Beyond the Capes: The Best Non-Superhero Comics You’re Not Reading

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Superhero properties are dominating the pop culture landscape on big screens and small screens alike. Naturally, this has led people to seek out their heroic favorites in the comics pages they originated from. But there’s more to comics than superheroes, and the medium covers everything from urban fantasy to thrilling sci-fi adventures to everyday life struggles. The following books take from each of these genres and feature a long-running classic as well as some recent critically acclaimed hits.

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Credit: Image Comics

The Wicked and The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (Image Comics)

In an age where musical icons are worshipped like gods by their throngs of followers, The Wicked and the Divine explores the concept of idolization in a very literal way. Every 90 years 12 gods reincarnate as young people. They enjoy 2 years of love and hate, only to die when those 2 years are up. Laura Wilson is a fan caught up in the pandemonium of the most recent return of the gods and does not hide the fact that she wants everything they have. She soon finds herself in the company of gods like Lucifer, a gender-swapped take on David Bowie’s Thin White Duke. There’s her #1 crush Baal, the Kanye West-inspired god of power and Inanna, a Sumerian sex goddess reincarnated as a young man who is essentially Prince. As Laura moves closer to getting what she wants, she also discovers that getting what you want and being happy are two completely different things. Soon enough she uncovers the horror and tragedy that comes with being worshipped and dying young.

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Credit: Image Comics

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang (Image Comics)

It’s 1988 in the early hours of November 1st, middle schooler Erin Tieng and her friends are about to embark on another routine paper route. But what starts out as a tangle with some neighborhood bullies quickly turns into a fight for their lives against invaders from a dark and distant future.
It’s 2018 in the early hours of another day in the life of journalist Erin Tieng at the beginning of another routine commute, until she comes across an eerily familiar scene. Four girls right out of middle school and the year 1988 are running for their lives against invaders from a dark and distant future. Paper Girls has been called “Stranger Things for comics readers” not just because of its accurate depiction of adolescence in the 80’s, but because of the unexpected twists and turns, the story throws at these brave young women who find themselves out of their depth. The action takes from a tribal skirmish at the dawn of man, to the incomprehensible future where the past, their present, is a battleground for the fate of humanity.

Credit: Dark Horse Comics

Finder by Carla Speed McNeil (Dark Horse Comics)

In a distant future beyond imagining, the desolate landscape is littered with domed cities whose nearly endless strata are home to throngs of beings trying to get by every day. There are the rich and powerful clans that control everything from the local governments to the entertainment industry. There are human/animal hybrids who can be anything from exotic pets to retail workers. Universities teach the art of sacred prostitution alongside math and science. The professors are bitter old cyborgs and great plumed dinosaurs with wits as sharp as their teeth. In the middle of it all is mystery man Jaeger Ayers, a jack of all trades who has yet to truly master his own past and the nature of his very being.

Jaeger is the titular Finder of what writer-artist Carla Speed McNeil calls “Aboriginal Sci-Fi” and as this name implies, he finds that which is lost. He most often crosses paths with the Grosvenor family, including his on-again-off-again lover Emma, her estranged husband Brigham and their three children Rachel, Lynn, and Marcie. But for all his titles and occupations, Jaeger cannot escape the fact that he’s also a Sin Eater, a sort of spiritual whipping-boy for the Ascians, the nomadic descendants of today’s Native American tribes. The pages of Finder are also home to a constantly changing cast of characters whose lives have been affected by Jaeger in one way or another. But the core of the story remains Jaeger’s ongoing quest to find out who, or what, he truly is.

Each of the titles listed above can be found at finer comic book stores and libraries everywhere. To find a comic book store near you, go to ComicShopLocator.com!

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