Underrated: Superhero Comics (That Aren’t A Marvel Or DC Comic)
This is a column that focuses on something or some things from the comic book sphere of influence that may not get the credit and recognition it deserves. Whether that’s a list of comic book movies, ongoing comics, or a set of stories featuring a certain character. The columns may take the form of a bullet pointed list, or a slightly longer thinkpiece – there’s really no formula for this other than whether the things being covered are Underrated in some way. This week: Superhero Comics (That aren’t a Marvel or DC comic).
This week I wanted to talk about some fantastic superhero comics from publishers that aren’t either Marvel or DC so that you can, if you so choose, branch out a little for your spandex fix. There will be some series here that have ended, and some that are still ongoing. A few things before we start; firstly, the only rule for these characters to be included here are that they’re not from Marvel or DC. Secondly, because I’ve got eclectic taste these comics may not be for everybody, so be prepared for some potentially foolish claims. Thirdly, this isn’t a complete, or inclusive, list and it is completely subjective.
Shall we get started, in no particular order?
Invincible (Image) Created by Robert Kirkman (the same man responsible for The Walking Dead) and artist Cory Walker, Invincible is good. It’s very good. The titular hero Invincible is an extraterrestrial teenager with super strength and the ability to fly, born of an alien father and a human mother. Invincible is an incredibly brutal comic that takes the Superman mythos and adds a dash of Spider-Man and a whole lot of awesome. Absolutely worth checking out.
Irredeemable/Incorruptible (BOOM) Written by Mark Waid, Irredeemable asks the question: what if Superman snapped? It’s a grim, dark tale that explains how thankful we should be that Clark Kent is as well adjusted as he is. Conversely Incorruptible follows the worlds’ greatest supervillain as he he realizes that somebody has to be a hero. But he has no moral compass, and so for him doing the right thing means doing exactly the opposite of what he did. Both are fantastic series that have been collected in trade paper backs, and you should read them alternately if you do pick them up to get the most from the story.
C.O.W.L. (Image) I’ve raved about C.O.W.L. loudly before. And whilst the series has ended (for now), it’s still work check out. Set during the 1960’s in Chicago, C.O.W.L. a creator owned comic published by Image and written by Kyle Higgins weaves a complex story that follows the Chicago Organized Workers League, and is set against some fantastic art work. Without giving anything away, this is a comic that focuses as much on the political intrigue of superheroing for hire as it does the superheroes themselves. Higgins explores some really interesting questions here, chief of which is “what if superheroes are unionized?” This series was cancelled long before its time
X-O Manowar (Valiant) The current series is the second volume in Valiant’s X-O Manowar saga (that’s a fancy way of saying that it’s the second volume with a new number one issue and the last series concluded at #50). Whether you start with the first volume, or the second, you’re in for a treat – and yes, you can read the second independently of the first. The lead character of the series is a time displaced Visigoth named Aric of Dacia (or of Earth in Vol. 2) who has somehow come into possession of a (very interesting looking) alien armour. It’s an awesome series, and one well worth checking out. The second, and currently ongoing series, is the highlight of my pull-list every month.
The Fox (Dark Circle Comics) When a superhero desperately wants to stop running around in spandex, to retire to a quiet life with his family, do you have any idea how difficult that is when he seems to attract freaks like a magnet? Written by Mark Waid, the second volume, Fox Hunt, came to a cataclysmic conclusion. There is a trade paper back collecting the first series entitled The Fox: Freak Magnet, but you don’t need to read it to appreciate the second series. I miss this series so much.
That’s all for this week, folks. I could keep this list going quite a bit longer, but I’ll save that for another time.
Have a great week!