Comic books, once thought to be illegitimate reading compared to typical books, have since blossomed into a prestigious medium capable of telling stories in completely new and exciting ways. And thanks to blockbuster movie adaptations and award-winning TV shows, comic books are more popular than ever. If you're new to comics, you might be wondering where you should start, especially when a story is ongoing. Not to worry though — just pull out your iPad, android tablet or e-reader and take a look at the best comics for newcomers.
A epic like no other
Written by Brian K. Vaughn and illustrated by Fiona Staples, Saga is an epic space opera that follows Alana and Marko, who fall in love and have a child together, an act that has greater implications than they could ever imagine. Noted for its diverse portrayals of ethnicity, sexuality, and gender social roles, Saga is a wonderfully original story with gorgeous art. It's currently on hiatus, which should allow you to catch up.
Who watches the watchmen?
Arguably one of the most popular comic books of the 20th century, Watchmen takes familiar superhero tropes and throws them out the window, shining a light on the harsh and ugly realities often ignored by the medium at the time. Watchmen dealt with mature themes and was one of the comics that helped the medium "come of age." Thanks to Zack Snyder's movie adaptation in 2009 and the recent award-winning TV series on HBO, it's become even more popular.
A revenge story
Written by Marjorie Lui and Illustrated by Sanai Takeda, Monstress tells the story of Maika Halfwolf, a teenage girl who shares a mysterious psychic link with a powerful demon. As she seeks revenge for the killing of her mother, she finds herself in between a war between the Arcanics, magical creatures who can pass as human, and the Cumaea, sorceresses who consume Arcanics. Monstress is still ongoing, so now is a great time to get all caught up.
With great power
Written solely by Robert Kirkman through its 144-issue run, Invincible is a story about Mark Grayson, the son of the most powerful superhero on earth, Omni-Man, and his rise to power as the superhero Invincible. It's a coming-of-age story, wrapped in the familiar trappings of a superhero origin.
Extra, extra! Read all about it
Fans of Stranger Things will find a lot to enjoy with Paper Girls. Set in a fictional suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls get caught up in a conflict between two warring time travelers. As the girls are frequently time-displaced, they learn and must reckon with the different futures and pasts they discover.
No kink shaming
Here's something a little NSFW for older readers. When Suzie and Jon meet at a party and sleep together, they discover that they share the ability to freeze time when they orgasm. Once they discover this ability, they decide to use it by robbing the bank where Jon works to save Suzie's struggling library. It's a funny comic with instantly likable characters that will charm older readers looking for a raunchy laugh.
Not paradise at all
Y: The Last Man envisions a world without men or any mammal with a Y chromosome, for that matter. Written by Brian K. Vaughn of Saga fame, the story follows Yorick Brown, an amateur escape artist, and his pet monkey Ampersand, the only surviving male on the planet. Catch up with the exciting sci-adventure before the TV adaptation hits sometime in 2021.
Young love sucks
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me is a graphic novel written by Mariko Tamaki and beautifully illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O'Connell. The book follows Frederica Riley, a seventeen-year-old girl whose girlfriend, cool-girl Laura Dean, keeps dumping her, only showing interest in a romantic relationship when Frederica starts showing interest in other people. It's equal parts heartbreaking and heartwarming and is one of the best YA books to come out in the last few years.
Based on the popular game of the same name, Hello Neighbor: Escape from Bosco Bay is the first volume of the graphic novel that expands the Hello Neighbor story, taking place in the ruins of a theme park in the 1980s. After her older brother disappears, Jen is determined to find answers and is hell-bent on exploring the abandoned amusement park, Bosco Bay, for answers. This is great for younger readers and fans of the stealth horror video game.
Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, has only been around for a few years but has already made a lasting impression on the Marvel landscape. The fangirl has carved a name for herself in the Ms. Marvel comic, which follows the young American Muslim as she balances friends, immigrant parents, and of course, supervillains. She appeared as the main character in Marvel's Avengers game, as well as set to star in her own show on Disney+ in 2021, so now's the perfect time to check in on her ongoing adventures.
Lets get your hands dirty
An ode to Dungeons & Dragons, Rat Queens follows the adventures of four foul-mouthed wanderers – the elven mage Hannah, the dwarf warrior Violet, the human cleric Dee, and the halfling thief Betty.
When a stomach ache isn't just that
Raina Telgemeier is well known for writing graphic novels for younger readers, but she really comes into her stride with Guts. An autobiography of Raina's youth, Raina retells the story of her discovery and subsequent battle with anxiety and how it affects friends, relationships, and school. It's a thoughtful story about mental health that kids will be able to identify with.
Grab a page turner or two
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Comic books are so much than just superheroes punching one another in the face, though there's plenty of that to enjoy. If you're looking for a sweeping epic to enjoy, we recommend checking out Saga (opens in new tab). It's a space opera that's unlike other sci-fi stories. It features some extremely gorgeous artwork by Fiona Staples. It's got something for everyone, and it's a thrilling read.
If more grounded stories are your thing, then take a look at Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me (opens in new tab). It's a relatable coming of age story, no matter who you are or where you're from. Mariko Tamaki's storytelling is breezy, and she creates instantly likable characters. At the same time, the color and artwork of Rosemary Valero-O'Connell help pages pop off of the page or off the screen.