Comic books have been around for a good while now. As such, the world that surrounds them is pretty extensive. For outsiders looking in, it already seems pretty intimidating, and it’ll only take five minutes more of research to see just how convoluted comic book culture can be. This can be a pretty strong deterrent if you’re a newcomer searching for a way to get your nose in. Well, the good news is, you’re not alone – all comic book fans have to start somewhere, and unless you were thrown into the fandom from the moment you came out of the womb, chances are we know exactly how you feel. So, to help you along, we’ve gathered a list of great comics to help you get your foot in.1) Gotham Academy (2014)
DC Comics is one of the oldest mainstream comic branches in existence. Founded way back in 1934, the DC Universe has grown extensively over the several decades since. And with such a massive pile of content, much of which is either directly or tenuously connected, it can be pretty terrifying for newcomers – I mean, where do you even start?! My suggestion? Gotham Academy. Gotham is arguably the most iconic setting in the DC Universe, so naturally, a Gotham-based standalone is a great place to start! The story of a school filled with strange students, funded by rich weirdos, the weighty shadow of Batman looms over Gotham Academy. A great way to feed the intrigue of brand new, budding Batman fans, Gotham Academy will get you hyped up and ready to take a deep dive into the extended world of Caped Crusader content.
So now you may be wondering: where do I start with the Caped Crusader? Well, where better than the beginning? Nothing sets the stage like a good origin story. While Batman has a pretty long list of alternate origins, Batman: Year One is top-tier and a great destination for early Batman fans. It explores what initially inspired Bruce Wayne to take up the cape and the tumultuous relationship with the Gotham Police Department that followed, placing particular emphasis on Jim Gordon. Known for rejuvenating the tired origins of Bruce Wayne, Batman: Year One continues to influence Batman-related media to this day. If you’re looking to get in with the current comic books crowd, this is a really good go-to. While Batman: Year One is the first in a longer series, it can also be enjoyed as a standalone – the flexibility that every new fan needs.
So, I’m not going to lie to you; Niel Gaiman’s The Sandman is a pretty big commitment. It’s long, ambitious and pretty damn complicated. But, if you’re looking to get into comic books, this one is an absolute must-try. Centring around Morpheus (AKA, the Lord of Dreams), The Sandman is a beautifully bizarre exploration of dreams and reality. When Morpheus is captured by an occultist seeking power, the world of dreams starts to crumble, causing it to come violently crashing into reality – an unnatural phenomenon that garners disastrous consequences. Published by DC’s Vertigo imprint, The Sandman was written as an extended part of the DC Universe, with frequent references to Gotham City and some of its most notable inhabitants. Widely placed within the ‘best comics of all time’ category, The Sandman is a staple for comic fans worldwide.4) Daughters Of Albion (2022)
From superheroes to sci-fi, we couldn’t not sneak this one in! An urban fantasy with an Arthurian twist, we’ve made sure to make Daughters Of Albion accessible to the masses. Centring around a young woman named Hashani, things are looking strange in the stifling scape of a militarised London when two dead bodies show up on the banks of Rotherhithe Beach. While mindless murders aren’t the front-page news they used to be, there’s something strange about this one, and it soon becomes that this is so much more than the average, bloodthirsty homicide. A mind-bending amalgamation of genres, there are elements of science fiction, fantasy, magic and mythology. It’s a great place to start for newcomers looking to get a leg-up into comic book culture!
Taking things down a notch from our last entry, here’s a title for those who want a bit more of a gentle roll into the comic books world; Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan. Like DC, the Marvel Comics universe has gained a bit of a reputation for its vast levels of complexity. As a result, it can feel pretty intimidating to newcomers, with many Marvel newbies feeling completely confused about where they ought to start. So, for those trying to find a suitable entrance to the world of Marvel Comics (or just comics in general), I offer you the successor of Carol Danvers and the latest bearer of the Ms. Marvel title. A light-hearted, superhero jaunt, it’s a real fun place to start. While it does contain references to prior established Marvel lore, you really don’t need to know much about the Marvel Universe to enjoy this story; the comic does a great job of explaining everything you need to know.
Written by the incredible Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by the equally incredible Fiona Staples, Saga is a sci-fi romance comedy that feels freshly humorous yet still manages to successfully explore deep, dark subject matters such as discrimination, the effects of war and the strain of familial bonds amid unrelenting, hostile environments. Don’t let the premise fool you – this definitely isn’t one for the youngsters. Its content is geared towards mature readers only. A space epic filled with fresh new takes on sci-fi tropes, laced with laughs, tears and subtle sex appeal, Saga will slap you right, left and centre with its onslaught of gut-wrenching story arcs and constant twists and turns – and always when you least expect it. If you’re looking to come in hot, then Saga is a great place to start!
Ah, now here’s a fantasy comic that all ages can enjoy! Written and illustrated by Jeff Smith, Bone is known for its remarkable ability to explore some truly dark and frightening subject matters while still remaining palatable to a universal demographic. It follows the story of three cousins who are displaced from their home and forced into a strange and unfamiliar land, where they come into contact with beguiling entities and bewildering forces, things that before were entirely beyond comprehension. A story that will thrill and chill you while simultaneously managing to make you smile, this is an excellent option for fantasy fans looking to explore the comic book medium. And with an upcoming animated Netflix series having been announced in 2019, now is a great time to get on the Bone bandwagon!
We’ve got fantasy, sci-fi and superheroes – now here’s one for all the mystery lovers out there; Alan Moore’s Watchmen. This thought-provoking deconstruction of superheroes follows Rorschach, the Silk Spectre, Nite Owl, Dr Manhattan and Ozymandias as they reunite to look into the mysterious death of their teammate. However, the rag-tag group get more than they bargained for, discovering that the truth is far more sinister than anyone could have even begun to comprehend. A deep rabbit hole of murder, mystery and wild conspiracies, Watchmen is widely considered one of the most influential graphic novels of all time. A true page-turner, this one is a shining example of just how wild comic books can be!
On the subject of Alan Moore, we’re going out with a bang with this contemporary comic books classic; V For Vendetta. A dystopian thriller written under the shadow of a Britain divided between conservative Thatcherism and hard-left liberalism, the observational storytelling in V For Vendetta is nothing short of startling. The story of a Guy Fawkes-inspired vigilante and their intense battle for liberation in the throws of a totalitarian London, V For Vendetta does not hold back. With its candid exploration of freedom and identity, paired with spine-chilling artwork and a beautifully lyrical script, this comic is sure to have you reeling for weeks after you’ve read it. Having gained legendary status within the comic book genre, V For Vendetta is an absolute must not just for comic lovers, but fiction fans across the board!
What do you think of our list? Are there any entries, in particular, that really jump out at you? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!