10 Graphic Novels to Read This Summer | Jackalope Ranch | Phoenix | Phoenix New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Phoenix, Arizona

10 Graphic Novels to Read This Summer

Marvel Studios, Fox, and Sony are all delivering to fans more blockbuster movies based on comic books this summer, not to mention the numerous TV shows that are either running or in development. Mainstream audiences love these movies and shows, with Marvel's films consistently dominating at the box office and...
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Marvel Studios, Fox, and Sony are all delivering to fans more blockbuster movies based on comic books this summer, not to mention the numerous TV shows that are either running or in development. Mainstream audiences love these movies and shows, with Marvel's films consistently dominating at the box office and AMC's The Walking Dead pulling in huge ratings numbers. But many of the film and TV fans haven't delved into the material that the shows or movies are based on. Why not take the time and read some of the graphic novels featuring the characters that have inspired these films and TV shows?

See also: 10 Young-Adult Books to Read This Summer

10. Batman, Volume 1: The Court of Owls By Scott Snyder (Author), Greg Capullo (Illustrator)

Of course we're starting with Batman. This is a comics list and Batman is like the basket of bread and butter they put on your table at a fancy restaurant. This particular graphic novel is a part of DC's New 52 initiative (meaning it's something of a reboot/re-launch), and it doesn't disappoint. Whether you've been reading Batman comics for years or haven't picked one up before, this is a well done book that's a ton of fun to read. One of the hottest writers in the business, Scott Snyder, and veteran artist Greg Capullo manage to deliver a gritty murder mystery which is one part Sherlock and one part old-school Batman. Besides, you've got to do something to get your Caped Crusader fix before Batman V. Superman comes out in 2016.

9. The Amazing Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys By Stan Lee (Author), John Romita (Illustrator), Gerry Conway (Illustrator), Gil Kane (Illustrator)

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 has done well for Sony at the box office, despite mixed feelings from fans and critics. The plot of the film (spoiler alert) is based partly on one of the most highly regarded storylines in comic book history, Death of the Stacys. Legendary comic writer and Marvel's main man Stan Lee wrote these seminal and emotional story lines back in the early '70s, but they still retain their weight and importance to this day. This particular graphic novel collects both the famous George and Gwen Stacy storylines that rocked Spider-Man's universe. With art by some of the best illustrators of all time, this is a must-read for any Spidey fan.

8. The Star Wars By JW Rinzler (Author), Mike Mayhew (Illustrator), Rain Beredo (Illustrator), Nick Runge (Illustrator), Michael Heisler (Illustrator)

One of the best things about Star Wars is that there is so much for fans to enjoy outside of the movies. The Star Wars is a special eight-issue run of comics published by Dark Horse that's based on the original script for the film by George Lucas. There are certainly familiar elements, but it is also very different from story fans came to know and love in A New Hope. Arizona raised artist Mike Mayhew contributes his awesome style to this fantastic mini series, among others. For those who can't wait for Star Wars: Episode VII next year, this is a great way to tide you over.

7. Saga, Vol. 1 By Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)

There may be no comic out right now that gets more love from critics than Image Comics' galactic love story Saga. This initial volume came out in 2012 and has since went on to win a Hugo award for Best Graphic Story. This insanely entertaining book is like a fantasy-based version of Romeo and Juliet, which is exactly as awesome as it sounds. Brian K. Vaughan is one of the best writers in the industry and Saga shows exactly why that is. The book is a great example of why comics aren't just for kids, but can be great adult oriented fiction as well. This isn't a movie or TV show yet, but given the rate of adaptions of comic book properties these days, it seems inevitable that Saga will be adapted at some point.

6. Captain America: Winter Soldier by Ed Brubaker (Author), Steve Epting (Illustrator), Michael Lark (Illustrator), John Paul Leon (Illustrator)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier solidified Marvel Studios' place at the top of the Hollywood pantheon with its release back in April, raking in boat loads of cash and almost universal praise from fans and critics. The source material that the film was based on is equally as awesome. 2005's Winter Soldier storyline bares similarities to what ended up in the film, but you won't at all feel like you are repeating yourself while reading it. Between Ed Brubaker's flawless scripting and the epic artwork, you'll see why out of all the Captain America stories that are out there this one made it to the silver screen.

5. Preacher: Gone to Texas by Garth Ennis (Author), Steve Dillon (Illustrator)

Preacher was one of the best comics to come out of the 1990s, which was considered somewhat of a dim spot in comics history. The book ran for 75 issues from 1996 to 2001 and helps to break away from the idea that all comics are about superheroes, at least in the typical sense. The plot follows Reverend Jesse Custer, who winds up being possessed by a creature named Genesis and then becomes the most powerful thing in the history of things. He then goes on a quest to find God, who has abandoned heaven. AMC will be airing a show based on the series in the near future, which is being produced and written by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, as if you needed another reason to read it.

4. Y: The Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned Brian K. Vaughn (Author), Pia Guerra (Illustrator)

Brian K. Vaughan makes another appearance on the list, and for good reason. Stephen King was quoted as saying this was "The best graphic novel I've ever read." Given the high praise, it shouldn't come as a surprise that this compelling graphic novel is considered a must-read, not only as a comic but as literature in general. The plot centers around Yorick Brown, who winds up being the last man earth after a plague wipes out every other living thing with a Y chromosome (hence the "Y" in the title). Funny, smart and Eisner Award winning, this particular novel can be a great place to start out reading comics or another fantastic read for seasoned enthusiasts.

3. Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 1: Cosmic Avengers Brian Michael Bendis (Author), Steve McNiven (Illustrator), Sara Pichelli (Illustrator)

Brian Michael Bendis has written some of the most popular story lines for Marvel in the modern age, including House of M and Siege. This most recent take on the galactic space team known as The Guardians of the Galaxy is no exception. The team will be the subject of Marvel's next film and is considered to be the most risky property they have adapted to date. However, it looks like fans can't wait to see Christ Pratt hit the big screen as Star Lord, accompanied by Rocket, a gun-toting and foul-mouthed raccoon voiced by Bradley Cooper. The movie's out August 1, but you can get your fix early by reading this enormously entertaining graphic novel.

2. The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye by Robert Kirkman (Author), Tony Moore (Illustrator)

The Walking Dead will be heading into its fifth season on AMC in October, but those looking to get their fix in the meantime should check out the comic series that the show is based on. The comics bear a strong similarity to the show in many ways, but the differences are extreme and may provide a renewed experience for fans of the franchise. Robert Kirkman was able to breathe new life into a genre that had been repeating itself for years by telling a gritty and grounded story not just about zombies, but about people in a world gone horribly wrong. The Walking Dead's first volume will have you hooked.

1. X-Men: Days of Future Past Chris Claremont (Author), John Byrne (Illustrator)

Bryan Singer's latest X-Men film, which has been hailed widely as one of the best films in the history of the franchise, has surpassed expectations at the box office and breathed new life into the X-Men movies. Singer did, however, have some insanely genius source material to work with in the form of the X-Men: Days of Future Past storyline from legendary writer Chris Claremont and Illustrator John Byrne. The pair worked together on quite a few famous stories, but this was their crowning achievement. This book takes on everything that the X-Men have stood for over the years, focusing on intolerance, extremist thinking, and, of course, epic mutant goodness. That all makes this one of the best graphic novels of all time. Days of Future Past is a must-read for fans of the X-Men of any capacity.

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