The Best Deal on The Best Comics (or: Need a Break from DC and Marvel?)

This column will be updated regularly to help you find the best comics to read on Comixology Unlimited, an incredible subscription service available for $5.99 a month (with the first month free). If you want to start reading comics, this is a great way to begin, particularly if you are an adult who wants to locate all those comics that are hard to find because we are inundated with Superhero stories. (The First Clarification: Yes, I like DC, Marvel, and Superhero Stories, too)

Comics are expensive, and you can read hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of comics very quickly, so $5.99 a month is an amazing deal. That’s less than a single collection of monthly comics, which sell for $10 to $40 each. (The Second Clarification: No, I have no connection with Comixology other than giving them all of my money.)

The best creative independent comics are not being put out by DC and Marvel. They are being put out by companies like Fantographics, Dark Horse, IDW, Valiant, Dynamite, Boom!, Oni, and especially Image. Image alone publishes some of the best science fiction, fantasy, horror, and crime fiction. And even if you think you don’t like comics, you should give Image titles a try in the genres you like best.

Why are Image comics so good? The simple answer is that the creators who publish at Image own their ideas and characters and maintain complete creative control of their work; therefore, the best writers and artists who work for DC and Marvel save their greatest ideas for creator-owned comics that they then put out at Image.

Below are about one hundred titles that I recommend in the 4- to 5-star range. I have read most of these comics, and the ones I have not read have a good reputation.

 Image:

IDW:

Oni Press:

 Dark Horse:

  • The Witcher
  • Hellboy: Seed of Destruction
  • Hellboy: Wake the Devil
  • Classic Usagi Yojimbo (Issues #1-4)
  • Usagi Yojimbo (Issues #1-15)
  • Abe Sapien: The Drowning
  • B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs
  • B.P.R.D.: Hell On Earth
  • Baltimore: The Plague Ships
  • Baltimore: The Curse Bells
  • Baltimore: A Passing Stranger and Other Stories
  • Conan: The Frost Giant’s Daughter and Other Stories
  • Conan: The God in the Bowl and Other Stories
  • Conan: The Tower of the Elephant and Other Stories

Fantographics:

  • Maggie and the Mechanic
  • Palomar
  • Athos in America
  • Hey, Wait . . .
  • The Left Bank Gang
  • Lost Cat
  • Low Moon
  • Gast
  • The Portable Frank
  • Fran
  • Mome

Valiant:

  • Rai: Welcome To New Japan
  • Bloodshot: Setting the World on Fire
  • Bloodshot: The Rise and the Fall
  • Bloodshot: Harbinger Wars
  • Harbinger: Omega Rising
  • Harbinger: Renegades
  • X-0 Manowar: By the Sword
  • X-0 Manowar: Enter: Ninjak
  • X-0 Manowar: Planet Death
  • Shadowman: Birth Rites
  • Shadowman: Darque Reckoning
  • The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage
  • Archer and Armstrong: The Michelangelo Code
  • Quantum and Woody: The World’s Worst Superhero Team
  • Quantum and Woody: Security
  • Valiant Masters: Rai: From Honor to Strength

Other Titles from a Variety of Publishers: Boom!, Archaia, Dark Circle Comics, Humanoids:

  • Feathers
  • The Black Hood (Issues #1-5)
  • Clockwork Angels (Issues #1-6)
  • The Black Incal
  • reMIND

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BRAD HAWLEY, who’s been with us since April 2012, earned his PhD in English from the University of Oregon with areas of specialty in the ethics of literature and rhetoric. Since 1993, he has taught courses on The Beat Generation, 20th-Century Poetry, 20th-Century British Novel, Introduction to Literature, Shakespeare, and Public Speaking, as well as various survey courses in British, American, and World Literature. He currently teaches Crime Fiction, Comics, and academic writing at Oxford College of Emory University where his wife, Dr. Adriane Ivey, also teaches English. They live with their two young children outside of Atlanta, Georgia. Read Brad’s series on HOW TO READ COMICS.

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4 comments

  1. Thank you, Brad. (I love the humor in this column!)

    I could not get into East of West, even though I loved the artwork. I can’t quite figure out why; I got it because it seemed like it was EXACTLY my thing, but it didn’t suit.

  2. This list, and Comixology, look to me like a post-Undergrad present to myself. Thanks for all the rec’s Brad!

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