Earlier this week, Image Comics released Seven to Eternity, a strange new fantasy series written by Rick Remender and illustrated by Jerome Opena. Seven to Eternity pits a dying knight against a corrupt god who offers to cure his illness, provided that he abandons the ideals that his life was built around.
The fantasy genre has experienced a bit of a resurgence of late in comic book stores. While fantasy comics like Bone, Conan the Barbarian, and ElfQuest have always had a place on comic shelves, more and more comics are exploring stories involving magic, swords, and strange new lands.
Here are five great fantasy comics you can buy from your local comic book store today.
Written by Marjorie Liu and illustrated by Sana Takada, Monstress uses magic and horror to explore very real feminist themes. The world of Monstress is split between two factions, the Arcanics, an ancient race of magical human/animal hybrids, and the humans, who are ruled by the Cumaea, a powerful band of witches. The Cumaea went to war with the Arcanics after discovering they could extract a powerful magical substance from their bodies, but the two sides declared a truce after an entire city was destroyed under mysterious circumstances.
However, that uneasy truce is threatened when a young Arcanic named Makia ventures deep into Cumaea territory to find answers to a powerful and dangerous force growing inside of her. As Makia racks up a body count, powerful forces from both sides attempt to hunt her down to obtain whatever is sleeping inside of her.
Monstress is a powerful book that explores the themes of friendship, trauma, and dehumanization. The book itself is a hybrid of sorts, with gorgeous artwork that takes inspiration from classic manga elements, but paced like a traditional Western comic.
If you like Lovecraft, manga, monsters, or horror, Monstress is the perfect comic for you.prevnext
Birthright is an Image series by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressen that uses and subverts traditional fantasy tropes in cool and interesting ways. When young Mikey Collins disappears into the woods while playing catch with his father, his family self-destructs due to guilt, blame, and suspicion. Several years later, Mikey emerges from the woods as a fully grown adult, wielding a flaming sword and claiming he's been away in a foreign fantasy land called Terrenos.
Flashbacks reveal that Mikey was supposed to be a hero of destiny, but the present day show a different story. In exchange for his return to the real world, Mikey is actually in league with a tyrannical wizard named Lore and is hunting down wizards hiding in "our" world for an unknown purpose.
Birthright has all the trappings of a traditional fantasy story, but it's really about what comes after the fantasy is over. It's about family, coping with tragedy, and how trying to conform to other's expectations can have terrifying results. If you like the Wheel of Time series, or swordplay in the real world, you'll love Birthright.prevnext
Kill Six Billion Demons
A webcomic collected by Image, Kill Six Billion Demons is a fascinating and strange story about a young sorority sister named Allison who becomes the center of a celestial war. After a steamy encounter with Allison's jerk boyfriend ends with him getting dragged off by demons and Allison in the possession of a celestial key, Allison is set on the path to free the multiverse from a cabal of evil celestial overlords.
The strength of Kill Six Billion Demons is the fascinating world that creator Tom Parkinson-Morgan has built around the concepts of religion and cosmology. The "heavenly" realm of Throne is built from the actual bones of gods and angels and is occupied by carrion waiting to be unleashed by the real world. Parkinson-Morgan has created one hell of a mythology that is just as engrossing as his brilliant artwork.
Since it is a webcomic, you can try Kill Six Billion Demons for free online. Be careful, though, as this is definitely the kind of webcomic that will suck you in for hours. Image also recently released the first arc in trade form if you prefer a hard copy.prevnext
Groo the Wanderer
Groo the Wanderer is one of the great independent comics, a humorous take on the sword and sorcery stories made famous by Conan the Barbarian. Groo is a warrior of great renown who travels across the land taking mercenary work and generally causing problems with anyone who meets him. While Groo is a superior swordsman, he's also an idiot and most of his adventures end in utter ruin.
Groo is written and drawn by Mad Magazine legend Sergio Aragones, with Mark Evanier co-plotting the series and Stan Sakai (of Usagi Yojimbo fame) doing lettering work. Various publishers have printed Groo comics since 1982. Groo's most recent miniseries, Groo: Fray of the Gods, puts Groo in the middle of a conflict between dieties, with likely disastrous results for both the gods and mankind. If you're looking for a more lighthearted take on fantasy, Groo will delight you to no end.prevnext
Mouse Guard follows in the tradition of Watership Down and Redwall in putting tiny swords in the hands of mice, ferrets, and other woodland creatures. The Mouse Guard are an order of warriors dedicated to protecting common mice from predators in a harsh and unforgiving medieval world.0comments
Mouse Guard stands apart from other fantasy comics in that it inhabits a deliberately small world. The threats the Mouse Guard faces are deceptively simple but dangerous. An lone owl can kill even the mightiest of warriors, while low supplies prove to be more of a threat than an army of bats or weasels. But that simplicity allows virtue and bravery to shine, something the Mouse Guard has no lack of.
The main series of Mouse Guard is written and illustrated by David Petersen, but Archaia Studios also publishes an anthology series called Legends of the Mouse Guard written and illustrated by various creators. The Mouse Guard books are wonderfully bound and collected, although they aren't printed on traditional comic book sized paper, so they might stand out on your shelves.prev