Friday, March 23, 2012

12. 6 Comics You Must Read

So... I've never been the kind of guy who could keep myself to 6 comics a month. In fact, when it comes to budgeting for comics, I've generally been in the "budget? What budget? I have to have that Absolute edition!" category. But just as a thought exercise, if I had to pick only 6 comics per month to buy, I'd probably try to spread the wealth amongst 6 different companies, and right now, here's what I'd pick:

1. DC - Suicide Squad - I talked about this in my New 52 post, and nothing's changed. In fact, the two-part Harley Quinn story has done nothing but reinforce my love for this comic. It's almost nothing like the classic Suicide Squad comic that is one of my favorites of all time, other than featuring Deadshot and Amanda Waller (albeit as very different versions of themselves), but it's a great take on the "Dirty Dozen with supervillains" concept. Darkly funny, with fantastic art, and a real sense of danger for the characters. 

2. Vertigo - American Vampire - Yes, I know this is technically also DC. Shut up. It's a toss-up for me between this and Unwritten, but I think the violent history of vampires through the lens of American history wins out over the literary fantasy. Both are great books, but if I got a new trade of Unwritten and a new hardcover of American Vampire on the same day, I know I'd read American Vampire first. The World War II era stories were particularly great, but I'm looking forward to the '50s era story when it comes to hardcover soon.

3. Marvel - Daredevil - Man, there's nothing even close. I'm really digging Wolverine and the X-Men, Winter Soldier is off to a good start, I'm sure there are others, but Daredevil is like a master class on how comics should be done. I wish every Marvel comic was more like it, satisfying in single issues and yet building nicely upon itself to tell a bigger story, with great characters, interesting plots, a fantastic use of the elements of the Marvel Universe we usually don't see in Daredevil (Moloids? Klaw?). It manages to be witty and light, but without being simply goofy or lacking any weight at all. Mark Waid is writing at the top of his game here, and the artists he's got are amazing guys working at the top of theirs as well. Can't wait to see Chris Samnee come aboard.

4. Image - Chew - This one's tougher. There are a lot of great new contenders at Image, including Thief of Thieves, Saga, Hell Yeah and Fatale, but none of them have established themselves quite yet, and so Chew remains my favorite. It's got an amazing "can't easily describe it" premise, which doesn't usually work, but the strange mix of food-related super-powers, conspiracies, aliens, vampires (sort of) and more is grounded by Layman's strong characters and a sense that while the reader probably doesn't know where they're going, Layman definitely does. Plus, Rob Guillory's art is completely unique in the market, and without his sensibilities, I don't think the book would work half as well. Thank goodness Vertigo passed, because working in that darker, Vertigo style wouldn't have served this unusual story in the same way.

5. Dark Horse - BPRD - This is technically cheating, as these are a series of miniseries rather than an ongoing, but the book has been coming out pretty much monthly for years now and features a continuing series, so I think it counts. It's a toss-up between this and Usagi Yojimbo, and that was a really tough call, but I've been in BPRD mode of late, having caught up on the Hell on Earth series and picked up the latest Plague of Frogs hardcover. John Arcudi and Mike Mignola have done a great job of making the BPRD characters stand tall without Hellboy, and they're telling big epic stories where characters grow, change and even die (and stay dead) and the artwork has been top notch. When Guy Davis left, I was a little worried, but replacements like Tyler Crook and James Harren have been fantastic.

6. Oni Press - Sixth Gun - This is an edit (there were originally 5 books), which is kinda embarrassing because Sixth Gun is actually probably my second favorite book going right now, right behind Daredevil. At any rate, horror + western has been good for a lot of comics, but the Sixth Gun is my favorite comic to combine western and supernatural elements. It's got a broader scope than most horror westerns, in that it's more like supernatural adventure, blending elements of high fantasy like quests and magic weapons in nicely with demonic beings and the undead. And the characters and world-building done here is second to none. Throw in fantastic artwork by Brian Hurtt and you've got a great book.

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