10 Comic Books for Newbies

comic books

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There’s one goal, and one goal only with this list: that one or more of these books will turn someone into a comic book fan.

Of course, picking out the perfect comic for the friend, family member, or handsome mailman in your life can be tricky. But here are 10 can’t-miss books that just might turn them into lifelong fans. 

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David Aja art
Marvel Comics

Present your comics noob with a book about Jeremy Renner’s antiquated warrior from The Avengers, and you’re likely to get some quizzical looks. Channel those quizzical looks into the fuel of your righteous cause, knowing that Matt Fraction and David Aja’s Marvel Comics masterpiece is well worth the brief moment of doubt.

Hawkeye is so good, and so stylistically unique, that it makes not one but two Hawkeyes cool, reminds everyone why dogs are the best and makes saying things like “I’m great at boats” entirely common. Oh, and it helped inspire just about every idiosyncratic and interesting superhero comic from 2012 to present. That's quite the legacy, and it's shockingly new-reader friendly for a Marvel Comic.

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Rat Queens

Rat Queens roster
Image Comics

Without a doubt, the funniest, foulest fantasy comic of the 2010s. Rat Queens does the impossible, taking the standard Tolkien fantasy realm and making it completely fresh with a bad a** gang of girls who punch first and talk later.

If you’ve never read a comic, but enjoy a dash (okay, a heaping) of inappropriate sprinkled over the top of your Dungeons and Dragons, Rat Queens is absolutely for you.

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Ms. Marvel

Ms Marvel aka Kamala Khan
Marvel Comics

In reality, one of the easiest starting places for new comics fans is Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Amazing Spider-Man, launching all the way back in 1962. While these first 100 issues or so (Ditko leaves after AMS #38, but the hits keep coming) are darn near perfect comic book storytelling, they are also quite clearly from the 1960s. So if nostalgia and an appreciation for times long gone fit your audience, they're gonna love this Spider-Man character.

For everyone else, there’s Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan restores so much of the high school drama and outright heroism that made Peter Parker such a beloved character in the 1960s. Couple that charming teenage morality with one of the most diverse books in the Big 2’s roster, and it’s not hard to see why Kamala has skyrocketed from beloved solo star to Avenger in record time. 

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Gotham Academy

DC Comics' Gotham Academy
DC Comics

If you wish Harry Potter never ended, and think Batman's the coolest, we give you… Gotham Academy. This brilliantly-executed comic follows the mysterious adventures of a group of students inside Batman’s city.

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Image Comics' Invincible
Image Comics

Robert Kirkman is the creator and writer of The Walking Dead, one of the most popular TV shows in the world. That said, handing someone a Walking Dead comic is a bit too obvious, plus if they watch the TV show they’re going to have expectations and knowledge of what’s to come.

For that reason, we recommend Invincible, which offers a superhero universe outside the realm of the Marvel and DC properties bogarting our movie and TV screens. Invincible takes the Spider-Man and Superman templates, mashes them together with no regard for bodily harm, and proceeds from there with the most inventive and consistent superhero comic in stores today.

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Tony Chu
Image Comics

Is your comic book convert: a) a foodie b) really into iZombie or c) a world's greatest Rooster enthusiast?

If you said "yes" to any of these, it's likely your comic book convert will love Chew, the story of a world in which all superpowers are food-based, including Detective Tony Chu’s ability to garner the memories of any food he’s eaten.

At first glance, Chew feels like a book with a short life span, but John Layman and Rob Guillory have built an incredibly fun, twisted, inhabitable Chew-verse. If for no other reason, give someone a copy of Chew so they can understand the might and fury of Poyo: Warrior Chicken.

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Watchmen comic
DC Comics

If Watchmen doesn’t sell you on the literary potential of comic books, then we’re just about out of luck. The only comic book included on Time Magazine’s 100 Greatest Novels, Watchmen is a tour de force and a common pick for the greatest graphic novel of all time.

To the comics unbeliever, they may think they know the story from the Zach Snyder film version, but you haven’t truly experienced Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ masterpiece until you’ve sat down with a copy in your hands and felt the doomsday clock tick within its pages.

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Saga Comics panel
Image Comics

The most common comic on any “comics for people who don’t get comics” list, and for good reason. Saga is the romantic comedy space opera from Brian K. Vaughn (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and Fiona Staples. There are a million and one comics, TV shows, and movies about space, yet Saga somehow manages to feel completely fresh, infusing modern sarcasm and innovative system design into the well-worn genre.

Perhaps most importantly, Saga feels adult in a way that makes new readers easily forget it’s “just” a comic. Yes, there’s a Sex Planet, but this book is also about love, becoming parents, war, and so, so much more.

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Sex Criminals

Sex Criminals
Image Comics

If you’re trying to sell someone on comics, and they just so happen to like things like laughing and sex, well, you can’t miss with Sex Criminals. And if they don’t happen to like those things… what?!

Sex Criminals is a gorgeous book with plenty of hilarious sexual jokes, and a surprising amount of heart. It may begin as an excuse to design porn shop jokes, but after only a few issues Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have crafted some of the most interesting romantic entanglements and characters in comics.

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Wytches horror comic
Image Comics

Think comics aren’t all that scary? Read Wytches and try again. Whether it’s eerily simple body horror, or small-town gone evil suspense, Scott Snyder and Jock deliver 6 issues of terror that make The Walking Dead look like a picnic on the beach.