When it comes to comic books, superheroes are generally the first books most people think of. Characters like Batman, Spider-Man, and all of the other beloved Marvel and DC heroes tend to be the characters most people associate with the comic book medium.
However, there’s a whole world of graphic novels and comic books out there that have nothing to do with superheroes. There are dark, gritty books that feature riveting characters without a superhero in sight.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
When it comes to comics without superheroes, Saga is easily one of the best and most beloved books out there. If you’re into science fiction and outer space, this is the book for you. It’s even been described as “Star Wars meets Game of Thrones.” What’s not to love about that? The series premiered all the way back in 2012, and it’s still running strong all these years later.
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, Craig Hamilton, James Jean
Fables tells a fascinating story about some of the most beloved characters from the classic fairy tales living in a gritty real world. Each of the characters is forced to hide in plain sight amongst the humans in Manhattan. The stories told in each volume are dark and intense, and there’s not a single superhero (unless you consider the Big Bad Wolf’s incredible detective abilities a superpower).
3. The Walking Dead
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore
When it comes to successful comic to TV adaptations, it doesn’t get much bigger than The Walking Dead. The early issues of the comic book are similar to the TV show, but there are some key differences both in terms of the characters who make it and some events that transpire. The comic book is also a bit darker than the show in some key ways. Even if you’ve seen every episode of AMC’s show, it’s worth reading the books.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azaceta, Elizabeth Breitweiser
Outcast is one of the darkest horror comics you’ll ever read, and it’s a downright fantastic series. It’s all about demonic possession, with the main character able to perform exorcisms. All of the demons are aware of Kyle Barnes, the main character, and they call him “outcast,” which makes for some interesting interactions. Like The Walking Dead, Outcast has received a TV show, though it was canceled after two seasons. The comic is still going, though, so there’s plenty more of the story to be told.
5. East of West
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
This is a sci-fi western book revolving around the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. If that premise alone doesn’t get you excited, you might want to check your pulse! Of course, a good premise only carries a series of books so far, as it needs to be executed well, and thankfully, Hickman accomplishes the idea perfectly throughout. Add in the fantastic art, and this is a book that’s totally worth reading.
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Steve Dillon
What happens when a small town preacher combines with a supernatural force to gain the ability to make people do whatever he wants? Preacher happens! This is a bit of an older book, as the final issue was published in 2000, but don’t let the lack of new books turn you off, because this one is totally worth going back to for its fantastic story, intense violence, and gorgeous art.
Move Over, Batman!
We love superheroes. We love reading superhero comics and watching superhero TV shows and movies, but sometimes, it’s nice to read comics that break from the same old superhero stuff and these books do just that. Whether you want science fiction, horror, or alternative takes on reality, there’s a perfect book for you!