Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Enigma” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.05  ·  Rating details ·  1,229 ratings  ·  95 reviews
ENIGMA is a thought-provoking post-modern tale of self-discovery and sexual identity told against the backdrop of improbable super-heroes and villains. Michael Smith lives a meaningless life of routine and boredom. But when Enigma, his favorite childhood comic book hero, inexplicably comes to life, Smith finds himself on an obsessive crusade to uncover the secret behind hi ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published September 1st 1995 by Vertigo (first published October 1993)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Enigma, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Enigma

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.05  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,229 ratings  ·  95 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Enigma
J.G. Keely
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
'Shade' is still The Book for me, when it comes to comics. I've read Moore, Gaiman, Ellis, and Morrison, but none were ever struck as true. In terms of humor, depth of psychology, insight, and variance in ideas, only Moore's 'Swamp Thing' comes close, but it's still not as unusual.

Yet in the intervening years, I didn't return to Milligan. He is less visible than those other authors, and my stumbling across Shade when I did was a mere coincidence; Only recently have any collections been made avai
Dan Schwent
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, 2019-comics
Michael Smith's boring life is going nowhere when characters from a comic book from his childhood start appearing in the real world...

I've got about half of Peter Milligan's run on Shade in long boxes in the basement and Enigma has been on my radar for years so I snapped it up at a convention not long ago for the princely sum of five bucks.

Enigma came out during Vertigo's early days so it has that WTF feel a lot of early Vertigo books have at first. On some level, Enigma is a deconstruction of t
Jul 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: comics
Enigma is very strange and very different. It is a story about superheroes and sexuality. The less I say about this strange story-the better. If you like strange tales-this one is right up your alley.

Michael Smith is a boring person stuck in a bad relationship. One day his world changes as villains and a hero straight out of the pages of a favorite comic of his begin to manifest. Is this real? Is he causing it? This starts a strange and twisted tale about Michael looking for answers to his past
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are maybe four main things I remember about Jeff Ayers, the manager of Forbidden Planet, my go-to comic shop when I lived in NYC. The first is that Jeff gave me a student discount long after I graduated from college, and he would instruct the other people on register to do so when he saw me. The second is that he was very gracious about not wanting to sell my self-published comic in his shop, but he was willing to let me put flyers for it on the front counter. The third is the time Grant M ...more
Jan 25, 2020 added it
Shelves: graphic, unfinished
I can see that this probably felt ground-breaking when it was released in the 90s, and being incoherent and filled with sexual violence was still transgressive. The banal main character was probably intended to give the narrative a more literary feel, the Everyman contrasted with the usual larger-than-life Superhero (or Villain). The trouble is, he was boring to spend time with. I felt vaguely sorry for peripheral characters, Michael's girlfriend the girlfriend of the cop, but they were so flat ...more
Juho Pohjalainen
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Goes pretty well with the musical group of the same name, too.
توفيق عبد الرحيم
i wasn't expecting this to be a heavy read i was expecting it to be really good it was highly recommended but not that good or that deep , and i am pretty sure if i read it again i will discover a lot of things that i might have missed
This is a beautiful story about Life , self , sexuality all written in a beautiful philosophical way in a setting filled with mystery.
I think it would be an insult calling this a super hero comic its much much more than that
The story revolves mainly around a norma
Jul 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
Enigma is a love story of all the tedious people - those who don't go out the small circle they live in and lead a life as one stagnant stream of consciousness. Micheal Smith is woken up from such a life when his childhood comic book hero comes to life.

It isn't the plot but the tenacity with which Milligan moves the narration. It is a dogged effort complete with raw apathy, blood, gore and a harsh exposition of the world. The supervillains who wreck the day are mirrors that exemplify our own th
Nov 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
I'm not clear on why people are comparing this to Watchmen or Swamp Thing, other than it's a good story with great art that was pretty much different than the usual comic book dreck... in a good way.
I had read this as monthly issues came out in 1995, amongst other stories coming out at the time. Reading it from month to month kind of filters the story and I don't remember ever reading the entire thing in a single sitting.
That was rectified last evening as I sat down, pulled out all the issues an
Aug 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: comics
One of the best mini-series ever. It's an eye-opening, and totally different comics experience. It takes the superhero mythos and turns it on its head. The art by Duncan Fegredo is gorgeous and the overall look of the book will stick with you long after you've finished the last page. ...more
Sep 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This comic changed my life when I was in high school. One of my first tattoos was a reference to Enigma. I don't even have words for how much it means to me. ...more
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolute masterpiece, one of the best things I've ever read. Peter Milligan is just an outstanding writer. Vertigo in the 90's was something else, something special. ...more
John Pistelli
Apr 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A cult classic, Enigma was originally published as an eight-issue miniseries in 1993 as part of the kick-off of DC's Vertigo imprint. Its writer, Peter Milligan, then best-known for Shade the Changing Man, was part of comics' British invasion following the mid-1980s breakthrough of Alan Moore. Though Milligan never attained the fame of his fellow Vertigo writers, Neil Gaiman and Grant Morrison, he wrote comics that were equal to theirs if less obvious in their aesthetic effects and meanings.

Nov 02, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, horror
Perhaps best known as the scribe of the surreal allegorical series Shade, the Changing Man, Peter Milligan's masterpiece remains Enigma. Mired in a tedious life of routine, Michael Smith inexplicably encounters his favorite childhood comic book hero, the formerly 2-D, four-color Enigma, now very much alive and in full color. Teaming with the hero's comic creator, Smith obsessively attempts to uncover the secret behind Enigma's improbable existence. After encountering an insanity-inducing psychop ...more
As I often say, I wish I liked this book more. My biggest problem with it is the art by Duncan Fegredo, which just didn't work for me. I found it to be somewhat ugly and not able to tell the story very well (there are panels where I have no idea what's going on) and the art isn't helped by the Vertigo mid-90s color palette of runny earth tones.

I will say that the story grew on me as I continued reading it. The further into the series I got, the more interested I became in the characters and what
Jul 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant on every level. Such a great and beautiful book.
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Quite possibly one of the best comic books I've read. It seems at first like a low-brand recreation of Watchmen and it... transcends it? As opposed to simply being a deconstruction of the superhero genre, Enigma also touches on personal themes of sexuality and the self. While Watchmen empathizes on the structures of the world (the one of society, the one of narratives, in the search for meaning on the outside...), Enigma goes for the individual (the one of the self, and the meaning in ourselves) ...more
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Strange. Difficult. Wonderful. Read it.
Wesley McCraw
Oct 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I had never heard of Enigma by Peter Milligan until yesterday. It was written in 1995, and it's easily the best queer superhero comic I've ever read. ...more
Devon Munn
Jul 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

This was quite an odd and intriguing comic, sure the ending may be divisive but i find it an interesting choice to end the way the author chose how to end it
Jul 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ah, a blast back from the days when Vertigo meant not only mature content, but also weird content. this is very much both, although more on the weird side. A short-lived comic book's characters have come to life in murderous (and heroic) form, and Michael Smith manages to be at the center of the mystery, even as it reveals his own inner secrets. This book is no-holds-barred weird (wait until you figure out who the narrator is), with all kinds of metatextual references and self-references. The st ...more
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A subtextual journey through the phantasmagoric bazar of protagonist Michael Smith's anything-but-mundane-life. The raw art in beginning issues fades into a clarity, ironically as the plot becomes more convoluted. It's really amazing that Milligan pulled this off when he did. Given the subject matter, he can't help but make it an allegory. But the funny thing is, in its own weird way, Enigma is pretty straight forward plot wise, usually until a new villain is raised and people are maimed in the ...more
Αταλάντη Ευριπίδου
I don't think I've read anything else by Peter Milligan, but this was an extraordinary comic book (I know, I know, I'm supposed to write "graphic novel" but I despise the term; it makes me think we feel guilty about reading comics). This is an amazing story, profound and multi-layered, equal parts brilliant and thought-provoking. There are so many things one can take away from a story like this and these things will probably differ for each reader. I devoured it and I'm really happy I decided to ...more
Nov 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
So. Many. Lizards. Crawling around in my head. Nibbling timidly and then sinking their teeth into juicy grey matter as they gain more courage. These are venomous lizards, you see, and their venom is infused with some seriously trippy dope. Narcotic, stimulant and hallucinogen all in one. Enigma is the grooviest drug to hit the street since forever and my brain cells are now Enigma-dependent and and crave Enigma desperately. I am doomed to wander about aimlessly for the rest of eternity in a daze ...more
Apr 28, 2010 rated it liked it
... if Doc Manhattan had been a bored gay guy ...

... corny, plot-heavy, self-reflexive ...

... clumsy narration + dialogue ...

... and not easy on the eyes ...

... a veritable catalogue of baggy 1990s fashions ...

... probably the weirdest book Vertigo ever put out ...

Kevin Jimenez
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant.
Laith Nasir
Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
*hurk* ooof, man my head hurts

i just finished enigma and it took me two days because i procrastinated in between both sittings
how i got to this book is as weird as the book itself, see two years ago i was thinking of a character, some faceless bloke or gal that their power was copy all powers of some guy/gal after they used it once, so the facelessness was symbolic for it and i thought what should be an equally symbolic name?

blank? enigma?

so i searched up if there's a superhero named enigma lo a
Sep 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, spec-fic, review, 2019
It has been a very long time since I’ve read a superhero comic I liked this much. In fact it is possible that I have never read a superhero comic I liked this much. When I started reading I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was thrown off by the amount of text, and the Bill Sienkiewicz vibe of the artwork, and the disturbing, brutal violence. Then I looked up and I realized that some hours had passed, and I couldn’t stop turning the pages, I had to know what was going to happen next, I was ho ...more
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I hadn't read a comic in a solid six or so months when I first picked this up nearly a year ago. There was this tiny magazine stand on the corner of the street, and for whatever reason it held a copy of the eighth and final issue on its top shelf. The cover for that issue was what drew me in -- sometimes, as in this case, judging a book by its cover is the right choice.
Lord knows why that stand had a copy of the eighth issue of some nineties Vertigo comic from Peter Milligan. I'm pretty gratefu
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to write a review of this comic for about two weeks, but there is simply so much in it that is so vital to understanding modern life and fandoms that it just seems like it’s not possible to put it all into simple words. It’s too important to me to not screw it up, and I’m too bad with words that I’m just going to say “let someone else do it”. Enigma is a comic about comics, it’s about the self, it’s about stories, it’s about sexuality, and it’s about what makes s ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Miracleman, Book One: A Dream of Flying
  • We3
  • Fell
  • Animal Man, Vol. 2: Origin of the Species
  • Miracleman, Book Two: The Red King Syndrome
  • Swamp Thing, Vol. 1: Saga of the Swamp Thing
  • Batman & Robin, Vol. 1: Batman Reborn
  • Batman: Three Jokers
  • Once & Future, Vol. 1: The King is Undead
  • When Brooklyn Was Queer
  • The Black Island (Tintin, #7)
  • Kid Eternity
  • Animal Man, Vol. 3: Deus ex Machina
  • Pulp
  • Doom Patrol, Vol. 1: Crawling from the Wreckage
  • The Filth
  • Shutter, Vol. 1: Wanderlost
  • Swamp Thing, Vol. 2: Love and Death
See similar books…
Librarian note:
There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name

Peter Milligan is a British writer, best known for his work on X-Force / X-Statix, the X-Men, & the Vertigo series Human Target. He is also a scriptwriter.

He has been writing comics for some time and he has somewhat of a reputation for writing material that is highly outlandish, bizarre and/or absurd.

His highest p

News & Interviews

Care to travel to past times for some serious drama? Check out this season's biggest historical fiction novels and be transported to tales of...
61 likes · 19 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »