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The Best Vertigo Comics for New Fans (and Where to Buy Them)

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This month brought the news that DC Comics was quietly shuttering its longtime, acclaimed published imprint Vertigo Comics, to consolidate all its separate lines under a single brand. First launched in 1993, the imprint did not feature the same content restrictions and continuity concerns as the main DC line, providing creators with a new frontier to forge memorable, bold new stories.

So while the groundbreaking comic book imprint may be gone for now, its legacy remains in new stories as the books that defined it remain available. Now, here is a selection of some of the best Vertigo titles that every comics fan should read.

RELATED: Vertigo: How the DC Imprint Changed Comics Forever

The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

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As hard as it may be to imagine, The Sandman, the initial flagship title of the Vertigo imprint celebrated its 30th anniversary last year. Originally spinning out of the main DC Universe, Neil Gaiman's spellbinding epic told the tale of Morpheus, the Lord of Dreams, escaping a lengthy imprisonment and finding the world he once knew in disarray since his absence.

Illustrated by Sam Kieth, Mike Dringenberg, and Malcolm Jones III, DC has released a 30th anniversary deluxe addition of the first volume, Preludes & Nocturnes, compiling the iconic first story arc and the debut of fan-favorite character Death.

Preacher: Book One

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The inspiration for the AMC adaptation of the same name, Preacher is, perhaps, Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's greatest collaboration. Telling the tale of Texas reverend Jesse Custer teaming up with his tough-as-nails girlfriend Tulip and hard-drinking immortal Irish vampire Cassidy after gaining the mysterious holy power of Genesis, the Vertigo title is a searing, surreal, and darkly comedic tour of America.

The first volume collects the series' first 12 issues as Jesse and company hit the ground running, literally, from the law, the forces of Heaven and one extremely lethal gunslinger known as the Saint of Killers.

Transmetropolitan: Back on the Street

Transmet

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One especially prescient Vertigo title is the political satire Transmetropolitan by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. Taking place in a dystopian 23rd century, the series follows investigative journalist Spider Jersusalem, returning from a self-imposed exile to the city that he hates writing for a newspaper named The Word to expose injustice.

The first volume has Spider quickly settling back into the job by interviewing a gang known as the Transients who have become aliens through cosmetic surgery and Spider's first memorable confrontation with the President of the United States.

Fables: Legends in Exile

fables

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One of the most acclaimed, best-selling series in the entire history of the Vertigo imprint is Bill Willingham and Lan Medina's Fables. Launched in 2002, the series had all the familiar storybook characters seeking refuge in New York, disguised among the local populace as they tried to pick up the pieces of their lives while contending with age-old rivalries and intrigue.

The winner of 14 Eisner Awards across its entire run, the first volume, Legends in Exile, sees Snow White and Bigby Wolf leading efforts to relocate the fairy tale characters throughout the city while contending with a murderous danger that threatens to expose them all.

Hellblazer: Dangerous Habits

John Constantine Hellblazer feature

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Hellblazer was one of the earliest DC titles that was eventually grandfathered into the Vertigo imprint, allowing it more creative freedom and the opportunity to lean into darker, more mature material as time went on. Starring the occult magician John Constantine, the series had the chain-smoking conjurer face all manner of supernatural threats, with others around him usually paying the ultimate price.

The fifth volume is actually a particularly strong jumping on point for new readers, featuring previously unpublished stories by original writer Jamie Delano before transitioning to the start of the acclaimed run by Garth Ennis as Constantine learns his smoking habit as led to a terminal cancer diagnosis with Hell eager to torment the occultist for eternity after his eventual death.

100 Bullets, Vol. 1: First Shot, Last Call

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One of the longest-running and most acclaimed collaborative partnerships in comics is between writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso. The duo launched the award-winning crime comic 100 Bullets in 1999, and the series ran for 10 years and, appropriately, 100 issues. The premise sees a mysterious operative named Agent Graves give out untraceable bullets to wronged individuals with promises of immunity for murder as they seek revenge.

RELATED: Neil Gaiman Discusses the Odds of a Sandman Movie

The first volume collects the series' first story arc and material from a Vertigo Winter Special as Graves approaches an ex-con with the chance to avenge his family's murders and a bartender the opportunity to gain revenge against a woman who ruined him.

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