The Top 10 Kick-Ass Comic Books (That Ain't For Kids)
Ask the average person on the street about comics, and they'll probably think of Superman or Spider-Man. To the public at large, comics books are still something that kids (and adults who live in their parents' basements) read. But, in the famous words of Queen Elizabeth II, "that's bulls**t, dude."
From at least the late sixties, cool, adult-oriented comics have been published right along side Archie and Green Lantern. Right now in your local comic shop, there are tons of books full of all the great action, illicit sex, and horrific gore we all know and love. Here are 10 of the ball-grabbingest comics out there.
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's schlock masterpiece Preacher follows the exploits of a nasty, drunken priest, his mob hitwoman ex-girlfriend, and an Irish vampire junkie. The main character, The Reverend Jesse Custer, becomes the unwilling host of Genesis, an unholy byproduct of a one night stand between a horny demon and a hornier angel. On the plus side, Genesis gives Jesse the "Voice of God," the ability to make anyone do exactly what he says. On the negative side, it also puts him right in the sights of an unstoppable killer, his psychotic hillbilly family, a shadowy organization called the Grail, and almost every violent maniac in America, including the Man upstairs himself.
A blood-soaked love letter to the movies of John Wayne (whose ghost occasionally shows up to give Custer advice) and a giant "up yours" to all things religious, Preacher tackles a lot of weighty issues, but its never afraid to get its hands dirty. Really dirty. Like, filthy dirty. Over the course of 66 issues, Ennis and Dillon explore every dark corner of the American landscape and psyche and end up creating a perfect gumbo of guns, god, and girls. What more could you ask for?
9. League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Source: ABC/Wildstorm/DC Comics
Forget the crappy Sean Connery movie (he has) and go straight to the source. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is one of comic book genius Alan Moore's most accessible, fun books. Like his other work, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is full of dense allusions and packed with references plain and obscure, but the central story moves like an action movie so it never gets bogged down. The story follows a group of famous fictional characters (Alan Quartermain, Dracula victim Mina Harker, The Invisible Man, Captain Nemo, and Dr. Jekyll's nasty alter ego Mr. Hide) as they fight a mysterious threat in a steampunked Victorian London.
The characters are all familiar, but Moore peels back the endless layers of English underwear to show all the nasty secrets the original stories couldn't. The book is full of dark villains and darker heroes, impossible machines, and sinister plots- all viewed through the sketchy lines and insane colors of a madman. Every page is packed with images out of Queen Victoria's worst nightmares. Moore spends a lot of the later series investigating the far-flung corners of his fictional universes, but the first two volumes are must-owns for anyone who loves their historical revision served up full of piss and vinegar.
8. Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol
Source: DC Comics/Vertigo
These days, Grant Morrison is mostly known as the guy who killed Batman (and you thought it was The Riddler), but before he 86'ed the Caped Crusader, Morrison cut his teeth ripping apart another, less popular DC Comics franchise, The Doom Patrol. After an unsuccessful Eighties relaunch that fizzled out after only 18 issues and had none of the weirdness of the original, DC handed over the book to Morrison with almost total creative freedom. The result was without a doubt the weirdest superhero comic ever published by one of two major comics companies. Morrison started big by killing off almost all the new team (save fan favorite Robotman), and replacing them with some of strangest heroes ever seen. New Members include the original Negative Man morphed into Rebis, a hermaphrodite who mated with himself, and Crazy Jane, a girl with multiple personalities who each had their own superpower. Oh, and there was also a sentient gay street that could teleport to any city in the world, and a little girl with psychic powers and a monkey face. That was all in the first issue.
Morrison went on to explore his deepest, weirdest obsessions with time, alternate universes, the end of the world, fictional realities, and psychedelic imagery. This is what a comic book by Salvador Dali would've looked like.
7. The Boys
Source: Dynamite Entertainment
In most superhero stories, the guys and gals in capes are pure, noble, upstanding citizens who devote their lives to fighting crime with no thought of reward or glory. They live in universes where good and evil are clearly drawn and good always comes out on top. Unfortunately, anyone over the age of 11 knows that the real world is a lot more complicated and people rarely do anything if there isn't something in it for them. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's ongoing monthly series The Boys explores what would happen if you had a world full of superpowered individuals who were just as lazy and corrupt as the rest of us. Their "heroes" - all modeled on popular characters like Superman and Captain America- are drug-addicted, power hungry sex freaks who use their powers not for the good of the world, but for the good of their wallets and groins. To the world at large, they're just like any other superheroes, but behind the scenes they're controlled by an all powerful corporation that tolerates their excesses as long as they sell t-shirts and lunch boxes.
The only thing that stands in their way is a ragtag group of black leather trenchcoat-wearing badasses who call themselves The Boys. Lead by the sadistic Butcher, Mother's Milk, The Frenchman, The Female, and Wee Hughie use intimidation, blackmail, torture, and murder to keep the supers in check. With his characteristic wit and gore, Ennis and Robertson blast away the power fantasies behind the superhero myth and reminds us that in the real world, the good guys sometimes wear black.
When people think of kick-ass fictional heroes, they usually think of cops, soldiers, and other assorted tough guys who get to carry guns. Newspaper columnists, on the other hand, are rarely thought of being able to kick anything bigger than a split infinitive. Except for gonzo journalists like Hunter S. Thompson, members of the fifth estate are a pretty meek bunch. But in Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson's tripped out sci-fi epic Transmetropolitan, journalist Spider Jerusalem is the only hope for a futuristic society on the verge of utter collapse. Forced back into the sprawling futuristic city from his mountain retreat, Jerusalem takes on the fatcats who would enslave us all armed only with a black suit, his computer, and every single recreational drug ever invented. Oh, and a gun that can cause uncontrollable, explosive diarrhea.
Navigating through a city where people can turn into beings of pure energy, fast food restaurants sell buckets of fried eyeballs, and the number one kids show is about a porno called Sex Puppets. Spider and his two assistants try their hardest to rattle the populace from their techno-addled slumber. In the best satirical tradition, Transmetropolitan explores issues of truth, freedom, and the power of the written word in a bizarre world that, for all its weirdness, is almost identical to our own. It may sound a little heavy, but don't worry, there's plenty of sex and violence to help the medicine go down.