garth Ennis. I would also definitely check out "Signal to Noise" by Gaiman and Mckean, especially for those who think graphic novels are about superheroes and good vs evil.
  • pardzhpardzh Join Date: 2002-10-25 Member: 1601Members
    Yay for you. Just the type of thread I was looking for.

    I'll throw in my own suggestion that I recently finished:

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    <a href="" target="_blank">Batman: The Dark Knight Returns</a>

    by Frank Miller

    My first real foray into graphic novels and I loved it. Really gritty oldschool Batman stuff goin down, highly recommend.
  • DiscoZombieDiscoZombie Join Date: 2003-08-05 Member: 18951Members
    I never bothered with paper comics, but I read like a dozen webcomics every day...
  • chubbystevechubbysteve Join Date: 2002-10-14 Member: 1496Members, Constellation
    I'm so glad that the first book mentioned was Watchmen. Remarkable story. Incredible depth. Awesome visuals. Kinda makes you want more stories to be told in the same fashion.

    I got given Endless nights for christmas. It's another Sandman series book and a very thought provoking one. I'm just starting to read the sandman story now.

    Graphic novels are such a compelling medium for story telling, I feel that everyone should give them a try in some capacity. Just pick one up, you never know where it might take you.
  • ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
    DKR and Transmet are both excellent choices as well, and were going to be in my next big post. I'm almost finished with my Superman post, expect it later tonight.
  • ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
    Superman is one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the world. Picking only 5 best stories out of his 60+ year history is tough, but here's my list for the best Superman stories ever:

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    <b>Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?
    Written by Alan Moore, art by Curt Swan, George Perez and Kurt Schaffenberger</b>

    This story is often considered one of the stories that heralded the end of the Silver Age of comics, a turning point that for a time led to darker and grittier comics. This "Elseworlds" story (which means it didn't really happen to Superman in his "real" history) combines the silliness of most Silver Age Superman stories with the grim and gritty stories that would become common place in the years to follow. Superman ends up battling the most dangerous of his foes (Bizarro, Lex Luthor and Brainiac to name a few) to protect his friends after his secret identity is revealed to the world. Friends and foes alike perish in the battle, and the outcome makes this the final Superman story and a fitting end to the Silver Age of comics.

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    <b>Superman: Red Son
    Written by Mark Millar, art by Dave Johnson and Kilian Plunkett</b>

    It's amazing what a difference 12 hours can make. In another Elseworlds story, Superman's rocket lands in Soviet Russia in the 1940s. In a surprising and entertaining reversal of roles, Lex Luthor plays the hero to the American people while Superman rules the Soviet Union. This book is full of great moments, with appearances by most of Superman's supporting cast and friends in new roles (Batman as a freedom fighter wearing a furry hat, Jimmy Olsen as director of the CIA). The one caveat for this book is that the ending either makes it or breaks it for a lot of people, although I think it fits perfectly in the context of the story.

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    <b>Superman: Secret Identity
    Written by Kurt Busiek, art by Stuart Immonen</b>

    Set in the "real world", Kurt Busiek tells the tale of a teenager named Clark Kent who lives in Kansas. Tormented endlessly by his peers and bombarded with Superman memorabilia for birthdays and holidays, Clark can't believe that his parents actually named him so. So what happens when he suddenly starts developing Superman-like powers? What ensues is a wonderful tale of the only superhero on Earth. As Clark grows up, becomes a successful writer and gets married (to a woman named Lois no less), he must juggle his normal life with his super powered burden. This book is a stunning story of how normal people and a normal world deal with the advent of super powered beings.

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    <b>For the Man who has Everything
    Written by Alan Moore, art by Dave Gibbons</b>

    This is the only story on my list to take place "in continuity". In this story, which was recreated rather faithfully on the Justice League Unlimited cartoon, Superman is forced to choose between the real world and a perfect dream world in which Krypton never exploded, and he has a wife and child. Truly one of the most heartbreaking Superman stories ever, it can be found in the recently released "DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore" along with other great stories such as "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" and "The Killing Joke", one of the most influential Batman stories ever.

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    <b>Kingdom Come
    Written by Mark Waid, art by Alex Ross
    In a future where heroes are nearly indistinguishable from villains, the destruction of Kansas in a nuclear holocaust by one such band of heroes forces Superman out of retirement. Having been driven to solitude years ago by the "hero" Magog, Superman is now driven to lead both new and old heroes on a mission to apprehend not only the world's villains, but also the careless heroes who had run amok for years. In opposition to Superman's new Justice League is Lex Luthor's Mankind Liberation Front, who hopes to destroy all metahumans and give Earth back to regular humans. The book culminates in a ferocious battle at the Gulag, a metahuman prison built in the ruins of Kansas. This book does a wonderful job of delving into Superman's character and morals, and contains outstanding painted art by Alex Ross.

    That's it for the Superman list, as always feel free to comment or add on to this list, and if anyone has any suggestions for my next list, feel free to post.
  • ZigZig ...I am Captain Planet&#33; Join Date: 2002-10-23 Member: 1576Members
    edited January 2007
    <!--quoteo(post=1600786:date=Jan 21 2007, 06:35 PM:name=Crono5)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Crono5 @ Jan 21 2007, 06:35 PM) [snapback]1600786[/snapback]</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->
    Thanks, this post looks really helpful! But do the comics have previews or something you can read on the internet, or should I just go to a bookstore and sit down?

    hmmm... there are no warez allowed here, but i'm not linking directly to anything illegal.

    you'll want to check

    good keywords include Transmetropolitan.. Punisher.. etc.

    <b>OMG edit:</b> HELLBOY!
    <img src="" border="0" alt="IPB Image" />

    personally the best series of comics i've ever read.
  • TestamentTestament Join Date: 2002-11-02 Member: 4037Members
    Are we the only two Transmet lovers alive, Tycho? I was going to post the same thing. Best comic ever.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu Anememone Join Date: 2002-03-23 Member: 345Members
    Both Zig and Chimp indicated that they enjoy it. I have trouble getting people to read comic books just because there's no demo for them to download or anything. They should make half of Issue 1 available online for free or something.
  • LockNLoadedLockNLoaded Join Date: 2002-09-05 Member: 1282Members
    Great Thread <img src="style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/smile-fix.gif" style="vertical-align:middle" emoid=":)" border="0" alt="smile-fix.gif" />

    (one of the many reasons why OT is my default forum view)

    Informative for the non-inititated i.e new to the genre (like me). I've seen some Sandman books around but havn't really garnered enough interest to pick up any - until now perhaps. I have read Gaiman's novels (<i>American Gods</i>, <i>Anansi Boys</i>..) and love the mythology that he creates.

    Keep it up!

  • QuaunautQuaunaut The longest seven days in history... Join Date: 2003-03-21 Member: 14759Members, Constellation, Reinforced - Shadow
    Bone completely obliterated a good portion of every morning in Hawaii for me. I got it before leaving on vacation, and loved every moment. <3
  • UnderwhelmedUnderwhelmed DemoDetective #?&#33; Join Date: 2006-09-19 Member: 58026Members, Constellation
    <!--quoteo(post=1601590:date=Jan 25 2007, 12:43 AM:name=Testament)--><div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Testament @ Jan 25 2007, 12:43 AM) [snapback]1601590[/snapback]</div><div class='quotemain'><!--quotec-->
    Are we the only two Transmet lovers alive, Tycho? I was going to post the same thing. Best comic ever.
    I was about to post something on that when I saw Chimp had omitted it, until I saw Tycho had already done it.
  • ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
    edited January 2007
    I decided for my next post to try and list my favorite works by my favorite writers. This turned out to be a far harder task than I thought, both for trying to nail down my favorite writers, and even moreso for trying to pick just one of their works. So I decided to just dedicate each post to a certain writer. Without further ado, here's the first of my favorite writers and their best works.

    <b>Warren Ellis:
    Ellis is probably my consistently favorite writer. Whether he's redefining superhero comics with his work on Stormwatch and The Authority or writing biting social commentary with Transmetropolitan, everything he touches is pure excellence.</b>

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    <b>Stormwatch and The Authority
    Art by Tom Raney, Bryan Hitch and others</b>

    Ellis took over writing duties on the long running Stormwatch series in 1996 and immediately transformed the book from a stereotypical 90s superhero comic (shiny art, little substance) into a serious mature comic dealing with superheroes in a more realistic manner. He continued this work with The Authority, which dealt with an immensely powerful superhero team, comprised of old Stormwatch members and dealing with their responsibilities to the world they protected. Ellis ushered in a new era of mature superhero books with his work, and the ramifications can be felt in modern day works such as the Ultimates.

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    Art by Darick Robertson</b>

    Others have already commented adequately on Transmetropolitan, so I'll just reiterate that it is an excellent book chock full of satire and social commentary.

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    <b>Global Frequency
    Art by various</b>

    In this 12 issue series, Ellis tells 12 different stories revolving around the 1,001 members of the Global Frequency, a semi-secret organization called upon by both citizens and government to deal with extraordinary threats to the world. From dealing with a weaponized Ebola bomb to an extraterrestrial memetic virus, the members of the Frequency rely on their own special skills, ranging from le parkour to knowledge in experimental soviet weapons, and the leadership of Miranda Zero and Aleph to accomplish missions. There was a television series pilot produced, but unfortunately nothing came of it.

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    Art by John Cassaday</b>

    While not yet finished (there is still 1 issue left), this book builds upon concepts created by Ellis in his work on Stormwatch and the Authority. The book's main character is Elijah Snow, a so-called "century baby", born on January 1, 1900. With vague powers concerning the manipulation of heat as well as a century worth of experience, Elijah is inducted into a group called Planetary, dedicated to investigating and preventing paranormal phenomena. The series eventually evolves into a massive conspiracy dealing with parallel universes and secret masters of the world. This is one book which has never failed to entertain me, and which I would recommend to everyone (even moreso to those who have read Ellis' work on Stormwatch and the Authority).
  • ChimpZealotChimpZealot The Elite Demo Detective Join Date: 2002-11-30 Member: 10315Members, NS1 Playtester, Constellation
    The revival!

    <a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" class="linked-image" /></a>
    Written by Brian Wood, art by Riccardo Burchielli</b>

    This book takes place in the near future, during a war between The United States and The Free States (essentially a countrywide militia movement). The Free States have taken over large parts of the country (mostly in the midwest), and conscripted just about whoever they could find to fight in the war. The biggest and deadliest clash between the FS and the US occurred in New York City, which has been designated a DMZ following a tenuous cease-fire. The story opens as Matty Roth, a photography student, is sent into the DMZ along with a film crew and a world famous war correspondent. While being choppered into Manhattan, they are shot down and Matty is the only survivor. After being patched up by Zee, a resident "doctor," Matty decides to stay and continue reporting on daily life inside the zone. Strong visuals by Burchielli accompany the very strong characterization and storytelling of Wood to make for exciting and thought provoking tales.
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