Graphic Novels – If you liked “Captain America: Civil War” Try…

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With everybody and their cousin seeing Captain America: Civil War, some of you might be thinking of getting into comics (or getting back into it) and reading some of the adventures of your favorite Marvel characters but don’t know where to start. Well, Johnny-come-lately (just kidding) you’re reading the right article. Look no further and let me give you some of my recommended reading for new readers!

Iron Man: The Five Nightmares (2008)

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Written superbly by Matt Fraction and drawn excellently by Salavador LaRocca, Iron Man faces Ezekiel Stane, the son of Obidia (Jeff Bridges in Iron Man), who is selling superior Iron Man tech to terrorists on the black market. When this story came out in the 2008 relaunch of “Invincible Iron Man,” it completely blew me away. The story was well paced, the art was spectacular and each issue thrilled me! It was nothing like I’ve ever read before. If you read just one Iron Man story, I’d recommend this one.

Captain America: the Winter Soldier Ultimate Collection (2004-2006)

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This trade paperback collection how the Winter Soldier saga all began. Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Steve Epting arguably tell the definitive Captain America story for this era of comics. In this series, Captain America finds out his long thought dead sidekick Bucky is in fact alive. Not only is Bucky alive, he’s been a covert assassin for the Soviet Union for the past 60 years. This story was definitely a turning point for Captain America. It had a sort of Tom Clancy/ 24 kind of feel to it. Brubaker’s writing style was formed for Captain America. Epting’s art really fit the story Brubaker told.

The Amazing Spider-Man: Coming Home (2001)

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Back in 2001, writer J Michael Straczynski and one of my personal favorite artists John Romita Jr breathed new life into your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Here, Peter Parker becomes a science teacher for his old high school, and meets a stranger named Ezekiel who can do whatever a spider can just like Parker! This story was the beginning of one of the best runs by a creative team in recent history. When I say they breathed new life into Spider-Man, I mean it. For a few years, the stories were getting repetitive and were just ok. Definitely marked the beginning of a new era for the wall crawler. Straczynski’s writing was top notch and Romita brought his A-game to this title. It blew me away how great his artwork was.

New Avengers: Breakout (2004)

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After the events of Avengers: Disassembled,Captain America leads new team of Avengers, including Spider-Man, Wolverine, Luke Cage, Spider-Woman and long time ally Iron Man to help retrieve criminals who escaped the watery prison the Raft (as seen in Captain America: Civil War Granted the book was a solid book before Bendis and Finch took over, but this story took Marvel’s long running series to a whole ‘nother level. It was nice to see Marvel’s true heavyweights (Spidey and Wolverine) in the same book together and the best talent in comics on Marvel’s premiere book.

Avengers Volume 1 (2010)

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My final suggestion for this article is one of my favorites. Brian Michael Bendis and artist John Romita Jr were brought together on Marvel’s flagship title to launch what the House Of Ideas called “the Heroic Age.” Comics took a dark turn for a bit in the 00’s and Marvel wanted to give their comics a bit of a lighter tone and this story lead the march.  The Avengers face long time villain Kang the Conqueror and also features an appearance from the Next Avengers (the children of the Avengers in the future who had their own straight to DVD animated movie in 2008). It had a more classic feel to it with Thor back on the team and Romita Jr’s art style as opposed to New Avengers more contemporary take on the team.

 

Now some of you are probably thinking “Hey Keith, why aren’t you recommending any Hawkeye, Black Widow or Black Panther stories?” Well, I’m recommending stories I actually read. I felt it would be a little dishonest if I recommended books I didn’t read and only heard were good.

 

Graphic Novels – Comic Books & Superheroes

Focus on: Comic Books & Superheroes
Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
by Sean Howe

Marvel Comics originated in 1939, when publisher Marvin Goodman reluctantly expanded his pulp magazine business into the new field of comic books. But the brand didn’t really take off until 1961, when writer Stan Lee and artists Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko helped create Marvel’s most well-known characters. In this in-depth, meticulously researched, and “scintillating history” (Publishers Weekly),Entertainment Weekly editor Sean Howe delves into the tangled and contentious personal relationships among Marvel’s talented stable of editors, writers, and artists; also taking center stage are their creations, like golden-boy Captain America and lovable (if nerdy) Spider-Man.

Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir
by Stan Lee, Peter David, and Colleen Doran

Unsurprisingly, when comic book legend Stan Lee writes a memoir, he does it in graphic novel format in his “inimitably jaunty style” (Kirkus Reviews). Here, he shares his role in creating some of the most iconic comic book creations — Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Incredible Hulk, and many more. But he also writes of his childhood, his early years in a comic book industry dominated not by superheroes but by cowboys, and his co-creators. Fun and quirky, this is a great read for fans.

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore

Deeply researched and offering an engaging story, this cultural history of enduring icon Wonder Woman deviates from standard comic book history by concentrating on the rather unusual circumstances of her creation — especially the unorthodox living situation of her creator, and the controversy that Wonder Woman’s appearance inspired. Drawing on both interviews and archival research to unveil the role of feminism in shaping Wonder Woman’s existence, historian Jill Lepore’s study offers a different yet tantalizing perspective that readers of Tim Hanley’s Wonder Woman Unbound (or comic book history in general) may appreciate.

Super Boys: The Amazing Adventures of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster…
by Brad Ricca

This comprehensive biography of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster draws on a decade of research and new discoveries to provide the complete story behind the creation of Superman. It details a friendship that evolved into a working partnership, the inspiration for the Man of Steel, and the pair’s premature sale of the character to Action Comics. Check it out if you’ve an interest in the comic book industry or in Superman himself; the collaboration between Siegel and Shuster also inspired Michael Chabon’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novelThe Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay.

Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero
by Larry Tye

As with Brad Ricca’s superb biography of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (Super Boys), this history begins with two nerdy teenagers who (after six years of false starts and rejections) gave life to a superhero who was everything they were not. But though they deserve the credit for creating the invincible Superman, they sold him to Action Comics for $130 and soon lost artistic rights over him. Over the intervening eight decades, many others have helped influence the changing characteristics of the Man of Steel to better fit the changing times and to let him live on in popular culture. Comprehensive and accessible, this is a wide-ranging history of an American hero.

List created 5/12/16 – James Hartmann

Adapted from Nextreads.

Superheroes – These Books Will Save The Day!

The Invincible Iron Man. Demon In A Bottle / Writers, David Michelinie, Bob Layton ; Artists, John Romita Jr., Bob Layton, Carmine Infanito

Iron Man faces his most untouchable foe in criminal industrialist Justin Hammer and his literal army of super-villains! But can the Armored Avenger overcome an even more implacable personal demon, invulnerable to technology or wealth? Guest-starring Ant-Man and the Sub-Mariner! Collects Iron Man #120-128.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns / Frank Miller

Crime runs rampant in the streets, and the man who was Batman is still tortured by the memories of his parents’ murders. As civil society crumbles around him, Bruce Wayne’s long-suppressed vigilante side finally breaks free of its self-imposed shackles.

Watchmen / Alan Moore

This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.

Soon I Will Be Invincible : Novel / By Austin Grossman

When Doctor Impossible, an evil genius, mad scientist, time-traveler, and ambitious wannabe world dominator, escapes from prison and launches a new plot to seize control of the world, Fatale, a woman built by the NSA to be the next generation of weaponry, joins a group of misfit superheroes in their quest to destroy Doctor Impossible.

The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier & Clay / Michael Chabon

Joe Kavalier, a young Jewish artist who has also been trained in the art of Houdini-esque escape, has just smuggled himself out of Nazi-invaded Prague and landed in New York City. His Brooklyn cousin Sammy Clay is looking for a partner to create heroes, stories, and art for the latest novelty to hit America – the comic book. Drawing on their own fears and dreams, Kavalier and Clay create the Escapist, the Monitor, and Luna Moth, inspired by the beautiful Rosa Saks, who will become linked by powerful ties to both men.

American Gods / Neil Gaiman

Days before his release from prison, Shadow’s wife, Laura, dies in a mysterious car crash. Numbly, he makes his way back home. On the plane, he encounters the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America.

Hero / Perry Moore

The last thing in the world Thom Creed wants is to add to his father’s pain, so he keeps secrets. Like that he has special powers. And that he’s been asked to join the League – the very organization of superheroes that spurned his dad. But the most painful secret of all is one Thom can barely face himself: he’s gay.

Wild Cards / George R.R. Martin (Editor)

Just after World War II over New York City, an alien virus transforms human genetics and goes recessive to create super heroes and villains. Most victims die, others experience physical or psychic changes: aces have useful powers, deuces minor maybe entertaining abilities, jokers uglified, disabled, relegated to ghettos.

Origins Of A D-List Supervillain / Jim Bernheimer

Follow Cal Stringel’s misadventures as he climbs to the lowest levels of supervillany in the prequel to the smash hit, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain. Angry that he wouldn’t be known as the engineer who made Ultraweapon’s force blasters, Cal resigns to chase after a bigger, better paycheck.

Evil Genius / Catherine Jinks

Cadel Piggott has a genius IQ and a fascination with systems of all kinds. At seven, he was illegally hacking into computers. Now he’s fourteen and studying for his World Domination degree, taking classes like embezzlement, misinformation, forgery, and infiltration at the institute founded by criminal mastermind Dr. Phineas Darkkon. Although Cadel may be advanced beyond his years, at heart he’s a lonely kid. When he falls for the mysterious and brilliant Kay-Lee, he begins to question the moral implications of his studies for the first time. But is it too late to stop Dr. Darkkon from carrying out his evil plot?

 

List Created 2/18/15 – James Hartmann