While superheroes like Superman and Batman headlined DC’s main roster, the Vertigo imprint produced cutting-edge comics with a flair for sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Often featuring some of the best writers and artists in the business, Vertigo pushed the boundaries of what was possible in mainstream comics.
Cult classics like Fables to classic monsters like Swamp Thing, Vertigo comics have had more hits than misses in their lineup. Even though there are so many great books to choose from, fans of the site private soldier took to the web and voted for their favorite Vertigo comics.
Vertigo allowed its writers to deal with darker subject matter than DC’s main roster, and that freedom was used to great effect in the series. Scalped. Set in modern times on a Native American reservation in South Dakota, the story follows the people of the reservation as they face crime, poverty, and the preservation of their culture.
The book shines because it mixes its political message with a healthy dose of neo-Western aesthetics and black influences. Not concerned with fantasy or superheroes, Scalped is a raw look at the real-life struggles of Indigenous communities across North America, and it has expanded the possibilities for stories told about these communities.
Demilitarized Zone (2005-2012)
Not quite envisioning the rosiest future for the United States, DMZ embodies the idea that history often repeats itself. The story centers on Manhattan shortly when a new civil war has turned the massive island into a demilitarized zone.
One of Vertigo’s darkest creations, DMZ is plagued by political unrest and a general unease about government in general. Similar to books like The Walking Dead, DMZ founds his universe and tells unique stories. With the escalation of conflict during the war, petty feuds have come under the microscope, and the book has an overall sense of tension.
Death: The Time of Your Life (1996)
Neil Gaiman is an integral part of the Vertigo legacy, and his creation The sand man has also had its fair share of spin-offs over the years. Death: the time of your life was a short series set in the universe of The sand man. When a singer-songwriter’s son suddenly dies, she makes a deal with death to spend some more time with him.
With Sand seller being one of Gaiman’s best projects, it was only natural that the offshoots would capture some of his creative geniuses as well. Inspired by classic horror stories, The time of your life is a dark look at parenthood and the natural fear of death in every human being.
Death: The High Cost of Living (1993)
With the success of the main series of The sand manNeil Gaiman’s creative energy has been put to use in stories derived from the same universe. Death: the high cost of living follows death as it spends its day on earth as a physical being. Personified by a young gothic girl, Death spends the day with a suicidal man and helps him find a reason to live.
Horrifying and yet darkly comical at the same time, The high cost of living is one of the strangest interpretations of the death myth. Always one to establish his mythology, Gaiman’s universe is dictated by a unique set of rules that are fascinating to learn throughout the comics. Although it is a dark story, it also has a dark and humorous punchline.
Showing how creative comics could be, Fables used classic fairy tale characters and weaved them into a compelling narrative. In a world where characters from fairy tales and folklore are real, the group is known as the “fables” of their community far from ordinary humans.
Even though the “Fables” live far from modern society, it’s fascinating to watch them deal with societal issues that plague everyone. Socio-political conflicts arise, and they are all the more interesting because they involve folklore. Limited only by the depths of their imagination, the creators of the book took full advantage of the fairy tale possibilities they introduced into the story.
Y: The Last Man (2002-2008)
Although unsuccessful in his short-lived stint on television, the comic Y: The Last Man was one of Vertigo’s best stories. When every living thing with a Y chromosome dies on planet Earth, society is thrown into chaos and the only surviving male is hunted by different groups who want him for their ends.
The comic established its world and contained many details that were only apparent to die-hard readers. By eliminating men from the equation, Yes explored a unique way for society to collapse. While things predictably descend into chaos, a sudden reduction in population also presents its challenges.
Blending elements of horror, action and fantasy, Preacher didn’t hurt with his satirical view of religion. Jesse Custer is a preacher in a small town in Texas who is possessed by a being that is the result of an unauthorized coupling between an angel and a demon. When God leaves Heaven in disgust, Custer searches the land for the deity on the loose.
With a host of interesting characters, the book was never short of exciting and original moments. It showcased his unique tone that borders on gallows-style humor at all times. Even aside from the silliest moments, the action is enough to keep regular comic book readers invested as the creators make their humorous points about religion and society.
While most Vertigo comics were standalone, hellblazerThe main character of John Constantine has made many crossover appearances in the DC Universe. The book exists in a world where the forces of magic battle behind the scenes of normal life and follows an occult detective named Constantine.
The strength of the book was its main character, and its cynical view of the world colors the book as a whole. Created by writer Alan Moore during his tenure on Swamp Thing, it didn’t take long for the Hellblazer to get his book. Throughout his long run, hellblazer featured writing from some of Marvel’s and DC’s greatest writers.
Swamp Thing Saga (1982-1996)
Although the series aired before and after his tenure in the book, Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing is generally considered the best period for the character. The Swamp Thing Saga follows DC’s legendary swamp monster as he grapples with the cosmic implications of his new form and begins to connect with the universe at large.
Transforming the character from a goofy monster into a true existential force, Moore’s unique writing was unlike anything readers had seen in the comics before. Speaking through character, Moore delivered some of Swamp Thing’s best quotes with his heavy pen, and he expanded the universe he existed in to include the rest of the DC mythos.
The Sandman (1989-1996)
Generally considered Neil Gaiman’s magnum opus, The sand man is one of the most original stories ever about the comic book medium. The series follows Dream, the living personification of dreams, who exists in multiple realms and encounters other mythological beings while trying to atone for his past sins.
As the book progressed, it began to introduce additional fantasy elements until it began to mix in horror and dark fantasy elements. Avoiding the usual superhero format, The sand man was not tied to the usual restrictions of the comic book art form. This resulted in a unique fantasy story that spawned its universe which was explored in additional series and one-offs.
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