By Jeremy DeFatta
(These are in No Particular Order)
Daredevil – Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, and various other artists
I have to say, I love it when the perfect character, writer, and penciler are united on a title. A great example of that is the Bendis/Maleev run on Daredevil. Say what you will about Bendis’s recent work; this may have actually been his prime. This also has some wonderful thematic crossovers with the other titles he was working on for Marvel at the time, namely New Avengers, Alias, and The Pulse. If you’re a big Matt Murdock fan like me, this is a must-read period in the character’s history. While I love Waid and Samnee’s current run on the character, this is a much darker and grittier version of Daredevil whose darkness and grittiness won’t make you roll your eyes in disgust.
Astonishing X-Men – Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
Not long after the idiotic cancellation of Firefly but years before Marvel entrusted the fate of their entire Cinematic Universe to him, Whedon had a roughly four year run on an X-Men title. I have to say, if you haven’t read it, you should. It is a work of genius with great character moments, the usual smattering of witty Whedon dialog, and great casting choices. With a team including Cyclops, Wolverine, Beast, Emma Frost, Kitty Pride, and Colossus, how can you go wrong? This is definitely worth a read and will make you wonder what else Whedon could do with the characters Marvel no longer has movie rights to.
Amazing Spider-Man – J. Michael Straczynski and various artists
Talking about your favorite Spider-Man arc of all time can be tricky and even erupt into outright fist fights. Though I may catch flak for it, this one is mine. After Marvel basically destroyed the character through a few terrible 90s storylines that shall not be named, Straczynski (of Babylon 5 fame) effectively reinvented the character, allowing him to grow up, move out of his aunt’s house, get a real job, and patch things up with Mary Jane. This run contains some of my favorite moments from a comic book ever, and I bear no ill feelings toward Straczynski for the hasty wrap-up or terrible editorial decisions forced on him at the end. I really, really wish more of this run were still considered canon.
Cable & Deadpool – Fabian Nicieza and various artists
Say what you will about these misfits from the 90s, but the right storylines can make them great characters (Uncanny X-Force, anyone?). Though I’m very tired of Deadpool after the recent saturation of the character in far too many stories, this book actually succeeded in making him funny for me. That, coupled with an iconic presentation of Cable—the stoic savior from the future who only wants to protect the world from the terrible mistakes it is constantly on the cusp of making—make this title one of the best from last decade in my opinion. Then again, serious moments punctuated with humor always get me. The issue that really makes the series for me, though, is one from its middle—a meeting and conversation between Cable and his idol, Captain America. Trust me on this one—check it out.
Ultimates and Ultimates 2 by Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch
This last one is a two-fer: the two series that are probably the greatest reason we now have an Avengers film. A lot of you are probably familiar with Marvel’s Ultimate line, launched about 15 years ago to give Marvel’s top talent a new universe to play around in with established characters without threatening primary continuity. In these books, Millar took tired old characters that hadn’t done much lately—namely Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, etc.—and breathed new life into them. Were it not for these stories, these characters would not be the financial powerhouses they are today. Want to know why Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury? Read these books to find out. Slightly spoilery tidbit: Hawkeye has one of the single most badass scenes of any comic story arc ever near the end of this run. You should all check it out.
Don’t forget to support your local comics shops! You can likely find these and more treasures there. Feel free to discuss these and your own picks below. Tweet me @quaintjeremy.
image: Daredevil, Chibidamz/Deviant Art