Today we conclude our merry adventure listing out some more of my fav graphic novels.
Are you ready? ARE YOU READY?
Read Part 1 here.
JUST A PILGRIM BY GARTH ENNIS
Just a Pilgrim is another wonderment from Garth Ennis, a miniseries set in a post-apocalyptic future, starring a Bible-toting pilgrim with a penchant for shooting things dead. The Pilgrim journeys across the wastelands doing the “work of God”, which usually involves destroying ruthless bad guys and helping the weak get to safety. But in his wake, a lot of innocent people get hurt or killed causing the Pilgrim to reflect on his actions. As is Ennis’ penchant, the Pilgrim as a protagonist has a hugely dark past of his own to contend with. I’m not one to judge a writer’s opinion on holy matters but the ending is a blatant sledgehammer driving home Ennis’ point on religion. A very violent and exciting read nonetheless.
BATGIRL BY GAIL SIMONE
What a breath of fresh air. The comic books industry isn’t exactly female-friendly, there’s a huge undercurrent of misogyny, so having a female writer, and one as good as Gail Simone is a treat. In the New 52, Oracle, or Barbara Gordon has gotten her legs back and has resumed her responsibilities as Batgirl. She goes through a lot of the standard biffing and bopping as is wont of a superhero, but Barbara is such a wonderful character to read. She is a girl coming out of a disability, and trying to do right in a world filled with really bad shit. Fun fun fun. And such beautiful artwork.
AMERICAN VAMPIRE BY SCOTT SNYDER
Snyder is currently head Batman writer over at DC, and what he’s doing with the big ol’ Bat is great stuff. But Snyder’s creator-owned work is even better. He takes the standard vampire concept and infuses it with a lot of old-school Western nostalgia, strongly written characters, and creates an epic war with seriously high stakes. You’re always on the edge of your seat, people you care about is always in danger of dying in the epic battle between vampires and humans. And the artwork is strong and exquisite throughout. This ain’t no Twilight. This is the real shit.
BAKUMAN BY TSUGUMI OHBA AND TAKESHI OBATA
The dynamic duo of Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata is well-known in the manga-world for their work on Death Note. While that was a complex thriller and battle of wits involving a magical book that kills anyone whose name is written in it, Bakuman is on the other end of the spectrum: down-to-earth, realistic, slice-of-life and as unexplosive as it gets.
Just a story about two young boys who aspire to be the greatest manga writer and artist pair in the world. This is their uphill journey, from start to finish. What makes it such a great read, is that for readers who are also aspiring artists, this is the ultimate story of hard work and creativity. Their trials and tribulations in getting a manga published, and staying on top of their game in a hyper-competitive world filled with other great mangakas is riveting and very honest. And the best part is, the story is filled with an ensemble cast of manga artists doing their best at exactly what they love, and encouraging one another to fulfill their dreams. Such a beautiful, funny, heartwarming story that makes you just want to fight with every ounce of your being for whatever it is you believe in.
THE UMBRELLA ACADEMY BY GERARD WAY
Who knew the frontman of My Chemical Romance is also a great fan of graphic novels? Actually, that’s not particularly surprising, and there’s a Youtube video out there about him waxing lyrical about his personal favorites. But as a writer, he is solid. He infuses the cool, charm and signature voice of MCR with a great story about a bunch of orphan kids raised to be superheroes. The best part about it all is that there is a very unique vision of the world that Way has conjured, as comfortable with Lovecraftian horrors as it is with the pulpy sci-fi villains of B-grade movies. Then there’s a very intellectual line about time travel and what it means to be a family when everyone is so broken. The artwork by Gabriel Ba is solid.
UNCANNY X-FORCE BY RICK REMENDER
I’m not a big Marvel guy but anything written by Remender, I will read. Uncanny X-Force is a team of mutants that does the dirty work the X-Men won’t do. They’ll kill and destroy if they have to. And its headed up by none other than the lovely and gruff Wolverine. Seriously, there is no more a bunch of dysfunctional “superheroes” then the X-Force, and they have to get up to some seriously life-threatening, morally wrong adventures. And it’s all the more reason to care and love for each of these well-fleshed out characters. Remender is the best at writing real people. Plus his depiction of Deadpool is dope.
THE BOYS BY GARTH ENNIS
Superheroes are depicted as a bunch of stuck-up, self-centered, retarded celebrities who couldn’t give a damn about the non-superpowered population. So what do you do when a Superman-like superhero is being an a-hole? You call in The Boys. A CIA-backed rag-tag team, they keep the superheroes in line. Making sure they aren’t abusing their powers like getting innocents killed in the crossfire of their “epic fights”. If you want a deconstruction on the superhero concept, look no further than The Boys. This is as dark as it gets, as seriously intense. But it is also damn funny, and just hilarious to see what The Boys will do next to screw superheroes up. The truth, according to Ennis, is that there is no such thing as a paragon for all-good. Superheroes are just as fucked up as the rest of us. Maybe even more so.
POWERS BY BRIAN MICHAEL BENDIS
This is more a special mention then an outright recommendation. The concept is interesting: a procedural crime drama with crimes revolving around superheroes. Like The Boys, Powers shows the world of superheroes through the eyes of non-superpowered folk. The contrast between Bendis’ and Ennis’ visions however, is that Bendis makes you empathize with these pitiful superheroes, while Ennis paints them as irredeemable bastards. Anyhow, Powers is a good read for the most part, but falls short because it’s so slow at times and there’s a heck load of dialogue to follow. The artwork, while takes getting used to, is also unique in its own way.
ANIMAL MAN BY JEFF LEMIRE
Animal Man will always be remembered for Grant Morrison’s fourth-wall-breaking mind-bending take on the character , but Jeff Lemire has to be commended for his current New 52 reboot run. While Animal Man isn’t exactly one of the more exciting or well-known superheroes, he is funky in his own right. This is an intimate and thrilling family story about what lengths Buddy as the Animal Man will go to to protect those he loves from the evil descending on the world. You just want to root for the guy. There’s a lot of weird and wonderful in the artwork, and Travel Foreman brings it all out in such a sweet way.
WONDER WOMAN BY BRIAN AZZARELLO
I prefer this Wonder Woman to the one depicted in the new Justice League. Instead of casting a Wonder Woman that’s based in the modern times fighting modern things, Azzarello takes Wonder Woman back to the world of Greek mythology. She is embroiled in the tumultuous and certainly annoying bickering between all the prominent gods and goddesses. But what makes it such a great read is that Azzarello’s Wonder Woman is such a good-hearted person, and always wants to do the right thing and fight for the right reasons.