Show Mobile Navigation
 
Books

Top 10 Literary Works in the Comic Book Medium

Robert Frey . . . Comments

For decades the comic book industry, at least the mainstream comic book industry, was targeted exclusively towards juveniles. Over the last thirty years however, the industry has grown up and more and more books are written with adult readers in mind. A lot of these books are written by very talented individuals and are very fun to read. Unfortunately, a large segment of what’s out there is largely what is termed escapist literature, and like most genre fiction, fails to amount to anything more than just an enjoyable read. This isn’t because the medium itself is limited or inferior however. The medium has already produced several masterpieces rich in depth. This is a list of the top ten works which are not just great comic books to read, but comic books which, in terms of literary merit, could easily go toe-to-toe with the greatest works in literature and film. Several authors on this list have written multiple works which could easily make the list, but I’ve limited the list to only one work (the very best) by each author.

10

Mary Jane / Spiderman Loves Mary Jane
by Sean McKeever

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane 1

Appears in: Mary Jane #1-4, Mary Jane: Homecoming #1-4, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #1-20.

Collected in: Mary Jane Vols 1-2, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Vols 1-4.

The Mary Jane comics are one of Marvel’s many attempts to appeal to the preteen/teen girl demographic. It’s one of the few times that the comic book industry as a whole has tried and succeeded in creating an entertaining comic targeting young girls that wasn’t horribly sexist. The comic itself takes place in an alternate version of the Marvel universe where Mary Jane Watson and Gwen Stacy went to high school with Norman Osborne, Peter Parker, Flash Thompson, and Liz Allen. Despite occurring within a superhero infested universe, the book has very little superhero fare. Spiderman makes few appearances and is presented largely as an unrealistic celebrity crush of Mary Jane’s until very late into the comic’s run. The comic is largely centered around the typical teenage problems experienced by Mary Jane and her friends, particularly problems involving teenage dating and crushes.

Thankfully Mary Jane completely shies away from more complex social issues facing teens like teenage sex and drug abuse, subjects that works of this nature seem drawn to and typically tackle in simplistic, unrealistic and condescending ways. At a glance the book does seem to lack any real depth, but if you give it a chance it does actually have a lot to say, particularly concerning teenage romance. And even if you’re not a teenaged girl, the book’s still a fun read. McKeever has written some of the most amazing and delightful dialogue to ever appear in a comic book. The characters are all deep and well drawn out while remaining average, immature, angst-ridden teens. What really sets McKeever’s comic apart though is that he manages to perfectly capture how it feels to be a teenager and what most of us went through when we first started developing romantic feelings.

9

A Superman for All Seasons
by Jeph Loeb

250Px-Superman For All Seasons

Appears in: A Superman for All Seasons #1-4.

Collected in: A Superman for All Seasons graphic novel.

A Superman for all seasons is a retelling of Superman’s beginnings, dealing with Clark Kent’s transition from a teenager in Smallvile to his early days as Superman in Metropolis. Each of the four books that make up the series is dedicated to a different season in which it takes place, and the ideas and symbolism of each season correspond to what Superman happens to be going through and what is happening in his life. The symbolism of the seasons and the cycle of nature is hardly new in literature, but luckily in this instance it’s handled well by a more than capable author. The end result is a coming of age story that’s rich in symbolism and themes and is also an entertaining read. The book was the main inspiration for the Smallville television show.


8

Lucifer
by Mike Carey

1636 400X600

Appears in: The Sandman Presents: Lucifer #1-3, Lucifer #1-75, Lucifer: Nirvana #1-3.

Collected in: Lucifer Vols 1-11.

Lucifer is a spin-off of Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman comic book centered around Gaiman’s interpretation of Satan, arguably the most interesting character in his book and one of the most interesting depictions of Satan since Paradise Lost. In Sandman, Lucifer realized he had been deceived, that he had never been the rebel he thought himself to be, but was instead nothing more than just a pawn in God’s master plan. So, to truly rebel, he quit as ruler of hell, kicking everyone out before he left. By the end of The Sandman comic book Lucifer was running a nightclub, Lux, in Los Angeles.

Carey’s Lucifer picks up right where Gaiman leaves off, and initially the book seems to be largely modeled after Sandman, but very quickly it becomes clear that where Sandman took one of the powers of the universe and dealt with his day-to-day life and relationships, Lucifer is a true fantasy epic with larger than life characters involved in wars that will determine the fate of the universe. With its interesting characters and epic storylines Lucifer is a fun read. So much so, it seems like nothing more than a fun read, until you reach the end. And then you realize just how deep the work actually is, themed largely around the idea of predestination versus free will.

7

Hitman
by Garth Ennis

1365 400X600

Appears in: Demon Annual #1, Demon #42-45, 52-54, Batman Chronicles #4, Hitman #1-60, JLA-Hitman #1-2.

Tommy Monaghan is arguably the best hitman in Gotham City, although he only kills other criminals. After being infected with an alien engineered plague he gains x-ray vision and telepathy and decides to specialize in doing hits on other superhumans and demons. He first appears in Demon Annual, which is his origin story, and later appears in two other storylines in Demon. He then appears in Batman Chronicles before getting his own series. Several years later Ennis did a two-part JLA-Hitman miniseries that serves as a sort of epilogue. The earlier stories featuring Tommy in Demon are important to read because later stories draw on events that occur in them, but the story doesn’t start to hit its stride until Hitman #1.

It’s hard to say exactly what Hitman’s about or what makes it stand out, because there are so many different things, most of which alone could have gotten Hitman on this list. The comic deals with characters deeply entrenched and moving through various crime syndicates in Gotham City, an aspect of the DC universe that is rarely seen. The characters themselves are for the most part ordinary people, often times commenting on popular culture and treating current events in the DC universe much the same as comic book fans (e.g. being upset over Superman’s long hair or making crude sexual remarks about Catwoman). The book de-glamorizes criminal life and has themes covering the inaccuracies of history, the nature of death, and how niceness and ethics are different from being a good person.

6

The Sandman
by Neil Gaiman

250Px-Sandman No.1 (Modern Age)

Appears in The Sandman #1-75, Annual #1, and the Sandman: Endless Night graphic novel.

All but Endless Night are collected in Sandman Vols 1-10

The Sandman deals with the life and times of Dream of the Endless, one of seven immortal powers that act on the universe and routinely deal with gods, angels, demons, and other supernatural beings. Drawing heavily from the horror and suspense comics, Sandman paints a portrait of Dream through a series of seemingly disconnected stories, sometimes having Dream as the central protagonist, but other times having him do as little as a cameo appearance. However, the stories ultimately connect back together through various characters and themes. Another signature of Gaiman’s Sandman was pulling obscure characters from DC’s past and incorporating them into his stories.

One of the first things that stands out about Sandman is it revolves around a being of epic stature, Dream, but the majority of the stories are centered around his personal life and relationships. From there The Sandman goes on to explore the ideas of stories, mythology, and folklore, their role in the world, and the role of the storyteller, and in doing so modernizes and retells many classic stories from mythology and history incorporating them into The Sandman universe. In the end the story deals specifically with character arcs and the necessity for change within our characters and within the universe.

5

Animal Man
by Grant Morrison

Am 24

Appears in: Animal Man #1-26.

Collected in: Animal Man Vols #1-3.

Animal Man is an atypical superhero. He supports Green Peace, PETA, and animal rights in general. He wants to be a superhero and he wants to be able to make a living doing it, but he also dislikes violence. That isn’t to say that he’s against killing someone in a fit of vengeful rage, or accidentally joining a violent animal rights group. He isn’t even beyond something as simple as making a snap decision that he and his family are going vegetarian without thinking it through or even discussing it with his wife. Animal Man is a good and moral person with big ideals, but at the same time he’s far from perfect and, like most people, prone to making mistakes and letting his emotions take control of him.

Morrison is known for being one of the writers to first introduce higher literary devices into comics. Animal Man is the first serious work of postmodern metafiction in mainstream comics. The Psycho Pirate is regurgitating old comics from our world in an attempt to bring back the characters erased from continuity during the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Animal Man takes peyote and sees the reader reading the comic. Ultimately Animal Man ends up on a quest to seek out what he rightfully believes to be his supreme being, Grant Morrison. Despite the fact that the book is very clear that it is just a comic book, the characters and their stories are still incredibly engaging and remain important to the reader. Plus if you can read the entire series and get through the final book without crying, you have no soul.


4

Superman: Red Son
by Mark Millar

250Px-Superman In Red Son

Appears in: Superman: Red Son #1-3.

Collected in: Superman: Red Son graphic novel.

What if Superman landed on Earth twelve hours later? Red Son takes place in an alternate universe where that has happened. Now instead of landing on a farm in Kansas and being raised to uphold truth, justice, and the American way of life, he lands on a Siberian farm and is raised to uphold the ideals of communism, the workers’ revolution, and Marxist philosophies. Lana Lang is a Siberian farm girl. Pete Ross is the illegitimate son of Stalin. And Bruce Wayne is an anti-Soviet terrorist. Meanwhile Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Lex Luthor are all still born in the United States.

Red Son is the first Superman work to question the idea of Superman. In the past, Lex Luthor has been allowed to express his views about how Superman is holding humanity back and that he is too powerful of a being, but only so that Superman could reveal Luthor’s perspective to be wrong and derived from pettiness. Red Son considers that Luthor may be right, and paints him as the hero. Meanwhile Superman’s character is largely unchanged, holding steadfast to a national philosophy that he considers righteous and moral and endeavoring to better the world and save lives, however he does so with a philosophy that the Western world has long since determined to be at best, unrealistic and oppressive, and at worst, evil.

3

Identity Crisis
by Brad Meltzer

5805 400X600

Appears in: Identity Crisis #1-7.

Collected in: Identity Crisis graphic novel.

Someone knows the secret identities of all the superheroes. Now they’re targeting and killing their loved ones. That is essentially the plot to Identity Crisis. Major DC heroes like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman have small, almost cameo appearances in the story. The major characters are all lesser-known and less popular DC characters like the Elongated Man, Green Arrow, and the Atom. The story is a classic whodunit with the DC superheroes, and the reader, trying to figure out who would kill the families of superheroes and why. It also takes from modern crime dramas showing the superhero equivalent of CSI style investigations.

But if you scratch the surface there’s a much deeper story hidden within identity crisis. A story centered on death, how it operates, what it does to us, and ultimately why the people we love have to die. The comic uses the rich and detailed history of the DC universe, its characters, and their relationships to fully make its points, a feat that couldn’t be accomplished without these already developed characters, some of which have existed for nearly eighty years. As much as that adds to the story, that is also the one major shortcoming of Identity Crisis. The story is so tied up in the DC characters and their histories that without a decent understanding of the DC universe many of the themes become lost, and at times the story is even difficult to follow.


2

The Dark Knight Returns
by Frank Miller

001Batmandarkknightreturnstpb Alt

Appears in: The Dark Knight Returns #1-4.

Collected in: The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel.

People have gotten tired of superhero vigilantes. Superman is the last active hero, working in secret for the US government. The others have all retired of their own volition, or they’ve been forced into retirement by Superman. As the crime rate rises in Gotham City and Two-Face is released from prison, a 59 year old Bruce Wayne decides to come out of retirement and once again become Batman, ultimately leading to a fight to the death between Batman and Superman. Upon its release the comic was ill-received in the mainstream press because of its darker portrayals of Batman and Superman, but has since come to be regarded as not only one the of most important and influential Batman books, but one of the most important and influential comic books ever written.

With The Dark Knight Returns, DC was once again trying to revitalize the popular Batman character for the modern era. In revamping the Batman character, Miller opted to show a more realistic version of Batman, but instead of changing Batman’s history for the sake of realism, Miller instead looked for reasons for Batman’s actions that made sense. For instance, he painted a bright target on his chest because he can’t put Kevlar on his head. Beyond simply deconstructing Batman though, the comic also explored deeper themes of how the role we’re meant to play changes as we grow older, elitism and the place superior people should hold in society, and the nature of superheroes and what they really mean to us.

1

The Watchmen
by Alan Moore

Alan-Moore-Watchmen

Appears in: The Watchmen #1-12.

Collected in: The Watchmen graphic novel.

How could any other title have made the number one spot? It is better regarded than any other comic book in history, it has won numerous awards, it was the only comic book included in Time’s list of the 100 greatest novels of all time, and it is the most popular work written by a man who is considered by most to be the greatest living comic book author. Moore started by taking the idea of what it would really be like if superheroes existed. What he ended up with was sexual deviancy, homosexuality, vigilantism, political and national exploitation, men and women who feel they are above the law and a public that ultimately scorns their existence.

The work itself is meant as a deconstruction of the superhero story (and anybody who’s read a lot of criticism on literature or film knows that critics and academia alike adore deconstructions). Although it is the first real deconstruction of the superhero genre, that in and of itself is not that great of a feat. Moore however goes one step further and deconstructs Nietzsche’s superman; a philosophy, which more so than any other, has been tied into the idea of the superhero. Moore presents us with four different supermen, all conforming to Nietzsche ideal, and each following the ethics of a different school of philosophy. We then see what becomes of supermen when they exist outside theory or the idealized world typically found in comic books, and more importantly what they do to the society they exist in.



  • chefjosh

    I think I’m too left brained to enjoy comic books, I’ve tried but the Mosaic like structuring throws me off. Just me?

    • Missy

      I agree. I’m like that too with comics.
      Good listing though.

  • Salo Hes

    I read comics or “graphic novels” back in the days, for the, well graphics… for serious stuff i go with normal books or novels.. But the ad for Muslim superhero “Buraaq” at the top seems interesting so is Mary Jane…

    • diablo135

      We did t forget – MORON!

  • I love it when someone misses the 1st post, epic fail

    I like the list, I know about Watchmen but had no idea of the others. Hmm

    • Ni99a

      Omg, you are sick.

  • asfd;ljkljk;adsfiowaelk;sfad

    Blankets by Craig Thompson would have been a nice addition to this list but I have to agree with all the listed graphic novels.

  • Will Trame

    I miss the comic book era of the late sixties/early seventies. I have read a few graphic novels but they just don’t appeal to me overall.

    • Flippant

      I miss the Maggy. Lol Will, I won’t post to make you roll your eyes and, perhaps, feel uncomfortable at my cyber retardation. I’m just saying. ;)

  • Bustachong

    As an avid comic/graphic novel reader, I appreciate the list and certainly don’t disagree with the merits of the aforementioned books. Not sure where the line was drawn with “mainstream” comics, but since Vertigo was included, I’m surprised there was no Ex Machina and/or Y: The Last Man in there by occasional Lost writer Brian K. Vaughan. Some of the best combination of great characterizations, high concept, excellent dialogue, and a sense of reality in surreal situations permeate both stories.

    Also suggested (for “mainstream” books): Marvels by Busiek, at least SOMETHING by Bendis (so many to choose from!), and I’m not sure if it qualifies, but Mignola’s Hellboy series has some of the richest mythos in the business.

  • Simen

    Great list! Have read about 3-4 of the mentioned titles, cant wait to get started on the rest listed. Good to see Lucifer getting some cred, in my opinion it has moments where it is as good, if not better, than Sandman. I was just wondering if the author, or anyone else, cared to list more great works in the same genre. You stated that some of these authors have several works that could easily be included on this list, care to mention a few? Thanks for a good read!

  • Uncle Ronnie Says

    Hi im Timmy and this is my poorly constructed comment. The list you just red was about comix and shit. I dont read conics or comics even though i do read graphic novels and graphical novellas. Anyways/who/whom i was not really diggin the list although some hip swinging swingers and/or cats may have found this groovy. So i’ll catch you on the flip side. I give this 5 thumbs up.

  • Martin

    Seen them all in other lists of best comics/graphic novels, etc. Boooooring…

  • MisterSnozzleWozzle

    I have personally read a majority of the comics on this list, and I fully agree with it (“Red Son,” in my opinion, is one of the finest literary works EVER). But if there could be an addition: “Final Crisis” by Grant Morrison. Not many people like it, but it reaches deep down into the psyche of a superhero, and why they fight, even when all hope is seemingly lost. I would highly recommend it.

  • Canada rules

    I can’t stand Brad Meltzer’s he ‘s a fool and he’s condescending .

  • Ni99a

    Where can I download these? Its for academic purpose. ;)

  • ih-Jamonah!!

    where is Godzilla????????

  • oouchan

    I\’ve been enjoying mangas recently more than any other types. Used to read Conan when I was little.

    Never heard of any of these but Superman: Red Son sounds good. I will have to check that one out.

    Nice list.

    • ih-Jamonah!!

      nerd alert

      • diablo135

        cant be too big a nerd if he hasn’t heard of any of these

      • oouchan

        You say that like it’s a bad thing.
        I take pride in being a nerd. :D

        • Flippant

          Lol Oochy, it was two words “nerd alert.” If your gonna twist those two into “you say that like it’s a bad thing” text inflection then that’s your deal (weirdo). =) ;P

          • oouchan

            Again…it\’s not a bad thing. I\’m proud of my nerdiness, weirdness and all-around otaku status.
            But nice try. :D

          • Flippant

            Lol *interwebs high-5 o/\o* you’re a cool lady, Oochy. ;)

  • Nile

    NERDS!!!!!

    • ParusMajor

      Where? I’ll shoot ’em dead, dammit!

  • Matt C

    Hitman: the best comic series most of you have never heard of.

    Written by Garth Ennis, author of The Boys, it follows a few of the same themes: the value of having someone that you can rely on, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and big, heavyset ex-marines with black hair who wear trenchcoats and kill superheroes.

    Tommy Monaghan is a complex bloke who screws up more often than not, and is a bit of a copy of Johnny Alpha / Strontium Dog – he’s a hitman, Alpha’s a bounty hunter, his powers relate to his eyes (Alphas are all white, Tommy’s are all black), both have x-ray vision and limited abilities to read people’s thoughts (if they’re nearby and they “put the eye” on them). Both have an overweight sidekick they’d do anything for. Oh, and they’re both stupidly good with a gun.

    Nevertheless, Ennis’ writing is superb and focuses on developing Tommy and his friends to the point where you actually care about characters who are taking cover from an SAS hit-squad behind an obese heart-attack victim.
    Yes it’s over the top, yes it’s rediculous, yes you know Tommy’s going to survive, but at the end of the story, we get Tommy waking up screaming because they gave him nightmares.

    There are classic moments: the issue where Superman appears, the discussion about “you ever notice that about this time every year, something really big happens?”, Bueno Excellente v Lobo, and of course Tommy’s reaction to beng punched in the stomach by Batman.

    A point or two: Hitman also had a one-shot crossover with Lobo called That Stupid Bastich, Hitman is currently in the process of being published in graphic novel format (finally!).

    “Drinks are free, but you gotta leave your guns at the door”

  • Not Being Fresh

    I’m so old and out of it I was waiting for Classics Illustrated.

  • phlyt

    If you loved “the watchmen” – you may like the “the boys” by garth ennis.

  • Blight

    Damn nerds.

  • Naked Man from San Antone

    Y’all need to be chillin out. Dis ain’t no tahme for comm shit. Im fixin to end this thang im tuckered out of hi skul shit! yall wont stop keep postin like this thang. how about a list on trucks fellas??

    • Everybody ought to calm down. This is not the time for complaining. I’m tired of reading lists that don’t interest me, but that’s all that seems to be posted. What will be next, a list about trucks?

  • robert

    really upset that Green lantern Rebirth upto Brightest Day isnt on this list…

  • HJRO

    I think Irredeemable would have been a good addition and the graphic novel Joker as well
    Glad to see The Sandman was on this list though, one of the best pieces of fiction out there.

  • Armadillotron

    There`s a Spider-Man villain called Sandman. Who can turn into, er, sand. So isn`t DC stealing his name from Marvel?

    • Brryjd

      DC had a Sandman title back in the 1940’s, so didn’t Marvel steal Sandman from DC?

      • Mr.Dung

        There used to be a wrestler called Sandman, too. I googled him and his real name was apparently James Fullington.

  • This Author is an obvious DC fan. Only one non DC title was included and that was Mary Jane. What`s up with that? I do agree with a couple of them, but you missed a LOT of good stuff and replaced it with mediocre titles. I completely disagree with both Superman titles, Mary Jane, and Identity Crisis.

    -Watchmen deserves it`s place.

    -Where is Hellboy by Mike Mignola?

    -The Walking Dead or Invincible by Robert Kirkman? Both deal with characters in difficult “What would I do in that situation” events.

    -The Crow by James O`Barr

    -ANYTHING by FRANK MILLER! especially his work in Sin City. You included TDKR and while exceptional, I don`t think it compares with some of his other work.

    -How about The Savage Dragon by Erik Larsen, I haven`t read it recently, but it used to be my absolute favorite. The humor, the characters, everything.

    -The Dark Tower Comics by Stephen King and Robin Furth, especially the first couple series. They nailed it.

    -Fables by Bill Willingham, I`m not a big Vertigo fan, but that comic is really good.

    -Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai…`nuff said. anyone who hasn`t read it should.

    There are just too many great stories that have been done by other imprints other than DC.

    • danny

      Much of Frank Miller;s stuff is awful, 300 and All Star Batman. All Star is bad in so many ways, it forgets Batman as a whole and makes everyone in the comic a joke.

  • SirPoopsAlot

    Intelligent sounding tittle for and adolescent like topic, stay tuned for “The top exquisite moving image scenes of Barney the dinosaur. :o)

  • Y: The Last Man should be here.

  • It’s not “The Watchmen”… it’s “Watchmen”.

    And there’s a ton of other great literary works in comic form that belong on this list. Maus, Y The Last Man, Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow, etc.

    • And yes, The Complete Maus should be included here as well.

  • Reblogged this on Aakash Upadhyay's Blog.

  • Brryjd

    I agree with Watchmen’s placement on the list, and that Alan Moore is an excellent writer. However, I have often been disappointed with much of his later work, which often starts out excellent, but then devolves into a bunch of pretentious nonsense becouse he is so much smarter than everyone else.

  • mom424

    Nice job. Quite a few that sound interesting – will definitely have a read when the opportunity presents. Of course, what with my Lv reading assignments, it may be a while.

    I read comics as a kid/young adult but mostly leaned towards Tales from the Crypt/Creepy comics. Probably me rebelling against the treacly sweet Archie and Jughead fare of childhood.

    • Flippant

      Probably me rebelling against the treacly sweet Archie and Jughead

      Lol liar, Mom. You just set out to impress Hubs, like you can read a comic without your lips moving.. showoff hussy! ;D

      • mom424

        showoff hussy

        If I only knew then what I know now…..I just may have been. :)

        • Flippant

          If I only knew then what I know now

          Oh I hear you there, Momz.. ditto! :D

  • Scott

    Where’s Archie?

    • A.Bunker

      I’m here *SHUT UP EDITH!* What do you want, fathead? *DON’T SING, EDITH!*

  • Hamsammy

    While I do love me some Hitman, I’m suprised he won the spot over Ellis’ “Preacher”.

    The same with Animal Man over Morrison’s “The Invisibles”.

    Overall a good list but I also felt it was too DC centric.

    • Kyle

      I completely agree with regard to “Preacher” being the best Ennis work to date.

      I would also have liked to see Alex Ross and Mark Waid’s “Kingdom Come” on here.

  • I fail to see how these are literary. Just call the list what it is: Robert’s Top Ten Comics Suggestions.

    • lumzi23

      Well, I have read The Dark Knights Returns. Pretty excellent if you ask me. Not perfect all the way through, but when it hits its stride, damn, does it ever!

  • Clinton

    I would have put planet hulk up here. But that’s just me. Good list though. A little too much DC. Hell you could have included the punisher max series.

  • fendabenda

    You know, since a radioactive squirrel bit me and I became the CHIPPNDALE MAAAN!!!!, I cannot take any of these other superheroes seriously. They’re just lame. Except maybe Powdered Toast MAAAANNN!!! :D

  • Pauly

    Preacher should have been included. Very well written and highly controversial.

  • nic

    I have read a very few comic-books in my life…I think “MAUS” appealed to me.:)

  • Thorlite

    It’s difficult as its always only opinion, but a deeper knowledge of graphic novels would have made this list more enjoyable, so many major works missed off and so many DC wrongly included.

  • timothy

    nice list. but it is completely and utterly not understandable to me how Persepolis can not be on here.

  • No Preacher? Also, agreed… too DC centric. DC might make amazing comics and graphic novels but they aren’t the only golden boys.

  • Flippant

    This comment section is too un-Maggycentric. *sighs* :(

    I hope he comes(*purrs*) back soon. :P

  • Time to Move Out of Mom’s Basement

    Another list for losers. At least I’ve heard of some items on all those darn Disney lists. Only those occupy Wall Street losers read comic books. And not even my six year old would consider these novels. Get out of Mommy’s basement already.

    • Crumbed Jutzes

      Eat seven dicks. Also, read Preacher, Sandman, Lucifer and Y: the Last Man. Then kill yourself for being suck a cunt

    • ParusMajor

      I was just reading about Scott Levy, who was known as “Raven” during his successful professional wrestling career. Apparently he’s a member of Mensa with an IQ of 143 and also a lifelong fan of comic books, and he has written an episode of Spiderman himself. What have you ever done in your life? Can you BOTH fight AND write, or should YOU go back to your Mommy’s cellar and cry yourself to sleep?

    • ThatGuy

      Yes, Parus has a good idea. Go back to your Mommy’s basement and stay there, or do a favour to all of us intelligent people who like comic books: kill yourself. You don’t deserve to live. I’m really sorry, though, if your six year old is retarded.

    • lumzi23

      What would I be doing in your mom’s basement, silly?

  • dj

    what about origins? 6 issue comic that shows wolverine’s past when he was a kid. wolverine origins is good too. its about him finding the man who controled his life and introduces his son dakken. deadpool is great also. everyone thinks hes a badguy, but hes always wanting to be a superhero. he wants to be an x-man but they never let him. his childhood hero was captain america. its dark too. he tries to kill himself from time to time since he is tired of living

  • How can you not include Black Hole? Or Blankets?

  • Excellent list! It’s funny, I was walking out of this comic book store just earlier basically thinking the same thing you went through in the introduction, how well certain comics are written and how in the golden era they were kind of for adults too (like batman), then they were aimed more at younger folk, and how now comics are aimed at older and younger ages.

    Thanks for this, I’ve added some of these into my list for comics to look out for at London comicon in a couple weeks time, will also be looking out for them in comic book stores about london :D

  • Great list — I’ve read a bit of Animal Man and was amazed Grant Morrison’s work hasn’t been talked up more. With that series, The Dark Knight Returns and Watchment, it seems DC had a mini-Golden Age of great stories that also deconstructed their genre, each one very different and still compelling. I’ll be searching out the whole run of Morrison’s Animal Man…

  • Waldo Jeffers

    I guess the writer really likes DC? There are a lot of comics out there that are more literary than most of that list- where are Love & Rockets, From Hell, American Splendor, Bone, etc? All are definitely more worthy and much more literary than Red Son or Identity Crisis.

  • OptimusDom

    What about Kingdom Come …no takers? The art work alone is Epic not counting the Mind F*** of a story you get as well.

  • will wonka

    I agree with you Kingdom Come is very good. I also loved the Earth X series. And Justice books (also illustrated by Alex Ross
    ). Agree with Y the last man and Preacher nods too among others mentioned, but what… No love for 100 Bullets or Pride of Bagdad?

  • will wonka

    For the record, you should do a best writer list. Certain writers are hit or miss, but normally if you pick up anything by Garth Ennis or Brian K you always find yourself satisfied.

  • partypooper

    Carey- The Unwritten > Lucifer (Both fantastic, but The Unwritten is about as literary as a comic book can possibly get.)
    Ennis- Preacher >>>>>>>> Hitman (Should be a no brainer honestly. Preacher is one of the greatest accomplishments of the medium. Seriously you’re out of your damn mind.)

    Everyone puts Watchmen at the top of any list about comics, and it makes sense of course, but I always argue in favor of Moore’s From Hell.

    The Identity Crisis has no business being on this list and you’re out of your damn mind thinking Hitman is better than Preacher.

    Came so close to be so far off.

  • KC

    Where is Punisher Maxx?? Or Squadron Supreme?

  • Skippy the Impaler

    Literary, eh? I’m thinking Maus, Strangers in Paradise, Preacher, Astro City. There’s a long series of issues of Swamp Thing, starting with #34 I think, that would work as literature. There’s really been a lot of highly literary, quality work that is probably beyond the comprehension of many who put down the comics medium.

    At the top of the list should be Sandman, led by the magnificent issue #19.

    I haven’t read many comics in the last decade or so, and much of the material the author listed is new to me, but I remember my favorites fondly and I’m happy if the medium is fulfilling the promise it showed in the 80s and 90s.

  • kermitt

    Fables,Strangers in Paradise,Astro City,Atomic Robo,Girl Genius and other Phil Foglio. Come on , somebody isn’t really trying,right?

  • It’s not called “The Watchmen”, it’s called “Watchmen”.

  • fendabenda

    I only like S.e.x.y Losers and Cyanide & Happiness. I don’t think those are considered “literary works”. :)

  • Jazzy

    No offense meant but when I read comics I’m not looking for anything deep or meaningful. They are like popcorn for the brain. If I want something serious I go to Lord of the flies or To Kill a Mockingbird.

  • Leigh

    @magoopaintrock: “I fail to see how these are literary.” You must not have read any of these, or maybe tried and didn’t finish. It makes no impression on you that Time magazine includes Watchmen on their list of the 100 greatest novels of all time? You’re missing an entire literary phenomenon. Yet graphic novels have enriched my life so much. As much as I read (approx 60 books a year, not counting graphic novels), sometimes I just need more than the printed words. Strong/moving/mindblowing/breathtaking artists’ images accompanying incredible/unforgettable/wondrous stories is such a thrill, for me. Watchmen changed my life by expanding my understanding of the nature of humans, of relative time, of perception, of self-understanding.
    Not literary? Oh, you are mistaken, my friend! :)

  • Sardondi

    “Top 10 Literary Works in the Comic Book Medium.” Some might laugh and say that calling anything that comes from a comic book a “literary work” is a huge conceit. These are the same people who mock graphic novels as a whole. As if we lovers of the pulps think that dressing up a pig in a tuxedo makes him the equal of Cary Grant. *pfffft* Everybody knows it only makes the pig the equal of Roger Moore.

    I still don’t understand why they don’t want to give graphic novels there place of equality beside “real” literature. I can still remember the thrill when, as an 11 y.o., I discovered “Sgt Rock”, with his reliable, never-empty .45 caliber Tommy gun and his faithful band of Easy Company English majors, as they dealt with the vicissitudes of daily existence in WWII. A Sgt. Rock comic took a back seat to no literature, for it is of the highest order, bar none. Who can ever forget The Tragedy of Spamlet, Prince of Foxholes, in Issue #273, which has one of Rock’s most famous literary soliloquies:

    “To budda or not to budda…that is the question, you dogfaces. Whether ’tis nobler to….LOOKOUT!!!! Budda Budda Budda!!! Sneak attack!!! Here they come!!!….”

    Oh my. If you’re not moved by the existentialist dread in that passage you’re just not alive.

    Comics not the equal of literature? Au contraire, mon ami; au contraire.

  • kraeg

    Thanks for the great list… it’s lead me to some collections I didn’t know about.

    I would have liked to have seen MAUS as part of this list as I think it is an excellent example that, like Sandman, is outside the traditional Marvel/DC universes.

  • Emma

    I completely approve of this list-especially Watchmen being #1. However, I would’ve liked to see Miracle Man on here too.

  • Brian

    Nice inclusion of Identity Crisis, which many deride as the retconning of the Silver Age with the “previously unrevealed” rape and now murder of Sue Dibney, Elongated Man’s wife, just as she was about to surprise him with her pregnancy. Oh, and two-bit villain Dr. Light is the rapist and now serial killer, and there was a vow of silence in the Justice League covering up not only the rape, but the brainwashing of numerous villains AND BATMAN, which “explains” his actions of having plans to defeat everyone.

    Former roommate and BFF of Geoff Johns, Brad Meltzer wrote a mini-series which is an embarrassment to those who actually ENJOY comics as escapism, not destroying them. Many wished Sue’s fate on Meltzer, himself, and this throughline of thinking has permeated DC Comics ever since, culminating in the DCnU52, which is literally a big RESET BUTTON on 75+ years of history.

  • Asterisk

    I do NOT like Identity Crisis or The Dark Knight Returns, but other that, I like the list and I have a few new things to check out.

  • comicbookgeek

    uncanny x-force – rick remender

  • S. Latham

    Disagree with that- Preacher, Fables and Transmetropolitan should DEFINITELY be on that list.
    Preacher for the subject matter (an anti-hero wanting to find God and hold him accountable for a lot of things, a cameo by Bill Hicks doesn’t hurt either);
    Fables for it’s (at the time) innovative perspective of fairytale lore; and Transmetropolitan because, for all his faults, Spider Jerusalem is exactly the kind of guy to sort out the kind of world he lives in.

  • Kathy

    No Maus? No Persepolis?

  • Dani

    What about Hellblazer? It has been running since ’88 and never once lost my attention. Constantine is an Alan Moore creation, with ties back to Swamp Thing.

  • Swap the dark knight returns with the long halloween

  • Daniel

    where the crap is miracleman?