As a avid comic book fan, I always tell people there are books that you must read in order to realize the appeal comics have on some people. These are books that have set themselves aside from the droves of comics hat you see. These are books that I consider to have changed the way comics are.

Batman: The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke

The Killing Joke

an influential one-shot superhero graphic novel written by Alan Moore and drawn by Brian Bolland. First published by DC Comics in 1988, it has remained in print since then, and has also been reprinted as part of the trade paperback DC Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore.

The story would affect the mainstream Batman continuity in that it features the shooting and paralysis of Barbara Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl) by the Joker, an event which laid the groundwork for her to develop the identity of Oracle, an expert computer hacker and a vital source of information for Batman and other superheroes.

The Joker’s joke:

See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum… and one night, one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more. They decide they’re going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moon light… stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend didn’t dare make the leap. Y’see… Y’see, he’s afraid of falling. So then, the first guy has an idea… He says ‘Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!’ B-but the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says… He says ‘Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You’d turn it off when I was half way across!

The impact of this book is felt through the comic world. It showed the tragic origin of one of comics most interesting villians. Heath Ledger when studying the Joker Role was given this book to study from. You changed Batgirl into Orcale. This also set off another example of the madness that is The Joker “Death in the Family.” You want to see a perfect dynamic between Hero & Villain…READ THIS BOOK!!!!

Batman: Death in the Family

Death in the Family

a Batman comic book story arc first published in the late 1980s which gave fans the ability to influence the story through voting with a 900 number. “A Death in the Family” ran in Batman #426-429, published in 19881989. The story was credited to Jim Starlin (script), Jim Aparo (pencil), Mike DeCarlo (ink), Adrienne Roy (color), and John Costanza (lettering). Covers were illustrated by Mike Mignola. The story is also collected as a trade paperback under the title Batman: A Death in the Family, which has gone through multiple printings and is still available today.

 

At the time the Jason Todd Robin wasn’t very well liked. So I remember the writers saying ok, we will give you the choice to decide if he lives or dies. This was so new. A comic has never really put the fate of one of it’s characters in the hands of the reader. It ended up being one of the more brutal death scenes and the foundation of a future storyline that was so good, DC had to do an animated movie on it.

The Watchmen

The Watchmen

 

The story concerns a group called the Crimebusters and a plot to kill and discredit them. Moore’s characterization is as sophisticated as any novel’s. Importantly the costumes do not get in the way of the storytelling; rather they allow Moore to investigate issues of power and control–indeed it was Watchmen, and to a lesser extent Dark Knight, that propelled the comic genre forward, making “adult” comics a reality. The artwork of Gibbons (best known for 2000AD’s Rogue Trooper and DC’s Green Lantern) is very fine too, echoing Moore’s paranoid mood perfectly throughout. Packed with symbolism, some of the overlying themes (arms control, nuclear threat, vigilantes) have dated but the intelligent social and political commentary, the structure of the story itself, its intertextuality (chapters appended with excerpts from other “works” and “studies” on Moore’s characters, or with excerpts from another comic book being read by a child within the story), the finepace of the writing and its humanity mean that Watchmen more than stands up–it keeps its crown as the best the genre has yet produced.

This book is a comic fan’s wet dream. It defined the genre and broke through limits not touched in comics. It wrapped real world topics and gave them a more edgy feel. If you want to know exactly how good a comic could be…READ THIS ONE!!!!

Wolverine: Origin

The tagline on the inside cover to “Origin” describes the book as “The greatest Marvel story never told.” Many fans, for years, insisted that it never be told: the beginnings of the mysterious, likable X-Man Wolverine. When Joe Quesada and Bill Jemas took over and Marvel Comics and reversed its almost 15-year downturn, one of their first projects was “let’s do a story on the origins of Wolverine.” Considered sacred ground – untreadable because part of Wolvie’s appeal was his unknown past – the project was reluctantly, and then vigorously, accepted, with top minds from the Marvel universe turning in treatments.

“Origin” is the gorgeous final result of that process.

For a long time Wolverine’s back story was a thing of myth. Many hints were laid out about his age, when he was born and even who he was related to. A few years ago, Marvel decided to make the myth reality. Breaking one of the unwritten an unspoken rules of comics. Never give Wolverine a back story!! But they did…and what was produced was a interesting tale of one of Marvel’s powerhouse heroes. It also gives a little insight into Wolvie’s love for redheads.


Now there are alot of other must reads. but I feel these will give you the best gauge of the world of comics and are good enough for colleges to courses on. So if you got some free time…hit up your local comic shop and enlighten you inner geek. Mr. incredible has spoken. Oh and before I wrap this up…let me say “Hello” to my good friend Alex Greeno, who will be checking this column in order to up his geek status. Glad I could help, Greeno!!!

See ya later space cowboys!!!