With the success of the Marvel movies and the news that DC have started adding to their roster for the big screen, comic books have seen an explosion in popularity. No longer a niche hobby, these fun reads are now considered part of popular culture, like bingo or the Kardashians.
Don’t waste your time on bingo sites though, as comics are by far the best thing since sliced bread.
However, because some of these comics have been around for so long (like X-Men, Avengers, Batman), it’s often hard to figure out where to start. What arcs are canon, or which ones are worth reading? Well worry not, because I’ve taken my years of comic book reading and combined it into a list of the top five comics and graphic novels that you definitely have to check out.
1: Scott Pilgrim
First up is the light-hearted story of Scott Pilgrim. This six book series mixes a 90’s movie vibe with various video game references and sight gags as it follows the story of Scott Pilgrim and his quest to woo the lovely Ramona by fighting her seven evil exes.
With super-powered Vegans, demon summoning singers and a whole host of other surreal and rather abstract touches it’s already seen huge success with both a movie and videogame port of this superb series.
2: The Walking Dead
Thanks to the HBO show, The Walking Dead comics have become possibly one of the most popular and fast selling series in the world.
They tell the story of Sherriff Rick Grimes in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead roam the earth feasting on the living. It’s a stark portrayal of human survival against adversity, and with the constant threat that characters could be killed off without a moment’s notice you’re constantly on edge as you follow their ongoing struggle.
This one is not for the faint of heart; the story revolves around a small-town priest named Jesse Custer who becomes possessed by the child of an angel and demon named Genesis. This imbues him with a power known only as the ‘The Word of God’, an amazing gift that allows him to command anyone do literally anything he tells them!
With undead cowboys, Irish vampires, Italian religious fanatics, female assassins, a detective with a penchant for sodomy and a hilarious pseudo sub-plot about the second coming of Jesus, this brutal comic doesn’t pull any punches as it hangs all of creation on one man’s quest to find out exactly where God has disappeared to.
The Watchmen series has already gathered a cult following, even before the blockbuster film was released. Set within a dystopian future where superheroes are outright banned, a gang of unpowered vigilantes hunt down the killer of one of their comrades.
We can’t say much without going into spoiler territory, but it takes the usual do-gooder superhero tropes and turns them on thier head to end on a rather tragic and shocking finale. This is definitely one to check out, regardless if you’ve already seen the movie version.
Most people now know of Hellboy thanks to Ron Pearlman’s portrayal of the red skinned hero. Hellboy is a demon from hell that appeared on earth at a young age and was raised by the secret society of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence (BPRD) to battle demons and other supernatural evils that exist in the world.
Comprising of various one off story arcs, with the most recent having him venture back into the depths of hell, the Hellboy series pits the big red mean machine against a variety of colourful villains. You’ll see him battle with frog demons, Nazi cults, vampires, the undying mad Russian Rasputin and a variety of other folklore based horrors.
So the next time you’re thinking about picking up a comic but aren’t sure where to start, why not try one of the above before hitting the huge back catalogues of characters from the big leagues like Marvel and DC.