Today in our Christmas top ten list it’s comics editor Christopher Williams’ turn to step up with his selection of the ten best graphic novels out there right now…
Do you have a comic nerd on your gift list and aren’t quite sure what to get them? Maybe you are that nerd yourself, but are unsure what to ask for. Have no fear; we are here to help.
Ghostbusters Vol 1-5
One of the hardest things to do is pick up a franchise and run with it, while keeping true to the roots. It’s been tried so many times and failed just as many. But IDW comics have finally nailed it with their new ongoing Ghostbusters book. Writer Erik Burnham and artist Dan Schoening have managed to pick up the reigns left by Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis and done the unthikable – made Ghostbusters just as good as it was back in 1984 and every now and then it’s even better. It’s impossible to read these books without hearing Murray et al’s voices coming through as Burnham weaves through GB continuity that is now almost 30 years old. And Schoening’s art may take a second or two to get used to but is worth the wait as it quickly becomes a much Ghostbusters as anything in front of Ivan Reitman’s camera lense. If you’re a Ghostbusters fan, this is simply essential.
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller delivers a story of an older Bruce Wayne who has retired his cape and cowl, but ten years after that he finds Gotham is in need of the Batman once more. Miller’s knack for crafting a gritty story and pairing it with some striking visuals is on full display in this book. Anyone who has seen Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises will find some interesting parallels between the movie and this book.
Star Wars Legacy: Broken
This is a collection of the first volume of Dark Horse’s Star Wars Legacy series. In a future distant to the central point in the Star Wars timeline, the Battle of Yavin, the Jedi Order has been weakened by Sith ruler Darth Kryatt. Standing in his way of total imperial conquest is reluctant hero and descendent of Luke, Cade Skywalker. I eat up Star Wars canon like pizza and was sucked in by the story of Cade and not wanting to shoulder the responsibility of his name’s legacy. If you are a Star Wars fan do yourself a favor and pick this up.
I won’t lie, I read this in anticipation of the movie’s release a few years back and ended up reading it cover to cover twice before I passed it on to a friend. What a doozy, Alan Moore’s story of a corrupted future where heroes are everyday people was a refreshing split from the normal super powered fare. These dudes have problems, deep psychological problems that make Tony Stark’s alcoholism look like light reading. It’s a real sign when a book of this age still holds weight all these years later.
Green Lantern: Rebirth
Anyone who has never read Geoff Johns and his knack for ret-conning characters into relevance needs to pick up this book. To be honest I never cared for Green Lantern before Johns, and then I found I couldn’t stop reading him. His introduction of the emotional spectrum, emotional entities and the other lantern corps is nothing short of spectacular. The idea that Hal Jordan was never Parallax is probably one of the single most brilliant maneuvers in all of comics.
Scott Pilgrim 1-7
I must admit, I am still only at book three, but Bryan Lee O’Malley’s most famous work is some of the funniest material I have ever read. I usually don’t look to printed media for my laughs, but I found myself in fits of laughter over these books. O’Malley’s clever writing and great use of pop culture references will have even the most die hard superhero comic fan grinning from ear to ear.
Batman: The Long Halloween
This is one book that I had a great time with. A serial killer is picking off criminals on holidays spanning through out the year. Batman is on the case as he tries to determine who the mystery killer is. Long Halloween is one of those Batman books that every die hard Bat-fan will tell you that you need to read, and guess what, they are absolutely right. This mystery story will keep you engaged page after page as you try to figure out who is offing Gotham’s criminals. If you like it, don’t forget the sequel, Dark Victory which is pretty much just as good.
Locke and Key collection
Stephen King’s legacy is forever. His Son, Joe Hill, is quickly building one to be the equal of his dad’s. While King made his name in novels, Hill (while writing some amazing novels too – Heart-shaped box, Horns, NOS4A2) is making his name in comics. Thumbprint and The Cape being are among the year’s best reads, but his magnum opus so far has to be the stunningly complex – and fun – Locke and Key. Coming to its final issue in the coming weeks, the story of Locke House has been one of the best adventures in comics in recent years. Of course, this is also in no small part to the art by Gabriel Rodriquez too, whose detailed line art brings every panel to life. For fans of horror this is a must buy. For fans of modern comics it’s essential…
Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War
I picked this up in two volumes though I think a single comprehensive volume may be available now. The Sinestro Corps War has to be one of the most fascinating comic reads to come out of DC, you get it all, the Justice League, the whole GL Corps, a big team of Sinestro fear powered baddies, Superboy Prime, the return of Parallax invading Kyle, Cyborg Superman Hank Henshaw, and the Anit-Monitor. You really couldn’t ask for more.
Age of Apocalypse Vol. 1-4
Now this is hands down, without a doubt, my favorite comic collection, and my true #1 (and it’s nothing to do with the recent announcement by Bryan Singer). A few years ago I was kicking around the graphic novels section of Barnes & Noble and came across four rather thick volumes from Marvel. Inside of them contained the complete X-Men epic, the Age of Apocalypse. I swallowed all four volumes whole and then went through them again a month later. I can honestly tell you that I have never experienced a more sweeping comic event than this. Just as a fan of alt-universe versions of characters I was sold, bad guy, longhaired, one arm out Cyclops? Hell yeah! Now when I say this story is epic, I mean its EPIC! I was also introduced to a now one of my favorite characters who is an alt-version of another favorite character, X-Man. A Cable who has realized his power’s full potential because he never was infected with the techno-organic virus? Yes please. Now this set was not easy on my wallet at $30 per a volume, so if you pick this up for someone, make sure it’s someone you really love.
So that’s my list of favorite graphic novels and trade paperbacks – well, Ghostbusters and Locke and Key were from FTN Chief Marc. I hope that if you are stuck on what to get for that nerdy loved one, or if you are that nerdy loved one, that this list will help.
Follow Christopher on Twitter @AUDone44 and The Nerd @nerdfollowing