At the height of the pandemic, there seemed to be an increase in the number of new comic book readers. With film production on hold at the time, fans were eager to read about some of their favorite characters and even learn about some new ones. And with this increase in comic book readership, there is also arguably an increase in story quality.
Marvel and DC may have had some of the greatest superhero stories in recent memory, with titles like Chip Zdarsky daredevil and that of Tom Taylor night wing. Still, there are plenty of non-superhero comics that captured readers’ attention from the very first issue.
Department of Truth (Image Comics)
James Tynion IV is perhaps best known for his work at DC Comics (particularly with Batman) or indie success, something kills children. However, in September 2020, Tynion’s department of truth was published by Image Comics.
The series was a critical success, telling a particularly intriguing story about a man who discovers a secret organization that hides all vital information surrounding the various well-known conspiracy theories (Flat Earth, JFK assassination, etc.). Tynion creates the perfect blend of horror and noir, and artist Martin Simmonds’ gritty artwork manages to fit perfectly into the incredible story.
Stillwater (Image Comics)
September 2020 also saw the release of daredevil scribe of Chip Zdarsky’s horror comics Still water of Image’s Skybound footprint. It’s not just the big writing fans that have come to expect from Zdarsky in recent years, but Ramon K Perez’s art, paired with Mike Spicer’s colors, makes this comic special.
The series revolves around a man named Daniel, who is summoned to the town of Stillwater to receive an inheritance from an unknown relative. Without revealing too much of the events of the first issue, it’s obvious that something is off about the town, and Daniel plans to find out what it is. The series recently began its final story arc and is set to wrap in June 2022 (or so Zdarsky says).
Chu (picture comics)
In June 2009, John Layman and Rob Guillory released the independent hit Chew. Layman’s hilarious scripts, combined with Guillory’s unique art style, made it like no other comic on the stands. The series ended with its 60th issue in November 2016. In March 2020, Layman announced that the series would continue with an all-new series with artist Dan Boultwood.
Chu follows Tony Chu’s sister, Saffron Chu, an all-new character in Layman’s “Chew-niverse.” Like her brother, she also has special powers related to food, which she uses for her criminal activities. The series manages to retain the same goofy tone as the original series that preceded it but also welcomes a new generation of readers by giving a whole new story. The series is currently on hiatus, but the first two trades are available for purchase now.
Seven Secrets (BOOM! Studios)
Over the past few years, Tom Taylor has established himself as one of the best writers in the industry today. With recent titles like Marvel’s dark times or DC Black Knights of SteelTaylor shows he knows how to write a fun and engaging series. seven secrets is no exception.
Taylor tapped Mighty Morphin Power Rangers artist Daniele di Nicuolo to create a beautiful scene for Taylor’s upbeat, heartfelt, and sometimes dramatic scripts. The story centers on a fictional organization known as The Order. The Order is tasked with guarding seven briefcases, each briefcase containing a valuable secret that could result in the destruction of the world if opened. The series is set to end with its 18th issue in June 2022.
Crossover (Image Comics)
Donny Cates has long been writing some of the weirdest and horrifying comics out there. However, he is perhaps best known for his run on Marvel’s Venom and the creation of Knull, God of the Symbiotes. In July 2020, Cates retweeted a teaser that contained nothing more than the Image comics title and logo. The following December, what would be released would perhaps change comic book stories for years to come.
Donny Cates chose to find guardians of the galaxy artist, Geoff Shaw, to help create this post-apocalyptic universe where a world-changing comic book event has come straight from the pages and into the real world. What follows is a compelling story of the mysterious “comic book killer” who takes the lives of comic book writers and artists and how a group of comic book enthusiasts attempt to use their extensive knowledge of comics to find those responsible.
The Pretty House on the Lake (DC Comics)
Another entry from James Tynion IV, The Beautiful House On The Lake is a horror comic from DC’s Black Label imprint that still serves as a reminder that Tynion is perhaps the best writer in the horror genre today. Tynion reunites with his writing partner Detective comicsÁlvaro Martínez Bueno, to create a strange environment that keeps readers spellbound until the end.
The 12-issue series is currently in its eighth issue and has kept readers engaged and eager for answers from the start. With the above department of truth in the same way something kills childrenit should come as no surprise that this story is not only one of the best non-superhero comics of the 2020s, but also one of the best DC Comics.
The Scumbag (Image Comics)
It might be one of the most outrageous entries on this list, but it still deserves some recognition. Rick Remender is best known for his work on Lethal class or Marvel X Force, but this title did not want to take itself too seriously. Remender has always been a writer who enjoyed a fun story and 80s popular culture, something that shapes the asshole in something so entertaining.
The story follows Ernie Ray Clementine, a character who can most likely be described as vulgar, stupid and downright disgusting, and he is the only one who can save the world by becoming a super spy when he accidentally injects himself with a serum that gives him special powers. The series features a rotating cast of artists and remains one of the most ridiculously satisfying comics on the stands.
Home Sick Pilots (Image Comics)
Dan Watters has been a rising star in recent years, honoring those who crave a delightfully weird story with titles like DC’s house of whispers or pictures Bound to the coffin. However, this time around Watters and artist Caspar Wijngaard decided he wanted to write a fun, punk rock comedy horror starring Pilots sick at home.
Described as an amalgam of Power Rangers and the brilliant, the series has been a fan favorite since its debut, serving as a refreshing change from the various darker stories released weekly. Watters’ writing combined with Wijngaard’s vibrant illustrations make this mad dash something any horror fan should experience.
That Texas Blood (Image Comics)
After beginning his artistic career as a colorist for his brother’s pencils on Ed Brubaker’s CriminalJacob Phillips makes his debut as a solo artist with the neo-Western detective series, That Texas blood. It’s written by relatively new writer Chris Condon, who writes a gripping story about a man who returns to his abandoned Texas home after the mysterious death of his brother Travis.
The series has remained one of the best crime stories on the stands and shows no signs of slowing down. For those who love the work of Ed Brubaker or Brian Michael Bendis, don’t miss this story that is sure to become a classic of the detective genre.
Human Target (DC Comics)
One of the most unique characters in the DCU, Christopher Chance is a target for hire, disguising himself as those in danger of being murdered. Although not an A-lister, the character has had two TV shows and even made guest appearances in seasons 5 and 6 of Arrow.
Tom King has teamed up with artist Greg Smallwood to create an incredible whodunnit story about who in the DCU attempted to murder Lex Luthor when Chance was tasked with disguising himself as Lex Luthor for his protection. This story is for those looking for an intriguing mystery paired with stunning artwork and is sure to go down as one of Kings best.
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