Since I was a child I’ve had a great love for comics books and super heroes. But it wasn’t until my early teen years that I discovered that these characters who I held so dear were taken much more seriously than I had thought as a child. This is my “Top 10” of my favorite graphic novels that changed the way I saw the superhero genre.
10. Batman Hush
The book that got me buying comic books on a weekly basis. Batman Hush is a story involving Batman’s rogues all being pulled together by a greater villain that Batman has yet to encounter. With death, mystery, romance, and even a fist fight with Superman, Batman Hush quickly became one of my favorite stories DC has put out.
In my honest opinion Superman Birthright is the best retelling of the Man of Steel’s origin. This book explains his reasoning for all the little things about the character that “didn’t make sense” and gives a clean cut motivation for why Lex Luther hates him. I strongly think that if Warner Bros. is planning on rebooting the Superman movie series, this should be the source material.
Around 15 years ago Arkham Asylum was published. It was, and still is, an extremely unique book from an artist’s perspective. But aside from the art being breath taking, the story is bone chilling. Arkham is taken over by its inmates and Batman has to fix it. But with the asylums history being told as well as what the inmates do to each other, any Batman fan, if not Joker fan, would be blown away by this book and what it does for the characters involved.
The joker one-shot that changed everything. Alan Moore takes the Joker and gives him a fresh new look for the world. The previous incarnations (notably Cesar Romano) had been replaced by a Joker who smiles and laughs while he kills. An “origin” for the Joker is finally introduced and a good look at whats going on in this clowns head.
Alan Moore’s take on what an anarchist revolutionary can do to a society under a fascist party. The book that inspired one of my favorite movies, is dramatically darker than its movie incarnation. For fans of the movie, or even any of Alan Moore’s books, V for Vendetta is a must.
5. Kingdom Come
What happens when Superman is old? What happens when a younger generation of ruthless super-humans emerges? From a story that shows a conflict of power, and heavily influenced from Biblical apocalyptic imagery (especially the Book of Revelation), a classic emerges showing that even when Superman’s old he can still kick the crap out of anyone.
A superhero’s wife gets murdered and it unleashes a dark conspiracy that many members of the Justice League wished to stay hidden. One of the darker takes on the Justice League I’ve ever seen, this story is filled with everything I wish comics had more of: Backbone.
It’s Valentine’s Day and Spider-Man recounts his love for and heartbreak over the loss of his first true love Gwen Stacy. This story beautifully shows who the character of Spider-Man really is and what emotional burdens he carries. But for me personally, it shows everything that I wish the movies had: the real Peter Parker.
Its 1985, Nixon is still president, and superheroes have some serious issues. Alan Moore seems to do no wrong once again and shows us a bleak view of what superheroes could really do to our society. With its movie coming out soon, anyone who wants to see it should check this out first. If you can handle the book then the movie wont be that hard to swallow.
“I believe in Harvey Dent!”. The book that inspired the 2008 Batman movie “The Dark Knight”. Jeph Leob and Tim Sale (the team who also did Spider-Man Blue) team up and show us what a murderer who kills on holidays, crime bosses, and an origin of Two-Face like nobody had seen yet, really looks like in Gotham City. For any fan of Batman this book is a must, and is one of the many reasons why I wish all comics we’re written by Jeph Leob.