Holy cow, guys. Or maybe it's just one guy. I don't actually know who reads this thing. But for reals, I'm overdue for a post! Things got a little out of hand with the passing of Other Cat, the race to complete costumes for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY (oh man oh man oh man), and my sister being almost completely sleep deprived and missing final exam times.
So, in honor of FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, here are some of my most favorite comics:
Hellboy, and by extension, B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) by Mike Mignola, illustrated by various artists
It's probably not healthy how much I love the Hellboy series, but how is it my fault that Mignola married my most favorite things (folklore and fairy tales, World War Two, ghosts, trenchcoats, and traveling) and then illustrated it in the way that I would sacrifice thirteen babies under the harvest moon to be able to do?
The Hellboy story is actually pretty long and complicated, but the general gist is that Hellboy is a demon summoned into this world by Rasputin during the dying days of World War II for the purpose of bringing about Armageddon and releasing a Lovecraftian beast that will devour the world, but this purpose is botched, and Hellboy is instead raised by Ally-leaning Trevor Bruttenholm. Hellboy's now a good guy in demon form, battling various malignant supernatural forces that crop up across the world (Baba Yaga, imps, goddesses, evil mermaids, ghosts, etc.), as well as keeping his destiny as the world-destroyer at bay. Being that it is long and involved, start at the beginning and support your local comics store!
Available in trade paperbacks:
Vol. 1- Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
Vol. 2- Hellboy: Wake the Devil
Vol. 3- Hellboy: The Chained Coffin and Others
Vol. 4- Hellboy: The Right Hand of Doom
Vol. 5- Hellboy: Conqueror Worm
Vol. 6- Hellboy: Strange Places
Vol. 7- Hellboy: The Troll Witch and Others
Vol. 8- Hellboy: Darkness Calls
The Long Halloween by Jeph Loeb, illustrated by Tim Sale
Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale are the dream-team for Batman comics, and sit on Mt. Olympus with a handful of other writers and artists who reinvent/revitalize an aging franchise. If you're paying attention, you'll see elements of their stories borrowed by the latest Batman movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, in addition to fellow Olympian Frank Miller's Batman: Year One. (I'm name-dropping like it's hot, just to get you good and interested.)
The Long Halloween revolves around a holiday-themed murderer who is bumping off members of the elite mafia families in Gotham City. The reader watches as Batman, Gordon, Harvey Dent, and the mafia heads try to figure out who is responsible and how to stop them (and mulling over the moral questions of whether someone killing off criminals is a negative or not, and the power struggle between the mafias and the "freak" criminals). Each chapter is a different month with a different holiday, and occasionally introduces another classic Batman villain (Catwoman, the Joker, Solomon Grundy, the Penguine, Scarecrow, Poison Ivy, the Mad Hatter, the Riddler, and of course, Two Face). Excellent writing, and Tim Sale's cover art is some of the best in the business (I have the first issue framed on my wall).
Frank Miller's Batman: Year One
Loeb and Sale's Catwoman: When in Rome, which parallels The Long Halloween
Loeb and Sale's Batman: Dark Victory, a sequel to The Long Halloween
Mouse Guard by David Petersen
Pros: The art is so good, SO GOOD. And MICE. In CLOAKS. With DAGGERS.
Cons: David Petersen is a busy fellow, so the issues are slow to come out. But anyone who's been collecting comics for a time is used to the waiting game.
This fellow adorns my long box (a long box that holds your individual issues of comics).
Available in paperback and/or hardcover:
Series 1: Fall 1152
Series 2: Winter 1152 (last issue is out, collected volume due out this summer)
Series 3: Black Axe 1099-1116
Chicanos by Carlos Trillo, illustrated by Eduardo Risso
I have a special fondness for this comic; the main character Alejandrina Jalisco, Private Detective, is the quintessential tragi-comedic character. This squat, ginorma-boobed, buck-toothed mexicana with bright black bird-like eyes tries to scrape by and do the right thing, which usually lands her in the middle of trouble, and instead of a fee, she usually collects an ass-whooping instead. But despite being constantly shat on, she goes on. You feel terrible for her, but I find I'm a bit uplifted by her plucky spirit. The writing blends detective noir with hard-hitting commentary on rascism and the "American Dream" (which may or may not be American), and some occasional magical realism. With the art stylings of Risso (100 Bullets) which is both noir and Frank Miller-esque (but more eloquent), I find this book a delight on all levels.
Now, a warning: the books available for purchase have been translated from their native language (Trillo is Argentinian). I didn't notice while I was reading, but my friends who have read the volumes did. I think it's still pretty awesome.
I'll have to cut this short, you know, FREE COMIC BOOK DAY and all, but I'll try to get some more of these out in a responsible manner.