Top-FiveLOGO3Top Five Non-Superhero Comics

Top Five is a show where the hosts categorize, rank, compare, and stratify everything… from cars to gadgets to people and movies. From stuff that is hot, and things that are not nearly as interesting – it’s Top Five.

We receive emails all the time asking us to recommend comics that the listener would love. It’s kind of hard, since we don’t know you, but when a listener asked for our top five non-superhero comics, we’re definitely able to deliver on that request.

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The Author

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher

Stephen Schleicher began his career writing for the Digital Media Online community of sites, including Digital Producer and Creative Mac covering all aspects of the digital content creation industry. He then moved on to consumer technology, and began the Coolness Roundup podcast. A writing fool, Stephen has freelanced for Sci-Fi Channel's Technology Blog, and Gizmodo. Still longing for the good ol' days, Stephen launched Major Spoilers in July 2006, because he is a glutton for punishment.

You can follow him on Twitter @MajorSpoilers and tell him your darkest secrets...

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8 Comments

  1. Cody Dixon
    February 25, 2016 at 6:32 pm — Reply

    5. Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda
    This is new comic that’s recently started that I’ve really enjoyed. What I understand so far is its about Maika figuring out what she did at the end of a war between the animal/mythological beings and the humans. It’s a steampunk fantasy world with amazing painterly art.

    4. Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai
    I’ve only recently got into it. Usagi is a great comic on a ronin wandering Japan on the warriors’ path. Don’t let the cute animals drive you away it’s a serious story but still fine for kids as there’s little blood and a skull in a bubble signifies death.

    3. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
    Saga is a fantastic story with great art and is a mature book. The story brings you back each month to find out how Marco, Alana, and Hazel are surviving as enemies to both sides of a galactic war. Fiona Staples’ art is perfect for the series.

    2. Lobster Johnson by Mike Mignola with rotating artists
    This may be a bit of a cheat as it is somewhat superhero but I see it more as a pulp story. It’s got the deep mythology of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy world with the two fisted or guns of a pulp story with fantastic art that still stays true to Mignola’s style even with different artists doing stories.

    1. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.
    Thanks to Steven for recommending this book as it is now my favorite comic on the stands today and probably the only book I would give ten dollars a month on patreon. I describe Atomic Robo as Indiana Jones meets Ghostbusters as each miniseries usually has Robo saving the world through science and good old fisticuffs to save the world. The best part of Atomic Robo is that now you can read the whole series for free at http://www.atomic-robo.com

  2. Kirby
    February 25, 2016 at 9:59 pm — Reply

    My Top 5 (disregarding ones mentioned in podcast: Hellboy, Bone, Transmetropolitan, etc.)

    Honorable Mention: I could not decide whether Swamp Thing was too close to being a superhero or not in my mind. There are times, especially early on, where it’s just at that level of superhero.

    5. Savage Sword of Conan- Recommended for being the arch-typical sword-and-sorcery title. I own the first seven black and white trades, and while INCREDIBLY wordy at times, do tell good stories, and have amazing art.

    4. East of West- A good sci-fi apocalypse story, that meshes western motifs really well, and is one of the better Divided States of America stories that I have seen. Word of warning, it is not completed yet, and a VERY slow burn.

    3. Preacher-Not for the faint of heart, occasionally juvenile, but does have some spectacular moments to it. Where the series really shines, and for Garth Ennis in general, is the character interaction where you can really see the friendships and romances build. Completed which is a plus. Once accurately described as a love letter to westerns, and one of the most back-handed love letters to America.

    2. Jonah Hex- My final western (did not realize there would be a theme,) and my personal favorite. Jonah Hex is for anyone who enjoys a good Spaghetti Western. Jonah Hex proves that done-in-ones can still work very well. A wonderful character (YMMV of course) that has a history you could almost plot out like people have done with Doc Savage. A continuing (at times) series, but with generally consistent writers with Michael Fleischer, and Palmiotti & Gray. Even though Jonah Hex always has the ability to continue, there will always be closure with Jonah Hex being killed at a poker table, and then stuffed to be a display.

    “It was said he’d killed more men than Hell has souls. He was a hero to some, a villain to others, and wherever he rode, people spoke his name in whispers. he had no friends, this Jonah Hex, but he did have two companions… One was death itself, the other, the acrid smell of gunsmoke.” That gives me chills every time I read it, and is one of the strongest “Your friendly-neighborhood…” or “I’m the fastest man alive…”

    1. Fables- One of the most accessible comics out there. Wonderfully written by Bill Willingham, with art mostly done by the exquisite Mark Buckingham. A now complete epic tale, with characters we all know and love, spun wonderfully. It’s a series if you do not like the genre it’s telling wait for the next trade, it’s sure to be something else. A murder mystery one time, an exciting swashbuckling fantasy tale the next, or a political thriller the time after that. It’s made me laugh, made me cry, and holler in joy. Fables has it all, and while there might have been a small down point or two, it always managed to keep my interest. I know the main podcast has reviewed, so I’m not going to say anymore, besides read it! Read it now!

  3. Marco
    February 26, 2016 at 5:05 am — Reply

    Being more of a manga reader, here you go (they are not superhero comics :D):

    5. Avatar The Last Airbender comics.
    I am a huge fan of this masterpiece I’ve discovered just a few years ago (it has never been shown in Italy). After the ending, I felt a void, like a part of my family had dissapeared. Luckly I’ve found this comics, which continue some unresolved plotlines and fill-in some time gaps. The art is consistent with the show.

    4. Atomic Robo by Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener.
    There’s not much more to be said that hasn’t already on this epic series. Funny, clever and crazy, it has everything you need for a trip into weird science, robots, creatures from beyond and Jenkis.

    3. Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
    Already highly praised , Saga is weird, cool and original. Every issue sticks with you like glue.

    2. Berserk by Kentaro Miura
    Dark and gripping, incredible art and powerful storytelling, this manga depict the tragic life of Guts, a lonely mercenary living in a retelling of the 100th years war between England and France. Pretty soon things get very very dark, when we discover that the world hides demons, monster and other creatures that devour, maim and murder innocence. Lots of gore, it can get pretty disturbing at times, you have to be into this kind of stuff. Sadly the author is quite ill and the series has stopped for the moment. Highly reccomended up until the Magic chapters.

    1. Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue
    My absolute favourite title. An jaw-dropping art style, masterful writing, deep and controversial characters. The story follows the life of legendary swordsman Musashi Miyamoto, an icon of Japanese culture and his trials to become the strongest amongst all samurais.
    It contains adult themes and nudity, still ongoning (allthough the author has been in a long pause from writing). You can’t wait for characters from different plotlines to meet and clash.
    The best. Full stop.

  4. Daniel Langsdale
    February 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm — Reply

    Too many, too many….

    1) Finder – a fully realized sci-fi/fantasy world used as a backdrop to explore human ideas. (Sci-fi honorable mentions: Akira, Fuse, Saturn Apartments, Terminal City)

    2) Kane – Paul Grist is a master of comics storytelling, using pacing and paneling in affecting and effective ways. This is his tale of an honest police detective in a not-as-honest department and city. (Detective noir honorable mentions: Kindaichi Case Files, Queen & Country, Sandman Mystery Theatre, Sin City)

    3) Maison Ikoku – this romantic comedy by manga master Rumiko Takahashi manages to tell a timelessly engaging and heartwarming story. (Slice-of-life honorable mentions: Amelia Rules!, Cages, Patty Cake, Strangers in Paradise)

    4) The Adventures of Tintin – rolicking adventure that smartly explores and satirizes culture. (On-point adventure honorable mentions: Concrete, Journey: the Adventures of Wolverine MacAlistair, Mouse Guard, Oz adaptations)

    5) Sandwalk Adventures – learn about Darwin and evolution in an accessible and entertaining way as he explains his theories to an eyebrow mite during his daily constitutionals. (learning through comics honorable mentions: Action Philosophers, A Cartoon History of…, Dignifying Science, Understanding Comics)

    P.S. I love me some Hellboy & Atomic Robo, but I’m seriously having trouble understanding how they aren’t superheroes.

  5. Aaron
    February 27, 2016 at 12:35 pm — Reply

    Something I have been wanting to ask for a while but do the podcasters ever list what they listed off in an episode ever. I see some of them above, but top 5 is one among many podcasts I listen to at work. I have notions of remembering being really interested in what is being described on a podcast, such as one of the comics I believe Rodrigo mentioned, but when I come home I can’t recall it. Thankfully the listeners here reminded me of Saga that was brought up and Atomic Robo. I know the no dialogue dinosaur comic also comes to mind.

  6. February 28, 2016 at 5:16 am — Reply

    My personal top five, excluding ones on the podcast episode, are as follows. I hope it’s not cheating to list single-volume works, because I’m going to.

    5) Alice In Sunderland by Bryan Talbot – A sprawling work of graphic nonfiction about the particular corner of England in which Talbot grew up. It combines his personal stories with a couple of centuries of real history and the life of Lewis Carroll, with art that’s a mind-boggling mix of collage,

    4) The Hunting of the Snark drawn by Mahendra Singh – incredibly detailed cross-contour drawings illustrate one of the stranger works of Lewis Carroll. Just find a copy and stare at it for a few hours.

    3) Gregory by Marc Hempel – A little boy with a triangular head and a vocabulary in the single digits sits in a padded cell wearing a straitjacket. He is periodically visited by a talkative rat with an ego the size of a planet. Things happen. Things are learned. Things are strange.

    2) One Soul by Ray Fawkes – Nine panels per page. Nine stories told at the same time, set in different time periods, with characters of different classes and races. Some stories are beautiful. Some are awful. All are transcendent.

    1) Sandman by Neil Gaiman. I find it hard to believe that none of you mentioned it (Matthew in particular, since he introduced me to it)! Not only my favorite comic of any kind, but one of my favorite works of literature in print.

    Of the ones the three of you mentioned, I love Saga, Locke & Key, Transmetropolitan, Hellboy, and Blacksad.

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