Like books, there are comic books or graphic novels that you have to read. If you enjoy superhero stories or have enjoyed the recent cinematic success of Marvel and the limited success of DC, then these are the three you have to read.
The rules for the three I have chosen are they have to be self-contained. You do not have to have read fifty million previous comics or have a lot of previous knowledge. The only requirement for them is that you have at least seen one movie with the main characters in question. Being that they are the most popular characters of their respective universes, then that usually won’t be a problem.
The first one I am going to tell you about is Kingdom Come.
This is a future story in DC comics it demonstrates the influence that Superman not only has on the JLA as a whole but all superheroes in his universe. The short rundown, without most spoilers, is this:
Superman retired himself when a villain went on a rampage in his city. That rampage resulted in the death of Lois Lane. During his retirement and part of the reason he did retire, it was ruled that Heroes could kill villains without repercussions. Now there are no villains left, just Heroes fighting amongst themselves.
What would happen if Superman returned to this?
In the graphic novel, we see what happens if Batman stopped being Bruce Wayne, and we also see a good fight between Captain Marvel ‘Shazam’ vs Superman. This comic has been the centerpiece of a lot of comic book collections.
The second graphic novel is ‘Old Man Logan’. We got the movie Logan, which did draw heavily from this comic, but it had to miss a lot of the story. Mostly because it didn’t have access to the larger MCU.
In this future, Logan and now blind Hawkeye are among the last known old world heroes. They are retired, and Logan hasn’t popped his claws since that one night. When all the world villains teamed up and killed all the world’s heroes. Logan now has a family that must pay ‘protection’ fees to the Banners. A gang of inbred hulks whose parents are Bruce Banner and his cousin Jennifer Walters (aka She-Hulk). When he cannot pay the protection fee, he goes on a trip across the country with Hawkeye to make a delivery. During the trip we are given a glimpse of how messed up the world truly had become.
During the trip we get to see things that shake you up a bit. One of which is a city called Hammerfall. It is where Thor died and all that was left is his hammer, that no one has been able to move. Another ghastly scene is the giant skeleton of Scott Lang (known as Giant Man at the time.)
I warn you of one thing though. You will not be ready to find out why Logan has not used his claws in over twenty years. It will mess with you quite a bit.
The last comic is back over in DC world. It does have a sequel, but you do not need to read it. Some fellow geeks would even say don’t. I did enjoy the follow-up, so I leave that to you. This one is called ‘The Dark Knight Returns’.
The government forced all Superheroes to retire. Talking about how they were a bad influence on kids and caused more damage then they stopped. It has been ten years and everyone talks about the Gods that used to walk among them. Every now and then they talk, usually in hushed whispers about the one who was just a man. One that even scared those gods.
Batman is also forced to retire, and he does. For 10 years he never goes down to the Batcave or even looks at his old costume. One night though something drags him back out, and the whole world is shaken by his return. Along with his return is some of his rogue gallery. One of them, of course, being the Joker.
This comic was the inspiration behind some of the Dark Knight Rises. Very thinly but they did draw from it. We do get to see an amazing battle between Batman and Superman, one that doesn’t end with Martha’s name being said. If you like Batman, then this comic will get your blood pumped.
Worth noting is if you find that you cannot find the time to read “The Dark Knight Returns” there is an animated movie for it. It stays almost perfectly true to the comic and the voice actors are on point. Still, recommend you read, but I won’t judge.
If you have any comic I missed or you feel is a must read for those who have never read comics, throw down a comment.