Sorry to say this, but comic books and graphic novels are as integral and important an aspect of geek culture as video games and sci fi movies (or long-winded high fantasy books). You may call yourself a geek, but if you have not experienced these five insane and awesome graphic novels for yourself, in my opinion, you are only partially a geek. A FULL geek knows that comics are a huge part of our culture, and were essential in forming us into antisocial dreamers we are today. Though everyone may know Batman and Superman and the X-Men, there is much more to comics and graphic novels than just dudes who wear spandex and fight bad guys (though not to undermine, that is a HUGE aspect of it). Here are 5 graphic novels you all have no excuse for not reading, as they will make you better at being a geek.
Right now, when it comes to comic book adaptations, anything goes. If you had told my teenage geek self that Deadpool and Ant Man and Avengers and Batman VS. Superman would have been eventual movies, I would’ve called you a liar and ran off crying because of your cruel lies. Thing is, here we are. We are in a modern comic book renaissance unlike anything the nerd world hath ever seen before. Yes, I used hath on purpose, as it sounded very epic. But if you look, they are pretty much tapping out all the main characters from the big name comics. Soon, they will be running out of characters they can make movies from. Nope. No they wont. Here are six weird comic book characters who deserve their own movies (and will probably all eventually get one at this rate).
Batman is arguably the most popular character in the DC Universe, and if you’re new to comics, you may very well want to start with the Caped Crusader.
As it is with practically all comics, overwhelming is a good word to describe the feeling one gets when deciding to start – and where. Here’s a bit of help, if you want to go read up on Batman: five must read Batman stories.
1. Detective Comics #27
Where is the best place to start? The beginning, of course.
Detective Comics #27 was released in 1939, and it was where Batman/Bruce Wayne made his first appearance. Some distinguishing elements of Batman’s character revealed in his first appearance remain today: billionaire playboy, the Batcave, his costume (although it has changed over the years, of course), and the utility belt. Oh, and Gordon, who has something to say about Bruce Wayne the billionaire.
Bruce Wayne is a nice young chap – but he certainly must lead a boring life… seems disinterested in everything. – Commissioner Gordon
Here’s an awesome thing: the comic is free at ComiXology, so get it now!
2. Batman: The Long Halloween
Batman: The Long Halloween takes the reader to the early days of Batman’s fight against crime. It revolves around the mystery of Holiday, a killer who pounces only during – you got it – holidays. Batman teams up with Gordon and Harvey Dent to catch the killer.
This storyline also leads up to the turning of Harvey Dent into the villain Two-Face.
Batman: The Long Halloween is available on Amazon in Kindle, Library Binding, and Paperback.
3. Batman: Dark Victory
Batman: Dark Victory is a limited series edition with 14 parts. Written by Jeph Loeb and by Tim Sale, this is a sequel to Batman: The Long Halloween, so it’s a must read Batman story as well.
The main players are Two-Face, who is entangled with a mob war for Gotham’s underworld, and the Hangman, a serial killer. Of course, Batman has to deal with these villains.
Another reason to read this comic is that this is the point where Dick Grayson (aka the first Robin) comes into the picture.
Get Batman: Dark Victory.
4. The Killing Joke
I’m not exactly sure what happened. Sometimes I remember it one way, sometimes another… If I’m going to have a past, I prefer it to be multiple choice! – The Joker
Common consensus is that this is the story that truly established The Joker’s insanity, together with his love-hate (if you can call it that) relationship with Batman.
The Joker’s main goal here is to prove that all it takes is one bad day to turn a good man mad; and he does what he can to push Jim Gordon to that madness. Just as interesting are the references to The Joker’s past, when he was not the villain we know.
Get the The Killing Joke.
5. The Court of Owls
With DC’s the New 52 reboot, you might as well get into this version of Batman, and one good entry point is The Court of Owls.
After a series of brutal murders rocks Gotham City, Batman begins to realize that perhaps these crimes go far deeper than appearances suggest. As the Caped Crusader begins to unravel this deadly mystery, he discovers a conspiracy going back to his youth and beyond to the origins of the city he’s sworn to protect. Could the Court of Owls, once thought to be nothing more than an urban legend, be behind the crime and corruption? Or is Bruce Wayne losing his grip on sanity and falling prey to the pressures of his war on crime?
Get the NYT #1 best-selling graphic novel The Court of Owls.
I don’t know about hard numbers supporting the idea that gamers are also huge comic book fans, but if you happen to be a combination of both, and you have an iOS device, then you will want to download the iOS racer game SXPD.
The game is indeed the world’s first game-comic book hybrid and is drawn by Duke Mighten (Batman: Book of Shadows and Judge Dredd) in pen and ink, making the scenes rather breathtaking, not to mention giving you the feeling that you’re playing through a comic book story. Gaming and comic books, what else can you want?
Here’s the launch trailer to tease you a bit.
SXPD used to be for the iPad only, but a recent update has made the game compatible with the iPhone as well. If you want your comics to be more high-speed and exhilarating, the download SXPD. Oh, and if I were you, I’d do it NOW because it’s free as opposed to the original price of $1.99 (you never know when the price goes back up).
More comics and games:
For many movie buffs, a first visit to a comic store may often turn into a surprise as they discover how many popular movies – or TV series – are actually based on a comic franchise.
In last decade, sometimes roles have been reversed – a popular movie makes it to the smaller, drawn format, sometimes as a continuation of the movie, but also sometimes set before the movie’s timeline. A perfect example is BOOM! Studios’ excellent 28 Days Later series, published from 2009 to 2011. The series, starring Selena – as well as two new characters Derrick and main antagonist Captain Stiles – is set only some weeks after the original Aronofsky feature film and closes with panes referring to the sequel 28 Weeks Later.
BOOM! Studios have almost single-handedly – or should we say “single-studioedly” – created a new genre out of this. We should also count the Die Hard: Year One series, the Planet of the Apes Series (published since 2011), not to mention owning the license to Marvel’s Hellraiser franchise co-authored by none else than Clive Barker since December 2010.
This summer, BOOM! is back at it with a new series, once more based on a cult film. The three-volumes-old Big Trouble in Little China is based on John Carpenter’s cult hit from 1986, starring Russell Crowe as Jack Burton.
Fans of Carpenter’s movie will immediately feel at home when reading the series written by Eric Powell, of The Goon fame, and illustrated by Brian Churilla, who worked on BlackAcre and Avengers and the Infinity Gauntlet.
The series picks up immediately after the end of the movie, in which truck driver Burton deals with Lo-Pan. The reader is immediately confronted with 80s art work, reminding one of Patrick Swayze, but also the original movie poster for Carpenter’s film. (This can either be the hook or the turn-off, depending how you feel about Patrick Swayze.)
After an almost 30-year-long wait, fans discover the monster Pete again, as Jack Burton and the demon fill the first frames and pages of the series opener.
Soon the reader is drawn in the all too familiar snappy Burton dialogue, as well as regular fights, in which Pete – who manages to often draw a smile from the reader with his at times inappropriate behaviour – tends to keep short, allowing Big Trouble in Little China to maintain great pace and quirkiness.
Big rig driving and multiple times married Jack Burton cannot resist cracking jokes at the expense of his ex-partners, but Churilla’s artwork integrates these jokes in an often hilarious way without making our preferred truck driver too much of a redneck persona. (No offense meant.)
The series is planned to be 12 volumes long, and according to Powell, the team has the intention to let Jack visit different locations, as well as create different story plots, allowing readers to be able to pick up any episode without needing to follow a complete story arc. Several of the characters on the movie also make a return, such as Egg Chan and Wang Chi.
Aside from the similarites/connections mentioned, the comic series is new writing, not based on previously existing unpublished material, according to Powell.
John Carpenter has served as a consultant for the series but is otherwise not involved in the production.
Big Trouble in Little China can be purchased from BOOM! Studios’ website or app and retails at $3.99/episode.
And in case you haven’t seen the movie, here’s the trailer. You might just get convinced.
A little more comics reading:
There was a time not too long ago where if you wanted to get a comic book you had to go to the comic book store and wade through box after box of issues until you found the one you were looking for. While there’s a feeling of reality and nostalgia to think that this is how people have looked for the comics they’ve wanted for longer than you’ve been alive, the system of buying comics has grown stale. Comic book shops attract a very unique niche of people that truly love the experience.
The experience of walking through a good shop is hard to beat, and the feeling of finding that exact book you’ve been looking for is the stuff of legend, but in today’s digital age this isn’t the answer for many people. The digital revolution has disrupted just about every aspect of our lives, and comics are the next big market to be affected.
In other words, getting digital comics can be a far more direct method of obtainment that gives the reader all the power. There’s more to digital comics than going to the source however. While there’s arguments for and against digital comics and which is better, there really isn’t any argument for the need for digital comics. Check out the five reasons below to see why comics had to go digital
1. No More Long Boxes
For some people, a cellar full of long boxes is a thing of beauty. Seeing all those issues neatly stacked and organized in your own methodical system is definitely something to brag about, but while you might love it, it’s not for everybody.
Speaking for married guys and people that don’t have a lot of room to store them, keeping a large physical collection of comic books is next to impossible for many people. This has no bearing on their love of the medium, but as the generation of comic book fans grows up and get apartments and houses, keeping a physical collection isn’t easy and is sometimes impossible.
Comics had to move to digital to help these people consume the books they love. Instead of needing tons of floor space now all you need is an iPad. That dramatic shift in storage space needed is a boon for the space-challenged crowd.
2. Never Out of Print Again
If you’re a fan of comics I’m sure there’s been at least one time that you’ve tried to find that one book to complete a series and it’s out of print, making it nearly impossible to find without shelling out a small fortune to get it.
There’re also those Holy Grail books that are so rare and expensive that even if you have a copy you’ve probably never read it. With digital comics however, this isn’t a problem. For example, you can read “All Winners” #2 with Captain America and the Human Torch from 1941 in the Marvel Unlimited app for iPad and iPhone, but it’s a pretty safe bet that you wouldn’t find that in your local shop.
This means that classic books can still be read and enjoyed. Remember, it’s those classic stories that made the characters you love today, so show them some love and see where they actually came from.
3. More Approachable to a Wider Audience
We mentioned above that there are few things that are as great as an awesome comic book shop. The look, the smell, and the people make for just the right place to get your comic fix, but what if you’re new to comics and feel out of place in a comic book shop?
If the niche of people and experiences that’s in every comic shop isn’t appealing to some people, they can be left out in the cold. People that have come into comics later in life might be put off by looking through a comic shop, but searching an iPad app is easy and you don’t have to find a shop that has the books you like.
4. People Demand Libraries to be Mobile
The thought of having a library of anything today that isn’t digital and searchable seems crazy. We want our contacts in an electronic address book, our books on a Kindle, and now our comics on our tablets.
Being able to keep your entire comic book collection with you wherever you go is a huge plus to comics, and a necessary move as we go more and more digital. Besides, it makes it easier for that 40-year old businessman to read his comics while on his lunch break and not look ridiculous to his coworkers.
5. Young Audiences Demand Digital
Finally, as new generations come into loving comics, they bring with them a need for digital. Most of us still love paper comics because we’re used to the feel, sound, and even the smell of the books. Kids that are just starting to read comics today don’t have that same nostalgia.
Think of it this way, the thought of looking a phone number up in a phone book today seems insane, but your grandparents probably wouldn’t have it any other way. It probably feels better for them to physically touch and see the number before calling it.
The same goes for the generation moving into comics right now. They want to see things on their computers and iPads, which means if comics didn’t move to the new medium they run the risk of going the way of newspapers; a slow and painful death. Growth is needed or else another industry will step over the antiquated one. We don’t want comics to ever be antiquated so digital is here to save the day.
More Comic News on ForeverGeek
As popular as superheroes are, the fact is that a lot of people are limited to t-shirts and TV shows. Not everyone actually reads comics, much less go out of their way to buy them. As someone who has only recently started reading comics, I have had some experience in being “convinced” to give them a go.
Before, I used to say that I didn’t get into comics because I prefer books with more words than there are pictures. It’s still true, actually, but with the little exposure I have had, I have come to appreciate the comic-reading experience; and I am glad I gave in.
If you’re a comic buff, and you’ve been trying to get someone into comics – whoever that someone may be – then here are some things you can do. Most of them worked on me. ;)
Start with a character they can relate to.
“They” got me with Batgirl. Barbara Gordon – smart, young woman, brutally shot by the Joker, fighting fear and her own demons, intelligence provider, and sassy crime fighter. That certainly got my interest, and when I first picked up The New 52 Batgirl…well, the rest is history. I think I have spent more hours than is healthy lying on the couch reading comics because of her.
So yes, if you want to get someone into comics, choose a character that he or she can most closely relate to. The chances are it will get them hooked.
Related reading: Most Popular Marvel Superheroes
Capitalize on other interests that can be a springboard to comics.
Here’s another entry point: something that the person already is interested in. In my case, I have been
addicted enthusiastically fond of the iPad game Injustice: Gods Among Us for a while. It was but the natural progression of things when I picked up the comics. As I regularly play the game, knowing the story behind the characters gave me even more pleasure. Although it is a divergent story arc (so I am told), I still enjoy it because of its connection to the game.
Another example: I’m a Doctor Who fan, and you know how that fandom goes – you grab most anything you see that has a connection. Doctor Who comics? Yes, they exist.
You can even find comic book versions of Game of Thrones and Wheel of Time. They’re excellent springboards for fantasy readers.
Related reading: These Superhero Hoodies Will Make You a Hoodie Convert
Highlight the best artwork.
If the person you’re trying to convince appreciates artwork, I think this is a good way to go about it. I am no expert, but from the different comics I’ve seen, I have been exposed to different drawing styles. This can be a starting point of discussion, and before you know it, that you’ve gotten that someone into comics!
Visit local comic book shops together.
This is rather cautious advice, as I am embarrassed to admit that I have had an unpleasant experience at a very crowded comic book store during a sweltering afternoon; but let’s not go there. The point is, where else can you experience comics and the culture that surrounds it in all its glory?
For sure, there are at least a couple of interesting comic book shops where you can take your friend for a good time. There are even cafes/bistros which are comics-themed, so even if they don’t always sell comics, the atmosphere (not to mention the action figures!) will help get anyone in the mood. For comics.
Go digital if you have to.
Before you balk, remember you’re trying to introduce someone to comics. You’re not talking about a hardcore collector who only buys comics to keep them in mint condition. There is nothing wrong with reading comics on the iPad as far as I’m concerned, and if the person you’re trying to convince is a tablet person, then go digital! You can even go hang out at Starbucks or someplace else and read comics together – using your own tablets, of course.
Talk comics non-stop.
This could go either way, really. On the one hand, if you just keep blabbering on and on about this character and that character, or this story line and that story arc, or this awesome drawing, etc., the person you’re trying to convince might just say, “F#ck it. I’ll give it a go just to shut him up!” On a more positive note, he or she might say, “That’s actually interesting. I’ll take a look.”
On the other hand…you know where I am going…it could turn that person off of comics for the rest of his/her life.
So for this last tip, I leave it to your discretion.
Comic buffs who have successfully gotten someone into comics, what do you think of these tips? What are your own strategies?
Fans of SnarfQuest, a graphic novel that appeared in Dragon Magazine through the 80’s and 90’s, are currently psyched to see a digitally remastered and professionally edited version–the first ever full and complete compilation! The project by Imagined Interprises, Inc. will be funded on May 05, 2014 so you still have time to get the original story plus a lot of cool exclusives! Check out the full details on their Kickstarter page.
So you think only the good guys can join forces? It’s been proven that when baddies team up, nothing good can come out of it for our heroes. Here are some of the most feared and most effective villain teams that have conspired to put the protagonists through the wringer.
Evil Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Flash. That’s the basic concept behind these villains from an alternate Earth where everything good is bad. Ultraman, Owlman, Superwoman, Power Ring, and Johnny Quick represent twisted versions of our favorite heroes without their moral center, making them rotten to their core. Recently featured prominently in DC’s Forever Evil event, the Crime Syndicate’s ranks were beefed up with Deathstorm, Atomica, and Grid (evil analogues of Firestorm, The Atom, and Cyborg). Not satisfied with ruling their own Earth, they crossed dimensions and even took down the Justice League while declaring themselves our new masters.
Doctor Octopus. The Vulture. Electro. Kraven the Hunter. The Sandman. Mysterio. These were six frustrated baddies brought together by countless defeats at the hands of Spider-Man. Figuring out that there was strength in numbers, the Sinister Six joined forces with the ultimate goal of destroying the Wall-Crawler. Over the years, the combination has changed several times, but the complete hatred for Spidey has only gotten worse as they’ve been relentless, if not methodical, in their attacks.
A group of villains united by their hatred for The Flash, the Rogues are unique because of their code of honor. Among the tenets of their code is the refusal to kill women or children, not accepting a new Rogue while the previous one bearing the same name still lives, and (despite their conflicts with The Flash) their stance against killing speedsters. Led by Captain Cold, the colorful roster of Rogues usually includes Mirror Master, The Top, Heat Wave, Weather Wizard, The Trickster, The Pied Piper, and Captain Boomerang.
The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants
Whether it was the original group led by Magneto or later incarnations that saw Mystique and even Toad take command, the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants always spelled bad news for the X-Men. This was Magneto’s initial attempt at creating a team to promote mutant supremacy over humans and originally included his own children (Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch), as well as Toad and Mastermind. When Mystique created her own Brotherhood featuring Destiny, Pyro, The Blob, Avalanche, and Spiral, their attempt to assassinate Sen. Robert Kelly almost triggered the event that would lead to the bleak future seen in “Days of Future Past.”
Legion of Doom
Whether it’s the Injustice Society or the Secret Society of Super-Villains, the most popular version of this anti-Justice League of America group was labeled “the Legion of Doom” in the classic Super Friends animated series. Artist Alex Ross made the Legion of Doom the main villains in his 12-issue “Justice” mini-series from 2005 and had them systematically attacking and destroying members of the JLA. Led by Lex Luthor, the Legion roster usually includes Gorilla Grodd, Bizarro, The Cheetah, Toyman, Sinestro, Brainiac, Black Manta, Solomon Grundy, and Giganta, while other big names like the Joker, Star Sapphire, Black Adam, and other baddies have often joined in the villainous fun.
If you’re digging the team-up vibe, click here for a list of Marvel teams that should hit the big screen.
For any superhero to get anywhere, they need to be able to travel. Since not all our protagonists can just take flight or teleport, they’ve had to use some unique forms of transportation to get to their desired destination. Here are some of our favorites.
Like there was ever any doubt? Throughout its many iterations over the decades, the Batmobile has always served as an extension of Batman’s persona during those specific periods. Always tricked out with the latest gadgets and build for chases of all kinds, the Batmobile is part and parcel of what makes Batman so cool. After all, who wouldn’t want a car with so many built-in toys?
For an international super spy organization like the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, there’s a need for quick transport of lots of troops, vehicles, and tech. The solution? Build an aircraft carrier that can actually take to the skies with all the ammo of a large army. Being co-designed by billionaire philanthropist Tony Stark only adds to the coolness factor of this big boy.
The X-Men’s Blackbird
In the days that Professor Charles Xavier’s school had not yet revealed itself as a haven for mutants-in-training, the Blackbird served as the clandestine vehicle of choice entering and leaving Westchester County, New York. The first Blackbird was based on the Lockheed SR-71 and was destroyed. Subsequent models have incorporated upgrades by mutant inventor Forge, as well as technology from the Shi’ar Empire including weapons, holographic camouflage, and the ability to achieve hypersonic speeds.
Ghost Rider’s motorcycle
Talk about hell on wheels. Whether it be original Spirit of Vengeance Johnny Blaze or the 90s version with Danny Ketch, Ghost Rider’s flaming skull would be incomplete without his equally burning bike. The moment Blaze is consumed by hellfire and dons leather, his hog trades in wheels for flames, leaving a sizzling trail to let everyone know the Ghost Rider was just here.
Silver Surfer’s surfboard
Yes, a surfboard is a vehicle because it takes you from one place to another. In the case of the Sky-Rider of the Spaceways, he travels across the cosmos on his longboard. The former herald of the world-devouring Galactus once surfed to search for worlds for his master to devour. Since liberating himself however, the former Norrin Radd has roamed the universe while contemplating the vastness of existence and his role in the grander scheme of things.
Like this? Find more geeky rides at 5 Geeky Vehicles You Can Really Drive.