I love lists, I also love comics. When these comics are collected into a trade paperback or a one-shot graphic novel; I love them even more. Here are my top 10 favourite graphic novels/trade paperbacks. Remember these are my favourite, it was quite hard just to choose 10 of these. So please leave a comment and let me know what your favourites are! Now let’s get Started.
Number 10 ‘The Crow’
I first saw the film of this, years ago as a kid, I instantly fell in love with it, it was one of the most stylish films of the early 90’s. I never read the actual book until last year. Now don’t get me wrong I still love the film, but the book is ten times better. Never have I read a graphic novel before where I could literally feel the writer’s emotions just pouring out on the page. Tragically if you are unaware, the writer of this book lost his partner which is what influenced him to write this and you can feel it. If you want to read a great story and feel emotional while doing so, this is a must-read.
Number 9 ‘Berserk’
I’m kind of cheating here by having this whole series as number 9, but trust me, this series deserves it. A few years ago I played this little game called ‘Dark Souls’, if you haven’t heard of it: 1. What is wrong with you?! and 2. Go play it now! Anyway back to the story, the game’s atmosphere and dark fantasy setting instantly drew me in and when I heard that a manga called ‘Berserk’ heavily influenced it, I knew I had to read it. This series is honestly one of the best stories ever put on the page (especially volumes 1-13). The art is supremely detailed, the story is always shifting and keeping you engaged and the characters are all humanly flawed. I recommend this book to anyone, but especially if you like things such as ‘Dark Souls’, ‘The Witcher’ or ‘Game of Thrones’.
Number 8 ‘Batman: The Killing Joke’
THE BEST JOKER STORY EVER TOLD! Even though Alan Moore (the actual writer of this trade) disregards this as just another fictional Batman story. You have to understand the importance of this novel. As famous as the Joker is, there wasn’t really the ‘definitive’ Joker story until this was written. Published in 1988, the Joker was a perfect mix of the funny clown prince of crime and sick psychopath. The events of this book would affect characters in Batman’s universe for years to come and has one of the most simple, yet best backstories, I think ever told for the Joker. ‘The Killing Joke’ has been a major influence to every Joker, ever put to film or animation, if you are a comic book fan at all, you owe it to yourself to read this amazing trade.
Number 7 ‘Wolverine: Old Man Logan’
Wolverine (one of my favourite comic book heroes) and Mark Millar (one of my favourite comic book writers), of course, I was going to love this trade. Wolverine, now just calling himself Logan; just wants to live a simple life in a dystopian future, with his family and pay rent to The Incredible Hulk’s inbred family. When he can’t pay the rent he has to go on a crazy road trip with a blind Hawk-eye to make the money. Yes, this is as crazy as it sounds, the art is graphic, yet stunning and fits with the story being told perfectly. This trade was a big influence on the style, of the highly acclaimed film ‘Logan’ released earlier this year. If you loved that film I highly recommend this trade (although this story is a lot more insane) and if you like ‘what if’ stories, just read this book.
Number 6 ‘Sin City: That Yellow Bastard’
The Sin City series is a neo-noir masterpiece. Frank Miller was on top of his game here and every story is a thrill ride. My favourite of the bunch is ‘That Yellow Bastard’. John Hartigan rescues a young girl from an evil senator’s son, who is a paedophile. But because it is the senator’s son, Hartigan gets put in jail. While there, a sick, disfigured man who has yellow skin visits him, saying any more will spoil it for you if you haven’t read it. This story was famously told in the awesome Sin City movie, if you haven’t seen that film, please do it is amazing. I highly recommend reading all of the Sin City graphic novels, but if I was to choose just one I would say this. Also, the great thing is that you can read the books in any order you want, so if you do like it you can read another Sin City book without feeling lost.
Number 5 ‘Batman: Arkham Asylum A Serious House on Serious Earth’
A nightmare in a graphic novel. This is a full psychological analysis of Batman, it’s disturbing, it’s sickening, yet you can’t help but keep turning the page to see what happens next. Written by Grant Morrison, one of my favourite writers, he showed a completely different side to Batman, he humanized him, this isn’t the normal Batman you know, it’s as if we are in a Batman’s nightmare. The art by Dave McKean is what really stands out here, beautiful paint strokes that sets this novel apart from nearly anything I’ve ever seen, just looking at it will disturb you. It’s one of the best selling graphic novels of all time, thanks to the fact it was released in the same year of Tim Burton’s terrific ‘Batman’ movie. So you most likely have heard of it, or even read it, but if you haven’t, well, what are you doing? Buy it right now! Just don’t read it before bed.
Number 4 ‘Sandman’
Similar to how I cheated with Berserk, I had to put the full series of Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ series. Neil Gaiman is a fantastic writer and has just had a hit TV series “American Gods” released this year. He has extensive knowledge on mythology and dark themes and these are also passions of mine. When he had the opportunity to reinvent the Sandman comic book series from scratch, he created something that no other word can describe other than ‘Masterpiece’. The story is of a character named ‘Dream’ a God who rules the world of dreams. There are various different situations that he gets put in and they are all intensely entertaining. If you love weird stories about dreams, mythology and dark themes I recommend this book. But even if you don’t, give it a try, because this series deserves your time.
Number 3 ‘Batman: The Dark Knight Returns’
The story that helped define what Batman is today. When Batman was created it was a dark, Gothic series and Batman even killed people. As the series went along, especially when the comic code authorities came along, it turned into a camp and silly comic book series.
It went from this:
Now I love Adam West’s Batman, but my favourite Batman is a dark Gothic figure. Frank Miller changed that he brought the dark knight back in one of the most important and gritty comic books of all time. This is one of the main reasons why this trade is so highly regarded, it changed Batman forever. If this book never existed we would have never had Tim Burton’s Batman, therefore no Batman the animated series and most likely no Christopher Nolan’s Batman. That is how important this book is, plus the fight scene between Batman and Superman at the end is awesome! Read this now if you haven’t!
Number 2 ‘Watchmen’
Voted by many as The best comic ever written and produced. I have put as number 2, why? Because even though I agree with every critic about this book there is just one book I prefer which you will find out later. Watchmen is a masterpiece though, it showed what it would be like if superheroes actually existed in real life, all the human flaws intact. It was written in an important time and has very heavy themes, which you might not pick up on, on the first read. It is emotional, it is action-packed, it’s disturbing; it is everything that makes the perfect graphic novel. Alan Moore was on his ‘A’ game here and delivers one of the best-written books ever (not just comic books) and Dave Gibbon’s art fits perfectly with the tone of the book. A lot of critics did not like the theatrical release of the Watchmen, but if you watch the extended cut, it is a lot better. The only complaint I’ve ever had against this novel is the ending. Since watching the film, I just think the ending of that is a lot more believable than what happens in the book. Apart from that, this is a must read even if you don’t like comics.
Number 1 ‘Batman: The Long Halloween’
Batman the Long Halloween. My number one pick as the best graphic novel of all time. This may not be the popular choice among most people and yes I am biased because Batman is my favourite superhero. But I have read this more times than any other graphic novel and every time I love it more and more. This is a detective story, a superhero story and a crime noir story. Someone is killing off Carmine Falcone’s mafia family one by one on every holiday, starting with Halloween. It is up to Batman, Jim Gordon and Harvey Dent to try and put the mafia families in jail and find out who this serial killer is. There are twists and turns in every chapter and the story features nearly all of Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Jeph Loeb has written a lot of great stories (especially Batman ones) but this is his best and Tim Sale’s art is perfect. When reading this you feel like you’re reading a detective story featuring Batman characters, not a Batman story with detective themes. It heavily influenced, arguably the best Batman movie ever ‘The Dark Knight’ and is highly regarded one of the best Batman stories ever. In my opinion, this is the best graphic novel ever, but obviously, opinions are bias and everyone has different favourites. I recommend this to anyone, as I truly think this is an amazing story.
So There we have it my top 10 favourite Graphic novels and trade paperbacks of all time. Leave a comment and let me know which ones are your favourite and thanks for reading.