Favourite Comic Series
A list of my favourite titles past and present.
A list of my favourite titles past and present.
The original DuckTales is one of the great adventure epics in fiction and, in my opinion, challenges Tintin for the title of the ur adventure series in sequential art. These wildly fantastic journeys capture the imagination and were one of my biggest influences as a writer growing up. I owe quite a lot of my style and interest in writing cartoon characters to these stories, along with those of Donald and Duckburg below. Classy, hilarious and breathlessly engaging, Uncle Scrooge always promises a grand time.
Forget the theatrical shorts and the monumentally pretentious "Animated Canon": THIS is the real Disney. Under the guidance of Carl Barks, Don Rosa and their followers, Donald and Friends become real people with foibles and personalities we can all relate to. There are no real heroes and villains, just people. Although that may sound dark (and it might have been under lesser hands), Duckburg remains a lighthearted place; its inhabitants always friendly and neighbourly. Life happens though, and no-one captures that better than this team.
The godfather of all European graphic novels, Tintin still holds up remarkably well with its iconic characters, mature social commentary and rousing adventure. Though Tintin himself might have been a little on the bland side, the richness of the world around him, especially his companions, gave an unmistakable vibe to his many travels and adventures. The extensive research Herge did on current events, geography and politics (well, at least after Book 3 or so) meant that Tintin's fantasy world was shockingly like our own in many ways and made the commentary contained within all the more powerful. A deserved classic.
The classic Belgian graphic novel series created by Franquin and now helmed by Batem spawned one of my favourite characters of all time and launched a criminally underrated animated adaptation in 1992. The grandiose, atmospheric art and unforgettable characterization of the main character and his friends sticks with me to this day. While not as heavily or meticulously detail oriented as Tintin (Franquin and his school tend to lean toward bitter, cynical parody over anything else) Marsupilami still manages to make some good points. Although occasionally leaning uncomfortably close to anvilicious environmentalism, Marsupilami keeps on bouncing delivering solid, charming and often thought provoking tales no fan of sequential art should ignore.
There has never been, I maintain, a comic series based on a licensed property to so utterly and perfectly capture the source material as Malibu comics' outstanding run on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Disney is different as the Duck comics went in such a vastly different direction then the shorts) and the crowing achievement for Mark A. Altman and his team is this majestic miniseries. Weaving an incredibly intricate, sophisticated and downright epic story about inevitable war between the Klingon Empire and the Cardassian Alliance, the series looks at some really heavy philosophical issues about mortality, spirituality, culture, body politic and ego, not just touching on them but outright tackling them full-force. Somehow, Malibu managed to not only stand with the very best of the show their book was based on, but exceed it in some ways as well.
I've never been an enormous superhero fan (save for Batman and the occasional Spider-Man), but under the guidance of Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Grey Power Girl and her eponymous series quickly caught my attention and immediately became one of my favourite books. With this title, the PG dream team both embraces and lovingly parodies the excesses and cliches of the genre while giving us a quirky, fun, heroic and surprisingly down to earth lead gal to root for. The book succeeds the same way Barks' Duck stories did by giving us a slice of life: Fantastic, exaggerated and medium-aware life it may be, but life nonetheless. The only shame then is that the adventures didn't last longer than they did. However short, but sweet she may be, PG is everything that's great about superhero camp and bravado and the comic book medium.
If Carl Barks cut his teeth with Donald and the boys, it was with his own creation Uncle Scrooge that he really came into his own as a writer. It was with Scrooge that the world of Duckburg really started to become fleshed out and it was with Scrooge that we got some of the most memorable stories. Although best remembered (and deservedly so) for the mesmerizing "Adventures" book above, Scrooge's "normal" life in Duckburg is worth a read just as much.
While eclipsed in my opinion by its own summer miniseries event, the regular Malibu DS9 was still a wonderful book to follow regularly. As mentioned, this book is a bar nothing perfect adaptation of DS9 to comic form: The writing was superb, reading like it came right from an official script. The art, the one thing that sometimes plagued the otherwise-excellent DC Next Generation book, is utterly beautiful here. For an Indie publisher, the production value on display here is astonishing: The art is actually photorealistic in some places. Throwing us complex and thought-provoking stories in a drop-dead gorgeous setting on a monthly basis, this book more than deserved the name Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and is, in my opinion, one of the most underrated books of the 1990s.
Archie Comics took Scooby-Doo into territory inconceivable to fans at the time. Returning the much-hated Scrappy-Doo to the cast and turning him into a Chaotic Neutral egotistical mastermind was already weird, but a new focus on recurring Bond-esque cackling supervillains and a truly deranged art style forced readers to pay attention. It seemed the creative team either didn't want to work on the book or didn't care and made a point of making it clear how stupid they thought the whole thing was. Ironically, that sense of rebellious anarchy resulted in such unbridled insanity that it just made the book all the more awesome. No other Scooby story would have the genitals to have a Darth Vader analog put out a grudge hit on the gang, get Shaggy involved with a loan shark pool or have Scrappy win the entirety of Las Vegas by rigging a gambling ring. Call it Stylistic Suck or So Bad It's Good, Archie's Scooby-Doo is Scooby-Doo as you've never seen it before.
DC did a really admirable job adapting Star Trek: The Next Generation to comics. Characters come through in top form and stories have that unmistakable TNG flavour to them. This book lasted a full seven years, just like the show, an incredible amount of time for a comic book of its kind. While dipping into occasionally silly territory (which the show itself certainly had its share of) and not above the odd very complex story arc (though always handled gracefully). DC's stab at Star Trek: The Next Generation comes across a resounding success and probably the first true example of a genuinely great licensed comic that I'd read. Although ultimately outclasssed in my opinion by Malibu's jaw-dropping work on Deep Space Nine, DC's Next Generation more than deserves a place in history and on my list.
Premiering the same time as the famous cartoon show and actually managing to outlast it, the licensed Animaniacs book dutifully translated Tom Ruegger, Sherri Stoner and Steven Spielberg's madcap, anarchic postmodern Golden Age of Animation throwback to comic book form. While rocky in places, the book has its share of truly classic moments that wouldn't be out of place on the show. Not to mention, it was here, not on TV, where Minerva Mink actually became a character we could follow along and even root for a bit.
Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn are two of the most popular characters in the Batman mythos and with very good reason: Among the already star studded Bats rogues gallery, Harley and Ivy stand out as extremely well-developed characters and genuinely likable. Their eponymous series, based on Batman the Animated Series, captures their character and appeal perfectly. While leading more toward the fluff category and not balancing lightness and drama as well as, say Power Girl, Harley and Ivy is a real treat and those opposed to the melodrama of most superhero comics, and fans of Batman: TAS, should check it out.
It's always good to see the Gotham Girls doing their thing, and this is no exception. It's delightful to see Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn and Catwoman palling around, and with The Riddler to boot! I love this series because of its deep and subtle character development of its leads (who happen to be some of my favourite characters):Harley, Ivy and Catwoman are troublemakers, sure, but at their heart they're ultimately well-intentioned people who more often than not wind up victims of circumstance and this book captures that perfectly. My only qualms is with this attempting to tie into the confusing DCU continuity which obfuscates things for me to the point of taking me out the story a bit. Perhaps this would've worked better as a standalone title, but it's still a really enjoyable little book.
A legend of the European graphic novels. The original run is a classic and beloved by fans of the medium. Though attempted reboots of the series have been controversial, the original remains a must-read and a hallmark of the genre. Though not my personal favourite of the lot, the plucky little Gaul more than deserves a place on the list.
There is nothing to say about Watchmen that hasn't already been said. It's Watchmen. It's a classic and everything that's been said about it is absolutely true. I have nothing more to add.
Please see above.
In the US, we never got a full, uncut version of "Godzilla 1984/Godzilla 1985/The Return of Godzilla". Thankfully, Dark Horse gave us a translation of the fantastic manga adaptation of the movie in 1998 so it's all good now. The story is one of the best in the Big G's many canons, and it works quite well as a comic. By only question is the odd titling: "Terror of Godzilla" is an alternate title for "Terror of Mechagodzilla", an entirely different movie. I see confusion.
Speaking of adaptations, this brief but captivating take on Metroid Prime by Dark Horse captures the feel of the game to a T, even if the seem to have played it out of order. Reliant more on atmosphere then an actual plot, much like the game on which it's based, we still get just enough info on Samus's character to become invested in the story without playing the game. The final shot of Samus is one of my favourite visuals in all of comics.
DC's long running Scooby series has always shown a kind of polish about it, owing to its mastery of the typical Where Are You! formula. It's one of the most dependable books on the market if one is into that sort of thing, and not above having a little fun at its own expense. The series can always be counted on to churn out a solid, distinctly blue-blooded Scooby story every month. Overall though, the madcap writer revolt of the Archie run is just a little bit closer to my heart.
Dark Horse took the Heisei Godzilla series and built it's own tight little continuity around it. Despite being unable to use any of the other famous monsters, the creative team seemed to grasp the spirit of the era's films and it shown through in their writing. The characters are all likable and the action keeps pages turning. Painfully short, unfortunately, but the two trade collections are a great read for any Daikaiju fan.
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