The new film Kickass tells the stories of seemingly normal people in the “real” world who put on costumes and fight crime. This gritty, hard-edged journey into the superhero genre reminds me of some of my favorite older graphic novel titles that feature low, or no-powered characters.
Here’s a short list of some of my favorites:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley
–This is the seminal work that helped to transform comic books into graphic novels.
Birds of Prey by Chuck Dixon and Greg Land
–Great DC title featuring three low-powered female leads: Black Canary, Huntress, and Oracle (formerly Batgirl). These ladies can really bring it, and their adventures take them to every corner of the DC Universe.
Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller and David Mazucchelli
–Actually better than Dark Knight, although less well known. Miller and Mazucchelli utterly destroy Daredevil’s life, only to build him back up to greater heights. At once dark, gritty, and uplifting.
Seven Soldiers of Victory by Grant Morisson and J.H. Williams III
–What happens when you give a twisted talent like Grant Morrison seven “low-rent” heroes to play with? Genius. This wonderfully weird and offbeat series of graphic novels borrows its title from a group of old Golden Age DC heroes, but deals with new characters and carries a quirky, post-modern sensibility.
Top Ten by Alan Moore and Gene Ha
–Not really low-powered supers, but in a city where almost everyone is super-powered, Moore still manages to tell gritty police stories. Mr. Moore’s brilliant writing meshes beautifully with Gene Ha’s tight artwork.
Just like in real life, sometimes the most powerful comic book stories can come from the most unlikely of places.