February 16, 2012

Hube's Best Comicbook Graphic Novels/Trade Paperbacks

Insty had a link up yesterday to Amazon's top "comics and graphic novels." In the top 25 are The Walking Dead (numerous volumes), Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. The latter two are Batman tales, and they're definitely superb. Also later in the list are quite a few Dark Knight yarns, yet the line between "graphic novel" and "trade paperback" is blurred. A graphic novel, as I understand it, is supposed to be a stand-alone story collected in a large volume. A trade paperback is a volume of collected separate individual comic issues. For example, The X-Men story "God Loves, Man Kills" is a graphic novel. Watchmen first hit the stands as twelve individual issues, thus its collection into one volume makes it a trade paperback.

Whatever the case, it's now time -- because, as usual, no one demanded it -- for Hube's own definitive list of great graphic novels and TPBs. Included in that list would be those listed above. In no particular order:

MARVELS. This delightful Kurt Busiek-written offering highlights some of Marvel Comics' greatest moments in its history through the eyes of a Daily Bugle photographer. Beautifully painted by artist extraordinaire Alex Ross, it's a must for any long-time Marvel fan. The chapter on the X-Men may actually invoke some tears, too. FYI.

KINGDOM COME. Although I am not a big DC fan, this Alex Ross-painted "Elseworlds" tale is extraordinary. It deals with a hypothetical future world where Superman and other classic heroes have "retired," and the chaos that comes about as a result.

SUPERMAN: RED SON. Another "Elseworlds" tale this time by Mark Millar which hypothesizes the Man of Steel as a Soviet superhero. The art isn't all that great, but the story sure is, and the ending should catch you off-guard.

THE KREE-SKRULL WAR. See here. 'Nuff said.

AVENGERS FOREVER. I think only a true-blue Earth's Mightiest aficionado can truly appreciate this Kurt Busiek masterpiece (being that Kurt is THE master of comics continuity). The spectacular art by Carlos Pacheco sure helps, too. It features Avengers from past, present, and hypothetical futures.

IRON MAN: THE ARMOR WARS. Probably creators David Michelinie and Bob Layton's greatest Iron Man story, it details what happens when IM's technology is stolen and what happens when Tony Stark goes after it. Former Marvel head man Jim Shooter had a big hand in coming up with the idea.

DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN. Frank Miller wrote it and David Mazzucchelli drew it, and man-o-man does it rock. The dreaded Kingpin learns Daredevil's secret ID and sets in motion events that will slowly destroy the hero. But ... keep in mind the story's title!

X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA. Creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne's mutant masterpiece, it follows Jean Grey's descent into super-powered madness and how her teammates have to stop her. Loosely told in the third X-Men film, "The Last Stand."

SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. Possibly the best superhero tale ever told, this Kurt Busiek story features little action yet is stupefyingly awesome. In a world without superheroes, a young lad named Clark Kent suddenly realizes he has superpowers. If you don't have a big smile on your face at the end of the book, you're an unfeeling excuse for a human being!

GIVE ME LIBERTY. A highly underrated Frank Miller story, it features unlikely hero Martha Washington as she makes her way out of the prison-like housing projects to the top of the American military's ranks. At times way over the top, you can't help but root for Martha throughout.

SQUADRON SUPREME. Writer Mark Gruenwald's opus of the Justice League analogues of Earth-S fighting to save their world from anarchy and chaos following the takeover attempt of an ultra-powerful alien. Many consider this the basis for similar tales like the aforementioned Kingdom Come.

THE AUTHORITY: RELENTLESS. Way over the top radical leftism in its approach, this Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch tale has a team of mega-powered heroes not only saving the Earth from insanely powerful menaces, it proactively goes about [attempting] to make the planet "better."

BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Another masterpiece by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, it deals with just what it says -- the first year of the Dark Knight's activities in Gotham.

Posted by Hube at February 16, 2012 05:13 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Excellent list. All of those are good stories.

Have you read Black Hole by Charles Burns?

Posted by: Jacob at February 16, 2012 07:08 PM

I have not. What's it about?

Posted by: Hube at February 16, 2012 07:22 PM

Essential Super-Villain Team-Up is great, maybe the best of the Essential line I've read.

Devil Dinosaur Omnibus is weird, but fun. People always seem to mock it, but it's actually pretty darn readable.

Posted by: Kookaburra at February 16, 2012 09:09 PM

Kooka: I purposely stayed away from Essentials here. Though technically TPBs, they're unconnected stories for the most part. :-)

Posted by: Hube at February 16, 2012 09:20 PM

Here's the description of Black Hole from Amazon-

"The setting: suburban Seattle, the mid-1970s. We learn from the outset that a strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back.

As we inhabit the heads of several key characters — some kids who have it, some who don’t, some who are about to get it — what unfolds isn’t the expected battle to fight the plague, or bring heightened awareness to it , or even to treat it. What we become witness to instead is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape.

And then the murders start.

As hypnotically beautiful as it is horrifying, Black Hole transcends its genre by deftly exploring a specific American cultural moment in flux and the kids who are caught in it- back when it wasn’t exactly cool to be a hippie anymore, but Bowie was still just a little too weird.

To say nothing of sprouting horns and molting your skin…"

Posted by: Jacob at February 17, 2012 12:51 AM