The New Year is here! What better way to further ignore your resolution to get in shape (or have something to read after you’ve been diligently crushing your workouts on the way to fitness greatness) than to find more comics to read? There isn’t one! This handy list will help you start beefing up your reading list, and collection, in no time. Listed are titles that cater to the classic superhero genre, as well as some that stray a bit, but all of them are good reads and well worth your time. Have a title that was left off the list? Mention it in the comments!
6. Seconds – Bryan Lee O’Malley
The Scott Pilgrim writer’s latest graphic novel is about a young, successful chef named Katie who runs her own restaurant called Seconds. She’s feeling pretty good about it all, as she’s achieved her goal to open a restaurant with her business partner in a dream location. Her good fortune begins to take a turn, however, when she starts stressing about seeing her ex-boyfriend continually coming into the restaurant. And one night, she thinks she’s lost her mind when she sees a strange girl in the restaurant who leaves her with simple instructions: 1) Write your mistake. 2) Ingest one mushroom. 3) Go to sleep. Simple enough instructions and an equally simple premise, adorable humor ensues. Katie is very likeable. Similar to Scott Pilgrim, there’s a clever interaction and playful banter between Katie and the narrator. The story reads like an anecdote a friend would tell you about somebody you don’t know. Everything is light and easy to follow. No superheroes, no tie-ins or any other deviation, it’s all self-contained, which is a big selling point for binge-reading.
5. Dark Knight III: The Master Race – Brian Azzarello, Frank Miller, Klaus Janson and Andy Kubert
Frank Miller teams up with veteran writer Brian Azzarello to bring the unexpected conclusion of the events of Dark Knight Returns, arguably the best modern Batman storyline, in a time in Gotham City where Batman hasn’t been seen for years and has been reduced to an urban legend within criminal circles. He then resurfaces suddenly and, of all things, is found assaulting Gotham City Police officers. Although the series has only just started, the story has hit the ground running. The manhunt for Batman is on and commissioner Yindel is trying to get her head around it all. Elsewhere, Wonder Woman is raising her two children; her daughter with Superman is missing his presence and has become very interested in her Kryptonian roots. Also included in each issue is a mini comic. Issue #1 has The Atom and Issue #2 has Wonder Woman. All this and much more make Dark Knight III: Master Race another worthwhile addition to the pull list for 2016.
4. The Mighty Thor – Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman
Dr. Jane Foster is fighting cancer and when she picks up the hammer Mjolnir, she’s the mighty Thor! Two issues into the story and already she has enemies on Asgard and she’s battling Malikith, who is waging war against Light Elves. The story is taking a slightly quicker pace than other Thor storylines, and while there have been very brief cameos by Dr. Strange and Iron Man, hopefully there will be more interactions to keep the story lively and give Thor some allies. A story about a hero going it alone can get stale quickly. During this race against time, as Jane’s transformations to Thor negate all of the chemicals in the chemotherapy used to treat her breast cancer, her mortal form is dying, but she still has many duties and obligations whether they’re appreciated or not. The artwork is beautiful, and everything about Thor and Asgard looks like a magical painting. Add it to the reading list.
3. Saga – Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Saga is an Image Comics story of star-crossed (in the interplanetary sense) lovers fleeing authority amidst accusations of treachery and desertion during a generations-long war, and is considered a must-read for comic book enthusiasts. It’s a great series to binge-read, as they’re available in paperback up to Volume 5 when you catch up to the single issues. Brian K. Vaughn is a clever writer and the story is imaginative with smart characters. Saga weaves in multiple storylines that connect and drive it on for multiple issues in a grand story, as the title implies. As with Image Comics’ other popular ongoing series The Walking Dead, just when characters catch a break, obstacles are thrown their way shortly after. The artwork by Fiona Staples is terrific as she brings to life these beings from other planets, including a prince with what we know as a television for a head, who still has very human qualities.
2. Orchid – Tom Morello and Scott Hepburn
Created and written by Tom Morello (yes, that Tom Morello, who’s wealth of talent extends to music in bands like Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, as well as his current act The Nightwatchman), Orchid is the master class of post-apocalyptic, no hope for humanity, against the odds, stories. The title character is like no heroine seen before. She’s a reluctant rebel leader who is poor and of unfortunate circumstance. The world Orchid lives in is devastated in major ways; the planet is polluted and the waters have risen to wipe out a large percentage of the land that has been seized by the wealthy. The animals have mutated and become extremely dangerous, and the last attempt for the lower class citizens to rise up and rebel was squashed. The artwork by Scott Hepburn brings all of that to life beautifully, the way an animation would. The series wrapped in 2013 and is available in three paperback volumes (individual issues may require a bit of effort to find). It is beyond well worth the read as it’s a bit off of the comic book beaten path.
1. The Goddamned – Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera and Giulia Brusco
Although it’s only two issues in, the series already seems destined to become one of the talked-about comics of 2016, so readers would do well to add it to their list. The Goddamned is for those who want vibrant artwork and violence! It isn’t, however, for those who take exception to anything referencing the Bible or its characters (in variation or otherwise) in ways other than simplified versions of stories intended for children. Issue #1 introduces Cain, son of Adam and Eve and the man who invented murder when he killed his brother. Even by Image Comics’ standards, for a first issue, he does quite a bit of murder. The language is every bit as graphic as the violence and, like The Walking Dead, the artwork can bring about the same kind of reaction and shock that a video could. The monthly comic and Issue #2, which introduces Noah, has not disappointed either. This is an easy must-read.