Monday, November 08, 2010

The five greatest comic books of all time.

Because I am an enormous geek, I have taken great delight from the news that Judge Dredd is to be rebooted for another film. I am even more delighted that scripting duties are falling to Alex Garland, who in addition to being a great writer, is an avowed Dredd fan. Casting gives us even more to be happy about, with Karl Urban coming out of leftfield, and although I would never have considered him for the part in a million years, it actually makes perfect sense. And he's a 2000 AD fan as well, so he'll try and do the character justice rather than just shouting a lot like Stallone did. Man, as much as I try to like Stallone's Dredd I just can't. That film was an abomination. Stallone's performance was a little bit too reminiscent of Rocky V, and as for Rob Schneider being in it, whose idea was that? Armand Assante was the worst choice ever for Rico, and he should have been a mangled, twisted, anarchic version of Dredd, more like he was in the comics. About the only good thing in it is Hammerstein, and he's technically not even a Dredd character.

Anyway, in celebration of the 2012 Dredd film, here is a top five run down of the greatest comics of all time. I know. Poor segue.

5. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Following self-imposed retirement after the death of Robin, a middle-aged Batman returns to the fray to rid Gotham of gang violence and a couple of old enemies. The book that changed the tone of Batman forever from camp and colourful to dark and gritty, Frank Miller fills the book with questions about the rights of superheroes, much in the same vein that Alan Moore would with The Watchmen. Although you root for Batman all the way through, in some places he actually becomes something of a terrifying character. By the close, you don't know whether it's him or the Joker who's crazier. The book ends with a showdown between Bats and Superman, who has been brought in to stop him getting out of hand. But the real reveal is the twist that comes after that. Amazing, and actually quite chilling.

4. Superman - Red Son

Mark Millar, the man with the best job in the world, asks: What if Superman had landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas? An amazing take on how the Cold War might have gone differently if Superman had been a commie pinko instead of a filthy capitalist. Featuring an anarchist Batman with quite an amazing hat.

3. Judge Dredd - The Cursed Earth

The best Dredd story by a long shot. When Mega City Two is infected with a deadly virus, Dredd leads a rescue mission into the Cursed Earth to bring in the antidote. Accompanied by Spikes Harvey Rotten, the criminal biker that he brought along with him out of what seemed to be an act of perverse cruelty, and Tweek, and enslaved alien that they free along the way, Dredd fights his way through the mental denizens of the post-apocalyptic wasteland, including Satanus the Tyrannosaurus Rex, robot vampires, and the feared Angel Gang. Starting off in an armoured tank and with an army of sidekicks, by the end of the storyline Dredd was alone, crawling on his hands and knees through the desert, everybody else having been killed along the way. And you know what? He made it. Because Dredd is that drokking hard.

2. Preacher - Alamo

The final Preacher book is all about settling scores. Jesse has a score to settle with Cassidy, and the two former best friends finally beat the shit into one another in a largely indecisive duel at the Alamo. Herr Starr, on the other hand, blames Jesse for the loss of a number of his body parts, and having eschewed his plan to install the titular clergyman as a puppet messiah, is now hell-bent on revenge. The Saint of Killers finally has a word with God Almighty, and it doesn't end well for the big guy.

1. The Watchmen

The Watchmen is the best, because from start to finish it is pure brilliance. The dialogue, characterisation, the art, are all perfect. And the unsettling questions that Alan Moore asks have never been more eloquently put. Don't worry though, superheroes aren't all fascists and homosexuals. Not really.


Calum said...

I'd been debating getting Red Son, and your endorsement has convinced me, good sir!

Have you read any of the more modern Dredd stories? I stopped reading 2000AD a while ago (I just don't have the space to keep more issues) but I do remember Terror/Total War being particularly good. Surprisingly subtle for Dredd.

Blackwood said...

I read 2000 AD from around 1994-1998, and for a brief period in 2003-2004. In that time the best Dredd story, also now available as a graphic novel, was The Pit. Dredd gets taken off the street and sent to a dead-end sector that is a dumping ground for all the most corrupt and incompetent judges on the force, and told to whip them into shape. Was the first time that characters like DeMarco and Guthrie were introduced. Brilliant. Also, if you haven't read Dredd Vs Aliens, you probably should as well.

Red Son is actually a lot deeper than I give it credit for. It shows Commie Superman's quest for a Socialist utopia. The ending is thought provoking.

C7 said...

Watchmen is sitting about four inches from my head at the moment, but I haven't finished it yet. Thanks for the post, broseph stalin.