With such a varied selection of comics on offer, it is sometimes easier to go straight for the latest edition of an old favourite or a title that everyone’s been raving about online, rather than trying something new and untested. With hundreds of brand new comics published every month (and that’s just including the big publishers, like Marvel and DC), making a choice can feel overwhelming.
It’s no surprise, then, that many titles get swept under by the tidal wave of new releases week in, week out, and are lost to the murky depths of the overlooked and forgotten. This is an inevitable fact of publishing life, but sometimes a real gem doesn’t receive the praise it deserves upon release. We decided to dig out some of the more obscure titles that are worth hunting down and reading, ranging from lost adaptations of 80s novels to the original incarnation of popular modern blockbusters.
Of course, these days it’s easier to access comics than ever before. You don’t even have to trek down to your local comic book store in modern times; instead you can access new titles online and read them on your phone, tablet or PC, much as you would do with movies, TV shows, some fun games or books. Services like Marvel Unlimited, Comixology Unlimited and Comic Blitz offer a monthly subscription service, similar to other content streaming sites such as Netflix, so that you can read as many titles as you’d like per month.
William Gibson’s seminal work, Neuromancer, has been enchanting readers since its initial publication in 1984. Back then, the internet was an experiment being developed by top scientists and certainly not something that the average person would have daily access to. Gibson’s novel imagined a future where people could travel through cyberspace, interacting with AIs, firewalls, viruses, and stored information, as well as talking with digital constructs of human intelligence and communicating with people across vast distances via the internet. Looking around in the 21st century, it’s plain to see that Gibson was onto something.
Epic Comics certainly thought so and commissioned writer/artist duo Tom DeHaven and Bruce Jensen to create a graphic novel based on the storyline. Unfortunately, due to the massive scope of Gibson’s Neuromancer universe, only part of the book was adapted, leaving readers disappointed and the team working on the comic frustrated. Despite this, it’s still worth checking out the original piece as the artwork is ambitious and the writing respectfully true to the original.
Moving on to another well-loved sci fi novel, we find the comic book adaptions of Frank Herbert’s Dune. The strange and Martian world created by Herbert across six different novels has been a source of inspiration for many different artists since the publication of the first volume back in 1965. Although a three-part graphic novel has been promised by Abrams Books to coincide with the release of the new movie starring Timothée Chalamet, Marvel published comics to coincide with the ill-fated release of David Lynch’s film adaptation back in the early 1980s. Lynch’s movie may have died a death, relegated to the trash heap by critics and audiences alike, but the Marvel comics are still worth taking another look at, particularly in anticipation of all the new Dune content inevitably hurtling our way during the 2020s.
Writer/artist duo Ralph Macchio and Bill Sienkiewicz created a three-issue limited series of comics for Marvel, telling the story shown in the film and intended to run as a companion piece to the release of Dune in cinemas. The artwork is bold and accomplished, though there isn’t so much scope for innovation being, as it is, based on the actors and scenery in Lynch’s film.
First person shooter game Overwatch has enjoyed enormous global success across various different platforms since its initial release in 2016, netting billions of dollars in sales both of the game itself and from in-game spending on microtransactions. One feature that sets it apart from competitors is the multimedia approach taken towards the story arc. Rather than telling the full narrative in-game, developers decided to distribute it throughout different mediums including animated shorts, novels, other gaming titles and comics.
The comics were originally released digitally by Blizzard Entertainment, the developers of the game itself. They have since been republished by Dark Horse’s digital arm, bringing the story of Overwatch to a greater number of readers and lending the comics themselves an extra gravitas. There are also animated versions of the comics produced and released by Madefire Studios, increasing the level of accessibility and adding yet another layer to the Overwatch storytelling universe. Although there have not been any new comic releases for the past couple of years, the numbers suggest that players would still be interested in and receptive to this method of storytelling should it be restarted.