A couple times a year, I have to go through all the comics and trades in my office and put them into long boxes that live in the attic. When I do this, I always end up pulling out a few trades that I want to read again, so now you know what I've spent most of my discretionary (note that I didn't call it "free") time doing over the last week.
Because "I just want to read these and enjoy them" isn't good enough justification for me, I promised myself that I'd point out a few of the things I was reading on my blog, as sort of a Winter Festival Of Your Choice Gift Buying Service, or, uh, something. So, here we go.
Captain America Omnibus
Writer: Ed Brubaker Artists: Steve Epting and Mike Perkins
Before Ed started writing Cap, I just wasn't interested even a little bit ... but Ed made Cap sort of the Batman of the Marvel Universe for me: he's troubled, he tries to do the right thing, and he's a fucking badass. The omnibus collects the first 25 issues Ed did, leading up to the Death of Captain America, including the 65th anniversary special and the Winter Soldier stories. Keeping in mind that the stories in this volume were written during the darkest days of the Bush nightmare, I kept feeling like Captain America was standing in for America, itself, which added a layer to the story that was particularly moving to me. Of course, you don't need to reach for symbolism if you don't want to; it's a tremendously satisfying and compelling story without it.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E
Writer: Warren Ellis Artist: Stuart Immonen
Warren took all these Marvel characters that nobody had thought about in forever and put them into one of the most entertaining and outrageous stories I've ever read. I mean, the first thing they do is fight Fin Fang Foom, who is a giant lizard who wears purple underpants. The dialog is brilliant, and the artwork is sensational. There are only two trades, because Warren only did this for a year, and I highly recommend picking them both up. After reading Nextwave and Global Frequency back-to-back, I have come to the conclusion that, for someone who claims to find superheroes less than awesome, Warren sure does know how to write an awesome superhero story.
The Five Fists of Science
Writer: Matt Fraction Artist:Steven Sanders
Did you know that Edison and Tesla were rivals? Matt Fraction does, so he imagined what would happen if they took their rivalry to its steampunk conclusion. Also, Marconi and Einstein are there. Seriously, it's just amazing and so much fun to read. Science (SCIENCE!)
Writer: Neil Gaiman Artists: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
Neil put the Marvel Universe in the year 1602 ... you know, like you do ... and then told a story that would be a joy to read, even if you didn't get to play "OMG look at how he modified [Classic Marvel Character]"! The artwork is perfect, and the reveals of certain identities are clever and organic; it would have been easy to just make setting this story in 1602 a stunt, but Neil never falls into that trap. You don't have to be intimately familiar with the Marvel Universe to enjoy this story, but if you are, you'll have access to smile-inducing moments that the muggles will miss. For the record, I blame 1602 (and DC's 52) for making me fall back in love with superhero stories, but that's a whole other post.
Batman: The Killing Joke
Writer: Alan Moore Artist: Brian Bolland
It's the definitive Joker story. 'nuff said.
Astonishing X-Men: Gifted
Writer: Joss Whedon Artist: John Cassaday
The X-Men have a problem, and to overcome it, they realize that they can't be Uncanny, they can't be Nifty, and they can't be Neat. They have to be ... Astonishing. Who better to help them accomplish this than the man himself? This starts Whedon's fantastic run on X-Men, and it's as great to read now as when it was first published.
You know how there's that one guy you know who liked comics, but after suffering through the Fantastic Four movies and the X-Men and Spiderman sequels, decided that comics suck, superheroes are stupid, and he wants a goddamn concerted effort to not come out of a fucking uptempo record when he has to do a goddamn death dedication? Give him Gifted, and let it remind him why he loved these stories and characters before Hollywood got its filthy hands on them.
Some current reads, too, that you may want to check out, since Wednesday is only two days away:
Osborn - Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick Artist: Emma Rios. Norman Osborn is a very bad man, and he's in a secret jail with some other very bad people. What could possibly go wrong?
Secret Avengers - Writer: Ed Brubaker Artist: Mike Deodato. Because the Civil War and Secret Invasion sort of screwed things up, Steve Rogers puts together a group of Secret Avengers, which is pretty handy, considering the title of the book and all. It's up to issue 7, and I've just loved every single page.
Thor - Writer: Matt Fraction Artist: Pasqual Ferry. It's Thor. Written by Matt Fraction. If you know why that's awesome, you're probably already reading it. If not ... just trust me and pick it up, starting at #611. Ferry's artwork is amazing, too.
Some of you may notice that there's a lot of Marvel Universe here. This is interesting to me, because until recently, I was a hardcore DC Universe guy ... but that damn 1602 and Captain America made the Marvel Universe so compelling, I was able to stop being That Guy I mentioned above long enough to dive back in and let the Marvel Universe stand on its own. I'm still reading a couple of DC titles, like Batman and Justice League, but that's about it for me in the DCU at the moment.
What are you reading right now? Is there something amazing that I missed here? Sound off, if you please.