Blockbuster entertainment complexes like Marvel Entertainment and DC Comics, Inc. have dominated film and television for more than a decade with their superhero tales, but what about the superhero stories that fall outside these two houses? As shocking as it may seem, other comic book companies have been producing their own superhero content for many years now.
Here are our picks for the best graphic novels or comic books that are not Marvel or DC.
'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen'
In 1999, writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O'Neill created The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which envisions some of fiction's favorite heroes as assets of British intelligence. Some of these characters include Mina Murray of Dracula fame, Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Dr. Jekyll, the Invisible Man, and Virginia Woolf's Orlando.
The comics were initially published under ABC Comics, a subsidiary of WildStorm Comics, before eventually being owned in full by DC. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was also adapted into a film in 2006, with rumors of a film reboot for Hulu surfacing in 2022.
Published by Image Comics, Invincible is a series written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley. The series is a coming-of-age story about Mark Grayson/Invincible, who is the eldest son of alien superhero Omni-Man, the most powerful being on the planet.
An animated television adaptation of the series premiered on Prime Video in 2021 to critical acclaim.
Sword and sorcery super heroine Red Sonja was created for Marvel Comics in 1973 by writer Roy Thomas and artist Barry Windsor-Smith, but her rights are now owned by Dynamite Entertainment. Sonja is partially based on an amalgamation of Robert E. Howard's characters, and her story exists within the universe of Conan the Barbarian.
When her family is murdered and Sonja is sexually assaulted, the goddess Scáthach gives her superhuman fighting skills to seek revenge on those who wronged her.
A Red Sonja film is currently in development, starring Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp). A previous film starring Brigitte Nielsen was released in 1985.
The comic book series Witchblade is published by Top Crow Comics, an imprint of Image Comics. The series was created by Top Cow founder and owner Marc Silvestri, editor David Wohl, writers Brian Haberlin and Christina Z, and artist Michael Turner.
Witchblade follows Sara Pezzini, an NYPD homicide detective who comes into possession of the titular Witchblade, a gauntlet that gives its female hosts the ability to fight supernatural evil.
The series was turned into a short-lived TV series in 2001, with NBC announcing a reboot in 2017. This comic was also adapted into a 24-episode anime in 2006.
The Boys was originally published by DC Comics imprint WildStorm before being revived by Dynamite Entertainment. Written by Garth Ennis and co-created, designed, and illustrated by Darick Robertson, the comic follows a clandestine CIA squad known as "The Boys," who are charged with monitoring the wildly out-of-hand superhero community, who have become egotistical thanks to their celebrity status.
The series is now a popular live-action television show from Prime Video, with several spin-off shows based on the comics in the works.
Jupiter's Legacy is a comic book series published by Image Comics. The series was written by Mark Millar, drawn by Frank Quitely, and colored and lettered by Peter Doherty. The series follows a superhero family grappling with fame and life as public heroes.
The series' themes were inspired by Carrie Fisher's memoirs, in which she discusses that despite her own fame, she didn't feel important because of her equally, if not more famous, parents. In 2021, the comic was adapted for Netflix, but the show was canceled after one season.
'The Umbrella Academy'
Created by Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance fame and illustrated by Gabriel Bá, this series from Dark Horse Comics began in 2007. After a hiatus, the series returned in 2018. The Umbrella Academy follows a dysfunctional family of superheroes tasked with saving the world from an unknown, apocalyptic threat.
In 2019, the series was adapted for Netflix, with three seasons currently available for streaming.