What are your favorite superhero storylines?
September 9, 2012 7:13 PM   Subscribe

What are some of your favorite superhero-based storylines that I can find in trade paperback?

I find it exhausting to follow a series (even a good one like "Walking Dead") on a monthly basis - give me some of your favorite superhero-based storylines/arcs/one-offs/what-have-yous that I can find in trade paperback.

I'm thinking stuff like Joss Whedon's run on X-Men, Dark Knight Returns/Year One, the Marvel Civil War, etc.

Thanks in advance...
posted by po822000 to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
The Church and State arc (vols. 3 and 4) of Cerebus by Dave Sim and Gerhard. Jaka's Story (vol. 5) is supposed to be the best one, however, although I haven't gotten around to reading it yet.

Fantastic Four: Unstable Molecules

The Immortal Iron Fist, Vol. 1: The Last Iron Fist Story

Dungeons and Dragons: Shadowplague

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Flex Mentallo

Kingdom Come

Batman: The Long Halloween
posted by griphus at 7:22 PM on September 9, 2012

Astro City: Confessions. It's hard to go wrong with Astro City. I haven't read a lot of the recent ones because I fell out of comics, but I loved the early stories and if I remembered to do it when I was in the store, would probably buy what I don't have in TPB.
posted by immlass at 7:31 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Everything that is Atomic Robo, ever.

Each of the trades is a self-contained story. Reading the first one, Atomic Robo and the Fightin' Scientists Of Tesladyne will give you a bunch of backstory, but you can get a lot out of the others without it. They bounce around in time, and you can figure out what's going on pretty quickly.
posted by mephron at 8:01 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]

posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:42 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by nicwolff at 9:03 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

posted by nicwolff at 9:08 PM on September 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Based on your examples I think you're looking for heavy duty action comics.

I'd suggest:

Livewires for single volume, one shot fun.
The trades of Invincible for pure superhero fun. (Which are probably at your local library).
Powers if your in the mood for something grittier.
Gotham Central if you want gritty, but want to stay in the DC Universe.

And, if you're open to some sci-fi, less action adventure, fun, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest Finder, just because it's managed to keep my vote for best comic for about a decade now. An unmatched record.
posted by bswinburn at 10:25 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

I must second Astro City: any or all of it.
Personally, I am a big fan of Grant Morrison's Zenith.

If you like Civil War, I would suggest looking at Justice League of America Vol. 1: The Tornado's Path. I have fond memories of that one.
posted by Mezentian at 12:57 AM on September 10, 2012

Grant Morrison has done A LOT of Batman in the past few years and a few other superhero series besides that. So, Batman & Robin (Grant Morrison), Batman, Inc. (Grant Morrison), New X-Men (Grant Morrison) and Justice League (Grant Morrison) all have long Grant Morrison runs you could check out.

One of my favorite superhero comics is the Geoff Johns Flash series. I haven't always liked his other comics, but especially when he was teamed up with Scott Kolins, the Flash series was a really nice classic superhero soap opera. Flash Omnibus Volume 1 and Volume 2 have been released and Volume 3 comes out this month and will complete an eight or nine graphic novel run.

Runaways by Brian K. Vaughn was a really great series about teenagers in the Marvel Universe. If you collect all the books (I think it has around 10 or so graphic novels), it makes a great contained story, but it is also still open for further development.

I don't see it get mentioned often, but I think J. Michael Straczynski did a good job making a new 'status quo' for Spider-Man while also harkening back to classic elements. Basically Peter Parker becomes a teacher, which re-establishes some of his nerdy scientist credentials, while the series explores other possible origins for his spider powers. I think Straczynski's run on Amazing Spider-Man is about 9 books long. His tenure was during the early 2000s.

Greg Rucka is another writer I would check out. I liked his work on Wonder Woman. In fact, since about 2000, Wonder Woman has had a few different interesting writers and artists working on her book, which has typically been high quality superhero stuff, but unnoticed. Greg Rucka, Jodi Picoult, Rachel & Terry Dodson and Gail Simone have all contributed some interesting stories and art.
posted by Slothrop at 4:17 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Didn't JMS do One More Day? If you could avoid that....

Greg Rucka was pretty brilliant. if I remember, he did the Crime Bible bits of 52 and that got me in to Batwoman and The Question. If there are trades of them, I imagine one would be worth sampling.
posted by Mezentian at 5:25 AM on September 10, 2012

Seconding Kingdom Come. The writing is good and the art is fantastic.
posted by Egg Shen at 5:30 AM on September 10, 2012

Any love for The Golden Age?
Kinda DC classics do Watchman. If you like that, Kingdom Come and Marvels.... And JMS's The Twelve was pretty promising if that has been completed.
posted by Mezentian at 5:33 AM on September 10, 2012

In addition to some of the other titles named, I thought Irredeemable and Incorruptible were good reads with a deliciously bleak take on the genre. I've also torn through both Invincible and Powers in the last few years. I'm in early enough to be the first to suggest Ex Machina, too.
posted by gerryblog at 6:37 AM on September 10, 2012

Darwyn Cooke's DC: The New Frontier.
posted by Chenko at 10:12 AM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ditto Atomic Robo, Astro City. Grant Morrison's JLA, Batman, All-Star Superman -- I've liked all his straight-up superhero stuff. Paul Cornell's Wisdom and Captain Britain & MI13. Dan Slott's She-Hulk. Gail Simone's Welcome to Tranquility. Christopher Priest's Black Panther, though only a couple of arcs made it to tpb collections. Adam Warren's Gen-13 (and ditto Livewires; his Iron Man: Hypervelocity is even better and continues a thread from Livewires.) Alan Moore's Supreme, Top Ten, and Tom Strong.
posted by Zed at 1:30 PM on September 10, 2012

Well, to clarify, the JMS Spidey I was referring to is Amazing Spider-Man vol. 1 "Coming Home" to Amazing Spider-Man vol. 7 "Book of Ezekiel." I prefer writer/artist duos that stick with a book as the art is extremely crucial to effective storytelling (plus I am an illustrator and graphic designer). So, I was reading the JMS Spidey books that also had John Romita Jr. on art.

I also want to clarify that the Geoff Johns Flash I was referring to is the Wally West Flash book he was on for several years in the 2000s. He did the Barry Allen Flash for a short run recently before Francis Manapul took over. I've read really positive things about Manapul's work, but I am definitely a Wally West fan.

Many people recommend Frank Miller books like The Dark Knight Returns, but I think that his Daredevil book "Born Again" is a great example of what he does best - revenge books where you really pull for the protagonist to make a comeback.

Zed's suggestion of Dan Slott's She Hulk is a good one and I want to add to that John Byrne's She Hulk, which you would probably have to track down in "floppies" on eBay. Byrne probably doesn't get enough credit for coming up with unique takes on superheroes. Byrne, in general, is someone whose work you could try to track down as it was pretty unique for its time, and it's usually a thoughtful take on superheroes without being a total deconstruction. His run on Fantastic Four was actually pretty long for a Byrne run; I think it was around 80 issues. I've only read a little of his Alpha Flight, but I will probably track it down some day.
posted by Slothrop at 2:19 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I actually came in here to recommend (so I guess second) the J. Michael Straczynski/John Romita, Jr. Spidey run. If you don't want to track down the 7 trade paperbacks which are out of print, it's been reprinted in 3 volumes: 1 2 3 (the run ends halfway through that volume). There are some great stories in the post-JRjr era (New Avengers and the Civil War arc, for two), but also more misfires and editorial meddling, and overall it's a lot more continuity-heavy than the previous storylines.

Other single arc Spider-Man stories I'd recommend are The Death of Jean DeWolff (murder mystery meets psychodrama) and Kraven's Last Hunt (horror meets psychodrama).

Also seconding Geoff Johns' Wally West Flash and Brian K. Vaughan's Runaways. Vaughan also did a great Dr Strange story: Doctor Strange: The Oath.

I'm a huge fan of Blue Beetle -- not the current ongoing series, but the one which ran from 2006-2009, starting with Shellshocked.

I haven't read Greg Rucka's Wonder Woman run but I have many friends whose taste I trust who adore it.
posted by bettafish at 3:16 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

I forgot Manhunter -- federal prosecutor gets fed up with bad guys escaping justice and becomes a vigilante crimefighter.
posted by bettafish at 3:19 PM on September 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

I'm a huge fan of Blue Beetle -- not the current ongoing series, but the one which ran from 2006-2009, starting with Shellshocked.

Ditto that!
posted by Zed at 6:24 PM on September 10, 2012

That Blue Beetle arc (Jaime's introduction forward) is written, in part, by John Rogers, who wrote the D&D book I linked above. So if you enjoy one, try the other!
posted by griphus at 6:41 PM on September 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, yeah, Blue Beetle. 25 issues to do a character origin and give him the sort of heroic character sadly lacking in most of the DC universe nowadays (especially after the Great What The Hell Reboot).
posted by mephron at 10:01 AM on September 11, 2012

America's Best Comics! Alan Moore/Chris Sprouse on the Doc Savage-inspired science superhero Tom Strong and Moore/Gene Ha on the superpowered police precinct Top 10.

Marvel! Kurt Busiek/George Perez Avengers from the late 90's. Six volumes of the Avengers doing what they do best with gorgeous art. Avengers Assemble Volume 1. Bonus: Avengers vs. JLA!

DC! Keith Giffen/Kevin Maguire Justice League International. BWAHAHAHA! The mold for funny superhero team books was broken with this one, a true trailblazer of the bantering team dynamic later used to great effect by Joss Whedon.

Dark Horse! You say you want monsters and eldritch horrors blasted to a fine pulp? Done! HELLBOY. What's that? You want zombies pummeled with the flavor and ambiance of a deep-fried pipe wrench? Done! THE GOON.
posted by JDC8 at 8:39 PM on September 11, 2012

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