This question has been making the rounds on Twitter, so I figured I’d answer here.
If you had to recommend someone read 5 comic book runs/graphic novels to really get a feel for you/your tastes what five would you pick?
— Michael Walsh (@Mister_Walsh) September 4, 2018
Silver Surfer – Dan Slott, Mike Allred and Laura Allred (2014)
Slott’s run on Silver Surfer is incredibly moving.
Free from the constraints of being Galactus’ herald, the Surfer travels the universe with an earth girl named Dawn. Part Jack Kirby-homage and part Doctor Who fanfiction, Slott’s Silver Surfer run is breathtaking, beginning, middle, and end. Watching Norrin and Dawn’s relationship bloom into one of Marvel’s best romances is pure joy. Plus, Mike Allred’s pop-art style and Marvel’s cosmic universe have never looked better.
If you want to read a book that will make you smile but still tug on your heartstrings, Silver Surfer is the series for you.
Hawkeye – Matt Fraction, David Aja (2012)
Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is simply the best the character’s ever been.
In order to protect their apartment building, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop team-up against mobster bros. That’s basically the plot. But, Fraction’s focus on Barton and Bishop’s relationship mixed in with some great cameos, and a loveable pizza dog make for a near-perfect run. Aja’s art in the series is also incredibly unique.
Hawkeye might have superpowers, but in Hawkeye, despite getting his own way, he’s unquestionably a hero.
Pride of Baghdad – Brian K. Vaughan, Niko Henrichon (2006)
Pride of Baghdad is a fictional look on the real life even of four African lions escaping a Baghdad Zoo after bombings. In Vaughan’s story, readers are given the pride’s perspective on the sudden, massive destruction and the ensuring freedom from the zoo. Despite using anthropomorphic animals, Pride of Baghdad is incredibly poignant and a necessary gut punch. It’s beautiful and sad and 100% worth checking out.
Jack Kirby’s Fourth World (1971)
I’m going to lump together all of Jack Kirby’s Fourth World stuff for this one. Some don’t consider the comics king’s work at DC as important or worthy as his legendary stuff at Marvel, but for me, it’s Kirby at his best.
In his Fourth World saga, Kirby did legendary world building to bring an entirely new species, called the New Gods, to life. Each page is filled with standout, complex and psychedelic art as no idea seemed to go to waste. Sure, there’s plenty of characters with ridiculous names, and the dialogue is Kirby at his most Kirby, but that’s part of the charm.
The Fourth World is Kirby’s playground of ideas. There’s so much good stuff going on that it’s easy to see why his characters and work are still huge parts of DC today.
The Vision – Tom King, Gabriel Hernandez Walta (2016)
I debated adding King’s current run of Mister Miracle on this list, but considering there are two more issues to go in the 12-part series; it felt more appropriate to add one of his finished runs.
The Vision tells the story of post-Avengers Vision living in suburbia with his own Vision-like family. He wants to be more human. Unfortunately, not everything goes smoothly, as Vision’s life unravels around him as he questions his decision to try to be normal. King’s writing is almost Shakespearean, as The Vision is a tragic affair, focused on self-introspection. Vision’s character is completely deconstructed as he attempts to live a normal life. Like most of King’s work, it’s heartbreaking.