The comics medium is a narrative and visual playground that gives creators the freedom to bring to life whatever type of world they want. Inhabiting the worlds contained in-between the comic book pages are a diverse range of characters. Some evil, some good, some goofy and some downright cool. This list is dedicated to those characters. You know, the ones that are so damn cool that the pages they appear on almost feel icy! Although there are plenty of cool-cats — the kids still say that right? — in the pages of super-hero comics; unlimited by genre, indie comics are able to play host to a much wider range of cool characters.
So go grab your sunglasses and leather jacket as CBR counts down 15 of the coolest indie comic characters of the last decade. Characters on this list have all been ranked for their confidence, bad-assery and general swagger. Whether they are wielding a katana, wearing a leather jacket or riding a motor bike, these characters are the pinnacle of cool.
15. DEX PARIOS
Kicking off the count-down is the fan-favourite private investigator, Dex Parios. Making her first appearance in “Stumptown” back in 2009, Dex has an undeniable swagger to her. This swagger, as well as her over-all cool vibe, stems from her unshakeable confidence — possibly bordering on cockiness!
When we first meet Dex, she has been stuffed into a trunk and driven to a riverside in a fairly remote part of Portland. Two armed thugs pick her up out of the trunk of the car and carry her to underneath a nearby suspension bridge. Even though things look grim for Dex — it’s clear the thugs intend to kill her — that doesn’t stop her from running her mouth off and sassing her two would-be assassins. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that Dex is all talk and no action; quite the opposite is true. Not only does Dex manage to get out of this sticky situation alive — with a bit of help from a Kevlar vest — she is involved in her fair share of fist-fights, car chases and gun fights throughout “Stumptown’s” three story-lines.
14. UMA AKKOLYTE
Making her first appearance in 2016’s “Joyride,” Uma Akkolyte is reckless, headstrong and a whole bunch of fun. A bundle of un-harnessed teenage energy, Uma lives her life at a break-neck pace; always in motion, never stopping to look back. She’s the lovable cool-kid, a happy-go lucky girl who gets through life on a mixture of naivety and optimism. And man, is it infectious.
Uma isn’t as much the heart of “Joyride” as she is the neon-blood pumping through the story’s veins. She is an unstoppable dynamo and initiator of action. After all, she’s the girl with the guts to escape the oppressive earth, hijack an alien spaceship and steal a powerful alien artefact — all just because she can! As well as her bold antics, Uma has a bright and colorful sense of fashion as well as a love for custom kicks. When it comes to being that ice-cold kind of cool, Uma really is the whole package.
In the outlandish world of “D4ve,” — created by Ryan Ferrier and Ramon Valentin, and first published by IDW back in 2015 — characters don’t get much more in-your-face and full of attitude than 5cotty. Set in post-human future where machines wiped out mankind, the robots that inhabit the world of “D4ve” are, ironically, just as full of personality as the humans they overthrew. D4ve’s foul-mouthed son 5cotty is certainly no exception.
So why is 5cotty so cool, you ask? Well, the answer is simple, he possesses the coolest trait of all; not caring about being cool. And, to be completely honest, he doesn’t really care about anything else either. 5cotty’s indifference and generally chilled out attitude — even in the face of danger — makes him one hip automaton. Throw in the fact he wears a backwards-cap, is constantly stoned and flips the bird like there is no tomorrow and you have yourself the quintessential cool-guy — or should that be cool-bot?
12. SAM LEWIS
Stjepan Sejic’s 2014 Urban-Fantasy “Death Vigil” was full of memorable and likeable characters, but none were cooler than the gruff Sam Lewis. With pale white hair, a long leather jacket and muscular physique, Sam certainly looks the part of the grizzled bad-ass. And that’s before he starts using any of his sweet Vigil powers.
As a member of the titular “Death Vigil,” Sam is armed with a Veil Ripper — a magical weapon derived from an individual’s personality — which in his case is a pick-axe and shovel. Although not the most exciting of weapons, in Sam’s hands they become deadly and their use has earned him the nickname “The Digger.” If that hasn’t convinced you of Sam’s cool cred then consider this: he can also summon a band of zombie vikings to fight for him. Yep, you read that right. Zombie vikings. If that doesn’t convince you Sam is one bad-ass operator, we don’t know what will!
11. ROWAN BLACK
Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott’s 2015 Supernatural crime drama, “Black Magick,” gifted us with the undeniably cool Rowan Black. When it comes to cool cliches, Rowan ticks just about all of them. She is always clad in black, she sports a leather jacket and she rides a motorbike. Rowan also happens to be a capable and accomplished witch, as well as a Police officer in the Portsmouth PD.
From the minute Rowan pulls up to the crime scene on her motorbike in “Black Magick’s” opening pages, it is clear what she is about. She’s a confident and kick-ass women of action. Skilled in both magic and police work, Rowan is equal parts flawed and powerful. Among Greg Rucka’s roster of kick-ass female protagonists, Rowan Black stands out for her magic as well as her confidence. Oh, and she also shot a demon in the head. That’s got to count for something, right?
Although, Jonathan Hickman is usually known for his plots rather than his characters, Death is a glaring exception. First appearing in “East of West” #1 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta back in 2013, Death walked onto the page with an undeniable swagger. This Western-infused re-imagining of the horseman of the apocalypse portrayed him as a lone gun-slinger; a ruthless renegade in a brutal world.
Dressed in a sharp white suite and a cream wide-brimmed hat — bold choices considering all the blood splatter he is exposed to (or elicits personally) — from the minute we see Death, it is clear he is going to be one of “East of West’s” more memorable folks. And that’s before the gunfire starts. Once guns are blazing, Death really comes into his own, living up to his name and then some. For his style, swagger and unmatched levels of bad-assery, Death is very deserving of a place on this list.
Luther Strode’s partner in crime is just as tough as he is, and way more foul mouthed! Making her first appearance in the first issue of “The Strange Talent of Luther Strode,” Petra started the story as the geeky Luther’s love interest; however, it wasn’t long before she began to steal the show. Cocky and irreverent, Petra is instantly likeable with her punk rock atheistic and love for innuendo.
Throughout the series, she gradually morphs from Luther’s high school crush into a gun toting bad-ass. And boy, does she have a thing for guns. Whether they be automatic, semi-automatic, hand-held or mounted on the back of a truck, Petra has an affinity for anything to do with firearms. She also knows how to handle herself in combat situations, which allows her not only to fight at Luther’s side, but also go toe-to-toe with various psychos from Cain’s murder cult and live to tell the tale. What can we say, she is one gutsy lady!
“Saga” has brought us many iconic characters: Marko, Alana, Lying Cat, that troll that desperately needs to put some pants on; and then there’s Izabel. Emerging out of the pages of “Saga” issue 2 back in 2012, Izabel is one cool customer. First up she’s a disembodied teenage ghost; which means she isn’t scared of death (being dead and all) and is more or less fearless in general. Due to the fact that she was killed by a landmine when she was just a teenager, Izabel is permanently a young adult and her un-dead state only amplifies her teenage indifference and love of sarcasm.
Secondly, she is one of the “Horrors” of Cleave, which means she can be downright terrifying when she wants to be. Able to cast frightening illusions, she can exploit an individual’s greatest fears — an ability she uses on Lying Cat. But despite her ghostly reputation, Izabel is actually quite sweet — when she wants to be, anyway — and spends her days babysitting Hazel as part of Marko and Alana’s weird space family. No family is complete without a mouthy teenager, right?
Mark Millar and Steve McNiven’s titular “Nemesis,” has all the presence of Batman combined with the maliciousness of the Joker. Making his debut in 2012, Nemesis is a mass-murdering, building-bombing, motor-bike riding super-villain. Clad in pristine white, Millar and McNiven’s morally-bankrupt take on the caped crusader spent the entirety of his miniseries being an absolute and utter heel. He killed cops, landed a passenger jet in the middle of a city and even threatened the president of the United States. And while many folks found the story wanting, we kind of loved it.
There is something undeniably intoxicating about “Nemesis.” He has unlimited money, the fastest cars and all the kung-fu skills, without any pesky morals holding him back. Seriously, what could possibly be cooler than doing whatever the heck you want, when you want? Cue blood-soaked action, chemical weapons, an entire fleet of identical white cars and twisted mind games. Also, he fires a rocket launcher while doing a back-flip off a motorbike. Pretty sure if you look up cool in the dictionary you will find thatas the picture. We just looked. It’s there.
In 2012 Sean Murphy brought us “Punk Rock Jesus,” an energetic riff on music, religion and reality TV. This black-and-white masterpiece was an undeniably cool book, practically oozing punk attitude. “Punk Rock Jesus” starred Chris, an angry teenager who fronts a rock band. He also happens to be a clone of Jesus Christ. Yep, this is Jesus 2.0, and he would rather rock out in a punk band than save the world. Sean Murphy’s irreverent take on religion reinvents the Son of God as the front-man of the “The Flak Jackets.” He is also an atheist.
After being raised to be a Christian and forced to star in a reality TV show as a child, Chris pushes back hard in his teenage years. Full of pent-up rage and drunk on the vigor of youth, Chris starts the “The Flak Jackets” and begins to tour. Although polarizing, Chris’ music is brutal and honest. He is not afraid to speak his mind and call out hypocrisy. If that’s not the spirit of punk, we don’t know what is.
First hitting the spinner racks and other assorted venues for comic book sales back in 2014, Jim Zub and Steve Cummings’ “Wayward” brings the teenage drama and monster hunting of “Buffy” to the streets of Japan. In “Wayward’s” opening issue, we are introduced to Ayane, a blue-haired bad-ass. When we first meet Ayane, she is a woman of action, taking on a gang of Kappas 9demons of a sort) with nothing but her razor-sharp finger nails.
Although she looks like a teenage girl, Ayane is actually a cat-lady. And no, we don’t mean like a crazy cat lady, we mean that she is literally made up of dozens and dozens of cats. Cool, right? Able to transform herself into a horde of feisty felines, Ayane uses her ability both for stealth and combat. More then just a gimmick, her cat-like qualities transfer to her human form, giving her a taste for milk and an attitude. Also, her hair always changes color for some reason, which — if nothing else — makes for a cheap way to keep refreshing her look!
Emerging from the blood, guts and ultra-violence of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr’s “Kick-Ass,” it’s everyone’s favourite katana-wielding pre-teen. Described in 2008’s “Kick-Ass” as “John Rambo meets Polly Pocket,” Hit-Girl takes the concept of the kid sidekick and gives it a serious attitude. Yep, she’s the little blood-thirsty swear-machine you can’t help but love.
When we first meet Hit-Girl, she is only 10 years old, but that doesn’t stop her from slaughtering an apartment full of low-life thugs. Katana in hand, she glides her way through the room slicing stomachs, hacking-apart legs and chopping-off heads. Part Ninja, part brawler and with a arsenal of gadgets that would make Batman jealous, Hit-Girl is the real deal. But why is she so cool, you ask? Well apart from her combat skills, Hit-girl has mastered something else; the art of the bad-ass one-liner. Regardless of the situation you can be sure she will have something cool — and probably swear-filled — to say!
3. KIM D
In 2016, Magdalene Visaggio and Eva Cabrera brought us an action-packed thrill ride in the form of “Kim and Kim.” Mixing sci-fi, magic and plenty of drama, “Kim and Kim” told the tale of two broke inter-dimensional bounty hunters who both happened to be named Kim. The two Kims travel the multiverse looking for bounties in what can only be described as some sort of “Space Van.”
One half of “The Fighting Kims,” Kimber “Kim D” Dantzler is the more restrained of the pair. Not that that’s really saying much given her partner, Kim Q, has a penchant for beating the snot out of people with her electric guitar. Although she might be the more adult of the two, that doesn’t mean Kim D still can’t bring the pain when she wants. Whether she is taking pot shots with her hot-pink sniper rifle or unleashing her necromantic magic — she also happens to be a necromancer, just FYI — Kim D is an ice cold space bad-ass.
2. LAURA WILSON
Coming in at number two, it’s the girl cool enough to hang with the gods. The protagonist of 2014’s “The Wicked + The Divine” from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, Laura Wilson finds herself entangled with “The Pantheon” after fainting at Amaterasu’s concert. Befriended by the charismatic Luci — who just happens to be the reincarnated version of Lucifer — Laura soon feels surprisingly at home amongst the ranks of the gods.
Like other teenagers, Laura has her pulse on what’s “cool” and has spent many years obsessing over the Pantheon. She knows everything there is to know about their songs, music and their rabid fans. Gradually she becomes less and less attached to the world as she plunges deeper and deeper into her love of the gods and their music. Laura is more then just a trendy protagonist, she is the sort of girl you would want to trade mix-tapes with.
1. DOMINO SWIFT
“Motor Crush” is a book with crazy swag. Neon lights, sleek machines, unstoppable action: this book has it all. From the team that reinvigorated “Batgirl” — Cameron Stewart, Babbs Tarr and Brandon Fletcher — this 2016 Image Comics series is packed to the brim with fast-paced, two-wheeled action. Starring in the series is possibly the coolest-cat there is: Domino swift.
An up-and-coming star of the professional motorbike racing scene, Domino is a short-haired and leather-clad speed-machine. Although a great motorbike racer, Domino’s real skill is in the back-alley street racing known as “Cannonball.” A mix between racing and roller derby, Domino dominates at this brutal sport, whacking competitors with a bat covered in nails. Skilled, confident and trendy, Domino really is the whole cool package. Of course, with a name like Domino Swift, it was unlikely she was ever going to be a dork.
Who is your favorite modern indie comics badass? Let us know in the comments!
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