Trend-O-Matic: Super Heroics

Graphic novels and comics have been becoming increasingly popular and mainstream over the past few years.  No longer do we comic geeks have to be quiet about what we like to read.

Comics, and in particular the super hero comic, have been around since early in the 20th Century. Superman and Batman were a couple of the earliest superheroes and appeared in the late 1930s and early 1940s, published by DC comics.  In the 1960s, Marvel comics brought out The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and the X-Men (amongst many others).  These stories have always represented their times.  Superman and many of the 1940s super heroes were very patriotic and were used as a propaganda tool during World War 2.  The 1960’s Marvel comics, produced by the likes of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, were reflections of a time when the individual was becoming more relevant and the teenager was emerging as a real force. The X-Men, for example attempted to bring real teenage problems into the superhero world.  The Marvel heroes of the 1960s and 1970s battled with the problems of drug and alcohol abuse, feelings of isolation and social problems.

The 1980s and 1990s were not a good time for the superhero comic. Sales for DC and Marvel were dropping.  However, there were some outstanding artists and writers working. Alan Moore wrote the Watchmen series and Batman became increasingly dark as Frank Miller reinvented the character in Batman: Year One.

The 21st Century has been good for the super hero. This has been especially evident through the popularity of superhero movies.  Marvel has had a successful run of movies including Iron Man, Thor and Captain America leading up to an Avengers movie in 2012.  DC’s rebooting of the Batman franchise has been both commercially and critically successful and the final of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies is due out in 2012, as is a reboot of the superman movies.

 So here are 5 to get started with according to YAPS.  Please let us know what you think and suggest some others.

1. Watchmen, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons
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2. Batman: Year One, Frank Miller
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3. X-Men: God Loves, Man Kills, Chris Claremont and Brent Eric Anderson
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4. Superman: Secret Identity, Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen

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5. Spider-Man: Death of the Stacys, Stan Lee

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