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The comic book loves of our lives: X-Men, Sandman, Calvin and Hobbes, and more

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Syfy Wire Staff
Feb 14, 2018

It's Valentine's Day week, which means we're still talking about all the geeky things we love here at SYFY WIRE. This time, our thoughts turned to comics, but not just any comics. We're talking about the comic book loves of our lives, those stories that we maintain absolute devotion to no matter what.

 

So, what comics are we in love with? You'll find several SYFY WIRE staff contributions below, from classic newspaper strips to modern classics and everything in-between. Check out the comics we love most below, and let us know what the comic book love of your life is in the comments.

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Planetary

I love audacious comics, the ones that reach for the furthest and most ambitious possible goal and somehow manage to reach it. With Planetary, Warren Ellis and John Cassaday (with glorious Laura Martin colors) attempted to craft a secret history of 20th century pop culture through a fictional superteam that uncovers parallel dimensions, long-lost legends, giant monsters and an enemy greater than they could have imagined.

It's a tall order, but Ellis and Cassaday rose to the occasion. Planetary is a massive chunk of pop-pulp history distilled into an incredible story that creates something new along the way. This is a strange and many-faceted universe that I get lost in every time I read it. - Matthew Jackson

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Hawkeye

It's an obvious and somewhat cliche entry, but Matt Fraction and David Aja's acclaimed run on Hawkeye (which also featured art from Annie Wu, Francesco Francavilla, and others) is still the comic that made me a hardcore comic fan — and remains geeky comfort food whenever I'm jonesing for something fun to read.

Fraction told a superhero story with pretty much no superhero-ing, instead dialing into the humor and humanity that makes Clint Barton such a fun character in the first place. It has jokes a'plenty, sure, but also pushes the boundaries of what you could do with the medium. One issue takes place entirely from Clint's dog's perspective, while another was written entirely in sign language. -Trent Moore

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X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga

I had been into comics at an early age but my one true love was 1980's "The Dark Phoenix Saga," because it was so tragic. The X-Men storyline saw Jean Grey become the all-powerful Phoenix during a mission in space before becoming Dark Phoenix due to the manipulation of the Hellfire Club. When she consumed a star, which resulted in billions of deaths, Professor X managed to put a psychic lock on Jean’s powers before she and the X-Men were captured by the Shi’ar Empire and engaged in a battle to decide Jean’s fate. The storyline culminated in Jean’s death when she sacrificed herself instead of reverting to Dark Phoenix. - Nathalie Caron

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Bloom County

If you’re sort of interested in someone and then see that they have more than one Bloom County collection, instantly marry that person. Stuffed with jokes about Casper Weinberger and yet still simple and clear, Bloom County had a seismic Simpsons-level influence on a generation of writers.

Bloom County is a world with real pain, but where all kinds of different people (and, say, a penguin and a drug-addicted cat) can live harmoniously in a boarding house next to a dandelion patch. Notably, Berkeley Breathed also gave us a world in which a character can use a wheelchair and also run a starship, a penguin will traverse the Earth to find his mom before Christmas, and caring for friends as though they are family remains the highest value. - Zac Hug

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Calvin and Hobbes

As a young girl in the '80s, the only comics I could get my hands on were the comic strips in the newspapers. I devoured them every day — twice as many on Sunday. I loved them so much I started to clip out my favorites and tape them into a notebook I had, kinda like my own kid-made "Best Of" anthology. A real stand-out was Calvin and Hobbes. That was the one that led me to buy actual anthologies. Much later, I started to write some comics myself and was even nominated for an Eisner. But it all started with the Sunday funnies, with Spaceman Spiff and transmogrification. - Alexis Sottile

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The Wake

Years before Scott Snyder meddled in Dark Nights: Metal and just before he wowed us with Wytches, the ubiquitous writer delved into demons from the deep in a masterful mini-series called The Wake. It's a horror-tinged story published by Vertigo in 2013/14 blending science and mythology into an absorbing comic concoction. This watery tale is a centuries-spanning fever dream about a race of ancient aquatic creatures and a female marine biologist trying to understand the Mer-monsters.

The Wake is an introspective sci-fi saga flooded with breathtaking visuals by Sean Murphy, whose incredible pencils can also be seen in Tokyo Ghost, Chrononauts, and his own Batman: White Knight. And I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the astonishing coloring job by Matt Hollingsworth. - Jeff Spry

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Guy Delisle's Travel Books

Growing up on Tin Tin, I loved how comics could whisk me away to far-off places with the thrill of adventure... and as I traveled more (in, you know, real life), I realized that witnessing different cultures also helped me to grow as a person. No comic embodies this experience of self-discovery through culture and travel more than the brilliant books of Guy Delisle. Delisle's books -- Shenzen, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Burma Chronicles, and Jerusalem -- follow his wanderings through countries with an open mind and a charming demeanor. He's a foreigner within a politically-charged environment but there's a childlike innocence to his meandering that never pushes an agenda... and can also be surprisingly funny. - Matt Dorville

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Sandman

It wasn't until last year that I found the true comic love of my life. I had been meaning to read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman for a long time, and once I started I couldn’t stop. I’d read and loved plenty of comics over the years, and though it was recent, this was different. The story of Dream (and his family) is such an incredibly realized mythology, perhaps matching only Tolkien in its scope. Weaving in everything from serial killers to Shakespeare, the series is unmatched for its imagination, storytelling, beauty, and truth. It showed me what the medium is truly capable of, and I will likely revisit the series every year until I’m dead. - Brian Silliman

Sandman was the comic series that lured me into a phantasmagorical world of dreams, myth and magic which I'd never experienced in comics before. I almost thought I’d dreamed it. You can probably understand why a fan of the darker side of DC that emerged in the '80s would be mesmerized by the shadowy halls of the Dreaming, but it wasn't just the neo-Goth aesthetic. I've been fascinated by mythology from a young age, and Gaiman's take on dream overlord Morpheus (Dream), the female embodiment of Thanatos (Death), little sister Delirium and the rest of the subconscious pantheon are multidimensional and surprisingly human. My enduring love for Sandman is the reason I ended up reading every single thing Neil Gaiman imagined and cosplayed two variations of Death. - Elizabeth Rayne

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ACTION COMICS #340

The comic I love most in the world is Action Comics Vol. 1 #340, which features the debut of DC villain, the Parasite. Published nearly 30 years before I was born, I discovered the issue at my grandmother’s house in Brooklyn as a kid. It had once belonged to my uncle, and now the yellowing pages of this classic Superman story were all mine.

The issue focuses on Raymond Maxwell Jensen, a lab worker who believes the lab is hiding money in storage containers. However, they actually contain radioactive material, which endows him with the ability to absorb energy from other people. Jensen’s transformation into the purple-skinned Parasite did scare me as a kid, but it also opened my eyes to the endless and fascinating possibilities of comic books. - Josh Weiss

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100 Bullets

When it comes to comic books, I’ve had many mistresses, but the one that’s had my heart the longest is Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets. I’d mined the genre of crime noir for years but 100 Bullets took it to another level with Risso’s mastery of design, vantage points and storytelling.

Each page is a constant reminder of the 50/50 collaboration between artist and writer in the best executed comics. Azzarello’s words never fed the reader to the level of gluttony, giving us just enough to be seduced by this sinister cast of conspirators, shadowy keepers of the old world and the hardened kids of the streets, while Risso consistently left us in awe. Whenever prompted for a recommendation, this is the first comic that leaves my mouth. Ernie Estrella