These days, thanks mostly to movies and cartoons, everyone has heard of DC or Marvel comics. As much as I have to admit that I miss the days when not many people had heard of a certain character or story arc, it is a fantastic thing that comics are finally getting the respect and attention that they have always deserved. With Marvel and DC being the most popular and well known publishers out there, I wanted to write about two other publishers that I think deserve the same love and recognition as the two giants of comics. As there are many titles with each publisher that warrant coverage, I will do one this post and the other next time. The first of these is basically the old dark side of DC comics.
Whereas Marvel has the MAX imprint for stories that deal with more adult themes and experiences, DC has their own version: Vertigo comics. Ever since its inception in 1993 Vertigo has mainly been involved in the horror and fantasy genres but has also dipped its toe into crime, biography and social satire. Many of their on-going series have won the prestigious Eisner award, basically the Oscar for comics, which only goes to show what kind of talent they have on their side.
The following are the series that I think are the best Vertigo has to offer:
Hellblazer follows the exploits of John Constantine, a cunning bastard from Liverpool who also happens to be a powerful magician. He smokes drinks, fucks and worms his way through life charming new friends and using up old ones along the way. He is a character that is just damn fun to read about and always has a surprise or trick up his sleeve that you never see coming. Ironically he first appeared in the next series on my list, Swamp Thing, back in the 80’s.
Swamp Thing is a powerful plant elemental who fights to protect his swamp home, the environment and humanity from various supernatural or terrorist threats. After first appearing in 1971 he was revived by comics God Alan Moore in 1982 and reinvented to be just vegetation that had memories scientist Alec Hammond but was never actually him. It was a massive twist that became a defining trait for Swamp Thing and helped him become his own entity with goals and a purpose.
The final book that warrants your time is the Sandman by genius writer Neil Gaiman. The Endless are 7 siblings who embody powerful forces or aspects of the universe. The Sandman follows the exploits of Dream, the personification of dreams and stories, as he tries to retake his home and repair his broken relationships with family and past loves. It is a beautifully drawn and told story that is stunning from start to finish. If you can get your hands on any of the collected editions then do so, you honestly won’t regret it and will have in your collection some of the finest stories ever told.