Our second Community article is here and you may have noticed we now have a name! We are the Geekstalkers, a group of awesome people, podcasts and ponderers of all things geek and pop culture! This month’s topic is comics, below you will find each members favourite comic which will range from a single issue, collected story or series. Nothing is off limits here and I guarantee you will want to go out and pick up at least one of these titles (I’ve already got a few on order!)

Without further ado, take a look at what the Geekstalkers have to say!

Ben from SuperNerds UK – @HailLeviathan, @SuperNerdsUK

When I found out that this month’s topic was favourite comics, one jumped straight to mind.  Not what most people would expect from me either I suppose.
Mark Waid and Mike Weiringo’s run on Fantastic Four from the early 2000’s.
They managed to make a bright, pop culture referencing, Sci fi, family oriented action comedy while still fitting in the paranoia and danger of post 9/11 America.
The storyline was woven in and out of several mini arc’s, with Doctor Doom making magical armor from his dead girlfriend’s skin and finally getting the best of Reed and family.

To say any more would spoil it, as it truly has some big moments, wacky Kirby-esque villains (including a bad guy made of maths) and massive twists. This really is the best way to write the FF, don’t go too dark, but don’t treat it like fluff. A lesson Fox studios could probably take on board

Chris Smolinski – @RamblingRiter

Since I know absolutely nothing about comics and have only read a select few, I was going to sit out. I decided not to because my favorite is one of the best, or so I have been told. My pick for favorite comic is The Killing Joke.

I first came upon this comic in a writing class. I read it and instantly fell in love with it. At the time I wasn’t a huge Joker fan, but it was great seeing an origin story for him. Just a goofy string bean of a man trying to make it as a standup comic.

the-killing-joke

Then ONE BAD DAY changes everything. I really think the best part is the joke at the end.

“See, there were these two guys in a lunatic asylum… And one night, one night they decide they don’t like living in an asylum any more. They decide they’re going to escape! So, like, they get up onto the roof, and there, just across this narrow gap, they see the rooftops of the town, stretching away in the moon light… stretching away to freedom. Now, the first guy, he jumps right across with no problem. But his friend, his friend did not dare make the leap. Y’see… Y’see, he’s afraid of falling. So then, the first guy has an idea… He says ‘Hey! I have my flashlight with me! I’ll shine it across the gap between the buildings. You can walk along the beam and join me!’ B-but the second guy just shakes his head. He suh-says… He says ‘Wh-what do you think I am? Crazy? You’d turn it off when I was half way across!'”

To me this is about the two of them. I think the joke is indicative of the relationship between the two. Both men in the joke are insane, and Batman and the Joker are both insane, the line between them isn’t as drastic as it may seem. The Joker has completely accepted his insanity, but Batman is still fighting his.

It will forever be my favorite no matter how many comics I read.

Ben from #nerdschatting – ben@nerdschatting, @nerdschatting

Everyone should read Invincible

Anyone that listens to our podcast, or follows us on Twitter knows that both Ben and Nate LOVE the Robert Kirkman/Corey Walker/Ryan Ottley created comic book, Invincible.

invincible

Big surprise huh?! However, you may not know why.

So let me try and paint an appealing picture so that one day, if you happen upon it in your local comic book store, or on ComiXology.. or they turn it into a TV show (come on HBO) or a movie (back off Zack Snyder).. you’ll have an idea of what to expect.

Invincible #1 was released in January 2003. The basic premise of the story is as follows:

High school teenager and everyman character Mark Grayson (bit like SpiderMan) knows that his father, Nolan Grayson, is the world famous hero – Omni Man. Mark also knows his father is from another planet (bit like Superman?) and will likely inherit super powers any day now (bit like SuperBoy), and he does in issue 1. Mark decides to become the Superhero known as Invincible, and he joins a team of other young superheroes called The Teen Team. This all plays along nicely for a few issues as we experience Mark learn to be a hero, fight the bad guy and save the day. Then something you absolutely don’t expect happens with the Guardians of the Globe (who are literally an Elseworlds version of the Justice League with maybe one noticeable X men/Avenger thrown in there for kicks!) and then you suddenly realise that even though this is a comic book about superheroes, it’s also a comic book where anything can and usually does happen, and no one is safe.

Robert Kirkman said the following about Invincible from an interview in 2008. “It’s everything I like about superhero comics thrown into one book. It’s subplots, character development, crazy action, larger than life villains and just every single thing that I want to see in a superhero comic! I want it to be a sprawling epic that lasts for issues and issues”.

What many of you will already know, if you have been reading The Walking Dead, is that Robert Kirkman is adept at writing human interest and drama. Where your pre-conceived notions are challenged and you ask yourself what you would do in any given situation. This carries over into Invincible, plus the people asking the moral questions have super powers. The stories are often times shocking, scary, funny, heart warming and heart breaking. They keep you turning the page and coming back for more. This separates it from all other long running super hero stories in my opinion… including batman, Superman, SpiderMan.

The best/worst thing about Invincible is that it finishing at the end of this year with a final 12 issue arc called, The End of All Things.

That’s the worst because I will miss these stories and characters, and the universe they live in.

However it’s the best because it will be a complete story that has a start, middle and an end. Kirkman has promised to tie up all the loose ends, and there are a lot of things to tie up in 12, now 11 issues as part 1 dropped last week.

Markus – @TheMarckoguy

I live in Sweden, which is a country that doesn’t really have comic book stores like in the UK or the US. So I haven’t been able to read a lot of comics in my life. It’s only recently that I’ve begun reading them, and even then I haven’t read that much. As a matter of fact, I have really only read one title. But I feel confident saying that I love it. The comic in question is Hellblazer, the supernatural thriller from DC/Vertigo. For the few that might not know, Hellblazer is about exorcist/con artist John Constantine, a man who runs into all kinds of supernatural trouble.

I haven’t read all of Hellblazer (To be quite honest, I have only read 2 of the 36 collections, 16 of which haven’t even been released yet) but I can still say that I love it. Constantine is a fascinating character, and the situations he gets into makes for some very interesting reading. Jamie Delano’s writing is definitely what makes everything as great as it is, though the art is definitely something to behold as well. My interest in the comic was of course created by my love for the Constantine TV show and also by my enjoyment of the 2005 Constantine movie. And I have to say that the comic hasn’t disappointed me yet, so I am very excited to read more of it.

Jimbob Squarepants – @VintageGt

SO…the remit is a favourite comic. There are so many older titles I could have gone with I decided to go with something current so others can easily access this if they wish to give it a try.

My pick is Detective Comics, specifically the current run in Rebirth.

This title has been a mainstay for me for decades and has, with some occasional dips in quality, rarely failed to deliver and the current run in Rebirth is no exception. It is in my opinion easily the best title in the so far hugely successful Rebirth run of titles.

detective-comics

I’m a huge Batman fan so it’s a no brainer from that point of view but it includes such a varied and eclectic cast of characters that the entertainment factor is always there for me. The team they assembled this time was a bold choice and certainly a surprise with the inclusion Clayface and his opportunity to redeem past wrong doings by doing some good. He is a lifetime favourite of mine in Bat-lore so his inclusion was very welcome to me. Batwoman has been a surprise hit, so much so that she has her own spin off solo title now which I believe is going to great and also well worth the investment. Her having a main character arc in this run has been very good for the story as a whole and shows her very worthy of her own solo run. Tim Drake is my favourite Robin so his presence, along with Spoiler who is a mainstay of any good Tim Drake story, is a firm winner with me. Finally, Orphan. My exposure to her has been limited in the past but all I can say now is this is another character who needs a solo arc. I’m hugely intrigued by her and think she’s a great character who I will endeavour to seek out and read more arcs involving her. She is quiet, gentle and unassuming and yet absolutely lethal and ruthless when circumstances call for it.

bat-family

All in all, this cast of characters coupled with the fantastic writing from James Tynion IV and the consistently superb art has produced a package that is becoming one of the best comic book arcs I have ever read, and I have read an awful lot!

Jason Kerin – @jasonsmovieblog, jasonsmovieblog.com

I’ve been a huge fan of superhero movies (especially the Marvel and the MCU movies), but I’m not an avid reader of comic books. I know some of the Marvel storylines from their comic book source material (i.e. Civil War, Days of Future Past, The Dark Phoenix Saga, etc.), but never actually picked up a single issue. However, one of my first comic book series that I read (and still my personal favorite) was Annihilation: Conquest. For those who don’t know, Annihilation: Conquest is a Marvel Comics crossover storyline that ran from 2007 to 2008 (a follow-up to 2006’s Annihilation crossover storyline) and focusing on the more cosmic superheroes within the comic book universe. Here’s a brief summary of the story….

“The story sees the recovering Kree Empire – still wounded from the universal genocide depicted in Annihilation – attempting to rebuild. However, in an ambush, they are caught off guard by the Phalanx, a technological alien species that begins to aliens basically absorb consciousness and upgrade their captives with technology – so once they defeat you, you find yourself joining them. The attack is brutal, over almost as soon as it began – Kree Space is sealed off, planets are laid to waste and resistance movements are cultivated.

However, something far more sinister is going on. Former human hero Star Lord (who holds himself responsible for a tragedy years ago and blames himself for the current situation) assembles a ragged crew of convicts for a suicide mission – this core group (Mantis, Rocket Racoon, Groot, Bug, etc.) would become The Guardians of the Galaxy, the second on-going cosmic Marvel title. Quasar, the daughter of Captain Marvel, seeks out a savior hidden within the Empire. A mysterious being who will come to be known as Wraith finds his search for the person who killed his father interrupted by the invasion. And Richard Rider, the last surviving member of the galactic police force known as the Nova Corps, discovers he might not be able to vanquish this foe singlehandedly. As these heroes fight across the galaxy (join by others, including Drax, Gamora, and the return of Adam Warlock), and battle the Phalanx, the mastermind behind is revealed to be (SPOILERS)…. Ultron.”

annihilation-conquest-heros

Perhaps my main reason that I decided to read Annihilation: Conquest was because of the MCU films Guardians of the Galaxy and (by proximity) Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was right after the released the teaser trailer (the 1st trailer) for Guardians of the Galaxy that I was intrigued to find how more about the actually “Guardians” team and how they formed in the comic books. After doing the research on the internet, I narrowed that specific “team formation” in Annihilation: Conquest, which prompted me to buy the digital copy of Annihilation: Conquest Book 1 and 2 (the collection series of core Annihilation: Conquest comics as well as additional comics that complement the main story).

It’s an expansive and epic storyline that’s full of sci-fi action, an impressive roster cosmic Marvel superheroes, and an intriguing story. I was fully engrossed in the story and read (and finished) Annihilation: Conquest within a few days. I love how the storyline shows how this group of comic book characters comes together to battle Ultron and the Phalanx as the group ultimately becomes the Guardians of the Galaxy. After reading it, I was super excited to see Guardians of the Galaxy (the movie), which I loved and was (and is) my favorite MCU film. Because I read Annihilation: Conquest, I was well-versed with many of the film’s character (Peter Quill, Gamora, Rocket, Drax, Groot) than the average moviegoer (so that did help a lot and added to my overall appreciation of the movie). Of course, the story of “how” the Guardians formed in the movie was different from the comics (with the exception of a few nods and winks here and there). To be honest, I like how they formed in Annihilation: Conquest better, but the movie version was still highly enjoyable.

As for Avengers: Age of Ultron, I heard rumors (before reading Annihilation: Conquest) that Ultron was going to be featured in the storyline and (just how I did with the Guardians) his appearance in the comic was my “entry point” for the character. Yes, I know that Ultron is different from in the MCU movie than in the comic books, but it was sort of my introduction to the titular robot supervillain. I still want to read Age of Ultron (the actual comic book series), but just haven’t had the time to read it (will probably do sooner than later).

Anyways, those are my reasons for picking Annihilation: Conquest as my personal favorite comic book series. I do highly recommend it to all, even those who (like me) who are just causal comic book / superhero movie fans.

Seb Reeves – @TheRealMrSeb

I should I believe; start by saying that I do not read comics any more. I used to be an avid fan, but I find these days that the frame format does not suit my reading style. However it is without any doubt that my love of the superhero and sci-fi genres was garnered by reading comics.

doom-lord

Whilst waiting in a GP or Dentist surgery I would often pick up a dogeared copy of Batman or fantastic 4, but the one comic that I would go out of my way to buy, and eventually subscribe to was ‘The Eagle‘. Before you make any assumptions about my age, I’m not referring to the original release, but to the 1982 – 1994 re-boot. The comic consisted of two types of story board art, from the regular hand drawn images such as ‘Dan Dare’ and photo frame stories like ‘The Collector’. My favourite was ‘Doom Lord’ a shape shifting alien who had condemned humanity to death, only to become the protector of Earth. I would spend hours consuming these stories. And literally days waiting for the next installment. It was a sad day when the comic came to an end, but I suppose all good things do.

Nicola from We Have A Hulk Pod – @nicola_hulkpod, @wehaveahulkpod

So I’m going to go for something a bit different here, as I think we’ve probably had a lot of Batman love so far! My current favourite series features one of Marvel’s newest teams – Champions. We have a fantastic line up featuring one of my favourite young heroes, Ms Marvel, teaming up with friends Nova & Spider-Man. They’re also joined by Totally Awesome Hulk aka Amadeus Cho, Viv Vision and young Cyclops.
champions
Now the reason why I love this team so much is that they’re fed up of heroes fighting each other, so they’re determined to be better than their older idols and prove that they still want to make the World a better place. Now that may sound cheesey, but if you know what these individuals have been through in Civil War II, then you’ll understand! There’s just so much humour and heart in this series, which is exactly what we need from Marvel right now. If you haven’t checked Champions out yet, what are you waiting for?!

Ian from SuperNerds UK – @ianyoungkop, @SuperNerdsUK

The Killing Joke for me will always be my favourite story! Between the ages of 18-23 I fell out of love with comic books, but during a short stint on jury duty I bought it to read. My god I was blown away, this wasn’t a Batman story, this was a Joker a tale, and still the best story telling from an arc that includes the Joker!
the-joker
Alan Moore kills it here, giving you a back story, so you feel empathy for the man the Joker was, without every feeling empathy for the beast the Joker became! When someone tells me they want to start reading comic books, this is the story I always nod them towards!

Dave from Jack and the Geekstalk – @Crutchy, @JackGeekstalk

I’ve not read nearly as many comics as I would like but almost all of the ones I have read I’ve loved. While I love individual character stories (having read a lot of Batman comics in the past) I am a sucker for crossovers. Whenever there is a story involving loads of different characters I am right there! It is for this reason my favourite comic is Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s Civil War.

civil-war

The recent film was a good attempt at an adaptation but was not even close to the epicness that is the original story. I managed to pick up all of the tie in stories as well (To be fair there weren’t nearly as many as there have been for the recent Civil War II story). You have all these fantastic and well known characters that you have followed for years and while there have been occasions where they have been at odds, nothing compares to the canyon wide split between the pro and anti-superhuman registration sides.

cap-iron-man

You know there is something majorly wrong in the universe when Captain America is classified as a criminal!! Tragedy leads to new laws, these lead to fractured friendships, marriages and bones! Some of the best action sequences I have seen on a page and if you don’t come close to shedding a tear at least once while reading then you have not grasped the emotion deeply embedded in the pages. Friends become enemies, regret is shared on both sides and heroes will find themselves doing things they never thought they would have to.

battle

Each major character from Spiderman to the X-Men get their own stories most of which are incredible. Wolverine tracking Nitro is great, the exploitation of Spiderman is heart wrenching and most of your beloved characters will never be the same again. Is the fight worth the cost?

Well that rounds out our second community article! There are some great stories discussed here and we love the fact that even though many people have read these same comics, everyone interprets them in a slightly different way. Certain character developments, artistic styles or narrative will appeal to you in a way that might not even occur to someone else. This is why we love comics, what’s the phrase “A picture is worth a thousand words”, all of these comics are worth billions! Go pick them up and give them a read if you haven’t already! I know my wallet is going to take a hit after reading these suggestions!

Once again I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this article, it wouldn’t be much of a community without these guys and gals. We will now be running with the name Geekstalkers so if you want to get involved yourself just contact us on any of the links below!

You can find a huge amount of awesome content from all of our contributors below, so many websites, blogs and podcasts and the social media interaction is second to none. Come join the Geekstalker community, anyone and everyone is welcome. Until next time!

Chris Smolinski @RamblingRiter
Jimbob Squarepants @VintageGt
Ben from #nerdschatting Podcast @nerdschatting, @ben_nerdchat
Ben from SuperNerds UK Podcast @HailLeviathan , badlydrawnben.wordpress.com
Ian from SuperNerds UK Podcast @SuperNerds_UKwww.supernerdsuk.com
Nicola from We Have a Hulk Podcast @nicola_hulkpod @wehaveahulkpod, wehaveahulk.co.uk
Dave from Jack and the Geekstalk @Crutchy, @JackGeekstalk
Check out the #nerdschatting, Supernerds UK, We Have a Hulk and Nerdifi Podcasts!
nerdschatting supernerds-uk we-have-a-hulk1 nerdifi1 jackandthegeekstalk
And as always check out us on Twitter, Instagram and subscribe to our Podcast on ITunes and Podbean.com, Jack and The Geeks Talk.
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