The holidays are here with many off this upcoming week between Christmas day and New Year's Day. Most of us will be getting a few extra days off of work to see our families, share some meals, and catch up on reading. It’s that last part that has me most excited because when you read and review comics as a job sometimes you can get behind on some really good stuff. So as this well earned time away from the day job approaches, it’s worth grabbing one or two comics tomes to check out in this precious reprieve.
If you’re not sure what to put at the top of your stack, don’t worry because we’ve got you covered. The five comics below are all big enough and good enough to make for a very pleasant time sink. These are the kinds of comics you can plop down on the couch with for hours until the egg nog finally brings you some sweet dreams.
Geoff Johns’ The Flash was the very first monthly comic I ever put on my pull file and it totally holds up after more than a decade. This should appeal to both fans of classic takes on superheroes and viewers of The Flash on CW, especially considering Johns’ substantial influence on this show and how much of that stems from this run.
Johns has made a name for himself by writing many of DC’s flagship titles, but it’s possible to argue that The Flash is where he truly figured out his style. He took the immense history behind the character and wove it together into a singular mythology while adding his own unique touches. It is a story that builds the narrative of a truly great hero with a sweeping cast and wide variety of stories. These threads are present in all of his best runs including JSA, Teen Titans, and Green Lantern as well. The Flash probably has the most consistent quality from beginning to end though with romance, villainy, and adventures that merge into a truly great five-year run. These 14 issues and single one-shot are just the beginning, but they are one great beginning.
When The Private Eye debuted on PanelSyndicate.com, a pay what you choose purveyor of digital comics, it took comics fandom by storm. Not only were three of the medium’s best talents, Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and Muntsa Vicente, working together, but they were allowing you to choose how much you paid. Now you can take this gorgeous comic out of the computer and into your living room for the holidays.
The Private Eye, a tale of privacy and deception in an internet-less future, was designed to be read in widescreen (it is simply stunning on an iMac retina display). Originally it was never to be published in a physical format, but now Image Comics has transferred it to this over sized collection that captures the scale of both the story and Martin’s compositions. It is the sort of thing you can flip through for hours drooling over individual pages while your mind races with ideas about where technology is leading us. You may still be able to buy the series for whatever price you like at Panel Syndicate (including nothing at all), but no comics library is truly complete without this hardcover to adorn its shelves.
The bad news for fans of Hawkguy is that it took almost four years to complete this 22 issue “monthly” series. The good news is that you can now read it all in one sitting. Hawkeye radically changed how comics readers looked at superhero comics and how Marvel approached publishing, and it is now in one big, beautiful hardcover for anyone who wants to discover or rediscover the series.
From start to finish Hawkeye is a series loaded with high points. The first three issues act as a statement for its uniqueness, one that can be observed in many imitators being published now. Later standalone issues like Hawkeye #11 (the Pizza Dog issue) and Hawkeye #19 (the deaf issue) really push the boundaries of comics storytelling. Even at its weakest Hawkeye is a series that will make you reconsider your understanding of genre and medium. It is also exceedingly well-suited to both single-issue reading sprints or long-haul deep dives over the potentially hectic holidays.
This is easily the slimmest of the comics recommended here, but it is also one of the densest (the actual densest comes next). Michel Fiffe’s COPRA tells the story of highly-skilled and superpowered misfits working in black ops. It is a comic that captures all of the excitement and fun of superhero comics and combines them with skill and an auteur-drive rarely seen in the genre or even the medium.
In the third volume of COPRA, Fiffe takes a step back from globe-trotting adventures to focus on one member of the team in each issue. In addition to his singular focus on each character, he also brings a unique approach to each comic. They range from a very small, indie-style tale of family and violence in COPRA #14 to impeccably crafted tributes to Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko in COPRA #16 and #17. Every installment of this volume crafts a different narrative with different storytelling tools. It not only speaks to the talent possessed by Fiffe, but the incredible possibilities within comics. While COPRA: Round Three may only be composed of six issues, it is a collection that demands at least one, if not two or three, rereads.
If you’re looking for a comic that is truly dense, layered more deeply with meaning than your aunt’s casserole is layered in toppings, then The Multiversity is a must read. Grant Morrison’s most recent epic manages to tell not one, but at least eight distinct stories each possessing a wide variety of interpretations. This is one comic that will take at least a day.
Morrison and a murderer’s row of artists create six one-shot stories between a pair of bookended tales set in DC Comics’ multiverse. While all of them are woven together with symbolic and thematic highlights, each individual issue can be read on its own. From Pax Americana’s criticism of violence and Watchmen to the loving fun of Thunderworld, The Multiversity truly captures the breadth and wonder found within the superhero genre, while also challenging readers to think about the content and style of what they consume. There is, without a doubt, no better comic to kill time with this holiday season than The Multiversity.