Final Crisis and Secret Invasion are dominating the summer, just like World War Hulk and Sinestro Corp did before that and Civil War and Infinite Crisis before that and… you get my point. So if your event-ed out like me and pretty much the entire staff of Heroes, here’s some neat-o books that I like that stand on their own.
Immortal Iron Fist
This book has been one of the most consistently entertaining books from Marvel since its inception. The first 16 issues plus specials by Matt Fraction and Ed Brubaker have been collected and are absolutely a blast to read. A new creative team came on with issue 17 and defied expectations by maintaining the quality of the book which is really a happy surprise.
Re-launched by J. Michael Stracyznski last year, Thor is probably in fact Marvel’s best title. JMS has decided to forgo the hammer-smashing super heroics and has instead crafted a slow-burn story first about the return of the Asgardian pantheon after their deaths in Ragnarok and now an almost Shakespearean courtyard drama. But what really completes the package is the absolutely stunning art work of Oliver Coipel (he’s French so that’s pronounced O-liv-ee-ay Coy-pell). The first arc is out in trade and the book is only up to issue 11 so you can play catsup to it pretty easy.
I will state that I’m not a big Ghost Rider fan but recently have started to see the character as something that can be a lot of fun if played in the B-Horror grindhouse vein that he very much comes from. This is exactly the way that writer Jason Aaron has played him since taking over the book with issue 20. This book exudes with macho preening and tough guy beat downs mixed with an extreme quirkiness. It's just one defining moment away from being the next Immortal Iron Fist.
Justice Society of America
The current run of the book, which relaunched back in 2006, reminds me a lot of the heyday of Chris Claremont’s X-Men. Plots, subplots, and lots of characters weave in and without break. JSA is one of the few comics that break the story arc mold and one of the few DCU titles that really stands on its own.
This book stands alone by the fact that it takes place two centuries ago. Jonah Hex is the best mainstream book that no one is reading. Almost every issue is done-in-one story usually about the uncaring brutality and general inhumanness of the Old West and its title character that is for the most part kind of unlikeable. It also works as an artist showcase. Some of the best artists in comics such as Darwyn Cooke and JH Williams have contributed to the book as well as some European talent who don’t get much exposure stateside.
Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam
These books are cute and smart the way old feature film cartoons used to be. Give them to children, give them to grumpy old men and watch them smile, and then give one to you. They're great.