The 5 Best Comic Graphic Novels That You've Never Read

Writers: Steve Niles & Rob Zombie
Art: Richard Corben

In this 2004 4-issue series put out by IDW Publishing, the story begins back in 1973 as a relaxing family camping trip at a cabin in a large National Park starts out peaceful enough. As their day of fun and relaxation winds down and evening arrives, with the family (father, mother and son, Billy plus the pet dog) adjourning to their seperate bedrooms for the night. Any chance of a peaceful nights rest is immediately ended as Bigfoot smashes into the parents bedroom, killing the Father (and the loyal pet dog) and taking the mother back to his den.

We next see Billy about 20 years later, now a grown man and ready to take his revenge on the monster who forever destroyed his childhood innocence and any semblance of a normal life.

The writing of Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) and Rob Zombie (Director: Halloween, House Of 1000 Corpses) is solid and well done, but Richard Corben is in his best blood-and-gore mode, and many of the images in this story will stay with you long after the book is finished.

The Last Avengers Story
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Ariel Olivetti

Released by Marvel Comics in 1995 as a prestige format two-issue mini-series, this story may have been somewhat overlooked at the time, due to a release that was close in proximity to the more prominant Marvel prestige-format release: 'Marvels', by Alex Ross and Kurt Busiek. Where 'Marvels' focused on the early beginnings of the Marvel Universe, this story takes place several years into Marvel's dark future.

A new generation of super-heroes have come to replace the original team of Avengers, though their membership status is relatively brief as the super-villain known as Ultron-59 deploys a nuclear bomb which destoys the "new" Avengers and their headquarters.

Ultron-59 then issues an ultimatum to his creator, an aged Hank Pym (Goliath, Giant-Man), that he must assemble the remaining corps of original Avengers, including The Wasp, Hawkeye and Mockingbird, or he will track down each of them individually and murder them. Pym moves forward in the hopes of assembling the Avengers for one last battle.

Hard Boiled
Writer: Frank Miller
Artist: Geof Darrow

An early Dark Horse Comics' mini-series released in 1990, Hard Boiled was supposedly based roughly around a Philip K. Dick story. Similar in tone to 'Blade Runner', this futuristic story unfolds as we meet a man named Nixon, who is a tax collector struggling with identity issues and memory lapses. It is soon discovered that he is indeed actually a relentless cyborg assassin who will stop at nothing to find the answers that he desperately seeks, as he goes on a bloody no holds barred rampage.

A strong stomach is needed to handle the graphic violence brought to life by Geof Darrow, but the book has the look and feel of an exciting smash-up derby and is well worth the ride.

JSA: The Liberty Files
Writers: Dan Jolley & Tony Harris
Artist: Tony Harris

In this underrated Elseworlds tale, the story is set in the World War II era, revolving around three special agents known only as the Bat (Batman), the Clock (Hourman) and the Owl (Hourman). Their mission is to steal the top-secret information that is being carried by the sinister-looking 'Jack the Grin' (The Joker) regarding the Nazi Germany's mysterious new secret-weapon, rumored to be some kind of indestructable 'Super-Man'.

Alternate reality versions of many other mainstream DC characters play important parts in the unfolding story,including appearances by long-time Justice Society members Wildcat, Mr. Terrific and Black Canary.

The real pay off of this story comes from the revelation of the true identity of Germany's secret weapon,and the realization that the Allies may have a secret-weapon of their own up their sleeve.

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Frank Quitely

This DC/Vertigo story depicts the journey of We3, a team of three prototype animal cyborg weapons, complete with built-in weapons and mechanical exoskeletons, who were created by the military. The team consists of a dog, a cat and a rabbit,and we follow the group as they flee from their captors who have ordered them to be de-commissioned.

They are relentlessly pursued by nearly all of the weapons at the military's disposable, which even includes other cyborg animals.

The violence is in this book is often disturbing and quite graphic, but for readers who are willing to give the story a chance, it's an extremely rewarding and compelling read.