Four Letter Nerd

Graphic Novels: Where to get Started?

Have you ever found yourself walking around a bookstore killing time before a movie or between jobs? Do you drive by that comic book shop on the way to your meaningless, job that you hate? When you are in the bookstore do you ever find yourself strolling down aisles looking at books, then you end up in the comic book section and think, “F— I wish I knew where to get started on all of these awesome looking books!” Well my friend, today is the day for you! I have compiled a list of some series that are pretty easy to jump into and simple enough to figure out what’s going on quickly. This list consists of everything from the Golden age and all the way to modern age. So we have a little bit to cover, shall we get started?

Ok, so I am not a major Marvel guy, that’s Stephen Andrew’s department, but these are a few of the books/graphic novels that helped me start my love for comic books from one of the big two companies.


Mighty Thor
First lets look at The Mighty Thor by Walt Simonson. This is easily argued as one of the greatest comic books ever written. This is the Thor that everyone was familiar with before the Marvel Cinematic Universe came into existence. Some of the awesome stories in this run involve the death of Odin, the origins of Asgard, The Casket of Ancient Winter, in which an artifact of Asgardian decent can cause the killing power of a thousand killing winters, and it falls into the hands of Surtur in his attempt to kill Thor, its truly a great story. This run also had Thor as a frog. Yes, you read that right.


days of future past

With the moving coming up soon, I have to put X-Men Days of Future past on the list. This isn’t necessarily the easiest story to jump into but almost everyone knows the history of the X-Men and what they have gone through. This story can pretty easily be summed up:  mutants are placed and killed in internment camps. An old Kitty Pryde transplants her mind into a younger Kitty and brings the  X-Men back together to prevent catastrophes that trigger anti-mutant hysteria. It’s a great story and written by one of the most famous writers Chris Claremont. He was the guy responsible for making the X-Men kick ass again (Thank You!).


Captain America

I think one of the best all around Marvel comics to get into is Ed Brubaker’s run on Captain America. You really can’t go wrong with this series of Captain America. He even did an amazing job on the Winter Solider story. His Death of Captain America run is very emotional. OK maybe not “very”, but I’m being biased because I love Steve Rogers. If you have a pretty penny to spend on comics I would totally suggest getting the Ed Brubaker Cap A omnibus. It might set you back around $100 or so, but you totally won’t regret picking that up. It’s an awesome coffee table book to have, the ladies (or guys) will *totally* strike up a conversation with you about it.

An honorable mention is also Brian Michael Bendis’ run on Ultimate Spider-Man from 2000. It’s a lot of fun and one of the few Spider-Man stories that I have loved.


Now, for where to get started with reading DC Comics! This, I feel, is where I will be of considerable help. (I had to sadly throw together some simple Marvel titles since I am such a die hard DC Fan.)

At the top of my list is the graphic novel that really changed how I viewed comics, and this book also started the fire of collecting that has spun my life out of control at times. (I’ve literally skipped meals to be able to afford comic books!)


Arkham Asylum

Grant Morrison wrote Arkham Asylum in 1989 and I believe it forever changed comics. I completely believe that this is one of the darkest comic books ever written. The plot of the story is that Joker tricks Batman into going into Arkham Aslyum on April Fools day so Bats can finally be where he belongs, with the like minded people that he (Batman) put into the Asylum. This gives a great back story to Amadeus Arkham, the creation of the Asylum and one of the first patients, Matian “Mad Dog” Hawkins who raped and murdered Arkham’s wife and daughter. This is a heavy story intended for mature readers. (You wouldn’t want you nine-year-old son reading this Batman story.) I would recommend this book for anyone wanting to get into comics and experience the darkness that DC can bring.



Following Arkham Asylum I would recommend reading Aquaman: The Trench. Now, this is a New 52 book and its not considered a classic (yet), But I would recommend this book because it would be the easiest Aquaman book to come by. (Peter David wrote an AWESOME Aquaman series in the 90’s but that’s a little bit harder to come by.) The Trench is a great story that deals with Aquaman being the joke of everything. The first few pages are just about how much of a loser people see Aquaman as. Then he kicks major ass and is continued to be made fun of by everyone he helps and works along side with. This is an easy comic to find and a great read, I would totally recommend this for someone that wants a comic to read that is a little bit of a lighter read compared to Arkham Asylum.


American Vampire

Another really great DC graphic novel isn’t exactly by DC but rather DC’s child company, Vertigo. It’s a really unique and original story revolving around vampires. But, its not your typical vampires or your really cool vampire that sparkles in the sun like in Twilight. Instead, these vampires can actually live in the sunlight and aren’t affected, but their weakness is brought to them by gold. It’s a really fun story written by Scott Snyder and the art is by the amazing Rafael Albuquerque. (If you are looking to get single issue of the comic, one of my favorite artists did a cover, JH Williams III, issue number 4. That will set you back around $20.00 though.) Stephen King wrote the first arc of the story, and I don’t think you can really go wrong with Stephen King. (So I hear, I’ve never read another Stephen King story.)



The last DC book I am throwing into this is a great story with art by Alex Ross, one of the best artists to ever work in comic books… Kingdom Come. The art is absolutely breathtaking and I would dare say Alex Ross is the Norman Rockwell of comic books. This is an amazing Justice League story that will keep you turning pages and waiting and guessing what’s going to happen next. Mark Waid keeps the story going non-stop and keeps you from growing bored with the story. If you are a big fan of comic book art, or just art in general, I would say this is the story for you. Even if you are not a fan of comic books, this story will still be beautiful to leave on your coffee table as a book to flip through or have friends/family look at when they are waiting for you to bring out the nachos and beers for your annual comic book movie night.

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Bill Clark

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