Secret Wars (2015)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman / Artist: Esad Ribic / Marvel Comics
If you like what you’re reading in the biweekly master class that is Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men, you might want to dive a little deeper and see what other wonders he’s worked across the Marvel Universe. For example, the epic event book, Secret Wars. When a cataclysmic event tears all of existence apart, watch as it’s all put back together…in the image of Doctor Doom. Reed Richards leads some of Marvel’s finest throughout this strange new “Battleworld,” culminating in a confrontation that has been brewing for pretty much the entirety of Hickman’s Fantastic Four run. There’s a lot to like about this book, but for me the primary high point is that it poses (and answers) the question, “What happens when the ultimate villain gets his heart’s desire?”
Writer: Matt Fraction / Artist: David Aja / Marvel Comics
With Hawkeye finding new life in a series on Disney Plus, now is a perfect time to read up on Matt Fraction’s run from 2012 to 2015. Coming off the success of the first Avengers movie, Fraction took a compelling turn with the character, highlighting his semi-everyman (mis)adventures. Rarely is there a book that takes such a well-rounded, “human” look at a superhero’s life. His landlords are his archenemies. If that isn’t “working class” hero shit, I don’t know what is. In my opinion, the biggest sell for the Hawkeye series is Kate Bishop. Fraction deftly maneuvers the Young Avenger from a smart-mouthing apprentice to tough talking private investigator suffering no fools in Los Angeles.
Writer: Brian Wood / Artist: Riccardo Burchielli / Vertigo Comics
I realize this isn’t a Marvel title, but it’s a necessary read nonetheless. Even if you don’t take into account that the HBO Max pilot just finished filming (by none other than Ava Duvernay) which makes it a great time to read the source material, DMZ is still one of the most essential titles of our generation. Brian Wood, whose independent books regularly tap into the sociopolitical state of things for their relevance, stays true to form in this series about Matty Roth, a fledgling reporter who has been embedded in what was formerly Manhattan after a second American civil war has rendered the city a demilitarized zone. Though the book starts out mainly following Roth throughout this urban wasteland, Wood often diverts from this story to highlight the DMZ’s various inhabitants that either weren’t evacuated or remain in the interest of their own motives. Though it is as well-meaning in its messages as it is well executed in narrative and visuals, every street in the former Big Apple reads as perilous and destitute as a military occupied third world country. Though its final issue was released nearly eight years ago, DMZ remains every bit as timely and provocative as it was when it began in 2005. At seventy-two issues, it is a dense read but well worth the time taken.
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