I have been reading comics almost religiously for a month now. Compared to my 19 years of life, one month seems minuscule, and it is, but the last 31 days have provided me with 31 opportunities to bury myself in illustration and just get lost for a while.
While reading has always been natural to me, understanding comics never was. I always had trouble following the arc, I would always miss speech bubbles as I read (which made the reading almost impossible), and by the end, something that was supposed to be enjoyable turned into the equivalent of running through an obstacle course blindfolded. However, as I matured and grew in my reading, I gradually found an appreciation for the natural art of a good comic book, and even though I am an amateur by definition, I have certainly been exposed to some breathtaking work. Here’s my list. Here’s my story in color.
1. 'The Killing Joke'
An easy choice for me and for most readers. While this wasn’t my first ever read, it was one that has still stuck with me to this day. I saw the movie beforehand and wasn’t overly blown away, but the novel was something else entirely. It was a breathtaking work of artistry from cover to cover, and I was honestly moved after reading it.
I own the recolored deluxe edition, and from someone who appreciates fine art, I’ve never seen anything like it. I'll never take for granted this incredible opportunity to dive into such a complex character. My nerd heart thanks you.
2. 'Batman: Under the Red Hood'
I actually saw the animated movie before I ever read the comic that it was based on. I remember instantly falling in love with Jason’s tragic story, and the direct tie-in that his death had on Bruce. Being someone who can appreciate a well-written sad story, Under the Red Hood is one of my all-time favorite reads. From the heartbreaking dialogue to the tragic internal war that happens between the two, I appreciated the chance to see the focus shift to Bruce’s personal struggles, and for the first time, to his complicated relationship with his son.
3. 'Batman and Robin: Born to Kill'
Okay, I love Damian Wayne. Like truly. He’s like a little Bruce wandering around, and I think that’s the cutest thing ever, but back to the comics. This story is an interesting one because it’s centered around Bruce and Damian, two people known for their lack of team working skills, learning to work together. It’s a bit of a struggle at first, but the real beauty here is seeing Bruce search through himself and find a sense of respect and love for his son.
4. 'The Joker: Death of the Family'
And we’ve finally made it to my first comic book read ever! Seems like a good first choice, huh? Easily the darkest story arc I’ve read so far, Death in the Family was one that I actually refused to read at night, and I’m normally not easily frightened. From the super graphic illustration to the terribly dark storytelling, I knew this wasn’t a story that I would be forgetting any time soon, and that, I knew for sure.
Good stories can change lives. That is a sentiment that I truly believe in. These comic books have changed my life, all in different ways. I am a person who loves to learn. I love to delve myself into a character and learn everything I can about them. Rich dialogue and breathtaking illustrations are just pieces of that, but they are beautiful pieces nonetheless.