ZAP! POW! OOFF! ZOK! BIFF! A post about comics and TPBs.

A couple times a year, I have to go through all the comics and trades in my office and put them into long boxes that live in the attic. When I do this, I always end up pulling out a few trades that I want to read again, so now you know what I've spent most of my discretionary (note that I didn't call it "free") time doing over the last week.

Because "I just want to read these and enjoy them" isn't good enough justification for me, I promised myself that I'd point out a few of the things I was reading on my blog, as sort of a Winter Festival Of Your Choice Gift Buying Service, or, uh, something. So, here we go.

Captain America Omnibus


Writer: Ed Brubaker Artists: Steve Epting and Mike Perkins

Before Ed started writing Cap, I just wasn't interested even a little bit … but Ed made Cap sort of the Batman of the Marvel Universe for me: he's troubled, he tries to do the right thing, and he's a fucking badass. The omnibus collects the first 25 issues Ed did, leading up to the Death of Captain America, including the 65th anniversary special and the Winter Soldier stories. Keeping in mind that the stories in this volume were written during the darkest days of the Bush nightmare, I kept feeling like Captain America was standing in for America, itself, which added a layer to the story that was particularly moving to me. Of course, you don't need to reach for symbolism if you don't want to; it's a tremendously satisfying and compelling story without it.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E


Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Stuart Immonen

Warren took all these Marvel characters that nobody had thought about in forever and put them into one of the most entertaining and outrageous stories I've ever read. I mean, the first thing they do is fight Fin Fang Foom, who is a giant lizard who wears purple underpants. The dialog is brilliant, and the artwork is sensational. There are only two trades, because Warren only did this for a year, and I highly recommend picking them both up. After reading Nextwave and Global Frequency back-to-back, I have come to the conclusion that, for someone who claims to find superheroes less than awesome, Warren sure does know how to write an awesome superhero story.

The Five Fists of Science


Writer: Matt Fraction Artist:Steven Sanders

Did you know that Edison and Tesla were rivals? Matt Fraction does, so he imagined what would happen if they took their rivalry to its steampunk conclusion. Also, Marconi and Einstein are there. Seriously, it's just amazing and so much fun to read. Science (SCIENCE!)



Writer: Neil Gaiman Artists: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove

Neil put the Marvel Universe in the year 1602 … you know, like you do … and then told a story that would be a joy to read, even if you didn't get to play "OMG look at how he modified [Classic Marvel Character]"! The artwork is perfect, and the reveals of certain identities are clever and organic; it would have been easy to just make setting this story in 1602 a stunt, but Neil never falls into that trap. You don't have to be intimately familiar with the Marvel Universe to enjoy this story, but if you are, you'll have access to smile-inducing moments that the muggles will miss. For the record, I blame 1602 (and DC's 52) for making me fall back in love with superhero stories, but that's a whole other post.

Batman: The Killing Joke


Writer: Alan Moore Artist: Brian Bolland

It's the definitive Joker story. 'nuff said.

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted


Writer: Joss Whedon Artist: John Cassaday

The X-Men have a problem, and to overcome it, they realize that they can't be Uncanny, they can't be Nifty, and they can't be Neat. They have to be … Astonishing. Who better to help them accomplish this than the man himself? This starts Whedon's fantastic run on X-Men, and it's as great to read now as when it was first published. 

You know how there's that one guy you know who liked comics, but after suffering through the Fantastic Four movies and the X-Men and Spiderman sequels, decided that comics suck, superheroes are stupid, and he wants a goddamn concerted effort to not come out of a fucking uptempo record when he has to do a goddamn death dedication? Give him Gifted, and let it remind him why he loved these stories and characters before Hollywood got its filthy hands on them.

Some current reads, too, that you may want to check out, since Wednesday is only two days away:

Osborn – Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick Artist: Emma Rios. Norman Osborn is a very bad man, and he's in a secret jail with some other very bad people. What could possibly go wrong?

Secret Avengers – Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Mike Deodato. Because the Civil War and Secret Invasion sort of screwed things up, Steve Rogers puts together a group of Secret Avengers, which is pretty handy, considering the title of the book and all. It's up to issue 7, and I've just loved every single page.

Thor – Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Pasqual Ferry. It's Thor. Written by Matt Fraction. If you know why that's awesome, you're probably already reading it. If not … just trust me and pick it up, starting at #611. Ferry's artwork is amazing, too.

Some of you may notice that there's a lot of Marvel Universe here. This is interesting to me, because until recently, I was a hardcore DC Universe guy … but that damn 1602 and Captain America made the Marvel Universe so compelling, I was able to stop being That Guy I mentioned above long enough to dive back in and let the Marvel Universe stand on its own. I'm still reading a couple of DC titles, like Batman and Justice League, but that's about it for me in the DCU at the moment.

What are you reading right now? Is there something amazing that I missed here? Sound off, if you please.

65 thoughts on “ZAP! POW! OOFF! ZOK! BIFF! A post about comics and TPBs.”

  1. Unsure if it’s in your collection, but some of the best “Beast” was his time in the Avengers, from say 1976 to about 1980-2 or so. The Korvac saga, TaskMaster, the Wundagore Mountain/Scarlet Witch/C’Thulu gig, lots of cool stuff.

  2. Oh cool. I haven't read that far back. If you don't have it, and if you like Beast, Fraction's one-shot that precedes 526 has a lovely Beast story in it (and bonus McKelvie artwork, too!)

  3. This year, I’ve read more comics than during the last four or five years. It may have been some kind of rediscovery, starting out with Futurama and Simpsons comics my 12-year-old son became interested in. I bought him lots of them in German and then decided to get the same ones (and more) in English for myself. Other stuff I read or re-read this year include the collected works of Scott McCloud (both all three theory works and his earlier series “Zot!” which I highly recommend), most issues of Brian Michael Bendis’s and Mark Begley’s “Ultimate Spider-Man”, “Batman: Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, “Batman: The Long Halloween” by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, “Superman for All Seasons” by the same autor/artist, “Superman: Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow” by Alan Moore and Curt Swan, and “Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert.
    But the one thing I enjoyed most this year happened to be a webcomic which I don’t have to recommend to you given your profile and Twitter picture: It’s of course Questionable Content by the great Jeph Jacques which I only happened to discover a couple of months ago (although I’ve been reading tons of webcomics since they exist).

  4. OH EM GEE! I totally forgot to mention the Tiny Titans! I picked it up on FCBD2009 for my then 7 year old daughter and now I am hooked! Great fun from Franco and Art Baltazar!

  5. Lots of great stuff mentioned already. I’m surprised nobody brought up The Dark Knight Returns or The Dark Knight Strikes Again.
    How about Kingdom Come, All Star Superman, or All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder? They always make it to the top of my DC list.
    As for Marvel, Thunderbolts has been a consistent pleaser for me. It also appears The Amazing Spider-Man has finally upped its game and turned a corner with its latest arc, Big Time. It’s the Spidey I remember! How I’ve missed him so…
    Certainly there must be a little love left for Hellboy too?
    Unfortunately, my wallet has caught on to the fact most books are now 3.99 and the little bastard has forced me to curb my exploring and stick to familiar titles. :(

  6. The Marvel Universe has always been awesome.
    That being said I much prefer the Hulk and Fantastic Four as they were originally imagined. Not the lame ways they have changed the Hulks back story since it was originally made.
    Two other notes:
    1) Even though the others ones stunk I think Spider Man Two is one of the best movies ever made super hero based or not (should make any Top Ten list)
    2) Was just thinking that every administration for the last 50 years has had a dark moment. A liitle unfair to hang it just on one.

  7. Transmetropolitan and Sandman are the ultimate ones – at least for me.
    There is just something in Sandman that is so incredibly TRUE – it gives me a real sense of life and the big issues – no matter how mythical or magical the inhabitants within are.
    For the same reason Transmet really gives me joy. Transmet’s Spider Jerusalem is going on my arm as a constant reminder that the Truth is out there, it ain’t always nice, it ain’t always pretty – but it’s still the Truth.
    For the other ones – I’m taking notes furiously and wishing (to my great astonishment) that I could be American, and have comic book stores all over the place.

  8. I will not rest until I see more people reading Finder, by Carla Speed McNeil.
    Safely ensconced in the genre known as “aboriginal sci-fi,” it takes place in an alternate history world where the sound of the Beatles’ “Hey Jude” drifts through streets populated a mish-mosh of the best and worst of humanity, animality, cyborgitry, and everything in-between.
    McNeil just got picked up by Dark Horse to reproduce her first two trades, but there’s an excellent post at the DH site to whet your appetite:

  9. Invincible is probably the best “tights” comic book I’ve read in a long time. Also, I don’t know if anyone else mentioned it yet but Fables is the shit.

  10. Have you read Morning Glories yet? New series from Image by Nick Spencer (aka that guy who came out of nowhere and is suddenly rocking the hell out of every universe he touches). Its “elevator pitch” is “Lost meets Runaways.” Only 5 issues in, but it’s excellent, and I completely trust Nick Spencer, not only because he’s already earned it, but because he has indicated in interviews that he was as disgruntled by Lost long-term as I was, and unlike the writers of that series, he assures us he actually has it all planned out.
    Other than that, I second (or third) Justice League Generation Lost & Red Robin; Invincible is nearly always the best thing I read each month; and Geoff Johns writes too many books for them to be 100% solid every time (Brightest Day has been frequently kind of snoozeworthy), but when he hits, he hits hard. The Larfleeze Christmas Special and the Origin of Dex-Starr were 2 of the best issues I have ever read.

  11. Hi there, I know this is an old Post, and since it is related to comics, I thought I would ask a questions. As a new reader to the Wheaton Empire, I am unaware if I violating any set or social rules, so here goes.
    Can anyone share with me the names of programs they use (if any) to catalog their comic collections in a database on their pc’s and / or macs?
    I appreciate your input on this matter, if anyone ever notices.

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