Comics are not just about superheroes anymore. Today, you can find a story for every age and interest. This list will be useful for the newcomer who needs a push in the right direction and for the old fan looking to get back in the game.
Y: The Last Man is a dystopian science fiction comic about a man and his pet monkey who are the apparent sole survivors of a mysterious plague that has wiped out every other male mammal on earth (and if that doesn't grab your attention, you might want to check your pulse). This is the perfect complete series for a beginner, with 60 issues total, simple and straightforward artwork, and a cliffhanger at the end of every chapter to keep you going. On the surface it’s an entertaining read, but it goes so much deeper than that. Vaughn does a great job exploring the political, economic, and social ramifications of this new world, and he features a diverse range of female personalities.
For the One Who Wants to be Super: Invincible by Robert Kirkman
The premise of Invincible is rather routine; it’s a coming of age story featuring a teenage boy who inherited his father’s super powers and has to juggle protecting Earth and controlling his raging hormones. What makes this story fresh, however, is how Kirkman lovingly pokes fun at the superhero genre while creating deep and relatable characters. With over 100 issues so far, this one comes with a bit of a time commitment, but is well worth it.
For the Girl Who Doesn’t Want to Read a Love Story: Revival by Tim Seeley
While equally enjoyable for men, I highly recommend Revival to women who are looking for a story that’s not rooted in romance. Revival is set in rural central Wisconsin where the dead have come back to life, only this time, a headshot does not provide an easy answer. It primarily follows Officer Dana Cypress, who must deal with the government quarantine, rural superstitions, and the big unanswered questions of why and how, all while showcasing the diverse and interesting bonds between family members and residents of the town. There are only two volumes are out so far, which makes catch-up easy for any newcomer who wants to experience a different sort of zombie.
There have been a slew of “Fairytales in the modern world” stories in recent years, but Fables started it all. It is the tale of all the iconic characters of fairytales and folklore (Snow White, Bluebeard, Jack Horner, and more) as they struggle to form a new community in NYC after being forced from their Homelands. The characters and back-stories are familiar and welcoming for a new reader. The situations the characters encounter - murder mysteries, intrigue, and war - are not. And if you can’t get enough of this fantastical story, check out TellTale’s newest game, Wolf Among Us, which follows the former Big Bad Wolf who is now Sheriff Bigby of the new fable settlement.
I hate to add two titles by the same author, but this series cannot be ignored. Saga is a space opera/fantasy which tells the story of two soldiers from opposing sides of a long-reaching war of posterity who fall in love and are now on the run as they care for their baby daughter. Having only 15 issues so far, it is quickly becoming one of the most popular series out there, and for good reason. The artwork is simple but breathtakingly beautiful, and each character is uniquely conceived and full of life. Saga is a perfect introduction to comics because the reader starts wondering what series they can pick up as they wait for the next issue.
For the One who Wants to Sleep with the Lights On: The Strain by David Lapham
Forget everything you’ve been told about vampires in recent years and get scared. Really scared. Based on Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s novel, The Strain begins with a Boeing 777 landing on a runway at JFK airport before it goes completely dark. The CDC responds to the scene and opens the aircraft, and what they find threatens the fate of mankind. And that’s only the first night. With a colorful cast of characters you quickly learn to not get too attached to, it is a great introduction to comics for someone who likes to imagine things like “what could make vampires more terrifying?”
For the One Who Sticks to the Classics:
Hawkeye by Matt Fraction
For those of you looking for a revamp of a classic character, Hawkeye is the series for you. Clint Barton is a man with no powers, but the story manages to be powerful thanks to the bold minimalist artwork and the emotional and humorous relationships. His relationship with his sidekick Kate Bishop helps develop Barton as both a well-meaning screw-up and a reluctant hero. There is plenty of action to be found, but the best laugh-out-loud moments come when Hawkeye is on his day off. If you are more interested in the man behind the mask, this series will be right on target.
Start them young, and you will have a comic book fan for life. Bone is a hilarious fantasy story about three cousins - Phoney Bone, Smiley Bone, and Fone Bone - who have been run out of their hometown and are befriended by the beautiful Thorn and her enigmatic grandmother. While initial events seem small and unimportant, they soon learn that this fantasy world is being held by a dark force and they undertake a quest to free their new friends. The story grows more complex as it goes, while retaining its initial humor (e.g. the dark rat creatures have a strange obsession with quiche). Fans of Harry Potter and the Hobbit will find this series particularly enchanting.
What series did I leave out, and what audience do you think would particularly enjoy it? Comment below!