With the sheer multitude of exceptional comic series on the stands these days, it might be hard to figure out which series deserves your hard-earned money.
Those readers who follow our exclusive and frankly amazing (I’m not above shameless self-promotion) Weekly Comic Pull List might be aware of a few of our favorite series in comic shops today. For those few who don’t check it out weekly, today we’ll take a look at six creator-owned comic series worth your dollar. We won’t be touching any series from the Big Two obviously, those two being Marvel and DC comics, because they get enough press and, for the most part are not creator-owned.
East of West
Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta have sculpted a unique story and setting with East of West, which features a refreshingly new take on the Apocalypse. The series is set in an incredibly different version of the United States, due to an asteroid strike at the height of the Civil War that left the nation racially and governmentally divided.
Death, the legendary Horseman of the Apocalypse, goes rogue and searches the nations for those who wronged him in the past, while his fellow Horsemen awaken to follow The Message and bring about the Apocalypse. Hickman’s tight plots and Dragotta’s fantastic art blend together perfectly to create a captivating alternate world that seems to ask the hard questions of a humanity teetering at the end of the world.
Still a relatively fresh series from Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta, Outcast follows Kyle Barnes as he deals with not only his own tortured past, but a new threat from demonic spirits. After a long history dealing with possession, Kyle Barnes is called to help out with a new case by the town’s priest, where he continues to learn more about his own experiences and his personal involvement with the demons.
The creative mind behind The Walking Dead delves once again into the horror genre he’s become so widely known for, despite his lack of experience in the genre itself. Aided by the moody and at times terrifying art of Azaceta, Kirkman has so far delivered another flawed yet interesting lead character for us to watch make his way through the stunning atmosphere created by Azaceta. While this series is only a couple of issues in, the hype has started with news that Outcast has been greenlit for a pilot by Cinemax, so it’s safe to say that this will be a series you might want to get behind early.
Warren Ellis and Jason Howard bring us the latest extraterrestrial invasion story with a very unique twist. Massive ships – called ‘Trees’ by humanity – landed all over the world, proving the existence of intelligence life in the universe. The problem is, they don’t seem to think the same of humanity, and have zero contact with the citizens of Earth. 10 years later, humanity has adapted to their new living conditions despite the growing number of questions about the Trees. War threats, scientific discoveries, and a new fragile ecosystem have developed in the first few issues, with more to certainly come.
Fans of Warren Ellis might think they know what to expect from this fan-favorite writer, but the mysteries of the Trees is just beginning to unfold. Ellis has set up an entertaining and original story that is set on a global scale, and Jason Howard’s art is beautiful and expansive. Our first look at Shu, the Chinese city built under a Tree, left us in awe. Trees is another series you’ll want to get involved with early, and we can bet you won’t be disappointed.
Rat Queens feels like a fantasy story with a Dungeons & Dragons influence, and it is, but it’s also a hilariously filthy adventure series featuring a unique cast of strong female characters that has developed an early fan base. Written by Kurtis J. Wiebe with art by Roc Upchurch, Rat Queens started off big and has continued to grow as the mysteries unfold issue by issue.
There are a lot of interesting pieces that contribute to the greatness of this title, including Upchurch’s fantastic art and Wiebe’s hilarious dialogue, but it really is all about the dynamic characters. Whether we are talking about the Rat Queen’s themselves, or even other questing groups like the Four Daves, the characters pop off the pages and ground the fantasy world with relatable and intriguing personalities. While I am admittedly not the biggest fan of fantasy-based worlds, Rat Queens updates the genre for a modern audience, and has delivered a fantastic series that I can easily recommend to anyone.
Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera’s Black Science is like a dark and twisted Lost in Space shaped with a heavy dose of quantum mechanics and an overload of imagination. Remender has opened up his sandbox to the Eververse, or the Onion as it is known by the Anarchist League of Scientists, who we are introduced to in the opening of the series. Black Science follows the creators of The Pillar – a device used to travel through the various dimensions of the Onion – and others as their team uncontrollably travels across dimensions, each one more dangerous than the next.
Scalera’s art is the perfect accompaniment to Remender’s unbridled imagination, and as the team moves across the Onion, Scalera’s beautiful design work is matched with the exceedingly batshit crazy worlds he and Remender have designed. The series has only completed the first arc, yet we’ve seen so many things change with the team itself – whether it’s the addition of new members to the dimension-lost team or the loss of others – and have already visited some of the craziest alternate realities ever brought to the page. This series is not one to miss, so be sure to pick up the issues and prepare for a few revisits as you try and piece together some of the delightful insanity of Black Science.
Brian K. Vaughan’s latest epic Saga has taken the comic world by storm. Completed with fantastic art by Fiona Staples, Vaughan has created a unique galaxy full of memorable and relatable characters. As we are introduced to the fledgling family of Marko, Alana, and their forbidden daughter Hazel, who often narrates the series, a number of imaginatively designed characters make their way through their lives. The family exists in a war-torn galaxy, whose love overtook their opposing roles in the war and brought them together, along with a nocturnal ghost babysitter, in-laws, bounty hunters and the Robot Empire, which needs to be seen to be properly explained.
Staples manages to bring an intense level of emotion to the characters, who range from hilariously odd to amazingly creative. The Star Wars meets Game of Thrones vibe is certainly one most Geek fans can get behind, and the casually interesting discussions had in the letters page between Vaughan and the fans is just another reason to jump aboard as soon as you can. The series has been around for a while now, so if you haven’t seen this one in stores yet then you aren’t looking hard enough. Each new issue keeps shocking, intriguing, and drawing more and more fans in to the fantastic series, which I can’t recommend enough.
Now I know what you are thinking. “How could you leave ______ or _______ off this list?” And the answer is I couldn’t! We’ve only scratched the surface of some of our creator-owned recommendations, so be sure to stay tuned over the next few weeks as we look at even more comic series you need to be reading.
Which of these six series are your favorite? Which ones are you going to check out? Let us know in the comments section below or join the discussion on the GEEK Facebook page.
Images: Image Comics