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Robot Monkey

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Someone recently mentioned that he'd like to check out comics again. Here's a list of ten recent comics that I recommend to adults. This isn't a list of the best comics ever made. It's just a list of exceptional titles that were out in the last couple of years. All are trade paperbacks because I hate individual issues of anything. In no particular order:


1. 100 Bullets: First Shot, Last Call. Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso. Here's the premise: Some guy named Agent Graves shows up and gives a person a briefcase. In that briefcase is indisputeable proof that a some third party ruined the person's life. There is also a handgun a 100 rounds of ammunition.


Why does Graves do this? Who does he represent and what do they get out of this? Are the people from issue to issue somehow conected? Answer: stick around and a massive conspiracy tale is unveiled. In the mean time, enjoy the gritty, street-level vignettes about people who fell between society's cracks.


2. Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street. Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. This book is about a gonzo journalist (apparently patterned on the late Hunter S. Thompson) in the near future. The series was designed to actually end and has done so.


The book is silly (Spider's weapon of choice is an illegal Bowel Disrupter, with settings like loose, watery and total prolapse), violent (and how!) and spends

a surprising amount of time sneaking in Ellis' thoughts on politics, law-and-order and the media.


3. Courtney Crumrin & The Night Things Volume 1. Ted Naifeh. This black and white gem is about a little girl named Courtney Crumrin who discovers that her great uncle is a wizard and tries to learn magic. Sound like Harry Potter, doesn't it? There are definite parallels, but the book has an entirely different flavor -- it feels very much like a magical bedtime story (the

book is all ages). Fans of Charles Addams or Edward Gorey will want to check out this charming book.


4. Hellboy: Seed of Destruction. Mike Mignola. Everyone should check out Hellboy if for no other reason than to get exposure to Mike Mignola's art. Mignola is an artist's artist (often cited by other artists when asked "who do you like?"). And look, it's about a huge, wisecracking demonic creature who investigates supernatural mysteries. What kind of madman wouldn't want to read that?! Hellboy stories borrow heavily from Lovecraft, local folklore and myths.


5. Walking Dead: Days Gone Bye. Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore. What's unusal about a storyline that has Flesh-eating zombies running amok? Answer: The focus of this excellant black and white series is people, not horror -- what does it mean to be a survivor?


6. Y: The Last Man: Umanned. Brian K. Vaughan. In the first issue of this series, every male on earth suddenly dies. Biowarfare? Disease? Supernatural cause? There seem to be only two male survivors, Yorrick and his pet monkey.


This book packs in a great adventure story, hilarious dialog and human drama. If it maintains the quality it has so far, this will be a very special series.


7. League of Extraordinary Gentleman, Vol. 1. Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill. Remember the movie? I wanted to see it when it was in the theaters, but I was sick that day. Pick up this book and you will see the typical feat of excellent writing that Alan Moore cranks out like Hollywood cranks out shitty movies.


The book is Alan Moore's version of a superhero team in during the Victorian Age. It's funny, clever and superbly drawn.


8. Fables: Legends in Exile. Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham. Fans of Harry Potter or Neil Gaiman's Sandman series should check this out. Long ago, someone (or something?) invaded fairy tale land and many of its inhabitants fled to our world where the live in hiding.


Whether dealing with politics, relationships (like the troubled marriage between Beauty and the Beast), or a mystery story, Willingham always manages to put a human face on the the characters.


9. Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl? Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. Mamet fans should especially run to pick up this series for its dialog.

Everyone else should hustle to pick it up for it's amazing writing and art. Set in a gritty world of superheroes and supervillains, Powers is about a detective who handles powers investigations. It's like NYPD Blues (with a sense of humor) for the capes and tights crowd.


10. Star Wars Tales. Various. Anything up to and including the issues collected in the Volume 5 trade paperback. Basically, Dark Horse got all kinds of artists and writers to do little short stories set in the Star Wars universe. Yeah, the stories can be hit-or-miss. Overall, however, it was a great book that showcased very diverse talents, although I only recommend this in small doses.


Unfortunately, Lucasfilm didn't like where some of the stories went (rumor), because the series was relaunched recently with a new editor. I would not recommend issues that came out since the relaunch.

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The only comic series i read at the moment is Supreme Power. Its under the Marvel M line and is written by Joe Strazynski who did babylon 5, Jeremiah, rising star and various other comics/shows. Its different then other comic books as it follows a group of heroes from the time they are young , and how they grow into their powers and so forth.



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I didn't include any capes-and-tights titles in my list because I believe that the best and most interesting comics are outside that genre (even though some people think that's the only genre).


That doesn't mean that there isn't anything worth looking at within the traditional capes-and-tights genre, however. Check out just about anything in Marvel's Ultimate line if you want to revisit childhood favorites. There's some fun stuff there.

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If it maintains the quality it has so far, this will be a very special series.


It does. I have all five of the Y: The Last Man trades currently out, and it's great stuff. One of my favorite series.


You are reading a lot of the stuff I am, actually, Jay. Powers is another fantastic series, and the first couple of trades are good but it all really starts percolating around the fourth and fifth. There are around eight now and the quality is consistently high.


Unlike yourself, though, I consider the old cape 'n cowl a very excellent source of comics if you look for the right stuff. Two series I also cannot recommend enough are Robert Kirman's Invincible, which is just plain old superhero fun with great writing, and Brian K. Vaughn's Runaways, which is published by Marvel. The latter is available in a set of three or four very cheap Marvel digests now and is one of my favorite series from last year. So favorite, in fact, that I bought all eighteen issues of series one in hardcover, which is something I've never done before :tu.

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I don't dislike the superhero genre as a matter of course (I also love Runaways), it's just that I feel that -- generally -- the most interesting stuff is outside that genre.


Sentinel from Marvel was a pretty good read. It's a bout a boy who finds a Sentinel robot and tries to rebuild it. Very, very Iron Giant, but I have no idea where they are going with it.


Have you heard about Hard Times? It's good stuff and a little weird. It's about a boy who is in jail for life (murder, tried as an adult). It's more Oz than anything.


I heard good things about the new Conan series. Isn't Busiek writing it?

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I don't dislike the superhero genre as a matter of course (I also love Runaways[/i']), it's just that I feel that -- generally -- the most interesting stuff is outside that genre.


The problem with superheroes is that they're so prevalent that it's hard to come up with an angle that's never been done before. The vast majority of my superhero reading now is just reprints of the old classics through the Essential line and others.


Incidentally, if anyone would like to own entire runs of Marvel's books, they're in the process of releasing their comics on dvd-rom. I just bought 44 Years of the Fantastic Four, which reprints every single FF comic published up through, IIRC, December 2004, and Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, and Hulk releases are upcoming. It's not the same as reading a good printed copy but at least you'll have them :)


I heard good things about the new Conan series. Isn't Busiek writing it?


Yup. Busiek writes and the main artist is Cary Nord, with occasional fill-ins by Greg Ruth and others. I would advise sticking to the monthly series because most of the one-shots and miniseries Dark Horse is developing aren't written by Busiek and the other writers generally don't understand the character or Robert E. Howard's original pulp stories.

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Sentinel from Marvel was a pretty good read. It's a bout a boy who finds a Sentinel robot and tries to rebuild it. Very, very Iron Giant, but I have no idea where they are going with it.


Ah, another excellent pick, Jay. I have every episode of Sentinel and I was heart-broken when they cancelled the series as it was simmering along very, very nicely. Although I've heard that Sean McKeever is writing a follow-up miniseries sometime this or next year, so it'll be back!


Speaking of McKeever, and super-heroes for that matter, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention his latest mini-series, Gravity, which details the trials of a young super-hero from Nebraska who moves to New York to go to college and try to make the big leagues of heroes. It's really, really well done and only five issues long. Next issue is the last one, but Marvel will hopefully collect it in trade or one of their digests soon; well worth a look-see.

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  • 3 months later...
The new Conan series is excellent.


No kidding on the new Conan, eh? I read the first two TPB's and it's great stuff (although I definitely liked the first one more than the second). Cary Nord's pencils and Stewart's coloring are outstanding. As for the writing, I think Busiek really captured the character of Conan as well as the setting.


I read a little bit of The Goon and it's pretty good so far. I'm not caught up on Fables, but it might be losing me. Not sure yet. The Walking Dead and Ex Machina continue to thrill.


Next on deck is Concrete.

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That was a great suggestion list to start people on RobotMonkey-I've recommended a lot of the same books for people in the last couple of years. A couple others to add to the list:


Kabuki-The first volume is great B&W storytelling. The painted ones are the prefect argument for comics as art. David Mack is a genius.


Promethea-Another Alan Moore project, but this one is for those that like things that are a little more...out there. After reading this series (esp the fourth and fifth volumes), his decision to quit comics to become a full time wizard makes perfect sense.


Ex Machina-More proof that Brian Vaughan can do no wrong. A look at what happens when a former hero who can "talk" to machines gets elected mayor of New York.


The Ultimates-Any writer who can make Captain America and Thor not only interesting, but cool, has some real skill.


As for me, I'm reading a lot of different stuff right now. Mainstream stuff is mostly Marvel, with most of the X books, as well as a lot of stuff like Runaways, Daredevil and Supreme Power, with a little DC thrown in (I just bought the four Countdown trades and the first three IC issues). I also read a lot of non-mainstream stuff, especially now that I get a Previews catalogue every month, and a 25% discount at the comic store. Just as a point of information, here was my order for December (I buy mail order, so I only get books once a month):


$2.99 All-Star Batman and Robin #3

$2.99 Authority Magnificent Kevin #5

$2.50 Batman #648

$2.50 Batman Gotham Knights #72

$2.50 Batman LOTDK #198

$2.99 Book of Lost Souls #3

$2.99 Cable and Deadpool #23

$2.99 Daredevil #80

$2.50 Detective Comics #814

$2.99 DMZ #2

$2.99 Down #2

$3.99 Fallen Angel #1

$2.99 Freshmen #4

$2.99 Generation M #2

$2.99 Ghost Rider #4

$3.99 Infinite Crisis #3

$3.50 Justice #3

$2.95 Lost Squad #2

$2.99 Loveless #3

$2.50 New Avengers #14

$2.99 New Excalibur #2

$2.99 New X-Men #21

$2.75 100 Bullets #67

$2.99 Powers #15

$2.99 Punisher #28

$2.99 Revelations #5

$2.99 Runaways #11

$3.99 Secret War #5

$3.99 She-Hulk #3

$2.99 Son of M #1

$2.99 Spellgame #2

$2.99 Spiderwoman Origin #1

$2.99 Supreme Power Hyperion #3

$2.99 Supreme Power Nighthawk #4

$2.99 Testament #1

$2.99 Top Ten Beyond the Farthest Precinct #5

$2.50 Uncanny X-Men #467

$2.50 Wolverine #37

$2.99 Wraithborn #4

$2.99 X-Factor #1

$2.99 X-Factor #2

$2.50 X-men #179

$2.50 X-Men #180

$2.99 X-men Colossus Bloodline #4

$3.50 X-Men Deadly Genesis #2

$2.99 X-men Unlimited #12

$2.99 Y The Last Man #40


$140.86 subtotal comics

- $35.22 discount

+ $15.85 tax

= 121.49 comics




$16.95 Cartoon Guide to Physics (15% discount)

$16.95 Cartoon Guide to Stats (15% discount)

$29.95 Contract with God Trilogy HC (15% discount)

$14.99 Fables vol 6 TP

$7.99 Gravity Digest

$12.99 Rann/Thanagar War TP

$14.95 Temporary vol 1 TP

$12.99 Ultimate Secret TP

$17.99 Ultimate SPiderman vol 14 TP

$12.99 Villains United TP


$127.81 total trades

= $249.30 US grand total


The worst part is, this wasn't a record...and I have to convert that total over to $CDN as well. But, as I've always said, it's cheaper than smoking crack (I think). :)

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I've been meaning to start Kabuki and always seem to forget about it. It looks amazing! I'll second Promethea as a great book, except that I was coming so dangerously close to listing the entire ABC line in my recommendations, I just listed the title I thought was most accessible.


I lost track of Powers when they moved to Marvel (I think I read the first couple). Anyone know how it's holding up?

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I lost track of Powers when they moved to Marvel (I think I read the first couple). Anyone know how it's holding up?


Very well actually-it's as good as it ever was. They've done some interesting things that made me want to go back and re-read the entire series again. Nothing beats the monkey issue though :)


Grab the first two Kabuki trades to see if you'll like it, since they have a very different feel. If you read Mack's first Daredevil run (Echo) you'll know what to expect from the painted stuff.


I'm actually glad that the ABC line is "ending", since the recent stuff hasn't been that great. I was just about to give up on Tom Strong (since Moore quit a while ago) when I saw the final issue solicited, so I figured I'd see it out. Still haven't picked up the 49ers though, but the softcover is in the January Previews, so I should have it in March/April.

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  • 2 months later...

Not sure if comics are the same as graphic novels, but Bungie is working with Marvel Comics on a project.


Halo Graphic Novel


The artists and writers behind this project include Moebius, Phil Hale, Ed Lee, Tsutomo Nihei, Jay Faerber, Andrew Robinson, Simon Bisley and Lee Hammock. The novel will also include a collection of gallery pages showcasing original, never-before seen Halo inspired artwork from all-star comic book artists as well as Bungie's own art team.




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Throw in another vote for The Ultimates. It's a fantastic new version of the Avengers, and probably the best superhero team comic I've read. The first 12 issues are available in a collection, and comprise a great story.


but......... my favorite at the moment is Marvel Zombies. Set in an alternate universe, all the Marvel heroes are zombies scavenging the earth (and each other) for food. I was sold on this when someone on another forum said "Magneto's leg bursting through Bruce Banner's stomach was terrific, especially when Thor started eating it." :lmfao


I found a preview of Marvel Zombies over at Newsarama.


Also, now is a great time to jump into the DC Universe. They are "restarting" a lot of the series after a major universe event that is currently underway.

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  • 2 months later...

This was solicited last month, which means it's probably out in July. Hardcover first at 24 bucks if I remember correctly. I'll probably wait and pick up the softcover, which will probably be out later in the fall. Might only be 5-10 bucks cheaper, but that still adds up. Besides, I'm not a big fan of the marvel premiere hardcover format-the binding tends to be too large, which makes the inside edges of the pages hard to read.

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If your a fan of Battlestar Galactica TV series the new Comic series fully starts next month. They released a short issue #0 to introduce last month, and I really enjoyed it.


I used to be a huge comic fan. Spidey, FF, X-men Universe, and Batman were the main ones i read

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some of my favorites:


1) garth ennis' run on the Punisher has been pretty spectacular, especially Mother Russia and The Slavers. be warned: ennis is unflinching in his depiction of violence, which you'll know if you've read anything else by him, like The Preacher.


2) Lone Wolf 2100 - mike kennedy and francisco velasco do a 22nd century update of the samurai classic and absolutely nail it. well written and beautifully drawn.


3) Grendel: Warchild - one of my all-time favorites. an absolutely riveting and very deep story. matt wagner at his best.


4) We3 - a 3 issue mini-series by grant morrison and frank quitely, about a dog, a cat, and a rabbit being used for military research. very moving. morrison and quitely rock (i'm also enjoying their vision of Superman for the DC All-Stars line)


5) Miracleman - for my money, arguably the best comic ever written. alan moore at the very height of his creative powers. a staggering story.


6) every single Hellboy story. mignola writes beautifully and draws even better. the perfect marriage of sumptuously simple art and lovecraftian prose. i simply cannot get enough.


7) The Ultimates - how can you not love a version of the avengers where people think thor is a delusional crackpot, iron man is a drunk, terminal cancer patient, and the hulk kills and eats people? i hope bendis gets well soon and finishes the current storyline, 'cos the suspense is absolutely killing me...


8) The Goon - eric powell really sticks the landing with this stuff. i'm not even sure how to describe it, except as "fantastic".


9) Walking Dead - the best zombie series ever. period. robert kirkman grabs you by the balls on page 3 or 4 of the first issue, and doesn't let go. utterly compelling.


10) Hellblazer: Hard Time - brian azzarello takes john constantine into a maximum security prison. constantine at his most effortlessly hard-core. 'nuff said.

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9) Walking Dead - the best zombie series ever. period. robert kirkman grabs you by the balls on page 3 or 4 of the first issue, and doesn't let go. utterly compelling.


I'm glad to see someone else is enjoying this fantastic series! It's always interesting to see projects that start out as the "same-old" and somehow manage to take it somewhere new, isn't it?

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