50 Comics & Graphic Novels Everyone Should Read

Where do you start with superheroes or graphic novels? We’ve compiled a list, in no particular order, of the most essential for the comic newbie, from superhero epics to indie favorites. Have you read them all?

SandmanSandman by Neil Gaiman

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

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MausThe Complete Maus by Art Spiegelman

Acclaimed as “the most affecting and successful narrative ever done about the Holocaust” (Wall Street Journal) and “the first masterpiece in comic book history” (The New Yorker). The Pulitzer Prize-winning Maus tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story.

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PersepolisPersepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trails of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland.
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Y The Last ManY: The Last Man
by Brian K. Vaughan & Pia Guerra

This is the saga of Yorick Brown—the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he’s the last man on earth.
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Fables by Bill Willingnam
Saga by Brian K Vaughan & Fiona Staples
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore & Kevin O’Neill
Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis & Darick Robertson


by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons

This Hugo Award-winning graphic novel, and one of the most influential comic book stories of all time, chronicles the fall from grace of a group of super-heroes plagued by all-too-human failings. Along the way, the concept of the super-hero is dissected as the heroes are stalked by an unknown assassin.

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SecondsSeconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Katie’s got it pretty good. She’s a talented young chef, runs a successful restaurant, and has big plans to open an even better one. Then, all at once, progress on the new location bogs down, her charming ex-boyfriend pops up, her fling with another chef goes sour, and her best waitress gets badly hurt. Just like that, Katie’s life goes from pretty good to not so much. What she needs is a second chance. But they don’t come easy.

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The Walking DeadThe Walking Dead 
by Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard

The world we knew is gone. Society has crumbled. The world of commerce and frivolous necessity has been replaced by a world of survival and responsibility. An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe. And in a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to finally start living.

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 ScalpedScalped by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guera

Fifteen years ago, Dashiell “Dash” Bad Horse ran away from a life of abject poverty and utter hopelessness on the Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in hopes of finding something better. Now he’s come back home armed with nothing but a set of nunchucks, a hell-bent-for-leather attitude and one dark secret, to find nothing much has changed on “The Rez” — short of a glimmering new casino, and a once-proud people overcome by drugs and organized crime.

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Essex County by Jeff Lemire
Identity Crisis by Brad Meltzer & Rags Morales
Daytripper by Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba
Marvels by Kurt Busiek & Alex Ross


Batman Year OneBatman: Year One
by Frank Miller
& David Mazzucchelli

In 1986, Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli produced a groundbreaking reinterpretation of the origin of Batman — who he is and how he came to be.

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The Dark Knight ReturnsThe Dark Knight Returns
by Frank Miller

It is ten years after an aging Batman has retired and Gotham City has sunk deeper into decadence and lawlessness. Now as his city needs him most, the Dark Knight returns in a blaze of glory. Joined by Carrie Kelly, a teenage female Robin, Batman takes to the streets to end the threat of the mutant gangs that have overrun the city.
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PreacherPreacher by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon

Merging with a bizarre spiritual force called Genesis, Texan Preacher Jesse Custer becomes completely disillusioned with the beliefs that he had dedicated his entire life to. Now possessing the power of “the word,” an ability to make people do whatever he utters, Custer begins a violent and riotous journey across the country.

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Fury MaxFury: My War Gone By
by Garth Ennis & Goran Parlov

Colonel Nick Fury, veteran CIA operative, has been at war for a lifetime. Now he sits alone in a dank hotel room, coughing his confession into a tape recorder, laying out a legacy of carnage stretching back to World War II. Because when that war ended, another one began – and Fury sought it out, regardless of the cost to those who loved him.
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Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore & Brian Bolland
Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
The Contract with God Trilogy by Will Eisner
Blankets by Craig Thompson


Superman For All SeasonsSuperman: For All Seasons
by Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale

In this coming-of-age tale witness the experiences and adventures that transform a simple country boy into the world’s greatest hero.

Told through the course of four seasons in the Man of Steel’s adolescent life, it illustrates that it is the person, not the powers, that makes Superman a hero.
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100 Bullets100 Bullets
by Brian Azzarello & Eduardo Risso

This dark and intriguing Eisner Award-winning series features a mysterious agent named Graves who approaches ordinary citizens and gives them an opportunity to exact revenge on a person who has wronged them. Offering his clients an attaché case containing proof of the deed and a gun, he guarantees his “clients” full immunity for all of their actions, including murder.
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by Matt Fraction & David Aja

The self-made hero Hawkeye fights for justice…and good rooftop BBQs! And with ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he’s out to get some downtime from being one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes! Then, the action continues as the arrowed Avenger battles Superstorm Sandy, digital doomsday, dog detectives, lady problems, murder for money and more!
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by Jeff Smith

Humor, mystery, and adventure are spun together in this action-packed, side-splitting saga. Everyone who has ever left home for the first time only to find that the world outside is strange and overwhelming will love Bone. Written and drawn by Jeff Smith, Bone will touch your heart and make you laugh out loud.
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Peanuts 1950-1952 by Charles M Schulz
Tintin by Georges Remi Herge
Hellboy Mignola
Astonishing X-Men by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday

Powers Powers by Brian Michael Bendis
& Michael Avon Oeming

Heroes glide through the sky on lightning bolts and fire. Flamboyant villains attempt daring daylight robberies. God-like alien creatures clash in an epic battle in the night sky. And on the dirty city streets below, homicide detective Christian Walker does his job. Detective Walker has to investigate the shocking murder of one of the most popular superheroes the world has ever known: Retro Girl. Read more >

by Warren Ellis & John Cassaday

Tasked with tracking down evidence of super-human activity, the inter-dimensional peace-keeping force known as Planetary uncover unknown, paranormal secrets and histories, such as a World War II supercomputer that can access other universes, a ghostly spirit of vengeance, and a lost island of dying monsters.
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Captain AmericaCaptain America
by Ed Brubaker & Steve Epting

A midnight call to duty brings Captain America aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D Heli-carrier to identify the corpse of his most feared adversary: the Red Skull! The shocking murder of Cap’s oldest enemy may not be the end of the Skull’s plans, however, because whoever shot the Skull has stolen his final project: an unfinished Cosmic Cube with the potential power to alter reality itself.
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The WakeThe Wake
by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy

When Marine Biologist Lee Archer is approached by the Department of Homeland Security for help with a new threat, she declines …but quickly realizes they won’t take no for an answer. Soon, she is plunging to the depths of the Arctic Circle to a secret, underwater oilrig filled with roughnecks and scientists on the brink of an incredible discovery. But when things go horribly wrong, this scientific safe haven will turn into a house of horrors at the bottom of the ocean! Read more >

Black HoleBlack Hole by Charles Burns

A strange plague has descended upon the area’s teenagers, transmitted by sexual contact. The disease is manifested in any number of ways — from the hideously grotesque to the subtle (and concealable) — but once you’ve got it, that’s it. There’s no turning back. This is a fascinating and eerie portrait of the nature of high school alienation itself — the savagery, the cruelty, the relentless anxiety and ennui, the longing for escape. And then the murders start.
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The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke
Locke & Key by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez
The Invisibles by Grant Morrison
Asterix by René Goscinny & by Albert Uderzo

RunawaysRunaways by Brian K. Vaughan

They were six normal teenagers linked only by their wealthy parents’ annual business meeting…until a chance discovery revealed the shocking truth: their parents are the secret criminal society known as the Pride! The Pride will take any measures necessary to protect their organization – even if it means taking out their own children! Now on the run from their villainous parents, Nico, Chase, Karolina, Gertrude, Molly and Alex have only each other to rely on.
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Old Man LoganOld Man Logan
by Mark Millar & Steve McNiven

Nobody knows what happened on the night the heroes fell, and what happened to Wolverine is the biggest mystery of all. For 50 years, no one has heard hide nor hair from him…and in his place stands an old man called Logan. A man concerned only about his family. A man pushed to the brink by the Hulk Gang. A man forced to help an old friend—the blind archer, Hawkeye—drive three thousand miles to secure his family’s safety. Get ready for the ride of your life, Logan.  Read more >

 Parker The HunterParker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke

The Hunter, the first book in the Parker series, is the story of a man who hits New York head-on like a shotgun blast to the chest. Betrayed by the woman he loved and double-crossed by his partner in crime, Parker makes his way cross-country with only one thought burning in his mind – to coldly exact his revenge and reclaim what was taken from him! Richard (Donald Westlake) Stark’s groundbreaking Parker books are adapted for the first time as a series of graphic novels by Darwyn Cooke.
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Kingdom ComeKingdom Come
by Mark Waid & Alex Ross

Winner of five Eisner and Harvey Awards, KINGDOM COME is the best-selling graphic novel form acclaimed writer Mark Waid and superstar painter Alex Ross. This riveting story set in the future pits the old guard–Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and their peers–against a new, uncompromising generation of heroes in the final war to determine the fate of the planet. Read more >

All Star SupermanAll Star Superman 
by Grant Morrison & Frank Quietly

Witness the Man of Steel in exciting new adventures featuring Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Bizarro, and more! The Man of Steel goes toe-to-toe with Bizarro, his oddball twin, and the new character Zibarro, also from the Bizarro planet.
And Superman faces the final revenge of Lex Luthor – in the form of his own death!
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Thor by Walt Simonson
Ultimate Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis
Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis
Criminal by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips


What’s missing from our list? 

Let us know in the comments!

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