a return to comic books

i’m looking into reading comic books again. except not your normal comic books. i’m no longer interested in spiderman or superman, et al, those were the comics of my youth.

i’m interested ones in a similar style of that of neil gaiman )of sandman fame).

maybe not exactly the same, but not your average superheroes, if you get me.

so if anyone knows any good non-average superhero comics, let me know. and some places where i can get them would be helpful (web sites, local comic store, borders, whatever).

thanks, (ynh)

Preacher! Get Preacher, if you can.

There’s an interesting-looking new comic called Last Shot that I picked up a couple of issues of. It’s a futuristic western type comic. You might give that one a shot.

Ditto Preacher. The entire run is available in the convenient trade paperback form.


Stray Bullets
Strangers in Paradise
(which is going out of production this year :()
Astro City
Top 10
Tom Strong

I’m a big fan of everything Joseph Michael Linsner does, so if you can find the Dawn: Lucifer’s Halo trade paperback, get it. You could buy all the issues as well, but that’s expensive. It’s a mix of various religious and mythological beings in an odd version of New York and focuses on a young man’s being thrust into a war between heaven and hell and his coming into his own as the latest incarnation of the god of Death and Change. Interesting stuff. And the artwork is all painted and incredibly beautiful.
I personally enjoy the Authority, but it is a bit like the typical super hero stuff, just with a bit more attitude. One of my favorite quotes from it:

Bad Guy: “What kind of heros show up to a fight stinking of booze?”
Apollo :(as he bursts through the giant guy’s head) “The dangerous kind.”

Those are really the only things I get now. I also pick up the Ultimate X-Men and Ultimates, but those are retellings of old superhero stories in modern day.

Powers is pretty good as well. It’s about an ex-superhero who’s now on a police force that investigates crimes dealing with super powers. Interesting art, and pretty good storylines (one deals with a bunch of teenagers who play Vampire getting knocked off by a real vampire who finds it offensive).

I rarely read comics much anymore either. Between the prices and the scarcity of books worth reading (meaning the books worth reading are too damn hard to find), it just isn’t a priority. But I do pick up a few now and then, and the ocassional TPB. From the small sampling I’ve read, I would also recommend Preacher and Strangers in Paradise. Both have nearly full runs available in TPB too. I also like Planetary a lot, though I didn’t care for Ellis’ other book, Transmetropolitan.

I also read the first half of the first Tom Strong TPB and couldn’t find any compelling reason to continue. It seemed to be a very straightforward attempt to recreate a 1940’s style pulp superhero, not a very original concept at this point in time, even with (hell, especially with) the occassional jabs of parody. Maybe I’m missing the point, because Alan Moore is usually no slouch.

I would also recommend Grant Morrison’s Invisibles. It’s hard to like, but worth the effort.

If you want something similar to Sandman, I’d heartily recommend getting the trade paperbacks of the recently-ended Starman series. Mature themes explored in suspenseful stories filled with enough throwaway references to real-world history, obscure comic-book history and pop culture to delight the eagle-eyed reader. Great main character and very interesting supporting cast.

Preacher is also very entertaining, although it can get very heavy-handed at times.

Well, if you liked Sandman, there’s currently a spinoff by Mike Carey that gives Lucifer his own book, called Lucifer, oddly enough. It’s very well written, and since I always liked the character, I’m a big fan. I’m not so fond of any of the other spinoffs, though; since there’s so much other good stuff out there (mentioned by the others here) I’d avoid them.

[li]100 Bullets–Brian Azarello is the god of hiding a conspiracy right under your nose.[/li][li]Hellblazer–old favorite, also currently written by Azarello. John Constantine, everybody’s favorite chain-smoking magical Brit.[/li][li]Rising Stars–the first arc is brilliant. The recent stuff only so-so, but the interest generated from the first arc is enough to keep it worthwhile.[/li][li]Spiderman, Tangled Web–I know you counted out Spiderman, but this book is wonderful. And not about Spiderman. It’s about the lives he affects, for better or worse. Usually, he’s just a cameo.[/li][/ul]

I will also recommend Strangers in Paradise. Not only some good stories but it can also work as a hook to get female friends to start reading comics. Worked for me anyways, now my g/f asks ME to go to the comicbook store.

Also I am a late comer to the Hellboy series but I am loving it now. Give a click to the web site and read some of the online comics. If nothing else it will prep you for the movie .


I enjoy Star Wars from Dark Horse…it supplies my fix between movies (and they’re technically not superhero, if that helps).

Dark Horse is great for a lot of licensed properties.

Oh, and Free Comic Book Day is this Saturday.

Looks like most of my suggestions have been taken, but let me also suggest that you look for them in trade paperback. You’ll usually get a complete story arc and they are easier to store. I’ll go ahead and second some of the above nominations:

Top 10
Rising Stars
Punisher: Welcome Back Frank (in the Marvel Universe barely)
Ulitmates (not in tpb yet, but it will be very soon)
Astro City (most things by Kurt Busiek are pretty good)

Have you read some of the other Neil Gaiman graphic novels and comics? His three-part “Black Orchid” mini-series is available as a trade paperback, and is much better than the monthly series (by other writers) which followed it. He also wrote a four-part “Books of Magic” mini-series, which is also available in a trade paperback. I just finished it, and really enjoyed it. I have not read any of the later monthly comics (some also collected in trade paperbacks). Again, they were written by someone else.

Alan Moore wrote a ten-part series called “Watchmen” (also available as a trade paperback) which seems at first to be a super-hero story but which is completely unlike the typical super-hero stuff. He also wrote “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” which is great stuff. It is available as a small hard cover book at places like Barnes and Noble, where they also have many other comics in trade paperback form.

All of the above are DC publications. They tend to keep the trade paperbacks in print, so even if your local comic shop does not have them in stock, they can probably order them for you.

Lucifer is fantastic, as is Astro City and Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles. (Although that last one is very tough and it takes two reads at least to appreciate it.)

Next time you’re in a Borders, find their “Graphic Novel” section, which will have many trade paperback reprints of various series (including several mentioned above.) Go ahead and read through a few issues of anything that looks interesting.

Also, don’t discount superheroes – most of the superhero books published these days aren’t your typical slugfests, or at least not always. Read the first couple issues of Batgirl (there’s a trade of this, too) to see what I mean.

Finally, I’d also recommend the CrosssGen compendia. These are big thick books that collect ~8 issues of a handful of comics series published by CrossGen, and they’re cheap. The first one, Forge #1, is probably your best bet and just came out a few weeks ago. All the series reprinted in Forge will continue in the next issue of Forge, so you’ll be able to follow the entire story.

As for websites, I’d recommend CrossGen’s at www.crossgen.com or the message boards at the DC Comics site.


Alan Moore is also writing Promethea, which is a beautiful book that explores mythology, belief, and imagination. It is a wonderful book.

BTB… the Watchmen was a 12 issue mini-series.

Let me add an enthusiastic second to the Watchmen recommendation. I’ve never been a big comic book fan, but I was absolutely blown away by the Watchmen! Just the pirate comic subplot is worth the price of admission. Now I’ll have to find Promethea.

Usagi Yojimbo– Japanese folklore, fairy tales, history & samurai training stories…acted out by an anthropomorphic rabbit. What Carl Barks could have done if D*sney was so anal.

My favorite TPB is V For Vendetta, by Alan Moore. Its pretty old (I think its the first thing that he had published), but you should be able to order it through Amazon.com.

The Maxx - By Sam Kieth and Bill Messner-Loebs. Despite appearances, it’s most definately NOT your avereage superhero book. Surreal, Psychological, Funny, Beautiful. It’s available in TPB’s and a big monster collection should be coming out in a few months, I think…

Scud: The disposable assassin is also a lot of fun…

I really can’t think of anything that hasn’t been said already, so I’ll just add my vote to Authority, Watchmen, League Of Extrordinary Gentlemen, Starman and Powers (I haven’t read it much but judging by what was said I’m gonna try it).

Oh I did think of something, Stormwatch. It’s superhero-ey but still a fun read, and gives you some background on Authority. Also Planetary was/is interesting.

Thank you, Hastur, for correcting my error. I guess I got the issue count confused with the number of issues in “V for Vendetta,” another Alan Moore limited series.

And while we are talking about both of those series, I much prefer “Watchmen” over “V for Vendetta,” but they are both worth reading and both a long way from typical comic books.

vibrotronica, I agree with your comment about the pirate comic subplot in “Watchmen.” Moore uses this subplot in much the same way that Shakespeare often used subplots, to restate the moral or at least the theme of the main plot in a different way.