Five Comic Books You Should Read Right Now

May 7th is National Comic Book Day! These ones don’t suck!

By Michael Howard

Five Comic Books for the Discerning Literary Mind
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06 May 2016

The comic book industry is on fire,” declared a 2013 Business Insider article on the industry’s $870 million in sales. That figure jumped to $935 million in 2014. Last year’s numbers are still being counted because they keep finding money in the walls.  

Post an early-‘90s boom, comics are enjoying a golden age — although not necessarily for their printed source material.

At least 65 comic-based TV shows are filming right now and, for better or #sadbatman, that number will likely continue into perpetuity. Hollywood’s writers may be lacking creativity, but the opposite is true for comics.

And on May 7th, every American comic store will honor those writers for Free Comic Book Day (exactly what it sounds like). Pick up the hobby while picking’s good.

As for where to start? We asked St. Mark’s Comics owner Mitch Cutler for his two pennies, and threw in a choice of our own.

Go forth and read.

Criminal

Genre: Crime Thriller
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Publisher: Icon, Image

The gist
Generations of Center City-native criminals frequent the same bar. Each a different specialist: pickpocket, heist mastermind, kingpin, muscle, forger and, well, bartender.

Why you’ll like it
Award-winning writer, artist and, subsequently, series. Crime clichés ruminated upon without sacrificing believability. A 1970s underworld noir.

Black Panther (2016)

Genre: Superhero (despite opener, “This book is not a superhero comic.”)
Writer: Ta'Nehisi Coates
Publisher: Marvel

The gist
T'Challa, king of a futuristic African country, doubles as superhero Black Panther and shacks up with X-Men’s Storm in his free time. Emphasizes leadership and politics over superhero abilities.

Why you’ll like it
After random appearances, the first black superhero made the cover of 1976’s Jungle Action and shortly thereafter battled the KKK, courtesy of his then white author. Last month, a black Baltimore journalist who Toni Morrison recently dubbed the literary heir to James Baldwin revived the series. His racial verbiage: a mite bit subtler.  

The Walking Dead

Genre: Zombie Apocalypse
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Publisher: Image

The gist
Ah, you know this one.

Why you’ll like it
Different than AMC’s show by broad strokes. Survivalism by every definition. The conversational equivalent of recounting “last night’s game” in comic-book circles.

The Dark Knight 3: The Master Race

Genre: Superhero
Writers: Frank Miller and Brian Azzarello
Publisher: DC

The gist
Bruce Wayne’s been missing since The Joker and Lex Luthor died. Carrie Kelley reports him dead and carries the torch as Batgirl. She seeks Superman and Wonder Woman to fight new villain Quar, but they’re preoccupied with exile, motherhood and, of course, minotaurs.

Why you’ll like it
Nothing like Nolan’s movies. You’re ready for radical changes among DC characters. According to our expert, “Because Frank Miller. Enough said.”

Providence

Genre: Lovecraftian Horror
Writer: Alan Moore
Publisher: Avatar Press

The gist
After WW1, a gay, Jewish New Yorker pauses his newspaper job to write a Great American Novel by following, in his words, “a whole hidden world of individuals trading occult or exotic science lore and information.”

Why you’ll like it
Meticulously researched 1919 social constructs. Alan Moore’s (V for Vendetta, Watchmen) sagacious, damned Kubrickian allusiveness.

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