Self-contained superhero comic books
By Patrick Bérubé
February 23, 2009 - 10:00
Are you tired of mega crossovers, spin-off miniseries, one-shots or simply 400 issues of continuity to take into account whenever you open your favorite superhero comic book? Fear not as alternatives do exist. Many quality superhero comic book that are easy to understand and to catch on are published every year for your pleasure. Here are a few suggestions from some of The Comic Book Bin reviewers.
I give a hearty recommendation to X-Men: First Class. Basically, what this title gives the reader is a modernized version of the original X-Men comic book series. The goal of Professor X and his X-Men in First Class is also to protect humanity from "evil mutants" and other threats, but like many comic book characters of the Golden and Silver Ages, the X-Men of First Class are costumed adventurers. They go on adventures, whereas the characters of other current X-Men comic books are involved in soap opera and continuity intensive storylines. Each issue of X-Men: First Class has a self-contained story, and there are already two book collections of the series, with a third due in March. X-Men: First Class is friendly to young readers - easy to read and practically "G" rated. Reading each issue is like enjoying a good half-hour of an animated series like "X-Men Evolution" or "Justice League."
I'm thinking Kick-Ass. Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s take on the "costumed hero in the real world" idea. It's violent, shocking (an eight year-old girl uses the bad c-word!) and only five issues in, so catching up isn't that difficult. Besides, the issues are fairly good at catching people up to speed.The concept is fresher than past attempts at the idea, being almost unnecessarily cruel to the protagonist, and Millar fleshes out reactions to the appearance of costumed vigilantes through the Internet and television keeps the real world in the foreground of the comic. The quality can get spotty but I think overall the concept and execution are enough to give it a shot. Besides, a film adaptation is already on it's way so its always better to have read the comic before the movie ruins it!
I think that a good, if slightly left field superhero series to get into would be that of Madman by Mike Allred. The character has been going since the early nineties, so there is plenty to collect, borrow and catch up with.
Madman is the tale of a man (Frank Einstein..name sound familiar? Say it fast. :) ) who is brought back from the dead by two scientists. Frank discovers that he has superhuman reflexes, supernatural abilities and....amnesia. Despite his powers, he is an innocent abroad. And what he does remember of his previous life is the stuff of nightmares. He is a super hero in a wonderful parallel world of robots, brilliant but mad scientists, aliens, freaks, mutants, secret underground railways and jet packs. If you like a seamless mix of contemporary, and retro-futuristic artwork and entertaining story lines that are inventive, light-hearted, adventurous and cosmic in nature, then I can't recommend it enough.
(It may be for the maturer reader though...)
The character has been published by Tundra Publishing, Dark Horse Comics, DC Comics, OniPress, AAA pop comics and most recently by Image Comics.
I believe a great super hero series that is easy for new readers is Invincible. Invincible is the story of a young guy whose father was an alien agent sent on Earth to conquer it. Invincible rebels against this plan by the aliens and becomes a super hero. But the legacy of his father, and the non-trusting American super hero agencies monitoring super heroes want to control Invincible. All the while, Invincible attempts to go to school, have a girl friend, protect his secret identity and help raise a younger brother with similar powers. The art on Invincible is great, dynamic and just right for this series. Although in its late 50s, previous issues of Invincible have been collected in a few trade paperback editions. Invincible is published by Image Comics, and was created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Cory Walker. Penciller Ryan Ottley is the regular artist on the series.
I recently discovered Dynamo 5 from Image Comics. It's the story of a super-hero dying and is wife finding that he has been unfaithful to her and that he had five illegitimate children. But instead of inheriting all of their father's powers, they each received a different one. Now they must learn to know each other and work as a team if they are to defend Tower City. Everything is in here: costumes, codenames, super villains and a good dose of action. It's a classical but well done formula.The closest comparison to this comic book would be Teen Titans but without the DC universe and it's continuity constantly weighting everything down. By Jay Faerber and Mahmud A. Asrar. You can read online the first issue for free on the Image Comics website.
Last Updated: June 23, 2021 - 00:29
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