As I write my first article here at AiPT!, I find myself with so much to say and so many topics to write about with no way of choosing just one. That’s the beauty of comics, though, isn’t it? There are so many past and present comics ready to be picked up and enjoyed, but the almost endless possibilities can also be very daunting. The vast of amount of choices one has to make when reading can represent a barrier to those who may want to explore this new and exciting world of entertainment and creativity — so much so that I thought: If I were to begin reading comics today, where would I even begin? It’s definitely a challenge, but one I aim to take on in this article.
Stick with what you know
Even if you’ve never touched a comic book in your life, you’ve still probably had some exposure to the medium, as the web that is comic books has touched virtually all other forms of entertainment. The important thing, for now, is to stick to your gut and follow what calls to you. There may be people coming at you from all sides about whether to read Marvel, DC, or neither, and which character, creator, time period, theme, etc. to start with. There is a time and place to listen and pay attention to all of those recommendations, but now is not that time. There are so many jumping off points that you’ll turn out fine no matter which you pick. All of the extra noise can cause too much clutter and lead to you reading comics others might like, and not the one for you. Let’s take a look at some common points of exposure: movies and TV shows, and see how that might lead towards your first comic.
For fans of Into the Spider-Verse and Spider-Man PS4
Maybe you just saw the unbelievable Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse movie or played the fantastic Spider-Man PS4 game and decided you want some more of that, but when you google “Spider-Man comics” you’re inundated with “Amazing,” “Fantastic,” “Spider-Geddon,” oh my! There’s so much to choose from, and it can be overwhelming, but some quick digging can help cut through the web of Spider-Man comics.
If you absolutely loved Into the Spider-Verse and want your first comic to come from that movie, Spider-Man: Enter the Spider-Verse is the comic for you. It features a similar ensemble of Spider-Folk on a new Earth with a new mission. It screams fun and accessible without sacrificing character and heart, and you will be blown away by Flaviano and Erick Arciniega’s eye-catching art and colors.
Maybe you loved Miles Morales and want to read more about him. Luckily, you don’t have to look far because Miles Morales: Spider-Man #1 came out a month ago and features excellent character-building and storytelling from writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Javier Garrón. If you’re like me, however, and want to go all the way back to the beginning of the character, check out Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #1, where writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Sara Pichelli show how to give a character a proper introduction.
Maybe you’re a good ol’ fashioned Peter Parker fan but don’t know where to begin. Travel back to 1962 for the story that started it all in Amazing Fantasy #15 and see why Stan Lee and Steve Ditko are considered revolutionaries, or, for something more contemporary, travel back a few months to catch the beginning of Nick Spencer’s run, The Amazing Spider-Man #1, which features layers upon layers of world-building and character with the same core of the original Lee and Ditko creation.
No matter what Spider-Man, woman, or pig you’re into, there’s a comic out there for you.
For fans of Aquaman
Maybe, instead, you were a big fan of Aquaman and want to start there, but feel like you’re sinking in the sea of Aquaman comics. Fear not, as there are quite a few places to start your journey into the depths of Aquaman. If you are looking for the first appearance, travel all the way back to 1941 with More Fun Comics #73, but remember that, for a long time, Aquaman was considered only as the hero that could talk to fish and nothing more. If you want the stories that bring Aquaman into the spotlight as a serious hero, that begins with 2011’s Aquaman #1 from Geoff Johns. In this Aquaman run, Johns and artist Ivan Reis show why Aquaman deserves to be taken seriously, and a lot of the movie comes from these pages. If Geoff Johns shows why Aquaman matters, it’s Jeff Parker who shows what Aquaman can truly be once he takes over. Parker described the magical mythology of Atlantis in such vivid detail, and supporting characters such as Atlanna get their moments in this run.
Looking for something more indie?
Are the colorful capes and big two publishers not for you? That’s okay too, because there are many other comics out there that you may have heard of. Maybe you just saw the Deadly Class pilot on Syfy, absolutely loved it, and can’t wait for more. Did you know it’s based on a comic book? Rick Remender and Wesley Craig have been telling the story of the school of the Deadly Arts since 2014 over at Image Comics, and trust me, if the show is following the comic, you’ll want to read what’s coming directly from the source because nothing beats Craig’s awe-inspiring visuals and Lee Loughridge’s vibrant colors.
From Grant Morrison and Darick Robertson’s Happy, which just came to Netflix this December, to the upcoming Netflix series The Umbrella Academy from Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, comics are everywhere. Trust me, if it’s good enough to get a TV show, the original comic is something spectacular.
Say none of those really excite you, what then? There are so many different kinds of comics out right now that one is bound to catch your attention. Take a look over on our comic book reviews homepage and see if something catches your eye. Scroll through a couple reviews and see if there’s a comic that has what you like in a good story. If it’s in the middle of a run or series but looks like an interesting read, try going back the first issue or at least when the current writer started on the title. There’s a comic out there for everyone; I’d like to see everyone find the first issue that fits them.
Or maybe you’ve read through your first issue or first run and are wondering what to do next. First, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself. First, the obvious: Did you like it or not? If you liked it, what did you like about it? Was it the character, story, themes, style, etc.? If you didn’t like it, what didn’t you like about it? This is when those recommendations from others come in and trust me, everyone has something to say, but the more specific you are about your likes and dislikes, the easier it will be to give you a new comic or direction to move it. If you decide you liked the characters you started with, maybe try and read some other stories or runs featuring that character. If you were more interested in the style of storytelling, whether it be more visual or written, more compressed or decompressed, maybe try to find other titles from that creator or similar creators to read from. If you didn’t like it, go back to the drawing board and try again.
I hope others find it helpful taking a walk through how I might choose a comic if I chose my first issue today. I truly believe that there is a comic for every person and a person for every comic.