Anime & Comics

5 Non-Superhero Comics to Sneak Into Friends’ Reading Stacks

We’ve grown up believing that comic books are pretty much always about superheroes of some kind. Superman, Batman and Spiderman are all big names we associate with comics. Yet what about great comics that aren’t about superheroes? What about different types of stories? They definitely exist!

The really good ones come from all kinds of different sources. Some are originally in English, while others have been translated. Thankfully, comics translate better than shows and movies! Anyway, if you’re looking for comics (or anime) that feature things other than just supermen, look no further.

Cool Non-Superhero Comics

1. Star Wars: Darth Vader

Okay, it’s true that Darth Vader has some serious “abilities,” but he’s definitely no superhero. As the central character of the Star Wars franchise and an awesome villain, it’s great to see he finally got his own comic. Thanks in part to Disney, Marvel is finally able to create a comic about one of the most famous characters of all time.

The story is set in the brief period between Star Wars Episodes IV and V. Given that Vader appears to have gone from flinging around helplessly in his TIE fighter at the end of the first film to a pretty important and respected guy in the second film, some things had to have gone down, and that’s what this comic plays on.

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Expect to see lots of references to Anakin’s abilities as well as the inner monologue of Darth Vader. The series is scheduled to end in 2016, so there’s still time to catch up before the final issue in August.

2. Southern Bastards

Now for something completely different! As comics tend to focus on relatively fantastic situations whether they’re about superheroes or not, you’ll find that “Southern Bastards” does not adhere to that rule at all. Instead, it’s all about the football-loving south.

Set in pseudo-fictional Alabama, we’re introduced to the corrupt politics of the south, and as you would probably expect, a whole lot of Bastards. The plot takes some pretty unexpected turns fairly early on, and it would really ruin the read to talk about it too in-depth. Yet one thing is certain: judging who the “hero” is and who the “villain” is can be difficult in this one.

I recommend this one for someone looking for something really out of the ordinary. It’s one of those stories you’ll grow to begrudgingly love (the characters sure don’t have that “curb appeal,” at least).

3. Death Note

Unlike the previous two listings, “Death Note” is actually a manga. Yet like the others, it has had several adaptations. This includes an animated series, several movies, and an upcoming American live action television show. Despite being relatively short, “Death Note” is incredibly riveting.

Yagami Light is anything but a hero. After discovering the Death Note left behind by Ryuk (one of the Gods of Death, or Shinigami), he begins using its power to systematically eliminate criminals. The premise of the comic is simple: anyone whose name is written in the Death Note will die, so long as the writer knows the person’s face. Their method of death can also be described, leading to some very interesting scenarios.

With just 12 short volumes, “Death Note” is over as quick as it begins, but you’ll be left wishing there had been just a little more. The thrill of Light’s psychological battle with his adversary, L, is a feeling you won’t soon forget. This is a must read, even if manga isn’t normally your thing.

4. Great Teacher Onizuka

Since we’ve had quite a few serious comics to list, we might as well have some laughs as well. “Great Teacher Onizuka” (often abbreviated GTO) is the hilarious tale of Eikichi Onizuka as he goes from a perverted ex-gang member (still a virgin) to a teacher of kids who have basically been given up on by the system (still a virgin).

Incidentally, the whole plan for Onizuka is to use his power as a teacher to cure the aforementioned problems, but he soon finds himself mixed up in a school system that doesn’t want him and a classroom that won’t survive without him. He gradually works his way into each of the students’ hearts through a variety of hijinks and semi-serious plots.

Having received several TV adaptations, both animated and live action, GTO clocks in with 25 volumes. Though some moments in the comic become serious, the general overtone is highly comedic and extraordinarily clever. It should be a nice way to recover from all the drama.

5. Saga

The last comic on our list is a space opera. And while you won’t find any superheroes here, be prepared for some pretty unusual characters (which should be obvious enough just from the cover). Instead of following the exploits of someone trying to make a difference, we follow two characters that just want to get away from the action.

Alana and Marko are two lovers with a newborn child that are trying to escape the horrors of intergalactic war. Not dissimilar from Romeo and Juliet, their relationship is despised and frowned upon by their respective peoples and is the center of numerous conflicts throughout the series. It also amusingly serves as a way for the author to communicate his own feelings about the difficulties of raising a child (veiled by epic plot, naturally).

With over 30 issues and more on the way, “Saga” is worth following. That is assuming you can handle the disappointment of reaching the most recent comic and realizing that you need to wait for the next one to release. The better a series is, the more horrible it is when you realize you’ve reached the end of an ongoing series and can do nothing but wait.

Think we’ve missed something that absolutely must be read? There is so much more to the medium. Share with us in the comments what else is out there that’s both a great read and not about another superhero!

Don’t miss “From the Big Screen to Comics, the Other Way Round: Big Trouble in Little China“.

About the Author: Caroline is a comic book enthusiast and internet security specialist. If you’re interested in learning about safe ways to enjoy some of your favorite kinds of entertainment online, follow Caroline on Twitter or read some of her work on Secure Thoughts.

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