Wolverine Month: The Jungle Adventure

I’m back with my second Wolverine month article. I wanted to take a look at some of the lesser known Wolverine graphic novels from years past. This time I’m looking at Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure. It’s written by Walter Simonson, known for the greatest run of Thor ever, and drawn by Mike Mignola, creator of Hellboy. With such massive creators behind it, I don’t know why it isn’t more talked about.

The story opens with a tribal elder telling his people of the Child of Heaven. He flashes back and talks about a lighter that the tribe found and thought was a device from the gods and they put it on a big rock and worship it.
Now, this tribe is from the Savage Land, which is this jungle in the Antarctic where cavemen and dinosaurs live. Just accept it.
Wolverine lands a one man plane, grabs the lighter and uses it on a cigar. He just puffs it and is like “Okay, Nick Fury signed this lighter in case I’d stop by.“ He doesn’t really question it.
The tribe sees him as a God or at least a Child of the Gods, but some don’t believe it. Their fiercest warrior, Gahck (alternately spelled Gack sometimes, I guess) challenges Wolverine to a fight. Wolverine wins because it’s not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky.
…Why is this not a comic about Wolverine being Jungle Rocky?

Anyway, he beats Gahck and he’s made chief and he goes to hang out in a cave alone because part of being chief is having a cave. “Not bad, as far as caves go”, says Logan. I like the idea that he has just this extensive knowledge of caves and which ones are the best to live in. Like, I know that he actually does live in caves sometimes, but it’s still pretty great to imagine him looking up cave reviews on Zillow.

Gahck walks in and without the big warrior get up, Logan and the readers learn Gahck is a woman. This is important because her and Logan talk briefly and keeping up the God pretense, says he doesn’t want her as a sacrifice because the tribe sent her up as tribute in the first place.

They talk a bit and then they’re like “Let’s bone”. And they do. But not before Logan can explain what he’s doing in the Savage Land. He was mysteriously sent a ticket to a Broadway show, and according to Logan, a pretty lousy one. During intermission, he’s handed a message by a man with a terrible British accent.

The note says it’s from Jean Grey, telling him to meet her in the back alley. The note smells nothing like her. He decides to check it out anyway, what the heck? He has a few minutes before act II. He’s ambushed by a cyborg who speaks in broken English and I am making none of this up.

The cyborg explodes and Logan smells from his charred remains that “This Johnny comes from the Savage Land”. But he also smells like Logan. Specifically his pain and torment. No, really.

Cut to the present, Logan takes a more active interest in the tribe, leading their hunts and gaining their trust. He kills a dinosaur during one of the hunts and the tribe is sufficiently impressed to not only make him chief, but accept him as one of them. When Chackel, one of the tribesmen, doesn’t come back, Logan takes interest in the situation. Turns out there’s a T-Rex that comes once a year and eats members the tribe. Unusually, it leaves no remains of its victims.

Chackel’s father, doubting Logan’s godhood as he has to be explained this, stabs him in rage. Logan shrugs it off. He’s not happy about it, but he lets the man live. An elder tells him that only one man ever escaped from the T-Rex, after being taken to his “Mountain of Thunder”. Having heard enough, Logan sets out to hunt.

Facing it, it swallows him whole. The tribe is left shocked by this, but then he claws his way out of its stomach, having discovered it was a robot designed to look like a T-Rex with the purpose of capturing, not killing.

He sets off to leave the tribe, but finds out his one man plane is missing he accuses Gahck, think he doesn’t want him to leave and angered she leaves. Gahck is really upset about being accused and storms off. He has the elders point him in the direction of the “Moutain of Thunder”. He dons his X-Men uniform and sets off.

By the way, I want to say that Mignola’s T-Rex fight, along with everything else, is absolutely gnarly.

So Logan arrives at the mountain and smells pain like the cyborg’s, but before he can focus on it, a trapdoor opens and next thing he knows, he wakes tied up in a cell with Apocalypse monologuing before him. This is actually the first meeting between the two, Apocalypse had been around for a while, but had only appeared in X-Men’s sister title X-Factor.

Apocalypse has been experimenting on the cave people, making them cyborgs as assassins. He plans to do the same with Logan. Gahck shows up, having tracked Logan down and she attempts to save him. Apocalypse throws her in a cage and says after he’s done with Wolverine, she’ll be his first test.

Apocalypse turns his back and there’s a really cool page of Logan cutting the ropes on his feet, taking his boots off to get the lighter, which he kept in his boots? And then lights it and burns through the ropes on his hands.

Logan attacks Apocalypse and they fight. Over in the corner, Gahck frees Chackel, who’s fine, and they escape. Apocalypse reveals he was making the cyborgs to eliminate mutants. He’s going to protect the humans from the Mutants and help them reclaim the Earth. Now this is pretty much the oppisite of Big A’s normal game plan, which makes Logan suspicious, and rightfully so. It turns out this Apocalypse is a robot. Logan shreds it to bits.

He looks around the lab and wonders why a robot would create cyborgs or what any of this means. He then finds a skull made of Adamantium. This is interesting because at this time Chris Claremont (writer of X-Men) intended for Wolverine’s metal skeleton to have been grafted onto him by Apocalypse. That never played out, but it’s cool to see.

Just as he starts to consider what it means, a hologram of the real Apocalypse turns on and says that he built this robot to man this base while he was gone, but its programming corrupted and put it in opposition of its creator. Now, this is where it gets bonkers. Rather than deal with it himself, he decided to send Wolverine a ticket to the play, pose as a regular dude to give Logan the note that would lead him to the cyborg, which apparently Apocalypse knew was specifically targeting Logan. That way, Logan would investigate and deal with the robot for him. He thanks Logan for letting him know that he has to work on his British accent AND THEN HE STARTS CRITIQUING THE PLAY.

Apocalypse releases a gas to kill Logan, saying that he can now freely take out two enemies. Wolverine’s healing factor keeps him alive long enough to use the lighter as an explosive…somehow? He takes his aerofoil, which I guess we’re supposed to figure Gahck did take and then flew it to the mountain and left it when she got Chackel out?

The story ends with the Shaman wrapping up his telling, revealing Chackel is a cyborg, but he’s okay and Gahck and Wolverine had a kid and everyone loved-WAIT. THIS KID HAS NEVER SHOWN UP AGAIN. It’s just kind of skirted over and he’s been to the Savage Land again after this, so I don’t know if no one read this or remembers (which is possible). Or if Simonson had plans or what.

Anyway, it was a really fun book, great art, light on continuity and easily accessible. I found it at Half-Price Books for three dollars and if you can find it for around that price I totally recommend it.

 

This is, besides a spellcheck, completely unedited, so maybe not my best work. I do plan on going back to it and redoing sections sometime later this week.

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So You Want to Read Old Man Logan and the X-Men (Comixology Sale Edition)

This article is part of Wolverine month, something I just decided is happening. So, I’ll be putting up a few articles about Wolverine.

Comixology is having a massive amount of sales now. Star Trek, Ghostbusters, Superman, Image 25, but In this installment of so you want to read, I’m going to be talking about the Old Man Logan, Wolverine and X-Men sales currently going on. They’re broken into sections on Comixology’s site, so for sake of expediency, I’m going to focus on those sections and what I recommend from each of them. Also, obviously both Comixology and I are trying to cash in on the movie. Only I’m doing this because I love you.

I previously covered the Ghostbusters stuff here though, so check that out if you’re interested.

These sales end March 6th, so hurry if you’re interested, but if you want to consider, you have a day and a half.

Due to the sheer volume of stuff on sale, I’m going to be a bit more rapid-fire than in previous installments. The stuff in bold are my top picks!

Old Man Logan:

In a separate sale from the rest, is the Old Man Logan sale. It’s all of the graphic novels with the character, plus the tangentially related Wolverine: The End and some X-23 stuff.  

Old Man Logan: The story that inspired the movie, kind of. It’s a fun read, really cinematic. Is it my top pick? No, but it’s important to establish the character and world of Old Man Logan. It’s also a blast. Alternately, you could listen to my podcast.

X-23: The Killing Dream: Written by Marjorie Liu with art by Will Conrad, this is Laura Kinney’s solo series. After all of the violence in her life, she tries and fails, to be a normal teen. A demonically possessed Wolverine attacks the Xaiver School and only Laura can stop him! And then she sets out to find herself and runs Into Gambit!

Old Man Logan (2016 series): Available are two volumes (vol. 1 Berzeker and vol. 2 Bordertown) of the most recent series with the character. They’re gorgeously illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino. I highly recommend this for the art alone, but thankfully the writing by Jeff Lemire, has a lot of great character moments. Also available is vol. 0 Warzones!, written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Sorrentino, although I don’t suggest it unless you have a grasp of the Secret Wars storyline (or are willing to Wikipedia it.) Art is still worth it though.

 

Wolverine/X-Men sale

There are a bunch of categories and books to look at, so I’m going through them as the website does.

Wolverine: This section is dedicated to Wolverine solo books. Who would’ve guessed?

Wolverine by Claremont and Miller: Legendary X-Men writer Chris Claremont (Dark Phoenix Saga, God Loves, Man Kills, Days of Future Past) and industry icon Frank Miller (The Dark Knight Returns, Daredevil, 300) team on this story that sends Logan to Japan. Featuring honor! Dishonor! Ninjas! It’s a great read that introduced a lot of defining features of Wolverine. This also served as the basis to The Wolverine, Logan’s second solo film. No silly robot fights here though!

Enemy of the State: By Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. Logan gets programmed by the newly formed Hydra/Hand terrorist-ninja merger and their leader, the stone-eyed Gorgon sends Logan to destroy S.H.I.E.L.D. and kill as many superheroes as he can. It’s a really fun book and reads surprisingly fast for there being twelve issues contained in here. Like Batman: Hush, it’s a great book for people just getting into superhero comics, letting you know who the character is and what his place is in the world.

There’s also a book called Wolverine: Logan by Brian K. Vaughan and Eduardo Risso, that I haven’t read, but I can basically recommend anything by Vaughan and still sleep soundly.

 

Classic X-Men:

Claremont: This is the Section I know the most about. I’m a huge fan of Chris Claremont’s X-Men, which makes up almost all of my selections here.

Proteus: Moira Mc Taggert’s son Kevin is a mutant with reality shifting powers, the X-Men head to Scotland to help Moira get him back under control. It ends tragically and is one of the defining moments of Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run. There is absolutely fantastic character stuff in this story and outlandish visuals.

Dark Phoenix Saga: Widely considered the best X-Men storyline, Jean Grey’s cosmic power overwhelms her and her teammates have to stop her from losing control. Obviously, she does, because we need a story, and her last stand is absolutely gut wrenching as the X-Men, even after the evil she committed, all risk their lives for hers. Contains X-Men #137, the greatest single issue of X-Men ever.

Days of Future Past: Contains the stories immediately after the Dark Phoenix Saga, including Days of Future Past, which inspired the movie of the same name. Also, includes Kitty Pryde joining the team and the return of Alpha Flight!

Asgardian Wars: The Asgardian Wars collections is actually composed of two stories, the X-Men/Alpha Flight miniseries drawn by Paul Smith, in which Loki bestows upon mortals abilities of the gods, but at a cost; and two annuals drawn by Art Adams, where the New Mutants get transported to Asgard and the X-Men head there to save them.

Lifedeath: Barry Windsor-Smith draws the titular story, the two-part “Lifedeath”. These are the definitive Storm stories and some of the most beautiful X-Men comics ever. Storm comes to terms with losing her powers and defining herself outside of them. Also included is the Wolverine story “Wounded Wolf”, by BWS.

Ghosts: Claremont in top form, the duel between Cyclops and Storm for leadership of the X-Men, the attack of Nimrod: The Sentinel of the future, the birth of Cylclops’ son, and the Trial of Magneto in the classic X-Men #200.

 

Mutant Massacre: The first of a series of crossovers where Claremont is joined by writer Louise Simonson. The underground mutant society the Morlocks, who are too ugly to fit into normal society are attacked in the sewers. They’re slaughtered. The remaining Morlocks make it to the X-Mansion and the X-Men head down to check for survivors, they’re ambushed by the sadistic Marauders. It’s violent, vicious, and very, very good. This has the classic issue that pits Psylocke on her own against Sabertooth.

Fall of the Mutants: One of the most impactful X-crossovers ever. Even though it’s not really a crossover. Thematically tied together by each team dealing with major loss and failure. The X-Men face the Adversary, manipulating them for some time and make the ultimate sacrifice. The New Mutants encounter their first loss when one of the kids is gunned down. X-Factor battles the mighty Apocalypse and a fallen member of their own.

Inferno+Crossovers: Cyclops’ ex-wife and clone of Jean Grey, Madelyne Pryor, becomes the Goblyn Queen and unleashes the demonic forces of Limbo on New York, warping the city into a Hellscape. To save the world, X-Men and X-Factor join forces for the first time since the teams split. Illyana Rasputin, Magik of the New Mutants and ruler of Limbo struggles with her dark side as she fights to reclaim her domain or lose herself trying. Great art by Brett Blevins, Marc Silvestri, and Walter Simonson, it is blockbuster superhero action at it’s finest and balanced perfectly with the emotional tension building for years. Also available is a book of crossovers, how the rest of the Marvel universe dealt with the transformation of Manhattan.

X-tinction Agenda: The last of the Claremont/Simonson crossovers, The New Mutants are abducted by the nation of Genosha, a utopia that achieved through the mental and biological manipulation mutants into a docile slave race. The X-Men, X-Factor, and Cable have to commit international terrorism to save the kids. Little do they know their old enemy Cameron Hodge has taken over the country and is manipulation its arsenal, both mechanical and biological to his own means. It’s a truly upsetting story dealing with class, treatment of minorities, and US/international relations. The last truly great story of Claremont’s original run.

Mutant Genesis: This is the story after which Claremont left the X-Men and Marvel for a long time. It’s not the most cohesive work, you can definitely tell there’s some narrative disjointment with Claremont and superstar artist Jim Lee. Even though it can be janky, the art is great and filled with a fantastic energy. It makes you want to rip the pages out and hang them on your wall, but you can’t because it’s digital. Duh. Also available in Mutant Genesis 2.0, a version with modern coloring techniques. I don’t really like it, but whatever floats your giant asteroid base.

Post-Claremont: I’m sure there’s other good stuff here, I just haven’t read a lot of it. Fatal Attractions and Second Coming are popular stories. X-Termination is really good, but only if you’ve read Uncanny X-Force and X-Treme X-Men.

Battle of the Atom: A newer story and maybe a little confusing, but you’ll catch on quickly enough. The X-Men of the future arrive in the present demanding that the original five X-Men (brought forward in time), be sent back to the past, for if they stay something catastrophic happens and the world hates mutant more than ever. Jean Grey and Cyclops go on the run, things aren’t quite what they seem, another team of X-men show up with contradicting reports… The fiftieth-anniversary story pays tribute to past stories like Days of Future Past while opening up possibilities for the future.

 

Wolverine Team-Ups:

Astonishing Spider-Man/Wolverine: Wolverine and Spider-Man are the oddest couple as the twosome are sent careening through time and space. It’s a surprisingly touching character study for a story that involves Wolverine leading a tribe of cavemen. By Jason Aaron (Mighty Thor, Southern Bastards) and Adam Kubert (Renew Your Vows, X-Men).

Kitty Pryde and Wolverine: Claremont and Al Milgrom (Spectacular Spider-Man) The youngest X-Man goes to Japan to save her father and is assaulted by Ogun, lord of ninjas. Ogun brainwashes her into becoming an intangible assassin. Logan doesn’t take to this kindly. He heads off to Japan to save his teenage sidekick.

Wolverine and Jubilee: Jubilee has turned into a vampire. She’s adjusting, but how well is open to interpretation. She’s framed for a series of murders and her and Logan must prove her innocence.

 

X-Men Team-Ups:

X-Men/Spider-Man: This series offering vignettes of four times Spider-Man has teamed up with the X-Men and the mysterious force manipulating both of their pasts. Also, a classic Spidey/X-Men team-up.

X-Men: S.W.O.R.D.: Abigail Brand is having a bad day. She was formerly head of S.W.O.R.D., Earth’s agency for dealing with alien threats. Now she’s second to Henry Peter Gyrich, a bureaucrat with a stick up his butt. What’s she to do when she finds a conspiracy to end all alien life on earth? Oh, and her boyfriend, the Beast, is visiting. Perfect. By fan-favorite Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Darth Vader)

 

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks: The Masterworks are series of collections (the print versions are high-quality reprints) each containing approximately ten issues. They’ll get you to the From the Ashes.. storyline, about halfway through Claremont’s run. If you bought these, you’d have the content from Proteus, Dark Phoenix Saga and the Days of Future Past collections. These are my highest recommendation in the sale, you almost certainly want to grab them.

If you only get one book from this sale, I’d suggest Volume 9. It contains both God Loves, Man Kills, one of the greatest X-Men stories and inspiration to X2 and also the Wolverine miniseries by Claremont and Miller.

 

Cyclops Vol. 1: Cyclops in space! After finding out his father is alive, a teenage Scott Summers decides to join the family business, space piracy. A coming of age tale in space dealing with a father and his son. By Greg Pak, Russell Dauterman, and Cameron Caneor. It’s one of my favorite X-Books, a perfect blend of writer, artists, and characters.

 

Nightcrawler:

Amazing X-Men vol. 1: Backstory; Nightcrawler died and went to Heaven. That’s all you need to know. He calls the X-Men to help him fight off a group of demonic pirates attacking the good place. It’s just a lot of fun, one of the lighter reads in the sale and great if you’re looking for a stand alone X-book.

Nightcrawler (2014): Claremont returns to one of his favorite characters  It’s an interesting read, seeing this classic master write in a more modern style. It doesn’t always work, but it’s fun enough to be worth a read.

Other:

Magneto Testament: It’s called a Magneto story, but it’s really a book about a young Jewish boy during the holocaust. That boy may be Magneto someday, but besides a few moments, it’s not about that. It’s beautiful and haunting.

X-Men First Class: A fun all-ages series about the original X-Men. Recommend if you want to read something with the Youn’uns in your life. (Not related to the movie of the same title.

Uncanny X-Men by Brian Michael Bendis: One of two sister runs by Brian Michael Bendis, Cyclops, Emma Frost, and Magneto are branded terrorists by the media, but they’re just looking out for mutantkind. Join the revolution or face the man with an X on his face.

X-Treme X-Men vol. 2: Although the first series is by Claremont and I’ve heard it’s of varying quality, I haven’t read it, so I can’t suggest it. The second series however, I have read and it’s a blast. The basic rundown is this, Dazzler ends up being sent from one alternate dimension to the next, recruiting a team of X-Men from different worlds. Their mission is to destroy ten evil counterparts of Xaiver intent on ruling the multiverse. It’s only two volumes and the finale is in the X-Termination crossover, but it’s really fun and if you want to read some really weird comics, this is your jam.

X-Men Season One: One of my favorite comics ever, this is my rainy day go-to book. A day-to-day standalone story about the early days of the X-Men, as told by Jean Grey. By Dennis Hopelss (Avengers Arena, Spider-Woman) and Jaimie McKelvie (The Wicked + The Divine, Young Avengers) craft one of the best interpretations of the original team and especially Jean Grey as this would become the definitive version of her going forward.

X-Men ’92: Another one of my favorite series, a tongue-firmly-in-cheek parody/homage to the most extreme era of X-Men. Two books are available, volumes 0 and 1 and both are well worth checking out. The X-Men battle Vampires! Psychics! Censorship! This is one comic you can’t miss! Or you can, I just felt Hyperbole was appropriate with the material. By Chris Sims and Chad Bowers with art by Scott Koblish (Deadpool) and Alti Firmansyah (Star-Lord and Kitty Pryde)

Worst X-Men Ever: What happens if all you want is to be special, and then you find out you have a super power. The power to blow up! Once. Might have been better off before. That’s what happens to Bailey, but when his parents are killed. He joins a team of reject trainees, and he’s the most useless of them all. A touching letter to the X-Men franchise truly as tragic as it is funny.

X-Club: Super science makes super snobs; the smartest X-Men have decided that they can science their way out of anything, but along comes a problem of their own creation because we can’t have nice things, especially if we grow it in test tubes. CURSE YOU SCIENCE!!!!

 

Top Recs:

Uncanny X-Men Masterworks 

Season One 

Worst X-Man Ever 

Inferno 

Cyclops Volume 1

So You Want to Read…Doctor Strange 

 

I’m kind of doing this one on a whim, so there’s not the usual amount of research going into this as some of the others I’ve written. It’s not a chronological list or reading order, just what I recommend.

Comixology is having a sale on Doctor Strange Graphic novels, and all of the graphic novels on the first section of this list are available for only $3.99 right now.

 

Doctor Strange Season One

Written by Greg Pak with astounding art by Emma Rios, this was part of Marvel’s Season One initative. These were original graphic novels retelling the origins of Marvel’s popular characters or new stories set in their early days. Most of them received lackluster reception, but his one, along with X-Men Season One and Wolverine Season One (I highly suggest both) were considered the standouts of the line. It’s a beautiful book and well worth reading. It’s available in the sale as originally released and in a volume called Strange Origin which also contains the first issue of the current Doctor Strange comic. They’re the same price, so if you want to sample the current stuff go with that. Speaking of that series…

 

Doctor Strange by Jason Aaron and Chris Bachallo.

I’ve been following this based on the creators involved and Bachallo’s art is simply stunning. His work is on point as it ever was in Spider-Man or Uncanny X-Men. Aaron, who has written pretty much every hero Marvel has along with creator-owned Southern Bastards (good series), is clearly having fun and adds some very interesting layers to Strange, his supporting cast and the very nature of magic. I’d recommend it, at least for the art. If you like the first book, read the rest. It just gets better.

 

Doctor Strange: The Oath

Just go buy this. Like, right now. It’s Marcos Martin, one of the best pencillers currently working and Brian K. Vaughn. Y’know, the guy from Saga. Fables. Runaways.Paper Girls. Pretty much any of the “Comics Aren’t Just for Kids” articles.

 

Why are you still reading this and not ‘The Oath’? You need me to sell it more? Fine. Wong, Strange’s Assistant is battling against cancer and Strange attempts to find a cure, but it gets stolen. It blends his two professions together in a really skilled way only possible by masters of the craft. Seriously. Go read it.

 

Doctor Doom and Doctor Strange: Triumph and Torment

Rogern Stern, legendary comic writer (Spider-Man, Hulk, The Death and Return of Superman Novel  [New York Times Bestseller]) and Mike Mignola, legendary comic artist (Creator of Hellboy) tell THE single best Doctor Doom story of all time. Every year, Doom travels to Hell to fight for his mother’s soul. Every year, he fails. This year, he has brought Strange. I’m not spoiling anything else, but it’s a hell of a ride.

Other books from the sale:

Peter B. Gillis Doctor Strange:

Peter B. Gillis’ 1970’s run is collected in three volumes; Into the Dark Dimension, Don’t Pay the Ferryman, and Strange Tales. I haven’t read it at all, but the volumes have art by Sal Buscema, Brett Blevins, and Paul Smith, which makes them worth at least a glance.

Marvel Masterworks: Doctor Strange by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko Volume One:

This is a collection of the original Doctor Strange comics. I have read the first issue, so I can’t speak on the general content, but this was Ditko at his weirdest and from the art I’ve seen here and there around the ‘net, it’s also some of his best. It’s worth a read. I mean, I’ll get around to it. Maybe. Go read it to say that you’ve read something I haven’t.

Doctor Strange Vs. Dracula:

It’s a couple of different stories by Marvel legends about what it said on the tin. I haven’t read it yet, but I had to buy it simply based on the title.

Doctor Strange and the Defenders:-Not in the Sale:

As opposed to the team on Netflix consisting of Street-Level heroes, the Defenders of the comics is a mismatched group who deal with magical threats. I haven’t read too much Defenders so I can’t necessarily recommend much, but I’ve heard Steve Gerber’s work on it was fantastic. Of The Defenders books I have read I suggest,

Avengers/Defenders War By Steve Englehart, Bob Brown and Sal Buscema

One of the best 70’s Avenger Stories, and there were a lot of great Avengers stories of the era, so that says something. It’s a titanic clash between two groups of heroes as they’re manipulated by Dormammu (Strange’s Big Bad) and Loki. The Defenders fight for the life of their teammate, the Avengers the fate of the world.

Defenders by Matt Fraction

This is a really fun series written by the other guy they talk about in those articles (Hawkeye, Sex Criminals, The Invincible Iron Man), Matt Fraction, with art by Terry Dodson, Jaimie McKelvie and others. It’s just solid superhero high concept stuff with a dash of metacomentary. Really good blending of art and writing.

 

Leave feedback! Tell me what you want to read! Next month will be Star Wars-The current Marvel stuff. Till then.

Nicoli Raymond is a writer based out of Illinois. He writes scripts, short stories, and articles on pop culture. He tweets at @NicoliRaymond Contact him at n.raymond616@hotmail.com . Dan Harmon and Michael Giacchino both worked on Doctor Strange, so you should probably go see it.

So You want to Read…Harley Quinn and the Suicide Squad

Welcome to So You Want to Read, a series about starting franchise comics, either from the beginning or by my own recommendations. Whenever possible I’m going off of the Trade Paperback/Collected Editions. I’m not super well-versed in either of the subjects of this edition, haven’t read a ton of this, so I collapsed them into one list.

Batman Adventures:

Mad Love:

Oh, man. Oh, man, this comic.

This is an Eisner-winning comic and it deserves it. (The Eisner are the Oscars of comics) This comic told Harley Quinn’s origin for the first time and was the first time she was the focus of any kind of story. Written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm with art by Timm and Glen Murakami, the book is stylish, well laid out, and so sharply written you may forget you’re reading. It delves into her relationship with the Joker in real depth and makes the formerly minor character into a real person.

It was also adapted into a fan-favorite episode of the New Batman Adventures. The cartoon is good. The comic is great.

Currently available in a volume with other stories titled (fittingly enough) Batman: Mad Love and Other Stories.

 

Batman Adventures:

Okay, so Harley doesn’t show up until Issue 12 in Volume 2 (her first comic appearance), but I’m recommending this entire series regardless. It’s based on the seminal Batman the Animated Series and is somehow just as good. Currently available in several volumes of paperbacks.

 

Harley and Ivy: 

Again written by Paul Dini with Timm on art, Harley and her bestie Poison Ivy (the girlfriend thing comes later) go on a rampage through Gotham and end up in Hollywood. The paperback currently available also includes other The Batman Adventures stories including the super fun Batgirl Adventures one-shot.

 

Harley in the DCU:

The above comics are based on the animated series and Harley ‘s appearances in those; the following take place firmly in DC’s standard publishing universe. (If it’s too much for you, these are comics with continuity from older comics, the other ones are comics based on a TV show based on older comics.) On a related note, none of these HAVE to be read after any other series, but the listing is chronological.

She didn’t actually appear in the main DC Comic Universe until 2000 in a one-shot entitled, fittingly enough, Batman: Harley Quinn. It was collected in a paperback of the same name with another assortment of Harley-centric stories.

This is part of the No Man’s Land crossover, although it doesn’t impact the story much. If you’re a completist, No Man’s land is collected separately in three paperbacks.

 

Ongoing Series:

After that Harley got an ongoing series. I haven’t read it, but it’s highly regarded.

Oddly enough, the paperbacks of the series are not numbered. The volumes are in the order that follows:

1.Preludes and Knock Knock Jokes

2.Night and Day

3.Welcome to Metropolis

4.Vengeance Unlimited

 

Gotham City Sirens:

Paul Dini wrote the first book in this series starring Harley, Ivy, and Catwoman with a second volume by Peter Calloway, once again, have not read, but have heard good things.

 

Classic Squad:

Legends:

Legends was a DC Universe crossover where the modern incarnation of squad first debut. Not required reading by any stretch, but if you want to see them from the start, here you go.

 

Suicide Squad by John Ostrander:

THIS IS IT, BABY. This is the good stuff. The series established what the Squad was and why it mattered. It wasn’t afraid to be dark and was certainly not afraid to be funny. It was smart, sexy and scary. (And by sexy I mean sleek and spy like. Not the gratuitous way Harley has been sexualized for the past decade.)

If you’re going to read one Suicide Squad series, it NEEDS to be this one.

 

Secret Six:

This title by Gail Simone is not technically a Suicide Squad book but is very much its spiritual successor and a great series in and of itself. Much of the cast of the movie also appears in it.

 

New 52:

 

Suicide Squad (New 52):

I’m putting this up because it’s there and a Suicide Squad series. It’s there if you want to read it, but I say avoid it like the plague. This is the series that started Harley being over sexualized in the comics and is just not a great book in general.

There’s also a follow-up, New Suicide Squad that’s supposed to be much better.

 

Harley Quinn’s New 52 Ongoing:

Harley got a solo series in the New 52 that reconciled her original version with the New 52 reboot and returned  agency to the character. The closest thing DC has to a Deadpool series, it’s fun and mirthful.Harley is established as bisexual, goes to Comicon, and even gets over the Joker. It’s a series well worth checking out.

There are also two spinoff series. The first is Harley Quinn and Power Girl where the Clown Princess and Kryptonian heroine go on an adventure through space.

The second spinoff is Harley’s Little Black Book, where Harley teams up with the heroes and villains of the wider DCU. There doesn’t appear to be a collection yet.

 

 

Additional Reading:

Gotham Academy-Killer Kroc

DC Comics Presents: Batman and the Outsiders or Katana by Nocenti-Katana

Flash: Dastardly Death of the Rogues-Captain Boomerang

Flashpoint: Secret Seven (Collected in World of Flashpoint: Batman) –Enchantress

 

Nicoli Raymond is a writer based out of Illinois. He writes scripts, short stories, and articles on pop culture. He tweets at @NicoliRaymond Contact him at n.raymond616@hotmail.com . He’s probably not going to see Suicide Squad in theaters. As always, feedback is welcome.

Image Copyright of DC Comics

So You Want To Read…Ghostbusters

Welcome to So You Want to Read, a new series about where to start reading franchise comics, either from the beginning or by my own recommendations. Whenever possible I’m going off of the Trade Paperback/Collected Editions. This is not a recap series, but there will be short descriptions for some of the books if deemed necessary to the rest of the franchise.

We’re starting with Ghostbusters as the eve of the new movie approaches.

1. The Source Material

The Movies-Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II-Classics, both of them, albeit of different quality. Make sure you have seen these before you plunge into the comics. If you haven’t seen them, shame on you. Why are you even here? Go watch them and come back.

Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)-Written by Dan Akroyd and Harold Ramis and starring the cast of the movies, this game happens before the comic series. It’s very good. The events of the game are referenced and the player character, The Rookie, shows up in the comic. May be hard to find nowadays and is by no means essential to enjoying the comics.

2. The IDW Ongoing Comics by Erick Burnham and Dan Shoeing

Erik Burnham and Dan Shoeing have collaborated on almost every issue of publisher IDW’s Ghostbusters ongoing series and the related spinoff and miniseries. Together they are a creative team to be reckoned with. Burnham has a distinctive writing voice, is able to synthesize the actors perfectly. Shoeing has a cartoony, expressive style well fit to the world of the Ghostbusters and is able to remind you of the actors without ever just drawing them. He’s also adaptable and during scenes in other worlds, changes to fit their art style. Cool stuff. Other artists including Tristan Jones also contribute.

The easiest place to start with the main IDW Ghostbusters comics is Volume One. Could’ve figured that one out right? The paperbacks are pretty linear from Volumes One to Nine. Those Volumes are also available in two hardcovers; Total Containment (Vols 1-4) and Mass Hysteria (5-9). The series starts up a few years after the movies and more directly after the game, The ‘Busters face Gozer once more, battle a new rival ghost hunting group, go on a road trip, get replaced and face the return of some old friends.

After that is the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters crossover (co-written by Tom Waltz), available in paperback. Actually part of the ongoing Ghostbusters series and a lot of fun, 100% would suggest.

Next up is Ghostbusters: Get Real, wherein the Real Ghostbusters from the cartoon of the same name meet the “Real Ghostbusters” of the movies/comics.

Get Real is followed by a single issue, Ghostbusters Annual 2015. The annual sees the team facing off against the Sandman as well as some short stories. This is not available in paperback, but your local comic shop may have a copy. Also available digitally on Comixology.

The next series, Ghostbusters International, picks up after Get Real and the Annual and as the name implies, the Ghostbusters go international. The first paperback comes out this month. It’s very fun.

3.Other IDW Comics

Before publishing the current ongoing series IDW published a few miniseries. These are The Other Side by Keith Champagne (W) and Tom Nguyen (A), Displaced Aggression by Scott Lobdell (W) and Ilias Kyriazis (A), and Haunted Holidays by Various. I have not read any of these so I can’t suggest any of them. I can say I’m not a fan of Lobdell, but that’s neither here nor there. Also Available is Ghostbusters Omnibus that collects all three of the series.

There are also two other Ghostbusters comics by Burnham; Ghostbusters: Infestation with Kyle Hotz on art. Taking place before volume one, this was a company-wide crossover without any crossover where zombies invade the dimensions of IDW’s different published properties including Ninja Turtles, G.I. Joe, Star Trek, and Transformers. The franchises never actually meet or crossover, only the zombies do, but it’s a ton of fun. The Ghostbusters story is available in the paperback Infestation Volume Two or the Hardcover collecting the entire crossover. Very briefly mentioned in Ghostbusters Volume One with no real effect on the plot.

Also by Burnham is The X-Files Conspirary: Ghostbusters with art by Salvador Navrro, in which shadowy organization The Lone Gunmen investigate the paranormal instigators…The ones in New York. I haven’t actually read this; It’s just sitting there waiting for me to… Anyway, it’s available in the X-Files Conspiracy Paperback. Another company-wide not-crossover, except they do crossover, but only with X-Files.

Finally, there’s the alternate universe tale, Ghostbusters Deviations, a one shot comic which asks ‘What if the Ghostbusters didn’t cross the streams?” It is a stupendous single issue written by Kelly Thompson with art by Nelson Daniel. It is amazing, I can’t recommend this enough. Available at your local comic shop or digitally through Comixology.

4. Real Ghostbusters and Misc. Reading

There are a couple of other Ghostbusters comics out there. There is an American Manga Ghostbusters: Ghostbusted by Tokyopop. I’ve read it. It’s all right. That’s all that’s worth saying.

While the cartoon The Real Ghostbusters was airing, there was a companion comic book published by NOW Comics, now defunct (finally. The history of NOW is really interesting and worth reading up on, especially if you’re a fan of Speed Racer). IDW has reprinted the series in two volumes, appropriately named The Real Ghostbusters Omnibus Volumes One and Two. Have not read, but I’ve heard good things.

Finally, not a comic book, but super cool is Tobin’s Spirit Guide: Ghostbusters Edition. This is an abridged version of the paranormal reference guide from the movie and comics, it’s written by Burnham with gorgeous illustrations by Kyle Hotz. Tobin’s is really cool, and there’s tons of ghosts from across the franchise covered. It’s filled with fun easter eggs and references to the comics, so if you’ve read those you’re in for some extra fun.

That’s all the currently available (in-print) Ghostbusters comics, broken down into a rough reading order. I hope you have as much fun reading them as I did!

 

As always, feedback is welcome.

Image copyright IDW and Sony Pictures

X-Men Reading Order (Work In Progess)

This is just something I’m working on for fun. It’ll be complete eventually, but this is just a look at the barebones of the project.

 

Silver Age (or books that take place during that time period):

Marvel Masterworks: X-Men or Essential X-Men (Same Material, different format)

X-Men: Season One

X-Men: First Class (non-cannon)

 

X-Men: The Lost Years (Enter If Ye Dare)

 

The Claremont/Simonson/Nocenti era (This is only a basic overview, could be more in-depth):

Marvel Masterworks/Essential: Uncanny X-Men

The Dark Phoenix Saga

Days of Future Past

The New Mutants

God Loves, Man Kills

The Mutant Massacre

Essential X-Factor

Fall of the Mutants

Inferno-Availible in two paperbacks

Excalibur Epic Collection: The Sword is Drawn

X-Tinction Agenda

Mutant Genesis

 

1990’s Post Claremont:

The Wedding of Jean Grey and Scott Summers

Age of Apocalypse

Joe Kelly run-

Alan Davis Run-

 

 

 

Early 2000’s:

New X-Men by Grant Morrison

Astonishing X-Men by Joss Wheadon

Wolverine: Enemy of the State

Old Man Logan (optional)

 

Mid 2000’s:

X-Force by Yost and  Kyle(?)

Messiah Complex

Uncanny-Fraction

Uncanny X-Force

Age of X

Schism

Wolverine and the X-Men Volumes 1-2

Uncanny X-Men-Gillen

Avengers vs. X-Men

Wolverine and the X-Men Volumes 3-4

Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences

 

Marvel Now:

Uncanny Avengers Volumes 1-4

All-New X-Men Volume 1: Yesterday’s X-Men

All-New X-Men Volume 2: Here to Stay

Uncanny X-Men Volume 1: Revolution

X-Men Volume 1: Primer

Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 5-7

Uncanny X-Men Volume 2:Broken

All-New X-Men Volume 3: Out of Their Depth

X-Men: Battle of the Atom

All-New X-Men Volume 4: All-Different

Wolverine and the X-Men Volume 8

Guardians of the Galaxy/All-New X-Men: The Trial of Jean Grey

Uncanny X-Men Volume 3: The Good, The Bad, The Inhuman

X-Men Volume 2: Muertas

X-Men Volume 3: Bloodline

Amazing X-Men Volume 1: The Quest for Nightcrawler

All-New X-Men Volume 5: One Down

Uncanny X-Men Volume 4: Vs. S.H.I.E.L.D.

X-Men Volume 4: Exogenesis

Uncanny Avengers Volume 5

Avengers and X-Men:Axis

All-New X-Men Volume 6: The Ultimate Adventure

X-Men Volume 5: The Burning World

Guardians of the Galaxy X-Men: The Black Vortex

All-New X-Men Volume 7: The Utopians

Uncanny X-Men Volume 5: The Omega Mutant

Uncanny X-Men Volume 6: Storyville

 

Secret Wars:

Years of Future Past

X-Tinction Agenda

Inferno

Age of Apocalypse

X-Men ’92

E is for Extinction

 

All-New All-Different Marvel Universe:

Uncanny-Bunn

All-New-Hopeless

Extraordinary-Lemire

All-New Wolverine-Taylor

Old Man Logan-Lemire

 

There’s tons more books and series out there. In case of the pre-200’s stuff, I’m pointing in the direction, not giving a comprehensive look.

The modern stuff is more subjective, and I’m only listing ones I like and think you will. (Except Avengers vs. X-Men. I only thought it was okay, but it’s important to the story.)