A Guide To Start Reading Comic Books

I love comic books.  There is no other way to say it.  I love everything about comic books and if you get me talking about comic books, I might never shut up.

My one regret with comic books is that they are not more widely adopted by the public at large.

For every hack job of a Hollywood movie and lame procedural television series, there are great comic books that people would find more enjoyable if they knew how to get their hands on them.

The good news is that the act of reading comic books is being embraced by the mainstream in this country.  It’s slow going.  There’s still a long way to go.  But it’s ramped up quite a bit in the past ten years.

If you had told me as a kid that I’d see comic books available in a Fry’s, I don’t know that I would have believed you.

What I hope to do in this blog post (and possibly a series of these type of posts) is to provide helpful tips on finding comic books that you might enjoy as well as specific recommendations for books I think every comic book reader should experience.

The Comic Book Reader DO and DO NOT List

  • DO NOT let the volume scare you off.  Like film and television, comic books are a medium that have been producing content weekly for over half a century.  That’s a lot of comic books.

TIP: stick with comic books published within the last ten to fifteen years.  Comic books, like any other medium, are products of their time and I have found that most readers prefer the modern writing and art styles of the past decade over comic books published prior.

ADDITIONAL TIP: I will post a blog in the future about the different eras of comic books and their styles.  While not all comic books age gracefully, some readers enjoy those style of comics (the way some people like watching old Westerns or old television shows).  For instance, Tom Katers does a hilarious podcast called “Tom Vs. Aquaman” where he deconstructs Golden/Silver Age Aquaman stories.

  • DO NOT let “continuity” scare you off.  Some of these comic books have been running since before we were born.  Comic books have rich histories that can be appreciated if you know them, but are not a requirement by any means.  Everyone started at some point not knowing continuity.  Just like everyone watches a hockey game for the first time and doesn’t entirely get it.  The best writers will explain continuity to new readers (as well as reminding old readers) in the story itself.  One of the basic principles for writing comic books is the adage that every comic book is someone’s first.

TIP: Marvel by far has been the best at helping new readers.  They provide a “recap” page in every book they publish.  Some collected editions or first issues have reprints of older stories and they will often produce single issues (free or fairly cheap) with character biographies and background information on upcoming events.  And worst case scenario, there’s always Wikipedia.

  • DO start with trade paperback or hardcover editions.  Comic books, for the most part, are periodicals that ship monthly in a “magazine” style format consisting of twenty two pages of story along with ads (also known as “floppies”).  At the end of a major story-arc (or a mini-series), the publishers collect these issues into hardcover and trade paperback reprints.  In television terms, think of it as a show like Mad Men that runs serialized (in this case weekkly) and then when it ends is collected in a box set.  Trade paperback collections are the “box set” of comic books.  Monthly comic books, in my opinion, are moving targets for new readers.  It’s like asking someone to start watching Mad Men mid-season.  Take the guess work completely out of “what issue do I start with?” and start with a collected edition and work  your way to current and then either shift to reading the title monthly or stick with the collections.  That said, for monthly books (think Batman or Captain America), starting with the most recent trade collection is usually fairly safe as per the helpful elements mentioned above.

TIP: a new writer and artist team taking over a title are usually a perfect jumping on point for new readers (in either packaging).

ADDITIONAL TIP: most trade paperback and hardcover collections are available online or in book stores if no comic book store is in your area (see note about comic book stores).

  • DO NOT let the capes distract you.  Most American comic books are in the super hero genre (DC and Marvel being the primary publishers).  That said, some of the best writing and art being produced in the medium is being done with super heroes.  Avoid judgement when possible.  Film Threat magazine used to have a rule where they judged a movie based on its quality, not it’s budget.  Mainstream movies could be great.  Indies could suck.  Some of the best comic books I have read had super heroes and some of the worst comic books I read were indies.  And vice versa.

TIP: every genre is represented in comic books.  Supernatural.  Fantasy.  Action/adventure.  Mystery.  Science-fiction.  “Indie” (slice-of-life or biographical storytelling).  Much like in book publishing, comic book publishers tend to have specific genres and types of titles they produce.  Find a title you like and chances are that publisher is making similar books you might also enjoy.

ADDITIONAL TIP: I’m primarily focused on American comic books, but there is a whole genre of Japanese (manga) comic books along with European comic books that are translated for American readers.

  • DO follow writers and artists.  DO NOT follow characters.  The average comic book is produced by a handful of individuals (and sometimes only one person).  Over my thirty-plus years reading comic books, I have found that when I like a writer, I follow that person specifically.  Regardless of what he or she is working on.  The same with artists.

TIP: trust the artists you like to lead you to great books.  The average comic book artist can only produce one comic book title per month, which means that they must choose their projects very carefully.  The better the artist, the higher profile the jobs they are offered and the higher caliber the writers they will choose to work with are.  A perfect example of is Criminal artist Sean Phillips.  He worked on a book with a French writer whom I had never heard of.  I trusted Phillips, and the book was quite good (7 Psychopaths).

ADDITIONAL TIP: listen to your favorite film or television creators.  The chances are if they like comic books, they talk about the books they like that have influenced them.

  • DO read what you like. This directly contradicts the previous statement, but that’s the point.  These are tips.  At the end of the day, you are the reader.  Read what you like.

TIP: You’ll notice my tip about characters, but some people can not help themselves when it comes to licensed material.  If you enjoy Star Trek in all of its forms.  Then read the Star Trek comic book.  Don’t let me stop you.  There’s a ton of licensed stuff out there.  Everything from Buffy, Star Trek, Conan and Star Wars to Mass Effect 2 and other video games.

ADDITIONAL TIP: branch out and experiment.  I know that I said not to pick up single issues, but they are often best for trying something to see if you will enjoy it or not.

  • DO try to find a comic book store in your area.  There are a lot of comic book stores that still employ people like “Comic Store Guy” from the Simpsons.  But plenty do not.  In Austin, Austin Books is one of the best comic book stores in the country and everyone on the staff is highly knowledgable.  Talk to them.  Tell them about the type of films, video games, novels or television you enjoy and have them point you to things you might enjoy.

TIP: do not try to do this on a Wednesday, since that is the day that new comic books come out and the stores tend to be at their busiest (that’s when the “regulars” show up for their weekly books).  Try going in on a Monday or Tuesday.

DO post comments or send me e-mails. I can recommend comic books tores in your area or titles (more to come on that)

Next up: I will start to write profiles of the best writers and artists, give you an idea of their writing (or art) styles and then provide you with a short list of the books I think are the best to read from them.


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115 Responses to “A Guide To Start Reading Comic Books”

  1. eric Says:

    Trade paperbacks are the way to go… sort of like how cool it is to watch the sopranos on DVD in big chunks instead of trying to keep up with it weekly…

    …but then again I like a lot of independent stuff so thats sometimes the best way anyhow since they can be limited runs, limited story timelines…etc… ( IE “the filth” best read all at once).

    Good post for comic noobs…

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for your kind words on the post.

      I think the fact that readers now have the flexibility to either read monthly or in collected bursts is one of the best things happening in comics.

  2. JT Says:

    Thanks for this! I just this week started trying to get into comics, I have found myself overwhelmed with the sheer amount of books out there. I started with a small series I picked up at a Coheed & Cambria show, I have the whole 6 part series of Kill Audio, which I found I loved and I loved the art. So I have been trying to figure out where to go from here. This helps thanks!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Glad I could help. If you like Kill Audio, I’d suggest one of two things: Boom Studios is the publisher, and they have books that are similar in flavor which might be a starting point. Or, I’d suggest e-mailing or Twittering the creators.

      One of the the things that you’ll find in comics is that most all of the creators are online in some shape or form and they’re extremely approachable.

  3. Carrie Says:

    Hey, loved your post. It really helped me understand what to look for. Do you happen to have any recommendations for me? I’ve read Kick-Ass, one about wolverine called Logan? maybe?, some newer Marvel comic books and last night I read Chew (and completely loved it). I think I’m going to pick up The Walking Dead at some point, but I’m kind of at a loss about where to go from there. I really love starting books and reading a full story arc, no matter how many books are involved and I really love gory books with a lot of… soul, I guess. Does anything come to mind for you?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Carrie: I did not see your comment, so sorry for the late reply. You are certainly off to a very good start. Mark Millar is an exceptional writer. If you like his work, I would follow all of the books in his “Millarverse” line (Marvel Icon publishes them: Nemesis and Superior are the other titles). He made a name for himself on Ultimates and did a phenomenal run on Wolverine with John Romita Jr (artist of Kick-Ass) called “Enemy of the State,” which is collected as well.

      Similar to Mark Millar, you might try the works of Garth Ennis. Preacher is the book he is best known for and considered by many to be his best work. I am also partial to the work he did on Punisher if you want to go with something from Marvel. You can start from the beginning there, but many people (including myself) love the “Barracuda” story-arc. I’m partial to the work he did on “Widowmakers” as well.

      Chew is excellent. I’d also recommend anything from the Luna Brothers (Sword, Girls) who are also published by Image. And I would recommend Echo from Terry Moore (there’s a hardcover shipping this week that has the entire 30 issue run). Terry Moore writes very humorous action adventure books and has a flair for writing female protagonists (he is best known for a book called Strangers In Paradise).

      I always recommend Ed Brubaker’s Criminal (Marvel Icon) to anyone who wants great comic books. And I would say that the Walking Dead is also a great comic to start picking up.

      I hope this helps. Let me know if there’s anything specific that you’re looking to explore that I might not have covered.

  4. webdesign Says:

    Thanks for the comments

  5. thingsthatshouldntexist Says:

    I just wanted to say thanks for this post. It really helped me a lot – I’ve recently made a very good friend who is the utmost comic book nerd, and he’s slightly infected me with his love of comic books to the point that I’m starting to really fall in love with super hero comics like I never imagined I would! I’ve been trying to figure out just where to start (or even how to), but having you explain that the trade paperbacks are the way to go for a novice really helped 🙂 THANK YOU TONS!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Glad you found this helpful. Trade paperbacks are really the biggest innovation in comic books since the start of the “direct market” comic book stores in the 1970’s. That, combined with Amazon and you’re good to get anything you’d ever want to read. Your friend I’m sure is pointing you to all sorts of great stuff and let me know if there’s a writer or character (where I think writers have done a good job on that person) you’d want me to cover in future blogs.

  6. 52 Pickup – What I’ll Be Buying During September’s DC #1 Reboot « Noah Kuttler's Blog Says:

    […] to follow writers.  Then artists.  Then characters.  I wrote about this in great detail in a previous post.  A good writer can steer me to buy a book about a character I don’t care about.  Example: […]

  7. Matt Says:

    This was very helpful! Thanks!
    I was hoping to find some local comic book stores in NYC or Brooklyn but the couple I’ve been to are NOT welcoming for a newbie. I think that’s part of the problem with getting new comic book fans. There’s often no welcome wagon. The ecosystem seems to like to show off their knowledge and if you don’t know, then you suck….. I hate to say it but barnes and noble it is for me here in NYC. I’m thinking a Hulk series of some sort 🙂

    If more people like yourself owned/worked with potentially new lifers I think comics would become much more popular. Thanks again for the great jump off post!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Matt. Yes, some comic book stores are very uninviting. While I do not know the New York area as well as I used to, I’d offer up two suggestions. 1) try the “Comic Shop Locator” service at http://www.comicshoplocator.com/ and 2) check on Twitter for local readers who might provide recommendations.

      I was just listening to the Word Balloon podcast and this exact topic came up with writer Kelly Sue Deconnick and she mentioned an amazing store in the mid-West that has a chandelier and does not have a single cardboard long box. Those type of “book” comic book stores do exist. Just a bit harder to find. I will update this post if I hear of any good stores in the New York area.

  8. James Nurse Says:

    Dear Noah,
    Great article I’ve been trying to get into comics enjoying the Watchmen and V for Vendetta in this format. I was interested in Green Arrow after enjoying Smallville and wondered whether this was a sensible way to go?

    Thank you very much again.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      So, I’m very partial to Green Arrow since I know two of the writers that have worked on the title.

      A brief history on Green Arrow. There is a trade paperback called “Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters” that is a beautiful book written and illustrated by Mike Grell. Done in the 1980’s, it was an attempt to bring the character out of the “trick arrow” super heroics and down to reality. It’s an excellent read.

      In the 1990’s, the character was killed (long story) and he’d been gone long enough that in 2000 DC not only decided to bring him back from the dead, but they put Kevin Smith on the book.

      While it is very common now for people from TV/film/novels/etc (outside of comics) to come in to write comic books, in 2000 it was still a very rare thing.

      Kevin Smith’s Quiver is a great read. When Smith was leaving the book, they brought in Brad Meltzer (1 of the 2 writers I know) to write “Archer’s Quest.”

      When Brad finished his run, Judd Winick (#2 of the writers I know) came in and wrote the title for several years and even followed the title into the marriage of Green Arrow and Black Canary and the resulting new title “Green Arrow And Black Canary.”

      I’d say find the Longbow Hunters by Grell. Start with Kevin Smith’s Quiver and just work forward from there.

      And, don’t forget that the new DC renumbering comes in September and Green Arrow will be one of the titles restarting with #1 by writer JT Krul.

      Hope this helps.

  9. Sophie Says:

    Hey Noah,

    I’ve been looking on the internet for a while now reading different blogs regarding how to get in to comic reading, and this is by far the most helpful thing I’ve read.
    So thank you for that.

    I started reading pretty much anything that Joss Whedon is involved in as I’m a big fan of his work.
    due to this I’ve become really interested in the whole X-men series, the problem is there’s too much to choose from.
    I’ve also started reading Kick ass and am loving it.
    is there anything else I should start with?

    comic book stores are quite scary when your not sure what your looking for.

    greatly appreciated

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      The X-Men universe is quite dense, no question. One of the reasons that the Whedon Astonishing X-Men worked so well is that it was a stand-alone story that didn’t rely on what was going on with the X Universe at the time.

      You are in luck, in that there is a mini-series being published right now called “X-Men:Schism.” Schism is a five part story written by Jason Aaron (who is a phenomenal writer) and it’s stand-alone and will setup the next chapter for all of the X Universe. So I’d tell you to get on board with Schism now and then follow that as long as you like for X-Men books.

      For classic X-Men stories, there is nothing better than the “Dark Phoenix Saga” which was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Byrne. Many consider this one of the great X-Men stories and it’s been reprinted in numerous volumes in a number of formats.

      Based on your love of Whedon stuff, I’d also recommend the Terminator mini-series that his brother Zack did for Dark Horse. There were two of them (2029 and 1984) and they are excellent. Joss also has the Dollhouse series he’s “producing” at Dark Horse.

      Kick-Ass. Love it. Love Mark Millar. I’d recommend his Nemesis mini-series and his Superior ongoing series (both by Marvel Icon). I’d also pull it back around to the X-Men and recommend two Mark Millar Woliverine stories to you. “Enemy of the State” was illustrated by John Romita Jr. (his artist on Kick-Ass) and then he did a “alternate future” book called “Old Man Logan” with Steve McNiven. People (including myself) love “Old Man Logan” and it along with “Enemy of the State” can be read as stand-alone stories.

      Hope these recommendations help. I’d also recommend a comic I just got into which is Locke & Key over at IDW. If you like Whedon I think you’ll like Joe Hill.

  10. James Nurse Says:

    Thank you Noah, I’ll have a look into that… I’ll defo agree with Sophie, it really is hard to get into comics.

  11. waslostnowfound Says:

    thanks for the tips! i went in to a comic book store wanting to start reading a series from the beginning but struggled to find a first issue to start with. this helped a bit on where and how to start getting into the right kinds. thanks 😀

  12. jason Says:

    reading this helped me a lot, i know how to start on many of the long running comics now, though i had a question about different variations in covers and things like that. i have seen a lot of good things said about kick ass, so i feel like that is one i want to start reading for sure, and its new enough that i would like to start from the beginning, but as i start to look into the first few issues, there are lots of different cover options and things like that, and because of that the collector mentality in me makes me want to know what im getting since it seems some are probably worth more then others. so the question is, for someone new to comics, is there a good way to figure out what variation is what? where does it list the artist in the comic and things like that? it would be nice to know if i decide to pay a little bit of money for the first few that i am paying for what i think im paying for.
    just wondering if there is a somewhat easy way to tell the difference in some of these aside from the different look of the cover.
    thanks for any info

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Great question about the covers, Jason. Variant covers are usually done for one of two reasons:

      1) for collectors
      2) to differentiate multiple print runs.

      To be honest with you, I ignore it completely. I’m into comics for the content. Which is not to say that there’s anything wrong with collecting. But that’s a whole different animal.

      The variant covers on a first printing are usually easy to spot and are listed on the cover.

      Ditto the different print runs. Most companies will do a different color of the same cover for a 2nd or 3rd printing (so maybe inverting colors or switching a background color) and it will also say what print run it is on the cover. If nothing is listed, than it’s a first printing.

      I’ll often buy 2nd printings just to get the story.

      The after market on variant covers is hit or miss. One minute people might be looking for a Kick-Ass variant cover. The next minute they might not care and you’re back to getting face value for the book. And there might not be a reason as to why it shifted.

      One of the resources I use is comics.org which is a database of comic covers. They usually do a good job of listing variants. Hope this helps.

  13. Jenna Says:

    This blog has been so helpful! I’ve been wanting to get into comics for years, but never had the knowledge to get very far.
    Your advice on going for trade paperback editions is most helpful, but now I’m wondering what I should buy. I know next-to nothing about comics, but I’ve become interested after finishing the Smallville TV series and hungering for more superhero story-lines. What trade paperbacks would you reccomend?

    • jason Says:

      Jenna, im enjoying reading the DC new 52, the restarting or renumbering of 52 different comics, and it is still early enough in the process( most are at #4 at most i think) that the comic book stores should have some of the #1 #2 and #3 of most of the more popular ones, and #4s should be easy to find because the ones that are released so far just came out. it also looks like they dont have much value over face value ( $2.99 ) so ebay is an affordable option. i have started reading Batman, Green Lantern, Justice League Dark, and Green Arrow, but there are also 3 or 4 other Batman lines, Action comics ( which i believe is mostly Superman), Superman, Justice League, The Flash and many more. that is what i decided to do, start with #1 on the ones you can find and go from there.

      • Jenna Says:

        Thanks! I’ve actually been considering that as a possible route. It’s quite convenient timing on DC’s part 😛 I was just wondering though actually, if I can’t manage to get around to buying the issues or they don’t have the back issues of the ones that I want, how long do they normally wait to release TPBs? I was thinking, if I don’t manage to get into the new 52 before most of the early issues are unavailable, I could focus on older TPBs now, and wait till the new 52s start coming out in that format.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Jenna.

      If you are a fan of Smallville, your first stop should be Superman for All Seasons by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale. The creators of Smallville have gone on record as saying that this was one of the inspirations for their take on the series. In fact, Jeph Loeb was brought on to be a writer on the show in later seasons.

      If you enjoy the work of Loeb/Sale on this book and like Batman, than I’d also recommend their Batman: The Long Halloween which is a great mystery told in twelve parts (one for each month of the year) and it’s in paperback.

      Jason is right about trying out the new 52. There’s a lot of good stuff going on with the new 52 and it’s a great place to jump on board. In particular, the Grant Morrison Action Comics is very interesting as he’s really getting into (and redefining) the origin of the character.

      I’d also recommend the work that Grant Morrison did on the Justice League of America (JLA). When Grant Morrison came onto the series, he paired it down to the core 7 heavy-hitters and did large end of the world type stories; on a weekly basis! If you’re looking for pure super hero awesomeness, this is your book.

      Across the street, I’d also recommend Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis. It’s a bit of a commitment because it’s been going on for quite some time. But here’s why I’d recommend it.

      1) Bendis is, in my opinion, the best writer in comics working today.
      2) Ultimate Spider-Man is in his own universe and on his own timeline. You can start with the first trade paperback and just keep working your way to current and it’s not affected by any of the stuff going on in the Marvel Universe.
      3) if that sounds daunting to you, the recent announcement of Miles Morales becoming Spider-Man…well this is that Spider-Man. You can actually start with the most recent #1 issue and there are 4 or 5 that have come out and just follow it monthly.

      Hope this helps. If you want to give me a bit more details on what particularly you enjoyed about Smallville, I think I can start to get a bit of a better list of recommendations for you.

      • Jenna Says:

        WOW, this is VERY helpful! I’ve actually already ordered Superman for All Seasons from the library after doing some research of my own, but I’ll also check out the Batman you mentioned and for sure the JLA also.

        As for what I really liked about Smallville… well obviously I loved the Clark Kent story-lines, but more than anything the end of the series made me want to read Superman, so ANYTHING Superman related that you could recommend would be great. I’m the type of person who likes to know as much as possible about a character, so anything that could explain the character and give background and just all that kind of stuff I would love. Also, I really loved the whole dynamic of the Lois and Clark relationship and I’d love to see how that’s portrayed in the comics (and I would like to avoid anything Clark and Lana related :P).

        As for other characters, I loved the show’s portrayal of Green Arrow and I’d be interested in reading more on that character and I really loved all the team-ups in the show. Occasionally they’d have other JLA characters at which point they’d “subtly” reference the JLA and I always enjoyed those episodes. OH and they had Bart Allen as Impulse a few times and I REALLY enjoyed that character too! And of course, Lex Luthor is an awesome villain so story-lines that involve him would be cool too.

        On a less related note, when I was younger I used to watch the Teen Titans cartoon series, so I’d also like to read anything related to that.

        All in all, I’m really NOT picky about reading material what-so-ever and to top it off I just started Christmas break so I have a lot of time on my hands so make ALL the recommendations you want 😀 I appreciate anything.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      This is perfect. For Superman, the best Superman story written in the past few years was the “All-Star Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. It is considered by many, including myself, to be one of the defacto stories about the character. It covers everything you like. Lois/Clark relationship. Lex Luthor. Superman. It’s set in a time period that is not-specific so it’s not tied to continuity. Honestly, it’s one of the best comics, period. If you read one Superman comic book. This is the one!

      Also, Mark Waid/Leniel Yu’s Superman: Secret Identity was another sort of “origin” story for Superman that was quite good. Mark Waid is one of the (if not the) most knowledgable people on the planet when it comes to Superman. This is a man that if you Twittered him and asked him what the address of the Kent house is in Smallville; he’d know! He wrote a great Superman story in this mini-series.

      If you like Luthor, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo did a nice mini-series that got collected into a hardcover (Luthor) that was a great take on the character.

      For Green Arrow, I always default to my two friends; Brad Meltzer and Judd Winick. Brad wrote the Archer’s Quest which is a great personal story about Green Arrow after he came back from the dead. Judd then took over the book and had a really great run on the character. Green Arrow was also one of the central characters in Brad and Rags Morales’ Identity Crisis. This is a book that really explores the dynamics of the relationship of the JLA. It’s one of the comics that I have heard many people say got them back into comics and is one of the central comic books of the 00′s.

      Impulse is a bit harder. I don’t know that they’ve collected his solo book (written by Mark Waid) but if you can find it in the back issue bins for cheap, it’s worth picking up in singles. Waid created the character and had the best take on him. Now a days he’s usually a supporting character in other books (Teen Titans, etc).

      Hope this helps.

      • Jenna Says:

        Yes, this has been really helpful!! Now I’m just really excited to start reading! Thanks for the recommendations. And I’ll be back if I have anymore questions!

      • Jenna Says:

        Hey, just a quick update (and a few more questions, of course), I read a few of the titles you mentioned and LOVED them! All-Star Superman was great. Also, I LOVED Identity Crisis. So on that note, can you suggest anything more for me to read…especially anything along the lines of Identity Crisis. I really enjoyed the group dynamic in that book. Also, it has made me intrigued about the whole Batman and Robin relationship. What would you suggest I read that has to do with those characters? Also, I found that I really enjoyed the plot of Identity Crisis and Brad Meltzer’s writing style…anything by him that you would recommend??

        Oh, I also read new 52’s Action Comics and really liked them. I think I’m definitely going to read more of the new 52 because I love that I don’t have to have very much knowledge of the characters before reading.

        Again, thanks for all your recommendations! I’m basically forever in your debt for helping me get into comics…it’s definitely a media I’m going to come to love!

      • Noah Kuttler Says:

        Glad you enjoyed All-Star Superman and identity Crisis.

        For more things like Identity Crisis, Brad Meltzer also wrote Green Arrow: Archer’s Quest as well as two collections of the Justice League of America (Tornado’s Path and Lightning Saga). All his books have the same level of dynamic between the characters that I think you’ll enjoy.

        For Batman and Robin and their interplay, that’s a bit trickier. For as much that has been written with the two of them together, so many writers have wanted to write Batman as a solo book. When I think of newer comic books that have Batman and Robin together, the books that I think of are Judd Winick’s Batman: Under The Hood (which has a lot of Batman and Nightwing as well as Batman and Jason Todd Robin). The Grant Morrison Batman & Robin book that just finished up was pretty good. If you like Action Comics and All-Star Superman, that’s certainly worth checking out.

        Glad you liked Action Comics from the new 52 (which I have also been enjoying) and glad you found the blog helpful. BTW, I just did a podcast with Jackie Kashian (the Dork Forest). I put a link on the blog the other day with the audio. It’s an hour of us talking comics. I think you’ll dig it.

      • Jenna Says:

        Thanks again! I hope I’m not becoming a pest with all my demands :p but your recommendations have been great so far.

        I just finished up Meltzer’s JLA Tornado’s Path, liked that quite a bit. Like you said, the character dynamics he writes are great.

        I’ll definitely be checking out the batman selections you suggetsed….Right after I finish some books a friend borrowed to me (it appears I have a whole community helping me get into comics ha ha), one of which is Batman: Long Halloween which I’m excited to read because I’ve heard great things about.

        OH, I also did listen to the podcast! I found it rather entertaining and now I have even more things I want to read that you both suggested…like Jackie Kashian mentioned, I’m learning that reading comics is an expensive lifestyle!

        But, thanks again for all the great suggestions.

  14. Noah Kuttler Says:

    This is perfect. For Superman, the best Superman story written in the past few years was the “All-Star Superman” by Grant Morrison and Frank Quietly. It is considered by many, including myself, to be one of the defacto stories about the character. It covers everything you like. Lois/Clark relationship. Lex Luthor. Superman. It’s set in a time period that is not-specific so it’s not tied to continuity. Honestly, it’s one of the best comics, period. If you read one Superman comic book. This is the one!

    Also, Mark Waid/Leniel Yu’s Superman: Secret Identity was another sort of “origin” story for Superman that was quite good. Mark Waid is one of the (if not the) most knowledgable people on the planet when it comes to Superman. This is a man that if you Twittered him and asked him what the address of the Kent house is in Smallville; he’d know! He wrote a great Superman story in this mini-series.

    If you like Luthor, Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo did a nice mini-series that got collected into a hardcover (Luthor) that was a great take on the character.

    For Green Arrow, I always default to my two friends; Brad Meltzer and Judd Winick. Brad wrote the Archer’s Quest which is a great personal story about Green Arrow after he came back from the dead. Judd then took over the book and had a really great run on the character. Green Arrow was also one of the central characters in Brad and Rags Morales’ Identity Crisis. This is a book that really explores the dynamics of the relationship of the JLA. It’s one of the comics that I have heard many people say got them back into comics and is one of the central comic books of the 00’s.

    Impulse is a bit harder. I don’t know that they’ve collected his solo book (written by Mark Waid) but if you can find it in the back issue bins for cheap, it’s worth picking up in singles. Waid created the character and had the best take on him. Now a days he’s usually a supporting character in other books (Teen Titans, etc).

    Hope this helps.

  15. Alex Says:

    Hey GREAT article. I have a question tho. So I’m trying to get Into comic books, and specifically spider-man. I have read various debates for which is better out of the Amazing Spider-Man series and the Ultimate Spider-man series. What’s your opinion on that? And if I end up going with ASM, where is a good place to jump in? I feel like I have a decent knowledge about Spider-Man. I’ve seen plenty of cartoons and obviously all the movies multiple times. Any help would be much appreciated! Thanks in advance

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      I absolutely love Ultimate Spider-Man. For my money, it is the best super hero book being published today. I really like that book. I’d say start at the beginning and work your way forward, or start with the new numbering (issue 1) that introduced Miles Morales.

      That said, USM is in the “ultimate” universe. If you want something mainstream-Marvel, I’ve been reading and enjoying Amazing Spider-Man over the past year.

      For Amazing Spider-Man, you’re actually in a good place. I’d recommend either getting the Spider Island collection (a story-arc that just recently finished) or you can easily jump on board with issue 674. There are a few things that you might have to get caught up with on the title page, but ether is a great jumping on point and 674 and 675 were a good Vulture story. Hope this helps.

  16. Sarah Johnson Says:

    Love the article. I am pretty new to the comic book world. My first exposure was actually the Scott Pilgrim series. After that I started reading Fables, and since I am kind of geek who is obsessed with all things Zombie I am addicted to The Walking Dead. I am looking for some recommendations though, since I do get a bit overwhelmed walking into the comic book store. I didn’t think I would really like Super Hero world as I thought it would be a bit…cheesy? But I actually picked up a couple issues of the Green Lantern in the new 52 series and really liked it, so I am going to keep going with that. I love anything with a survival aspect. I am also way to into Firefly and Star Wars, just as some examples of things I am interested in.

    And recommendations would be appreciated!


    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Sarah. You are off to a great start. Scott Pilgrim is (and continues to be) one of my all-time favorite comic books.

      FYI, I did quite a bit of “comic talk” on Jackie Kashian’s Dork Forest podcast (episode 92) and we talked a bit about super hero comic books.

      Super hero comic books, when done well, have quite a lot to offer. But you’re right, it can be a bit overwhelming. Here are a few that I think you might enjoy (both current and collections). I opted to not include any of the comics mentioned in the above comments (since I’ve already written about those titles) so take a look above for great stuff like All-Star Superman and Batman: The Long Halloween.

      Animal Man (Grant Morrison run) and Animal Man (current Scott Snyder run): Grant Morrison wrote one of the first “modern” super hero comics post-Watchmen with his 26 issue run. I’d start there and if you like it, Scott Snyder is currently writing the title as a part of the New 52.
      Batman (current Scott Snyder run): Scott Snyder is doing a phenomenal job with his current run of Batman. He wrote the last “pre-New 52” run of Batman that’s been collected in “Black Mirror” and it’s one of the best Batman stories in a long time.
      Green Lantern: I’ve been a fan of the title since the pre-52 “Sinestro Corps War.” If you want to start there and work your way to current, that’s a fun run. But you can also start in the new-52 and that works as well.

      Ultimate Spider-Man: so, I did write about this in some of the other comments, but it is consistently one of the best super hero titles on the market. It’s probably my favorite book and the new Miles Morales is fantastic. You can start at the beginning with Peter Parker and work your way forward, or start with the new re-numbering and with the Miles Morales character. Either way works.
      Daredevil: Mark Waid has taken the character in a new/old direction and this is the book that a bunch of people (including myself) are talking about as one of the best Marvel books being done.
      Thunderbolts: Jeff Parker writes this very quirky title about villains trying to be heroes and the heroes who have to put up with them. It’s a Dirty Dozen-style concept that’s brilliantly executed every month.

      Invincible: if you are a fan of Walking Dead, this is from the same guy (Robert Kirkman).

      As for the Star Wars titles, I do not read any of them but I have been told they’re fun. A word of warning though, they get deep into the world. If that’s your thing than you’ll enjoy them.

      I’ve read all of the Firefly comics and they’re a ton of fun. One of the reasons they (like the Buffy title) work is that Whedon is hand-picking the writers and it’s all either talented folks (like Patton Oswalt) or his writing staff (like is brother Zach).

      Speaking of which, Zach Wheon wrote THE TERMINATOR: 2029 TO 1984 that will make you scratch your head and wonder why they didn’t do this instead of that McG abomination.

      Let me know if there’s anything else I can do to help!

      The Firefly comic books are quite good,

  17. Beth Capp Says:

    Hey, I found your blog really helpful 🙂
    I’ve been wanting to read comic books for some time now, but I had no idea where to start as there seems to be so many universes and stories going on.
    I’m a huge fan of Batman, I love the cartoons and movies. The Justice League also intrigues me (especially Green Arrow and the Flash), so I was thinking I could start with DC.
    At the same time I’m really liking the Avengers. I’ve watched “The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes” and I loved that and I liked the movies (though I realise they’re not 100% accurate to the comic books), so I’d like to get into Marvel. I really like Iron Man and Captain America.
    So basically I have no which comic books I would like.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Glad the blog was helpful. I’m a fan of all of the cartoons you mentioned. In particular, I have found Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to be extremely well done.

      See many of the comments above about Batman and Justice League stories. The “new 52” Justice League has been quite good. 6 issues so far are on the shelf. I’d also recommend the new Flash series that’s a part of the “new 52.” (and some of the previous run written by Geoff Johns).

      For Marvel, if you liked the movies than you will want to check out Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run. The cap movie pulled a number of “beats” from his excellent run (that’s still happening). Iron Man by Matt Fraction is also very in-line with the movie in terms of attitude and character. I think you’ll find it easy to get into. Ditto Thor, also being written by Fraction. For all three of these books, you can start at the most recent “Fear Itself” event or any of the last trade paperbacks to get a feel for them.

      Keep an eye out for Avengers Assemble which is a new Avengers title by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley. This is the same team who started what is currently my favorite super hero title (Ultimate Spider-Man) and the cast is the same as who will be in the film.

  18. Sarah Crawford Says:

    Hi, I found your blog really helpful, and well written I might add. You really seem to know your stuff. So I thought I’d ask you for a good place to start. I’ve always been interested in comic books, but never knew where to start or who to ask.
    I love Superman, Green Arrow and Batman. So I guess I’m sort of leaning towards DC. I actually have a Battlestar Galactica comic from the re-imagined series my friend gave me as a present. I’m a huge Battlestar fan. I wouldn’t mind following those through, but I’m not sure if they’re what one would call quality. I don’t have anything to compare it to.
    I’m also a big fan of the A Song Of Fire And Ice(A Game Of Thrones) series. Read all the books and watched the TV series. Been told they have some recent comic books.
    So that’s a nice, strange mix I guess. 😀
    We have a comic book shop that just moved into my small town. But being a girl and having no idea what I’m doing. I’m way too shy to go in there. I hate the way people treat me in video game shops, but atleast I know what I’m talking about in there so I can surprise them.
    Some recommendations or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for reading (and your compliments).

      Superman: I have listed a number of Superman comics in the comments above. All-Star Superman is still an all time favorite among many. The writing is crazy (the scope is “epic”) and the art is just beautiful. If you are a fan of smallville, then Superman: For All Seasons (by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale) is your book. It’s what the producers say inspired their take on the show.

      Green Arrow: I’d start with the Kevin Smith run “Quiver” and “The Sound of Violence.” These go right into Brad Meltzer’s “Archer’s Quest” and Judd Winick’s run (both of whom I know and both wrote solid arcs).

      Batman: there are a number of items listed above. For my money, Batman: The Long Halloween (Loeb/Sale) still stands as one of the great Batman stories. I’d also recommend Batman: Year One (Miller/Mazzuchelli). While it’s “technically” Batman, if you want something that’s more about the police officers in Gotham, Gotham Central which was written by crime writers Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker was recently collected. It’s more “NYPD: Blue” than “Batman” (but he and the characters show up here and there). Strong stuff.

      The Battlestar Galactica stuff is not all that good. Most licensed properties are hit or miss. I’d say look to Image comics like Saga for your scifi fix.

      For Game Of Thrones. See above. While I’ve not read the GoT comic, I have a hard time thinking that it’s going to be any better than the TV series.

      Unfortunately, there are many comic stores that do not treat woman (or men for that matter) with the respect that customers deserve. I can’t say I blame you for being shy to go in there. I don’t play video games, and video game shops as a result terrify me. Hopefully this will help you make the trek into the store. Just say, “I liked the old continuity better” and you’ll be fine 🙂

  19. Kevin K. Says:

    Wow great post. I started reading about a year ago when my friend lent me Marvel Civil War on Trade Paperback. I loved Marvel Mainstream Avengers since then.. and started getting in to others as well… Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, Most of the X-men books, Walking dead, Kick-ass, Umbrella Academy, Pax Romana (by far my favorite) been following J.Hickman since, regardless if i liked or not, (not much a fan of Red Mass of Mars), and obviously fantastic four starting with dark reign… after reading your posts and messages i fell like such a novice.. there’s so much more comics out there… but how can i trust which one’s i should start with?

    P.s. u should start u’r own comic book store.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for reading. I too enjoyed Civil War, and the ride from there through the Avengers books up to the current AvX mini-series has been pretty awesome.

      From the books you’re listing, it sounds like you have excellent taste. These are all titles that I read as well.

      In terms of trusting what to start with, stick with the writers you like. I know that Red Mass of Mars didn’t do it for you with Hickman, but it sounds like his bating average was pretty good up until then. If you like Hickman, I’d look at Brian K Vaughan and Saga and Jason Aaron (particularly on Wolverine & The X-Men).

      If you read Kick-Ass, I think you’ll like all the Millarverse books are.

      You’re into Avengers. I’d say follow that up with either Daredevil by Bendis or Ultimate Spider-Man (and you can start with the Miles Morales run).

  20. Geektastic! | I Heart: The FCBD Edition Says:

    […] Blogger Noah Kuttler has an awesome post about how to start reading comic books with some very helpful dos and don’ts for beginning […]

  21. Milly Says:

    I have decided to start reading comic books because i read the first issue of Deadpool and really liked it, i would like to read something on either ironman or spiderman. Any ideas of a comic i should read? Or any ideas of a writer i could try to follow?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      The current writer of Deadpool is Daniel Way. While I do not read the title, I know that people seem to be pretty happy with the work that he’s been doing (there have been a ton of titles published in the past few years that Way has written, all available in trade paperback). That kind of quirky ultra-volient humor can also be found in a great Image title called Chew. Doesn’t have as much violence, but I think you’ll find the aesthetic quick similar.

      For Iron Man. I’m a fan of the current run by Matt Fraction. You can jump on with the most recent story-arc or go back to the beginning of “Invincible Iron Man.” Honorable mention to a story-arc Warren Ellis did called “Extremis” (which changed the mechanics of Iron Man for the 21st Century) and Fred Van Lente did a good story-arc called “Legacy.”

      For Spider-Man, Ultimate Spider-Man gets my highest recommendation. It is, in my opinion, the best super hero comic book being published today. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has been writing this title for something like 10 years and I have yet to read an issue that wasn’t an A+. You can start at the very beginning or you can pick up with the new volume that introduced the Miles Morales character (only 10 issues published). Note that Ultimate Spider-Man is in it’s own “universe” that’s different from the rest of the Marvel characters. If you want the “Marvel U” version of Spider-Man, the current writer Dan Slott has been doing a fantastic job. The recently completed “Spider-Island” was a lot of fun and the title right now is doing a big Sinister Six story-arc. I’d say any of the Dan Slott stuff you can’t go wrong.

      Hope this helps. And please let me know if you have any other questions.

  22. MJ Says:

    Extremely helpful blog! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge with the comic-clueless such as myself; you’ve encouraged me to give it a go. I agree with other posters that the comic book store intimidation factor is off the charts, so I wonder if you’d be able to help me with a recommendation, as well.

    I’m a fantasy fan (read: Tolkien geek) with shelves full of Sanderson, Martin, Goodkind, as well as stuff like Dickens, etc. Also really into Doctor Who and pretty much anything Joss Whedon does. Love a good solid story and fully explored individual characters. On the superhero front, I find myself drawn to those who will actually kill the bad guy. Purely from watching Smallville, I took a liking to Green Arrow (who was the only reason I stuck with that series at a certain point, but I digress.) If I can get something with a little humor mixed in, maybe some Iron Man-style quippy dialogue, all the better. Can you think of any titles that might suit my taste?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for reading the post.

      For the straight-up fantasy, I’m at a bit of a lose but I’d probably point you towards the Conan work being done at Dark Horse and also Usagi Yojimbo (which is about feudal Japan).

      With regard to Green Arrow. My friend Judd Winick had an excellent run on the series (all available in trade paperback form). His Oliver Queen was both funny, but also had some very sincere and real moments in the story and there was quite a bit of discussion around killing.

      For a hero that kills the bad guys. It’s Punisher all the way. I love love love the Garth Ennis run of Punisher. My two favorite story lines he did were Baracuda and the Widowmaker. He has also written some excellent Nick Fury mini-series that you would also enjoy.

      Anything that Mark Millar is writing you’ll like. His “Millarverse” of Kick-Ass, Nemesis (especially this title) and the newer books like Secret Service. Also, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips on Criminal, Incognito and Fatale.

      Quippy dialogue. Right now. The book to beat is Brian Michael Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man. He does an amazing job writing that character and it’s my favorite super-hero title. Mark Waid’s Daredevil and Dan Slott’s Amazing Spider-Man are both in second place. That said, the Matt Fraction current run of Iron Man captures the character voice that you like in the movie. Hope this helps.

  23. afrom1 Says:

    Thanks for the info ^^
    I just recently got more interested in comics, I’ve been a reader of manga for a couple of years now but never comics. I have watched all the avenger prologue movies and batman movies and the Smallville series. Especially recently with all the Marvel superhero movies like X-Men movies and Fantastic Four movies. But it wasn’t until i watched “The Avengers” today, and man did I love that movie, that I really started considering reading some comics. So I would like your recommendation on some comic books from the avengers team, especially Iron Man(Robert Downey Jr. is awesome! :D)
    I live in Sweden so don’t really live near any comic book stores, there is a used comic book store a while from where I live, but I think I might take my chances with the internet 😛 So any recommendation on where I could start? 🙂

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Sorry for the delay. Avengers is currently tied for being my favorite comic book adaptation of all time (tied with Scott Pilgrim!).

      If you liked the Avengers movie, a great place to start is the Ultimates series Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch did. The flavor/feel of much of the dynamics of HUGE action and the character introspection is found in this book (as is the “new” Nick Fury). This is an A+ series.

      I am also a fan of Ed Brubaker’s and Matt Fraction’s Captain America and Iron Man. They have been writing these titles for the past few years and have both helped the movies define these characters and have taken the elements that worked in the movies and put them back into the comics. If you like Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man, Fraction nails that Tony Stark in his series.

      Marvel has a lot of options for digital distribution (through their website and iPad, etc.). I would also recommend looking for trades of this stuff. Ultimates is collected and readily available from bookstores as are the Captain America and Iron Man runs.

  24. Stephanie Says:

    Hi, Noah!
    So first of all, just let me say that your blog is really, really enjoyabe and easy to read; you clearly know your stuff and write terrifically well. Keep up the excellent work!!
    So, I found this entry looking for some kind of Comic Books 101, as since loving the Avengers movie and those leading up to it, the local comic con, and with a considerable history of manga fandom, I went and applied at a comic book store. The one little problem with this brilliant plan, of course, is that all though I would LOOOOVE to get the job, I really don’t know the slightest thing about the comic book universe!! As I unfortunately don’t have much time before my interview, I CANNOT go read every awesome series I’ve missed out on so far.. do you have any tips for me, or even an “if knowledge about ANY comic book will help you, it is THIS one” suggestion?? Anything that would impress the store owner would be appreciated more than you can even imagine. Thank you so much!!!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      For American comic books, it’s clear that you have a level of enthusiasm that will translate into learning on the job and that’s more important I think than having the actual knowledge on day one. The history of the comic book universe is such that there’s nobody…I don’t care what they say…that can know it all. I see people working in comic shops get stumped every now and again.

      The best you can do is to show that you’re willing to learn, but more importantly are going to be a courteous and helpful employee. To be honest with you, the shop (and the industry) need more people like you that want to help. And less people who are just encyclopedias.

      And! You can talk about some of the resources below that you’ll use.

      If you are just looking for the “broad strokes” of story lines and details of history – for the Marvel Universe I recommend the “Essential Marvel Saga.” It’s basically the cliff’s notes of the early days of the Marvel universe and how I learned so much of what I know. They basically took old Marvel comics, cut out key scenes and then pasted captions over it to narrate the story. They’ll cover an entire story-arc on a page, for instance. Also, the “Marvel Universe Handbook” is a nice book that has one page outlines / character sheets on all the major characters in the Universe (and Marvel has a Marvel Comics Database that they run with this information, marvel.wikia.com).

      For DC comics, I’d say you’re actually in pretty good shape. Since the “New 52” reboot, everything is pretty much new to everyone. So we’re all kinda learning as we go. There was an old comic called “Who’s Who” that had character bios and details like the Marvel Universe Handbook. Someone is running that at dc.wikia.com as well.

      Wikipedia is also useful in a pinch. I reference it pretty much daily. I suck at remembering issue numbers 😛

      Also, don’t discount your manga knowledge. That’s huge. I for one know close to nothing about manga. As do so many retailers. And yet, there is still huge demand for manga. To be able to offer a retailer your manga advice is significant. You could find yourself running that section. (or even creating one where one doesn’t currently exist).

      Good luck, and obviously report back one how it goes.

  25. Insert name here Says:

    So, can you just get a subscription that comes to your house every day rather than needing to go all the way to a comic store. For me there are 3 stores I “could” go to but they are a hassle to get to. Any advice?

    • Insert name here Says:

      Oh, what’s the deal w/ the new 52?

      • Noah Kuttler Says:

        This question leaves a lot of room for interpretation. I’ll try to answer the two questions I think you’re’ asking (but if I missed it, feel free to reply).

        1) why did DC do the new 52? They felt that newer fans saw their world as inaccessible to new readers. The idea of doing a hard reboot of everything. Starting everyone back on page one, they felt, would get new and old readers alike excited about their line.

        2) which of the new 52 are good? Think about comic book publishers like movie studios. They’ve got hits and they’ve got misses. For my money, the hits of the new 52 are:

        Batman: Scott Snyder wrote one of the best takes on the character in Detective Comics before the reboot (now collected in “The Black Mirror”). His Batman by far is the stand out of the reboot.

        Batwing and Catwoman: both written by my friend Judd Winick, I’m a big fan of these books. Very easy to hop on board.

        Swamp Thing and Animal Man: Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire are writing these two books (respectively) and have got this really cool gothic horror thing going and the books themselves are about to crossover into something I’m thinking will be very cool.

        Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E.: also a Jeff Lemire title. Something about how quirky and odd this title is, appeals to me. It reminds me of Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts. It’s a team book that has no rules to it and just does what it likes.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      There are several “mail order” companies that are on the Internet that can act as a local comic book store for you. You give them your “pull” list and they’ll mail you your books either every week or every month. The three that I am familiar with are:

      Mile HIgh Comics: they have been in business the longest and I think hold the current position as the largest comic book store/chain in the country. They’re a staple of the comic book industry (if you saw the Morgan Spurlock Comic-Con documentary, the owner Chuck Rozanski is featured). They’ve got it down to a science over there. milehighcomics.com

      Things From Another World: they are both a comic book store in Portland, Oregon and owned by the founder/owner of Dark Horse Comics. They started back in 1979! They’re also an excellent alternative. tfaw.com

      Discount Comic Book Service: relatively new (by standards of the above), and while I’ve not used them, they do offer similar services. dcbservice.com

  26. insert name here Says:

    Also, would you recommend the new 52 the flash, my favorite character, and is action comics better that superan in the new 52?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      I would recommend the Flash. It’s not at the top of my stack, but it’s quite good. Artist Francis Manapul took up co-writing duties (with colorist Brian Buccellato). He has stepped up to the plate in the way few artists turned writers have. I’m now a fan of both his writing and his art now.

      The Superman comic is not my cup of tea. They are going on their 3rd writing team in the span of 1 year. It’s pretty much all over the place. Action Comics is good. It’s Grant Morrison (who is one of the best writers in comic books today) but be forewarned: it’s very out there and rather dense. Morrison often goes very deep with these characters and you can enjoy it at the surface level, but if you do choose to dig deeper, you can pretty much tunnel your way for miles interpreting his work. If you want a Superman book right now. Action is the book. I’d also recommend his “All Star Superman” 12 issue series he did with Frank Quietly. One of the gold standards of the character.

  27. pjtrainer@hotmail.co.uk Says:

    This is a fantastic blog thank you for sharing. After watching Kick-ass again a couple of weeks ago I decided to order online kick-ass and kick-ass 2 and I thought they were great. After this I decided to venture into a comic shop after work to see if there was anything else which I might fancy.

    It was like stepping into another world, a surprisingly scary world at that. There was just too much choice and the shop was full of people having, what appeared to me, to be really animated and in-depth conversations about the latest issue they were holding. At this point I began to feel a bit uncomfortable, started to sweat, became very aware that I was in suit and left.

    From reading your comments I was thinking of getting: Wolverine Enemy of the State : and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men.

    However I just have a couple of questions. Before I totally freaked out in the comic store I managed to grab Hit-Girl issue 1. I think I would like to start picking up a few monthlies are there any you would recommended I could jump into now. The two that caught my eye were Nite Owel and Spider-Men but I also seen there was an Xmen V avengers which I thought might be fun?

    Lastly, sorry for the long post, but when I was young I like a bit of blood and gore in my comics like the Alien Dark Horse comics and also the judge dread/2000 AD. Is there anything you would recommend in the blood and gore category. What about the walking dead?

    Thanks again

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      I’m so glad you liked the blog post. If you like Kick-Ass, you’re going to enjoy Hit-Girl. I just read the first issue and it’s fantastic. I’d also recommend all of the “Millarworld” titles like Nemesis, Superior, Supercrooks and Secret Service.

      For “mainstream” Marvel titles, you can not go wrong with Wolverine: Enemy of the State and Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men. Enemy of the State has a lot of action, and Astonishing is just great Whedon writing with beautiful Cassaday artwork. I’d also recommend “Wolverine: Old Man Logan” that’s written by Millar. It’s a story set in a possible future of Wolverine as an old man. And it’s crazy.

      I’d stay away from Nite Owl. It was just OK to be honest with you. Avengers vs X-Men is a lot of fun. I’ve been enjoying the Amazing Spider-Man title (and it ships bi-weekly) but the title I like a lot better is Ultimate Spider-Man. That is one of the best super hero comic books being published.

      Blood and gore. Hmmm. I would start with anything Steve Niles is doing. He’s the creator of 30 Days of Night and he’s right now the premiere horror writer. I would also take a look at the Avatar title Crossed. It was originally written by Garth Ennis (one of my favorite comic book writers of all time) and is about as graphic of a “zombie” book as you will find. It is insane! Seriously.

      Also, Dark Horse has been collecting the 70’s “Creepy” and “Eerie” comic books from Warren publishing. These are not blood and gore, but they are classic horror comic books in the vein of EC Comics.

      Judge Dredd and 2000 AD have been doing a magnificent job of collecting their older stories. The “Mega City Masters” have all the high-profile creators works from before they were famous (people like Millar, Morrison, Jock, etc.). I just got Case Files 5 which has the Brian Bolland Judge Death in it.

      Walking Dead is a really good book but it’s more soap opera than blood and gore. Sure, there’s blood, but it’s a lot about the characters and their plight. It’s one of the most popular comic books being published today.

      Hope all of this helps, reply if you have any other questions.

  28. steph Says:

    i am new to this whole comic book fandom aha i’ve tried reading some marvel and DC comics but i want to try something new..what would u suggest?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Welcome, Steph. I’ve been giving a number of recommendations in the comments above. Rather than repeat those, take a look and if you don’t see anything that interests you let me know what type of things you’re interested in (TV shows, video games, etc.) to give me an idea of what to recommend.

  29. foram Says:

    what stores do you recommend for buying comic books? Like a barnes and nobles or a smaller store?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Barnes & Noble are good for getting collected editions of comic books and they tend to have an extensive collection. That said, it’s hit and miss with getting someone who actually knows anything about comic books. Comixology on iPad is also good to bypass leaving the house and getting comics (which works well some days!)

      That said, I really recommend going to a local comic book shop (or LCS as it’s called on some forums). Comic shops are specialty stores and if you find a good one in your area they can be extremely helpful in finding titles.

      There’s a website called http://www.comicshoplocator.com that you can put your zip code into and it will show the comic book stores in your area. It’s a fantastic service and run by the company that distributes comic books (Diamond).

  30. Alex Says:

    So recently I’ve been watching a lot of the Marvel movies, X-Men, Spiderman, Avengers etc. and I’ve been really interested in the whole backstory of a lot of the characters. Which series would you recommend to begin with, and how would I begin, bearing in mind that I have never really read a comic before? I figured I’d pick up one of the paperback collections, but was hoping you might have a recommendation. I’ve also been very interested in Batman since the whole Christian Bale series, but figured I’d start with Marvel. Thanks for any help. Great post btw.

  31. Abigail Wakefield Says:

    Just picked up some comic books, super excited about reading them, and picked up a few comic character guides as well so when I come across a character I am unfamiliar with, I can look him/her up, however I also bought an unused comic, and I am not sure whether it is worth anything or if i should open it and read it considering it is mint. Is there a way I can check to see if it is worth something before opening?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      So sorry for this reply being so late. The best way to check on the price of a comic is to do one of 3 things. 1) go to any comic book store and they have an “Overstreet Price Guide” and if they have a copy for sale you can look it up (or if you ask nicely they can look it up for you). 2) if you go to a site like Mile High Comics, you can punch it in and see what they are selling it for 3) there are some price guides online for comics and you can use those search engines as well.

  32. Rousseau Says:

    This article is very good, so first of all, thank you!!
    I know nothing about comic books, I entered in that world from movies, so i have absolute watchmen and absolute V for Vendetta (great comic books!!!)
    In this days i’m willing to start on superman.
    I’ve seen in the commentaries that you recommended for superman:
    – superman all-star
    – Superman secret identity
    – Superman for all season

    I’ve heard that a new reboot of superman is on, called superman earth one, is it good ? is it better to start by that since it’s a reboot ?

    More generally, about the dc universe, i’ve searched the internet and found that, dc proceeded a large reboot called “crisis on infinite earths” is it better to start here to have the full picture of the dc universe ?
    Same thing about the marvel universe, I’ve heard about civil war – large cross-over if i understood correctly – is it a good point of entry in the marvel universe, or are those huge crossovers too complicated for a newbie ?

    Again thanks.

    P.S : Sorry for my poor knowledge of english language, in France we are not very good in english!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      The Watchmen and V For Vendetta are both excellent starting points. Dave Gibbons and David Lloyd art at that size is amazing to look at.

      Superman Earth One is an OK story, but it’s in my opinion not as good of a take on the character as All-Star or Secret Identity or For All Seasons. To me, Morrison, Waid and Loeb understood this character in a way that I can’t say that Earth One did.

      It also has nothing at all to do with the DC Universe reboot. So it’s not in any way associated with the monthly Superman title (confusing, I know).

      For DC, now is actually a good time to start on titles because last year they did a huge reboot of their universe. So, while the 1980’s Crisis On Infinite Earths is a fun story, it’s not really required reading anymore. Everything started with the issue 1’s that came out last year and for the most part, we’re pretty much all starting at the same place in terms of knowledge on what’s going on.

      For Marvel. Civil War would be a nice place to start with Marvel comics. When you look at the current crop of writers who have been having an impact on Marvel over the past 10 years, much of that started with that Civil War story. It’s also a great story that gets you understanding Captain America, Iron Man and their motivations. Marvel on their site has a nice time line that can take you from Civil War to current Avengers vs. X-Men.

  33. nick Says:

    Hi Noah, so ive been watching alot of the marvel movies spiderman thor etc. and i really want to start reading the spiderman comics. However I have no idea where to start there are just so many. I was wondering if you had a suggestion on where to start or which volumes to read. I am interested in the peter parker version or the amazing spiderman series not the miles morales alt. universe. I was thinking of just subscribing to a 12 issue from marvel but i really want to start further back and read the older comics. Any suggestions?

  34. ALH Says:

    thanks, this was really helpful.

  35. Chaitanya Says:

    i very much like batman and am trying to get some good comics of him….but there are so many titles to chosse from….i have read a few and i like frank miller’s writing…can u suggest some…..thx…

  36. Brian Says:

    Great tips on getting started! I started reading comics about a week ago now and I just want to go out and read them all! One sad detail is the truth behind getting the trade paperback because you can get all the history and story in one rather than hunting down all the issues but there is just such a great sense of satisfaction in having every single issue 😦
    Other than that, great post, I know how to start looking for what I want next time I go to the comic book store.

  37. Erika Says:

    Hey Noah, because I don’t know you I used an old email so ignore my highschooler’s email address. I’m interested in reading comics but don’t know what to start with, and I admit going into the store is a little intimidating… I just want a series on a badass superhero, girl or guy. I’ve heard the female Robin is a good one. Can you recommend something for me please?


  38. Angela Says:

    Hi. So I just bought the Avengers movie and in it was a promo code for a free comic book. Never read any comic books in my life. But now I would really like to start getting into them. Except I have no Idea where to start. I’m brand new. I love superheros Superman and Thor are my favorites. What would you suggest?

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Sorry for the delay, Angela. Check above for some of the recommendations for Superman. There are a few Superman titles (like “For All Seasons” and “All Star Superman” that come up quite a bit).

      For Thor, there are three writers who have done exceptional work on Thor (and much of which was incorporated into the movies). Walt Simonson wrote/drew one of my favorite runs on Thor. They recently collected this in a few formats.

      JMS (J. Michael Straczynski) wrote a really great run of Thor where he transported Asgard to Oklahoma. It was quite influential on the movies.

      Most recently, Matt Fraction (writer of Iron Man) is finishing a run of “Mighty Thor” that’s been extremely good.

      If you wait 2 months, Jason Aaron is re-launching the title and I look forward to that being quite good.

      Hope this helps.

  39. QuantumPriest Says:

    Also, it is worth mentioning that many comic book stores are a “Free Comic Book Day” participant. It is on May 4th every year and these participants give away some select comic books so if you are looking to expand your collection and have a limited budget (like me), this is a great way to go!

    P.S. Thank you for this guide! Very informative!

    • QuantumPriest Says:

      Whoops! Correction. It is on the first Saturday in May. Not necessarily on May 4th (but that is the day it falls on the next time; 2013)

  40. Ali G Says:

    I tried checking out some comics and found so many of them i felt overwhelmed, so i started slow by getting The Walking Dead, i love the TV Show so i assumed i would love the comic, i did, thnx for this guide man ^^

  41. oymantacadao Says:

    Thank you for this very informative post. I am thinking of reading comics. I am 24-year-old and I guess it is not yet too late to start reading one. I was so confused on how to start reading: what should I pick from all the volumes? How can I follow the flow of the story knowing that it would be my first time to read, etc. But then, I read:

    “DO NOT let “continuity” scare you off. Some of these comic books have been running since before we were born. Comic books have rich histories that can be appreciated if you know them, but are not a requirement by any means. ”

    Thank you for writing this blog. Very helpful! 🙂

  42. greenmilljazz.com Says:

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  43. Raul Says:

    I’m trying to get into comic books. I prefer DC over Marvel. I’ve already read Crisis on Infinite Earths and I love the whole DC universe history. I want to start to read DC comic books but I want to know the history of all the characters. For example, I’ve known who Supergirl was since I was a kid, but who is PowerGirl? If I remember correctly, she’s a Supergirl from another earth right? I dunno, but I want to learn the DC history and try to read more modern comics like Batman and Superman. I also have a Green Lantern Vol 1 where it shows how Green Lantern got his power ring and so forth. But yeah, any tips?

    I wanted to read all the Crisis’ and 52 but I’m not sure where to start to get a grasp of the DC universe.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you for your comment, Raul. Right now the DC universe is pretty tricky. There’s the “pre-52” universe (which is basically everything up until 2 years ago) and the “New 52” (when DC renumbered all of their titles and started from scratch).

      Some readers have been finding the New 52 to be a perfect jumping on point since everyone is starting at the same place. Other readers (and I count myself in this group) miss the rich history that was the multi-decade “soap opera” that we grew up with.

      If you liked Crisis, my suggestion is looking to the Comixology app and some of the reprint tradepaperbacks that capture the mid-80’s DC comic books.

      Power Girl is actually an odd example because her origin has been rewritten at least 20 times (and another 3 in the time I took to type this). That said, my friend Judd Winick did a great run on the character pre-52 and that series started with the excellent work from Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray and Amanda Conner on art.

      For Green Lantern, I’d start with the Geoff Johns “Rebirth” mini series and that’s one of the few series that you can follow through the 52 changeover and still kinda stuck with the same storyline.

  44. Nocte Says:

    Heya Noah. Yeah, I gotta agree that Trade Paperbacks are one of the coolest things comics have done to help new people start with a character they like from a movie or have heard about.

    While being a fan of the whole Batman universe without even reading the comics (Watched the Dark Knight trilogy and played the Arkham games.) and generally I had collected lots of information without even trying to I could probably read any Batman comic easily, I started by reading Knightfall Volume One and gotta say it rocked except for Jean Paul Valley’s new Bat costume. I’m just kind of stuck where to go from here.. I also enjoyed reading Ultimate Spider-Man too.

    Could you help me find some other comics too? I’m pretty much interested in reading some kind of comics that feel like The Twilight Zone TV series (The first and second ones.) or generally some kind of Superhero comic outside the Batman range of characters. (One note: I’m not into Superman type characters, perfect characters are uninteresting.)

  45. Shadow5237 Says:

    I’ve started reading The New 52 because its roughly new and I somehow became like obsessed with all things green arrow, batman, green lantern, and Teen Titans lately. This helped though with the whole box set theory. I swear I’ve probably spent 100$ on comics already and its my first week. Now if I can just get my girlfriend to like them… Anyway, I appreciate the advise. Follow the writer over the comic.

  46. Walter Says:

    Hey Noah, i have always wanted to start reading comics, but didnt get the chance. My interest has been increasing more and more and i was wondering if i could get advise from you. I want to read Old Man Logan and World War Hulk, i was wondering if a beginner like me could start at that point or should i start somwhere else? I would also appreaciate if you could give me some reading suggestion im a Hulk, Wolverine, and Batman fan, but also open to others. Through my research i think i would like graphic novels because they are a little darker. If you could help me that would be awesome. Thanks!

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      I would start with “Planet Hulk” which is the “prequel to “World War Hulk.” Both are great and Greg Pak does a good job of bringing new readers in as well as throwing fun stuff in for older readers.

      Old Man Logan is another book that is good for both new readers and old. I know a few newer readers that read it and had fun. Just know that if you don’t catch the reference, it probably wasn’t important 😛

      Hulk and Batman picks are above and below. Wolverine – the classic Claremont/Miller 4 issue limited series that started it all. Old Man Logan is great. The Mark Millar/John Romita Jr. run is fantastic. The Jason Aaron stuff is great. And right now Jason Aaron’s Wolverine & The X-Men is great.

  47. Steven Says:

    I just got into comics and would appreciate it if anyone could recommend some comics to begin with I just got green latern rebirth and I also want to start reading dead pool superman Spider-Man and the hulk

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      The current team of Deadpool is fantastic. I recommend picking up the “Marvel Now” run by Posehn/Dugan/Moore.

      I’ve got a number of Superman recommendations above. The best Spider-Man stuff is being done in Ultimate Spider-Man. Start at the beginning. It’s one of my favorite comics of all time.

      The new Hulk series by Mark Waid is fantastic. I’m also a fan of the short run that Jason Aaron did recently. If you want to go “classic” Hulk, Peter David did an 8+ year run that’s collected by Marvel in their “Visionaries” trade paperbacks (and there’s one that has all of John Byrne’s short, but great) run.

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Also, for the Hulk. The Greg Pak run that started with Planet Hulk and led into World War Hulk was quite a lot of un.

  48. Holli Says:

    Thank you SO much for this. I’ve been wanting to get into comic books for a long time and this was very helpful.

  49. comicbookreaderguy Says:

    Great guide and primer for the entry comic book reader. I have found the best thing to ease folks into comics is start from some other exposure… such as games and movies. Here is an Avengers primer for those who have been liking the Marvel movies: https://read.rifflebooks.com/list/42896

  50. Sam Says:

    I have always wanted to get into comics and ur blog has been extremely helpful but I cannot a single store within 50 miles I have been reading a couple mangas online is there a place I can start reading marvel online

    • Noah Kuttler Says:

      Thank you. Have you tried the Comic Shop Locator?

      For Marvel comics online, you have three options. You can go to the marvel.com website (and click on “comics”). Marvel also has their own app on the iPhone/iPad. And, probably your best bet is to download the Comixology app (or go to the Comixology website). They have all Marvel comics as well as comics from other companies.

  51. Bernard Says:

    You can certainly see your expertise in the article you write.
    The sector hopes for more passionate writers such as you who are not afraid to
    say how they believe. At all times follow your heart.

    • Ernie Says:

      I have always wanted to get into comics and after reading ur post that u posted two years ago helped like. 80
      Percent lol I started on dc on the new 52 I read all of the batman up to date and night wing and started on justice league now my question is I have the dark knight the 1987 tradeback batman the long Halloween … Does it matter what order I read it in ? And I want to read on marvel i like the hulk and the xmen …. Spider-Man and interested in civil war …. But i want to know about the original avengers …

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  53. Steven Bowser Says:

    I think I could get into comic books if I can find the right type for me. I’m an animation geek of sorts, and I enjoy a good story told through beautiful drawings.
    I recently found a comic book store in my area and the employees helped me find something I could buy for my brother who also isn’t into comics yet. It’s called “Spidermen” and it’s apperantly about Peter Parker meeting a new black Spiderman. I thought it sounded weird enough to be fun.
    I’ve been considering getting into Marvel comics or even something different like TinTin.

  54. Kim @ Creating My Niche Says:

    I live in a very small town and we just got our first comic book store a few months ago. I took my 9 year old son last night and he bought his first comic book (and one for each of his two little brothers). He loved it! I wish I had seen your post beforehand, but our “comic book guy” is amazing. He was able to catch my son up on the story so that he could pick up, read and follow the story in the comic he picked out. He chose the Justice League Forever Evil because it had characters he recognized. I guess what’s important, is he read it and can’t wait to get the next one!

    Thanks for the info in this post!!

  55. Grey2014 Says:

    I want to start getting into comics. I don’t live in a big city so there is no place for me to go. What is the best website to go to to get started? I have never read them before so I would like to start at the beginning of a series ( if that is possible). I would like some help.

  56. Taryn Says:

    Thanks so much for a great article! Just reading through the comments alone has been an education and made me really excited. Growing up I read Wonder Woman and She Hulk comics and it was important to me but then as I got older I stopped keeping up with it. It’s been so long now that I wasn’t sure where to start. I saw that a new creative team is taking over Wonder Woman so I thought this might be a good time to give it another go. I would love recommendations on any other great female superhero series. Thanks again!

  57. Jessica Says:

    Hey, first off thank you for taking the time to put this blog together, and I was wondering if you could suggest any sites for free comic books that are easy to navigate?

  58. Snow Says:

    So I started reading the Marvel Now! Hawkeye series. In fact I just got the first two volumes and I’m absolutely in love with everything about it.

    I have a question though. The first volume has #6 of the Young Avengers. How important is it to read the Young Avengers, or any comic that ties into another, to understand Hawkeye or alternate comics.

  59. ghostman81 Says:

    Hi I started reading comics two years ago so I already read some trade paperback but now I want to read some new comics with the “issue format” do you have any advice about what number 1 issue is worth buying ?

  60. Girls Don’t Read Comics (Obviously) | Superheroesque Says:

    […] A Guide to Start Reading Comic Books […]

  61. Lorenz Says:

    I like to read a story from start to end, like for example Justice (DC). But now I see that their are volumes, like for example Justice League: volume 1, 2.. Are these volumes also entire stories or do they always end somewhere where you have to buy the next one to find out how it ends?

    • Raul Aguilar Says:

      The Volumes indicate phases in comic book history. For example, the first ever set of stories of Action Comics would be Volume 1. In later years, they created a newer Superman with new powers and his history; that is Superman Volume 1, but with the newer Superman, that would mean Action Comics would have to change their superman too, so they began a new volume of Action Comics with the new and improved Superman, making that Action Comics Volume 2.

      Now, within Volumes, there are volumes! Here is a current live situation. I am collecting Green Lantern comic books. I am currently reading Green Lantern Vol 2, meaning that that Volume is a newer comic book run of Green Lantern. It is in this volume that they introduce Kyle Rayner (Issue #48). Also, in this volume, Hal Jordan has grey hair. In Green Lantern Vol. 1, he doesn’t have grey hair and they is no Kyle Rainer.

      So, in my comic book run, It is Green Lantern Volume 2, but if you want to buy the trade paperbacks, they separate those in volumes too, so if they had them for my set that I am collection, it would technically be Green Lantern Volume 2, Vol 1 (Issues #1 – #6) Green Lantern Volume 2, Volume 2 (issues #7 – #12). But now, they changed them to books, so it would read Green Lantern Volume 2, Book 1 (issues #1-6) so that people do not get confused.

      And to answer your question, no, you don’t have to read Volume 1. They are just ways of separating timelines due to comic book events that change the comic book universe, like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Zero Year, The New 52, and so forth.

  62. M. A. Franco Says:

    Thanks so much for the post, I’m tryin’ to get into reading–I wanna start with The Sandman by Neal Gaiman.

  63. M. A. Franco Says:

    Reblogged this on fab5franco.

  64. Adam Says:

    Are volumes and TBP one and the same thing????
    Please reply ASAP…..

    And please give your suggestion for more comic books. I am currently reading Ms.Marvel,New Inhumans,Infinity Gauntlet,Sex Criminals…….(I have just started reading comics and these are my first.)

  65. Brandon Says:

    Hey! So I love the new DC movies and I love Batman. I know a lot more than regular people watching these movies or talking about batman. However, I want to learn everything there is to know about batman and other characters in DC. Where do I start?

    • Raul Aguilar Says:

      I suggest you start with Crisis on Infinite Earths. That’s where they bring us the Multiverse, which is a big part in today’s comics. Also, try finding old trade paperbacks at old bookstores. Other good stories that tie in to everything is Infinite Crisis, Final Crisis, Flashpoint, and the New 52 stuff that is fairly new, so you’ll be able to find most of the main story arcs.

      I love Green Lantern, so I have the 1980’s stuff till now.

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