6. The Filth (2002) (Vertigo)

This is one I know I need to revisit. I read it once, years ago, and never wanted to read it again. Not because it was bad, but because it left me feeling so…Dirty. It’s an unflinching look at cruelty and evil, and it takes a strong, focused mind to read it. It’s a lot like The Invisibles, only more compressed and, in my view, more readable: A back-magic version of Nick Fury (mystical super-agent Doctor Strange type) goes against wild, Grant-Morrison-Doom-Patrol kind of stuff, to save the world. Even though he doesn’t want to.

5. We3 (2004) (Vertigo)

In the hands of anyone else, this would be a children’s book. In fact, it has been. “Animals on the run trying to get home and forming familial-like bonds in the face of adversity. It’s probably been over a hundred kids’ books, TV shows, movies, etc.

But in the hands of Morrison and Frank Quitely, it’s a powerful protest for animal rights, and the only Morrison work that ever made me cry. (I wasn’t sobbing like a little girl. I just got choked up. Don’t revoke my man card.)

4. Joe the Barbarian (2010) (Vertigo)

This is another one that people forget, but I love. When it came out in hardback I immediately bought three copies to give away. I’ve written about it before, here. I can’t praise it enough, and I wish to hell it could be made into a movie. Also, it elevated the career of artist Sean Phillips, who is now making brilliant indie comics of his own (see Punk Rock Jesus).

3. Flex Mentallo (1996) (Vertigo)

This goes into the “weird” Grant Morrison pile. He does here a lot of what he did at the end of his Animal Man run—he deconstructs comic books by telling a story about how important comic books are, and why the worlds of magic and super are critical to surviving the so-called “real” world we live in. Lines between the real and surreal often blend in Morrison’s work, and this comic is the best example of it.

2. Kill Your Boyfriend (1995) (Vertigo)

Flat out the most punk rock underground comic I have ever read. I remember the first time I read it, whipping through the pages as fast as I could—breathless. And then realizing it was too damn short and over far too soon. Like every great Ramones song. There are lessons in here for days about how to write a fast-paced book without sacrificing character or content—or insight. It’s hardcore and mature, and recognizes the real meaning of—and need for—teenage rebellion and anarchy, without glamour or apology. Warts and all. And Phillip Bond’s artwork, by the way, is tremendous. It’s a hard book to find, but you can get online copies fairly easily. It’s worth digging for.

And like I said earlier, I couldn’t get through The Invisibles because it was just too…Dense. This has some similar themes, and a similar message, but he tells the tale like a quick punch in the face.

And next, my favorite…And some other choice books….

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