This weeks Top 5 Wednesday will be a little different, as I didn’t write it! This weeks topic was novels that aren’t the traditional written form; graphic novels, comics, audiobooks, manga, etc. I am not well versed in any of these subjects however! I’ve dabbled in manga, and graphic novels, but my list would simply be the five that I’ve read and I don’t even think it’s that many…
So I roped in a very good friend of mine that I know loves them, like adores them. I knew she’d be perfect for this week as she’s also a wonderful, wonderful writer! So here we go, my good friend Billie’s Top 5 Wednesday;
Okay, so first things first: This is very much Marvel based.
I have read enough comics to be called a comic reader, enough different styles of comics to know about some of the variety, but certainly not enough to call myself a pro. Anybody that has ever attempted to delve into the world of comics, or graphic novels, especially with Marvel, knows that there is a bottomless pit of differing arcs and styles and artists, and it’s very easy to lose track with timelines and what’s happening.
That being said, the majority of comics I’ve read have been absolutely incredible. My love of comics started when I was around five. I somehow got my hands on a copy of The Beano, and I fell head over heels in love with Dennis the Menace. I wanted a dog called Gnasher, and I wanted to go to school with The Bash Street Kids, with Danny, Plug, Smiffy and Toots. I even tried to convince my mum to call me Billy Whizz, but it turns out that’s also slang for cocaine, so that request was met with a big dose of NOPE. (I also avoided baths like Dennis does, but that’s a period of my life I’d like to forget, let’s not mention it again.)
Past Dennis and the Beano gang, I collected old Superman comics that I kept in their packaging and never read because my uncle told me once that they were too good to read and I took it literally. I would sit in the school library during playtime and golden hour, reading random issues of the X-men and Batman, and I had a Wolverine action figure that I carried with me everywhere (in my Beano bag, of course. Along with my Westlife notepad. I was a cool kid).
Then one day, years later, when I was 17 and somehow a thousand pages away from what I had originally Googled (I am a girl of few talents, but internet binges is one of my best), I stumbled upon fan art of a character called Deadpool. I don’t remember the image, or why it intrigued me, but I learnt two things about Deadpool that day:
He suffers from chronic pain, just like me.
He’s an absolute asshole, just like me. (Just kidding. Mostly. Sometimes. Often.)
Over the years, I’d read snippets of Marvel comics online and issues that barely made sense because I had missed all of the storyline that had come before it. But one thing was for sure: I was a fan. I got to know most of the characters and I learnt their stories. I flew with Iron Man, I mourned with Captain America, I laughed with Deadpool, and I got angry with The Hulk. Then with the release of Captain America: The First Avenger, and then later The Avengers: Avengers Assemble, I let myself delve further into the comic ‘verse and now this is where you find me: Confused, with a thousand different options to write about, a hundred different, diverse characters that I want to explain my love for, and only five slots to fill.
So here goes, with minor spoilers:
1: Hawkeye Vs Deadpool
My number one slot goes to what is without a doubt my favourite comic of all time. I’ve always preferred mini-series to the bigger story arcs, and this four part series is probably the reason behind it. Hawkeye Vs Deadpool – I had very little knowledge of Hawkeye outside of The Avengers and the occassional pop up in a Black Widow comic, and from the very first page, I was so sold on him. With his sarcasm and his love of coffee, Hawkeye was always going to be a character I related to. Add in the Merc with a Mouth and the love of my life, Kate Bishop a.k.a Hawkeye, this series was always going to be a winner for me. Dry, witty, fast paced humour is always something that draws me in, and this comic has it in abundance and is a great read, especially for Marvel fans who are just dipping their toes into the comic ‘verse.
2: Captain America: Man Out Of Time.
Now hopefully by now a lot of you know at least a little about Captain America. I had seen Iron Man a hundred times over by the release of the first Cap movie and I liked it enough, I could list a thousand reasons why Robert Downey Jr is the perfect person to embody Iron Man, but there was something about Steve Rogers that I just took a shine to. He’s an easily overlooked character – with his strong moral code and his ‘do-good’ attitude, it’s easy to find him dull. Especially when putting him in a film with such big personalities like Thor and Tony Stark. But the sick, skinny little kid from Brooklyn who had fight in him a lot bigger than his size would allow – who grew up to be the face of the war, the guy that lead an army and saved as many lives as he took, and who stayed humble throughout it all, I just adore him. But more than anything, past Steve, past his story, past everything – it’s his friendship with Bucky Barnes that sold me. Loyal from the start and loyal to the end, Bucky and Steve – whichever timeline you choose to follow: The comics or the movies – had a friendship so deep and so great that the whole world knew about it. They literally put it in a museum in the films. I know some fans see it as more than friendship, but whatever way you choose to see it, the love between them is wonderful.
Man out of Time is another mini-series that builds up into a much, much bigger story arc that sees Cap pulled out of the ice, into the future and suddenly in a world that has moved on from the life that he knew. He’s lost everyone he had built a life with and is mourning for his best friend and the war he never got to finish. The story is great, it builds into something greater, but the flashbacks and the memories of his previous life and of Bucky are what made me love this comic so much. There is a moment, when Cap has made his decision and knows what he has to do, where he accepts what has happened to him, and he chooses to honour his friendship and his past, and he keeps his promise to Bucky. He goes out to the Grand Canyon and he draws his best friend and he pays his respects to the kid who stuck by his side throughout everything. It’s a sweet, touching moment and it made my Grinch heart grow three sizes.
3: Hawkeye: My Life As A Weapon
This was my first real introduction to Hawkeye. As said previously, I knew enough to know that I liked him. He was funny, he was sarcastic, he was emotionally constipated. He was an average guy with a bow and arrow, trying to save the world amongst Gods and science experiments and superhuman strength. Hawkeye is the humanity in the Avengers, he’s the relatable guy that questions how he ever got involved with a squad like that in the first place. This comic, with Hawkeye now deaf and struggling with depression, has such a unique art style and a way of telling Clint Barton’s story that I hadn’t seen in any comic until now. It introduced us to Clint’s life outside of the Avengers, it introduced me to Kate Bishop – the young Avenger who took on Hawkeye’s name, it introduces us to the annoying group of ‘bro’ villains. But, more important than any other Marvel character that has come before him, it introduces us to Lucky. Hawkdog. The pizza-loving puppy that Clint rescues from the annoying ‘bro’ gang and adopts as his very own. The best sidekick.
I could write an essay on my love for this comic, but I’ve sold you on it already, haven’t I? A dog. You’re welcome.
Okay. So my issue with Deadpool comics is this: Every issue I read becomes my favourite issue. Whichever side of Deadpool we get to see – and he’s psychologically damaged and completely insane, so there are many – quickly becomes my favourite side. Whether we see him in love, in lust, talking to himself, sad, happy, dark, depressed, in pain, pirating, saving the world as a good guy or just going on a killing spree because Golden Girls got cancelled (I don’t remember if that’s ever happened in the comics, but it’s definitely something I see Wade Wilson doing), Deadpool is just a guy you cannot bring yourself to hate.
A cancer treatment gone hideously, hideously wrong leaves the mercenary Wade Wilson immortal, scarred and with a long list of people that have pissed him off. He is the anti-hero that we all need. A total Captain America fangirl and the guy who desperately wants to be loved, liked and a member of The Avengers. Most of the time. When he’s not trying to kill them.
He does the wrong things for the right reasons. And the wrong ones. He is the self-aware smartass who argues with himself and is often too busy hallucinating, unable to tell where reality begins and ends.
Yes, that’s right. Self-aware. The best thing about Deadpool is that he knows he’s a comic book character. He doesn’t take himself too seriously and he knows that there is somebody turning the pages of a book, reading all about his life. It adds such a great dynamic to the series and the character, and having no boundaries and no barriers, it gives so much freedom to what can happen. In fact, it gives so much freedom that in one mini-series, Deadpool goes on a mass killing spree and ends up killing the whole Marvel universe.
Yup, spoiler alert. (Not really though, that’s the name of the series – Deadpool kills the Marvel Universe – you know what you’re getting yourself in to.)
5: The Winter Soldier – The Bitter March.
So, you know how further back, I rambled on about my love for Bucky and Steve’s friendship? Well apparently I’m also a big fan of emotionally scarring myelf because I made the choice to read this comic.
Now, if you’re seen The Winter Soldier film, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, here’s a heads up: Shit escalates.
Bucky Barnes is no longer Bucky Barnes. Bucky Barnes, long thought dead and long mourned by the world and later Captain America when he resurfaced from a block of ice, is alive and well.
Well, not well. But he is alive. Previously, comic book fans thought they knew two things: the only two people to stay dead are Uncle Ben and Bucky Barnes. And that was true for a long time, until it was revealed that Bucky was captured by Cap’s enemies and reprogrammed to become the world’s deadliest assassin, The Winter Soldier. PLOT. TWIST.
This five part series is just an introduction to what happened to The Winter Soldier during his time spent in hell (not literal hell, but close enough). We find him in the middle of it all, reprogrammed by Hydra and sent out on a mission. Not only is it an introduction to what happened to him, but we also get to see who The Winter Soldier is underneath all the brainwashing and programming. We get to see fragments pieced back together.
And then the ending. Good lord.
That’s all I’m saying, just read it, cry with me a little. It’s devastating and brilliant, you’ll completely regret it.