Comic Books

What's the deal with comic books? The fascination? The obsession? Maybe it's a metaphor for our inner hero, an escape from mundane everyday life, a chance for good to ultimately triumph over evil. Or maybe it's just a bunch of silly artwork of poorly proportioned humans in spandex punching each other for no good reason. Whatever your reasons, comic books are an integral part of pop culture. I've been hooked since I was little, and despite my best efforts, I've never been able to kick the addiction. Therefore, you'll find all of my potential recommended comic series in chronological order. Read ahead at your own risk.

Firestorm vol. 2 (1982-1990)

Pretty much the only pre-crisis series I like, mainly because they just continued it through the eighties. The story builds on itself, as we watch Ronnie Raymond struggle with high school and college while dealing with being 50% of the Firestorm matrix alongside Professor Martin Stein. The series does get a little trippy towards the end, but it deals with everything from bullying to the nuclear arms race.

Crisis on Infinite Earths (1985-1986)

This is the series that started it all, and yet it's not a good starting point. For years DC had redundant, conflicting stories, and finally decided to condense and rewrite it all. Crisis is the result, and the original crisis to spawn all further crises. Watch as Earth upon Earth are destroyed, and those left behind are merged into a new, exciting universe. Worth reading after gaining a little background on many of the characters. It's by no means perfect; the story is drawn out at times and seems to end over and over, yet still continues. But it has moments that are incomparable, such as the death of...well I guess I can't spoil it. Perez's artwork sets the bar high for future comic artists.

History of the DC Universe (1986)

A follow-up to Crisis, this comic book summarizes the history that's come before and tries to reference every possible character that existed at that time. It set the stage for rebooting many of the heroes' origin stories, and helped combine many of the histories that were merged together. It doesn't really explain the characters, but it's a good starting point to read alongside using Wikipedia as a reference.

Man of Steel (1986)

Probably my favorite Superman origin story, because it took 50 years of history and redefined him as a new hero. All the well-known characters are re-introduced in a history that is simplified and actually makes sense. I love John Byrne's artwork in this miniseries.

Watchmen (1986-1987)

How can I not include Watchmen? Everyone has their opinions, good and bad. Mine is that it's a series that examines what it means to be a superhero, what is truth, and what is right. It's a comic that won't make sense on the first read, or maybe even the second. Whether it's a masterpiece or piece of garbage is up to you. It changed the superhero landscape as to what the boundaries are (hint: there are none). It's like Atlas Shrugged for comics.

Secret Origins (1986-1990)

Captain Atom (1987-1991)

Why do I like Captain Atom? I can't really explain why. None of the comic had any longlasting impact, as he has been rewritten time and time again, sometimes a hero and sometimes the semi-villain. But for a few short years, Cary Bates made him the main character of a story that explores family, the military, and becoming a hero. I enjoyed this micro-universe that in the end, none of the characters really made a difference outside the series. It's very eighties, but also touches on some metaphysical topics such as consciousness and death. The writing is pretty great and the artwork has a nice realistic feel.

Doom Patrol (1987-1995)

The Doom Patrol never really started out as a "normal" comic book, they were always on the fringes of weird. For the first 18 issues, they toe the line, facing off against many of their pre-Crisis heroes. With issue 19, newbie writer Grant Morrison takes the series to newer and weirder heights than ever before, breaking ground with regards to what is considered "reasonable" for a comic book. I'll say it here first: not a huge Grant Morrison fan, and not the last time I'll say it. On one hand, the comics are super freakin' weird and don't make much sense. On the other, he breaks so many boundaries and takes creative leaps, that his run will set the standard for years to come. You make the call.

Justice League International (1987-1997)

I will never truly be able to explain what factors created the JLI, but for a few short years this was a truly magical series. Action-packed yet frequently hilarious, the JLI team of Giffen and DeMatteis was incomparable both in art and style. The JLI (and subsequent JLA/JLE) created an ever-changing yet stable roster of characters who were able to feed off each others' personalities for a fascinating dynamic that brought many second-string characters into the spotlight. For me, the Jurgens run of #61-69 is the formative JLA team to which I compare all others. The series fell apart towards the end with weak stories and unexciting teams, but it set the stage for a major revamp.

Cosmic Odyssey (1988)

Compared to many other miniseries, Cosmic Odyssey is long-forgotten, but it shouldn't be. With unique artwork and a fascinating story, it surprisingly sets the stage for many stories to come in the future. Teaming up DC's finest with some lesser-known characters, it is both a personal and literally cosmic tale. Extremely well-written, it shows the personal, human side of many of the characters that are often lacking in more recent books. Importantly, it features the actions of John Stewart that will stick with him through all future comics.

The Weird (1988)

Invasion! (1988-1989)

Animal Man (1988-1995)

Sandman (1989-1996)

Legends of the Dark Knight (1989-2007)

Justice League Quarterly (1990-1994)

Armageddon 2001 (1991)

The Infinity Gauntlet (1991)

Eclipso: The Darkness Within (1992)

Death of Superman comic arc (1992-1993)

DC Comics Elseworlds Annuals (1994)

Zero Hour: Crisis in Time! (1994)

Starman (1994-2001)

Kingdom Come (1996)

JLA (1997-2006)

Resurrection Man (1997-1999)

Young Justice (1998-2003)

DC One Million (1998)

JLA: Year One (1998)

Martian Manhunter (1998-2001)

Planetary (1998-2009)

Superman & Batman: Generations (1999)

JSA (1999-2006)

Birds of Prey (1999-2009)

Ultimate Spider-Man (2000-2011)

JLA Incarnations (2001)

JLA Destiny (2002)

Superman/Batman (2003-2011)

Teen Titans (2003-2011)

Ex Machina (2004-2010)

Green Lantern vol. 4 (2005-2011)

52 (2006-2007)

The Boys (2006-2012)

Booster Gold vol. 2 (2007-2011)

Final Crisis: Legion of 3 Worlds (2008-2009)

Blackest Night (2009)

Aquaman vol. 7 (2011-2015)