As cultural phenomena, Marvel and DC dominate popular culture with television shows and movies. Their multimedia empires have created well-known characters upon which several generations of children have been raised, often overshadowing other publishing houses like Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, and Valiant. This means that word of mouth (or internet) becomes one of the most important resources for determining what books to try.
Over the last few years, some of the most original, most interesting stories on the market have come from Image, Valiant, Skybound, and Dark Horse. If you’re looking for some new, slightly-off-the-beaten-path reads, here are five books to try.
A: Brian K Vaughan I: Cliff Chiang
Papers Girls has been around for a little over a year. As a big Brian K. Vaughan fan, I give full disclosure that I’d probably read a book about dirt if he wrote it. However, even with that in mind, Paper Girls is one of the most intriguing books out recently. The story follows the interdimensional time traveling adventures of four tween paper delivery girls in 1988. Not only does this have that retro-1980’s feel that made Stranger Things so popular, but it’s a great story that has ongoing intrigue and truly unexpected plot twists. Trade Volume 1 and Volume 2 are available on Comixology and Kindle.
A: John Allison
I: Lissa Treiman
I can’t say enough good things about Giant Days. The story follows the lives of three British university students, Daisy, Susan, and Esther. Each of the girls is someone you know you met when you were in college. Perhaps, you might even identify with one or more of them. Susan is the sardonic, smoking, political activist. Esther is the goth, nightclubbing, wanna-be cool kid who’s just a sweetheart at the end of the day. Daisy is the naive, smart, science kid who comes out her shell while keeping the other two on the straight and narrow. Their adventures are precisely what you’d expect college girls to have, but they’re told with such empathy and slightly exaggerated reality as to be a monthly breath of fresh air. Trade Volume 1 through Volume 4 are available on Comixology or Kindle.
A: Joshua Williamson
I: Andrei Bressan, Adriano Lucas
SkyboundThis one has been around since 2014, so it’s not brand new. However, it’s one that doesn’t get a lot of internet love. The earlier stories sometimes feel convoluted with a lot of characters, but the last two seasons have become much more fluid. When Mikey Rhodes was kidnapped, the family turned upside down. When Mikey returns, much aged and changed, the family is torn even further apart. Mikey and his brother, Brennan, try to track down criminals from the alternate universe, Terrenos, where Mikey had been living after being kidnapped. The most recent plot twists have given the book an added sense of adventure and mystery. The artwork gives the book a sense of high fantasy. The trade Volumes 1 through 4 are available on Comixology or Kindle.
A: Christos Gage
I: Rebecca Issacs (and others)
Any Buffy fan can admit that the whole Twilight plot was a bad idea. It was terrible. I mean, as someone who loves Buffy, it was horrendously, notoriously awful. After the Storyline That Shall Not Be Named, Dark Horse moved Christos Gage and Rebecca Isaacs, who had a famously wonderful run on Angel and Faith, over to the headlining book. This move proved to be a renaissance for everyone’s favorite Slayer. The last two seasons brought emotional maturity to the Scooby Gang. As they moved into the same apartment building, their lives became even more intertwined. As with the show, the current narratives use monsters and demonic magic as an appropriate metaphor for being an early 20-something. The library editions of Season 9 and Season 10 are available for Comixology and Kindle.
A: Jody Houser
I: Marguerite Sauvage (and others)
Not to confuse you, but we’re not talking Faith the Slayer here. Faith Herbert, a.k.a. Zephyr, is the geek girl turned superhero. A favorite character in the book Harbinger, Faith got her own mini-series and now an ongoing in 2016. Trying to navigate her new solo life after having been part of a team, Faith struggles to put together a normal career while maintaining a superhero alter ego. Her secret identity self, Summer Smith, works at a gossip blog. However, the secret identity doesn’t last long and soon she has a small cadre of friends/allies helping her. Faith, like its namesake main character, deals with heavy issues while maintaining an optimistic light-hearted quality. The first trade from the original mini-series is available on Comixology and Kindle.
What others would you add to this list? Tell us in the comments!