My original Leiber’s 11 (comics everyone should own) was a good start, but I realized there were easily another 11 comics I could do. Truth be told, I could go with another 20! However, since I decided not to impose any rules on myself, I came up with 11 more comics that I would easily reccomend to anyone.
1 – New Teen Titans: The Judas Contract – New Teen Titans is the comic book that got me hooked on comics. It’s also the only comic I’ve ever had a subscription to. Back in the early 80’s I mailed away my money order for six dollars American and every month I got a comic wrapped in a brown paper folder. Some months my comic would be mangled, most it arrived relatively unscathed. In the middle of that mail order run, The Judas Contract arrived. One team member betrays the team. Kid Flash retires. Dick Grayson gives up his Robin identity. A new hero is revealed. The origin of the Titan’s longest running villian The Terminator is revealed…and most importantly, my new favourite hero Nightwing was introduced. It was a tremendous story that some twenty years later still holds up surprisingly well.
2 – X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga – It’s more than twenty years old, and it’s still one of the best superhero stories ever. It set so many precidents, and was such a great sci-fi romp.
3 – Daredevil: Guardian Devil – Kevin Smith is a huge comic geek. This is his first superhero story, and it was pure gold. He made us believe in not only Daredevil again, but also brought new depth to the entire supporting cast. I’ve given this book away as a gift to a friend because I knew it was such a great read. For my money, the only Daredevil story that comes close to it is Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil – Born Again.
4 – Squadron Supreme – It doesn’t age incredibly well. The dialogue’s cheesy, and some of the ideas are almost embarassing, but the idea of beings of incredible power taking over the world because it’s the best way to fix things, is an incredibly “real world” idea. It’s been cited as the inspiration for everything from Watchmen to Kingdom Come, and it’s well worth the read.
5 – Ultimate Spider-Man volume 1 – You’ll believe a boy can swing through a city on web lines! It’s decompressed (the suit doesn’t make an appearance until almost 100 pages in). It’s a re-telling of an established origin, and it features a character I wasn’t a huge fan of (I’ve never been a Spidey guy), but this is an awesome read, and a geat book. Marvel really knows how to do these oversized hardcovers.
6 – Sandman: Season of Mist – Sandman was my favourite comic for a long time, and this was my favourite story. The tale of the lord of dreams being given the keys to hell is a geat tale, and has some awesome art by Kelly Jones. I was so enamoured with this art that the little side-business I ran selling comics was called Dreamweavers Multinational, and featured Sandman standing beckoning customers in, while an angel stood in the background holding the Dreamweavers logo.
7 – Starman: Sins of the Father – Comics have never been as cool as they were when Jack Knight patrolled Opal City. This story is awesome, it’s the coming of age tale of a young man who grows up to be not only a hero, but a great son, and a father in his own right. This part of the story was all about set-up, and it’s amazing that the groundwork for all 60-some-odd issues was laid in these six issues. When I got my second tattoo, I knew it could only be one thing, the Starman logo. I proudly wear it on my right shoulder. It’s cool because comic fans know what it is, and everyone else has no idea. You could teach a class on foreshadowing and planning a story out with the lessons I learned in this first arc of the comic.
8 – Batman: Year One – In my opinion, this is the best Batman story ever told. Batman isn’t the unerring detective he is now, he makes mistakes, and he gets very brutal. Frank Miller makes it to the list again, and is joined once more by his friend David Mazzucchelli.
9 – Superman: The Man of Steel – I recently read Joe Casey and Matt Fraction’s “The Basement Tapes” in which they said that DC heroes are Icons, and the only stories you can really tell with Icons are origin stories. Maybe that’s why this works so well. John Byrne jettisons 60 years of history and starts the Man of Steel from scratch. He adds two important characters, Ma and Pa Kent, to the mythos, and by keeping them alive, makes the chasm between Batman and Superman even wider. Gone is the nerdy geek Clark Kent, and in is the high school football hero, Pullitzer prize winner ace reporter Clark Kent. Even Lex Luthor became more than just a cackling maniac, and was a legitimate businessman who dabbled in some serious grey areas.
10 – Supreme: Story of the Year – Yup, you read that right. It’s a Rob Liefeld property. It was put out by Extreme Ent…errr, Awesome Ente…ummm, Image com…WHO EVEN KNOWS??? This was Alan Moore taking a Superman clone and telling the Superman stories he always wanted to tell. It utilizes amazing flashbacks of a history that never existed to tell a great story. It’s something Marvel Comics would ape five years later with Sentry, and to nowhere near as great a success.
11 – Planetary: All over the world and other stories – I almost didn’t include this one…but I love this collection. This is a group of six stories that are all tied together with a common thread, a group of three people who explore the weirdness of an already weird world. There’s a pulp story, giant monsters story, superhero origin story, Japanese revenge story and much more. The stories are layered and really cool. In my opinion, this is Warren Ellis and John Cassiday’s best work. If you can wait, DC will be releasing an “Absolute Planetary” oversized hardcover edition much like their “Absolute Authority” oversized hardcover…which is an incredible package.
So there they are, my next 11. What do you think? Any glaring omissions? Anything you disagree with? Go ahead and make a comment.