Celebrate National Comic Book Day with top five modern comic book series

Wednesday marks National Comic Book Day, and what better way to celebrate than by brushing up on some of today’s best series? As a lifelong comics enthusiast and a current comics instructor, I’ve read and researched tons of titles. Whether you’re a fan — old or new — there’s something for everyone. Check out my picks for the top five comic book titles currently being released, and consider adding them to your collection.

5. “Swamp Thing” (DC Comics) by Charles Soule & Various

Since taking the reigns, writer Charles Soule has turned this series back into the creepy, soul-searching tale it was under Alan Moore’s direction in the 1980s. While the artists associated with the stories have ranged in style and quality, the writing has remained strong. To get a good sense of what this story is about, pick up issues No. 22 and No. 23, “The Whiskey Tree” (parts one and two), for $6 worth of good old-fashioned weirdness from the corners of the DC Universe. Besides, the newest chapter of “The Swamp Thing” is just getting started.

4. “Thor: God of Thunder” (Marvel Worldwide) by Jason Aaron, Esad Ribić, & Various

Jason Aaron is known for his work on “Wolverine,” so it was a bit of a surprise to see him tackle “Thor” last year. But 13 issues later, this has easily become one of my favorite books. From Aaron’s humanization of the thunder god to Esad Ribić’s viscerally stunning artwork, each chapter of this story is well worth the money. The only thing keeping this book from being No. 1 is Ribić’s departure after issue 11. Regardless, with Aaron’s strong storytelling, it will definitely be on the top of my pull list. Fans of “Thor,” time travel and free-flowing mead should check out issues No. 1-11 for one of the most amazing mysteries and epic crusades the nine realms have ever encountered.

3. “Batman” (DC) by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo

Though Snyder has been working on a Batman title since his “Batman: The Black Mirror” storyline in 2011, his work this past year has been explosive. Snyder’s eerily maniacal and homicidal Joker story provides chills and thrills as the Joker makes a grand stand against Batman, reminiscent of Alan Moore’s 1988 “The Killing Joke.” If that’s not enough to make horror nuts squeal in delight, the realistic and trippy art by Greg Capullo will. Since the team is working on a Batman origin arc now, it’s the perfect time to jump into the series and become a part of the grim and gritty fun that embodies the Dark Knight Detective.

2. “All New X-Men” (Marvel) by Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen

Hot off his nearly decadelong “Avengers” run, Bendis brings the original five X-Men into the modern-day Marvel universe. By having the characters time travel to meet their modern counterparts, Bendis brings a compelling tale, using fan-favorite Kitty Pryde as the glue keeping the whole team together. Full of Bendis’ trademark quips — and most importantly, a fresh take on the mutants — this book is a lot of fun. Start this series with an open mind and it’ll have you running through the streets yelling “Mutant and proud!” in no time at all.

1. “Saga” (Image Comics) by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples

After leaving comics to work on television series “LOST” and “Under the Dome,” Vaughan returned to the medium with a bang in March 2012 with his epic sci-fi adventure book, “Saga.” Chock full of intergalactic civil wars, robot aliens with televisions for heads and soul-torn bounty hunters, “Saga” brings tons of world-spanning, screwed up fun to the comic book genre. Plus, it is beautifully illustrated by Fiona Staples — arguably the best new artist in comics. Although the book has had some trouble making a monthly deadline, the strong story and art make it worth the wait. This also makes it easy for new readers catch up. And if there’s one book you need to catch up on, it’s this one.


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