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Five For Friday #40—Recommend Five Titles for CR Reader Tim Buck
posted July 29, 2005

It's Master Class Time! The key is to come up with five titles to recommend to Mr. Buck, so consensus will also play a role, and don't be shy about writing in if you have only 1-3 suggestions. To be honest, I'm really terrible about recommending titles, so please help!


Mr. Tim Buck of Jonesboro, Arkansas Writes:

"I recently discovered your site and have spent enjoyable, enlightening hours poring over it. I wonder if you have the time or inclination to suggest a few comics that I might like? First the long, boring background to provide a context:

I'm a 52-year-old male who grew up with EC, DC, and Marvel comics in the '50s and '60s (I had two pristine bagged copies of Silver Surfer #1 in 1968 but, alas, lost track of them over the years). After high school, I lost interest in comics. In the '90s, my teenage sons, inspired by the films, began to collect Batman comics. One day, waiting while they shopped in our city's comic book shop, I was drawn to a Sandman cover. Later, I came back and purchased it and several backissues. Well, that reopened the door to my lost love of comics. Sandman led to Books of Magic, the Dreaming, Lucifer, etc., and at the same time nostalgia prompted me to begin repurchasing old Marvels from ebay. I've since accumulated a respectable regathering of Dr. Strange, Sgt. Fury, and Nick Fury (still working on the Thors, but Silver Surfer in VF is out of my price league). So, the old Marvels inspired me to begin getting the newer Daredevil releases (as well as some older Frank Miller runs), which led to other eclectic items for the pull file: Planetary, Red Star, Dark Horse's Ring of the Nibelung series, etc. But now that these have ceased their runs, and with my Daredevil interest having subsided, I'm basically left empty-handed, though I think I might pick up the new Defenders series from Marvel, as well as their Icon one-shot Dream Police.

Given the above rather sketchy, all-over-the-map coordinates of interest, could you suggest some titles I might get that would -- somehow -- fall into the general milieu? Neither Powers nor Top Ten really interest me, for some reason."

Top Five (through Mr. Fraga)

1. Astro City (4)
2. Ex Machina (4)
3. Fables (4)
4. DC: The New Frontier (3)
5. The Walking Dead (3)

Individual Suggestions

Tom Spurgeon

1. Ex Machina
2. Sleeper Volumes One and Two
3. Ed Brubaker's Current Old-School Captain America Run


Jonathan Hastings

1. Fables
2. Ex Machina
3. Jack Staff
4. The Ultimates


Marc Sobel

1. Gotham Central
2. Stray Bullets
3. Y: The Last Man
4. Strangehaven
5. The Walking Dead


Benjamin Bayliss

1. Humor: Bone. Don't let the "Shmoo" look of the title characters fool you. This is one great action/adventure/humor book. Also, Jeff Smith (writer and artist) is a great guy and lives in my adopted hometown and therefore deserves the top spot in my list.

2. I agree with Tom on this one: Ex Machina. Superheroes (sorta) with Political intrigue.

3. Another one I agree with Tom on: Sleeper. Gritty, adult superhero stories.

4. Fables. How could you not like this story?? Fable characters (Little Boy Blue, Snow White, Jack from Jack and the Beanstalk, etc.) used to live in "alternate universes" until The Adversary invades and conquers their lands. This invasion forces them to come to our reality and rebuild their lives amid murders mayoral races (Old King Cole vs. Prince Charming) and the mystery of just who the Adversary really is (I suspect it's George Bush.)

5. Those Annoying Post Brothers and/or Savage Henry (from the website) "Two funloving but extremely twisted bad-boys hailing from the wrong side of Bugtown. They are very greedy, pathologically trigger-happy, completely corruptible, endlessly irritating, psychotically solipsistic, and - unfortunately for all - possessed of the ability to instantly shift between all possible reality levels. The Universe is their oyster, and they like it raw."

If I were to add a sixth book it's be Astro City.


Andrew J. Mansell

1. Fables -- not perfect but it is fun!!!
2. Astro City -- especially the first trade
3. Age of Bronze
4. Louis Riel
5. Promethea -- better read all at once!!!!!


Jeremy Powell

1. Astro City
2. Inhumans (Jenkins & Lee's miniseries)
3. New Frontier
4. Tom Strong (Books 1 & 2)
5. Arrowsmith


Ralf Haring

I'm making exceptions to the rule of five just because I can.

First off, Murder Mysteries from Dark Horse is a shoe-in because you liked Sandman enough to follow it to spinoffs like Lucifer. It's also by Gaiman and P. Craig Russell and is a prequel of sorts to the whole Sandman stuff set before Lucifer's rebellion. Since it's not actually published by DC, people often overlook it.

1. Usagi Yojimbo - Comments for Bone above apply to this as well. At least the first part, not the part about Jeff Smith living in someone's hometown.
2. Fables
3. 100 Bullets
4. Queen & Country
5. The Walking Dead
6. Stray Bullets

Finally, Age of Bronze from Image and Phoenix/Adolf/Buddha from Viz & Vertical are too good not to mention.


Lauren Katzive

Legion of Superhereos
True Story, Swear to God
New Grimjack mini
Desolation Jones


Peter Birkemoe, The Beguiling

1. DC: The New Frontier
2. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1 & 2
3. Hicksville
4. Jimmy Corrigan
5. Hellboy


Chris Butcher, The Beguiling

If he came into the store and said to me what he said to you, this is probably what I'd steer him towards:

Graphic Novels
1. DC: The New Frontier 1 & 2, by Darwyn Cooke
- A fantastic reimagining of the early DCU, with spectacular art and all the characters this fellow seems to have nostalgia for.
2. Hicksville, by Dylan Horrocks
- A perfect bridge between superhero comics and comics for adults. It reminds you of why you have nostalgia for the great comics you've read, without wallowing in that nostalgia. A thoroughly excellent graphic novel.
3. It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken, by Seth
- Another great graphic novel for adults that makes for a perfect introduction into the wider world of alt-comix. Besides, I think Seth may take the cake for capturing nostalgic rememberence on the comics page, particularly nostalgia for comics and comics art.
4. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 1 & 2, By Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill
- Just very good, really.
5. Marvel 1602, By Neil Gaiman and one of the Kuberts
- While I didn't personally enjoy the ending very much, it was a favourite of many of our customers and I think the combination of Marvel superheroes and Mr. Gaiman's pen would be right up his alley.

I'd also talk to him more, and find out if he had been following Gaiman's work since he was first hooked by Sandman. Usually, we recommend ancilliary material like Hanging With the Dream King to let customers know what else their favourite creators have worked on, but I'd also walk him through the various Dark Horse adaptations of Gaiman's work, the Death graphic novels, the post-Sandman Sandman projects, etc.

Ongoing Series
I noticed that Mr. Buck seemed to be interested in collecting serial comics and was looking for a regular 'fix' rather than just shooting for graphic novels to read. If that's the case, I'd recommend the following serialized works:

1. Ex Machina, by Brian K. Vaughn and Tony Harris
- Vaughn ends every issue of this series on a cliffhanger. Even the issues that end arcs or trade paperbacks somehow manage to end on cliffhangers. Because of this, Ex Machina is a very fun monthly read. Solid characterization and pretty art too.
2. The Walking Dead, by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
- Same as Ex Machina, really. Every issue ends on a cliffhanger, and it has very solid characterization and some of Charlie Adlard's nicest art.
3. Astro City: Dark Ages, by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson
- A new 24-issue series of Astro City, Darl Ages is so far quite good but probably doesn't have much in the way of 'weight' for brand-new readers. If you're willing to make an investment, check out the Astro City: Life in the Big City and Astro City: Tarnished Angel first, and then leap into this new series.
4. Gotham Central, by Rucka/Brubaker and Various
- Although DC's handled the trade paperback collections of this series fairly poorly (back issues are difficult to find and only the first 10 issues are collected in trade paperback), you should be able to jump on at the beginning of any new arc once you've read the first (or better yet, first-and-second) trade paperback(s).
5. Desolation Jones, by Warren Ellis and JH Williams
- As a Planetary fan, I'd recommend Ellis' new series which has much of the spark of Planetary, albeit without the superheroic trappings. It may be a bit extreme for your tastes though.


T Fraga

1 - Doc Frankenstein
2 - Shaolin Cowboy