hen you’re on the hunt for a new comic the journey can be trying to say the least. There are thousands of options to choose from, and most of the time it is the big-wigs like Marvel and DC or Dark Horse shoving titles into your face.

And while we all love some classic Avengers or Hellboy and the typical lineups we’re used to, there are so many unique stories being told outside of the bigger companies, often because they thrive in smaller environments where they can blossom in all their glory.

For indie comics you could have anything to read about, the options are endless, and so are the genres. This selection of five comic series has been making waves in the indie comics community for a while, and some a little more recently.

Either way, they are stories you’ll want to pick up when you’re done with your current comic of choice. 

  • The Old Guard
  • The Umbrella Academy
  • Safe Sex (SFSX)
  • The Wicked + The Divine
  • Once and Future
Greg Rucka on Venturing into Screenwriting and What's Next for 'The Old  Guard' - Exclusive Interview | DiscussingFilm
Living forever can be a curse just as much as it can be a gift, in The Old Guard, our heroes face both in turn. Image courtesy of discussingfilm.net

The Old Guard 

Oh, good old immortality, it’s a theme we can never seem to get away from but for good reason. What is the price of living forever? Is it a blessing or a curse? What about living forever alone? That is another kind of pain altogether.

The Old Guard” series is the most recent comic to tackle this topic with its team of immortal mercenaries—Andromache, Booker, Joe, and Nicky who each hail from different time periods in Earth’s history.

Andromache, known by her nickname of Andy, is the oldest. Her origins call back to around 5000 BCE when humans had just barely mastered taming the horse, let alone constructing civilizations. 

In the modern-day, the team finds themselves tasked with the birth of a new immortal named Nile, an American marine while they’re fleeing the greedy hands of an evil organization who would see them experimented on for the regenerative healing abilities. 

“The Old Guard” is a masterclass is the dissection of history and the repeated trauma of centuries-old soldiers. It’s also one of the most inclusive comics out there right now, with stellar LGBTQ+ and racial representation. 

In June 2020, Netflix released a movie starring Charlize Theron as Andy based on the comic, and lucky they haven’t strayed too far from the source material. When you’re done reading the comics go watch the movie, and try not to cry watching Joe and Nicky’s van scene. 

Suggested readings

  • “The Old Guard: Opening Fire” by Greg Rucka
  • “The Old Guard: Force Multiplied” by Greg Rucka
  • The Old Guard: Tales Through Time” by Greg Rucka, Vita Ayala, Brian Michael Bendis, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Matt Fraction, David F. Walker
The Umbrella Academy Explained: What Is the Comic That Inspired the New  Netflix Series? - IGN
You think your family is dysfunctional? Try being a Hargreeves, and try having superpowers on top of that. Image courtesy of ign.com

The Umbrella Academy 

“The Umbrella Academy” is the power-swinging choice on this list, and probably the most well-known option due to its run at Dark Horse comics as well as the hit Netflix show of the same name based on the same content.

And while the show over at Netflix is running on two seasons strong, with a third in production, the comics have gone even farther—there is so much content for you to read and enjoy should you find the Hargreeves family shenanigans to your fancy.

“The Umbrella Academy” is about a group of siblings adopted by the eccentric millionaire Reginald Hargreeves who trains them from childhood into becoming a united superhero team. Only training scared supernatural children into basically living weapons isn’t always the smartest thing to do.

Family problems are something everyone can relate to, and often make us feel better about our own issues. So for a comic-book lover “The Umbrella Academy” is a godsend with its dry and witty familial dynamics combined with world-ending superpowers and talking apes. 

Suggested readings

  • “Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite” by Gerard Way
  • “The Umbrella Academy: Dallas” by Gerard Way
  • “Hazel and Cha Cha Save Christmas: Tales From Umbrella Academy” by Gerard Way and Scott Allie
Fanbase Press - 'SFSX (Safe Sex) #1:' Advance Comic Book Review
An indie comic you have to read, SFSX gives sex workers a much-needed spotlight. Image courtesy of fanbasepress.com

Safe Sex (SFSX)

“Safe Sex”, stylized as SFSX, is not a comic you’re going to see published by mainstream producers and author Tina Horn had to fight long and hard to get it out into the world, but this series more than deserves to be here for its groundbreaking representation on sex work.

“SFSX” is a post-apocalyptic comic set in a mysteriously future post-war United States that has been taken over by an explicitly Christian government that has banned most things sex, and they monitor the sex that you do have with these weird freaky devices. 

But what does this new world mean for sex workers? Well for the ones who haven’t been killed or assimilated into the new society, it means revenge and revolution. 

The main protagonist of “SFSX”, a former sex worker named Avory, finds herself drawn back into the world she left behind after her husband is arrested for violating the regime’s chaste sex laws.

“SFSX” rhapsodizes in its subject matter and brings a great conversation about consent, gender, and sexuality to comics without bars or barriers that are often not addressed. Though there has only been one volume published so far, another is on the way to continue Avory’s story. 

Suggested readings

  • “SFSX: Protection” by Tina Horn
The blockbuster comic series The Wicked + The Divine has come to an end -  Polygon
This indie comic book calls upon the old gods and the new. Image courtesy of polygon.com

The Wicked + The Divine

We’ve tackled immortals, now how about gods? Modern gods at that, very American Gods-esque. But “The Wicked + The Divine” doesn’t belong to Neil Gaiman—it has a flavor and a scene all its own and like “SFSX” and “The Old Guard” has been praised for its representation of ethnicity, sexuality, and gender. 

This comic series focuses on a group of gods known as the “Pantheon,” a team of twelve who are reincarnated over the years into the bodies of regular people. Only being a “god” comes with a price, one you don’t get to choose if you want it, and two you die within two years of your ascension anyway.

The series protagonist is a young girl named Laura who becomes embroiled in their inner-workings and politics after having caught the eye of Lucifer, who is one of the gods of the Pantheon himself.

It’s a series with a massive splay of mythology taking hints from Christianity, Egyptian Mythology, the Greek pantheon, Japanese deities, and more. But it’s combined these larger-than-life figures into a modern-day setting, with some obligatory time jumping as well, that will keep you begging for more to read.

Suggested readings

  • “The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act” by Kieron Gillen
  • “The Wicked + The Divine: Fandemonium” by Kieron Gillen 
  • “The Wicked + The Divine: Commercial Suicide” by Kieron Gillen
Once & Future #1 Review - IGN
It’s hard to find a story more classic than King Arthur’s so how about a modern telling of it? Image courtesy of ign.com

Once and Future

Nothing sells like a classic, and what can be more classic than Arthurian legend? “Once and Future” titled borrowed from the famous “Once and Future King” by T.H. White retells the classic story of King Arthur of English legend into the modern-day, complete with ancient sword-swinging artifacts.

Starring e-monster hunter Bridgette McGuire and her grandson Duncan, a museum curator, these two find themselves in a world of magic right out of the stories of old. Dragons and misty woods and wizards, it’s everything you love and fear all in one package.

The stories of kings and queens might seem played out for some people, but it’s an archetype in literature that’s existed as long as we’ve been writing things down. Fantasy fans, you won’t be disappointed with this series.

With “Once and Future” you have all your favorite callbacks packed into a beautifully illustrated comic-series and a gun-toting grandma monster-hunter to boot. 

Suggested readings

  • “Once and Future: The King is Undead” by Kieron Gillen
Sex-positive sci-fi series SfSx returns for crowdfunded sequel | GamesRadar+
Indie comics can do what mainstream comics can’t, expanding the reader’s repertoire. Image courtesy of gamesradar.com

Indie comics thankfully have more room for writers to strut their stuff and let those creative juices flow without restraint. As a result, we get richer stories with casts of characters many more of us can relate to, and see ourselves in.

All of these comics play on familiar tropes, familiar stories, there are things here you can find similarity into comics you might be reading already. Hopefully, though, you find something new here as well and it opens up a portal for you into greater and scarier genres. 

Do you have a favorite indie comic? Make sure to comment, like, and share!

Image courtesy of cbr.com

Jun 11, 2021