Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Top 10 Tuesdays - 10 Comics You Should Be Reading

Today's Top 10 Tuesdays post covers the much request recommendations topic by spotlighting 10 Comics You Should Be Reading.  If you happen to remember Justin Miousse's Comic Book Suitcase Test, I've basically applied that to my current pull list and distilled it down to the ten monthly (keyword monthly, so no Thor or other oft-delayed comics on this list) comics I think people should be reading.

Most of the list you can probably guess if you've read my reviews for a while, but there's also a few new comics and the odd surprise.  I've also included the price of each issue, a brief description and my reasons for choosing it.  Hit the jump for the full list!

1. Secret Six
Written by Gail Simone
Art by Nicola Scott
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: Six villains form a team and we follow them on their misadventures.

Why should I buy it?: It is currently the best book being published from any company.  I think the thing I like the most about it is that it offers something unique with every issue, both in story and with the perspective of the villains.  These are human beings, not mustachio twirling Saturday morning cartoon characters.  Sure, they lack morals and Ragdoll is completely insane, but they're still human in the end and Simone captures that perfectly.

Where should I start?: The current series has multiple jumping on points, ranging from the first issue to several done-in-ones after the first arc to the most recent story, which began in issue ten and just wrapped up.  Any are good starting points, but if it was up to me, I'd grab the first trade, Secret Six: Unhinged, or possibly the original miniseries that predate the ongoing, but are not essential to understanding it, Villains United and Six Degrees of Devastation.

2. Incredible Hercules
Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Art by Various
Price: $2.99, soon to be $3.99, but with Agents of Atlas backup

What's it about?: Hercules, the Greek demigod, and Amadeus Cho, the 7th smartest person on Earth (according to a soapbox contest), take a romp through the Marvel Universe.

Why should I buy it?: Like Secret Six, Incredible Hercules offers something unique to readers that other comics do not.  In Hercules case, it's the comedy and a constant stream of moments that leave even the most disenheartened fanboy smiling with glee, from Hercules dressing up as Thor and battling a Thor dressed as Hercules to the best sound effects (yes, I'm mentioning sound effects, that's how good they are) in comics, Incredible Hercules is a book you should be reading.

Where should I start?: While there is an overarching story about Hera, the Olympus Group and their Continuum project, just about any issue or arc is a good jumping on point for Incredible Hercules.

You could pick up the first trade, Against The World, where Incredible Hulk became Incredible Hercules post-WWH or the excellent Secret Invasion tie-in, which does not require any knowledge of Secret Invasion to enjoy and deals with Hercules leading the Earth pantheon of gods to kill the Skrull gods (yes, it's as awesome as it sounds), or my former favourite storyarc from the series, Love And War, which is where the 'thumbs up' Hercules image that frequents my banner now and then comes from.  Or, if you want to just get right in to the book, pick up the recently concluded, and my new favourite arc, The Mighty Thorcules from Incredible Hercules #136 and move straight on into the upcoming Assault on New Olympus.

In short, buy any Incredible Hercules comic and you'll enjoy it.  Guaranteed.

3. Green Lantern Corps
Written by Peter Tomasi
Art by Patrick Gleason
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: All the Green Lanterns that aren't Hal Jordan.

Why should I buy it?: Peter Tomasi has taken the sister title to Green Lantern and made it superior to the main book in every way, which is saying a lot considering how much hype and praise Green Lantern has gotten since Geoff Johns relaunched the title.  Where Johns covered the "secret" origin of Hal Jordan for several months and then stumbled through a few arcs before resurging with the recent Blackest Night issues, Tomasi and Gleason have been knocking the ball out of the park with every issue of Green Lantern Corps since Tomasi took over the book over a year ago.  It's basically been one non-stop continuation of the Sinestro Corps War with every issue.  That's how good this book has been.

Where should I start?: Tough one.  If you've been following Green Lantern or Blackest Night and not picking this title up, you should just jump right in as you'll be well versed in the story already.  For others, you may want to start with the Sinestro Corps War, which is where all the Green Lantern love really started, and make your way through subsequent volumes of Tomasi's run on the book.  Our Blackest Night primer actually has a lot of information about the current state of Green Lantern and GLC in it, so you could read up there and just start right in on the main books if you wished.

4. Detective Comics
Written by Greg Rucka
Art by JH Williams III
Price: $3.99 with The Question backup

What's it about?: The new Batwoman takes center stage in Detective Comics with backups featuring the new Question.

Why should I buy it?: JH Williams's art.  Seriously, I rarely, if ever, go on about an artist or tell people to buy a book based on the art alone (that's how Loeb got to where he is in the industry - on the backs of A-list artists propping up his otherwise unsavory "writing"), but this is simply incredible work and art like this comes along but once every 10 years or so.  It doesn't hurt that Rucka is putting out some of his best writing here, though the Question backups are a bit lacking in comparison.  I view them as "free" extras though.

Where should I start?: Rucka and Williams took over Detective Comics with issue #854.  The first arc just concluded and Batwoman's origin arc began last week.  Pick up #854 and get caught up as soon as you can.

5. Batman and Robin
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Rotating Teams
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: The Batman and Robin post-death of Bruce Wayne.

Why should I buy it?: Grant Morrison is channelling his All Star Superman work, but set in post-Batman RIP continuity with Nightwing and Damian Wayne taking on the mantles of Batman and Robin.  Believe everything you've heard about this book and add it to your pull list ASAP.

Where should I start?: Only a handful of issues have been released, so start with Batman and Robin #1 and work your way up.

6. Nova
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Paul Pelletier & Various
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: Nova, the Marvel Green Lantern knock off with a bucket on his head.

Why should I buy it?: This image is the only reason you need. Yes, I realize it's from Annihilation, but that image sums up every possible reason I could give for why Nova is a book you should be reading.  If that much awesome in one image can't get you to buy a book, nothing will.  Now multiply that by a monthly, sometimes bi-weekly 22-page comic and I can't think of any reason you aren't reading this book already.

Where should I start?: Nova's resurgence began with the Annihilation: Nova miniseries and continued directly through Annihilation and the subsequent relaunch of the ongoing for Nova.  He's bounced between events, but the current storyline in Nova #29-30 slowed things down a bit so that you could easily jump in before the Realm of Kings aftermath to War of Kings begins. 

7. Guardians of the Galaxy
Written by Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning
Art by Various
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: Ragtag band of cosmic adventurers that came together during Annihilation: Conquest and have been policing/fixing the universe since.

Why should I buy it?: Talking Russian dog?  I AM GROOT?  Drax?  Gamora?  Adam Warlock/Magus?  Rocket Raccoon?  Any of this not sound awesome?  How about it's by the team of Abnett and Lanning, who also do chores on Nova and have been spearheading the entire Marvel cosmic universe resurgence since Annihilation?  Don't like cosmic books?  Read it anyways.  You'll like it.

Where should I start?: The team first came together, at least partially, back during Annihilation: Conquest, so the Starlord miniseries might be a good start.  Otherwise, you could just stick to the first trade of this new series, which deals with the team's formation post-Conquest.  For a recent jumping on point, there's not a great spot, to be honest, as the book has just finished up a rather confusing, for new readers, time travel storyline and half the team was killed off fixing it.  With the roster thinned out, it may be a good time to jump in with next issue. 

8. Fantastic Four
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Dale Eaglesham
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: Marvel's first family.

Why should I buy it?: Hickman and Eaglesham are putting the Fantastic back in the Fantastic Four.  We've got a Multiverse policing council made up of Reed Richards, many with their own Infinity Gauntlets, fighting Celestials, taking down Dr Dooms (yes, plural), SCIENCE! and pretty much taking what had become a rather set routine for the Fantastic Four and gotten it back to the basics, capturing magic not seen since Waid and Ringo were last on the book.

Where should I start?: The first three part storyline just finished, so run out and grab that, starting with Fantastic Four #570, #571 and the recently released #572.  You can also grab Hickman's Dark Reign: Fantastic Four miniseries, which introduced some of the plots used on his current run, but it is not necessary to enjoying it either.  Just found out you can read the first two issues for FREE with Marvel's Digital Comics Unlimited service.  Now you have no excuse not to read it.

9. The Walking Dead
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard
Price: $2.99

What's it about?: Post-zombie apocalypse world and the daily lives of the people that live there, their struggles to survive and how they deal with this world gone mad.

Why should I buy it?: The people. No, really, it's not a zombie book.  It's just set in a post-zombie apocalypse setting.  The people, their lives and how they go about in this world is the real draw of the book.  And zombies.  There are zombies, too.  But mostly the people.

Where should I start?: Grab the first trade and work your way up through this series.

10. Wolverine: Weapon X
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Rotating Teams
Price: $3.99

What's it about?: It's Wolverine's new ongoing that, currently, follows a series of stand alone stories.  It reflects current continuity, but you do not need to follow other X-titles or Dark Reign or the numerous other books Wolverine stars in to follow it.

Why should I buy it?: Jason Aaron just plain gets Wolverine and you'll see exactly why he's become one of, if not the most popular character in comics.  I actually haven't enjoyed Wolverine or any stories from his titles in years, probably since the older Claremont/Byrne days.  If you're disenfranchised over yet another Wolverine comic or appearance and sick of seeing him everywhere, do yourself a favour and grab the first arc of this title and I believe Aaron will make you a believer in Wolverine again (or for the first time).

Where should I start?: Just pick up issue one of this relatively new series or grab the upcoming trade, The Adamantium Men, and find out why Wolverine is the best he is at what he does - selling comics.  You could also grab Aaron's and Ron Garney's Get Mystique! arc, which was one of the best stories from last year, that led to his getting handed the reins to Logan's new book.


There you have, the 10 Comics You Should Be Reading.  Or, at least, the ten comics on my pull list I think you should be reading.  What I want to know is if you agree or not.  What comics did I miss that you think others should be reading and why?  Of note, I limited it mostly to Marvel and DC as I do the majority of my indie reading through trades.  I made an exception and put The Walking Dead on there since I keep up with it rather religiously in trade format, but can't really say for sure how well other indie books keep up as I'm usually two or three trades behind on them. 

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Primewax said...

Haven't gotten into Secret Six, which is a shame. I really want to read it, but it just seems like one more book on the pull list. Maybe I can grab some trades.

You hit the nail on the head with Herc. The Sacred Invasion arc was excellent, and I think the God Squad may be my new favorite superhero team. I haven't read the Dark Reign arc yet, but I skipped right over it into Incredible Thorcules and haven't looked back. Amazing book.

That image you posted of Nova from Annihilation is what made up my mind to start reading Nova in the first place. Haven't quite caught up to where I need to be yet, but I will. Oh I will.

Green Lantern Corps has been knocking it out of the park lately. The Sinestro Corps War is actually what got me into Green Lantern in the first place. An odd jumping-on point to be sure, but so well written I was able to understand what was happening while wanting to know what had gone on before. I personally like the contract between GL and GLC, and reading them in conjunction with each other makes for a fun time.

Really need to get into this Fantastic Four arc. It looks like they are returning to the fun roots they started with. Now if I could only get a Silver Surfer ongoing...

Ethereal said...

I'm reading everything on this except Incredible Hercules (Which I'm going to start picking up with the Prologue coming out this week), Walking Dead and Weapon X.

One question that seems to bother me, is wether Weapon X is canon or not. With all his appearances in other books, how do his storylines connect to them?

Primewax said...

These guys know what they are talking about with Herc. While I think the Prologue is gonna be a good jumping-on point, you really owe it to yourself to get caught up on this excellent series. Since I'm not reading Secret Six (yet) In credible Hercules is, hands down, my number one book. And with it being bi-monthly, you get quite a dose. (Although, is it going to keep being bi-monthly when the Agents of Atlus backup starts?)

Anonymous said...

Just got 3 Incredible Hercules trades today.

mq1986 said...

Read most everything on the list, but I'd like to add some Vertigo titles: Unwritten for the literary junkies and Madame Xanadu for the magic-lovers. Both of these are offer intriguing, solid reads every week.

Jeremy said...

Detective Comics may be number one on this list for me and I'm usually not an art first guy. But JH Williams is unlike anything I see in comics.

I think notably missing from this list (and what would be my choice to replace the space epics, which aren't my thing) are Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man, which truly made me care about Tony Stark after I had spent the last year hating him. Also, the still underrated "Air" and "Chew", both of which have done things that hadn't really been tried and come out the other end better for it.

Chris said...

Well I read 3 out of the 10....glad to see Fantastic Four getting some much deserved love. Also, I agree with Jeremy, Iron Man has been my favorite book for a while now.

Stagger Lee said...

Nice to see the talented JH Williams III getting some appreciation. As for others great titles, I know it's, erm, infrequently published, but when it appears Ex Machina is always damn good.

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I get FF with HickMan now and it is pretty sweet. I just hot the latest Weapon X issue, in the mental asylum, and it was also wickedly sweet. Walking Dead is a trade purchase for me, and I don't see it switching to floppies now, but that's it for my list.
I'd be interested in getting Morrison's B&R run in trade, and Hercules would be a good trade addition, but otherwise I just don't regularly dig on DC.
Personally, I'd add the Brubaker/Phillips combo of Criminal/Incognito which ships pretty regularly and are just the greatest things coming out ever!
I like this article, very well put together. Cheers.

mrpeepants said...

read most of these. Weekly Crisisly def partly influenced me on jumping onto Green Lantern all, Herc, and Secret Six. I love Nova and Herc. Secret Six too but that's been running a little shorter. X-Factor would be in my suitcase too.

Servando Gomez said...

I certainly agree with almost everything on the list except that replace Green Lantern Corps with the Luna Brothers "The Sword". Btw, from your reviews Kirk; you give most of the time Check it and the occasional Buy. It's really confusing for me sometimes why you would suggest it so high up on the list instead of the main Green Lantern title.

Granted, people are probably already reading GL main. Other than that, no Astonishing X-Men? Warren Ellis i think can do no wrong and i have to agree with Tim from CBR "Permanent Damage Column" it's already better than Joss Whedon run.

Other than that, it be great if more people bought more "Runaways" under Kathy (? am i right) Immounen run. I feel aweful if it was cancelled because the people left after BKV run ended. I know it's under hiatus so you can't exactly recommend it but the trades coming out (or has it?) and a good to suggest that.

CasinoGrande said...

If anyone wants to get into Secret Six, I definitely suggest starting with the earliest trades. I read the first trade of the ongoing, and had no idea what was really going on for the first 2 issues. There wasn't an explanation of who the characters were, but there were references to past continuity which really threw me off and confused me.

brandon said...



Didio has stated how in life two people meet and have continuity and history and you learn about the person and those events as you go and this is how it works in the comics. However, in many of the comics (especially DC) you never even get the most basic introduction. I simply gave up trying to pick up a DC book without some sort of advertised jumping on point.

I've found issues in some series where characters are key supporting characters and their names never even appear in print in the entire comic.

As much as Didio denies it, DC's comics are catered toward the hardcore, fully engaged fan. The main Blackest Night series is proof enough.

I dont understand why they are so against a recap page or character intro bubbles.

Ryan Schrodt said...

I'm really disappointed that no one has mentioned Elephantmen. That and Secret Six are the best titles to be following in 2009.

scubadonc said...

I don't read Marvel anymore only DC and indies. So I'm reading everything on the list except the Marvel titles. That said, I would substitute Jonah Hex, Hellblazer, Jack of Fables, Proof (which is coming to an end), and Hack/Slash for the Marvel titles.

Primewax said...


I used to be the same way. Then Annihilation and Incredible Hercules brought me back around. Marvel has some good stuff out there, you just have to look harder to find it.

brandon said...

My top ten monthly reads of late are (publisher order):

1) Walking Dead
2) Chew
3) Elephantmen
4) Star Wars Legacy
5) Batman & Robin
6) GLC
7) GL
8) Wolverine Weapon X
9) Captain America
10) Punisher MAX title

Others that dont always ship:

1) Flash Gordon
2) Criminal and/or Incognito
3) Hellboy

Anonymous said...

and R.E.B.E.L.S.?

Michael said...

Agreed with Detective Comics and Fantastic Four. Both are really strong books, especially now that Hickman is on FF. One of my personal favorite books is Witchblade. Ron Marz has really made it into something special over the last few years.

Gabriel said...

Glad Criminal wasn't one of the titles you recommended, it's so massively overrated.

btownlegend said...

Red Robin!!!!!!

Michael Edwards said...

I keep hearing that Hickman is knocking it out of the park on Fantastic Four, but I wasn't that much of a fan of Waid's run on FF. I'll try his run in trades. Can't afford the floppies.

I also might look at Incredible Hercules too.

Anonymous said...

1)Walking Dead (Image)
2)X-Factor (Marvel)
3)Unwritten (Vertigo)
4)Green Lantern (DC)
5)Green Lantern Corps.(DC)
6)Batman and Robin (DC)
7)Criminal: The Sinners (IKON)
8)Ex Machina (Wildstorm)
9)Astro City (Wildstorm)

10) And...

If this book ever sees the light of day again....

The Book of Lost Souls (IKON) 2005-2006

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