A friend wrote to me today asking what I could recommend for her teenage daughter who has shown an interest in comics. Here’s part of what I sent her:
Anybody curious about Batman should read “Batman: Year One” - Frank Miller basically creates the modern Batman, as well as the modern take on superheroes in one origin story. New readers coming to Spider-Man should check out “Ultimate Spider-Man” which starts from the beginning and is both funny and exciting. I don’t read a lot of Superman, but Grant Morrison’s “All-Star Superman” is pretty phenomenal - it tells the story of what Superman would do if he thought he was going to die - and includes all the things that make Superman great. “Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E” is among the funniest, most awesome comics ever written. “Invincible Iron Man” takes a very similar approach to the character to the movies if she likes those, and while it builds on a lot of existing comics continuity (the established history of every interconnected story from a given publisher) none of that is necessary to understand what’s going on.
If she’s more into stuff that isn’t all about superheroes, she should check out “Y: The Last Man” which is about a plague that kills every male on the planet - except one. “The Walking Dead” is great if she likes scary stuff - like the TV show but it gives me the willies. “Chew” is a kinda goofy/kinda gritty story about a guy who can relive the memories of anything he eats. “Hellboy” is way better than the movie - they label it horror, but it’s the creeping dread sort of stuff, not gory stuff. “Morning Glories” is about a REALLY trippy boarding school that I’m not sure I really understand, but I love. If she likes “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” there’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and if she liked “Scott Pilgrim Pilgrim vs. the World” there’s… well, you get the idea.
There’s also stuff that’s dedicated to teen readers like “Runaways” which is about a group of teenagers who find out that their parents are super-villains. I personally love “Spider-Man loves Mary Jane” which tells the Spider-man story from Mary Jane’s perspective and focuses on navigating the complicated world of high school. The same author also gave us “Nomad: Girl without a World” which takes a forgotten character from an alternate universe and shows us how she becomes a hero. One of my favorite Indie comics creators is Faith Erin Hicks who wrote: “Friends with Boys” about a homeschooled girl going to public school for the first time (with a twist); “The War at Ellsmere” about a poor kid going to a fancy private school for the first time (with a twist); and “Zombies Calling” about fighting zombies (with the rules of zombie movies - I guess that’s a twist).
If she’s interested in the latest and greatest comics being published, I’m stoked as heck every month to read Mark Waid’s “Daredevil,” Matt Fraction’s “Hawkeye,” Ed Brubaker’s “Fatale,” and Jason Aaron’s “Wolverine and the X-Men” - all of which started in the last couple years and are easy to get caught up on.
Naturally these are just starting points - if you have other suggestions, please let me know.