Graphic Novels and Web Comics I Put on Patrick's Reading List

Some of which he even read.

At Popehat, we  celebrate our core beliefs.  To achieve victory, one must attack.  But one cannot attack without a plan.  A plan cannot be formed without mastering fundamentals.  And nothing is more fundamental than reading.  We even think pictures occasionally enhance the experience.  As such, here's a slice of my standing list of recommendations to Patrick.  With bonus material covering Patrick's thoughts where applicable, or he can just comment in the thread like a big boy.  Waxing poetic is not my strong suit, but here goes anyway!

Planetary – Warren Ellis.  Archaeologists of the Impossible!  Planetary are an organization dedicated to charting the secret history of the twentieth century, in a world with super heroes and many other sorts of insane, fantastic things.  It's both a love letter to 5+ decades of pop culture as well as an interesting treatment of those things.  It's entire premise was based on one of those geeky exercises "if Reed Richards is the smartest person in the universe, why is Earth-616 as bad off as our own", though you'll have to read it to discover the answer (which is satisfying). Patrick started and I believe finished it and loved it.

Morning Glories – Nick Spencer.  A group of seemingly random brilliant and troubled teenagers is "invited" to attend a prestigious prep school.  There are no safe spaces at Morning Glory Academy, and I mean that literally.  You have no idea where this is going, and won't at the end of the first six issues.  Except that it's crazy and if you liked it like I did you'll be dying to know what happens next.  Though I have fallen behind (my disposable income is not unlimited, and it's not the only thing I read, I think I'm 3 or maybe 4 trades behind now), it's high up on my "things to catch up on in 2016" list.  It's a different and interesting comic and the characters are never far from my thoughts.

All Star Superman – Grant Morrison.  Widely hailed as one of the best Superman stories of all time.   If you're the sort of person that doesn't like Superman because a lot of Superman stories come off as badly written fanfic, this is a comic for you.  It's a deep and thoughtful take on a character who needs to be in deft hands but usually hasn't been.

Nextwave: Agents of Hate – Warren Ellis.  As comics matured and moved out of the silver age, a few things became inevitable.  People like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Warren Ellis showed us that comics might have started out as male power fantasies, they could be other things to.  Lots of other people tried to copy them.  Or tell "mature", "gritty", "dark", "complicated" stories.  Most people failed, and failed horribly.  What we got was often worse than mere power fantasy.  Nextwave is the polar opposite of these things, I am happy to report.  Nextwave is not, to quote, about Learning and Character Arcs and Morals and Hugs.  It is about things blowing up and people getting kicked.  It is about healing America by beating people up.  It's Stephen Chow meets vintage action Arnie at the drive in.  It features violence against broccoli, robots, sort of "other beings" and the six greatest two-page panels (lain out back to back) in the history of comics.  Did I mention explosions and kicking? It is especially about THINGS BLOWING UP and PEOPLE GETTING KICKED.  All of the delight you might have once felt when rising on Saturday morning to begin the ritual viewing of cartoons but later discovered was fake because it turned out all of those beloved cartoons were bad?1  It's real, and it exists in Nextwave.

Wytches – (Scott Snyder and Jock) – horror series that debuted this year.  What would you trade to the things out in the woods for immunity to cancer, or prolonged life (while looking young and fit)?  Their price is high.  The first trade is out, and proved to be an interesting twist on a this very old formula.

Atomic Robo – Brian Clevenger (writer and co-creator) and Scott Wegener (artist and co-creator). Now available as a free web comic (Volume 1 Chapter 1).   I guess I might try to describe Atomic Robo as a golden age comic done in a 21st century style.   It's not gritty or dark but it's gleefully ridiculous, often thoughtful, sometimes touching.  Robo and the Fightin' Scientists of Tesladyne battle evil in all it's forms throughout the decades (often with nods to the age in the process).  Features one of the greatest comic book villains ever, bar none.   If you had been 15 when finding Atomic Robo you would have immediately moved to set all of your table top gaming in it's universe (unless you were doing it in the Planetary universe instead, which is understandable).

Selling out: you can support us by purchasing any of the above through Amazon using our affiliate link over on the right.  If for some reason one of these is not available through the store let me know and we'll add it.  Or just order it on your own, that's cool too. Even better if you have a fun local place you can go through.  Tell them we said hello.


  1. Note to our younger readers, and people who used to turn their  nose up at TV but then eventually got over themselves and watched some and then discovered cartoons circa the middle aughts: This does not apply to you.  Excepting Looney Toons – and if all you ever did was look forward to Looney Toons but somehow thought I was talking to you, please hand over your agonizer, because of course I wasn't talking about Looney Toons – most of us here at Popehat lived our childhoods in a period that promised much but delivered very little when it came to cartoons.  Because the cartoons we had – from Superfriends to D&D, and yes even including the Hanna Barbara "classics" like Space Ghost, Herculoids, and the like – always looked like they were going to be awesome and it felt like they were awesome when you watched them some of the time (sometimes when you watched them it was obvious that your place in the universe was entirely irrelevant) but there was always this nagging doubt about the quality of what you just watched.  And later still you realized the truth: they were not awesome, in fact they were very far from awesome.  This was sort of our fault – we kept watching, obsessively, until being banished to play outdoors – but it's also the fault of short-signed network execs.  Who probably couldn't really figure out why so many cartoons enjoyed meteoric rises only to fall even faster.   Low costs to produce everything meant they could just keep turning out garbage and it didn't really matter, until it did and the cartoons started going away.  When all they really needed to do was pay attention to the fact that Looney Toons and the Muppet Show were something different and we obsessed over these things.  And where it was available a cartoon named Star Blazers was something of a phenomenon (to a lesser extent I would say the same of Battle of the Planets).  But they didn't and we grew up during two decades of Saturday Morning swill, slowly but increasingly starting to wonder if there was something we were missing. But if you cut your cartoon teeth in the past 10-15 years you were often treated to what were at worst legitimately good all-ages efforts that have staying power (say, Power Puff Girls, Teen Titans, Samurai Jack) or truly amazing pieces of culture that we'll be talking about in a hundred years (Avatar: The last Airbender & Legend of Korra, Adventure Time, and yes the rare 90s example in Batman: The Animated Series).  Cartoons that are better than a sigificant amount of the quality media that made its way into our lives as we wandered through them.  I envy you for coming into this part of your life when things like this existed.  We truly live in a better era now, when things like the Justice League cartoon are arguably not in the top 10 best cartoons of the past 20 years and yet is excellent.  It's a great time to be alive, man.  Though I do not envy you for the fact that you might live in an area where you are no longer allowed to play outdoors.  

Last 5 posts by Grandy


  1. Ryan says

    I'll put it another good word for Atomic Robo. My favorite superhero comic is Dr. McNinja, but Atomic Robo never fails to give an incredible showing.

  2. Jim Tyre says

    Oh dear, I may get Grandy mad at me, but I gotta do it. '-)

    If one likes speculative fiction (but in this specific instance not including web comics or graphic novels) one may wish to check out Pwning Tomorrow, an anthology of speculative fiction released a few weeks ago by EFF. Some great stuff in there, including a novella by the first named Plaintiff in one of our cases against the NSA. More at

    As part of EFF’s 25th Anniversary celebrations, we are releasing “Pwning Tomorrow: Stories from the Electronic Frontier,” an anthology of speculative fiction from more than 20 authors, including Bruce Sterling, Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow, and Charlie Jane Anders. To get the ebook, you can make an optional contribution to support EFF’s work, or you can download it at no cost. We're releasing the ebook under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-No Derivatives 4.0 International license, which permits sharing among users.

    We meet many speculative fiction fans in the course of our work to protect digital civil liberties, and the 21 stories in this collection inspire a sharper sense of the futures we may experience and the role of rights and freedoms there. The authors explore the wonders and perils of technology over the next 25 years and beyond, imagining the consequences of everything from abusive intellectual property lawsuits to out-of-control viral marketing, from over-protective intelligent fridges to violently loyal cyber-pets.

    It's also important to know that writers have long been at the forefront of the fight against mass surveillance in the real world. Paranormal romance author Carolyn Jewel is the lead plaintiff in Jewel v. NSA, EFF’s long-running lawsuit against warrantless collection of electronic communications. Her novella, "Free Fall," rounds out the collection.

    The full list of contributors includes:

    Charlie Jane Anders
    Madeline Ashby
    Paolo Bacigalupi
    Lauren Beukes
    David Brin
    Pat Cadigan
    Cory Doctorow
    Paul Ford
    Neil Gaiman
    SL Grey
    Eileen Gunn
    Charles Human
    Kameron Hurley
    Carolyn Jewel
    James Patrick Kelly
    Ramez Naam
    Annalee Newitz
    Hannu Rajaniemi
    Rudy Rucker
    Lewis Shiner
    Bruce Sterling
    Charles Yu

    We’re very grateful to the authors for contributing stories to this collection, Tessellate Media for tireless formatting and device testing, O’Reilly Media and Troy Mott of Backstop Media for epublishing assistance, and the many others who helped bring this project to fruition. The collection is available in ePub, and MOBI formats, which can be downloaded at

  3. says

    I have recommended Dr McNinja to him and it'll come up on another occasion. I can't believe it's ending but it's probably time. Amazing comic. Many of Popehat's authors are also huge Order of the Stick fans.

  4. says

    I binged my way through All-Star Superman on ComiXology last night upon seeing your recommendation here, and I'm glad I did.

  5. Steve Simmons says

    Three of the six you list here are among my favorites, and a fourth (Morning Glories) is one that I reluctantly have decided to wait for a proper end-point on (though I did pick up the first few years in single issues). I have therefore put Wytches and Atomic Robo on my buy list. Many thanks.

    In return, I offer these two recommendations: Ms. Marvel is the best teenage superhero comic book since the first few years of Spider-Man, and Terry Moores Rachel Rising is one of the best horror books ever written.

  6. King Squirrel says

    There was a short time where I thought Warren Ellis from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds was the same as Warren Ellis – Planetary.

    Made up a horrible Nick Cave song about Spider Jerusalem and decided to check out everything by people named Warren and/or Ellis.

  7. says

    @Steve Simmons – you can read Robo entirely for free online if you like. I collect the books as well still, because I like to support the creators. But they made this deliberate move and it seems to be going well for them.

    One of the reasons I slowed down on Morning Glories was because I also kind of wanted to wait for it to end. The only open ended things I keep remotely up on – via trades, I can't standing reading just single issues – is Invincible and Astro City. They'll come up another time too of course. I even stopped reading Walking Dead and figured I would catch up eventually. Waiting on Saga for similar reasons.

    Rachel Rising is going on my list. And the Kamala Khan run on Ms. Marvel is high up on my list of "want to read". Good mention!

  8. Old Joke McGee says

    The Saturday morning cartoons were glorious when one was a kid. Before your tastes had fully developed, there was nothing wrong with watching Foofur or Rude Dog & the Dweebs. You didn't know any better.

    Besides, it was more about the ritual than the shows themselves. Reading the full page line-up advertisement in your comic book. Planning out your schedule. Haggling with your brother over who's show would win out a time slot. And always the unanswerable question of why your favorite from last year wasn't picked up.

    The shows won't be mourned, but the ritual is. It's something that simply doesn't exist anymore, and I'll shed a manly tear for it.

  9. Amiable Dorsai says

    I'm a little older, Bugs Bunny and the Road Runner were my Saturday fare, along with execrable junk like Roger Ramjet. I loved them all. Once you grow older and learn a little judgement, the good stuff stays good. The bad stuff? You get a little embarrassed about ever liking it.

    The bad stuff? Hardly anyone remembers it. The good stuff is still playing, and will for a long time.

  10. james says

    Roger Ramjet he's our man.
    Hero of our nation.
    For his adventures just be sure
    And stay tuned to this station!

  11. ZK says

    How do people read comics these days? Is there a "kindle app" for comics?

    How does one generally separate good and adult-focused comics from "Peter Parker deals with middle-school" comics?

  12. Aaron says

    I haven't read either of the Warren Ellis ones you listed, but I love Transmetropolitan and will have to check those out as well.

  13. says


    Comixology delivers comics in mobile/tablet friendly formats, I understand it. A lot of people do their reading that way.

    As for figuring out what's worth my time, it's a combination of (1) trusting in known quantities and (2) doing research. I know I'm not going to get Peter Parker middle school shenanigans from Ellis, e.g. OTOH I continue to hear wonderful things about the new Ms Marvel so I will check it out at some point. She's a teenager therein but I don't think it will be anything obnoxious.

  14. says

    You're missing artist credits on several books. John Cassaday drew Planetary, Frank Quitely drew All-Star Superman, and Stuart Immonen drew Nextwave. Morning Glories has had a few guest artists, but its co-creator and primary artist is Joe Eisma.

    Comics don't draw themselves. When you credit a comic book writer, please credit the artist too.

  15. LJ says

    I hate the gross, pompous term "graphic novel", but non of these are graphic novels, they're comics.