Thursday, September 17, 2015

Comics | Where to Start (Plainly: Recommendations)

I'm going to base this post on where I started, with some added things, because I feel like I stumbled a few times but mostly got there. Through following advice of others on where to start and recommendations. First, we're going to go not superhero comics, we'll get to that.

First off, I'm going to be listing the trades just because I feel like thats the easiest way to get into any series, and most of the series I'm going to recommend have at least the first, normally the first two out.

East of West and Sage are similar on the genre of SciFi, but that's where the similarities end. I'd recommend Saga first, because I know some people have found East of West very confusing. Saga follows tow young lovers who are from species that are at war and hate each other, and it's their on the run story. Them and their infant child. And it's pretty incredible and gorgeous and, also, easy to follow. It's also explicit so if you're not comfortable with that, then I'd suggest giving that one a pass.

East of West is a SciFi western that follows the start of the Apocalypse by the four horsemen. And, let me just tell you - the art is gorgeous, the characters are interesting, the different people are amazing, and the politics is complicated and bloody. I highly recommend this series - and people say that rereading the first volume after reading it the first time really helped them grasp on to everyone, if you had trouble.

Two more visually stunning series that are more contemporary and magical are The Wicked and the Divine and Wayward. We'll start with WicDiv - the first two volumes are available now and it's incredible. The art and coloring is gorgeous beyond belief and the story line feels fresh and interesting, and the characters are amazing. I kind of enjoyed going into it pretty blind, so all I'm going to tell you if you somehow haven't heard of this series - gods are re-incarnated in people and they only live for two years before dying.

Wayward is about an Irish/Japanese girl who is making the transition to live in Japan with her mother, and she's not sure about it but she quickly finds out that maybe the magics of Japan aren't just folklore. Volume one of this is out so far, volume two coming soon, and the art is gorgeous, the magic is interesting and comes out more in recent issues.

You know how I said if explicit wasn't your thing Saga wasn't for you? Well that's true times ten for Sex Criminals. Also by Fraction, who will be mentioned below for his Hawkeye run and I'm sure you've heard his name if you've been following my blog. People seem to waver on Sex Criminals but I've never seen anyone that's disliked it outright. It's a story about two people who meet and realize they both share a kind of strange ability - time freezes when they orgasm (I said explicit, it's pretty graphic at points. There might be a scene where he gynecologist explains contraceptives while stripping. Not actually doing so but that's what the comic shows). And from that - don't you want to read it? I did. And I'll ready anything by Fraction and Zdarsky.

I'm going to stop myself there for right now because I feel like that's enough indie comics to get you started. They're all Image, but I do love Image and haven't read much by anything others. And those all feel very user friendly - they're all good, got good story lines and art (gorgeous art for some), and also are pretty cheap for trades, Image is good about that.

And now, onto the superhero comics - I suggest giving Watchmen a read, I didn't love it but I did enjoy it and I also just think it's a good kind of commentary on the genre. And don't watch the movie, just save yourself.

First, before even getting into the recommendations - you need to be aware that it's going to be confusing if you think about too hard. And that you're never going to really be able to know everything, there's years and years of backlog and history. And they will decide to reboot series or the whole universe, or have events that bring in everything. It is complicated, but it's not scary complicated. If you can handle putting things in separate universes and sometimes not knowing things - though I've never been confused beyond just a slight what are you talking about? before - then you're good. Also good maybe not reading in complete order - carry on.

If that all just sounds like too much work or like it's going to give you a headache and confuse the hell out of it - then just give it a miss, maybe try contained comic series or the ones related to movies/TV shows. I'm not going to judge you for it, and no one else who is worth or time is going to either. It's complicated and can get expensive if your library isn't well stocked.

(Also, a disclaimer, I haven't gotten as into DC as I have Marvel, so these recs, and future ones, will be heavily Marvel until I do get more into DC, which I would like to do).

Now - places to start.

For where to start with more current things, I think Fraction's Hawkeye is relatable and gorgeously illustrated and deals withs Clint's disability towards the end. Also there's a dog. It's mostly about what Clint gets up to not on the clock, and it shows him as pretty fumbling. And I liked that Clint, he's related and entertaining (I also enjoy highly trained, can do anything Clint, but human disaster Clint has a special place in my heart since he was my entrance to it). It's also a limited run, four volumes, so there's a definite beginning and end, a whole story. And it's a hell of a good one.

Runaways - I don't know what the hell took me so long to start this series, and I haven't finished the run but I'm throwing it in here because I've read the first eighteen issues (complete collection volume one) and it seems like a fantastic starting point. It's super hero related and there is mentions of the outside universe and, in those first ones, you run into some others - two i had never heard of, my knowledge is lacking in some areas. Either way, they are kind of separate, at the beginning at least. Which I feel like is a good introduction to a comic with characters with superpowers, and in for the marvel universe (well, for that universe of the marvel universe). Still - fantastic series.

Captain Marvel - Carol might be one of my favorite characters. She's competent and smart as hell and in the more recent issues she's in space with a cat, just saying. She's an interesting character, though, and a good as hell on. (And Kelly Sue DeConnick. You don't know who she is? Well, friend, then you are in for a treat).

Ms. Marvel - I feel like everyone's been talking about since it started running. A muslim american teenage girl taking over Carol's old persona and becoming Ms. Marvel. Kamala is one of my favorite characters - she's young, in high school, but she wants to do good, wants to help. And there's some great commentary on how millennial's aren't what people think they are (we are, I'm a young one but I'm still in those years myself). Also there's some great cameos, and it's normally highly amusing.

The one DC thing I'm going to recommend because I'm sticking to things you can buy trades for - I'm sorry, DC, I'll try and do better but you make it hard with no subscription service - is the new run of Batgirl. The first volume is called Batgirl, Volume One: Batgirl of Burnside. And the way social media and technology in general is used in this comic is the main reason I wanted to pick it up. Some people have been shitting on it for that - but it's, I feel like, something I could see easily happening to a young girl whose a superhero and trying to her, failing at points and succeeding at others. It's fast-paced and interesting and I really liked the main character, Barbara.

I'm enjoying writing up these posts and hope to do some more posts with just some general recommendations. I'm not an expert, not by a long shot, but I'm finally in a space where I feel like I'm not an impostor when I"m giving out recommendations/suggestions

 If you have - or are planning to - read any of these, I'd love to hear about it. And if you are going to go and read them, report back your thoughts, I'd love to hear them! Also, if you already started - where did you start?

Comics | How I Got There Through Manga
Comics | My Pull List (9/15)

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