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RUviews: Comics For People Who Don't Read Comics

Written by GHERU on Tuesday, January 17 2012 and posted in Features

RU is here to help you get your friends hooked on the drug that is comic books - The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk, Invincible, Starman, Criminal, Chew, Barry Ween: Boy Genius

Hello there Internet People, its your good buddy RU, here to, first apologize for totally missing the holiday season and my RUview for comics for adults, and secondly to go ahead and do that show anyways.  This episode is to give you some ideas as to what comics to give your friends who don't read comics.  Maybe to get them into the genre as a hobby, or just to give them a good story to read that just happens to have pictures.  Now, I could be mundane and spend this show on the classic crossover comics like Sandman, Y: The Last Man, Maus, Watchmen, and Bone  - all books WIFE has read and enjoyed - (if its not, Bone should totally be on the list of classics), but instead I am going to cover some less talked about comics that, I think, can and should appeal to non-comic book readers.  I'll start off with three super-hero books and end with three non-super hero books.  Before any of you yell at me, yes, I know that there are many other comics worth mentioning; these are just the six I thought of first.

(As usual, a text version of the RUviews is available below the video)

The Incredible Hulk: Planet Hulk – This is (mostly) a stand alone Hulk book that will, if it hasn't already, go down as one of the best Hulk stories ever told, and the beauty of it is that you don't need to have anything more than a cursory knowledge of the Hulk's backs-story to enjoy it: Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, the Hulk smashes stuff, all the Hulk wants is to be left alone, and a bunch of Earth heroes shot Hulk into space to stop him from smashing stuff all over the planet.  There you go, you are caught up.  Planet Hulk, written by friend of the show Greg Pak, is what happens if Spartacus got superpowers, only much more awesome.  Now, before you start to think that this book is only a bunch of violence masquerading as plot, I want to let you know that the last time I read this I was struck by how emotional it is and how at the end you feel what the Hulk is feeling, and you can't help but root for these characters.  Like I said, this is mostly stand alone, but it does lead into more stories you can follow, or not.  Either way, Planet Hulk is well worth the read.  The HC I have is out of print but the trade paper back is available all over the place.

Invincible – I recommend this book for anyone wanting a super-hero story without having to care about any kind of continuity and back-story.  Invincible was created by Robert Kirkman (writer and creator of Walking Dead) and Cory Walker (penciler) and creates a whole new universe that is not weighed down by 60+ years of stories.  The benefit of creator owned is that they can do whatever they want with the characters without having to check with a Time Warner or Disney (DC and Marvel respectfully).  This series changes directions on a dime and by issue 10 nothing is what you thought it was.  I love this book.

The book I have here is an oversized HC, but there are less expensive trade paperbacks available that hold half the stories the HC have and are under half the cost – a good option to test the book out.  The only thing that might deter new to comics readers is that it is ongoing, the story hasn't ended yet, but without the need to get it monthly because of the collections, and the ability to stop or wait whenever you want, makes the length of the series not as daunting as it may seem.

StarmanStarman is, quite simply, the best super-hero book I have ever read.  More than Watchmen, more than Sandman, and more than Swamp Thing, Starman took the genre to emotional and story-telling places I had never thought possible.  By the end of the first book I was more attached to these characters than I have been to any book before or since.  Starman is a DC book, but is set in a city all its own, any information you need about other DC characters is provided in the script or the introduction making it so new readers should not get lost.  The only option for Starman is the six oversized HCs that make up the Omnibus, but they are completely worth the price.  James Robinson and Tony Harris take the mainstream comic book format and flip it on its head.  Flashbacks, journal entries, POV shifts, and mystical mysteries make up only a small portion of what this book offers.  Even if you, an avid comic book reader, have never read Starman, go out and get vol.1 now, you will not be disappointed.

For my non-super hero books I have chosen one serious book, one fun book, and one absurdly hilarious and violent book.

Criminal – Created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, Criminal is a crime noir story for a new millennium.  Each volume is a stand-alone story about survival, crime, loss, and death; all the things that make a noir book great.  If you are looking for light, warmth, and happy endings, Criminal is not for you.  But, if you want one of the best comics to come out of the past decade, pick up volume 1: Coward and enjoy the ride.

Chew – This Image comic created by John Layman and Rob Gillory has one of the more unique premises I have ever come across in any genre:  In a world where chicken is outlawed and the FDA is the most powerful law enforcement agency on the planet you need a special kind of detective to solve the worst crimes food has to offer.  Enter Tony Chu (I just now noticed that homonym), a Cibopathic, which means he can tell where, who, what, and any other psychic traces from anything he eats...and I mean ANYTHING.  The art and scripts complement each other to near perfection, and I could not imagine this story minus either of the creators.  This book is still ongoing, but has an end-point in sight – 60 issues if I remember correctly.  Again, this is an oversized HC Omnivore edition, but there are cheaper trade paperbacks available, and I think I gave mine away or I'd show you that as well.  If you have a tablet, I know that Chew, and Invincible, are available digitally day of release at the Comixology app for Mac OS or Droid.  I don't know of any on-going book I have more fun reading than Chew.

But, the book that I have read dozens of times that always makes me laugh is Barry Ween, Boy Genius.  From the blub on the back of the book:

"Barry Ween is Calvin & Hobbes on PCP..." ~Garth Ennis

Created by Judd Winick (yes, the Real World guy) Barry Ween may look like a kids book but, and you can't say you weren't warned, DO NOT give this book to a child.  Sometimes I'm not sure I'm old enough to read it, let alone an eight year old.  From start to finish, the Big Book of Barry Ween will have any reader laughing, thinking, and tearing up (hey, I read comics, were you expecting machismo?).  The crude humor isn't never crosses over into gross as too many comedic works do, and it is obvious though went into each page.  Yes there are smaller volumes of this book out there, but the last time I checked the Big Book was cheaper.  If you want to laugh over and over again, or you know some one that needs a pick-me-up, Barry Ween is what the doctor ordered.  And, if you don't buy it, Barry may come after you, and you do not want him as an enemy.

Ok, that's it, some day I may cover more comics for non-comic readers, but for now – later peeps.

Written or Contributed by: GHERU

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About the Author - GHERU

RU, or as he’s known in the writers’ room: the cute one, is relatively unappreciated in his time.  RU’s YouTube show, RUviews is watched by literally multiple people every month and his Outhouse articles have helped line many a bird cage.  Before you send RU a message, he knows that there are misspelled words in this article, and probably in this bio he was asked to write.  RU wants everyone to know that after 25+ years of collecting he still loves comic books and can’t believe how seriously fanboys take them.  RU lives in Akron Ohio (unfortunately) with WIFE, ‘lilRuRu, and the @DogGodThor.  You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, & even Google+ (if anyone still uses that).


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