Hey guys! I’ve decided that “Michael’s Thoughts” is going to become a think whenever I’m in-between homework, classes, work, church, and the other more important things going on, but nevertheless I do enjoy writing these little editorials and I hope you guys are enjoying them! On this post, I’m going to be talking about the comics that I am currently reading that you guys might not be and tell you why you should in-fact be reading them.
I want to preface this by saying that although I love both DC and Marvel and over the years have read countless books from BOTH companies as well as companies like IDW, Vertigo, Image, etc., most of my books on this article are going to be coming from DC Comics. My all-time favorite superhero is a tie between the three biggest superheroes out there, Superman, Batman, and Spider-Man, so naturally I lean more towards the DC side when it comes to monthly comic books. Don’t get me wrong, non-DC books that I’m reading and enjoying that you may not be will be mentioned for sure, but in due time.
I want to begin by saying that the books I’m reading that I will not be mentioning due to their popularity include Scott Snyder’s Batman, Geoff Johns’ Justice League and Superman, and Brian Michael Bendis’ All-New X-Men and Guardians of the Galaxy. All great books and all highly recommended as they are by some of the best writers in the business. So, let’s get started shall we?…
WARNING: Potential SPOILERS Lie Ahead, Read At Your Own Risk!
1. Amazing Spider-Man
There’s been a LOT of backlash and hate on Spider-Man as of recently, and this is due to many things. First of all, the Superior Spider-Man book (which is somehow still going) ticked off a LOT of long-time Spidey fans (myself included) and made us want Peter Parker back more than ever (he died in the Ultimate Spider-Man series as well, so we truly had nowhere to go). After he returned, Spider-Man fanboys turned their hate over towards The Amazing Spider-Man 2. Now, I won’t go into why you SHOULDN’T hate Amazing Spider-Man 2 here (personally, I LOVE it, but then again I love Kurtzman and Orci, especially after Star Trek, Transformers, Fringe, and Sleepy Hollow), but I will link you guys to an EDITORIAL I did on the film here. That being said, Peter Parker/Spider-Man’s latest adventures in the comics have been over-looked as fans continue to complain about his film franchise, the Superior series, or even the Ultimate Spider-Man animated series on Disney XD (which I also don’t like but I can admit has had some great episodes). Dan Slott’s return to the Amazing title has got me excited for more and more Spider-Man adventures and the upcoming “Spider-Verse” arc sounds to be really exciting and I cannot wait to see multiple Spider-Men from different time periods and universes team-up to take down their next foe. I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next on this series and if you’re not reading it, you have to start!
2. Green Arrow
If you’ve listened to an episode of my former podcast Longbow Hunters: The Arrow Podcast, and if you’re a fan of the CW television series ‘Arrow’, then you already know how much I love this book. I consistently hear people talk about Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye series simply because he was a character in the Avengers and people are finally giving him attention ( I love Clint Barton, but I hate the Hawkeye persona, give me back Ronin any day!), but people fail to recognize Green Arrow, even with the increasing popularity of his own TV series (which is currently the best comic book based television series on air). This hurts me because between Jeff Lemire’s amazing characterization of Oliver Queen and his supporting cast of friends and foes and Andrea Sorrentino’s spectacular artwork, this book is LITERALLY one of the best in the business and has become one of Green Arrow’s best comic book runs ever, right next to Mike Grell and Judd Winick’s runs (as well as the famed Green Lantern/Green Arrow run by Adams and O’Neil!). Green Arrow (starting with Issue 17) brings introduces you to one of the characters most ruthless and terrifying villains in the form of Komodo, re-ignites the characters of Count Vertigo and Robert Queen, introduces Arrow character John Diggle into the comics, re-tells Green Arrow and Shado’s respective origin stories (yes, replacing Year One like Zero Year replaced Batman’s Year One, yet doing a beautiful job re-telling it), and kicking off a new era for the Emerald Archer that combines everything we love about the character from his Silver and Bronze Age appearances, to the Modern Age, to Justice League Unlimited, to Smallville, and of course to Arrow, while still feeling new and fresh. This book is amazing and I cannot stress how good it is. If there’s one book on this list that you read, read Jeff Lemire’s Green Arrow which starts at issue 17 of the New 52 series (Volume 4: The Kill Machine in the graphic novel editions) and is soon coming to a close as two of Arrow’s best writers will be taking over the book soon.
3. The Flash
With the upcoming Arrow spin-off ‘The Flash’ coming to the CW this fall, of course I was going to talk about The Flash eventually. Most of you probably think that I’m talking about Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato’s run that ran (ha ha…) from the first issue of The Flash all the way to issue #25 (the Zero Year cross-over, which was awesome by the way) with two Annuals, three Villain’s Month issues, and one Zero Month issue as well. Well, unfortunately for us, mainly myself and Dan as we fell in love with both that book and the creative team behind it, that series is no more. Don’t get me wrong, The Flash is still an active comic book series, however, Manapul and Buccellato are no longer on the book as they have moved over to Gotham to give us their take on Batman over in Detective Comics (which I also highly recommend and need to get caught up on). The new creative team behind The Flash consists of writers Van Jensen and Robert Venditti, who also run the cosmic universe within DC as they’re also in charge of Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps after Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi left the book about a year or two ago (and left it on a bang they did, I don’t read Green Lantern anymore because honestly it was such a good run that I just can’t bring myself to, and I almost felt that way with The Flash as well…). These two have begun a new saga for Barry Allen as he now has to deal with his future self, a new Wally West (if you want my opinion, no I hate the idea but let’s see where it goes…), and the regular crime that consistently occurs in Central and Keystone Cities. Honestly, although it may not be as good as the first 25 issues, this book is a book to be watching, especially with the new television series on the rise!
4. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Although I have yet to actually see the latest TMNT film, I can tell you that the comic book series at least is really exciting! Written by Tom Waltz and TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman himself (who also lends his artistic talents to the book), IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles kicks some serious shell. To be completely honest with you, I have just started reading the book and recently finished the first collected volume, and I found it extremely entertaining. Giving the Turtles and Splinter a new origin, as well as April O’Neal and a new take on Casey Jones, this book really gets into gear and gives you a fresh take on the characters, which is especially helpful if you’re new to the series, be it cartoons, television, film, or comics. The Turtles even go back to their original red masks during their first few adventures, which is cool to see because eventually they “graduate” into their identities as we all know them. I also LOVE the characterization of Casey Jones in this series as I think it makes him a really vital and important character to this new run. Although it’s pretty far into the series now (65 issues total according to Wikipedia, including specials, annuals, and one-shots of course), I believe that this series is certainly worth getting into as I am really enjoying it, even if it gives you a craving for pizza…
5. Superman Unchained
If you’re looking for a really good in-continuity Superman story that has not only great writing but amazing art, then look no further than Superman Unchained! Superman Unchained is written by Batman scribe and one of DC’s best writers Scott Snyder with art by Justice League, X-Men, Batman: Hush, and Superman: For Tomorrow artist Jim Lee! This book is the best New 52 Superman book there is, period. With an interesting story that utilizes some of the most important characters in Superman lore, from Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen to even Batman and Wonder Woman, this book is an almost time-less Superman story that feels like it takes place in the Post-Crisis Universe, while still staying true to it’s New 52 roots. Although the series is not yet over (though extremely close) and has had some ups and downs in terms of getting released on time, I’m sure that once this book enters into it’s collected edition, it’ll read as seamlessly as books like Watchmen or The Dark Knight Returns, and may even be on their level one day as well. I truly LOVE Superman Unchained and think it’s a great way to celebrate Superman’s 75th anniversary as we saw last year (and as the book was intended to do). I cannot stress enough how good this book is! If I told you you had to read Jeff Lemire’s Green Arrow, then this is the book you should pick up right after.
6. Batman & Robin
Peter J. Tomasi’s Batman & Robin has truly been one of the best break-out books of the New 52 and I have absolutely loved it since the first issue! When Damian Wayne died halfway through the series, I was truly unsure of where the book was going to go. I enjoyed the Bat-Family team-ups every month until the Two-Face arc (which I did NOT like…) and I have enjoyed the current “Robin Rises” arc and am really excited and interested to see where it goes. The Justice League is doing everything they can to keep Batman from going to Apokalips to retrieve the body of his son and former protege, but Batman is hell-bent on bringing Robin back from the dead. It’s interesting because I’m almost wondering if Damian is actually going to come back as Robin or if Carrie Kelly (who they actually introduced into the New 52) will take up the mantel as she did in the famed The Dark Knight Returns saga. I’m truly excited to see where this book goes, both in setting and story, as it has proven to be one of DC’s best and most consistent comic books, not to mention Batman books. Batman & Robin is a must!
You guys who have listened to the DC Nation Podcast should know this one… Of course I was going to talk about Smallville, the best Superman book DC is putting out right now! Not only is Smallville (Season 11) a great story to get you invested into the characters of Clark Kent, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor, but it’s a worthy continuation of one of my favorite shows of all time and a great way to finally experience Tom Welling’s Clark Kent as Superman and not just the Red-Blue Blur. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea of the Blur on the shows final three seasons, but when “Finale” aired I was super-excited to finally see Clark Kent become the Man of Steel (plus, then when the film ‘Man of Steel’ came out, all my expectations for what Clark did after Smallville’s Finale were met which made me appreciate and enjoy the film much more)! When the book was simply titled “Smallville: Season 11”, Dan and I covered it every week on DC Nation and really enjoyed it for the most part (we also enjoyed talking to the book’s writer, and former Smallville writer, himself, Bryan Q. Miller, on more than one occasion, check out Interviews tab above for more). Now the series is released through various mini-series all under the Smallville banner (usually twelve digital-first issues collected into four print issues at the end of each month), and still alive and kicking. We’ve been to the 31st century to fight Doomsday, we’ve been in Gotham City, we’ve encountered the Monitors, Darkseid in his true form, Hades, parallel Earths, and much more to come, and the “Crisis” story-line (taking from classic comics like ‘Crisis on Infinite Earths’, ‘Infinite Crisis’, ’52’, ‘Final Crisis’, and more) is coming to a head in the current mini-series “Continuity”. This book is great, the rotating artists are great, and it’s a fantastic way to either continue with the Smallville universe or just jump in. Definitely a must read for Smallville, Superman, Justice League, and DC Comics fans alike!
Honorable Mentions: Greg Rucka’s Cyclops, the New 52 Supergirl series, Red Hood and the Outlaws, Batman Beyond (currently bringing back the Phantasm…), Arrow: Season 2.5, The Flash: Season Zero, Chris Carter & Joe Harris’ The X-Files: Season 10 (which I have blogged extensively about, highly recommend, and need to get caught up on…), and Mark Waid’s Daredevil.
Thanks guys for reading, hope you check out some of these great books, both the ones I wrote about and gave Honorable Mentions to. I would’ve written about all of them if I had enough time but I sadly have to be up early tomorrow for work. I hope you all enjoy!