It’s Wednesday, so here’s a post about comic books

When I was a kid, I was a DC Universe guy all the way, with rare forays into the Marvel Universe to read a few X-Men books, and the occasional Silver Surfer 100 page spectacular (remember those? I loved those oversized one shots in the 70s and 80s.)

I realized last week, though, that the bulk of the DCU does absolutely nothing for me these days, and I’ve stopped reading DC books, even Batman, which I don’t even recognize at the moment.

The Marvel Universe, however, has been blowing my mind and pleasing me greatly for at least the last year, mostly because Brubaker, Fraction and Gillen all write Marvel titles, that kick all kinds of ass. I’ve been reading Captain America, Uncanny X-Men, Invincible Iron Man, Secret Avengers, Thor, and Osborn, and I eagerly anticipate every Wednesday with an excitement I haven’t felt since I was a teenager.

Yesterday, via Reddit, I came across this article at Platypus Robot: A Marvel Universe Primer. It gives some basic history of the Marvel Universe, and suggests some starting points for new readers. If you or someone you know is interested in reading some amazing stories but don’t know where to start, check this article out; I think you’ll find it quite useful.

What are you reading these days? Who's that artist or writer you will follow to the ends of the multiverse? And where are those pictures I ordered? Is Don on the phone?

126 thoughts on “It’s Wednesday, so here’s a post about comic books”

  1. I remember my first comic book at about the age of 7 in 79 and it was an issue of Conan the Barbarian and it was my first true taste of fantasy and it was that comic that would lead me to D&D. My favourite thing back then was waking up Saturday mornings with my little brother to make bowls of cereal and watch cartoons with breaks only to read the comics we had been saving that week!
    Other comics I read through the years had me like both Marvel and DC. I read X-Men, Savage Sword, New Teen Titans, Kazaar, Daredevil etc.
    Your post today has me curious about current Marvel as I usually spend most of my time with comics reading back issue I missed as a kid.

  2. Can you tell me more about Unwritten? I read the first few issues and it didn’t grab me. The other day I noticed they are up to issue 23 or something. Guess I missed something…

  3. I’m 39 and a father of a teen and can honestly say the worst thing to let happen is to let the kid in you suffocate. Geekly hobbies keep things interesting and I believe contribute to making me a better father as time with my kid doesn’t seem forced like when I was a kid!
    I used to dismiss Japanese anime/games as being too childish, confusing them for being similar to North American cartoons…how wrong I was, so you are right better late than never!

  4. These have really peaked my interest after watching the first season. By your description they sound well written, I will have to give them a try.

  5. I’ve been a DCU guy for most of my life, but so much of what’s been coming out of it lately has done nothing for me. The only ones that I’m consistently pleased with are JSA (under Marc Guggenheim), Generation Lost (a pleasant surprise considering it’s from Judd Winick), Superboy (LOVE Jeff Lemire & Sweet Tooth), and Zatanna (Paul Dini is the best: his Batman had been the only one I’d been following since that stupid RIP ended).
    Nothing about the main Marvel Universe has ever interested me. I love Ed Brubaker, but have no interest in Captain America (I do love Incognito and Criminal, though). Same thing with Greg Rucka: I probably won’t read his Punisher series, but I will read the next edition of Stumptown.
    Other than that, the only ones I read just about everything from are Garth Ennis, Brian K. Vaughn, and Brian Wood. All three have, time and again, without fail, put out stories I’ve loved to death. DMZ and The Boys are nearing the ends of their runs, and I’m actually sad that the ride is almost over.

  6. To be honest, in DC my only regular reads are the Bat-books (specifically Batman & Robin, Batman Inc, and Red Robin). On the Marvel side my books of choice are Secret Avengers and Spider-Man, and I’ve recently become a fan of X-Force and Heroes for Hire. I’m a big Moon Knight fan from back in the day, so I worry what Bendis is planning for his reboot. Basically, if it has Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Dan Slott, Warren Ellis, Ed Brubaker, or Neil Gaiman listed as writer, I’m sold.

  7. I also feel, tho’, that the MU was written by people who had grown up with the DCU, so they had a background in creating, not just art and one-shots, but an entire universe, and all of the confidence that comes with knowing the art form is sustainable. (In other words, risk? What risk?) It must’ve been something of a luxury to know that there was an audience for the material — an audience created by DC (in large part, it seems to me)! So, theoretically, Marvel is an upgraded version of storytelling from DC ’cause DC laid all of the groundwork.
    (FYI, this is just a tho’t I’m having in the moment. Not sure it’s true. Feel free to discuss and destroy.) :-)

  8. A UK perspective: the first comic I read regularly was 2000AD. A bad case of retro-futurism is affecting the name these days, but in ’77 it seemed impossibly far off. But anyway.
    Frankly, in the 70’s, in the face of 2000AD, the Marvel vs DC thing looked a bit like two losers squabbling over second place. OK these days both Marvel and DC have caught up (largely by poaching British talent 😉 ) but your favourites are the ones you grew up with.
    Reading that back it looks hopelessly trollish, but honestly it’s not meant that way!

  9. My favorite writers right now are probably the writing team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (DnA). I absolutely love their “cosmic” stuff for Marvel in which they try to bring back that epic feeling of the good old days of Starlin’s and Gruenwald’s cosmic adventures. (How can you not love a telepathic Golden Retriever in an altered cosmonaut suit and communicates with a Russian accent?) It just sucks that Marvel editorial staff as a general rule hates cosmic stories and characters.

  10. I’m a devout member of the Church of the Bat Signal and while I think what Grant Morrison did with RIP is unforgivable, I’m still going to give to the collection when it comes to certain characters and titles (Zatanna stands out right now). Streets of Gotham has some seriously gold moments, and Batman and Robin is stellar and worthy of a read.
    What is fun for me, though, as a Bat-fiend, is going back and collecting older stories, titles and collections that involve my favorite villains (Joker, Harley Quinn, Scarecrow with some Mad Hatter & Poison Ivy thrown in for good measure)
    I feel like The Marvel Universe is too vast and overwhelming for me to be inclined to start on it, and I have only dabbled in a bit of Deadpool and X-Men over the years.
    I am sure with my boyfriend’s ever-growing collection of Marvel titles, however, I will eventually grow curious enough to cross religions.

  11. I’m the opposite. I think the additional Corps increased the pool of potential antagonists to draw from that can, for the most part, match the Green Lanterns in power and numbers.

  12. I went the opposite direction than you Wil. I started with Marvel (spider-man, x-books, iron man) and always had an interest in Flash and Green Lantern.
    But about 5 years ago I started turning away from Marvel. Especially because of the X-Books. They just seemed to get darker and I was losing interest in the stories, where my love of Green Lantern still shown through. Yeah there’s a lot going on there, but it’s still really enjoyable.

  13. I would certainly recommend it, it certainly follows the truth of how the book is better. And even more fun, the show and the books are divergent enough so you can watch one and have no idea what will happen in the other. Except for the first few issues of course.

  14. I’ve done a full 360 or maybe even a 720 (hard to keep track with all the spinning)
    I started out as a kid having my mom get me Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen when she went to the grocery store. I stayed in the DC world until 5th grade when I discovered Spider-Man and the Avengers. High School I got into the New Teen Titans. College I got back into to the X-men. But looking back, most of the characters I remember and like come from the DCU. Plus playing DCUO on PS3 really helps revive the DC love.

  15. I’ve always been more of a Marvel reader, but I have nothing against DC, I just grew up on the Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men, Miller/Janson Daredevil era, which kicked eleventeen kinds of ass. I no longer have the patience to read monthly serials so I stick to collected books when I can.
    I agree with the praise for Bendis. Ultimate Spider-Man is now “the real” Spider-Man for me. If I see Joe Quesada, I will shout “it’s a brand new day!” and punch him in the cock. And I am still pissed at Jeph Loeb for fucking up the Ultimate Universe just because it totally disrupted Ultimate Spidey in a stupid and pointless way. Feh.
    I get the impression not enough people read SMAX, I never hear it mentioned and it totally ruled.
    You know what was especially awesome? NEXUS by Baron and Rude. Great stories, incredible art.
    I read the entire B&W trade collection of BONE in one day. Couldn’t put it down. What an accomplishment! (Jeff Smith making it, not me reading it)
    Damn, now I want to re-read Transmet. (Yip-ay-aye!)
    I may be some kind of nerd. I’ll have to check.

  16. I’m pretty new to comic books and the only Marvel I read is Deadpool. Gotta love ‘im.
    At the moment my shelf is stuffed with a lot of indie stuff: pretty much all the Whedon and Guild tie-ins, Chew (which is fucking brilliant), Kill Shakespeare, Artifacts, Welcome to Tranquility, Zatana, Umbrella Academy, Executive Assistant: Iris, Mystery Society and some local Aussie comics (get the graphic novel Changing Ways by Justin Randall – it’s available in the U.S. and it’s seriously amazing).
    I have a list entitled “back issues I need as of yesterday” but being a poor uni student, it may be a while before I can tick everything off that list.

  17. I currently read JSA, Adventure Comics and Legion of Super Heroes.
    For the latter two, I picked them up because Paul Levitz returned to write those books. He was the writer of LSH in my teens and was awesome. He continues to be so. Anything that he is involved with I will pick up and read.

  18. [Second attempt at this, apologies of this ends up as a double post. #n00bfail]
    My favourite comic artist is Alex Ross.
    I am especially fond of the “Kingdom Come” series (with Mark Waid – a fave writer of mine since his Flash days) and the tabloid-sized “The World’s Greatest Super-Heroes” series (with Paul Dini – another fave writer of mine).
    He’s the only comic artist (or artist in general I think) who can routinely take my breath away.

  19. I’m a DC girl. I’m a huge Gail Simone fan so I currently read Secret Six and Birds of Prey. My brother buys Green Lantern so I read his copies of those books.
    The only book that never disappoints me is Tiny Titans, but that might be because I am a little kid at heart. That book is absolutely adorable.

  20. I think the comic books you read or read when you were little depends on where you lived and what you could get. I don’t remember where they came from when I was small but when I was older they were all from 7-11 (and were mainly Marvel).
    I think I started reading comic books as soon as I could read and up until about 15 or 17. I think Captain Marvel was one of the first (remember Shazam?) which was ironically a DC title.
    Starting when I was small I read DC, Harvey (they used to give away comic books on American Airlines), lots of Marvel, Cracked and Mad Magazine (technically not comic books) and any comic related publication we could get.
    Some interesting facts from reading comics over 20 years ago:
    1) Read both Shazam and the Incedible Hulk before they were ever on TV. One was OK (Hulk) the other was seriously cheesy.
    2) Dynamite Magazine was a periodical you could buy at school that explained a lot of the back stories in the Marvel Universe.
    3) My two favorite books: Hulk and Fantastic Four have had the worst big screen adaptation.
    4) I never read Spider Man but Spider Man II is a favorite (Spiderman III not so much – LOL 😉
    5) I dont appreciate how they have tried to change the Hulks (and possibly other) backstories.
    Did have some of the action figures from the time but only managed to hang onto Star Wars ones.
    In the last 10 years I have mainly looked at or bought Star Wars or The Hulk.
    I could go on but will stop here – LOL
    BTW – For some reason I dont recall XMEN until much later on..

  21. I grew up with Spidey, X-Men, Iron Man and FF cartoons, so when I eventually got into the comics side it was always going to be Marvel. For a long time I was very ‘Marvel rocks, DC sucks!’, but then I grew up and realised DC had it’s merits too – what tipped me over was the brilliant Arkham Asylum game (can’t wait for Arkham City this year!). So I set about getting into DC, but I just can’t face collecting floppies – I wouldn’t know where to start. As such, I’ve got a fair few trades, and I have to recommend the Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale Batman books – The Long Halloween is my absolute favourite Bats story. My favourite Superman has got to be Mark Millar’s Red Son, which is basically ‘what if’ Supes landed in Soviet Russia instead if the US.
    Aside from picking up DC trades and collecting current X-Men, Spidey, various Avengers, etc., I’m really into Image’s stuff. Walking Dead is of course amazing, I love Chew, and I’m really digging Cowboy Ninja Viking (multiple personality assassins!). I’d also recommend anything Mark Millar does – Kick-Ass 2 is coming along nicely, Nemesis was fantastic, and the kid-friendly Superior is a nice break from his ultra-violent stuff. American Jesus is slow but also good.
    Sorry for long post – I’m sure I’ve forgotten something awesome though!

  22. Your experiences somewhat echo mine, Wil. I was big into DC when I was a kid. The comics I collected at the time were Legion of Superheroes and Adam Strange, in the late ’70s and early ’80s. The X-men were my only big foray into the Marvel universe at the time, and I’ve been loyal to them since. Excalibur was my favorite Marvel title for the longest time… but only while Alan Davis was in charge of it… when he left the title, the quality dropped and I lost interest (it migrated to Davis’ other title ClanDestine).
    Currently, I collect Astonishing X-men (originally collected because of Joss Wheadon writing), Fables, Invincible, The Walking Dead, and Runaways. I also grabbed up Y:The Last Man (although I ended up not liking the reason for him being The Last Man. Still need to read vol 10, though).

  23. Holy crap! Thank you for the link-love, Wil! Today’s been such a crazy highlight in my blogging ‘career’ I… well, let’s just say I’ve been geeking out all day about it.
    Oh and also, if you’re looking for fantastically awesome books from Marvel, you ought to give Avengers Academy a try. It’s hands down the book I look forward to the most each month and it has yet to let me down. It’s the young heroes book I’ve been waiting for since I started collecting.
    – Matt from Platypus Robot
    PS. I have no idea how all that interweb gobbly gook got up there.

  24. I’ve really been digging DC’s “Thunder Agents” by Nick Spencer. It’s a really neat government super-hero team story.
    But I’m really more a Marvel fan and am currently into “Avengers,” “New Avengers,” “Thor and “Invincible Iron Man.” And I’m hoping for good things from Hickman’s “FF.”
    Also, I love IDW’s “Dungeons & Dragons” book by John Rogers.

  25. I will read anything that has Francesco Francavilla on art: Some of the Detective comics, Black Panther: Man without Fear… He is splendid!
    I’ll read anything written by Nick Spencer (creator owned): Morning Glories, Infinite Vacation…
    I love the duo of Scott Wegener on art and Brian Clevinger writing on Atomic Robo!
    The latest run of Witchfinder: Lost and Gone Forever is beautiful with art by EC Comics legend John Severin!
    I’ll always be a Batman guy. I am digging Dick Grayson as the Gotham Batman. Batman and Robin is a fun read with some new additions to the rogue gallery. I just can’t quit the Batman.

  26. Awesome article, Wil! Thanks so much for the link.
    I have wanted to get into comics for quite some time now (I know, I’m totally missing out on a good thing!), but comic book stores make me feel mildly anxious. The fact that there is such a huge selection of comics, in addition to not knowing the back story has really put me off. But now I think I’m going to give Astonishing X-Men a shot. :)

  27. At this point, I don’t read a whole lot from either company. I’ll read just about anything by Gail Simone, and have a few titles I like to follow, but that’s been a shrinking list of late. (Batgirl is on it. I’m blanking about what else, though.)
    Generally, I avoid anything that gets to crossover or event heavy. I like my superhero books to be relatively self-contained.
    Invariably for Marvel, I’m going to avoid anything involving the Avengers (due to Disassembled and Civil War), the X-Men (due to House of M and well, most things done after Grant Morrison left), and Spider-Man (due to One More Day). I’ve had many people tell me that Marvel’s work is great, but those stories were so terrible, it leaves this bad taste in my mouth when I think about it.
    I do like the Marvel Cosmic line, generally, although it started off great with Annihilation and has trended downward slightly since, so it’s merely pretty good, now.
    Not that DC has been much better in story quality for their events. I suppose it’s just a difference between bad stories I was able to enjoy versus bad stories which I didn’t. In the latter case, I find myself unwilling to forgive.
    However, most of my reading probably ends up being indie and creator-oriented stuff, now. There’s a lot of good books completely outside the Big Two.

  28. This is a little off topic but since you mentioned comics…
    I’m not even sure if you might be familiar with this but out of curiosity, have you heard anything in Hwood about the Robotech live action movie?

  29. I have read so many great suggestions here! I am wondering if anyone can steer me towards some that would be of interest for the girls (middle school age)? I am looking to buy some to keep in my classroom for those times when my kids need something to read, especially the girls – something more than the standard middle school/love/hate/gossip/bully/vampire/social outcast stories.
    Where would be an ideal place to start (as in titles, not stores)? I noticed that many peeps who responded here are female and would like suggestions!

  30. I will read anything written by Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, David Mack, Brian Michael Bendis, Bill Willingham, Warren Ellis, Peter David, Mark Waid, Kurt Busiek, Terry Moore, and Garth Ennis.
    I will delightfully peruse any art done by Mark Buckingham, Michael Zulli, Steve Dillon, Darick Robertson, Gary Frank, Mike Avon Oeming, Alex Ross, Terry Moore, and Brent Anderson.
    I have quit collecting comic books, preferring to pick up graphic novel collections here and there (Astro City, Fables, Powers, etc.) but I was always more of a DC fanboy than Marvel. Batman is still my favorite hero although Iron Man is a close second.

  31. I’ve found myself on the other side. I grew up a Marvel girl, but have found myself over the last year drifting over more and more to the DCU. I don’t recognize my favorite characters in Marvel, and some of the stories have even made me more upset than I care to admit. I still read a couple: Fraction’s Iron Man and David’s X-Factor, but that’s about it. The DCU, overall, feels more familiar. It has its faults (you mentioned Batman, and I’d agree), but I find myself more excited about their books than I have from anything Marvel in a long time; especially JH Williams’s Batwoman, whenever that finally comes out.

  32. I loved Pax Romana but thought it was way too short and was rushed towards the end. I would have loved if Hickman had made a 30+ issue series where he continued the story instead of just having a time-line at the end. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that had so much unused potential as Pax Romana. I really hope that one day, he goes back and continues the story.

  33. I’m digging both Marvel and DC and a few other non-mainstream authors. I read all of the Bat-books and the GL books and I’m reading Green Arrow too. I dabble in Brightest Day although this whole arc is getting sort of boring for me. By far my favorite DC title is Secret Six though. It doesn’t screw around with the rest of the DCU too much and it’s almost always bad ass.
    In the Marvel U I read Secret and New Avengers (the regular Avengers book occasionally) and I still follow Spider-man. Recently I’ve been checking out Uncanny X-Force and loving it and the new Age of X story line. I also just picked up FF #1 yesterday but I haven’t even cracked it yet.
    The two authors that I follow near religiously are Mark Millar from Kick-Ass to the new Superior about everything he touches gets my nerd rocks off and Johns because it seems like he polishes all the crap right off of everything he touches.

  34. I’m a rabid follower of Peter David’s “Fallen Angel” series from IDW. and of course, have been collecting the Guild related comics from Felicia Day. Have been picking up a few of the IDW Star Trek titles. Haven’t had the time or the money to spend much time in either the DC or Marvel universe, but may try and pick up a Trade or 2 to catch up this weekend at Planet ComicCon.

  35. If you like Bendis’s creator-owned work, you should check out his early pre-Marvel Image stuff like Torso, Jinx, Goldfish, Powers, Fire, and Fortune and Glory. While I like his Marvel work, I think his independent, creator-owned work is superior. Most of his early stuff is very dark and noir-ish, and if you like that kind of stuff, you should definitely check it out.

  36. It might be terrible, but I love the Farscape comic books. I love that Rockne S. O’Bannon was able to continue creating stories in such a fascinating universe. I loved the series, and he did a wonderful job connecting the comic books by starting right at the end of the movie. I’ve always been intimidated by Marvel and DC because they’ve been going for so long, and I never did know where to start. Thanks for the link :)

  37. Love the Casey Kasem reference! Very timely for me, actually, as I had to put my dog down today and could use a long distance dedication myself now. Her name was not Snuggles, btw…

  38. I’ve been a DCU fan all my life but quit picking up weekly comics in college because the cost became a burden. Now that I’m able to afford the habit again, I’ve found it hard to get back into DCU. I’ll pick up the random Green Lantern book, but I feel like I’ll have to grab some collections to catch up. My current monthly books are the IDW Transformers and G.I. Joe books. The G1 TF and continuation of the Marvel Joe series are both pretty fun books.

  39. I agree, I just haven’t been enthusiastic about DC lately either, well, except for the Bat books. The Batman, INC stuff not so much (seriously… Bruce… I think you took the wrong lesson from your camping trip in the paleolithic)… And I am not happy that the Bat books’ only hero of color (Cassandra) was pushed out for a blonde haired, blue eyed Batgirl…
    I have been enjoying Stephanie’s stories. I also dig the hell out of Dick and Damian as Batman and Robin. It’s a completely different dynamic than we’re used to. Batman cracks the jokes and Robin plays the straight man. But yeah, I get where your coming from. As much as I like the Bat books (Batman inc aside, again), the books are bloated with characters, and some of the other titles are getting the same way. They’re spreading themselves too thin with too many complex story lines and it’ll all come crumbling down eventually, and we’ll have to have another crisis. I can’t even keep them straight any more, they’ve had too many.
    It pains me to say, DC is my preferred company, but yeah, it’s all true. there’s a lot of new ideas and good writing that’s very raw right now, but it seems like the industry may be on the way to The Next Big Thing… I hope so… I’m getting kind of bored with this whole “lets just kill people to show them how serious we are!” thing, and the whole “Oh we’ve made a mess out of our universe… lets just reboot it with an event!” thing.

  40. Loved the article! Just yesterday I was debating about diving into the comic book world again, cause I haven’t since I was a kid now I can’t wait to restart. Thanks Wil

  41. CHEW! Chew is refresing and new! Skullkickers..if you like the new DnD comic, whis is silly good, you will love skullkickers. Both books have great tongue in cheek humor and still manage to push great storytelling. Locke & Key is fantastic!
    ive dropped all of my marvel/dc books but for xforce and the new cinderella offshoot from fables. it was sad to pick up an x-men book after about 15 years and see that everything was exactly the same, despite all the differences…and it seems to be the same way in all the major books.

  42. Your readers have good taste in comics. My reading list runs in a similar vein. Morning Glories is great as was the first issue of of Nick Spencer’s other Image book “Infinite Vacation”. Invincible is great (the delays suck though) as is all of Kurt Busik’s Astro City. I like Superhero books that show the heroes in another light (more realistic?). Irredeemable and Incorruptible are interesting takes on the superhero too (Art is so-so on Incorruptible). John Byrne’s Next Men was cool too (Haven’t read the new issues yet).
    I…love…Fables. Willingham is a great writer. Such a great book. I really like Luca Rossi’s art on the House of Mystery. I want some of those original pages…can’t find them anywhere.
    Walking Dead is super good too…
    So much to read, so little time…

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