Let’s say you have a friend or family member who’s shown some interest in comic books, but are daunted by years of continuity, and hundreds of trades… Where to start them off on the right foot? Lucky you, we’ve broken down the best starter trades for new readers of all ages, by specific character, interest, and comics. Now it’s just up to you to get the books in their hands, and stand back as they ravage the rest of your library:
Well, you could probably check out our upcoming list of perfect Batman trades for gifts, but if you want some simple suggestions to start off clean, we say go for the standards. Batman: Year One is a surprisingly simple and clean story, and as the movies are inspired by that book, it’s a good way to go. For something more modern, Scott Snyder’s recent run on Detective Comics, collected in the Black Mirror hardcover requires a little bit of explanation (“Wait, Bruce Wayne isn’t Batman? What now?”) but it’s worth it for the excellent story inside.
There’s plenty of great classic Spider-Man stories to choose from, but for the new reader looking to get up and running, we can’t recommend Dan Slott’s current run highly enough. Each issue strives to be new reader – and all ages – friendly, so you can hand them to pretty much anyone. Start them with the Spider-Man: Big Time, Vol. 1 trade, and watch their eyes light up. Okay, don’t actually do that, that’s creepy.
All-Star Superman by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely. That was easy! Self contained, brilliant, and a compression of the entirety of the Superman mythos in one finite series. As a second choice, Superman For All Seasons, by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, is one of our favorite books of all time, so there’s that, too.
There’s plenty of spectacular individual runs for the characters which we could highlight, but movie-goers looking forward to a certain big screen spectacular could do worse than checking out the fun, gorgeously drawn Avengers: Prime, by Brian Michael Bendis and Alan Davis. He trade is also a bit of a crash course in modern comics history, though non of that is necessary to pick up the volume and just having a blast.
You can probably just start with Geoff Johns run on the title, for both those interested in modern continuity, and those looking for something good in Green Lantern, too! You actually have two starting points, and either are fine: Green Lantern: Rebirth, or Green Lantern: First Flight. The latter follows the former, but both qualify as brand new starts for the title, so check out either one.
Those who freaked for X-Men: First Class aren’t going to find a lot of comics that match up, but we’ll recommend some excellent X-Men titles anyway. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men blows up the whole Mutant concept to its logical extreme, and happily, Marvel has been reprinting the volumes of his run in cheap, digest format. If you’re looking for something more about Professor X and Magneto, though, look for the beginning of Mike Carey’s run on X-Men Legacy, in X-Men Legacy Vol 01: Divided He Stands.
There’s the Scott Pilgrim series, of course, which is brilliant, hilarious, original, and totally worth reading starting with the first volume, Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life. Those perhaps, shall we say, disappointed in the movie adaptation of Jonah Hex might do well to check out any of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray’s collections, as they’re all (with one or two exceptions) done in one stories, though you might as well just start with Jonah Hex Vol. 1: Face Full of Violence.
Sandman. Watchmen. Blankets. There’s your rote answers, and they’re all good ones. But I’ve gotten a little tired of recommending those three as the entry-way for people who into Fantasy, SciFi, and Drama respectively, so here’s some new(er) picks for you. Instead of Sandman, why not get them started on Ted Naifeh’s teen witch Courtney Crumrin books (also good for Harry Potter fans), or for older readers try the horrific and creative Locke & Key? Before you hand a newbie Watchmen, how about Rick Remender’s recently completed SciFi epic Fear Agent, or if they’re more into superhero deconstruction, the spectacularly violent and intelligent A God Somewhere, by John Arcudi.
And if they’re looking for something more real world, Stitches by David Small is wrenching and brilliant, or maybe even reach for Blankets author Craig Thompson’s more recent work, Habibi? It definitely stretches slightly into SciFi and Fantasy realms, but it’s also a fascinating exploration of the relationship between two lost souls.
So there you go! Easy entry points for any reader, and a good checklist for any modern reader of comic books, too. Happy shopping!