Friday, October 12, 2012

Super Awesome Comic Book Fun Time

Hi all. First off, this marks my 100th blog post! Tonight I'm turning the blog over to my boyfriend (don't worry, you'll survive... mostly). We're all learning stuff tonight: I learned that I (and my abused fingertips) hate basting quilts and you're going to learn all about comics. Fun, right? And now...

Let the Post Commence!

So, I thought a lot about what comics I would recommend for The Book Pantry's first ever SUPER AWESOME COMIC BOOK FUN TIME post but ended up drawing a blank, not because I had no idea on what to recommend, but because I had far to many awesome books. That's the great thing about introducing people to new medium of entertainment, you have the entire history of awesome stories to choose from. Unfortunately, that can lead to a bit of information overload. So, unable to decide what direction to take, I decided to focus on the most recent big blockbuster comic book movies from the previous summer. So, without further ado, here are my recommended reads for those of you who liked The Amazing Spiderman, The Dark Knight Rises, and The Avengers.

If you liked The Amazing Spiderman, you'll like:

Ultimate Spiderman Vol 1: Power and Responsibility
The great strength of Spiderman, even from the very beginning, has always been that the life of Peter Parker is never overshadowed by the shenanigans that Spiderman gets up too.  Yes, watching Spiderman beat up giant robot Rhinos or guys with metallic octopus arms is all good fun, but there are literally thousands of comics of spandex clad crime fighters beating the crap out of bad guys. The real fun is watching the impact his double life has on his friends and family. While I'm only listing the first volume here, I can easily recommend the entire run, which consists of nearly thirty books. Over the course of this run, the story never falters, and it includes some of the most consistently good artwork I've seen. I can't stress the quality of this comic enough. It was the first comic I consistently followed on an issue to issue basis, and I still read it every month ten years after it was originally released.

If you liked The Dark Knight Rises, you'll like:

Knightfall and No Man's Land, also every other Batman comic ever cause Batman's awesome. I mean, seriously, there is so much good Batman out there its hard to go wrong. Although, if you want more of what you saw in the movie, then the two books above will serve you well. Knightfall is the story BANE, THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BAT, as he will continue to tell you two decades after his most famous story. Bane deduces that Batman and Bruce Wayne are one and the same, and concocts a plan to exhaust and demoralize Batman, before doing that one thing he's famous for, being BANE, THE MAN WHO BROKE THE BAT!!! (Sorry, I've read these words in giant bold caps so many times I have to type it that way. He has to bring up some version of those words almost every time you see him. "Hi, I'm Bane. I'm a Scorpio, and I enjoy long walks on the beach and BREAKING THE BAT!!!!!!!!)

No Man's Land was the inspiration for the second half of the film where Gotham is cut off from the rest of the world. In the books, Gotham is devastated by a massive earthquake and cut off  from the rest of the country. Believing the damage so severe that any attempt at rebuilding would be pointless, the US government abandons it, declaring it a No Man's Land outside US jurisdiction. Batman's various villians, including Joker, Two-Face, and others battle for control of the city, while Batman and friends try to bring things back under control.

Basically, its hard to go wrong. There are a few bad eggs, but Batman is generally such an interesting character to read that it's hard to mess things up. Batman Year One is lauded as one of the greatest graphic novels of all time and is the definitive Batman origin story (It was also the basis for much of Batman Begins, the first of the Nolan Bat trilogy). If you want to get caught up on modern Batman, I recommend starting with Grant Morrison's Batman & Son, since all current (good) Batman stories flow from there.

If you liked The Avengers, you'll like:

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted. What's that you say? I'm recommending an X-Men book for those who liked the Avengers? Yes yes, I may be cheating a bit, but there's a good reason. Astonishing X-Men, widely acknowledged to be one the best X-Men stories of all time, was written by Joss Whedon, who, as you may know, directed The Avengers.  His quality as a writer shows here as well, and his take on the X-men is full of all the elements that made The Avengers great.  Also, this story serves as a good gateway for new readers who have only a limited exposure to the X-men. Yes, references are made to several events from the X-men's decades long past, but these are either immediately explained or don't affect the overall plot.  The fact that the series features almost exclusively new villians instead of having everybody fight Magneto for the 1000th time helps as well.

As far as the Avengers themselves go, there are several places you could start. All Avengers stories of the last decade flow from The New Avengers: Breakout, in which Captain America and Iron Man assemble a new team of Avengers to deal with the aftermath of a massive super villain prison break out. This Avengers team is a lot different than what you got it the movie, including Spider-man and Wolverine, as well as some fan favorite characters like Luke Cage and Spider-Woman (a bit of a Spider redundancy, I know, but it works).

If you want something closer to the movie, you could try The Ultimates Vol 1 and Vol 2, which are set in the same alternate, more realistic version of the Marvel Universe as Ultimate Spiderman, and many of the story elements in the Avengers movie originated in these books. However, a slight warning; these characters are not the ones you know from the movie. Apparently being more realistic means characters behave less like super heroes and more like SUPER JERKS. (Note: I wanted to use slightly stronger language to emphasize that I do not approve of the characters attitudes, but have been informed that this post has to maintain "Safe for Work" language, even though this blog is usually about sexy scottish vampires who cook pancakes on each other's ripped abs or something). (Oh, he's totally going to pay for that; I'll be reading the next "scottish vampire" book aloud. Yeah, that's right, Magneto has nothing on me!)

I hope that helps any of you that liked some of these super hero movies who want to start reading some of the comics. I know it can daunting to try to jump into story with decades of character development, but I think these are some good starting point for newbies. If there were any other characters you're interested in reading, or if you want more suggestions for anything I talked about above, feel free to ask in the comments, and I'll be glad to give you more suggestions.  Happy reading!

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