Bruce Castle’s 10 Books You Should Be Reading

Ok, I still have a lot more reviews to complete but I felt the urge to do this first. I picked up that second Ellis Thunderbolt HC this week and so I’ve been reading both of those in my spare time. I thought about how much I loved that run and that got me thinking about my favorite books on the shelves right now. So I thought I’d have some fun and put together this list. This is my top 10 current comics list. These are in alphabetical order.

All-Star Superman & Action Comics (tie)

I know I’m cheating already. Don’t worry. This is the only tie on the list. I only did this because All Star is ending in one issue and so after that finishes you can head on over to Action Comics. All Star Superman is one of the best Superman comics I’ve ever read. For those of you who think that Grant Morrison is too dark or too complicated or maybe even a bad writer, you really need to check this book out. It’s a silver age throwback, it’s creative, it’s funny, and it has a heart of gold. Action Comics also features some great Superman stories. Did you like the first two Christopher Reeve Superman movies? If so, you should really check this book out. It really does capture a lot of the fun and spirit of those movies. Much like All Star Superman, this book is just plain good storytelling that’s always a pleasure to read. Both of these books treat the man of steel the way he should be treated.

Captain America

I’m sure I don’t even have to mention this book. Everyone seems to love it and with good cause. It’s been a hell of a ride. You can definitely tell that this title is handled with care. Brubaker has a plan and he sticks to it. That’s what has been so fascinating is that everything has a purpose and a reason. He ties things together that occurred thirty issues before. Brubaker brought back a character that had been dead for 60 years and then killed a character that had been loved for 60 years and wasn’t hated for it. Now that is talent.

Final Crisis

This book floored me. To me, it usually seems that almost every major event disappoints, but in only three issues this one has blown me away. It’s intriguing that even with the most veteran of comic readers, their vision always seems hindered while reading a comic. There are a lot of people who will just flip through a comic, admire the art, and briefly scan the dialogue. Things that would be obvious if seen on a screen come off as much more subtle in a comic. I myself have been guilty of this on occasion, but with Final Crisis it feels like my eyes are wide open. I love to just read this book over and over and notice little things here or there or to analyze a certain panels meaning. I’m sure most of you have already had this feeling with a comic before, but this was my comic that made me see the medium in a new and better light. But besides my personal rapport with this comic, I just feel that it’s really good. This is, in my opinion, the way an event comic should be.

Green Lantern

I originally wrote a long Wikipedia type write up about why I love this series. But you can read about that stuff from someone who knows about it more than I do, plus it’s kind of boring. Hal Jordan was a mistreated character. Sure he was an original member of the JLA and had a cool ring, but who cares he had no personality. But Geoff Johns has taken Hal to new heights. He made Hal a character you could actually care about. On top of that, he made the GL mythos more interesting than ever by introducing a new creative concept about multi-colored lantern rings. That and the Sinestro Corps War was a hell of a great event. Now, thanks to Geoff Johns, Hal Jordan is a true A-list hero and this is a top tier book.

Invincible

This is a book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers and it’s still running strong. This is always an enjoyable read. It blends familiar superhero ingredients together into a fresh and entertaining comic. So if you’re looking for a fun comic, give this one a try.

Invincible Iron Man

This is still a fairly new book, but I’m putting it on the list anyway. I’ve always been a fan of Iron Man. Sadly, if you’ve been following the Marvel universe for the last few years, you may know the kind of crap I’ve had to deal with. Iron Man has been treated like a villain for what seems like an eternity. Thankfully, Iron Man fans caught a brake this year with the release of the new Iron Man movie. Finally, the golden avenger got some love. In addition to that, he got a new title written by the very talented Matt Fraction. Much like the aforementioned Action Comics captures the spirit of the Superman movies, Invincible Iron Man is definately the book that has the same feel as the Iron Man movie. This is a great Iron Man book and a great comic in general and I hope that continues.

Justice Society of America

Unless you’ve been reading this comic, you’re probably questioning my reasons for putting this on the list. Who cares about the JSA? But that’s the magic of Geoff Johns. Just like he did with Hal Jordan, he makes you care about the JSA. The roster is fairly large right now, and yet Johns makes sure that every character gets some time in each issue. He does this in such a way that it doesn’t seem needless. You can tell there is a purpose. Along with the old members, new characters are also introduced. Some of these characters would be disastrous if handled improperly. Geoff Johns makes everything work in this comic, it’s truly amazing.

Secret Invasion: Thor

This is a bit of an odd pick. Especially considering only one issue has been released, but there is method to my madness. I wanted to give some kind of recommendation to Marvel’s current event, but sadly I haven’t been too impressed with it. The best thing to come out of Secret Invasion is the tie-ins. Some other good SI tie-ins include: Captain Britain and MI13, SI Inhumans, and SI X-Men. Also, I’m a big Thor fan and Matt Fraction has done a fantastic job writing the character with both this series and the Ages of Thunder one-shots. So basically this is kind of a shout out pick, shameful I know. But I really did enjoy this first issue and it promises to be pretty great.

The Walking Dead

This would be the other book that made Robert Kirkman one of my favorite writers. It’s always impressive when a book can still be so good after over 50 issues. But that’s what this is supposed to be, the zombie movie that doesn’t end. If you loved those old George Romero zombie movies, this is a must read. What’s also fascinating though, is that you don’t even have to love zombies to like this book. There are times when the zombies are nothing more than background. It’s about people dealing with a really horrible situation. The first trade is only ten bucks. You really should give it a try.

Young Liars

This is another odd pick. Again it’s fairly new, but that isn’t a bad thing. Young Liars is about as close to a roller coaster ride in comics form as you can get. It’s just so wild and thrilling. It’s impossible to predict what’s going to happen next and something crazy happens in just about every issue. The only downside, and this is why I say it’s an odd pick, is because 6 issues have been released and already I’m amazed at how David Lapham can keep this pace up. I’m just worried he’ll make a false step, but until then I’m going to enjoy the incredible ride.

Wow! That took a lot longer than I thought and I wrote a lot more than I expected, but I love comics. I tried to keep a balance between Marvel, DC, and indie titles while still making sure these were books I love. Hopefully I’ll get someone to pick up one of these books. I also hope that I’ll inspire some people to give their own top lists. Thanks as always for reading!

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8 thoughts on “Bruce Castle’s 10 Books You Should Be Reading

  1. hey, glad to see you finally picked up Young Liars AND that you love it as much as i do! woo! see, Punisher may be ending, but now we have YL!

    yeah, this is a fun idea, i’m so inspired that i shall make my own!

    …when the laziness subsides…

    …and then i have to make that list post for Deranged Bear… and a new OS… and a Planetary Review… ugh, LIFE!

  2. Young Liars…very good.

    Final Crisis…terrible.

    All Star Superman…amazing.

    JSA…starting to lose interest, but the Annual was fantastic.

    Invincible Iron Man…great, but if you think Tony is a villain, you’re not an Iron Man fan. He’s being depicted fine, just in a modern and exciting way. If you adore the Silver Age, though, I can imagine why you’re so upset about it.

  3. @Billy: Yeah I can definitely understand the laziness. This took quite a while and I should have been putting up reviews instead, but I just had to do this for fun. I hope you could do one as well because if you do it, then maybe all of the reviewers will do it. This may be a fun thing to do along with our pull lists.

    @Cap: YL- Glad you agree

    FC- Too bad. Maybe wait for the trade. Grant’s stuff usually looks better at the end.

    All Star- You should also read Action once that ends for your Superman fix.

    JSA- Keep on it, it’s building some steam so give it time. Yes, I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the annual. Also, this is cool for JSA readers http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080815-kingdom-jsa.html

    Iron Man- I don’t think Iron Man is a villain. Sadly, this is how the majority of comic readers currently interpret him. Yes, he is more complex right now and if you read the Knaufs’ run on DOS, you may even say he’s been changed for the better. It’s been hard being an Iron Man fan lately, but I’m glad we have things like Invincible Iron Man and the Iron Man movie to make some of those naysayers like him again.

  4. Damn it! JSA READERS DON’T READ THAT MAGOG SOLICIT!!!! Why? Why would DC be that stupid to spoil that?! Arrgghhh!!!!!

  5. @Bruce Castle

    FC- I’m hoping the trade does do something for me. I do feel a little all over the place in this, but also it’s full of characters and concepts that I just don’t care about (Why is a bullet fired backwards through time cool, let alone logical in any way?). Maybe it’s a dislike for DC editorial more than the book that makes me dislike it (Batman RIP is awesome, but it certainly doesn’t “fit” with a universe wide crisis). Plus, starting a comic with, “Stop you must be super cool to proceed” strikes me as awfully pretentious. My opinions are subject to change when the series finishes, however.

    Action – Is it really as good as All Star? I’ve heard mixed things, but I’m excited at the prospect.

    JSA- I’m enjoying it, and will definitely finish it through the Gog stuff (thanks for the spoiler warned, btw, I’m definitely avoiding it). I just was getting really tired of so many characters, though.

    Iron Man- I’ve gained a newfound respect for Iron Man after Civil War. I like the logical nature of superheroes working for the government or being criminals, and I think he’s been depicted perfectly as a man who’s doing what he thinks is right, but so frustrated that he has to do this. I think today’s political climate influences a lot of readers’ opinions on his actions.

    Also, can I recommend more highly than any other comic Atomic Robo? Your list isn’t limited to monthlies, and the new series just started. It’s one of the best comics on the shelves today.

  6. @cap

    fc- I remember Desiato, one of our reviewers, had a problem with the time bullet as well. Then seventhsoldier, another one of our reviewers said this:

    “There’s someone who doesn’t like the idea of a bullet fired backwards through time? I honestly suspect that you won’t like Final Crisis as a whole if you don’t enjoy that single idea, not because it’s important, but because it just feels like it’s part of the…theme, maybe? Flavor might be better. It’s part of the flavor of the book.”

    So, I certainly don’t want to discourage anyone from reading FC, but what seventhsoldier said may be true. The time bullet as well as some other things going on in FC like the funeral on Mars and praying for a resurrection are all ideas that could only be possible in DC. I think that’s why some writers like Morrison and Johns are drawn towards DC, while other writers stay away from it. So, I would at least suggest that you try to keep an open mind while dealing with the time bullet stuff.

    As for the beginning of Final Crisis, though it sounds pretentious I don’t think it is. I believe there is a writing trick called the bouncer technique. This occurs at the beginning of the story and it something that either pulls the reader in because they liked it, or drives them away because they disliked it. It lets you know whether this story is for you or not. So I think Morrison was using the most literal bouncer technique. That should be another cool thing about the trade because Morrison will hopefully let you know about what he was going for. Also these interviews help.

    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080609-MorrisonFC01.html FC #1
    http://www.newsarama.com/comics/080721-MorrisonFC02.html FC #2

    Hopefully those will help.

    Action- I’m not sure if it’s as good as All Star. I’m not sure is any Superman story is, but Action’s last two arcs have been really good. Just to start off I’d recommend picking up issues 866-868. They’re written by Geoff Johns and drawn by Gary Frank and they’re wonderful. Then if you liked that you may want to pick up the recent Superman Legion HC also with Johns and Frank. This is definitely the Superman book to be on after All Star is gone.

    JSA- See, the mass amounts of characters don’t bother me. Almost every single one of them gets their own cool moment in each issue and it doesn’t seem too crowded to me. Plus, Johns will show us why there have been so many characters in the next few issues. He said in an interview that there is a reason why every character is there and I think we’re already starting to see those reasons. Oh and definitely avoid the Magog solicit. I can’t believe DC did that. If I was Johns I’d be pissed.

    So Atomic Robo is really one of the best books on the shelves? Maybe I’ll pick up the first issue.

  7. the FCBD Atomic Robo was very good. it got me to pick up the trade at comic-con, where the creators were nice enough to sign it. also, they were super cool enough to proceed!

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