It’s only June and, so far, 2016 has already seen the release of four different superhero films. At the pace we’re moving, we should expect to have a year where there is a superhero movie at least once a month. In 2019? Once a week. With all these X-Men, Avengers, and Suicide Squads flying around smashing into each other, it quickly gets tiring reading the usual superhero stories again and again.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 10 superhero comics you should read if you’re sick of superheroes. (And if you’re not sick of superheroes, there could very well be something wrong with you.) These are stories that, while starring superheroes, veer off into different, usually fun adventures. We’ve already covered a few iconoclastic titles like The Vision, Ms. Marvel, and Black Panther, so consider these next 10 titles a little bonus.
X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever
Bailey Hoskins’s mutant power is to explode. Only the explosion is so powerful he himself won’t survive the blast. Basically, this makes him the most useless mutant in X-Men history. Part exploration of superhero tropes, and part deconstruction of X-Men mythology, X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever is just the remedy for a comic fan who might have come out of X-Men: Apocalypse bewildered and confused by the film’s maligned timeline. Worst X-Man Ever is a perfect blend of humor, action, meta commentary, and heart for any X-Men fan.
The Totally Awesome Hulk
Of the many different All-New, All-Different relaunches of Marvel characters, none have felt as drastic as Amadeus Cho as the Hulk. While many of your favorite Marvel heroes like Thor and Wolverine have passed their mantle to more surprising choices, Cho as Hulk feels radically different from Bruce Banner’s time with his alter-ego. While Banner was often conflicted and moody, Cho is more than happy to be the new Hulk.
Less beholden to the rest of the Avengers, Cho’s first few issues feels like a classic kaiju film mixed with Archie Comics. Cho fights a giant monster and flirts with an attractive lady. Nothing more, nothing less. While it might seem a little shallow compared to the other comics Marvel is pushing, if you’re tired of all the complicated superhero mythologies, then the current Hulk feels blissfully untethered from the rest of the Marvel universe.
I’d love a hardcover — preferably leather-bound — copy of the current Doctor Strange to display on my coffee table. The art drawn by Chris Bachalo is a gorgeous interpretation of Doctor Strange’s supernatural surroundings, full of abstract creature designs and Wonderland-esque alternate realities. Come for a fantastic story starring the Sorcerer Supreme, stay for the art of one of Marvel’s most visually ambitious books.
The Astonishing Ant-Man
The Astonishing Ant-Man is written by Nick Spencer, who previously penned The Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and most recently was responsible for Captain America’s HYDRA surprise. Disregarding how he turned Captain America into a supervillan, Spencer has always approached the lesser known superheroes with a roguish charm. His run on Ant-Man has seen the character lose his job, lose his daughter, and lose his status as a superhero. Despite all this, Ant-Man remains a lovable underdog, and the comic features the tiny hero attempt at running a private security venture. Part sitcom, part crime fiction, The Astonishing Ant-Man is another humorous romp that strays from the major comic book drama of the Marvel Universe.
Howard the Duck
Do you want to read a book where all the popular superheroes are a bunch of incompetent jerks and a lone duck is the voice of reason? Then you should read Howard the Duck, which reboots the eponymous duck person as a suave private investigator. Howard is the misanthropic private eye who usually gets hired to pursue some mundane case that quickly goes south. With regular appearances from characters like She-Hulk, Howard is a fun ensemble piece with a decidedly non-heroic hero as the main character.
Power Man and Iron Fist
Aesthetically, Power Man and Iron Fist calls back to the ‘70s detective shows like Starsky and Hutch. The whole book has a retro feel to it despite seemingly taking place in modern times, and the writers have decided to run with this throwback theme. The villains the duo faces are typically crime bosses, and the Heroes for Hire tackle any challenge with the sort of renegade cop antics that would make Shane Black proud.
Jessica Drew is a mother now. Last year, Marvel released an All-New preview image of a visibly pregnant Spider-Woman, which drew a considerable amount of speculation from readers and critics. Turns out the pregnancy didn’t last very long, but that doesn’t change the fact that the current run of Spider-Woman is offering a story rarely seen in comic books: a well-handled maternity story. Drew is not sidelined by her new progeny, but that doesn’t mean her baby doesn’t factor into her superhero activities. The aspects of motherhood and superheroing are woven together so gracefully, that it’s kind of astounding this is one of the first stories that actually focuses on the full experience of motherhood. Y’know, but with alien supervillains making regular appearances.
Bombshells is set in an alternate reality World War II where your favorite heroes like Batwoman, Catwoman, and Supergirl are personally embroiled in the global conflict between axis and allies. Zipping between locations from New York, to Paris, to the Soviet Union, Bombshells is a revisionist history like you’ve never read before. The creative team’s dedication to history is astounding, cleverly adapting character’s backstories to fit the WWII setting. For instance, Zatanna is a Jewish stage performer hiding from Nazi SS officers who would otherwise imprison her. Or, Batwoman as a female baseball player turned Allied saboteur. Less superhero comic than it is steampunk historical-fiction, Bombshells is worth a look for readers looking for something drastically different.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Lunella Lafayette is a genius young girl growing up in New York. She’s made fun of by her classmates for being a know-it-all genius, and as such they call her “Moon Girl”. However, Lunella is more preoccupied with preventing her transformation into an Inhuman, and is hard at work locating alien technology to halt the transformation process. The only problem is during one of her adventures, she summons a huge T-Rex, or Devil Dinosaur.
Part coming-of-age novel, part superhero origin story, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is a lovely comic about growing up an outsider, and embracing your true self.
Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat!
You might remember Patsy Walker as Jessica Jones’s best friend from the Netflix television show. Now, she’s starring in her own comic book where she fully embraces her alter-ego as Hellcat. Adorable and fully of whimsy and empowerment, Hellcat feels like a pleasant jaunt across comic book land, with tons of cameos from Marvel’s other famous leading ladies. It’s probably one of the best comics to read if you’re bogged down by the constant torrent of testosterone beamed at you by Hollywood’s leading superhero men.