Greetings, true believers!
If you’re getting a bit overwhelmed with Marvel and DC and all their fancy reboots and crossovers I’ve got just the article for you! Allow me to introduce you to some alternative series that you can read to distract you from all the multiverses and special issues, including something for fans of every different genre.
Invincible: For those who are fans of superheroics but have also grown disillusioned with bats and spiders, Invincible by Walking Dead author Robert Kirkman is a clear choice. As an ongoing series, Invincible explores all the clichés and standards of superhero comic books by poking fun at them as well as presenting a superhero story of its own that changes all the rules of the game. Mark Grayson is a teen who discovers that along with hair in awkward places and a spurt of height, his puberty comes with superpowers inherited from his superhero dad. As he struggles to master flight, strength and other such staples of superheroics he also has to deal with the obvious teenage tribulations of budding romances, part-time jobs and schoolwork on top of it all. Invincible Vol 1: Family Matters is available at Big B for $12.99.
DMZ: Those that dig action, war stories and political games will find a good read in Brian Wood’s DMZ. Set during America’s second Civil War, Manhattan Island becomes a de-militarized zone, a sort of no-man’s-land between the warring United States of America and Free States of America. As the militaries of both sides ravage the small island, an active culture of resistance and determination emerges and rookie journalist Matthew Roth spends his time stranded in the DMZ from a helicopter crash slowly getting to know the intricacies and realities of everyday life in the DMZ. A raw, honest story about war and loss, DMZ’s sometimes super-polished, sometimes realistically rough art style reflects the glossy pictures the media present us of combat as contrasted with the true situation on the ground. DMZ Vol 1: On the Ground is $9.99 at Big B Comics.
Chew: Chew is your standard detective book… that is, if the detective had the power to see all the memories of a person, animal or plant by eating a part of it. Set in a bizarre future where poultry is illegal and the FDA acts as a strict military police to uphold food-based laws, the culinary often clashes with the criminal and leads to an interesting spin on the regular crime genre fare. John Layman’s writing gives a humorous yet paced feel to the narrative and Rob Guillory’s art style is truly unique in its playful and cartoonish depictions of grim situations. Chew Vol. 1: Taster’s Choice can be yours for the appetizing price of $9.99.
Fables: Fantasy-lovers looking for something new to dig into can pick up Fables without hesitation. Bill Willingham’s series focuses on fairy-tale characters that have been booted out of their world and are now hiding amongst the humans, living in one building and organizing a whole hidden society. The series does a lot of dabbling with crime, action and politics, but stays a true fantasy book at heart with lots of use of magic and folk tales. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile is $12.99.
The Walking Dead: There can’t be anyone who hasn’t heard of The Walking Dead by now. Spanning comic books, television, novels and video games, this series is the success-story of the horror genre. Focusing on the dangers of human nature as much as that of zombies, The Walking Dead offers a grim yet not too surprising analysis of leadership, necessity and consequence. Of course this all comes packaged with zombie-killing action and moments of intense adrenaline as is to be expected from any zombie apocalypse book. The only other thing left to be said about this mind-blowing and genre re-defining series is that it’s constantly on the list of best-selling graphic novels for a reason. Walking Dead Vol. 1: Days Gone Bye is in stock at Big B Comics for $9.99.
Scott Pilgrim: Maybe you’ve seen the movie, or maybe you’ve already read the books, but Scott Pilgrim is getting a glorious re-release in full-colour hardcover edition! For those not in the know, Scott Pilgrim is your typical Canadian 20-something, going to band practices and parties, navigating around boisterous roommates and figuring out females. That is until one specific female catches his eye. Ramona Flowers is the girl of Scott’s dreams (quite literally) and he wants to date her. The only catch is that he has to defeat her seven evil ex’s in combat before he can become her boyfriend. Needless to say, the story takes a turn towards the ridiculous, but in a good way. A healthy dose of zany and quirky humor mixed in with references to pop culture, video games and good ol’ Canada make Scott Pilgrim a fun story to read through. The re-released colour hard-cover version of Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life is available now for $24.99.
Y the Last Man: Picture this: all of a sudden, everything with a Y chromosome dies. That means every human male, every male mammal and every single reproductive cell with male DNA perishes forever. Except for one Mr. Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Having 50% of the world’s population disappear instantaneously means serious consequences for society, both positive and negative. In the ensuing post-apocalyptic scenario that any fan of sci-fi will love to immerse themselves in, Yorick faces a tremendous amount of pressure from various factions who want to either kill him or rush him into the hands of the government who will study him to figure out just why he was spared. Strong on the characterization and story-telling, Y the Last Man doesn’t overwhelm you with the amount of key players and intricate details as some other series tend to do. It keeps things simple so that you can more fully fall in love (or hate) with the characters it presents you with. Y the Last Man Vol. 1: Unmanned is yours for only $14.99.
Even though they’re not nearly the same size as Marvel and DC, the smaller companies like Image, Vertigo and Oni Press show that they can hold their own with imaginative and unique series that diverge from standard comic book fare. Whether it’s to compliment your regular superhero books, to get away from them or simply to enter the world of comic books in a way that’s different, picking up one of these series is guaranteed to open your eyes to what comics could really be when they don’t feature dudes in tights. No matter what your tastes are, there’s a series out there for you!