When thinking about comics, there seems to be a tendency to immediately think of Marvel and DC. It’s hardly surprising since the two companies have some of the most well-known and beloved characters of all time. Still, some of the best books in print today don’t feature Batman or The Avengers. If anything, the most original and creative content in comics are coming from the smallest of publishers.
Whether it’s a band of medieval female mercenaries, a man wielding a gun cursed by the devil himself or two parents running across the universe to protect their child, there’s more than a chance you’ll find something that catches your fancy. Below is a list of the some of the best indie titles that you’ll find at your local comic retailer.
Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky
So, you have two characters that are able to freeze time when they orgasm. After said orgasm, they decide to rob a bank. That’s why the book is called Sex Criminals. It’s a pretty appropriate title, right?
Writer Matt Fraction (Hawkeye, The Immortal Iron Fist) introduces readers to Jon and Suzie, who, after sleeping together, learn that they have the same inexplicable power to freeze time in place after they have sex. Weird doesn’t begin to describe the premise of the comic, but Fraction delivers enough heart-warming content to make Sex Criminals one of the easiest books to pick-up and read right now. Along with the countless humorous situations that the characters get themselves into, the book provides a surprisingly honest look at how complicated and difficult maintaining relationships can be. If anyone is looking for a comic that focuses on ridiculous sexual antics, strangely helpful relationship advice and some sweet breaking of the fourth wall commentary that would make Deadpool jealous, then Sex Criminals is a must buy. Just be careful not to show it to your parents.
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch
Most fantasy worlds tend to be so serious. Whether it’s protecting a magic ring from some angry floating eye, or following the events of a dozen families in a land ruled by blood and iron, fantasy these days always tends to be so dower. Well, throw all that out the window with Kurtis J. Wiebe’s Rat Queens, a book about four female mercenaries who take enjoyment on completing every quest, and even more enjoyment drinking and sleeping with anything that has two legs.
The cast of Rat Queens includes Dee, an atheist cleric, Hannah, an elven mage with the mouth of a sailor, Violet, a hipster dwarven warrior, and Betty, the candy and drug loving Halfling with a heart of gold. The first several issues follow these unlikely heroes as they try to figure out who set them up to die during their last job. This comic is the perfect palette cleanser for anyone wanting to see something different in the fantasy genre.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
Written by Brian K. Vaughn (Ex Machina, Y-The Last Man), Saga follows Marko and Alana, an alien couple attempting to raise their infant daughter, Hazel, in a galaxy that is perhaps one of the most original science-fantasy universes ever created in comics.
Caught in the middle of an inter-galactic conflict between their two races, the young parents are pursued by a number of characters so strange that describing them as “unique” would be an understatement. Whether it’s a mysterious bounty hunter with a lie detecting cat, a prince with a television for a head, a ghost girl babysitter or disappointed in-laws, Saga offers enough ridiculous plots and side stories to completely engross you for an entire issue. Even with all the craziness and debauchery Vaughn is able to conjure up, Saga, at its heart, is about family and unconditional love. It’s filled with a ton of sex too. Bit of a common theme here, eh?
Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
Taking place in a post-apocalyptic United States, Lazarus focuses on several powerful families who control what remains of the country. Guarding their holdings and exploiting the inhabitants that live under their thumb, the families employ the use of a Lazarus. A Lazarus is a human/machine hybrid that acts as the family’s resident assassin and guard dog. Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Carlyle Family, learns of a conspiracy that could potentially plunge the country into a brutal war.
Greg Rucka (Gotham Central, Queen and Country) is well known for writing wickedly grim material, and Lazarus is no exception. Following Forever’s investigation in a world that is slowly dying is a fascinating and rewarding read. Not only does it provide plenty of mysteries, twists and corporate conspiracies to keep you entertained, but it also gives you some amazingly brutal cyborg fights that put Terminator 2: Judgment Day to shame.
The Sixth Gun by Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt
Set sometime after the US Civil War, Cullen Bunn’s The Sixth Gun tells the tale of six legendary revolvers and the unique abilities that each possesses. Oh, it also features a secret cult of reptile people, a 7-foot tall mummy, a legion of shotgun-wielding warrior priests and an undead Confederate general with dreams of bringing about the apocalypse. You know, what you’d expect to see back then.
Following Drake Sinclair, an embittered gunslinger, Becky Montcrief, a young woman with a destiny to fulfill, and a cast of assorted ne’er-do-wells you’d expect to see in a book about magic guns, The Sixth Gun is the perfect comic for those with an interest in westerns and the occult. Sinclair and Montcrief’s adventures take them to the farthest edges of the United States, and the darkest, most ancient of places long forgotten by the world. Along the way, the two gunfighters and their many companions work to keep the accursed firearms out of the hands of those wishing to wreak unspeakable evil upon civilization. Their mission seems doomed to fail from the start, but that doesn’t stop the book from being enormously entertaining.