Essential Comics Reading List

7 Aug

The Hoboken Library now has a pretty substantial collection of comics, Manga and graphic novels. If you have never really read comics or maybe just a few titles, our collection is a great place to explore titles and authors that likely hold a little something for everyone’s varied interests. Before taking over the comics collection at the library several years ago, I wasn’t the biggest of comics readers. I was interested in the stories and worlds created by comics, but never really got far into reading comics. Instead, when growing up I watched a lot of cartoons based on comics – especially the X-Men, Batman and even Superman cartoons of the 1990s. I didn’t really start reading comics until I became a librarian, and moreso, took over the comics section of the Hoboken Library. So it’s really never too late to start exploring comics and discovering the depth and variety that the format has to offer. Now with many of the biggest blockbuster movies being based off of comic book stories, now is a great time to start exploring comics!

With all that in mind, I thought I would put together a list of some of my personal favorite comic series that might serve as starting points for new readers or those looking to explore further. This list is not in any particular order and is simply a sampling of some of my favorite series. One thing I will note: I tend to read comics that are meant for an adult audience, so most of the titles you will see below are really suited for older teens to adults. So this list might be perfect for adult readers looking to explore the world of comics 🙂





Fables – Bill Willingham’s Fables is a wholly unique series that has been compelling and engaging since it began in 2002. Willingham creates a world where characters from fables and folklore are real and living in NYC – but there is so much more to it than that. Over the last 12 years, the series has explored many genres in its storytelling – soaring epic, murder mystery, love story, fantasy realism, etc. One of my favorite titles from the last decade.










Preacher – a classic series from the 1990’s, written by Garth Ennis. The reader is pulled into the world of Jesse Custer, a faith-waivered preacher who is suddenly gifted with the power of the Word of God – the ability to command others essentially. Guided by a sense of right and wrong, Jesse goes on a quest to literally find God, who Jesse feels has abandoned humanity. The writing is intelligent and provoking, but be aware this is a very adult title, as Garth Ennis is known for. A classic series and a must read for adult comic fans.









The Boys – Another more recent series by Garth Ennis, the Boys explores a world where superheroes exist, but have little moral code and essentially run wild throughout the world, albeit aided by a government/business conspiracy. The Boys are a black ops type group tasked with overseeing super powered humans. A very unique twist to the traditional superhero comic. For readers 18+ only.










DMZ – Brian Wood writes this fascinating and politically charged series. The comic takes place in a near future where an American Civil War has turned Manhattan into a demilitarized zone. Very unique, lots of politics and charged with a post 9/11 world critique, this is another great adult comic series.











Y the Last Man – Brian K. Vaughan (you’ll see more of him on this list) wrote this now concluded series about a world where all the men have died – except for one. One part apocalyptic story, one part comedy, one part mystery – it’s a great story, good fun, and great writing.










Prophet – one of the most totally unique comics out there right now, Prophet is actually a re-boot of a series of the same name from the 1990’s. However, while the older series feels more like a super hero comic, this one is definitely a bizarro-science fiction series. Prophet takes place many, many years in the future, where thousands of “John Prophet” clones wake up from a long sleep with the task of re-starting the Earth Empire. The artwork is weird and fantastic and the world universe that’s created is totally interesting and unexpected. A sleeper pick for a recent series.











Saga – Brian K. Vaughan writes this fantastic epic, love story, space saga, coming of age story in a very unique science fiction setting. The writing is superb, bringing forth deep, rich characters with lots of humor to boot. The winner of several recent Eisner Awards, this title is on everyone’s list of recent great comics.









Locke and Key – this one is hard to describe. It has many different genre parts – mystery, fantasy, ghost story, family drama, etc. Even if those descriptions don’t sound like your kind of genre, the writing is superb and the plot twisting, complicated and compelling. Give this ongoing series a shot for sure.










The Killing Joke – the classic one-off Batman story written by comic legend Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta, etc.). If you want to know where the inspiration came from for the really dark Joker character and depictions you see in the recent Dark Knight movie series, Arkham Asylum video games, and more, check this one out. I might even like it as much as the Frank Miller Batman runs!







Batman: Year One AND The Dark Knight Returns– speaking of Frank Miller Batman titles, these two are some of the best comic books ever written in the superhero genre. Frank Miller and Alan Moore brought a darkness, depth and realism to comics that was not seen much in mainstream comics in the 1980s.




Planetary – Warren Ellis wrote this limited series from 1999-2009. Planetary’s plot revolves around an organization intent on discovering the world’s greatest secrets (superhero Indiana Jones?). This series offers a really intriguing setting that often overlaps or references other comic series along with some other fun references too. Warren Ellis writes a great story with cool characters. Definitely one to check out.











Hawkeye – this is wonderfully written series, and perhaps the funniest out there right now. Matt Fraction writes the current incantation of Hawkeye (the dude who uses a bow and arrow in The Avengers), which is a very unexpected style of super hero comic. Basically, this follows the day-to-day life of Clint Barton (otherwise known as Hawkeye), who, while really good with a bow and arrow, has no actual super powers and is in general a screw-up. This series has some wonderful comedy and artwork fits it all perfect. Make sure to look for issues featuring Pizza Dog, where the whole single issue is written from the point of view of a dog. It’s awesome.





Some other great titles

  • Irredeemable
  • Ex Machina
  • Astonishing X-Men
  • The Dark Phoenix Saga
  • Superman: Red Son
  • Batman Arkham Asylum
  • Kingdom Come
  • All Star Superman

Final note: If you can’t find any of these titles on the shelf at our library, you can always request a copy through our online catalog. Many times, each collected issue of the comics will be in separate records, and you simply will select the PLACE REQUEST button next to the item to reserve it. However, sometimes you will find a whole series under one record. In that case, to request a specific issue click on the AVAILABILITY button, then click on the little book icon next to the specific issue you want. You will then request that specific item.

– Written by Matt Latham
Reference Librarian/Program Coordinator/Makerspace Manager

One Response to “Essential Comics Reading List”


  1. Top 5 Books! Because It’s….August! | Hoboken Library Staff Picks - August 26, 2015

    […] balance the institution left leaning to the left by the disappearance of men. (Editor’s note: This series was recommended last year by another staff […]

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