Since the dawn of comics, storylines and characters have always reflected the current state of affairs. While we are mostly familiar with mainstream superheroes and comic books, there is a treasure trove of independent series that is begging to be discovered. Independent comics have more creative freedom to tell stories with characters that are more risque than DC or Marvel books. By creating new worlds, multilayered characters and limitless storylines, these series serve as a perfect platform for controversial social commentary.
The following list is full of independent comics that are currently pushing boundaries, addressing current affairs and engrossing readers with every panel. While most of the comics listed have a direct connection to what’s going on in the world we live in, some purely provide a much-needed escape from reality that we all need sometimes. Either way, they all have one thing in common – they demand to be read!
15. GENERATION ZERO
“Generation Zero” is a current ongoing series from Valiant written by Fred Van Lente and penciled Francis Portela. The series follows a zany group of teenage psychic super soldiers who broke free from project Rising Sun (from the Harbinger Series) who are fighting against injustice in the world. The teens are bound to protecting each other from their common enemies and fighting tooth and nail for the rights of other kids by way of solidarity. “Generation Zero” uses their extraordinary powers to right all the wrongs for a generation that seemingly has no future. The team takes requests, too.
If you’re into worthy causes and anarchist kids, “Generation Zero” is a thrilling must-read. Readers get a feel for what it’s like to be part of a team made up of kids whose sole purpose is to fight for the rights of other kids. “If you have a problem… If your parents won’t help… And if your cause is worthy… Log onto network #ZERO… because Generation Zero is listening.”
14. MOTHER RUSSIA
“Mother Russia” from Alterna Comics is written and illustrated by Jeff McComsey and began with a Kickstarter campaign. “Mother Russia” follows one kick-ass female character during World War II who is a former KGB agent and a force to be reckoned with. Svetlana dons a sniper rifle and armed with years of assassin training, she has more than enough to make even her worst Nazi enemies scared.
In the series, zombies have over-run Stalingrad, but this isn’t your run of the mill zombie tale. In fact, it’s rather historically accurate and layered with relatable human emotion. Svetlana Gorshkov’s only goal is to save the human race no matter what side of the war they are on while battling hordes of the undead. If you’re a history buff with a penchant for zombie warfare, pick up “Mother Russia.” The creators use realistic accounts and accurate details of World War II to tell a unique tale of strength and survival. Oh, there is also a rare entity that Svetlana will die to protect – a healthy, smiling baby boy.
13. BLACK HAMMER
“Black Hammer” from Dark Horse Comics is written by Jeff Lemire and illustrated by Dean Ormston. The main storyline is the first of its kind to venture into unknown territory, addressing what happens to superheroes after “the big crossover event.” While the book digs deep into family dynamics, dysfunction and emotions, it’s a paradoxical look at the world of rejected superheroes. At its core, it tells the story of five superheroes who have been erased from their comic book universe after a big event. They wake up on a small farm in a small town with no idea how they got there and desperate to find their way home.
The book is a metaphor for family… and everyone has a bit of crazy in their family. Adding superheroes and their powers makes it fun, silly read. “Black Hammer” tackles the superhero genre from a perspective we haven’t seen before, answering the debatable question of exactly how a superhero’s life is affected when their comic book world has crumbled. It’s a novel idea for a series that hits hard for anyone who feels lost in their current surroundings, which happens to be a lot of people at the moment.
The “March” trilogy from Top Shelf (written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, illustrated by Nate Powell) is a must-read for anyone and everyone living in today’s society who want to know more about American history and the ongoing fight for human rights. The black-and-white graphic novel focuses on the historical events of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, told through the perspective of civil rights leader and U.S. Congressman, John Lewis.
The story is rooted in the experiences of Lewis who was (and still is) very active and outspoken during the struggle for basic human rights. He brings a new generation of readers along for a bumpy ride they are most likely unfamiliar with because they weren’t alive yet. For anyone interested in a historical yet deeply personal and emotional account of racial tension in America, pick up a copy of “March.” Former President Bill Clinton had this to say about “March”, “…he brings a whole new generation with him across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, from a past of clenched fists into a future of outstretched hands.”
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