Ryan's Recommendations - Comics (2022)

Ryan's Recommendations - Comics (2022)

Comics have been a large part of my life, mostly due to the characters being put into not only comics but other media, like TV Shows, Movies and video games and action figures. Since then most of my fondest childhood memories and creative imaginations have had comic book heroes and villains as a part of my playtime as a child. I kept all those action figures and comics in pristine condition as a showcase of a love of my childhood for years, but one fateful evening destroyed my entire life’s collection of these beloved childhood mementos. That’s when I made the decision to archive my collections into a more easily manageable and robust format. A digital archive that can be accessed whenever or where ever.

Since around 2008, I’ve been transitioning to digital comics, but it’s only been the last few years that I’ve really had a proper way to read them in a digital format. Back in 2008, you could view a .pdf of a comic on a computer monitor or TV, but that was fairly unfun and hard to do. Then when Tablets came out transferring a comic or two at a time worked, but was still difficult. Now we have selfhosted servers that can hold a near infinite amount of comics without any hassle and can be accessible from anywhere in the world at the drop of a hat.

Since I started actively building up my digital comic collection, I have tried to make good use of the vast power at my fingertips (something my uncle once told me about power and responsibility I guess). So every night as I go to bed, I spend around an hour reading. Anything that catches my interest and any runs that I’ve wanted to check out. The one thing with comics is that the naming and numbering of comics have always confused me and rarely ever make sense, so I’ve cataloged my server into a hierarchy of something that makes as much sense as possible. First is the comic companies, you have DC, Marvel and the other guys (Dark Horse, Image, Indie comics). Then within those companies, each character of that universe get’s their own folder, and within that, those runs/storylines of that character. So something like this.

DC>Batman>Batman - The Long Halloween

Marvel>Spider-Man>Spider-Man - Maximum Carnage
Marvel>X-Men>X-Men - Xecutioner’s Song

You get the idea. So I’ve been reading quite a few comics over the past couple years. Trying to do either individual stories, like a graphic novel, or start from the beginning at Issue #1 and go from there. Some I’ll get to a point where I lose interest and stop and switch to a new character. But I’ve been really good about finishing runs that don’t have thousands of issues, Like Detective Comics since that’s where you get tons of cross-over events that I really don’t like and think are way too confusing. So here are a few suggestions of mine that I’ve read over the last year.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - The IDW Run (2011)

With Eastman and Laird still split at this point, Kevin Eastman rebooted the Turtles into a modern direction. Keeping the main thread of the Turtles, but putting a much more interesting spin on the mythos of the Turtles, and having a few crossover events with The Ghostbusters, Batman and others. Without giving too much away, this is basically the new standard for the turtles. Mature, with better and more interesting versions, and each character both familiar and new. Get through the first 50 issues, and you won’t be disappointed.

Batman - The White Knight (2017)

Sean Murphy is probably the best Batman writer right now. The White Knight series takes place in an alternate reality where Joker’s name is known, and he turns the city against Batman with a very convincing argument and Bruce is forced to not only reveal himself but also see the city condemn Batman and lift up the Joker. This is the first of several “White Knight stories”, the second being “Curse Of The White Knight, White Knight Presents Harley Quinn, Beyond The White Knight and White Knight Presents Red Hood.

Wolverine - Black, White and Red (2021)

The kickstarter to the Black White and Red trend with comics where the comic is mostly in Black and White, with Red only splashing the pages when blood comes into play. This is a anthology series of stories strung together about Wolverine. Nothing more, nothing less, but brutal and beautiful in its art.

Batman - Arkham City - The Order Of The World (2022)

With an art style that’s part Tim Sale and part Dave McKean (Arkham a Serious House On Serious Earth), the comic features some incredible stories about some unknown villains I’ve never heard of before and really made me like the idea of continuing the Arkham City storyline a decade after the video game came out.

Batman - The Imposter

Batman’s on the the hunt for another Batman… one who breaks his one rule. ‘Nuff Said.

Batman - The Knight (2022)

Another Batman Begins story, but this one follows Bruce as he globetrots around the world picking up the skills to become the greatest version of himself. Seeing him in different places around the world and really being a detective first and crime fighter last was the flip side of the coin that many Batman stories miss now-a-days. It would have been a perfect run if not for two small personal issues I had with it, but besides that, it’s one of the best Batman stories to come out in the last decade.

Spider-Man - Life Story (2021)

We all know the story of a boy bitten by a radioactive spider… But we don’t see him as he grows up. Until now. Life story follows Peter Parker through his entire life and through the decades as Spidey not only grows up but has a family. Each issue is a decade in the life of Spider-Man and the main constant of him trying to balance power and responsibility.

The Punisher - MAX

I got on a Punisher kick after starting the new 2022 Punisher series where he goes toe to toe with Ares the God Of War and becomes the head of the Beast. That series seemed a bit too much into the super natural so I wanted something a tad more grounded. I always heard about Punisher MAX but never knew anything about it. Well, it’s another Life Story type of series, where it follows Frank Castle from his days in Vietnam and his eventual life long war with anyone who harms someone else. If you want some of the most ultimate blood and gore, this is it. However I think it goes way too far into that direction a lot of the time. There are great stories throughout the run, but some clearly are either just trying to push the boundary or shove some agenda in one of two of them. Seeing Frank get up after the abuse he gets tossed on a nearly constant basis throws believability out the window at some point and along with the inclusion of Baracuda a foul-mouthed Mercenary… I do fully admit to skipping a couple issues just to get back on track. It’s really the best of Punisher in a single run, give and take.

X-Men - Children Of The Atom

I always have wanted to know what the heck “Children Of The Atom” was after seeing the X-Men called that every once in a while, along with the classic arcade game. So I set out to read this to figure out what it is, It’s a origin story for the X-Men. Plain and simple. It’s good, but not great, a nice simple read.

Ghost Rider (2022)

The new run of Ghost Rider, where Johnny Blaze and The Rider are at odds with each other. The gore is also on display here making it a tough read sometimes, but it’s interesting enough as each issue is a Monster of the Week formula for the first handful. The overarching story seems like it’ll eventually end up in a good spot, but for now, it’s a good read once a month.

Nottingham (2021)

A weird art style wasn’t enough to put me off of this different version of Robin Hood and it got it’s hooks into me immediately. Seeing a much more sinister version of the classic tale where Merry Men are much more zealots than anything else, really pushes the story along in a really interesting way.

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? (2022)

If you want a disturbing read, read this. A near full truthful tale about Ed Gein the basis for Norman Bates and Leatherface. When I heard about this comic I was interested based solely on the fact I only knew a handful of facts about this psychopath. It’s about as unnerving and unsettling as hearing about a murder can be, but it is captivating. I won’t lie about the nightmares I had that night after finishing the whole book in one sitting staying up till 4am.

Die Hard - Year One (2009)

An origin story as it were of a young cop on the beat called John McClane. One who doesn’t back down when the going gets tough or doing the right thing when the wrong thing feels so much easier to do. Taking place in New York in the 70’s (Which is my favorite New York, nothing beats that filthy gross dank city in the 1970’s). It follows Mr. Cowboy through a few different adventures as a young rookie.

Hulk - Maestro (2020)

I’m not a big Hulk fan at all, but this is easily the best Hulk story. Just read the first issue, and if you aren’t sold, then nothing will get you to read a Hulk story.

Gotham City Sirens (2009)

My weird love for Harley Quinn (pre-New 52 and them just turning her into DC’s version of  Deadpool) aside, Gotham City Sirens marked Paul Dini’s return to writing for his best creation. Following Harley & Poison Ivy, they invite Catwoman to room with them after Heart Of Hush (Where Hush removes Catwoman’s heart) this is a great Gotham side story of three chicks who try their best to do the right thing most of the time, but bad luck and bad guys find a way to make them revert to their old habits.

Honorable Mention
Joker’s Asylum I (2008) and II (2010)

Joker decides to tell you some stories, think about it like Tales from the Crypt. Each issue revolves around a different villain and each one puts a new twist or reveals a reason for the villain to behave in the ways they do. Some fairly disturbing stuff that has stuck with me all these years later, but it’s worth the read.

And there you have it. A select few different options for you. I have read more Batman than anything over the last year and I left out bigger ones like No Man’s Land (all 3 volumes) and a newer Batman story called Killing Time as while I love the Clock King, the last issue really botched the whole ending to the point it soured the entire story for me. But I hope that helps out a bit to give someone some ideas about what to read.