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Does heroic mutant and X-Man Wolverine’s latest cinematic adventure in Logan have you hankering for more stories featuring the man formerly known as Weapon X? While there have been plenty of films and cartoons featuring the clawed mutant, most of wolverine’s greatest stories have been on the comic book page.
But where to start?
The following 10 comic books are perfect starting points for new readers interested in Wolverine. From his origins to his post-apocalyptic adventures, these stories tell the best of the best of Logan. After reading the following comics, you’ll have a strong grasp on the character and be ready to dive even deeper into this fascinating character’s complex and compelling history.
Find more to read with 10 Essential Batman Comic Books for New Readers.
The worlds of DC Comics and Alan Moore’s Watchmen are officially colliding this year. But what does that mean? Read my piece in Arc Magazine!
What happens when a foundational memory from Bruce Wayne’s past plays into one of his current investigations as Batman? The trail leads him an actor and television hero whose knowledge and support are the only way to crack the case in the classic Batman: The Animated Series episode The Gray Ghost.
When reviewing the series as a whole, the strongest episodes of Batman: The Animated Series typically focus on iconic villains (like Almost Got ‘Im) or do something really out of the ordinary with the plot (like Over the Edge). On the other hand, the weakest episodes most often focus on original villains that are fairly bland and forgettable, which is unfortunately a trend with the first season of the series (like The Underdwellers or Prophecy of Doom). However, Beware the Gray Ghost is one of the few episodes that completely bucks the trend, using one-off original characters to tell a touching and meaningful story that resonates through its real world connections.
At its core, Beware the Gray Ghost is a story about nostalgia and human connection, as well as their positive and negative effects on others. The episode opens with a flashback to young Bruce Wayne watching his favorite television show “The Gray Ghost,” a series about a pulp hero fighting crime, which clearly has parallels to modern Bruce’s adventures as Batman. However, a series of bombings in Gotham City by “The Mad Bomber” has distinct connections to a previous episode of “The Gray Ghost” that also followed The Mad Bomber and his ransom demands. Bruce’s search for the old television episode leads him to Simon Trent, the now-washed up and desperate actor who once played The Gray Ghost.
A closer look at Brian K. Vaughan’s powerful Doctor Strange: The Oath – now celebrating its 10th anniversary! Read the story on TheArcMag.com!
Comic books have a penchant for killing off love interests for the sake of torturing their heroes and causing ever-escalating levels of dramatic tension within their stories. And of these countless deaths, the murder of Gwen Stacy and the subsequent grief and rage experienced by her boyfriend Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, is one of the defining deaths in comic books.
But for many, the death of Gwen Stacy is a more momentous and famous event in Marvel Comics history than it is a tragic loss of a beloved character. However, all that was redefined in writer Jeph Loeb’s Spider-Man: Blue, a six-issue limited series that ran from July 2002 through April 2003. The series sees Peter recording his spoken memories of the early days of his romance with Gwen, simultaneously processing the grief and happiness of falling in love through the prism of losing her years later.
Spider-Man: Blue was one of four collaborations between writer Jeph Loeb and artist Tim Sale for Marvel Comics that focused on a past loss for one of the comic publisher’s iconic heroes. Included in the series are Daredevil: Yellow, which saw hero Matt Murdock reflecting on when he began to fall for Karen Page during his very first days as a hero, Hulk: Gray, which involved Bruce Banner processing his beginnings as The Hulk and tumultuous relationship with Betty Ross, and the long-delayed Captain America: White, which saw Steve Rogers reflect on his time in World War II with friend Bucky Barnes.
In each of these tales, the central protagonists process their long-simmering grief in different ways as they seek to understand their losses and how they can still cherish their time with someone who died in part because of them. Some grow stronger, some wallow in their misery, but each are defined in some way by the departed loved one and the hole left in their lives in the aftermath.
In Spider-Man: Blue, Loeb and Sale strike a balance between very real grief and the joy of falling in love.
Superman vs Muhammad Ali – A concept so high, it’s illegal for it to drive. But what if I told you that this 1978 one shot comic book that pitted DC Comics’ Superman against legendary boxer Muhammad Ali in a fight for the very survival of the Earth isn’t just an outlandish good time, but a truly fantastic comic book in and of itself?
Because it really is that good.
Written by Neal Adams and partially Denny O’Neil with art by Adams, Superman vs Muhammad Ali was originally pitched by Ali’s promoter Don King, who sought to gain new ground for Ali in the comic world and was inspired by the success of the recently published Superman vs The Amazing Spider-Man: The Battle of the Century. By the time the story was approved by DC Comics and Ali himself in 1976, the heavyweight champion of the world had not only cemented himself as one of boxing’s greats, but a worldwide legend whose personality and beliefs had left a permanent mark on culture outside of his sport.
So who else could really challenge Ali as not only a powerful fighter but a champion of the people but Superman himself? The result was a comic book that not only appealed on the level of flashy stardom and wild fights, but a strong undercurrent of social and racial equality whose real life hero helped this message cross over from the multi-colored page and into the real world.
The antihero captivates in a way that encapsulates why audiences love both heroes and villains. Their often tragic pasts, murky moral codes, and unconventional story arcs can often enrapture audiences in deeper, more human and relatable ways than traditional heroes while still giving them a reason to root for them to win. From bounty hunters to killers to criminals, antiheroes in films, television, and books are some of the most beloved and memorable characters ever created.
The following 30 characters are the best of the best, representing all sides of the antihero character archetype and showing what makes them truly special. Have your own personal favorites? Let me know in the comments section!
One point of clarification, some antiheroes eventually change into full-fledged heroes. Those that have spent the majority of their time in fiction being heroes are not included here, such as Han Solo. For some of these heroes, read The 50 Greatest Heroes of All Time.