Ten Best Comics for Non-Comics Readers
Over the last couple weeks I've had several different people ask me to recommend a list of "suggested reading" for friends of theirs who wanted to get into comics. The question of "what comics to give people who don't read comics" is one of my personal soapbox issues. I think a lot of us lifelong comics fans lose perspective when recommending books to newcomers. It is without question that books like Dark Knight Returns, Watchmen and Kingdom Come are amazing works of art that set the bar for everything else in the industry. But the reason we enjoy them so much is because they took what we knew about comics and turned it around in a new way. Somebody who has never read a comic can pick up any of these "classics" and enjoy them, but I feel like they are missing out on a huge part of the overall story because they don't know the context for certain aspects of what's going on. I strongly hold the opinion that some books are simply better for introducing people to comics than others...and some of them may not be the ones you're thinking of. Here is my list. I encourage you to respond in the comments with what you think are the best titles for new readers, and to let me know if you agree or disagree with my choices.It goes like this:
1 - Preacher Vol #1: Gone To Texas
I could have filled up the first nine slots on this list with the entire series. It's that good. The best of the best. I've gotten more people into comics with this series then you'd ever entice with either Watchmen or Dark Knight Returns.
2 - JLA: New World Order
The first collection of Grant Morrison's wondrous run on JLA. It's what people expect and don't expect from iconic heroes at the same time. Again, every JLA volume with his name on it is gold. I own a page of his JLA: Earth 2 GN and it's one of my most prized possessions.
3 - All Warren Ellis StormWatch, which becomes The Authority, which concludes with two volumes written by Mark Millar.
I'm cheating on this one. It's several books over two titles, but that's the proper order they go in. It's the evolution of "wide-screen" superheroes and the setting of the bar for modern day superhero comics. Some of the best superhero comics ever made and easily the best superhero comics not made by Marvel or DC...that means there is no continuity to worry about so people can just sit back and enjoy.
4 - Transmetropolitan
Warren Ellis gives us Spider Jerusalem, A.K.A. Hunter S. Thompson of the future. Warren was REALLY on a roll during the '90s. Everything this guy wrote was an instant classic.
5 - The Punisher Vol. #1: Welcome Back, Frank
If Garth Ennis was a film director, Preacher would be the sweeping Indy masterpiece that won every award ever and changed film. His take on the Punisher would be where he cashes in. Only instead of making tepid blockbusters and burning out, Ennis uses his run on the Punisher to give us a blinding mix of humor, violence and revenge. Some volumes in this run are better than others, but pay special attention to Welcome Back Frank and The Slavers to see the best of funny Punisher and the best of way scary violent Punisher as ONLY Ennis can do it.
6 – Y: The Last Man
Brian Vaughn is one of the best writers working on comics today and this series proves it. I had zero interest in reading it when it came out, but can't put the TPs down now. People will never expect what's coming in this series and that's what will bring them back for more.
7 - Sanctuary
Nine volume Japanese manga series about a politician and his relationship to organized crime. As far as I'm concerned this is the most accessible manga series ever to land in America and it fucking blows the Sopranos out of the water.
8 - The Ultimates
It's the Avengers in the single most awesome summer action movie you've ever seen. It takes place in an alternate universe so you don't need to know any history for the characters. By the end you'll be amazed by the characters and you will - for sure - know what the "A" on Captain America's head stands for. If they made this as a real movie, it would officially make a gazillion dollars.
9 - The Cowboy Wally Show, You Are Here & Why I Hate Saturn
Kyle Baker's proof that comics can be non-genre specific and still RULE. Not westerns, no sci-fi, no powers - just stories about people. Very funny people.
10 - Daredevil: Underboss
I know this is sacrilege but the best Daredevil comics ever were not written by Frank Miller. They were written by Brian Bendis and then he passed the torch to Ed Brubaker. It all starts here with Underboss. It's like Law & Order with a dude in a ninja costume. Mind. Blowing. (PS – I really hard a hard time not putting Alias by Bendis in this spot, but it had to go to Daredevil. It was a real toss up there though 'cause Alias is pretty freaking rad in it's own right and pretty closely related to this Daredevil run.)