So, you’ve just seen the latest superhero movie and decided to give comics a go. You reach out across the internet to get suggestions on something for you to read… and at this point, any seasoned comics reader knows it’s only a matter of time until the forums chorus: “Read Watchmen.”
Watchmen, for those who don’t know, is the seminal 1980s comic from Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins about the Minutemen, a group of superheroes attempting to solve the murder of one of their own while the world draws ever closer to nuclear war. It was massively influential for comics, reshaping the direction of the genre.
The problem with Watchmen however is that it’s a dark deconstruction of a genre, written by a man who by that point was simply done with superhero stories. This is not to say you shouldn’t read Watchmen; because it is a story that deserves to be experienced. But you might want to see the best comics can offer before you read a satirical tear down of a medium.
What should you read instead, then? We have a couple of suggestions from across the board that are perfect for people wanting to give comics a go. From superheroes to sci-fi, the visual medium of comics allows for some amazing stories to be told and hopefully you can find something from this list that connects with you.
Writer: Brian Clevinger
Artist: Scott Wegener
For fans of: Hellboy & Pulp Stories
Atomic Robo is an ongoing Sci-Fi story about a self-aware robot created by Nikola Tesla to help mankind. Each arc is an unconnected story taking place sometime in Robo’s history. This makes it perfect for new readers looking to jump in with minimal fuss: one moment he is fighting an army of giant ants, the next he is teaming up with Carl Sagan to take down Lovecraftian horrors. You’ll never quite know what will happen next in an Atomic Robo story. Though if that doesn’t sell you on it,then maybe the fact they recently put all their previous issues on their website for free will?
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Carlo Pagulayan & Aaron Lopresti
For fans of: Gladiator, Thor Ragnarok & the MCU
Imagine the movie Gladiator, but with Hulk smashing aliens instead of Romans. While it shares similarities with the plot of Thor: Ragnarok, Planet Hulk prefers to tell a more dramatic story which sees the Hulk shot into space by Earth’s heroes after smashing one too many cities. Landing on the arid planet of Sakaar, the Hulk is forced to fight as a gladiator for the pleasure of its ruler, the tyrannical Red King. Teaming up with an eccentric group of aliens including familiar faces Korg & Miek, it’s up to Hulk to overthrow the Red King and become the hero he always knew he could be. Planet Hulk is a fantastic story that lets you get to know one of Marvel’s most iconic characters in a situation unlike any he has faced before.
Batman: The Long Halloween
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Artist: Tim Sale
For fans of: The Dark Knight films, Detective Stories.
Taking place in the early days of Batman’s career, The Long Halloween sees the Dark Knight attempt to track down Holiday; a serial killer who assassinates mobsters and corrupt officials on major holidays. These murders eventually lead to both the end of the crime families of Gotham, the rise of the Supervillain, and the tragic origin of Batman villain Two-Face. With multiple plot threads weaving in and out of each other, the Long Halloween manages to be both an exciting superhero tale and also a genuine mystery to solve, allowing you to see the world’s greatest detective do what he does best.
Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
For fans of: Into the Spider-Verse & Big Hero Six
Ms. Marvel stars Kamala Khan, a Pakistani-American teenager trying to balance her social life with her more traditional family. After sneaking out to a party, she is exposed to a mutagen called the Terrigen Mist (it’s an Inhuman thing, don’t worry about it) and gains the superpower to change her size and stretch her body like a rubber band. With these powers, she decides to fight crime as Ms Marvel, in honour of her hero Captain Marvel.
Ms. Marvel is a delight to read, and you’ll really feel for the character as you see her ups and downs, and she goes from struggling to understand her powers, to meeting her personal heroes (including Spider-Man, Wolverine and even Captain Marvel) and eventually joining The Avengers. As one of Marvel’s breakout characters we wouldn’t be surprised if you saw Kamala Khan make it to the big screen sooner rather than later.
The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye
Writer: James Roberts
Artist: Alex Milne
For fans of: Red Dwarf, Brooklyn 99, Sci-Fi
Okay, just hear us out on this one. What if we told you there is a comic that is a mixture of both Red Dwarf and Brooklyn 99, but is about those Giant robots from the 80s? Sounds crazy right? What if we also said it has great LGBT representation, fantastic sci-fi concepts but can also deliver some real emotional moments along the way?
Well believe it or not, Transformers MTMTE is that comic. It tells the story of The Lost Light, a starship full of obscure Autobots who are on a journey to find the mysterious Knights of Cybertron – although their captain, the rather impulsive Rodimus, would rather find any excuse to goof off; and features a colourful cast of characters including Whirl, the sociopath with a heart of gold, Brainstorm, the eccentric weapons designer, and Tailgate, who managed to knock himself out and miss a six million year civil war. While the Transformers licence might be a turn off for some, those willing to look past that will find a smart, engaging story that will stay with them long after they’ve put it down.