Its been a while since I wrote the first “great comics hip-hop fans should read” post, which became one of the most popular articles on on our humble little blog, so I figure it’s about time for another installment. Last time I went on for a bit about the relationship between comic books and hip-hop, so go back and check that out because there is no point repeating it here.
Once again for my recommendations I’ve tried to mix up the genres with fantasy, crime, and superhero, so there’s something there for everyone.
by the Luna Brothers (Image Comics)
The Sword was a 24 issue series that ran from October 2007 to May 2010, and it was one of my must-have releases every month since I first picked it up. Lucky for all of you, the series is over and can now be read in its entirety whenever you please.
The Sword is a modern day fantasy set in the real world. It’s a bloody revenge epic that puts Kill Bill to shame. In fact, the Bride of Kill Bill and Dara Brighton have a few things in common; they’re both pissed off women hunting a group of nasty villains who destroyed their lives; neither will stop at any cost until the mission is completed, and most importantly, they both prefer the sword as their instrument of slaughter.
One difference though: Dara’s sword is magic, and she’s not killing bad people, but beings that consider themselves Gods.
Dara begins the story in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the waist down. Her life is far from peachy, but it’s still heaven compared to the tragedy that hits when a group of super-powered beings invade her home and literally take her family apart, burn down the house and leave the “helpless cripple” to burn. Except she doesn’t. And she’s not a cripple anymore either — far from it. She now has the means to punish every one of them, and she aims to do just that.
I don’t want to give too much away, but if you dig revenge stories with strong female characters, graphic violence and a good story told well, read The Sword. You can now get it in four volumes (Fire, Water, Earth, Air) that each collect 5 to 6 issues, or you can get it all in one massive hardcover book and feel great about yourself.
by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso (DC/Vertigo)
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m obsessed with revenge but you know what Pac said: “revenge is like the sweetest joy next to getting……..”, well, you know. So many good movies, books and comics revolve around this very theme. It’s just a primal urge we all feel and understand. We want to punish those who deserve it. Especially when some dumb motherfucker tells you someone like Lil’ Wayne is a better rapper than someone like Brother Ali because he’s more famous and financially successful. DIE MOTHERFUCKER, DIE.
Anyway, the Harvey and Eisner award winning series 100 Bullets puts a creative spin on that old concept: what would you do if you were handed the tools needed to exact your revenge and a guarantee that you will get away with it scot-free. Would you do it?
That is exactly what the mysterious Agent Graves offers to the characters of 100 Bullets, but there is a much bigger game being played here than any of them can know. As the story gets deeper, we discover just how connected everyone is, and that despite the wonderful sounding promise, nothing is truly without consequence.
In these opening chapters, Dizzy Cordova, a Latina gang-banger who has just finished a prison sentence, is given the chance to avenge her family’s murders, and a downtrodden bartender receives the opportunity to exact revenge against the woman that ruined his life.
Just like the Criminal series I talked about last time, 100 Bullets is a hard-boiled noir masterpiece mixed with a bit of espionage, and you will definitely enjoy it if you’re a fan of crime films. It is for mature readers though, so don’t give it to your eight year old.
by Frank Miller (DC)
“There’s never been storytelling quite like this.”— THE WASHINGTON POST
“Changed the course of comics.”—ROLLING STONE
Ready for Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises? Read this first.
Almost every comic fan reading this will be going “well, duh” right now. Still, I had to include this classic, because as acclaimed and influential as it is, there is still plenty of people out there who haven’t read it.
The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller (Sin City, 300) pretty much (re)made Batman into the dark hero we all know and love today; it’s influence on movies such as Batman Begins and it’s sequels is unquestionable (where do you think the “bat-tank” version of the Batmobile came from?). Miller pulled Batman out of the embarrassingly campy realm he was stuck in for years, and threw his ass back into the grime and dirt of the gutters he belonged in all along. Even the cover itself, with Batman’s massive shape silhouetted against a dark sky torn apart by a lightning bolt has become so iconic, it’s instantly recognizable, as are its parodies and imitators.
The story takes place in the near future and Bruce Wayne is now an old man who’s long hung up his cowl. Nearly a decade without his protection, Gotham City has degenerated like never before into decadence and chaos. It’s a shit hole. With the exception of Superman — who is now the government’s bitch — costumed crime fighters and superheroes are a thing of the past. Mutant gangs terrorize the city with impunity.
Fuck that. Enough is enough. Bruce Wayne can’t sit idly by and watch this shit anymore. The city needs Baman now more than ever, and more importantly, so does Bruce. Every fiber in his body wants to go out there and teach this scum how to be afraid again.
Before the night is over, murderers and gang members lay broken in the streets; reports of a dark bat like creature are on every news channel, and those old enough to remember know: Batman is back. A collective chill goes through the spine of Gotham’s criminal underworld.
What follows are some of the most memorable moments in Batman history, from the final showdown with the Joker, to the brutal war with the Mutant Gang leader, and most famously of all, Batman’s last stand against Superman.
This masterpiece of storytelling has received massive critical acclaim since it’s release and you can rest assured, it is well deserved. GET IT — NO IF’S AND’S OR BUT’S.