Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Greatest Graphic Novels Of All Time 1/10

So many graphic novels, so little time. How do you sort through the mess to only read the good stuff? Easy: you print out these lists, take it to your local comic book store, and tell the guy behind the counter "All of this, please."
Here is the first list of Five from a selection of 50 titles. You may also order them online by clicking the titles.

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons took the superhero world and turned it on its ear in 1986 with this twelve-issue series later collected in one volume. With a small cast of characters based on classic Charlton Comics heroes, Watchmen grabs the Cold War's fears of nuclear terror and twists them into a parable of morality that still shocks today. Many would try to do "superheroes in the real world" afterwards, but none so well.


Welcome Back, Frank

The Punisher has seen good days and bad days - from his prime as Marvel's most popular mass-murdering vigilante to his lows as a reincarnated crimefighter with a gun that could kill demons. He was in a massive rut until writer Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon rebooted him under the Marvel MAX line. Gone are all the silly trappings and super-heroes, replaced by a crabby dude with a huge skull on his chest who loves to kill criminals. Funny, violent, and totally uncompromising, this is the essential Punisher tale. Plus he punches a polar bear in the face. 

Charles Burns' Black Hole is one of the creepiest comics ever made. In an alternate reality Seattle sometime in the late 1970s, a new disease has broken out that causes grotesque physical mutations. It's spread through sexual contact, and the outbreak zone is a group of teenage kids. Combining classic fears of adulthood with an incredible horror noir vibe, Burns' dark, detailed artwork perfectly conveys the permanently malformed kids' sense of hopelessness. 

David Fincher was slated to direct a film adaptation at one time, but it's currently in development hell. 


Kraven's Last Hunt

Kraven the Hunter was always one of the least scary Spider-Man villains - sure, he had an awesome mustache, but really he was just a dude in a goofy vest with a serious superiority complex. But in the 1987 storyline Kraven's Last Hunt, he had the finest moment of his career. Shame it ended in his death. 

Written by J.M. DeMatteis, the story gives Kraven a victory over Spidey, only for the hero to battle back from the grave. It's a story about two dudes in silly clothes punching, sure, but it's one of the best ones. 



Ed Brubaker has made a big name for himself as one of the best Captain America writers in the last few decades, but that's an epic that requres a healthy knowledge of Marvel continuity to really appreciate. 

Instead, check out the four volumes of his creator-owned book Sleeper, a tense tale of superhero espionage. Agent Holden Carver is in deep cover in the most dangerous terrorist organization in the world. Unfortunately, the only person who knows about this is in a coma. His struggle to survive as a good person doing bad things is riveting reading.
to be continued...

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