Top Eight Comic Books for the Bizarro Reader
It has come to my attention that there are quite a few bizarro fans that don’t yet know the weird and wonderful joy of comic books. I’m not talking about Batman and Spider-Man (though they are pretty awesome). I’m talking about strange stories that bend the laws of reality and comics. The type of stuff that you should be reading if you like authors such as Carlton Mellick III, Cameron Pierce, and Kevin L. Donihe.
So here’s my list of the top eight comics that a bizarro fan should check out. You’ll find no spandex here. Just beautiful story-telling and balls-to-the-wall insanity
After each entry on my list, I also have a list of a few other titles by that particular writer that are worth checking out.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments.
1: Transmetropolitian by Warren Ellis
Warren Ellis created one of the most popular modern comic books characters with Spider Jerusalem. Everyone knows he’s just a renamed Thompson, but no one gives a shit. You’ll cheer him on his quest to bring back justice and democracy with his laptop and bowel-disruptor gun (Thompson had one of those, right?). He even has a chain-smoking cat for a pet. It’s awesome.
Also check out: Planetary, Supergod, Doktor Sleepless
2: Howard the Duck by Steve Gerber
The comic follows the adventures of Howard, who’s trapped in our universe. All he wants is to be left alone. He meets a kindred spirit in Beverley, an uncommonly beautiful woman. They just want a quiet life but multidimensional demons, wizards, some guy called Dr. Bong, and poverty all keep getting in the way.
The comic is a masterpiece of satire. It takes on politics, pop culture, and the comic book industry. Nothing is safe from the quick wit and quack-fu of Howard. Imagine Lewis Black writing a comic book. It’s like that.
Also check out: Howard the Duck ’02, Man-Thing, The Defenders
3: Preacher by Garth Ennis
An atheist minister from Texas inhabited by the spawn of an angel and demon, his hit-woman girlfriend, and his vampire best friend are on a cross-world trek to find God and make him pay for what he did to humanity.
No entry on this list is as gross, offensive, and violent as Preacher. Garth Ennis and artist Steve Dillon created an amazing world without morals. The main characters kill, torture, and cheat their way across the globe on their quest, but you cheer them on every step of the way
Also check out: The Boys, The Punisher, Crossed
4: The Invisibiles by Grant Morrison
The story is deceptively simple. Two secret organizations have been at war since the beginning of mankind. One is dedicated towards order and control (the Outer Church), the other to freedom and chaos (the Invisibles). The end of the war is coming and one side will win.
This is the comic book world’s equivalent of Jodorowsky’s “The Holy Mountain.” It is a comic book that leaves its pages and will literally start appearing in your daily life. Think I’m joking? Read The Invisibles and then get back to me.
Also check out: Animal Man, The Filth, Flex Mentallo
5: Y the Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan
Suddenly every male mammal on Earth drops dead at the same moment-except for one man, Yorick, and his pet monkey. At the moment of the disaster, he was proposing to his girlfriend in the Australian outback from his apartment in New York City. So begins his cross-world trek to find his love through a world in chaos.
Like the best high concept bizarro, Vaughan creates a vivid and detailed world from a simple and engaging premiss. From the first issue, the story is thrilling, engaging, and fascinating until the last issue.
Also check out: Runaways, Ex Machina, Pride of Baghdad
6: Swamp Thing by Alan Moore
A conscious plant that thinks it’s a man falls in love with a human woman. Also various supernatural forces are after the Swamp Thing. And hallucinogenic drugs grow from its body. And it beats up Batman. It’s fucking crazy.
While the character Swamp Thing is rather well known, few (or not nearly enough) have read Alan Moore’s classic run on the comic. Moore took a DC character that had been languishing in obscurity and completely reinvented it into one of the most celebrated and beautiful (in art and story) comic titles ever published.
The series ranges from adventure, to fantasy, to horror, to science fiction, but at the heart of the entire epic is the forbidden love between a human and a sentient chemically mutated plant god.
Fun Fact: Moore’s run on Swamp Thing introduced the British occult detective John Constantine, star of the comic series Hellblazer and played by Keanu Reeves in Constantine.
Also check out: V for Vendetta, Promethea, From Hell
7: We3 by Grant Morrison
The government has petnapped a dog, a cat, and a rabbit and turned them into super-killing cyborgs of war. One day the three animals escape and go on a quest to find something they know they miss but don’t really know what it is. Someplace called “home.’
Grant Morrison stretches his writing muscles and moves away from epic psychedelic comics to a miniseries dealing with man’s relationship to animals and how powerful the need to belong and be loved is. It’s short but powerful. I’ve had more than one friend break down in tears after reading this.
“Homeward Bound” as directed by David Cronenberg. Really, that’s all you need to know.
Also check out: Kill Your Boyfriend, Arkham Asylum, Seaguy
8: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore
Once again, ignore the terrible movie (why do so many of these great stories get made into such shitty movies?). Moore takes heroes from the world of literature and ensembles them into a kind of super-team. They then travel the world battling the villains from other classic works of literature.
Each volume of the series takes place in a different era and the characters and background reflect that and reference popular literature of the time period. It’s an English graduate student’s wet dream.
Unlike most of the other entries on this list, this series is still ongoing but the last book is due to come out next year.
Also check out: Lost Girls, Neonomicon, 1963