DC Comics has announced today that they are ending their iconic Vertigo imprint, a haven to more mature-rated series and a playground for creators to flex their minds and deliver profound stories the likes we have never seen before including: The Sandman, Transmetropolitan, Fables, Preacher, Y: The Last Man and many, MANY more. Here are the top 10 greatest Vertigo releases of all time:
Launched in 1993 by Karen Berger, Vertigo comics has given fans some of the most iconic stories of all time and many of them have transitioned successfully to other mediums as well, including the upcoming film ‘The Kitchen’ which is due to hit theaters this year. Preacher for me personally, was the comic series that got me back into the medium as an adult after tiring of the traditional superhero books from Marvel and DC. Seeing DC abandon such an iconic and important brand name is heartbreaking and I just don’t see BLACK LABEL being the ‘imprint’ or tag that helps boost sales of more mature material going forward.
The Top 10 DC Vertigo Series of All Time:
John Constantine – DC’s coolest demon hunter has had so many talented creators taking part in the Hellblazer series including Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Peter Milligan, Neil Gaiman, Brian Azzarello and so many more. I haven’t read as much of this series as I probably should have, but I’ve enjoyed the issues I have checked out and I’m even a sucker for the Keanu Reeves film adaptation, which I realize is a smaller support group than it should be. The series lasted 300 freaking issues and that is am incredible milestone that few ongoing comics ever reach.
#9. Y: The Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s epic saga about a world where all males have gone extinct (except for you know, one dude), is equal parts harrowing and hilarious. This is a post apocalyptic tale that is unlike anything else you’ll probably see considering many of those comics feature zombies or aliens etc. Not here! This is a book all about how humankind can survive in the wake of a civilization-collapse scenario. If you’re currently reading SAGA from Vaughan and you missed out on this one, go back and pick up the entire run before the FX series sees the light of day. I’m thinking you probably have some more time, but don’t waste it – there are six years of comics to plow through.
#8. Doom Patrol
Grant Morrison revitalized the Doom Patrol in the early 90’s by incorporating so many bizarre and eclectic characters, always bordering on the line of parody but because of the way the series was written, as insane as it was — you could always relate to the characters. Doom Patrol is currently the best superhero TV series on Earth and if you’re a fan of what they’re doing there, I recommend you check out Morrison’s work on Doom Patrol to see the origins of ridiculous characters like The Beard Hunter, Flex Mentallo or Danny The Street (a sentient landscape). Doom Patrol is like X-Men, but for comic fans bored of seeing the same old shit every week from the big two.
#7. Swamp Thing
Created by Len Wein and later perfected by Alan Moore during his Saga of The Swamp Thing run, this vertigo series is the first comic to scrap the Comics Code Authority‘s approval. Aka – it was the very first to contain mature content. I grew up fascinated with this character, from the B-Movies, to the toys – you name it – I likely owned some sort of Swamp Thing something. I’m still enraged that the DCU cancelled the series after only 10 episodes this year, but at least we’ll always have an iconic library of reading to enjoy and I will say that those old comics from Moore, still hold up because of how poetic and unsettling the stories are.
#6. The Sandman
Neil Gaiman‘s rebirth of the Sandman character Morpheus/Dream and a plethora of incredible supporting characters like Death and Lucifer (all getting their own wonderful spin-offs) is probably going to land at most comic fans’ number one spot on this list. I’ve read most of Gaiman’s original run and I love it, but it’s incredibly strange and the dreamlike nature of the art and stories can be an adjustment that takes time to get accustomed to. The Sandman is an acquired taste, but stick around until you’ve at least read the second and best volume titled The Doll’s House…
Bill Willingham‘s Fables is brilliant. The premise is so damn good, that I’m still blown away that there has not been a successful attempt to adapt this masterwork into a TV series. The closest you’ll get would be Once Upon a Time, but don’t bother because if you’ve read Fables and you’ve fallen in love with fairy tale creatures living in the modern world, the knockoffs will never compare to Willingham’s ingenious writing and massive cast of memorable characters. Bonus: Play the Telltale video game series ‘The Wolf Among Us’ to get a taste of the Fables world if you’re hesitant to grab the massive library of trade paperbacks. That game is amazing and 100% faithful to the comic books – so if you dig that, take the plunge and start reading Fables immediately if you’re a sucker for seeing what The Big Bad Wolf or Snow White are actually up to.
Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson’s Transmetropolitan is a cyber-punk masterpiece about a journalist trying to expose government corruption. In other words, it’s still very much relevant and because of Ellis’ love of black comedy, the series is also funny as fuck even though it didn’t need to be in order to be shockingly effective. Robertson’s artwork here deserves so much praise that it’s impossible to even get started, so just go buy all of it please. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout Transmetropolitan that it’s easy to forget how horrifying the story was at times because it is loaded with so much savage social commentary.
#3. 100 Bullets
Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s 100 Bullets is a dense and incredible neo-noir crime series with more depth than John Wick’s glorious assassin mythology. The series unfolds ever so slowly and carefully, but as it does you’ll find yourself swept up in one of the most complex and entertaining crime sagas ever made. If there was ever a comic book that craved an adaptation from the likes of Quentin Tarantino – this would be it.
#2. Punk Rock Jesus
Sean Murphy‘s Punk Rock Jesus is better than Watchmen and I hereby proclaim it to be the greatest mini-series ever made for the comic book medium. The black and white story from writer/artist Sean Murphy explores the idea of cloning Jesus and turning him into some sort of company owned reality star. Add in some IRA terror attacks and enough incredible plot twists to kill a polar bear and you have what is hands down one of my favorite books of all time. It would make for an incredible feature length film, but I doubt it would pack the balls necessary to give justice to Murphy’s masterpiece.
Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon’s Preacher is the book that brought me back to comics after I stopped reading X-Men, Spider-Man and all of that superhero stuff in highschool. It wasn’t until I was forced into a desk job as an adult, when I was introduced to Preacher. It only took the first two trades to win me over and after re-reading all nine volumes several times, I sadly know that I will never have something this funny, gut-wrenching and captivating ever again in comic form. It’s the best ongoing series of all time, it’s shocking, over-the-top and as great as the AMC series is — it still aint’ the comic friends. I consider Garth Ennis the greatest living comic writer of our time and if you aren’t familiar with him yet – read these trades first. This is the starting point to getting your grown ass self back into comic books people.