In my old age, I'm finally getting around to reading some of the classics I've meant to read for years. I just finished Maus (as I mentioned in the "Reading" thread), and I got to thinking about which graphic novels (or trade paperbacks) should be considered the "greats"--the ones everyone should read, regardless of genre or style?
Both volumes of Art Spiegelman's Maus belong on such a list, no question asked.
V For Vendetta is another one I only recently read, and it's tough to remember life before I read it.
I got around to reading Watchmen about two or three years ago, and it totally turned my perception of what a superhero story could be totally upside down.
The Dark Knight Returns and Year One are both definites, though I personally think TDKR is a tad overrated.
Origin is another graphic novel that turns the very idea of a superhero story completely inside out and (unlike Watchmen) is a canon story about a hero we grew up with (and, likely, outgrew). Wolvie in orange spandex with spunky sidekicks fighting big guys with guns will always hold a special place in my heart, but this story is so much more than I expected.
Call me nuts, but once you get beyond the obvious marketing ploy of it, The Death of Superman is some damned fine storytelling. Imagine if we hadn't known, even as the story was released, that it would be temporary. Imagine that the last we ever saw of the Man of Steel was Lois wailing over his corpse. That final panel has never gotten the credit it deserves.
Part of why I started this is because (gasp!) I still feel like there are a lot of books I need to read that I haven't. So, duh, add on.