© 2024 WGLT
A public service of Illinois State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

How to get into comics for the upcoming holiday season


It's no surprise that these days, comic book movies dominate the box office.


JEFFREY WRIGHT: (As James Gordon) The Riddler is asking for you.

ANDY SERKIS: (As Alfred) The killer left this for the Batman?


CHRISTIAN BALE: (As Gorr) You are not like the other gods I've killed.

CHRIS HEMSWORTH: (As Thor) Because I have something worth fighting for.


ANGELA BASSETT: (As Ramonda) My entire family is gone. Have I not given everything?


DWAYNE JOHNSON: (As Black Adam) These powers are not a gift, but a curse.

RASCOE: Just a few clips from "The Batman," "Thor: Love And Thunder," "Wakanda Forever" and "Black Adam" - all comic book movies that came out this year. And just like the blockbusters, the comic books they're based on are big business. But getting into them, especially if you're a new reader, can be a lot, with so many titles and storylines and characters and all those sorts of things. Joshua Yehl is a senior editor and producer at the games and entertainment website ign.com. He writes about comics and joins us now. Welcome to the show.

JOSHUA YEHL: Hi, thanks for having me.

RASCOE: You know, back in the day, you really only had comic book stores, but now there are lots more options. When you try to get a comic - you say, I want a X-Men comic or a Batman comic - there's all sorts of arcs and different types of storylines. So, like, do you think you have to go to a specific issue number or a specific issue, like, at the beginning of a plot to get started? Or can you just pick up any one and just get started?

YEHL: I would say, could you get into a TV show...

RASCOE: In the middle? I hate that.

YEHL: ...If you just - in the middle? If you don't like that, you can just start at the beginning. You know, if you just go find whatever character you're interested in, No. 1, start there, right? That's an easy jumping-on point. A lot of comic books have been rebooted over the years, so there's actual multiple No. 1 issues. Like, there's several "Amazing Spider-Man" number ones, for example. You really could just look at the cover art and see which one appeals to you and then just jump in starting with that one. And then if you want more, of course, there's online guides and stuff that can point you in the direction of where to go. Because you're right. There's decades of continuity and many different, like, versions and storylines and universes to follow. But really, just pick up the one that appeals to you and start with that one.

RASCOE: OK. So let's say you've seen the latest comic book release in theaters, like "Black Panther" or "Black Adam," and you want to check one of those out. Like, is there a good way to get started for those particular movies that are just recently out?

YEHL: Yeah. When a character, you know, has a big movie coming up or a TV show, the publishers know this, and so they come prepared. They reprint a lot of their best stories in collections. They often will include the character in big events. You know, Black Adam was just a part of the big "Dark Crisis" event going on at DC. He just happened to be the one character who survived a horrible calamity, and the world needs to rely on him.

RASCOE: (Laughter).

YEHL: You know, and then they often publish new material - brand-new material, tells you everything you need to know for people who just met the character in the movie and want to read more.

RASCOE: Oh. Well, that is very helpful. And we should explain that comics, like Marvel or DC, they do these big events, which I love to get into, and that's kind of how I would get into it. And so comics and graphic novels are really a visual medium, so we can't really have you read us some lines from it because you need to see it. But I would like you to suggest maybe a few can't-miss titles. I guess first, maybe a few from the superhero genre.

YEHL: You know, my favorite thing to come out of Marvel in the past decade is actually the comics that inspired the movie "Thor: Love And Thunder," the fourth Thor movie. It's by this writer, Jason Aaron, who teamed up with a lot of incredible artists like Esad Ribic and Russell Dauterman and a few others, and told this epic Thor story over the span of many years? And that eventually led to Jane Foster becoming Thor and then Thor reclaiming the hammer eventually. It's such an incredible, epic story. And it's very funny, lots of cool characters. So I would definitely recommend that one from Marvel. From DC, if you're looking for just, like, a quick classic, you know, pick up the Batman story "The Dark Knight Returns." You know, it doesn't get much better than that.

RASCOE: But what about some of the alternative genres?

YEHL: Sure. One of the most popular comic books is "Saga" by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. And it starts with the concept of these two alien races, sort of a Romeo and Juliet story, and it's a blend of, like, sci-fi and fantasy. And it's incredibly adult, but also very real and grounded, yet also some of the craziest things you've ever seen. It's a wonderful story. It's one of the few comics that has gotten more popular as it goes along. And it's a unique comic book experience because the creators have often said they don't want to adapt it to a movie or television show. So if you do want to get in on this awesome, you know, comic book that everyone's been obsessing over for the past, you know, several years, you do have to go read it in comic book form.

RASCOE: That is Joshua Yehl of the games and entertainment website ign.com. Thank you so much for joining us. I love talking about comics.

YEHL: Thank you. Me too. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.