Four Days to Read Anything
June 7, 2011 1:04 PM   Subscribe

Suppose you were a lifelong pulp and superhero fan who had four days to select readings from any and all comics published between the Golden Age and last week. What would you read, given such a range of choices?

Assume that you have read most of the marquee classics (Dark Knight, Watchmen, Marvels, etc) and are looking for stories and runs that perhaps aren't as often cited in every single compilation of suggested superhero reading ever. With four days to read nearly any superhero or pulp comic ever published, what comics would you spend that finite time reading?
posted by EatTheWeek to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, hands down.
posted by jbickers at 1:22 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

My answers would mostly be a subset of the ones I recommended here.

Alan Moore's Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow.
Adam Warren's Gen13.
Scott McCloud's Zot!
Christopher Priest's Black Panther.
Dan Slott's She-Hulk.
Grant Morrison's Batman.
posted by Zed at 1:22 PM on June 7, 2011

Some random picks:

The complete run of Sandman, though I'm not sure if you could do it in your time limit.

All-Star Superman is pretty great.

Miracleman if you can find (or download) it.

The Dark Phoenix saga still holds a special place in my heart.

Not superhero per se, but I'd also suggest Jaime Hernandez. One of the new compilations will do nicely. Jaime is a genius.
posted by mumblingmynah at 1:24 PM on June 7, 2011

Oh, and Grant Morrison's JLA/DC 1,000,000 should make the list. That sequence of Batman talking Superman through his dark night of the soul via the Martian Manhunter's telepathy during the WW III story is one of the bestest moments in superherodom.

And probably a huge chunk of old-school Lee/Kirby FF. Ah, for a reprinting of the FF Omnibus 2.
posted by Zed at 1:27 PM on June 7, 2011

The Dark Phoenix saga still holds a special place in my heart.

Dark Phoenix is okay, but in reading the Esssentials the story that really stood out for me was the Mutant Massacre, including it's build up and aftermath.
posted by Artw at 1:49 PM on June 7, 2011

Actually, you know what? Just read the Essentials for the entire Claremont run on X-Men.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on June 7, 2011

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E., the honey badger of superhero comics, by Warren Ellis & Stuart Immonen.

Alias by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Gaydos, still compelling after every comic ever has adopted its oh-so-edgy-schtick, and with a heroine I love.

Blue Beetle III #1-25, pretty much perfect story arc tracing the rise of a modern teen superhero, from origin story to very emotional climax. El Escarabajo Azul!

J. Michael Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man, pretty much whole, minus the last arc / One More Day. (The Gwen Stacy stuff can stay or go, I don't care.)

And it's not going to gain me any dignity points, but if The Rapture Is Nigh (in four days apparently), and there's limited bookshelf space in the looter-proof underground bunker where I'll be spending the next decade or so--screw it, Cable & Deadpool by Fabian Nicieza is going with me. The Rob Liefeld covers' anatomical errors alone will provide hours of entertainment.
posted by nicebookrack at 2:09 PM on June 7, 2011

Seconding Morrisons run with Doom Patrol. Genius.

I'll throw in Peter Milligans run with Shade, the Changing Man, particularly the first early ones that defined the Vertigo titles. Shade, well, kinda fades at the end, but the American Scream thread onward to about the middle (up to Hotel Shade perhaps) is crazy comics acid trip wonderfulness.
posted by elendil71 at 2:23 PM on June 7, 2011

The pulp horror via-Kirby Mignolaverse: Hellboy, BPRD (especially the Guy Davis Stuff).

Brubaker and Philips: Sleeper, Incognito and completly without superheroics but one of the best pulp things ever- Criminal
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on June 7, 2011

For Pulp:
Artw has it, anything Mignola, Brubaker & Phillips. Listening to Matt Wagner talk about pulps on Word Balloon, he definitely has a passion and knowledge for the pulps. But I can't vouch for his work on Green Hornet and Zorro for Dynamite (though I'll gladly hear out any recommendations!).

For Superheroes:
Modern Era:Anything Grant Morrison. The last 5(?) years of Batman comics is a primer on how to use continuity to tell interesting stories in short arcs that build larger arcs. A little further out on the spectrum are Warren Ellis' No Hero and Black Summer. While I find Ellis' output to be a bit uneven on the whole, both of these minis are a compelling fusion of pulp & superheroics. YMMV.

Bronze Age:
Englehart's Avengers
Starlin's Adam Warlock
Wolfman & Perez Teen Titans
Claremont & Byrne Uncanny X-Men
Miller & Sienkiewicz Elektra Assassin
Simonson's Thor
posted by lilnemo at 3:56 PM on June 7, 2011

I took a (college English) class on comics, and the stuff I liked the best besides the stuff you listed was The Spirit, Krazy Kat, Gasoline Alley, and Terry and the Pirates. Sadly I don't have a detailed copy of our syllabus or I'd send it to you. Also, I realize on preview that most of my suggestions aren't superhero comics, but I still think they're worth reading if you like this stuff.
posted by MadamM at 3:57 PM on June 7, 2011

The Morrison run on New X-Men is nicely self contained and awesome, I might actually pick that over his Batman. And his JLA is great.
posted by Artw at 3:59 PM on June 7, 2011

Not actually a comic, but written by a comics writer, if you're at all a fan of pulp heroes like The Shadow or Doc Savage then Gods of Manhattan is great.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on June 7, 2011

Oh, and I'm kind of suprised Planetary's not gotten a mention, it being basically a wonderfully illustrated history of pulp and superheroics.
posted by Artw at 4:08 PM on June 7, 2011

Grant Morrison again, Animal Man.

Those wacky Denny O'Neil / Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow books from the early 70s. They seem almost kitschy now.

I always thought Bill Willingham's work on The Elementals was underrated.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:51 PM on June 7, 2011

Jeff Smith's Shazam! The monster socity of evil.

All of Alan Moore's ABC: Top Ten; Tom Strong, Promethia, in something like that order.

Dittos on Planetary (though Ellis' run on Authority should be firstfor context)

Bendis and Oeming on Powers should be on the list. Very pulpy in feel. Cop procedural.
posted by bonehead at 8:57 PM on June 7, 2011

Brubaker's Gotham Central is also fantastic reading, and was probably my favorite bat book over the last ten years.

The America's Best line, specifically the Tommorow's Stories books, are one-offs of Alan Moore riffing on Golden Age pulps.

For Astro City, I'd read the first (Life in the Big City) and the fourth and fifth (Tarnished Angel and Local Heroes). If I had more time, I'd read all of them, but if you just had to read a couple…

Do you include Euro comics too? Plenty of them are pulpy, but rarely super-heroic.
posted by klangklangston at 10:17 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll toss in a vote for the first 12 issues of American Flagg! (trade 1, trade 2)
posted by namewithoutwords at 7:08 AM on June 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

For me, Spider Jerusalem is the only contemporary superhero. YMMV.
posted by bru at 2:29 PM on June 8, 2011

The first 18 or 24 issues of Mike Baron and Steve Rude's Nexus are great.
posted by Scoo at 7:35 PM on June 8, 2011

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