Forget the Movies, Read the Comic Books

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Illustration by Aaron Ughoc

This year has been jam-packed with comic book movies, already squeezing in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Logan. With November promising Thor: Ragnarok and Justice League, it’s easy for us sweaty nerds to get caught up in the cinema scene, but we shouldn’t forget the marvelous source material. We are living in a beautiful time to be a nerd, our current era being dubbed the “Second Golden Age of Comics.” With so many amazing comics out now, here are a few you should be reading.

Paper Girls is perfect for anyone who loves cheesy ‘80s movies about potty-mouthed kids and monsters. Brian K. Vaughan, writer of Saga, The Runaways, and Y: The Last Man, and Cliff Chiang, known for his beautiful pencils on New 52 Wonder Woman make up the series’ creative team. Very much in the vein of The Goonies, or more recently Stranger Things and IT, Paper Girls is about, well, paper girls. In 1988, a handful of middle school girls discover something afoot in their suburban town. It’s wacky and wonderful, and at least worth a read.

Local author David F. Walker’s Occupy Avengers may be the best Hawkeye story since the legendary 2012 arc by fellow Portland comic writer Matt Fraction. Penciled by Carlos Pacheco, the book follows Clint after the events of Civil War 2. Disowned by the superhero community, Hawkeye takes to traveling the U.S., helping right wrongs all around the country in communities often overlooked by superheroes. For any reader with a taste for social justice and commentary, Occupy Avengers is for you. Sadly, this series was cancelled after only nine issues, despite love from fans and critics. Fortunately, the entire series has been collected into two trades, so you don’t have to hunt for them.

While it’s a great time to be a comic book fan, it’s just as good a time to be a Star Wars fan. Lucasfilm and Disney have been killing it in film, TV, books and comics. Star Wars: Darth Maul is a miniseries written by Cullen Bunn and penciled by Luke Ross, four issues about one of the most badass Star Wars characters. I mean, he kept himself alive after being hacked in half, using only the power of pure hatred. That’s pretty metal. With Star Wars: The Clone Wars fan favorites Cad Bane and Aurra Sing in supporting roles and a Fugitive-esque storyline, Maul must find and kill a missing Jedi Padawan. Rage and carnage follow. It’s dark, violent and even funny at times. I found myself tearing through this series.

I know what you’re thinking: where is my DC love? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Following the New 52 reboot a few years ago, DC rebooted, or recombined, or something. In an attempt to bring more New 52 stories into the same continuity as their golden age stories, someone did something, and that’s not me being coy: they simply haven’t explained what all has happened. Despite this annoying decision, Tom King’s work on Batman Rebirth has been great—not quite on the same level as Scott Snyder’s New 52 run, but certainly fun. With new vigilantes Gotham and Gotham Girl and an epic gang war between the Joker and the Riddler, Batman Rebirth also made Kite Man not only interesting, but one of my favorite tragic Batman villains, almost on par with Mr. Freeze. Batman Rebirth may be some of the best work not only at DC but in all of comics right now.

While there are a ton of other great series out you should be reading, like the Rick and Morty comic book and Superman Rebirth, these are just a few of what I’m geeking out over.

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