Modern Literary Classics

Those of you who know me, are already aware of this, but for those readers that I have not had the privilege of meeting in person – I love comic books. When I was 12, a cousin who was staying with us at the time introduced me to comic books. Specifically I started off reading Uncanny X-Men’s X-Tinction Agenda.

I loved it from the start; I was hooked.

Over the next few years, the majority of my allowance went to comics – almost exclusively Marvel comics. Later when Image arrived on scene, they also took their fair share of my money. For whatever reason I didn’t get into DC comics until much later. In my twenties I kept reading and buying certain Marvel X-titles, but spent most of my time reading graphic novels from DC’s Vertigo imprint. My favorites included: The Invisibles, Sandman, Hellblazer, and Transmetropolitan.

These days my purchases are still healthy, and Iron Man and Batman have entered the list of titles I adore, otherwise little has changed. Except that I only ever purchase digital comic books these days of course. For the better part of a decade, I only purchased graphic novels, but now with the advent of tablet, one can carry an entire library in the palm of the hand; I just checked, and 1052 comic books on my ipad.

What titles do you enjoy? Do you love the medium as much as I do, or do you still prefer your weekly floppies?

This entry was posted by David Winchester.

15 thoughts on “Modern Literary Classics

  1. Animal Man is my favourite DC series (along with Blue Beetle).
    What makes Animal Man so special is the way Lemire deconstructs the superhero mythology. For example:
    1) Superheroes tend to monopolize the attention of the reader, while Animal Man is constantly upstaged by the supporting characters of the series.
    2) Superhero comics usually don’t give much importance to the private life of their main character (they tend to focus only on the “costume on” part); in Animal Man, on the contrary, the private life of Buddy is the main theme of the series. In fact, it is rather infrequent to see Buddy with his costume on.
    3) Buddy is not perfect, and is not perceived as perfect by other people: in fact, in the 11th issue, when he tells his wife “It’s going to be okay”, she replies “Don’t give me anything of that superhero crap, Buddy.” That cut and thrust perfectly enlightens the philosophy of the series.
    You wrote “I’m learning that the world of comics is much deeper and more complex than I ever realized”: well, Animal Man definitely confirms this statement.
    Marvel is printing some pretty stuff as well. Marvel has always offered smiling superheroes, sunny settings and stories filled with irony, while DC has always published serious superheroes, dark settings and thoughtful stories. Yes, of course each publisher made some exceptions (Superman has a sunny setting, while Daredevil is a dark superhero, and so on), but their trend has always been the one I just described. Well, when Marvel decides to make an exception and publishes a dark series, it’s usually a masterpiece. That’s why I love Daredevil and the brand new Hawkeye.
    You added the tag “Image”, so probably you also like indie comics: my favourite ones are The Lone Ranger and Fatale.

    • I’ve got to respectfully disagree with you, wwayne. Marvel is not all rainbows and puppies. The X-titles are full of despair and hopeless causes. They have always, since day one, reflected the social injustices of our modern society; be it class warfare, racial discrimination, sexual or gender persecution, Marvel’s mutants have addressed these issues by metaphor or directly head-on for the last 50 years. And in doing so, helped teach a lot of kids the adult and proper way to deal with them.

      • I accept your kind refutation: I like frank people much more than the ones who tell me “you’re right” even when I say “the sun is black.” As I wrote, Marvel made some exceptions, and the X – titles are a good example.
        The “mutant hate” is a metaphor standing for all the discriminations you mentioned, and I always loved how firmly Marvel damned them. This is particularly visible in “Children of the Atom”, one of the best Marvel arcs I’ve ever read. Thank you for your reply! : )

  2. I enjoyed Transmet and the Invisibles, certainly. I am also a fan of Lucifer after a friend turned me on to that. Neverwhere was also a cool graphic novel. Having read the book years earlier than I saw the comic it was interesting to see how one story is interpreted across different print media. I think the first comics I really started collecting were the Tank Girl comics. I used to scour ebay for them. Other than that I think the very first comic I ever read was a Gen-X comic where Jubilee was introduced. The Dark Knight was the first Batman comic I read, which I read a handful of years back, and which I realize is coming in a little late in the game in the Batman universe, but was still enjoyable.

    These days I am more into following web comics than pursuing e-book/paper forms of comics. It’s an easier (and less expensive) format to keep track of for me. Some of the better web comics I’m interested in have released books of the comic once it finishes it’s run, and I’ve supported those endeavors. 🙂

    • Tank girl? Really? You’re way too straight laced for such an offbeat collection of ideas and images. Actually, in retrospect I can see how this is a formative work for you; do you see tank girl as more of an idol or a role model?

      I thought that Neverwhere was better as a graphic novel than an actual novel. The strange imagery of its world was just beginning to be written. Lucifer I also love, though I seem to have omitted it from my list. Unfortunately, it really goes downhill in the final act.

      • Tank Girl, yes of course. I don’t think I saw her as a role model or an idol. I enjoyed her eclectic style and the amusing bunch of friends she had around her. I can’t now think back and find a specific thing I enjoyed about her or the comic. The stories were fun and the characters ridiculous and well-drawn. That might have been as far as it went.

        I enjoyed the length of the novel, but I enjoyed seeing someone else’s artistic representation of the world in the comic. I wasn’t too bothered by the difference in story between the novel and comic though since the novel was written off a show anyways. One medium to the next. I didn’t entirely expect it to be the same story. I felt they were both good though.

  3. The Flash would be my all-time favorite. .however in the light of discussing “Off beat” heroes, I would say Elephantmen was amazing, in a noir type setting, Hip Flask detective played by a hippo. .well I’ll let your imagination run wild (pun intended).

    Rising Stars. Enough cannot be said about that book. I am currently reading it for the 3rd time. First time digitally however.
    I would say I am a DC fan over Marvel, and I really wish DC would hire whoever is doing the Marvel movies and get the JLA project going.

    • The first two parts of Rising Stars are basically all around amazing. I find their great characters and wonderful stories to border on faultless. The third book though.. I think it has serious issues.

      Have you read Supreme Power? It’s an alt Superman (and later Justice League) in the same vein and tone.

  4. The Flash is my all time favorite superhero. Having said that, this seems to be a forum more geared toward “off-beat” heroes. Well I am unsure whether they would be called heroes or not, but a great comic read for sure would be Elephantmen. Elephantmen is a project in the future where a doctor takes wild animal dna and splices with human embryo to create . . well. . elephantmen, and hippo-men and gator-men. Really good stuff. .Hip Flask (hippo detective) was created from that series. Anyhow if you get a chance to read that, I think you would find it different enough to say it was worth checking out.

    • I never read anything of Flash. Actually, I bought the TP of Flash: Blood will run a long time ago, but I haven’t read it yet. What makes you like him so much?

      • I would say it was a childhood thing at first, but recent writing really makes me think of things that he struggles with as a result of his abilities. . like how much he has to eat due to his metabolism, and wear and tear on regular clothes and shoes, the fact that he has to purposely slow himself down to hang out with friends and family both in motion and speech. . in depth stuff like that is what I enjoy about it.

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