The 10 Best Mainstream Comic Books By LA Creators Right Now
The traditional home base for the major comic book companies was New York City — it's even where Marvel set most of its comics, from Spider-Man to the Fantastic Four. But with Hollywood buying the rights left and right and DC Comics moving their headquarters from New York to L.A., Los Angeles matters in the comics industry more than ever.
Comic books are also traditionally a freelance industry, with creators based all over the country, and even the world. Here are the best books right now from mainstream comic book creators who call L.A. home.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (Marvel)
Spidey's adventures were written by Dan Slott for a decade, much of that time as the sole writer, but the book was relaunched with L.A.-based writer Nick Spencer and artist Ryan Ottley this past summer. Spencer's taken a back to basics approach, resetting some of the pieces from the mythology that Slott had put in place, and it's a chance to give everyone the Spider-Man they deeply love.
Writers can often do a number of books, but comic book artists usually focus on one book at a time due to the high-level art demands of modern comic books. Ryan Ottley worked on the critically acclaimed Invincible for more than a decade, so it's a joy to see him doing something new.
DC Comics scored a coup by stealing Brian Michael Bendis away from Marvel Comics, where he'd spent much of his career. Beyond writing Superman and other big DC properties, he's also brought his own non-superhero creator-owned work, including new spy series Cover.
He's working with a longtime collaborator, L.A.-based David Mack. Mack's painted, impressionistic style screams personality with every stroke. It's a story close to the hearts of comic book creators, as it's about using the people who make comics as undercover operatives.
DEADLY CLASS (Image)
Deadly Class made headlines recently as it makes its way to a TV adaptation, set to debut on Syfy later this month. The book, by L.A. writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig, has continued to evolve. In a story about a school training future assassins, it may not be that surprising to say that not everyone may survive.
It's also a period piece, with a 1980s context that Remender uses to pour out a story that feels heightened but personal. Craig uses color throughout, washing the scenes in shades that deliver pure emotion. The violence started early in the run, and continues in a way that isn't exploitative but tells the story as you follow multiple classes through their unusual schooling.
DOOMSDAY CLOCK (DC)
Doomsday Clock goes deep into DC Comics lore, bringing back the legendary Watchmen team who had largely remained untouched since their creation by Alan Moore in the 1980s. L.A.-based writer Geoff Johns has always had a soft spot for the history of DC, bringing back the past to give new life to characters old and new.
He's doing that again here with frequent teammate Gary Frank. Frank's intricate style has put Doomsday Clock on an every-other-month schedule, which can make it harder to follow along, but the book looks gorgeous. It's a meticulous art style combined with a meticulously written book, with little details to capture your imagination. It's also bringing back other long lost DC characters, integrating them all in a giant blockbuster story that also manages to focus on character.
Johns has been busy working on TV and movie projects for DC, but he's still managed to find time for this magnum opus, along with several other current and upcoming projects.
GODDESS MODE (DC/Vertigo)
This is one of the newer books on the list, but it's showing a lot of promise already. L.A.-based Zoë Quinn came to prominence after she was harassed as part of the online reactionary "Gamergate" movement, targeting women in the video game industry. This book marks her first comics work, brought to life on the page with art by co-creator Robbi Rodriguez. Rodriguez is best known for his work on Spider-Gwen, who got an even bigger spotlight in the recent Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse groundbreaking animated feature film.
It utilizes Quinn's own tech background, featuring a protagonist who does tech support on future artificial intelligence — and finds a new digital world where super-powered women are imprisoned. Rodriguez has a dynamic art style, and it feels like a smooth transition onto this new book. The color by colorist Rico Renzi also blows off the page with bright neons and pastels, telling the story just as much as the art and words are doing.
HEX WIVES (DC/Vertigo)
Hex Wives is a real big idea book, telling the story of a group of witches who end up being subdued by an all-male conspiracy. It obviously plays to current cultural themes, with the men turning them into modern Stepford wives.
It's written by Hollywood writer Ben Blacker, known locally for co-creating longtime live show and podcast the Thrilling Adventure Hour at Largo and who's also worked in TV. The art by Italian artist Mirka Andolfo manages to be cartoony while having a dark undertone, and it has a feminine energy that helps the book's themes hit home.
Killmonger was one of the surprise breakout characters from 2018's Black Panther film, with moviegoers having to admit, hey, wait, that guy has a point — while not agreeing with his methods. Another writer who also works in television and film, Bryan Edward Hill had an impactful year in comics in 2018 and started developing a name for himself.
The art by Juan Ferreyra isn't overly flashy, taking you into the origins of the character before he became "Killmonger." There are moments it feels brutally real, while having a looser look overall.
Hill's been feeling the call of those Hollywood projects, so he's said 2019 will likely be his last year in comics — but in the meantime, you can still pick up books from him like this mini-series character study of the Black Panther villain.
MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES (Image)
This is a bit of a cheat, as this isn't an ongoing comic — but it was a one-shot hardcover released this past year, and it's an entry in the overall Criminal comic world created by L.A.-based writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips. They've worked on Criminal comics intermittently since 2006, telling hardbitten noir crime stories.
The latest book is a character piece following Ellie, telling the story of a woman deeply influenced by the drug addict singers that her mother — also an addict — loved. Like most Criminal stories, there's a darkness, along with twists that cut to the core. Phillips' art utilizes a limited color palette that makes you feel the ideas that run through each scene, each of the narrator's thoughts and memories.
Saga has continued to be one of the best comic books out there for years now. It is, in fact, a saga, telling an epic story across years of comics. It comes from another Hollywood writer, Brian K. Vaughan, with beautifully rendered art from Canadian artist Fiona Staples. While he's had plenty of success in TV — he wrote on Lost, Under the Dome, recent Marvel Hulu show Ruanways, and more — he's shown a deep love for the comic book medium, regularly turning out comics work.
The comic itself is a space opera with fantasy elements, telling the story of a husband and wife forced to flee in an interstellar war with their child. This year marked a major turning point in the book with a big death, and the narrator who we've followed from birth continuing to grow up. Staples draws all the big, imaginative ideas that Vaughan throws at her wonderfully, from big, epic two-page spreads to close character moments that will break your heart. Oh, and aliens with TV heads and other creatures whose appearances will make your brain feel broken.
Supergirl hasn't always gotten the love she deserves, but with a popular CW TV series and a reinvigorated line of Superman comics (thanks to the aforementioned Brian Michael Bendis along with his artists and recent predecessors), L.A.-based writer Marc Andreyko is putting some of that TLC into his run on Supergirl.
He's also pulled in some top-flight artists to work alongside on the book, including Kevin Maguire (known for his amazing cartooning and facial expressions) and Evan "Doc" Shaner (who brings timeless retro flair perfect for the DC world). They're setting Supergirl off into deep space on a mission inspired by Bendis's Superman run, and she's bringing superdog Krypto with her as she sets off to find the true story behind her home planet Krypton's destruction.
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