Top 30 Comic Series That Aren’t Marvel or DC

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
2. Cerebus
3. Maus
4. Hellboy
5. Bone
6. The Walking Dead
7. Love & Rockets
8. The Fade Out
9. Star Wars (the Dark Horse era)
10. Madman
11. Spawn
12. Hawaiian Dick
13. Kill Or Be Killed
14. The Wicked Righteous
15. It Came Out On a Wednesday
16. Hack/Slash
17. Fatale
18. The Umbrella Academy
19. Red Sonja
20. Wolverton: Thief of Impossible Objects
21. Vampirella
22. Scud, the Disposable Assassin
23. Jawbreakers
24. The Maxx
25. Iron Sights
26. Feast Or Famine
27. Doctor Who (IDW era)
28. Tokyo Ghost
29. Cyberfrog
30. Black Hammer

Comic Review: Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Keung Lee
Art by: Keung Lee

Murakumo Comics, 64 Pages

Review:

I first came across this crowdfunded comic when Keung Lee was introduced on an episode of Ethan Van Sciver’s Comicsgate Live YouTube show. Being a fan of the manga style, as well as tokusatsu, this definitely peaked my interest.

I didn’t back it initially, however, but I kept my eye on it for quite some time. After more art came out and Keung Lee spent more time on other people’s livestreams talking about the project, I finally decided to back it a few months after the campaign launched.

Battle Maiden Knuckle Bomb is described as manga and tokusatsu presented in the reading style western audiences prefer. It absolutely works and I dig the hell out of Lee’s art style. Everything is so polished and nice to look at.

Beyond that, this also has a sort of cyberpunk superhero feel to it. While it’s not quite as futuristic and dystopian feeling as Akira, Battle Angel Alita or Ghost In the Shell, it certainly channels those franchises in a subtle way. At least, I see similar tropes and tones. Although, this is more lighthearted and taps more into the teen manga style than those darker, more serious books.

This is the first part of a larger story arc. So this serves as the introduction to what will be a bigger world and a bigger tale. It does a good job getting you invested in the characters and their unique world. After finishing this, I wished there was already a second volume to delve into. I guess we’ll have to wait some time for that but I’m pretty sure I’ll also back the follow up.

Out of all the recent crowdfunded comics, this is certainly in the upper echelon for me. It’s got beautiful art, a cool style and it makes you care about the story you’re reading.

Rating: 8/10
Pairs well with: future comics by Keung Lee, as well as other comics under the Murakumo imprint.

Comic Review: Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney

Published: September, 2019
Written by: Ethan Van Sciver
Art by: Ethan Van Sciver, Kyle Ritter

All Caps Comics, 80 Pages

Review:

There was about a ten year period where I checked out of comics from the late ’90s until the late ’00s. But what brought me back was the artwork of the era and primarily, the work of Ethan Van Sciver on Green Lantern. At the time, I didn’t know who Ethan was, I was just captivated by his detail, as well as the colors of those books.

It wasn’t until later that I learned more about him and sought out a lot more of his work and frankly, I always found it breathtaking and it’s kind of responsible for re-igniting my love for the comic book medium.

So when I had heard that Van Sciver was leaving DC due to some bullshit involving politics and comic industry insanity, I wanted to follow him into whatever his next big endeavor would be.

Cyberfrog: Bloodhoney is the first part of a four-part story arc. Also, it resurrects a character that Ethan created while at Harris Comics in the ’90s. Initially, I wasn’t a huge fan of the concept but the art that he showed, leading up to the launch of his campaign was all high quality stuff and some of his best work. So I got in on his crowdfunding campaign fairly early.

It was a hell of a waiting game, however, as this was two months shy of being a year late. While that was frustrating, once I got the book in my hand, all that sort of vanished and I was just ecstatic to have it and to finally be able to read it.

What I saw, page after page, was an exceptional work of art. This was, visually, the greatest thing that Ethan Van Sciver has ever done. Seeing the incredible detail on every single page makes me realize that this needed a lot more time than Ethan initially planned for. Plus, the book doubled in size since it was first announced. That doesn’t excuse it being as late as it was but I hope Ethan has learned from this process and will give us more accurate dates on his future campaigns.

This wasn’t just Ethan’s baby though, as a lot of the credit has to go to colorist Kyle Ritter. While Ethan is a top notch illustrator, Ritter’s colors truly take this to another level. Ritter is absolutely a top talent in the comic book industry beyond just his color work. But I’m so glad that he got this gig, was able to show the world what he was capable of and I’m looking forward to his upcoming StarBlades comic.

As far as the story goes, Ethan also wrote this. However, that’s the one aspect of this project where I had some reservations. Not because I didn’t think he could do it but because he doesn’t have much experience as an actual comic book writer. However, working with a guy like Geoff Johns for as long as he did, he probably picked some things up.

While I can’t say that this is as good of a story as the Green Lantern books that Ethan worked on, this is still a better written comic book than what has become the industry standard in 2019. Ethan very clearly has a vision for these characters and where he wants to take them and it all just comes together and works magnificently.

Although, I’ve heard some people complain a bit about the book’s structure and how it’s third act just kind of ends in the middle of the story. I had no problem with this whatsoever, as it seemed to end in a natural place for a story that is going to have three more installments. I won’t spoil how this ends but it is satisfying, after what the first act in this issue laid out for us.

Ultimately, this was pretty fantastic. Ethan Van Sciver made a damn good comic book and even if the concept itself didn’t grab me, after experiencing it, I’m now invested and looking forward to the rest of the story. That means that this did its job and it actually exceeded my expectations.

Also, I didn’t give a shit about the chromium cover but after seeing it, the cover looks absolutely incredible.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Ethan’s Green Lantern and Flash stuff, as well as the original Cyberfrog run at Harris Comics.

Vids I Dig 081: Literature Devil: A Look at King Baby a.k.a. Mark Waid (In 3 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): The favorite weapon of those in charge has always been to censor “rogue thinkers.” And let’s not kid ourselves…a Republican may be in the White House…but the far left is not only still in charge, but they’re actively shutting down competing opinions. And there have been few better examples of the left-wing censor in action…than what happened during the Jawbreakers fiasco.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): Let’s take a journey into the marvelously malicious mind of a madman.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): How do you think Meyer v Waid will go? Let’s take a look. (Yes – I got that idea from the Hugbox Chronicles. Watch and you’ll know what part I’m talking about)

Vids I Dig 068: Literature Devil: Is Comicsgate Wrong? (In 4 Parts)

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 1): ComicsGate claims that modern Marvel’s diversity-focused comics are far inferior to the works of the past. Are they blinded by hate and nostalgia or do they have a point?

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 2): So maybe Diversity Marvel isn’t about superhero battles or heroes fighting villains. Maybe it’s about character development. Let’s try tackling this question from a different angle.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 3): Before we get into the grand finale of Is Comicsgate Wrong? I went ahead and addressed the most interesting counter-arguments sent my way. Watch to the end… I’ve tossed in a little hint on what the FINAL BATTLE will cover.

From Literature Devil’s YouTube description (Part 4): All things come to an end. One last battle to see which side is right and which side is wrong. Also, special announcements at the end.

Comic Review: Jungle Comics, Issue #1

Published: May, 2019
Written by: Chuck Dixon
Art by: Kelsey Shannon

Antarctic Press, 32 Pages

Review:

I backed this on Indiegogo awhile ago but I guess I could’ve just bought it off of the shelf before it actually shipped to me. But that seems to be the case with most crowdfunded projects that get picked up by Antarctic Press.

Still, this was pretty inexpensive and I was pretty happy with the end result once I got this in my hands.

I’ve been reading comics by Chuck Dixon since the ’80s and the guy wrote one of my favorite runs on G.I. Joe, so I’ll support most of the projects he’s involved in.

Plus, I’ve really come to enjoy the art of Kelsey Shannon. When the dude is on his A game, he’s one of the top guys working today. In fact, I’m surprised more people aren’t scooping him up. Unless they are and future projects haven’t been announced yet.

This comic is like a time machine though. It takes the reader back to an era where jungle comics were actually a thing in pop culture. It was a popular genre back when Tarzan was a popular fictional character in the mainstream.

This does feel like a more modern take on the genre and the second story in the comic has a sci-fi twist to it. But it still captures the spirit of the pulp stories from over a half century ago.

If future issues come out, I’ll probably give them a shot. This is listed, officially, as part 1 of 4, so I guess we’ll see.

Although, I don’t know if Dixon and Shannon are involved going forward.

Rating: 6.5/10
Pairs well with: I guess future releases of Jungle Comics by Antarctic Press.

Comic Review: Bigfoot Bill: Shadow of the Mothman

Published: March, 2019
Written by: Doug TenNapel
Art by: Doug TenNapel, Kelsey Shannon, Katherine Garner

Doug TenNapel, 96 Pages

Review:

I’ve got to say, this was the most fun I’ve had reading a comic book this year. Doug TenNapel did a stupendous job in creating this graphic novel and I have to say that this was the best end result out of anything I have ever helped crowd fund.

I have absolutely no buyer’s remorse in supporting this and I actually have some disappointment in not picking up the sketchbook TenNapel did, as well as an extra copy. The finished product was presented beautifully and in fact, when I opened the package, I was completely stunned, smiling ear to ear. And because of that, this didn’t get added to my read pile, instead I immediately sat down and read this cover to cover.

The book was energetic, hilarious and I loved the title character immediately. This is something that doesn’t happen in 2019 but TenNapel crafted a fun world with depth, character and a real spirit.

I’ve always enjoyed cryptozoology being that I have grown up around the Everglades. While I don’t believe in the local legends like the Skunk Ape, I have always been fascinated by the idea of them. TenNapel did a fantastic job at creating a lovable Bigfoot character, as well as other cryptids with rich and unique personalities.

The story serves to set up a larger world that we will hopefully be able to see these characters live in for years to come.

The art was superb and I really loved the colors, which were provided by Kelsey Shannon and Katherine Garner.

Everything about this book is perfect.

In the end, I’m just glad to say that Bigfoot Bill was right up my alley and I loved every panel of it. I’m incredibly enthused about what could come next from Doug TenNapel.

Rating: 10/10
Pairs well with: other Doug TenNapel graphic novels and I’m sure, his future Bigfoot Bill releases.