Archive for the ‘Comic Book Lists’ Category

For our last booklist ever, we decided to feature titles that hearken back to DC Comics’ rich history in much the same way as the film version of New Frontier does. Within these pages you’ll find stories from the mid-century, as well as books that play around with the ideas of the time. Thanks again for supporting Graphic Content, and make sure to check out these books at our screening on Tuesday, June 17th at the Metro.

New Frontier 1New Frontier 2

DC: The New Frontier Volume One and Two (originally published 2004)

by Darwyn Cooke

The book that inspired the film, Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier is one of Graphic Content founders Matt and Erin’s favourite titles. It’s a perfect melding of Atomic Age commercial art with the marked shift in American culture that followed John F. Kennedy’s ascent to the White House (the title of the book comes from one of his most important speeches). After rules and regulations force the unmasking and retiring of the original super-team, the Justice Society of America (a theme also found in The Incredibles and Watchmen, among other books), a new generation of heroes must work together to deal with problems facing the world today. A perfect capstone to the Golden Age of Comics, and an incredible jumping off point for the Silver Age.

 

JLA Volume 1

JLA Volume One (originally published 1997-98)

by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter

Grant Morrison and Howard Porter’s JLA signaled a tidal shift in comics that was almost as important as the move between the Justice Society to the Justice League back in the 1960s. At this point in time, the JLA comics were mired in low sales, and had shifted focus almost entirely towards comedy than classic superhero drama (Not that’s there’s anything wrong with comedy, in fact that era is highly regarded these days, but there was a noted lack of gravitas in the field). This all changed with JLA, which sold incredibly well, featured some of the most resilient versions of these classic characters, and served as precursor to the “widescreen” comics style of the early 2000s. In JLA, the “grim and gritty” fad that gripped most comics during the late Eighties and early Nineties was shaken off, and a new era of important yet also fun books took the field in its wake.

 

Showcase Presents Challengers

Showcase Presents: Challengers of the Unknown Volume One (originally published 1957-59)

by Jack Kirby, Dave Wood and more

The titular Challengers of the Unknown form a big part of the story of New Frontier, and their adventures are especially important in comics history. In the 1950s, sci-fi comics were all the rage, and a young man named Jack Kirby worked on this one, one of the few books to not get abandoned in between the Golden and Silver Ages. Kirby used a lot of the same concepts later on when he and Stan Lee went on to create the Fantastic Four, a similarly-pitched group of science adventurers. Check out this massive volume of mid-century weirdness for fun, high-concept stories that heralded bigger things to come.

Batman Ego

Batman: Ego and Other Tails

by Darwyn Cooke and friends

This book collects some of Darwyn Cooke’s best Batman universe stories, which for the most part would take place after the character’s appearance in New Frontier. Batman must reconcile his dual identity in the titular Ego, while Catwoman takes the stage in Selina’s Big Score. If you enjoy the art style of the film, check out this volume for some more gorgeous work by Cooke and friends.

These books will be available Tuesday, June 17th at 6:00 at Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre for our feature presentation Justice League: The New Frontier! Come by early to check them out!

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For our team up with Comics! The Blog on The Incredibles we are pleased to present a fun booklist compiled in partnership with Brandon and James. This short reading list encompasses the themes of family and exuberance that we love in the film, as well as an earnest retro and nostalgic appreciation for comics’ rich history and aesthetics. For our fifth and final book, Erin analyzes Marvels:

Marvels

Marvels

By Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross

One of the unique things about the comics medium, especially the superhero genre, is the ongoing serial narrative. Comics have been telling stories with the same characters and within the same fictional universes for decades. These stories build on one another, new characters and concepts are added, and the narrative is reinvented countless times.

No other contemporary serial media, except for soap operas, date back so far and have such a rich continuity. This continuity can be frustrating for both new and seasoned readers, and readers anywhere in-between.  No one can possibly remember every adventure Spider-Man has ever had, or every timeline created by the X-Men trying to avoid a future dystopia, or every member of The Avengers. But this is also what makes superhero comics so wonderful to read, there is a real history, a real sense that these events have impact and that they matter.

With Marvels, writer Kurt Busiek and artist Alex Ross condense thirty-five years of Marvel history in to four issues. They touch on the most memorable events, from the beginning of the golden age with the development of the original Human Torch, to the end of the Silver Age with the tragic death a beloved character. Busiek and Ross do not simply retell these events to provide a primer for fans to bypass three decades of history and stories, but rather they reframe them from the perspective of a news photographer, Phil Sheldon. By providing a lens through which to view the action, Busiek and Ross supply a both a point of reference and an audience surrogate for the extraordinary events. Sheldon is down on the ground; he provides a human element to the superhuman proceedings. Through him we understand how society reacts to this changing and uncertain world, the awe turned to fear turned to gratitude. Marvels humanizes continuity, it shows us that these stories carry with them deep meaning and that they have impact.

While The Incredibles is an original story in a new and unique fictional world, its success relies heavily on conventions established in the superhero genre. Like Marvels, the universe in the film has a history with super powered vigilantism and a complicated sociopolitical relationship. So much so that when the film opens, superheroes have been forced into retirement and are living normal civilian lives.

The two works are also inspired by and reflect on similar eras of comics history. While Marvels literally revisits the material, they both create something new and fresh that reminds us as superhero fans of the optimism, paranoia, and adventure that make these stories exciting to experience, and re-experience.

 

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For our team up with Comics! The Blog on The Incredibles we are pleased to present a fun booklist compiled in partnership with Brandon and James. This short reading list encompasses the themes of family and exuberance that we love in the film, as well as an earnest retro and nostalgic appreciation for comics’ rich history and aesthetics. For our fourth book, Zach from Warp One Comics gives us a roadmap to Astro City:

Astro City

Astro City (Vertigo Books)

By Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson and Alex Ross

When it comes to human stories about family told through homage to classic superhero comics, Astro City is unquestionably a superlative example. Written by Kurt Busiek, illustrated by Brent Anderson, with covers by Alex Ross (Busiek and Ross also collaborated onMarvels, another of our picks for The Incredibles), Astro City has been published on and off since 1995. The comic is a series of short stories, each looking into the lives of different people living in the titular city, a city where superheroics are commonplace. Like The Incredibles, Astro City is noteworthy for telling relatable, believable stories through a fantastical lens. Super-powered people in Astro City still deal with the universal difficulties of building families, finding acceptance, and relating to their communities, just like the Parr family in The Incredibles.

The volume of Astro City we chose to accompany The Incredibles is 2011′s Shining Stars – a collection of short stories looking into the lives of four longstanding Astro Citysuperheroes. Superman-analogue Samaritan attends a tense dinner with his deranged archrival the Infidel during their annual one-day truce. Dispassionate android superhero (and Barbie doll lookalike) Beautie feels compelled to track down her neglectful creator. In doing so, she finds new appreciation for the family and friends she has chosen, rather than the inventor/mother who can’t bear taking responsibility for her. Astra Furst, youngest member of the Furst family of celebrity-scientist-explorer-superheroes, celebrates her college graduation with her very mundane boyfriend while pondering what to do with her adult life. Finally, the Silver Agent, Astro City’s greatest hero of the Sixties (the Silver Age, get it?), jumps through time on the eve of his execution, visiting, Christmas Carol-style, all the lives and eras he has touched and inspired.

Each of these stories has connections to the themes and stories of The Incredibles. Astra’s story is most familiar, as the Furst family, like the Parrs, are a deliberate homage to Marvel Comiçs’ Fantastic Four. (In yet another instance of metatextual comics punnery, the Fantastic Four are often referred to as “the first family of superheroes”.) The character’s first appearance in Astro City in the unfortunately out-of-print Family Album shows a preteen Astra run away from her science compound home to try to live like a normal person by attending a middle school incognito like the Parr children are forced to do in The Incredibles. Astra’s sense of isolation and desire for community is echoed by Violet in the film, and I don’t think I’m ruining the surprise for anyone when I say that both girls eventually come to terms with their differences, becoming more confident and sociable. The Astra of Shining Stars could be the Violet of ten years after the events of the film, past teenage awkwardness and facing adulthood’s new challenges of self-direction and trust.

Shining Stars’ other stories also relate to The Incredibles. Beautie’s family problems run darker than Mr. Incredible’s and Elastigirl’s marital struggles, but both stories use the trappings of superhero comics to vividly illustrate and dramatize relatable family problems. If Mr. Incredible wasn’t blinkered by a taste of the glories of his youth and shared some of Samaritan’s humility and wariness during a dinner in a supervillain’s lair, he probably could have saved himself some trouble. And despite the immediate bleakness brought about by the Silver Agent’s execution, he goes to it willingly, knowing that the public cynicism that brought him to this point will not last, and his example will provide a foundation for a noble and heroic legacy lasting for millennia. Throughout Shining Stars – and throughout all of Astro City – Busiek and Anderson create a believable, consistent, and fun superhero city. It’s the kind of city that could easily accommodate fashion designers for superhumans like Edna Mode, or where you can have a conversation with a coworker as he passes you in the street chasing a helicopter full of bank robbers. Both Astro City and The Incredibles use an anachronistic aesthetic, incorporating design elements from the Golden and Silver Ages of superhero comics in otherwise modern settings, creating worlds that are unmistakably fantastical, but also familiar and relatable, much like the stories they tell in those worlds.

 

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For our team up with Comics! The Blog on The Incredibles we are pleased to present a fun booklist compiled in partnership with Brandon and James. This short reading list encompasses the themes of family and exuberance that we love in the film, as well as an earnest retro and nostalgic appreciation for comics’ rich history and aesthetics. For our third book, Brandon looks at the original superhero family, the Fantastic Four:

Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four 

By Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo

In many ways, I don’t think The Incredibles would have existed if it weren’t for the Fantastic Four. Not only were they Marvel’s first superhero team, but they provided a blueprint for almost all superhero stories that would soon follow. Take a peek at any of the superheroes stories on the stands of your local comic store, or at shelves of your local video store, and you’ll be able to see, however faintly, the fingerprints of Reed Richards, Ben Grimm and Sue and Johnny Storm all over them – from storytelling style all the way to the construction of shared universes.

The Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo run on the book was a particular favourite of mine. Not only did it put a tighter focus on the group after their title had lost a bit of its direction, it did so with an opening salvo that reiterated the importance of the group during an era where darker “widescreen” stories were dominating the market. This naturally brings to mind The Incredibles and the way it embodies similar ideals, providing it’s own blueprint for just how wonderful and complex a relatively lighthearted drama about a family of adventurers can be. While others would dwell on darkness, counting on death and destruction to fill the seats, The Incredibles proves that these stories can be uplifting and poignant, while still providing a sense of stakes and emotional resonance. Both embody the ideals of a general good triumphing over evil, and a use of powers for a greater good. They inspire all to do what you can with what you have to make the world a better place. This, to me, is what super-heroics are all about. If only there were more comics and movies like them.

As always, all books will be available Tuesday, May 20th at 6:00 at Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre for our feature presentation The Incredibles!

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For our team up with Comics! The Blog on The Incredibles we are pleased to present a fun booklist compiled in partnership with Brandon and James. This short reading list encompasses the themes of family and exuberance that we love in the film, as well as an earnest retro and nostalgic appreciation for comics’ rich history and aesthetics. For our second book, Matt recommends Love and Capes:

love-and-capes-large

Love & Capes (Self-published, IDW)

By Thom Zahler

To me, what defines The Incredibles as not just my favourite Pixar film but the best Pixar film is the depth of interaction between its characters. These interactions between long-time friends, allies and loved ones elevate the material beyond the expected superhero punchups, and the speed and efficiency with which these connections are delivered to the audience replicate the experience of reading decades of continuity in mere moments.

The Incredibles has this in common with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, with the noted difference that The Incredibles is a much more enjoyable experience all around, a world that you wish you could live in yourself. The relationship of the former Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl is a highlight of comic book adaptations to the screen, an utterly believable, caring, even mundane marriage that survives the trials of supervillains and middle age with equal alacrity and good humour.

For a title that shares some of its DNA with the great characterization and interactions found inThe Incredibles, I chose the first collected edition of Thomas F. Zahler’s Love and CapesLove and Capes tells the story of Abby and Mark, a bookstore owner and an accountant who begin fall in love after working together. Once they start dating, though, it soon becomes clear that Mark has a secret: he’s also the super-powered defender of justice known as The Crusader!

The world of the story is a relatively low-key and friendly one for the current comics landscape. It reminds me a lot of another story we partnered with Comics! The Blog! to present for Graphic Content, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim, or perhaps even more so Glen Brunswick and Dan McDaid’s fantastic Jersey Gods in its effortless melding of the everyday and the superheroic. Abby and Mark are delightful, believable characters, and the love they hold for one another melds nicely, if at times strangely, with the super-powered world in which they live. Challenges that we mortals face, like bad days at work, or dealing with our partners’ exes, are magnified and made even more entertaining with the addition of tropes like superpowers and arch enemies.

As always, all books will be available Tuesday, May 20th at 6:00 at Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre for our feature presentation The Incredibles!

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For our team up with Comics! The Blog on The Incredibles we are pleased to present a fun booklist compiled in partnership with Brandon and James. This short reading list encompasses the themes of family and exuberance that we love in the film, as well as an earnest retro and nostalgic appreciation for comics’ rich history and aesthetics. For our first book, James examines Thor: The Mighty Avenger

Thor: The Might Avenger

Thor: The Mighty Avenger (2010-2011)

by Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee,  and Matt D. Wilson

When I think of The Incredibles, besides my immediate, almost automatic addition of, “You know, the greatest superhero movie to date,” I think of a few things.  First, I think of thecolours.  It’s a visually sumptuous movie, filled with bright, vivid colours.  Second, I think of its emotional and thematic depth.  The Incredibles is a feature-length animated movie that tackles issues of middle-aged ennui, marriage, growing up and deciding who you’re going to be – at several phases of life, no less.  Finally, I’m always struck by how, despite these mature or profound themes, the movie is still buoyant and utterly friendly to viewers of all ages.  It’s remarkable.  And when I think about comics with those qualities, there’s one that pops into my head the fastest: Thor: The Mighty Avenger, by Roger Langridge, Chris Samnee, and Matt D. Wilson.

At their most iconic, superhero stories represent big, easily accessible ideas and stories.  Often, though, the realities of serialized narratives and a universe of continuity mean that stories – even very good ones – mean they lose some basic accessibility by building on what’s come before it.  The Incredibles, as a standalone movie with original characters, is able to sidestep that.  And Thor: The Mighty Avenger achieves a similar result by doing something very similar: it presents familiar characters, types or story elements in a setting where you don’t need to know anything else.  Here’s all the intro you need for this book:

Thor is the Asgardian god of thunder.  He’s a good guy but brash, banished to Earth for an offense he can’t remember.  He likes Jane Foster.

And that’s it.  Even when other Marvel characters show up, you don’t need to know anything about them.  Everything you need to know is on the page.  It’s a beautifully self-contained story, but one with deep themes.  Family.  Shame.  Love.  The struggle to redefine oneself and adjust to a new life, one that might not have been what you wanted but is one you find you can’t live without.  Making connections with people who are, in a way, utterly alien to you.  Owning up to your mistakes and growing up is a Quintessentially Marvel Thor Theme(tm), and Thor: The Mighty Avenger strips away a lot of the extemporaneous trappings of comics continuity to present it in a pure, heartfelt way.

Despite those complex, mature themes, though, it’s still a colourful comic that’s kid-friendly, just like The Incredibles.  Samnee and Wilson give it a friendly, bright warmth that radiates off the page.  In a world where more and more superheroes grimace through ethically dubious decisions, the warm smiles and kind eyes of Thor: The Mighty Avenger, which flow beautifully with the bold and exciting dragon fights and punching of villains, jump off the page and into my heart.

In fact, though, things that made it so widely accessible – its all-ages-friendliness, its colours, its lack of continuity – were, ironically, what made it anathema so a certain brand of reader, who didn’t see it as “Important.”  I disagree.  I think books like Thor: The Mighty Avenger are exactly what we need more of: heroes being good people and good friends, making a world of colour and imagination.  I gave my copies to a friend’s son because I wanted him to have fun and learn about heroism the way I’m glad I did, by reading comics like this and watching movies like The Incredibles.  The pictures I was sent, of him almost too excited to keep reading, warmed my heart.  That’s comics.

As always, all books will be available Tuesday, May 20th at 6:00 at Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre for our feature presentation The Incredibles!

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To celebrate this month’s Graphic Content presentation of Speed Racer, we’re showcasing manga that epitomizes Japanese popular culture, specifically, those that have influenced our Saturday morning cartoon lineups here in the west. Featuring characters who are the absolute best at what they do (which in some cases is quite nice); read on, and you’ll learn about ace drivers, skilled surgeons, magical girls, and robot pilots!

Mach GoGoGo cover

Mach GoGoGo Volume 1 (originally published 1966)

by Tatsuo Yoshida

The original story that started a media empire, Mach GoGoGo is the story of Go Mifune, Speed Racer, a young man who is the best racer on the planet. Much like the eventual film adaptation, Speed Racer, Mifune comes up against all kinds of weird racing problems, including the giant Mammoth Car, the GRX “Fastest Car on Earth” and more!

Black Jack cover

Black Jack Volume 1 (originally published 1973)

by Osamu Tezuka

Black Jack is the world’s greatest surgeon, a magician with a scalpel who can cure almost any ailment. In this first collection of his adventures, Jack finds himself dealing with mysteries beyond the ken of most mortals. One of the “God of Manga’s” and Astro Boy creator’s most popular creations, Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack is a classic slice of Japanese pop culture.

 

 

Sailor Moon cover

Sailor Moon Volume 1 (originally published 1992)

by Naoko Takeuchi 

Potentially one of the most successful Japanese imports of the 1990s, Sailor Moon is finally back in print. The manga, which spawned the iconic anime series, remains in its original form, unflipped for American reading styles. The story follow Usagi, a normal junior high school girl who finds out she’s the heir to an amazing power and becomes the champion for love and justice, Sailor Moon! Usagi has to protect the world from the Dark Kingdom, bring together and lead her fellow Sailor Scouts, and find the hidden Moon Princess, all while dealing with the pressures of school and avoiding the incessant teasing from high school boy Mamoru Chiba. Sailor Moon is a beautifully illustrated fantasy full of adventure, romance, and friendship.

 

Voltron cover

Voltron: Defender of the Universe Volume 1 (originally published 2004)

by Dan Jolley, Marie Croall, Mike Norton, and Mark Brooks

In the far future, the planet Earth is defended by five great warriors, the Voltron Force! With their lion robots, they are able to deal with any obstacle, no matter how dangerous. Much like Speed Racer, Voltron became a beloved TV show over years of syndication, with a similar focus on machines and technology.

 

These books will be available Tuesday, March 18th at 6:00 at Metro Cinema at the Garneau Theatre for our feature presentation Speed Racer! Come by early to check them out!

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