With Scott Snyder’s highly anticipated Batman: Zero Year just around the corner and Man of Steel hitting the box-office this month, I felt that it was a perfect time to delve into some of the best re-vamped origin stories in comic books. While many may fall flat (looking at you Marvel: Season Ones) some have overshadowed their golden-age predecessors to become classics that have helped elevated the comic medium to new heights. The following stories are listed in no particular order, but are merely recommendations to help you with your reading needs:
After changing the comic landscape with Batman: Year One, Miller sought to replicate the magic, this time over at Marvel with the character that made him famous: Daredevil. Teaming up with John Romita Jr., Daredevil: The Man Without Fear is not only considered one of the best stories in Daredevil’s long and storied career, but the go-to origin for our horned hero. From Matt’s training under Stick, to his doomed love affair with Elektra, this mini-series is a heartbreaking and invigorating take on an origin story we all thought we knew.
Why you should read it? Frank Miller in his prime, Romita Jr.’s excellent art, and Elektra. Sweet, sweet Elektra.
Ground-breaking, influential, perfect; there is no shortage of praise for Batman: Year One and for good reason. This is the book that took Batman and made him the dark, twisted soul we know today. While the song remains the same for Bruce, with his parents dying and all, it’s the inclusion of James Gordon’s arrival in Gotham, and the partnership he forms with Batman that has kept this story in the spotlight. Two BFF’s for life. But, if that’s not enough to tickle your fancy, how about the rise of Miss Selina Kyle and the birth of Catwoman thrown in for good measure?
Why you should read it? Considered the greatest Batman story ever told and one of the greatest graphic novels of all time. Honestly, you should have already read this.
While most people know that Frank Castle aka The Punisher lost his family in a gang-land cross fire, most people don’t know the reason why. Covering one of the most horrific periods of Frank’s life, his final tour of duty in Vietnam, Garth Ennis manages to turn Frank’s war on crime completely on its head. Watching Frank lose everything to save his own life in a violent finale will have you yelling at the pages, just wishing Frank could hear your pleas for reasoning. However, by the time that last page comes around, you’ll be left with your jaw on the floor and a sadness that can only be filled by reading Garth Ennis’ entire Punisher: MAX run.
Why you should read it? A side of The Punisher that many have never seen before, this is a violent and underrated tale that should be read by comic fans everywhere. It also drives home the fact that a Punisher TV-Show is way overdue.
I could include everything Valiant has released since their re-launch last year, but that’s a lot of typing and I have a lot of Nikita to catch up on. Long story-short, Archer & Armstrong is a fun read, that’s action packed and loaded with humour. What do you get when a well disciplined, 18 year-old religious assassin teams up with an immortal god with a drinking problem? An original tale that puts most books on the shelf to shame.
Why you should read it? This is a prime example of a creative team that is a match made in heaven. Also, Valiant is kind enough to make their trades very affordable. How can you go wrong?
The comic landscape would be a drastically different place if it weren’t Ultimate Spider-Man. By taking a story everyone loves and rebooting it for a new generation, this bold move proved to be the stroke of genius that helped save the comic industry. By updating and expanding upon Peter Parker’s journey from high school weakling to the amazing Spider-Man, Brian Michael Bendis showed the world that comic books were still a great place to read a good story without needing encyclopedic knowledge of the past 6 decades.
Why you should read it? The life lessons will stay with you long after you put the book down. Also, it will wash the bad taste of The Amazing Spider-Man out of your mouth.
I’m a sucker for Green Arrow, I just can’t get enough of the guy and thanks to his hit TV-show and Jeff Lemire’s currently excellent run in the comic series, being an Ollie Queen fan isn’t such a lonely place anymore. Now that the first season of Arrow wrapped up in an explosive fashion, this is a great time to read Diggle’s seminal tale of Ollie’s transformation from playboy jerk to arrow slangin’ bad-ass. Topped off with Jock’s signature style, this is a gorgeous origin story that gets better with ever read.
Why you should read it? There’s a reason there’s a character named ‘Diggle’ on the TV-show, and Jock’s art… my gosh, each panel is enough to make a grown man salivate.
With Geoff Johns wrapping up his 9 year run on Green Lantern, now is the perfect time to revisit, not only his saga as a whole, but his definitive take on Green Lantern’s origin. From Hal’s discovery of a crashed alien spaceship, to his induction into the Green Lantern Corps, this story shows how the man with no fear and an iron-will managed to become one of the greatest heroes this universe has ever seen. A sprawling space epic that will undoubtedly withstand the test of time.
Why you should read it? One word: EPIC. Like 9 years worth of material epic.
Iron Man 3 is a huge hit. Despite how you may have felt about it, the movie still had legs to stand on. While much of the hyped ‘extremis’ plotline that was hinted about prior to the films release ended up taking a drastic detour from the source material, this doesn’t mean you should. Unlike other entries in this list, Warren Ellis re-tells Tony’s origins trough flashbacks in the midst of Tony’s most dangerous adventure yet. The tragedy of Tony’s plight is still there, but updated the only way that Warren Ellis can.
Why you should read it? It’s a fantastic super-hero romp that inspired the hit movie currently in theaters.
Doomed planet. Desperate scientists. Last hope. Kindly couple. It’s a tale as old as time. A myth known the world over that’s ingrained in our minds from birth just like every Beatles song. When Mark Waid landed his dream-job of re-telling Superman’s origins for the 21st century, he decided to wear his heart on his sleeve and cover every base from Superman’s 70 years of history. Not only did he craft an amazing story, but his work ended up being the main source of inspiration for the Man of Steel movie. Top it all off with Leinil Francis Yu’s uniquely excellent art and you have a collection that will be displayed proudly for years to come.
Why you should read it? Mark Waid writing Superman, like you need another reason.
There you have it, if I left anything out please post your favourite origin story below! -Sean