‘Batman: The Long Halloween’
By: Colin Carney, SSW
For fans of the Dark Knight seeking an entry into his vast comic book history, look no further than the classic detective story “Batman: The Long Halloween.” Widely considered one of the greatest Batman stories ever told, “The Long Halloween” is a noir detective story through and through. Featuring an expansive cast of villains from Batman’s iconic rogues gallery, the story follows the world’s greatest detective as he tracks down an elusive serial killer who commits his crimes each month on a holiday, earning himself the name Holiday. As the killer continues to target members of Gotham’s crime families, Batman, Gordon and Harvey Dent work tirelessly to prevent an all out gang war and put Gotham’s criminal kingpin, Carmine Falcone, behind bars. As months go by with no end in sight, new discoveries and villain appearances push Batman and his allies to the breaking point. Chief among them is the crusading district attorney Harvey Dent as “Batman: The Long Halloween” provides one of the best retellings of Dent’s descent into becoming the villainous Two-Face. As readers progress through the comic’s plot, they will find themselves deeply captivated by Jeph Loeb’s expert storytelling as they uncover the truth behind the Holiday murders.
By: Colin Carney, SSW
From the minds of Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon, “Preacher” follows a Texas preacher, Jesse Custer, who is possessed by the unholy offspring of an angel and a demon named Genesis. This supernatural entity grants Jesse the ability to compel any human to do whatever he commands, a power that rivals that of God. Joined by his girlfriend Tulip and the drug addicted Irish vampire Cassidy, the trio set out on a cross country journey to find God, literally, who has abandoned Heaven following Genesis’ birth. Along the way, the strange trio encounter a wide assortment of strange and bizarre characters ranging from ridiculous to obscene. Opposing them on their path are the omnipresent Grail organization who are tasked with preserving Christ’s bloodline, the hellish bounty hunter known only as the Saint of Killers and countless other uniquely absurd figures. This 75-issue series is a thrill to read. What can best be described as a dark comedy, “Preacher” offers readers a hilarious, compelling and graphic road trip across the U.S. filled with angels, demons and an imaginary friend that resembles John Wayne. For those looking for a great comic to read that is not a superhero story, look no further than the wonderfully bizarre “Preacher.”
‘The Walking Dead’
By: Adam Alvernaz, SSW
In times of self-isolation and little in-person interaction, it is easy to get lost in the details of the dreadful quarantine we find ourselves in. Despite the awful situation, it certainly is far from the apocalyptic world of “The Walking Dead.” While most will recognize the series from the AMC TV show, the original comic book set forth a bloody legacy. Spanning over 190-issues, Robert Kirkman’s imaginative zombie Armageddon sets the stage for stellar artwork in a gritty rustic style. The comic follows Rick Grimes, a Kentucky sheriff’s deputy, as he awakes from a coma and has to navigate a cataclysmic event with his wife Lori and son Carl. Along the way, the Grimes family meets unlikely friends and foes who are all trying to survive and live comfortably among the zombie creatures dubbed Walkers. At its core, the series thrives on its characters and pacing to create a thrilling and engaging story that keeps readers hooked. With each arc, more characters are stringed together in an excellently weighted plot throughout the entirety of the comics run. Exhibiting harsh and brutal situations to survive the living dead, the series leaves little to the imagination with engrossing artwork by Charlie Adlard. Image Comics’ realistic representation of a world thrust into chaos is truly enthralling showcasing a tragic tale of Walkers and warfare.
By: Adam Alvernaz
In the Marvel Comics world, there could exist millions of versions of just one hero with different names, identities and even personalities. No character embodies this fact more than Peter Parker; the web slinger Spider-Man himself is known to have hundreds of thousands of versions across countless universes. For example, 2013’s “Superior Spider-Man” places a familiar foe in the spider suit after Parker visits Dr. Otto Octavious on his deathbed in “The Amazing Spider-Man #700.” Created by Dan Slott and Ryan Stegman, the series allowed the writers to take the Spider-Man name in a different direction, despite unhappy critics and fans’ expectations. Kicking off the events of the story, Dr. Octopus swaps consciousness with Spider-Man and continues to fight crime to be a better hero than Peter ever could be. Taking on this legacy is a tall order for Octavious, and over the course of the comics run he comes into close contact with many other familiar heroes and villains alike. Standing at 45-issues in total, fans quickly fell in love with the new tone and look of the eponymous wall-crawler and for good reason. The series is a fascinating and expert portrayal of a more serious and mature hero the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man could be.
By: Kevin Sanchez-Neri, CW
In this acclaimed “Elseworlds” miniseries, Superman and the Justice League lose public support to a new era of heroes. Unfortunately for the public, this new guard of vigilantism brings with it a dangerous wave of recklessness and irresponsibility at the hands of these new superhumans — many of which are the sons and daughters of the traditional superheroes that were replaced to begin with.
Following a catastrophic accident caused by the recklessness of Magog, the leader of these new heroes, Superman and his fellow retired superheroes embark on a crusade to reform any and all unruly possessors of superhuman strength. In the middle of this dangerous conflict is Batman, who has plans of his own to restore law and order back to the hands of human leaders and ease the codependent relationship humans have with their superpowered saviors. The two opposing sides’ disagreement stirs up a world-breaking conflict that is foreshadowed throughout the first few issues as an Armageddon event.
This story is not only a storytelling masterwork but Alex Ross’ minute attention to detail in his uber-realistic art will have readers taking in this comic panel by panel. Writers Mark Waid and Alex Ross raise questions about the dangers of staunch idealism and what it truly means to wield the power of a demigod in a world filled with innocent bystanders. Whether you are familiar with the characters of DC or not, this timeless tale is self-contained and accessible to all audiences.
By: Kevin Sanchez-Neri, CW
Writer Brian K. Vaughan (“Saga,” “Ex Machina”) provides yet another instant classic with his mystery and science fiction adventure. In this series, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls find themselves caught up in an apparent invasion by two warring groups of interdimensional time-travelers.
What sets this book apart is its strikingly sharp and stylistic art. Chiang’s art draws comparisons to “Stranger Things” 1980s nostalgia and provides a visually stunning palette to Vaughan’s hilarious yet poignant coming-of-age tale of four girls and their journey in a world overrun by otherworldly beings. This 30-issue story is a thriller from the start. With pterodactyl-flying interdimensional beings taking on time-traveling teenagers with disturbingly mangled facial structures; Vaughan takes readers on a whimsical science-fiction adventure that offers much more than a group of vulnerable girls trying to survive, instead giving us a deep and introspective look at the chaos-driven lives of four girls. All four characters have their own quips and personality traits that sometimes clash but work together seamlessly, making their banter, arguments and a limited worldview all the more entertaining for readers to enjoy. Vaughan stays away from the “relationship trap” that pitfalls female characters into meaninglessness, instead driving the girls’ journey with a focal point on the characters and their friendships. “Paper Girls” also offers a degree of social and political commentary that is intricate but without muddling a story that thrives on its friendships. These friendships are both frustrating and rewarding for readers that stick to the end.