Marvel and DC have the comic book market pretty much on lockdown. They are the Coke and Pepsi of their industry and probably always will be. That being said, there are a ridiculous amount of great comic books out there that don’t fall under the Marvel and DC banner. This is a list of my thirty favorite comic books series put out by the smaller and more independent comic book publishers.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
6. The Walking Dead
7. Love & Rockets
8. The Fade Out
9. Star Wars (the Dark Horse era)
12. Hawaiian Dick
13. Kill Or Be Killed
14. The Wicked Righteous
15. It Came Out On a Wednesday
18. The Umbrella Academy
19. Red Sonja
20. Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects
22. Scud, the Disposable Assassin
24. The Maxx
25. Iron Sights
26. Feast Or Famine
27. Doctor Who (IDW era)
28. Tokyo Ghost
30. Black Hammer
Published: 2019 Written by: Wes Locher Art by: Eduardo Jimenez
Alterna Comics, 100 Pages
This title from Alterna Comics finally came to an end. I typically wait till an Alterna series is complete before reading them, as I prefer to binge the stories, as I’m getting old and memory retention sucks when you read dozens of comics per month.
Anyway, this was a sci-fi comedy in the same vein as the Men In Black movies. In fact, it feels like it could exist in that world.
The story follows two agents who have lost a special crystal and are trying to get it back because if it falls into the wrong hands, it could lead to something catastrophic.
The title of the comic comes from the storage unit where the crystal was kept. Due to some villainous shenanigans, they got behind on the bill for the storage unit and the stuff inside was auctioned off.
Overall, this isn’t really my cup of tea. It’s a good, fun comic for what it is though. But I also don’t like the Men In Black films that this is sort of an homage to.
It is amusing and the jokes work. The tone is also good but I’m not a big fan of the art.
I do, however, think that a lot of people, especially regular Alterna readers will like the series.
Rating: 6/10 Pairs well with: other Alterna sci-fi and comedy comics.
Release Date: October 8th, 2016 (Northeast Wisconsin Horror Festival) Directed by: Chad Ferrin Written by: Erin Kohut, Peter Simeti Based on:The Chair by Peter Simeti Music by: Douglas Edward Cast: Bill Oberst Jr., Roddy Piper, Noah Hathaway, Zach Galligan, Naomi Grossman, Ezra Buzzington, Joseph Pilato, Joe Laurinaitis
Alterna Comics, Crappy World Films, Girls and Corpses Magazine, 84 Minutes
This has been in my queue for a really long time. I kept putting it off because I was afraid I would be disappointed by it. Well, those concerns were valid, as I was.
I wanted to go into this with high hopes, as it was Roddy Piper’s last movie and also featured Noah Hathaway and Zach Galligan, two guys that made 1984 a great year for my young imagination. Additionally, this was based on Peter Simeti’s graphic novel that he released through his own comic company Alterna.
Simeti has always come off as a great guy and I like the vast majority of the comics he publishes. Especially in an age where more comics than not are kind of shit.
But in the end, this was a mess of a film that was really hindered by its budget. While you can do a lot for very little, this movie sacrifices the atmosphere by really cheaping out on it. And what I mean by that is that the whole thing looks as if it were filmed in one or two corridors with a few different rooms. And then everything is so damn dark, its hard to see the film in most shots.
Now the comic book is also very dark but the visual style works well in the comic book medium, as it takes advantage of a high chiaroscuro presentation. Even the comic is hard to look at due to the overly gritty art but it works for this story. In this film, however, the style and the character of what exists in the comic is lost in the constant darkness. Really, it’s a poorly lit film but that’s only one of many technical issues that hinders the whole presentation.
The acting by the more veteran players isn’t actually half bad. Piper does a pretty superb job with what he’s given and I can’t knock his work here.
Apart from Piper, though, the film is just insanely dull. It was really hard to get through, especially with the comic as a frame of reference and being a fan of four of the actors in the picture.
Rating: 3.75/10 Pairs well with: the graphic novel it’s based on but I thought the comic was much better.
Published: September 27th, 2018 – July 25th, 2019 Written by: Ben Slabak Art by: Salomon Farias, Marc Sintes
Alterna Comics, 192 Pages
I’ve been a fan of a lot of Alterna’s comics. In fact, I subscribe to everything they release because you can’t beat the price and almost everything is quality.
This one didn’t resonate with me though.
I found that kind of surprising as I like sci-fi stories, especially involving war and drama. And this was also a pretty epic release for Alterna, as it was six issues, the finale was double sized and it took nearly a year for the entire arc to come out.
I think that the art didn’t pull me in. It was definitely competent, it just wasn’t a style that I liked. Frankly, I thought the art and the colors were kind of drab.
As far as the story went, I just couldn’t get myself to care about it.
So with those two main components not clicking in the right way, it made getting through 192 pages kind of a slog.
Now the majority of other reviews and comments I’ve seen about this series are fairly positive. Some people really dug the hell out of it.
But at this point, I’ve read a lot of Alterna’s stuff. Some of it isn’t my cup of tea but most series I still find something I enjoy in them. For instance, I would have never picked up Cyco KO on my own but it amused me and made me a fan.
Exilium aimed high and it was ambitious. In the end though, it just didn’t connect.
Rating: 5.25/10 Pairs well with: other sci-fi releases by Alterna Comics.
Published: 2018-2019 Written by: Bernie Gonzalez Art by: Bernie Gonzalez
Alterna Comics, 110 Pages
Midnight Mystery was the latest comic book series from Alterna to complete its story, so I wanted to review it and get it out there.
This is one of my favorite Alterna comics that I’ve read over the last year, since I started picking up everything the publisher puts out. While this is very unique, as are most Alterna releases, it kind of channeled a lot of the same feelings I got from Alterna’s Tinseltown.
Bernie Gonzalez wrote an energetic and captivating story. His art style is also cool and it worked for me. I especially dug Gozalez’s use of color, which comes off as a hybrid of the noir chiaroscuro style with understated vivid giallo tones. There is good contrast, great ink work and it all pops off of the newsprint.
I don’t want to give too much plot away but the book follows a detective as he looks into a few cases all of which have a supernatural or strange twist to them.
This is a good mixture of humor, noir and horror elements. And frankly, I am glad that there is another Midnight Mystery miniseries on the horizon.
In the end, this is just one more Alterna title that has proved that these comics are definitely the best bang for your buck. They’re only $1.50 in a time when some comics sell for as much as $8 for a single issue. Alterna has a formula that works and every time a new comic of theirs is in my hands, I’m usually pretty satisfied.
Rating: 8.5/10 Pairs well with: other recent Alterna releases, especially Tinseltown, Feast or Famine and Eden.
Published: 2019 Written by: Dave Swartz Art by: Joseph Cooper, Wes Locher
Alterna Comics, 93 Pages
I wasn’t sure what this comic was about before getting into it but I was pleasantly surprised by it and I think that it’s one of the best comics Alterna has put out.
The comic takes in you in many different directions and it is best not to know much about the plot beforehand. This has some famous scientists at the center of the story but I don’t want to ruin anything.
There are twists, curveballs and some cool reveals as the story progresses over its three issues. Based off of how this ends, I don’t think that it would have a follow up but I would check out anything else that this creative team could do together in the future.
The writing was great, the art was fantastic and I especially loved the colors in this and how well all the art looked on newsprint.
I wish I could talk more about the plot but I would rather people just go out and pick this up. For being three issues priced at $1.50 a piece, you can get this stupendous tale for a lot less than a standard trade paperback or graphic novel.
Rating: 9/10 Pairs well with: other sci-fi comics from Alterna.
Published: September 20th, 2018 – February 7th, 2019 Written by: Robert Geronimo Art by: Robert Geronimo
Alterna Comics, 75 Pages
Alterna constantly throws titles my way that are a lot of fun, imaginative and just cool.
Blood Realm is no different. It’s a dark fantasy in a sort of sword and sorcery setting. It has its own mythology which is well established and explained in this series.
Dark Covenant is comprised of three issues and this story arc is the first part of a trilogy. It’s hard to tell how good this will be going forward but this was a solid setup for the larger story.
I absolutely loved the art. It’s dark, menacing and enchanting. The main character is pretty interesting and comes to us in an unusual way. It’ll be neat seeing how this all unfolds moving forward, as this definitely isn’t just a rehash of fantasy or sword and sorcery stories that we’ve seen before.
This is a top notch indie comic and a refreshing read. I’m always down for something different and this was exactly that. I look forward to the two future story arcs.
Rating: 7.5/10 Pairs well with: future Blood Realm releases and other fantasy comics by Alterna.
Published: August 30th, 2018 – March 21st, 2019 Written by: Eric Henson Art by: Eric Henson, Michael Babinski, Stephen Downer, Robert Doan
Alterna Comics, 112 Pages
Eric Henson’s Eden is a comic book series that really fits well within the Alterna Comics style. If you are a fan of Alterna, this comic should hit the mark for you.
The story follows a warrior woman who is searching for her lost son. She is joined by a badass alien and another human warrior. The trio fights off alien threats and some pretty scary and large space monsters.
Henson created an interesting universe that feels lived in and that has a rich history. This is kind of a small story within that large universe and this all sort of wraps up within the four issues but it makes me wonder if there are plans to tell other stories within this universe. I hope so.
I liked Henson’s art style and the colors were vivid and beautiful.
My only real complaint about this is the same complaint I have with most Alterna releases and that’s that even at four issues, I want more. Alterna doesn’t do any ongoing series but some miniseries get sequels and I feel like this is a comic book that could benefit from that.
But when it comes to creator owned comics, each title’s future is ultimately in the hands of its creator. So whether Eric Henson does additional Eden stories or gives us something else, I’ll still be interested in checking out what’s next.
Eden was a good read, though. Great art, good story, a few powerful moments and it created the desire for me, the reader, to want more.
Rating: 7.25/10 Pairs well with: other sci-fi releases by Alterna Comics.
Published: April 19th, 2018 – January 10th, 2019 Written by: David Lucarelli Art by: Henry Ponciano, HdE
Alterna Comics, 118 Pages
I’ve gotten way behind on comics and my Alterna stack has been piling up, as a few different series have come to an end over the last few months. I’ve been waiting to read this one since I got the first issue, almost a year ago, but I was waiting to get the entire story so that I could binge read it.
Tinseltown is one of the best books I’ve read from Alterna but the company produces so many good indie comics that this really is head and shoulders above a lot of the other stuff on the shelves.
The story is about a young woman living in Hollywood who has aspirations of becoming a cop in an era where women weren’t really accepted on the police force. She starts out as a security guard for a film studio but soon finds herself caught up in a noir-style mystery.
If you like cop stories, historical fiction, the golden age of Hollywood or film-noir, then there is certainly something here for you to enjoy. If you love all of those things, than this comic book is a real treat.
David Lucarelli wrote a very good story and the art by Henry Onciano did a fine job of capturing the style and tones of the era.
This was a fun read with a lot of energy and heart. I’m not sure if there is a future miniseries in the works or not but I liked this enough that I hope this isn’t the last we see of this character and her journey.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: other recent stuff from Alterna Comics.
Published: September 6th, 2018 – December 19th, 2018 Written by: Robert Feldman Art by: Robert Feldman, Peter Simeti
Alterna Comics, 67 Pages
I’ve been picking up everything from Alterna Comics, as of late. I wasn’t quite sure how I would feel about Cyco KO, as I’m not a big reader of humor comics but it still had some interesting character design and looked like something I’d probably find some enjoyment with.
Well, it was funnier than I expected. The tone and style of the humor is similar to old school Adult Swim programming before it got shitty.
Each issue is really its own story and you don’t have to read one to read the others but all three still work well as one body of work.
While this was a really fun comic, I feel like I just got my feet wet with the character and his universe. I hope that this spawns more miniseries or an ongoing title. Alterna seems to prefer doing limited runs, however.
This is a cool, exciting comic and if you like your stories humorous, bizarre and unique, than this is probably a comic book that you’ll want to pick up.
Rating: 7.75/10 Pairs well with: Alterna’s other recent releases but especially the more humorous stuff like Mr. Crypt and Baron Rat.