Every once in a while, I break out of the routine of pontificating about issues central to the geek life and actually get to reading comics. It’s a grueling task, but someone has to do it.
There are three series of comics I want you to start reading—and it’s easy to jump in, as they’re all just starting or fairly recent.
The first comic comes from DC’s Vertigo line of books and is called Trillium, written and drawn by Jeff Lemire. Trillium is, perhaps, one of the most innovative comics I’ve ever read. It both uses the tactile experience of being a comic book to its advantage and flips it over onto its ear, telling two stories from wildly different eras and smashing them together in the middle. Is it a science-fiction piece? Is it about an adventurer in the early 20th century? Is it a time-travel piece? Is it a story of star-crossed lovers spread across time? I’m not quite sure yet, but what I do know is that I love it. The first two issues are out already, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. It’s a comic that needs to be seen to be believed.
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy, written by Brian Michael Bendis and drawn by Steve McNiven, is still new, but the first trade paperback collecting the first six issues, called Cosmic Avengers, is out now. In a year, no one will be talking about anything but Guardians of the Galaxy because of the film version set for release next summer, but it’s going to blow minds and you’ll want to get in on the ground floor.
And really, who doesn’t want to follow the adventures of a misfit team of cosmic slackers that includes a giant tree named Groot and a surly raccoon that shoots people with impunity, set to lines like, “Kablam. I murdered you”? It’s absurd and fun and absolutely the right step for Marvel to take to reintroduce readers to the characters before the movie. Pick it up now and you won’t regret it.
The third series seems as though it would simply be a novelty, an experiment doomed to fail, but so far it’s a rousing success. It’s called The Star Wars. Dark Horse Comics allowed writer J.W. Rinzler to adapt for the comics George Lucas’ original 1974 draft of the Star Wars screenplay. One would assume that the final film and the first draft of the screenplay would be fairly similar, with few surprises—but after reading just the first issue, I can assure you that’s not the case. It’s more Flash Gordon than the eventual Star Wars was, and starts with an exhilarating bang with Jedi Bendu warriors on the run from the Sith. Gone is the familiar iconography from the movies; the designs are all based on the earliest images that were created for the film and have been lost in a drawer for years.
For any Star Wars fan, it’s a treat, and doubly so for fans of comics. The art by Mike Mayhew pays homage to the Ralph McQuarrie style, but lends a realism to the book so you can truly imagine what this film would have looked like had Lucas been able to go into production in ’74 instead of ’76. It’s a limited series, running only eight issues, so if you’d rather wait for the trade, it won’t be too far off.
If none of these titles sound like they’d be to your liking, go ahead and use this as a reminder to visit your local comic-book store and ask for a recommendation. They’ll never steer you wrong.
Bryan Young is editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.