Here’s a list of the top 10 comics every Alan Moore fan should read (if you haven’t already).
Even the most casual comic book connoisseur is familiar with Alan Moore’s Watchmen and V for Vendetta. But if you’re just getting into comics or were done with Alan Moore after reading the Watchmen (because it’s kind of hard to top Watchmen), here are some other essential Alan Moore stories every comic book fan should keep on their shelves.
To avoid any major debates about which of these books is the best, I’ve listed them chronologically to keep things civil.
#1. The Complete Alan Moore Future Shocks
This gives you the entire run of the short stories Alan Moore wrote when he was scripting tales for the British series 2000 AD from 1980 to 1984. These stories will give you a glimpse of the master writer in his early years before the success of such books as Watchmen and V for Vendetta. Each story featured in the collection plays out like an Alan Moore Twilight Zone episode, some are zany, some are bizarre and others have some truly shocking and tragic endings that almost read as modern proverbs (such as “The Last Rumble of the Platinum Horde”). Future Shocks is a great read for both Moore fans and sci-fi fans alike.
After a long and arduous stalemate over copyright issues, Marvel finally acquired the rights to reproduce the Miracleman series, releasing individual comics that will culminate into reprinted trade paperbacks and hardbacks of Miracleman: A Dream of Flying, The Red King Syndrome, and, eventually, the ultra rare Olympia.
Miracleman was a darker version of Marvel Man featured in the British comic anthology Warrior starting in 1982. The three volumes worth of comics currently being produced by Marvel start with The Dream of Flying detailing Moore’s vision of the characters origin, and set Miracleman into a realm of aliens and demi-gods dressed as superheroes. I don’t know what to say without spoiling it for readers, but I can tell you that you’re living in a golden age because for years hardcore Alan Moore fans and general comic book fans alike were always on the hunt to complete their Miracleman collections, and after you read the first two volumes, you’ll understand why. So go out and get them now that they’re available.
#3: The Saga of Swamp Thing
1982 was a fantastic year for Alan Moore because this is also around the time he was brought on to DC’s Swamp Thing and eventually given free reign to do whatever he wanted with the character. At that time, Moore was one of the few writers who approached the story of Swamp Thing from a literary point of view and gave the character more depth. Not to knock any of the Swamp Thing stories that came after Alan Moore, but his version of Swamp Thing is one of the few comics I find myself often quoting, especially around Halloween, “What is it that comes with autumn? It is fear.”
#4 Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow
Written by Moore around 1986, this Superman story was set in a future (1997) ten years after the disappearance of the Man of Steel, and is narrated by his former wife Lois Lane who reveals what his life was like before he vanished. If you haven’t at least heard of this story, you can’t call yourself a comic book nerd. This is hailed as one of the best Superman stories ever written and Moore offers his brilliant take on how to close Superman’s mythology. This is a story that has a little bit of everything, and if you’re a young Superman fan just new to comics, do yourself a favor and track down a deluxe edition of this story so you can experience some historic moments in Superman’s canon.
#5 The Killing Joke
Moore and some of his avid critics and the more scholarly appreciators of his work don’t regard The Killing Joke to be one of his best, and though it may not have the same type of depth and drama you would find in Moore’s Superman tales or Swamp Thing saga, it’s one of the most violent Joker stories that was written at the time. Before Scott Synder’s insane take on the Joker in his Death in the Family story arc, Alan Moore showcased how sadistic and insane the Joker could be back in 88. It’s one of the few stories that showed that a mainstream super villain could be more than a monologuing mastermind, but something truly evil.
#6: From Hell
You might have seen From Hell only as a movie with Johnny Depp, but that’s a poor adaptation of this truly horrific story that details Alan Moore’s take on the Jack the Ripper murders. Written in 1989, this graphic novel was painstakingly researched and chock full of citations that differentiated between Moore’s machinations and actual historical sources Moore gathered. This is a dark, story that elaborates on the plausibility that the Jack the Ripper murders were part of a conspiracy to conceal the birth of an illegitimate royal baby fathered by Prince Albert Victor Duke of Clarence. It’s a wonderfully constructed, thoroughly researched work of historical fiction weaved by Moore and brought to life by the surrealist art of Eddie Campbell, a match that’s on par with Gibbons work with Moore on Watchmen.
#7: Lost Girls
In the early 90’s, things got weird for Moore, and his writing during that time reflects that. This is a man who was was never exactly “Mr. Mainstream,” but one of the works that I feel encapsulates his rogue creativity, his frustrations with mainstream comics, and his never ceasing rebellion against conventionality is the sexually explicit Lost Girls.
This intellectual and pornographic story penned by Moore follows the sexual exploits of Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz and Wendy from Peter Pan who are all grown up…very grown up. It’s an edgy, adult take on children’s fantasies written specifically to shake up the comics scene.
#8: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
1999 was another good year for Alan Moore. After his more experimental years in the early 90’s, he went back to his roots in the super hero realm with his own comic book publishing house America’s Best Comics (ABC) where he published a number of acclaimed titles the first and most well know being The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Another comic book translated into a movie that not only didn’t meet Alan Moore’s approval, but didn’t meet the approval of very many fans, and failed to capture the richness of this three volume series that connects Victorian literary characters H. Rider’s Alan Quatermain, H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man, Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo, Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Wilhelmina Murray from Bram Stroker’s Dracula into one superhero team.
#9: Tom Strong
Another ABC title produced by Moore, Tom Strong featured the adventures of a character who is basically an amalgam of pulp super men who came before Superman such as Doc Savage and Tarzan. Tom Strong is a super scientist with his own super family, a tuxedo clad nemesis and a best friend who’s a super smart gorilla. Due to Tom Strong’s nearly immortal life span, the series jumps through universes and timelines spanning generations of Tom Strong adventures. It’s almost an Alan Moore version of The Venture Bros. if Dr. Venture and Brok Samson somehow merged into mega person.
#10 Top Ten
This is personally one of my favorite Alan Moore stories. Produced for America’s Best in the late 90’s early 2000s, Top Ten is a satire on the convoluted nature of mainstream comic book storylines that follows the daily exploits of the 10th police precedent of Neopolis, a super city where everyone from the hobo on the corner to the mayor has some kind of super power or secret identity. This is as if the Justice League became the LAPD of the gods or the bizarre cross over of the game City of Heroes and the T.V. show cops. There’s few comics out there where you have character’s like Bob “Blindshot Booker” a blind prophet taxi driver who navigates through his “zen senses,” or a Professor X level telepath who thinks he’s Santa Claus.
You really can’t call yourself a true Alan Moore fan until you’ve had a chance to experience each of these stories. Everyone of them is available online in some form or fashion, and if you can’t track down a copy through Google, hit up your local comic book store or peruse the comic tables the next time you visit a convention. These are all books that exemplify the art of storytelling and the creativity that goes into the craft of comics, and they may even show you a different kind of magic within the world of comics you may not have known existed.