After a small delay we finally reach part 2 of our best indie comics list. Much like the first part I’m going to try to include as much variety as possible. The whole point is to pay tribute to Will Eisner and the Eisner award nominees of this year by referring back to some older indie treasures that the comics field had to offer.
Walking Dead: By Robert Kirkman & Charlie Adlard
It didn’t make sense not to talk about one of the most successful independent comics of all time. This post apocalyptic horror story came out with little expectation but managed to grab readers right away. So much so, that TV executives noticed and gave it it’s own show. The show once again, surpassed expectations and has become the networks biggest hit next to Breaking Bad. I doubt there’s anyone at this point who has not heard of the TV series, even if they’ve never watched it. The thing to remember is that it all started as a comic and that’s where it really shines best. Say what you will about the show but for me the comic is where it’s at. It takes a few more chances that the show can’t really afford to take. Clearly many fans of the show have flocked to the comics because it constantly sells in the monthly list of graphic novels sold! We’re talking about new volumes AND the first volume. It stays on par in the top 10 along with DC and Marvel which makes that an even more impressive feat.
Nexus: By Mike Baron & Steve Rude
This is a very overshadowed comic. It actually won the Eisner for best single issue story in 1993. It’s been praised for years and received much love from many industry greats and yet not many people have heard of it. it’s a space opera done by people who adore comics and the stories that came before it. The story is very original is especially during the time in which it came out which was the early eighties. It’s about a man with almost limitless power dishing out justice too the worst offenders the galaxy has to offer, not because he wants to, but because he has to. without giving away too much let’s just say that a curse is a powerful thing and that the sins of the father become the sins of the son. One other thing to mention is the stunning artwork of Steve Rude who co created this fine character with Mike Baron. Rude’s art harkens back to the days of Jack Kirby with a touch of Bruce Timm and Alex Toth. Throw in a dash of John Romita Sr. just for good measure. The painted art covers are a treat all on their own. Start with Nexus: The Origin. It’s a great one shot that wonderfully establishes the world, the characters and the drama.
Scene Of The Crime: by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark with Sean Philips.
If something a little more grounded is your taste than look no further than this seedy mystery. If you Google the creators listed above you’ll find that they are three of the biggest names in Crime Noir comics. I mean Ed Brubaker is a fairly well known name thanks to his tenure at Marvel and it doesn’t hurt that Captain America 2: The Winter Solider, is basically a movie adaptation of one of his stories. Nomiated for an Eisner in 2000, Scene Of The Crime is very far away from the mighty world of Marvel. It’s about a Private Detective who gets hired to find a missing girl. The thing is he finds her and gets a lot more than he bargained for. This comic has it all. Murder, intrigue, mystery, love, action. The art and the words marry each other so well that it’s no surprise that the three creators continue to work with each other over an over again even to this day. It’s a real page turner with some of the best dialogue I have read. It’s snappy delightfully noir without feeling too unbelievable.
Irredeemable: By Mark Waid & Peter Krause with Diego Bareto
Mark Waid is a well known name in the comics world. Namely for his many works with DC and Marvel. It can be said that Mark Waid’s best work is Kingdom Come or his current run on Daredevil but my personal favorite is his fantastic run on his creator owned Irredeemable. It’s criminally underrated. This is basically as dark and twisted as Mark Waid’s ever wrote superheroes, and if you are familiar with Mark Waid, his stuff’s not terribly dark. This is basically a story of, what if Superman went nuts and decided to become a super villain. The thing that sticks out for me about this series is all the WTF moments that it had. It’s all big scenes and awesome twists that leave your jaw dropped. It’s very accessible and it actually has an ending! a great ending on top of that. it ran 37 issues and is fairly easy to find in trade form. This is my favorite indie series of all time and it demands to have more recognition from discerning readers like yourselves.
Whiteout: By Greg Rucka & Steve Lieber
The master of writing strong and interesting female characters makes his mark on this list. Greg Rucka. His name could pop up on this list a lot more but I still think his finest hour in the indie comic world is Whiteout. Yes, there was a movie version of this story staring Kate Beckinsale and yes, it was a pile of poo, but try to forget that and read the comic with an open mind. The comic is a cold and calculating murder mystery with a big emphasis on the cold part. The story takes place in Antarctica where a murder has taken place and our titular character, U.S. Marshall Carrie Steko, is called in to help solve the case. It’s a wonderfully constructed story that you can tell is well researched. Rucka writes his characters extremely well and having the indie label on the comic allows him a freedom he would never have with any DC or Marvel property. He uses this very well in this story and it’s sequel as well. It’s a treat to see a woman really allowed to be the true star of her story without having the usual trappings of a female lead. I urge you to check it out and see what the comic offers you that the horrible movie version didn’t.
Stay tuned for the final part to my tribute to the Eisners!