In the mood for some gritty action between masked vigilantes and psychopathic killers? Check out these five graphic novels.
Smoke rises out of a vent and the shadows twist, revealing our hero running down a rain slicked sidewalk after a man clothed in darkness. From elegant film noir to blood soaked pulp fiction, gritty works of fiction are awesome. This is true in any medium, including graphic novels. Over the years there have been a multitude of attempts at gritty graphic novels, some have been pretty good whilst others have defined the medium. The five graphic novels in this list have each rocked the world of graphic novels and are well worth your time.
5. Punisher: Welcome Back Frank
Perhaps the greatest Punisher storyline, Welcome Back Frank, sees Frank Castle take on the vicious Gnucci crime syndicate in his war on organised crime. The twelve issue series follows a long campaign as the Punisher goes to war, using every skill, weapon and contact at his disposal. The entire epic is filled with gory, blood-filled conflicts and some truly gruelling scenes of violence. If the piece lacks anything, it’s pacing as almost every scene has Punisher fighting a new threat with little build up between scenes. The few slower scene add an extra level of depth and leave me wanting a little more talking and a little less action.
4. Daredevil: Guardian Devil
If your a bit of a cinema geek you probably know of Kevin Smith, the man was a one man juggernaut of creativity in the nineties, creating cult classic films such as Mallrats and Clerks but these films were not his only achievements. In 1995, Kevin Smith was brought on by Marvel to work on the Daredevil comic book series. The legendary run has gone in history as a turning point for the man without fear. The plot features a lot of deception and intrigue as Daredevil protects a small child from a never ending rogues gallery of villains. The art work throughout is extremely detailed and, when combine with Kevin Smith’s unique dialog, makes for a throughly enjoyable piece. If you enjoyed the Netflix series consider picking this one up.
3. The Dark Knight Returns
I take it that if you have even a passing interest in comic books and comic book films you have seen the trailer for Batman v Superman, if you haven’t open a tab to YouTube and go watch it. Almost everything you see in that trailer between Batman and Superman is taken from the Dark Knight Returns. The graphic novel takes place around ten years after Batman mysteriously vanishes from the streets of Gotham, gangs roam the streets and every hero except Superman has paled into obscurity in one way or another. Into this dystopia storms a battle hardened and aged Bruce Wayne ready to fight back. The comics is tough to read as it gets really dark and twisted, so prepare yourself for some very graphic moments. This novel will have a lot of influence in Batman v Superman so I highly recommend checking it out before seeing the film.
Watchmen isn’t just a comic book. It’s a gritty chronicle of a darker version of history, a version of history in which every fear and worry America had in the Cold War era comes to life. A version of history where even super heroes couldn’t save us from ourselves. Watchmen presents the reader with two generations of retired superheroes, one from the post-war era and one from the Vietnam war era, as they attempt to deal with an assassin killing superheroes that leads into a bigger plot to end the Cold War. It’s a great book, I really think everyone should have a read of it as it unpicks a lot of aspects of American society and the superhero genre. If you have an afternoon free and a bit of spare cash go buy this book and read it.
1. Batman: Year One
If The Dark Knight Returns shows us a future in need of Batman, Year One shows us why Batman was needed in Gotham in the first place. With a plot revolving around Commissioner Gordon as he joins the GCPD and Batman’s early days as a protector of Gotham, Year One is a wonder to behold. The entire book is on a slow burn as everything ramps up to some truly amazing and cathartic action sequences. The artwork is filled with heavy black lines and muted colours intensifying the gritty feel of the piece. If you want a graphic novel that is gritty, harsh and unforgiving look no further than Batman: Year One.