Recently, comic mega giants Marvel and DC Comics released their respective cinematic schemes until 2020. Several veterans of the silver screen are returning, but a few lesser-known heroes, such as Cyborg and Ant-Man, are slated to make their big screen debuts.
While films do a great job of introducing obscure heroes such as the “Guardians of the Galaxy’s” Star Lord, played by Chris Pratt, into pop culture, the world of comics goes far beyond the big screen. There are hundreds of unknown heroes and stories from lesser-known publishers such as Image Comics and Dark Horse Comics, as well as the big name publishers, who only exist on ink and paper.
Instead of waiting until 2016’s “Batman v Superman” film to see an Aquaman who breaks the notion of a joke hero that talks to fish, readers can see how powerful the King of Atlantis really is with DC’s current run.
Having launched in 2011 with the rest of DC’s New 52 line, Aquaman is immediately presented as a character with strength comparable to Superman, character conflict on par with Batman, and a mythological realm similar to Wonder Woman. Currently up to issue No. 35, the series has seen about five major arcs and appears to be nearing a conclusion to its current story revolving around the Chimera, a deadly humanoid sea creature determined to kill Aquaman.
Beneath the epic battles with established enemies such as the Black Manta or the Ocean Master, series writers Geoff Johns and Jeff Parker manage to humanize Aquaman by way of self-doubt with his title of King of Atlantis as well as the deaths of his parents and the repercussions that follow. Yet, there is still fun to be had as this marine-based member of the Justice League wields the power of the seas and a no-nonsense attitude, making Aquaman one of the more fascinating figures in comics today. Available for purchase from DC Comics. Commentary by Adam Mathieu
Way back in 2003, Daredevil actually got his own movie, but don’t hold that against him. The aftermath of the cinematic flop nearly killed the character for good. Luckily, he managed to survive.
Matthew Murdock, better known as Daredevil, has been around since the 60s and is unlike most superheroes in a big way. A childhood accident involving a face full of radioactive waste left Murdock completely blind – but his other senses were heightened to super-human levels. In the prequel to Murdock’s most recent run, “Daredevil: Road Warrior,” Murdock says, “I’ve decided it truly is a blessing. Because if I could see the things that come at me in this job the way sighted people see them, they’d probably stop calling me ‘The Man Without Fear.’”
Daredevil’s newest series, written my Mark Waid with art by Chris Samnee, opens with Murdock starting a new life in San Francisco. The new series offers enough information about his past to understand the character, but readers don’t need to know too much about Daredevil’s past or the events of his pervious story arcs to enjoy the series. Available for purchase from Marvel. Commentary by Courtney Combs
"The Wicked + The Divine"
“Just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.”
That tag line and the eye-grabbing cover art contributed to the first issue of “The Wicked + The Divine” selling out earlier this year. The premise of the series is that every 90 years, 12 gods are incarnated as humans, living for only three years in human form, and this time around they all take the guise of pop stars.
Currently on issue No. 5, readers have been tagging along with Laura, a super fan of the pop gods, as she enters the inner circle of the dazzling and dangerous figures. So far, the young series is sticking with a “who done it” storyline, as Luci (aka Lucifer), the David Bowie-esque female god, is charged with a murder she claims to be innocent of. Laura is left to meet the gods one by one in an effort to see which god actually had a hand in the murder.
If pop gods and murder don’t hook readers, then it is hard not to be engaged in the vibrant and well-drawn art of the books. Surely readers will be quick to find a favorite god, as they rapidly develop strong personas and distinct styles thanks to series writer Kieron Gillen and artists Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson. Available for purchase from Comixology. Commentary by Adam Mathieu