The vast majority of my life has been ruled by comics. What started as a gift from my mom to boost my imagination became an obsession, one that would be an early indicator of an addictive personality, i.e. if one is good ALL OF THEM ARE AWESOME!
My parents would eventually see a direct correlation between the amount of comics I read and the meteoric plummeting of my grades with my mom going so far as to throw my collection away. First she bagged them up and put them in our storage shed. When I quickly discovered their new location and returned them to my bedroom, she actually threw them in the garbage. I, of course, dug through said garbage and returned them, once again, to the safety of my room.
Once I got into high school and my parents realized there was a lot more than comics causing my GPA to fall faster than Lindsey Lohan’s pants in a nightclub bathroom in the presence of good blow, their moratorium was lifted. Comic books continued to be my escape. Even when I was dating regularly and discovered the benefits of hanging out with the opposite sex, I still read my comics. Every Saturday morning, me and my friends would begin the two-hour round-trip drive to the nearest comic book store to pick up our books. My obsession at the time was X-Men and anything mutant-related. This was the mid- to late-80s and Wolverine was just starting to hit nationally.
Once I joined the Navy, I continued my collection. It wasn’t until I was about a year into my marriage in the late 90s that I stopped collecting. And no, my wife didn’t make me stop–it was the storylines. The X-Men were over saturating the market, the entire Spider-Man clone thing was going on and the only thing good in the Marvel Universe was Deadpool and that wasn’t enough to keep me hooked.
I still read, though. I would check out some trade paperbacks from time to time and saw some good things happening, such as House of M and Civil War. I also begin looking at DC. I was always a “Make Mine Marvel” guy. I read DC a little when I was a kid, but once I was turned on to X-Men, my infatuation with DC, including Batman, ended.
The first Batman story was I told I had to read was Knightfall and the breaking of the Bat by a new villain named Bane. From there, I went back a little further and read what many Batman fans believe to be the Holy Grail: Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. My life would begin to revolve around Batman after that, but I still wasn’t collecting again.
And then the New 52 dropped.
DC Comics completely retconned their entire universe, starting from scratch. Batman started in 1939, but all that history was over. With the DCU beginning anew, I decided that would be the time to re-start my dirty habit. What started as a couple books in my pull file at The Fantasy Shop in St. Charles, MO, jumped to 13 regular titles a month with the odd one shot or mini-series thrown in.
So, after collecting for more than 30 years, the following list showcases my top five and a half (includes an honorable mention) of my all-time favorites in no particular order.