Back in 2016, I wrote about making my way back to comics. Then last week, I read this cool post from Jason Dettbarn where he talks about how he started reading comic books. I was inspired to share a little of my story, and just like Jason, offer you some recommendations of where to get started.
Like a lot of kids, superheroes were a big part of my upbringing. Geekery in general has always been part of me whether I understood it or not. The original Star Wars trilogy were my favorite movies as a kid. I remember being so excited by the prequels and thankfully not understanding how terrible they were until many years later.
Superman was my favorite superhero back then, and I remember having at least a few of his action figures. That is until my Mom threw them away. My mom has always been a bit of a clean freak, and she never let me collect anything. As opposed to a lot of parents” who keep their kids stuff in their old room, I’m almost positive my parents have nothing of mine except a few random things I might’ve left in their garage. But, I digress. This is stuff I should talk to my therapist about.
Growing up, I felt that reading wasn’t for me. I painfully read books we were assigned in class (except To Kill a Mockingbird and Of Mice and Men. I liked those). Now I understand it’s all about finding the reading material that appeals to you.
That brings us to 2012. I was in Charlotte, NC for a work conference when I decided to go into a comic book store next to a coffee shop I’d found on Yelp. Lining the shelves were hundreds of different books, and for a new reader like me, no clear place to start. As luck would have it, DC’s “New 52” event had just begun, so I bought Superman #1, and Batman #1. Unfortunately, I wasn’t impressed and went on with my life.
Then in 2016, in anticipation of Captain America: Civil War, my curiosity of the story that inspired the film compelled me to buy the collected edition hardcover. I was hooked. The story was engaging, the characters captivating, and the way the plot tore through the relationship between characters was heartbreaking.
And that brings us to today. I’ve got a shelf with my growing list of trade paperbacks, and a plastic short box from BCW that’s running out of space.
Comics I recommend
The following are some all time recommendations. Some of these are still going, other have finished up. I write about my weekly pull list too, so check that out if you’re intrigued.
Analog (by Gerry Duggan & David O’Sullivan)
This is an enjoyable read, and I believe is being made into a movie. Analog takes place in a world where the internet isn’t safe so secrets are transported by people. It’s a spy thriller that has some very pointed criticism at our society.
Start here: Analog Vol. 1: Death by Algorithm TP
Cover (by Brian Michael Bendis & David Mack)
The premise of this ongoing series is so meta. It’s about a comic artist who… get’s roped into being a spy? You’ll have to read and find out. As of writing, this title is only on issue #2, so you’ll have to look for it at your local comic book shop.
Oblivion Song (by Robert Kirkman & Lorenzo De Felici)
300,000 people from Philidelphia are lost in Oblivion. What the heck is Oblivion? How did this happen? How come only one person still cares? Just some of the questions I remember asking myself when I discovered this gem thanks to my local comic shop co-owner, Tony. One of my favorite books right now.
Start here: Oblivion Song Vol. 1 TP
Paper Girls (by Brian K. Vaughan & Cliff Chiang)
A group of teenage girls in the 1980s cross paths with time travelers, and their curiosity takes them to places they’d never imagined. This comic is beautifully drawn and Matt Wilson’s colors are stunning.
Start here: Paper Girls Vol. 1 TP
Saga (by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples)
I don’t want to give too much away, but this is forbidden love mixed with the best of science fiction and fantasy. This is definitely for mature readers, so if you offend easily, keep it moving.
Start here: Saga Vol. 1 TP
Sex Criminals (by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky)
Again, if you offend easily, you may want to skip to the next one. This is the story of a woman who realizes that times stops when she orgasms. I mean, just take a second and think about that type of power. But is she the only one? This comic tackles a lot of human issues, including but not limited to the way we view sex, mental health, relationships, and more.
Start here: Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick TP
The Amazing Spider-Man (by Nick Spencer)
Many have written Spidey, but in my limited experience, Nick Spencer really gets the character. His run is classic Spider-Man, filled with great humor, a messy life, and a surprisingly uncomplicated love life.
Start here: The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 1: Back to Basics TP
All-New Wolverine (by Tom Taylor)
Back in 2015, a new person took the mantle of Wolverine, and her name was Laura Kinney aka X-23. This series was a touching story of a person who had been tortured, experimented on, and created to be a killing machine who decided not to be defined by those experiences.
Start here: All-New Wolverine Vol. 1: The Four Sisters TP
I was twenty-four when I started reading comics regularly. Jason—who inspired this post—was thirty-six. Comic books are for people of all ages; the stories within are for all genders.
As you can tell from my recommendations, I’m reading a lot more than just superheroes. Don’t get me wrong, superpowered people are great, but comics are so much more than them. No matter who you are, what genre you love, what style art you like, there's a comic book for you.