Here are a list of 5 comic book series that I believe you'll agree are worthy of your collections as a newbie or as a fan of great stories.

Fables (Vertigo)

FablesCredit: Vertigo

Rarely do I find an on-going series that captures my fancy in such a potent and dramatic fashion, but Bill Willingham’s series is one of those jewels in a pile of literary rubble.  ABC’s “Once Upon A Time” may be the mainstream gospel on how to bring the fairytale/fable/legend/storybook universe to the masses via the TV format, but Fables is the bible when it comes to actually melding all of these genres and telling a concise and compelling story well.  ABC had a deal with Willingham to bring this comic series to TV, but they (conveniently) went with a more demure version that, while interesting in areas, pales in comparison to what could have been told with this series.  In short, this is a series that centers around Bigby Wolf (The Big Bad Wolf), Snow White, Jack Horner (Jack and the Beanstalk, Jack and Jill, etc.) and host of your other favorite characters from your childhood stories.  They live in a community in Manhattan called Fabletown, with a sister community “the Farm” in upstate New York where the less human-looking inhabitants reside.  They’ve been forced out of the Homelands by a malevolent force that now threatens their new life in the Mundane world (basically the human world).  The inner and outer politics of straddling two worlds come together in various exciting and explosive ways as this series unfolds.  If you love Once Upon A Time (or hate it), you WILL love this series and suggest you pick up the trade paperbacks to catch up.  It’s well worth every cent.

Rising Stars (Top Cow)

Rising StarsCredit: Top Cow

This 24-Issue limited series was probably one of my most favorite superhero series I’ve ever had the pleasure to read.  Writing by the enigmatic J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5, The Real Ghostbusters, Jeremiah), this retrospective story tells of the events during an extraordinary period in time from the perspective of a “special”, John (Poet) Simon.  A comet from the heavens struck the planet one day and subsequently a group of 113 children with special powers (aptly named, Specials) were born.  What’s the underlying connection?  What’s their purpose?  Will this signal the end of humanity?  This series explores these question and more.  As the story unfolds, you begin to understand that our understanding of who were are as a people has a universal twinge and that what we discover about ourselves may prove to be less important than how we think about each other.  This was released as three trade paperback novels and one compendium that are worth of your collection.

100 Bullets (Vertigo)

110 BulletsCredit: Vertigo

Brian Azzarello is probably one of the most popular and prolific noir writers in the comic book industry.  His run on series like Batman and Wonder Woman has turned mundane series into page-turning, scripted works of art.  The question centered in this series is “What would you do to get revenge if you had the power to do so and could get away with it?”  Agent Graves approaches people with this question, a gun, documents on their target and 100 untraceable bullets.  What you find is that this is just one aspect of a much broader sinister plot and series of events.  You are introduced to compelling characters that will make your heart burst in sorrow and others that will truly terrify you.  One character who’s appearance I always eagerly anticipated was Lono, one of the Minutemen who’s completely amoral attitude is one-part hilarious and always left you with a sense of things were about to get real hectic when he showed up.  As the title suggests, there were only 100 issues of this series.  From beginning to end, you will not want to put this series down and read it until its dramatic conclusion.                

Wonder Woman (DC Comics - New 52)

Wonder Woman  - New 52Credit: DC Comics

Another on-going series written by the incredible Brian Azzarello, we see the life and trials of Diana in the rebooted DC universe.  Brian also retooled Diana’s origin as she was no longer born and made from clay, but actually another wayward child of Zeus.   I reveal this unapologetically as this really isn’t much of a reveal and not really the story.  However, her newfound familial discovery does put her in quite a pickle as she now has to deal with the very vengeful and spiteful wife of Zeus – Hera.   The story centers on another character, Zola, a human who is pregnant with another of Zeus’s children and Diana must protect her and the baby from the other Greek Gods (namely Hera) from certain death and dismemberment.  In this series, we get to understand the complications and complexity of being in a family of conniving, spiteful and untrusting Gods.  Plus, Diana has to make some dramatic decisions and make unholy alliances in order to protect her charge and possibly usher Armageddon upon the pantheons.  This series is one of the few highlights worth noting in the New 52 universe of DC comics.

Invincible (Image Comics)

InvincibleCredit: Image

Robert Kirkman may be more known for his The Walking Dead comic and AMC TV series, but what I believe he’s most loved for is his on-going Invincible series.  Mark Grayson (Invincible) is the teenage son of one of Earth’s most famous and powerful heroes – Omni-Man.  As his powers develop, he does what any kid with powers does, he gets a superhero suit and does the superhero circuit.  He joins a super hero team, fights crime, powerful super villains and along the way uncovers a secret that complete changes and redirects his life forever.  Invincible is as much a statement on the naivety and brashness of youth as it is about the sins of the father and how they come to wreak havoc on the next generation.  Over the course of the 100+ and counting issues, you see Mark grow and change.  Some ways are natural and heroic, other ways are more pragmatic and terrifying.  However, this series thinks about and discusses the idea of being a superhero in fantastic and much more creative ways than you’ll find in pretty much any series I’ve discuss thus far.  I suggest buying the trade paperbacks and enjoy what I know to be one of the greatest superhero stories ever told.