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I've been reading comic books seriously since about 1980, and I spend a lot of time and resources on them. Originally I mainly read Marvel titles, particularly Chris Claremont's X-MEN and as they came out, the various related titles (THE NEW MUTANTS, EXCALIBER, X-FACTOR), but in the time prior to his leaving Marvel I bought less and less of their titles as, in my opinion, their quality went seriously downhill.
Another title I enjoyed (while it lasted) was STRIKEFORCE MORITURI, a fine tale of a near-future world being ravaged by marauding aliens, the only defence against whom are a group of artifically created superhumans. Unfortunately, the process which gives them their powers also gives them a lifespan of less than a year before they burn out, and die...
These days, the only Marvel title I've been buying is Kurt Busiek and George Perez's AVENGERS, because, knowing the quality of their work from elsewhere, I was prepared to risk it. For the same reason I also buy the occasional issue of THUNDERBOLTS.
I also brought the collected reprints of Alan Moore and Alan Davis' CAPTAIN BRITAIN which they put out a couple of years ago, as these were some stories I'd been wanting to get my hands on for quite some time, and were, fortunately, worth the wait.
The collected SQUADRON SUPREME mini-series from 1985-1986, written by Mark Gruenwald, is also in my opinion well worth reading.
Other than the Avengers, I buy a number of DC titles, some Image and Dark Horse stuff, and some Manga titles. I've been pretty impressed by DC in recent years, in the way they've been branching out into more 'specialised' lines, like Milestone, Vertigo and Helix, with many more 'mature readers' titles, and I imagine that is why DC make up the majority of the comics I buy these days.
From DC, I read the following current titles :
- STARMAN, by James Robinson. All the characters are interesting, Starman himself is not quite the conventional superhero, the setting is a good one and plots are interesting and engrossing. What more do you need?
- SUPERGIRL, by Peter David. Another well-done tale of fairly conventional superheroics.
- TRANSMETROPOLITAN, by Warren Ellis, and part of the Vertigo line. A science fiction/cyberpunk series set in an un-named city in future America. Interesting characters in an interesting setting, with a healthy dose of cynicism and black humour thrown in.
- THE AUTHORITY, initially by Warren Ellis, now written by Mark Millar. Part of Wildstorm, which DC seems to have acquired quite recently. The successor team to Stormwatch (see below), formed from Stormwatch Black plus various other superhumans, and operating on a world-wide scale against major threat. Interesting characters and interesting foes.
- PLANETARY, by Warren Ellis, also part of Wildstorm. Superhuman 'Archaeologists of the Impossible' in the normal Wildstorm universe. Interesting characters doing interesting things outside the normal range of superhero activities. Read it!
And also, DC have published a lot of quality stuff in the past including:
- THE JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA, when written by Grant Morrison. One of the original and best superhero teams, done extremely well by Grant Morrison. Lots of interesting tales from the beginning to end of his run on the title.
- THE INVISIBLES, also by Grant Morrison, and part of the Vertigo line. Conspiracy theories, weird stuff, strange things of all kinds. Dark and nasty and very good. Compared to this, the X Files is a feeble thing that barely dips its toe into the waters of strangeness. For more information go to this Invisibles site.
- BATMAN - THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, by Frank Miller, Klaus Jansen and Lynn Varley. Dark and gritty Batman, at the age of 50 or so, supposedly after his retirement from crimefighting. Quality stuff.
- THE DOOM PATROL, the issues written by Grant Morrison only. Unconventional superheros in the DC universe, with lots of interesting weirdness and strange stuff. Worth reading even if you think nothing else here is!
- HAWK AND DOVE, by Karl and Barbara Kesel (the previous series in which Hawk and Dove were unknowingly the agents of lords of Chaos and Order, not the very recent, very recently cancelled, one). Another series of very well done 'normal' superheros with a distinct mystical element, unfortunately cut off after far too few issues for my liking. DC did not earn any points in my book for the travesty which then killed Dove and destroyed Hawk as a character during the Millennium (I think) cross-over.
- The various titles produced by DC under the Milestone imprint. Although of variable quality, these were all a cut above the normal run of superhero comics. In particular, I liked :
- ICON AND ROCKET (fairly conventional superheros, but done very well), and
- XOMBI (a good taste of strangeness, in a similar vein to Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol).
- SANDMAN, by Neil Gaiman. The trials and tribulations of Dream of the Endless, also known as Morpheus. Not sure why I like this title so much; perhaps the mythological aspects, and the interesting characters and settings.
- SWAMP THING, those issues written by Alan Moore. Horror, mystic stuff and many other good things.
- V FOR VENDETTA, by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. I followed this from the original printing of the first parts in Warrior magazine, and was happy when DC printed the whole thing. A dark tale set in a fascist UK in an alternative 1998.
- WATCHMEN, by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. One of the archetypal grim and gritty 'realistic' superhero series of the mid-1980's. A quality tale of realistic superheros done well.
From Image, I read:
- THE RED STAR, by 'Team Red Star'. A strange, and very pretty, technomagical war story set in an alternate Russia, told in flashback by a survivor. Only two issues so far, but it is definately something out of the normal run of comics, and the better for it.
- ASTRO CITY, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. An interesting and unique take on the conventional superhero tales. Single issues and story arcs look at a world of superheros from a wide range of points of view, focusing on the various characters within it.
- LEAVE IT TO CHANCE, by James Robinson and Paul Smith.
- THE SAVAGE DRAGON, by Erik Larsen. Again, fairly conventional superheros in a normal superhero universe, but done very well. Also, for once, a superhero who doesn't decide to put on spandex, but who instead becomes a Cop and fights crime from within the conventional system rather than as a vigilante. This title has recently had a major shift of direction resulting from the Dragon's killing of a major time-travelling bad guy; we shall see how it goes in this new world...
- Warren Ellis' STORMWATCH, a pretty interesting comic from the couple of issues and the various trade paperbacks collecting the title since he joined it. The predecessors to the Authority.
From Dark Horse, I like the following:
- The assorted HELLBOY tales, by Mike Mignola - original quality horror, with an interesting central character and supporting cast.
- The NEXT MEN by John Byrne - genetically engineered superhumans in a near-future version of the real world. Interesting and, from time to time quite nasty.
Manga I like because a lot of it has a very different feel to the American comics I usually read, and because some of it is very good.
- Out of all the assorted Manga I've read, the best, in my opinion, really has to BATTLE ANGEL ALITA, by Yukito Kishiro (published by Viz), which has now, sadly, reached the end of its run. However, ASHEN VICTOR, by the same creator, and set at an earlier time in the same world, was overall pretty interesting stuff, quite different from Battle Angel Alita.
- There's a lot of other good Manga out there too, of which I particularly rate the following :
- The work of Rumiko Takahashi, such as INU-YASHA (interesting adventure/horror stories crossing back and forth between present day and 500 years ago), and the various MERMAID stories (Mermaid Forest, Mermaids Scar etc.) detailing the adventures of a couple made immortal by eating the flesh of mermaids, all of which are published by Viz.
- APPLESEED, by Masamune Shirow; dark post-WWIII cyberpunk political and military action, published by Studio Proteus.
- OUTLANDERS, by Johji Manabe; quality space opera with interesting characters, lots of big explosions, and the destruction of the Earth, published by Dark Horse.
- DOMU : A CHILD'S DREAM, by Katsuhiro Otomo; a modern-day tale of psychic powers used to horrific ends, also published by Dark Horse.
I can also thoroughly recommend:
- PROMETHEA, a pretty new title by Alan Moore, published by America's Best Comics. In my opinion the best of the three from imprint that I read. A (the?) living story comes takes over/cohabits with a teenage girl, to form its strongest incarnation in a long time. Interestingly strange, and very good.
- TOP TEN, by Alan Moore, also published by America's Best Comics. Set in a the station house of a branch of a cross-dimensional police force in a city where most of the world's superbeings live. The first nine issues have been pretty good, so I'll stick with it for a while, at least.
- TOM STRONG, by Alan Moore, the third of the America's Best Comics that I read. A square-jawed pulps-type hero-scientist in a modern day setting. Quite interesting so far.
- THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN, also by Alan Moore, and also published by America's Best Comics. Characters from Victorian science fiction, horror, fantasy and adventure working together in a (not the) late Victorian England. Interestingly entertaining.
- THE ADVENTURES OF LUTHOR ARKWRIGHT, by Bryan Talbot, published by Valkyrie Press. Great stuff. Inter-dimensional conspiracies, politics, psychic powers, and the end of the world. Plus interesting characters.
- HEART OF EMPIRE, or The Legacy of Luthor Arkwright, by Bryan Talbot, published by Dark Horse. A sequel to the above, set in the world where a lot of the action of the first series took place. Different from the first series, but still bloody good. I put this title here and not with my other Dark Horse likes due to its links to the title above.
- THE ELEMENTALS, by Bill Willingham, published by Comico. Fairly dark and violent superhumans in something which is (initially at least) not too unlike the real world. Generally pretty damn good.
- MARSHAL LAW, by Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill, published by various companies over the years. Excellent satirical take on superheros, set some time into the future.
- MIRACLEMAN, by Alan Moore, published by Eclipse. Superhumans derived from alien technology (though they do not initially know that) in the real world. One of the few stories where superhumans end up having a major effect on the world.
- ZENITH, by Grant Morrison, and originally published in 2000AD. Superhumans in a real-world-type setting, and done very well. Only available in collected editions now as far as I am aware.
The majority of my comics I buy from Gosh! In central London; the rest I tend to buy from Calamity Comics in Harrow.
Some Comic Book Links
Last Updated : 27th December 2000 (I know none of my other pages are dated, but it's a bit more relevant here than elsewhere.)
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