Welcome back to round 2 of Dani’s Ultimate List of Comics for the Non Comic Book Reader. I’m going to skip the witty intro this week and just jump right in to the comic book reading goodness that awaits you.
Remember, this is not a finite list in any way. It’s just what I happen to suggest as good reading, that is easily accessible to a new reader.
Last week I left off with the conglomerated list of Black Comedy/Quest/a little bit of adventure category. This week I’m going to start off with the Crime/Political genre. As I said last week, this is where the categories start to get a little tricky. A lot of these books don’t really fit perfectly into one little category. They are treading the lines of a few genres. So please, be gentle dear reader.
This is the category for the mystery lover or someone who enjoys a nice political espionage thriller. These books also fall into the category for the more mature reader.
–Scene of the Crime, written by Ed Brubaker, art by Michael Lark and Sean Phillips, Published by Vertigo.
If the person in your life enjoys a good mystery or loves that noir feeling, this is the book for them. It’s Brubaker writing at the top of his game and that Lark fellow is a pretty good penciler too. If you click on the link, the Vertigo website provides a very good synopsis of the story.
–Whiteout, written by Greg Rucka, art by Steve Lieber, Published by Oni Press.
Another book for the crime lover at heart, this one taking place on the icy cold tundra of Antarctica. Someone has committed murder and Carrie Stetko, U.S. Marshal has to find out. This was one of Greg Rucka’s first forays into the comic book medium and he did it with a bang. Backing him up was Steve Lieber on the art, proving that drawing snow isn’t just all about the white space.
–Whiteout Melt, written by Greg Rucka, art by Steve Lieber, Published by Oni Press.
Well, if your non comic book reader liked Whiteout, you might as well hook them up with this sequel by Rucka and Lieber. It’s more of the same good stuff that even won an Eisner. These two books are recommended for both the NCBR and the regular reader of comics.
–Queen and Country, written by Greg Rucka, Published by Oni Press.
Might as well top off the Greg Rucka/Oni Press goodness with Queen and Country. This is for the person who loves a good thriller mixed in with crime and politics. Tara Chace is an operative part of a special section of the Ministry of Intelligence in Britain. This book is smart and well written with a rotating cast of artists. This book is recommended for anyone who enjoys a smart written, political thriller that takes place in the every day world. This isn’t your everyday popcorn book, this book has guts.
This is the category of books that have a political view in them, but are more in the realm of science fiction. The first book is more involved in the science fiction elements, or what one might even refer to as the cyberpunk genre, and the other takes place in a every day world that isn’t ours.
–Transmetropolitan written by Warren Ellis, art by Darick Robertson and Rodney Ramos, Published by Veritgo Comics.
I don’t even know what I can say about Transmet. Spider Jerusalem is Hunter S. Thompson, if he lived in a surreal 21st century. This book has everything from black humor to bowel disrupting guns. Transmet, like Preacher, is one of those books that you hand someone, and they will keep coming back for more. If you haven’t read this series, what are you waiting for.
–Ex Machina written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Tony Harris, Published by Wildstorm.
Ex Machina is the story of a civil engineer who becomes the first super-hero in the modern day world, retires, and then decides to run for mayor. Another smartly written book in todays market, analyzing every day topics that the mayor of New York City might just face, with a little twist.
Any of the books that fall under this category are books that every comic book fan should own. They are the books that showcase not only immense talent, but show that the comic book medium isn’t just about the cape and cowl books. These books tell a story, whether real or fiction, that could rival any book on the New York Times Best Seller List. If there is a person in your life who just doesn’t understand the power of the comic book, or just enjoys a more real, down to earth story, these are the books for them. Compelling narratives with art that captures the essence of the story, these are the stories of horrors and hope, in pen and ink.
–Maus written by Art Spiegelman.
I don’t even think I have to explain this book. It’s the grand-daddy of them all. The book that garnered respect all over the world. It shows the power of the sequential art form. Thats all I need to say. And if you ever get a chance to see Spiegelman talk, I highly recommend it.
–Persepolis, written by Marjane Satrapi.
I just finished reading this book last week and I’m very glad that I did. It’s the true story of the author Marjane and her life in Iran during the Islamic Revolution. It tells the story from age 10-age 14, highlighting the changing ideals of her life, her freedom, and the horrors of living in an area where bombs are going off around you.
Fax from Sarajevo written by Joe Kubert.
Another book depicting the life in a war zone, told through the real life faxes of a man and his family trapped under Serb bombardment.
Yossel by Joe Kubert.
Yossel is a fiction story, recounting the uprising of the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. This story is told from the perspective of Yossel a young boy, who has the gift of art living in a Ghetto. The whole book is drawn from the perspective of Yossel and the quick sketches of everything he sees around him. There is a beautiful, haunting quality of the sketches that the book is filled with, creating a narrative that flows from one quick sketch to a more tighter drawn one.
–Pedro and Me, by Judd Winick.
Pedro and Me is a book that every high school student should read in health class. This is the story of Pedro Zamora, the AIDS activist and educator who met with fame during his stint on MTV’s The Real World. Winick speaks of his time with Pedro and the life altering effect that his friendship had on him. This book also chronicles the real realities of living with AIDs and Pedro’s day to day battles with the disease. The book is told beautifully and will leave you crying at the end.
This category is really just reserved for the greatness that is Neil Gaiman and his award winning series, Sandman. It’s been hailed as one of the greatest series of all time by comic book readers alike. It’s won numerous awards and is still in high demand after all these years. It combines the elements of fantasy and the literary genius of Gaiman. It is smart, beautiful, heartbreaking, and almost perfect. I think it’s the closest thing to fantasy literature that has happened in comics.
This is the category that is really pure fantasy. Either it takes place in a land of pure fantasy, where dragons and fairies exist, or it deals with characters of the fantasy realm.
–Bone by Jeff Smith.
Bone is the adventure of three Bone cousins from Boneville, who get lost and try to find their way back home. This book is the grand daddy of fantasy adventures. Good for all ages, this is a great book to hook any person of any age into comics. Cute, adorable, and just plain good storytelling, Bone is the book for everyone.
–Fables, written by Bill Willingham, published by Vertigo.
What would happen if the characters in our storybooks actually existed and lived in New York City? This is that story. This book is a brilliant example of contemporary fantasy.
–Leave it to Chance, written by James Robinson, art by Paul Smith, published by Image comics.
This is a great all ages of story of Chance Falconer, the daughter of a sorcerer who wants to join the family business. The book isn’t published anymore which is just a damn shame, but it is highly recommended.
–Tellos, written by Todd Dezago, art by Mike Wieringo, published by Image.
This is another all ages book that sadly is not being published anymore. Its the fantastical journey of a young boy in another world, with a twist ending that will leave you with a sad tear in your eye.
Sparks by Lawrence Marvit, published by Slave Labor Graphics.
The story of a young woman who builds the perfect man out of spare parts from a mechanics shop. He is sparked into life and she must help him learn how to live in the world.
Ok folks, now we are getting into the books that I refer to as the transitional books. They are non super-hero/super-hero books, that could help a new reader who isn’t completely sold on the idea of a super-hero book slowly transit into the super-hero realm. These are books that are told from the perspective of another person, one who might live in the world of super-heros, but isn’t one.
–Marvels, written by Kurt Busiek, art by Alex Ross, published by Marvel Comics.
This is the story of the golden to silver age of Marvel told through the eyes of a reporter. The art work is breath taking, and Busiek’s writing is top notch. It’s a story that anyone could read, not knowing anything about the Marvel universe and still enjoy.
–Astro City written by Kurt Busiek, art by Brent Anderson, published by Wildstorm.
Kurt Busiek at his best. If you want to get someone into super-heros, this is the book that will do it. Each story arch revolves around a different character that inhabits this world, usually taken from the perspective of someone else. These are slice of life stories, told in a super-hero setting.
–Noble Causes written by Jay Faerber, published by Image Comics.
This book is the equivalent to a soap opera super-hero book. What happens when you marry into a family of super-heros who are the equivalent to movie stars, and then your husband dies on the honey moon. How do you live a non-powered life, in a super-powered household? This first trade is absolutely solid, a great starting place for any newbie.
Now for the category you’ve all been waiting for. The cape and cowl books that you can give to the non comic book reader to hopefully hook them into the realm of super-heros. In this section I’m just going to link to all the books. Most people are probably familiar with them, and if not, just click onto the link to get a description of the books. These are all books that I feel work well within the constraints of a new reader, helps introduce them to either the Marvel or DC world, and into the world that we all know and love.
–Ultimate Spider-man, written by Brian Michael Bendis, art by Mark Bagley, published by Marvel Comics.
–Ultimate X-Men, book one written by Mark Millar, art by Kubert brothers, published by Marvel Comics.
–Ultimates written by Mark Millar, art by Bryan Hitch, published by Marvel Comics.
–Catwoman: Selina’s Big Score, by Darwn Cooke.
–Robin Year One, written by Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty, art by Javier Pulido, published by DC Comics.
–Batman Year One written by Frank Miller, art by David Mazzuccelli, published by DC Comics.
–Batgirl Year One, written by Scott Beatty and Chuck Dixon, art by Marcos Martin and Alavaro Lopez.
–Superman For All Seasons, written by Jeph Loeb, art by Tim Sale, published by DC Comics.
And that my friends is Dani’s List of Comics for the Non Comic Book Reader. I hope you enjoyed it, and get some use out of it, because let me tell you, that took me a long time to do. Remember, I’d love some input on the list, what you loved, what you didn’t or if you’ve tried any of those choices on anyone. I’d love to hear about it.
Now on to what books I’m reading this week.
Danger Girl Back in Black #1
Gotham Central #37
Infinite Crisis #2
Manhunter vol 1 tpb
Y The Last Man #39
Walking Dead #23
Book of Lost Souls #2
Decimation House of M The day after
Friendly Neighborhood Spidery #2
Love as a Foreign Language #4
And that looks to be about it. And as a parting note, anyone who has read Decimation House of M the Day After, and happens to know the artist, or happens to know the artists art dealer, or can get in touch with said artist, please let James Hatton over at the Nexus know. You see there is a two page spread of my favorite character, miss Jubilee, that I would love to get as a Christmas Present, *hint hint, wink wink, nudge nudge* So, if you happen to have any knowledge on how one might be able to get a hold of these two pages, send your knowledge to JHatton *at* comicsnexus.com. It would be much appreciated.
Stay tuned next week where I talk about, well, I haven’t figured that out yet.