With Black Friday looming on the Fall horizon, we here at Monkeys Fighting Robot thought it would be a good idea to make a list of graphic novels that would be perfect for new readers.
The term graphic novel may include story collections as well one-shots. An excellent example is The Walking Dead Vol. 1 from Image Comics. This graphic novel collects the first six issues of the comic written by Robert Kirkman.
(2008) – w. Greg Pak, a. Carlo Pagulayan, a. Aaron Lopresti, a. Juan Santacruz, a. Gary Frank, a. Takeshi Miyazawa, p. Marvel Comics
Savage alien planet! Oppressed barbarian tribes! Corrupt emperor! Deadly woman warrior! Gladiators and slaves! Battle axes and hand blasters! Monsters and heroes… and the Incredible Hulk! Let the smashing commence! This deluxe hardcover collects the entire “Planet Hulk” saga, plus extras! Collects Incredible Hulk #92-105, Giant-Size Hulk #1, “Mastermind Excello” story from Amazing Fantasy #15, maps, character designs.
Why you should read it: This is the greatest Hulk story ever told, in the form of a Greek tragedy. One day Marvel Studios will have the courage to make this a feature film.
(2007) – w. Mark Millar, a. Steve McNiven, p. Marvel Comics
The landscape of the Marvel Universe is changing, and it’s time to choose: Whose side are on? A conflict has been brewing from more than a year, threatening to pit friend against friend, brother against brother – and all it will take is a single misstep to cost thousands their lives and ignite the fuse! As the war claims its first victims, no one is safe as teams, friendships and families begin to fall apart. The crossover that rewrites the rules, Civil War stars Spider-Man, the New Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men and the entirety of the Marvel pantheon! Collects Civil War #1-7, plus extras.
Why you should read it: Similar to Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis, Mark Millar’s Civil War changed what it means to be a Superhero in the Marvel Universe.
(2004) – w. Brad Meltzer, a. Rags Morales, a. Michael Bair, p. DC Comics
When the spouse of a JLA member is brutally murdered, the entire superhero community searches for the killer, fearing their own loved ones may be the next targets. Before the mystery is solved, a number of long-buried secrets will threaten to divide the heroes before they can bring the mysterious killer to justice. IDENTITY CRISIS is an all-too-human look into the lives of superheroes, and the terrible price they pay for doing good.
Why you should read it: This is a defining moment in the DC Comics Universe that ushers in the modern heroes that we have today.
The Walking Dead: Compendium One
(2009) – w. Robert Kirkman, a. Tony Moore, a. Cliff Rathburn, a. Charlie Adlard, p. Image Comics
Introducing the first eight volumes of the fan-favorite, New York Times Best Seller series collected into one massive paperback collection! Collects The Walking Dead #1-48. This is the perfect collection for any fan of the Emmy Award-winning television series on AMC: over one thousand pages chronicling the beginning of Robert Kirkman’s Eisner Award-winning continuing story of survival horror- from Rick Grimes’ waking up alone in a hospital, to him and his family seeking solace on Hershel’s farm, and the controversial introduction of Woodbury despot: The Governor. In a world ruled by the dead, we are finally forced to finally start living.
Why you should read it: This is the gateway drug into independent comics. Robert Kirkman with each issue raises the bar of graphic storytelling.
The Killing Joke
(1988) – w. Alan Moore, a. Brian Bolland, p. DC Comics
According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as The Joker, one bad day, that’s all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he’s out to prove his deranged point. And he’s going to use Gotham City’s top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it.
Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight’s closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links these two iconic foes before it leads to its fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman’s nobility and The Joker’s insanity snap once and for all?
Why you should read it: This book will emotionally scar you, but ground you in the modern mythos of Batman and the Joker.
Pride of Baghdad
(2008) – w. Brian K. Vaughan, a. Niko Henrichon, p. Vertigo Comics
In the spring of 2003, a pride of lions escapes from the Baghdad Zoo during an American bombing raid. Lost and confused, hungry but finally free, the four lions roamed the decimated streets of Baghdad in a desperate struggle for their lives. In documenting the plight of the lions, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD raises questions about the true meaning of liberation – can it be given, or is it earned only through self-determination and sacrifice? And in the end, is it truly better to die free than to live in captivity?
Why you should read it: Brian K. Vaughan has the similar skills to Kirkman when it comes to the emotional height they will go in storytelling. This is an example of using the best medium available for the story.
(2014) – w. Jason Aaron, a. Jason LaTour, p. Image Comics
Earl Tubb is an angry old man with a very big stick. Euless Boss is a high school football coach with no more room in his office for trophies and no more room underneath the bleachers for burying bodies. And they’re just two of the folks you’ll meet in Castor County, Alabama, home of Boss BBQ, the state champion Runnin’ Rebs and more bastards than you’ve ever seen! “What does old Earl Tubb do when he returns home to Craw County, Ala., only to find the place a veritable criminal fiefdom run by Euless Boss, the local high school football coach? Why, pick up the stick helpfully cleaved by lightning from a tree growing out of his daddy’s grave and start meting out justice just like his father, the old sheriff, did.
Why you should read it: Jason Aaron is the CCR for the current generation. Aaron’s grit and grime will cover your soul and send you on a quest for his other works.
Immortal Iron Fist: The Complete Collection Volume 1
(2008) – w. Ed Brubaker, w. Matt Fraction, a. David Aja, a. Travel Foreman, a. Howard Chaykin, a. Nick Dragotta, a. Mitch Breitweiser, a. Jelena Kevic-Djurdjevic, a. Tonci Zonjic, a. Kano, p. Marvel Comics
Experience a brand-new kind of Iron Fist story, one steeped in legends and fables stretching back through the centuries! Orphaned as a child and raised in the lost city of K’un-Lun, Danny Rand returned to America as the mystical martial artist Iron Fist – but all his kung-fu skills can’t help him find his place in the modern world. After learning that the legacy of the Iron Fist holds more secrets than he ever dreamed, Danny is invited to fight in a tournament against the Immortal Weapons. At stake is the life of his friend, the legacy of his father and mentor…and the future of K’un-Lun!
Why you should read it: There is a Netflix series coming based on this character, and this book is the source material. Once hooked on Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction’s work, there is an endless supply of books to coming read both superhero and not.
Batman: The Long Halloween
(1997) – w. Jeph Loeb, a. Tim Sale, p. DC Comics
Taking place during Batman’s early days of crime fighting, this new edition of the classic mystery tells the story of a mysterious killer who murders his prey only on holidays. Working with District Attorney Harvey Dent and Lieutenant James Gordon, Batman races against the calendar as he tries to discover who Holiday is before he claims his next victim each month. A mystery that has the reader continually guessing the identity of the killer, this story also ties into the events that transform Harvey Dent into Batman’s deadly enemy, Two-Face.
Why you should read it: This is the Batman detective tale that you will never see on the big screen, but we should. A superb mystery for the world’s greatest detective.
(2007) – w.a. Jonathan Hickman, p. Image Comics
As an act of violence spirals out of control to encompass the entirety of the news media, a cult has emerged from the errors and retractions that have ruined careers, marriages, and even lives. Under direction from his cult master, The Hand leads an army of followers committed to revolution, willing to die for their cause.
Why you should read it: If Jason Aaron is the grit and grime, Jonathan Hickman is scientific and calculated. Nightly News is Hickman’s first work, and the author has been cranking out hits ever since.
Tell us what 10 graphic novels you would recommend in comments below.