The Fire Wire’s Top 10 Graphic Novels

Here is a list of my all-time 10 favorite graphic novels largely dominated by early Frank Miller. If you have not read any of these, I highly recommend them as most are still in print. Links have been included to order. Enjoy…

Daredevil: Born Again

  

Daredevil: Born Again” is a 1986 comic book story arc that appeared in the Marvel Comics series Daredevil. Written by Frank Miller, and drawn by David Mazzucchelli, the storyline first appeared in Daredevil #227–231. Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli present one of the most defining Daredevil runs of all time! When Matt Murdock’s super hero identity is outed by Karen Page, Kingpin makes moves to destroy Matt on every level, targeting his relationships, his career and his very will to live. But just because Daredevil’s in Purgatory, doesn’t mean he’ll end up in Hell…

Order HERE.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns 

I stopped reading comics in the 70’s and after reading an article in Rolling Stone about Frank Miller, I picked this issue up and was immediately hooked. My all-time favorite comic book!

Rolling Stone Magazine #470 March 27, 1986

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is a 1986 four-issue prestige comic book miniseries starring Batman, written by Frank Miller, illustrated by Miller and Klaus Janson, and published by DC Comics. 

Writer/artist Frank Miller completely reinvents the legend of Batman in this saga of a near-future Gotham City gone to rot, 10 years after the Dark Knight’s retirement. Forced to take action, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of fury, taking on a whole new generation of criminals and matching their level of violence. He is soon joined by a new Robin—a girl named Carrie Kelley, who proves to be just as invaluable as her predecessors.

Can Batman and Robin deal with the threat posed by their deadliest enemies, after years of incarceration have turned them into perfect psychopaths? And more important, can anyone survive the coming fallout from an undeclared war between the superpowers—or the clash of what were once the world’s greatest heroes?

Hailed as a comics masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns is Frank Miller’s reinvention of Gotham’s legendary protector. It remains one of the most influential stories ever told in comics, with its echoes felt in all media forms of DC’s storytelling.

Order HERE.

Watchmen

In an alternate world where the mere presence of American superheroes changed history, the US won the Vietnam War, Nixon is still president, and the cold war is in full effect!

Watchmen begins as a murder-mystery, but soon unfolds into a planet-altering conspiracy. As the resolution comes to a head, the unlikely group of reunited heroes–Rorschach, Nite Owl, Silk Spectre, Dr. Manhattan and Ozymandias–have to test the limits of their convictions and ask themselves where the true line is between good and evil. 

In the mid-eighties, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created Watchmen, changing the course of comics’ history and essentially remaking how popular culture perceived the genre. Popularly cited as the point where comics came of age, Watchmen’s sophisticated take on superheroes has been universally acclaimed for its psychological depth and realism.

Order HERE.

Batman: Year One

Batman: Year One is a comic book story arc published by DC Comics in 1987 which recounts the superhero Batman’s first year as a crime-fighter. It was written by Frank Miller, illustrated by David Mazzucchelli, colored by Richmond Lewis, and lettered by Todd Klein. Batman: Year One originally appeared in issues #404–407 of the comic book title Batman.

This groundbreaking graphic novel reinterprets the origin of Batman—who he is, and how he came to be. Sometimes careless and naive, this Dark Knight is far from the flawless vigilante he is today. 

In his first year on the job, Batman feels his way around a Gotham City far darker than the one he left. His solemn vow to extinguish the town’s criminal element is only half the battle; along with Lieutenant James Gordon, the Dark Knight must also fight a police force more corrupt than the scum in the streets.

Batman: Year One stands next to Batman: The Dark Knight Returns on the mantle of greatest Batman graphic novels of all time. Timeless in its appeal, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli’s masterpiece would stand apart from the crowded comics field even today.

Order HERE.

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke is a 1988 DC Comics one-shot graphic novel featuring the characters Batman and the Joker written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. 

Critically acclaimed author Alan Moore redefined graphic novel story-telling with Watchmen and V for Vendetta. In Batman: The Killing Joke, he takes on the origin of comics’ greatest super-villain, The Joker, and changes Batman’s world forever.

ONE BAD DAY.

According to the grinning engine of madness and mayhem known as the Joker, that’s all that separates the sane from the psychotic. Freed once again from the confines of Arkham Asylum, he’s out to prove his deranged point. And he’s going to use Gotham City’s top cop, Commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant and beautiful daughter Barbara to do it.

Now Batman must race to stop his archnemesis before his reign of terror claims two of the Dark Knight’s closest friends. Can he finally put an end to the cycle of bloodlust and lunacy that links these two iconic foes before it leads to its fatal conclusion? And as the horrifying origin of the Clown Prince of Crime is finally revealed, will the thin line that separates Batman’s nobility and the Joker’s insanity snap once and for all?

Order HERE.

Elektra Lives Again

Elektra Lives Again is a 1990 graphic novel by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley, published through Marvel Comics’ imprint Epic Comics. It is a spin-off from Miller’s run on Daredevil and tells the story of the return of ninja warrior Elektra from death.

Despite the fact that Elektra died in his arms, Daredevil is plagued by recurring nightmares and terrible premonitions that his former lover and world’s top assassin-for-hire is not only alive, but active once more.

Out of print but used copies can be ordered HERE.

Frank Miller’s Sin City Volume 1: The Hard Goodbye

Legendary artist Frank Miller opened a noir opus in Sin City. This critically acclaimed triumph – honored by both an Eisner Award and the prestigious National Cartoonists’ Award – combines the pulp intensity of writers like Spillane and Cain with the gritty graphic storytelling that only Miller can deliver. 

Sin City is the place – tough as leather and dry as tinder. Love is the fuel, and the now-infamous character Marv has the match … not to mention a “condition.” He’s gunning after Goldie’s killer, so it’s time to watch this town burn!

Order HERE.

The Sandman: The Deluxe Edition Book One

One of the most popular and critically acclaimed graphic novels of all time, Neil Gaiman’s award-winning masterpiece The Sandman, is a rich blend of modern and ancient mythology in which contemporary fiction, historical drama, and legend are seamlessly interwoven.

This book collects the first two paperback volumes of the critically acclaimed series Sandman, issues 1-16, and Sandman Midnight Theatre 1.

Order HERE.

Kingdom Come

Kingdom Come is a four-issue comic book miniseries published in 1996 by DC Comics under their Elseworlds imprint. It was written by Mark Waid and Alex Ross and painted in gouache by Ross, who also developed the concept from an original idea.

In the near-future world of Kingdom Come, superheroes are ubiquitous, but heroism is rare. After decades as Earth’s champions, the members of the Justice League have all retreated out of the public eye, replaced with a new generation of crime-fighters whose brand of justice leaves humanity terrified, rather than inspired. But with the planet’s future in jeopardy, Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman must come out of retirement to make one last stand for truth and justice…

Order HERE.

Locke & Key, Vol. 1: Welcome To Lovecraft 

Now a Netflix original series! The graphic novel The A.V. Club named a “modern masterpiece,” Locke & Key tells a sprawling tale of magic and family, legacy and grief, good and evil. Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times-bestselling author Joe Hill (The Fireman, Heart-Shaped Box) has created a gripping story of dark fantasy and wonder—with astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez—that, like the doors of Keyhouse, will transform all who open it. The epic begins here: Welcome to Lovecraft. 

Following their father’s gruesome murder in a violent home invasion, the Locke children return to his childhood home of Keyhouse in secluded Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Their mother, Nina, is too trapped in her grief—and a wine bottle—to notice that all in Keyhouse is not what it seems: too many locked doors, too many unanswered questions. Older kids Tyler and Kinsey aren’t much better. But not youngest son Bode, who quickly finds a new friend living in an empty well and a new toy, a key, that offers hours of spirited entertainment. But again, all at Keyhouse is not what it seems, and not all doors are meant to be opened. Soon, horrors old and new, real and imagined, will come ravening after the Lockes and the secrets their family holds. 

Order HERE.

Published by Larry Fire

I write an eclectic pop culture blog called THE FIRE WIRE that features articles about books, comics, music, movies, television, gadgets, posters, toys & more!

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