Both Marvel and DC are firing off huge storylines, big summertime plotlines, and “earth shattering” revelations about their comic narratives. And while it’s exciting to read, hardcore comic enthusiasts who keep up on a weekly basis will get much more out of the summer run of comics than casual readers. For those who only want to pop in and out of comics this summer, the best bet is to stick to “smaller” companies (though, in reality, they’re still huge) like Image Comics, Valiant, Boom! Studios, Avatar Press, and Dark Horse. With plenty of new series popping up all the time, it’s a great way to dig into stories in the summer without feeling like there’s a mountain of homework to slog through first.
This week, we look at a funny little Marvel story and some great independent, creator-owned comics.
Vision is a robot with human organs created by another robot to destroy the Avengers, but later he turns on his creator and joins the Avengers. Simple enough story, right? Well, now he’s decided that he wants to live a normal life. So he’s created a family of robots like him, and lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. But the villains have come calling, there have been some deaths, and life isn’t as perfect as it should be. This comic, beautifully illustrated by Mike del Mundo, is probably the slowest-paced Marvel comic on shelves now, which also makes it one of the most interesting, too.
Head Lopper tells the story of Norgal, the Head Lopper, and Agatha, a severed head. Together they adventure in a Norse-inspired world full of monsters, undead creatures, and dark sorcerers. This is classic fantasy stuff with enough modern sensibilities to hook readers of any generation. The artwork by Andrew Maclean is Mike Mignola-inspired (creator of Hellboy), but truly stands out as stark, minimal, blocky, and beautiful. This is the fourth issue of four, and it’s highly recommended that readers seek out the three earlier issues, too.
Kate Kristopher and her group of friends are exploring and adventuring in a fantastical world that mixes magic and technology (but not in an annoying Spelljammer way). After lots of travel, it’s time to rest in Portugal… but can a group like this ever really rest? This climactic episode is the end of the second act of the story, so there’s a huge twist and big emotional moves and payoffs, but readers can enjoy this issue just for the expert pacing, action, and illustrations.
Comic anthologies are a wonderful way to take in a few short, fun, often-bizarre stories without committing to a huge series. For readers fatigued by seeing DC comics with issues in the hundreds, sticking to any anthology one can find is the best bet this summer. King Bone Presents collects a story about a cat detective who’s lost a few of his lives, a racist in hell, and a stoner bug alien with his robot pal in outer space. “Often-bizarre,” indeed.