Walking into any comic book store, the newest Avengers title or Captain America run will be easy to find. Likely, they will be located under some giant Cap Shield neon sign, surrounded by New Comic Book Day nerds ready for the next All New All Inhuman Secret Avenging Wars event series. However, in all the hubbub of new Avengers movies and the new pictures of Thor’s shorn locks, you might have missed some awesome Marvel Comics that didn’t get the attention they deserve. Cool, modern comics that don’t necessarily rely on knowing years of fluctuating Marvel continuity or keeping up with 10 interlocking event books. Great books you can pick up off the shelf and experience new stories that are fresh, vibrant examples of a changing comic book industry. Want something a little different, but not sure where to look? Here are 10 underrated Marvel books that might have flown under your radar.
10. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Doreen Green Eats Nuts & Kicks Butts in the The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, from Adventure Time comic writer Ryan North and quirky artist Erica Henderson. This is one of the most adorable books on the market right now, and is a great recommendation for any fun readers interested in an exciting all-ages title. Squirrel Girl has the powers of a Squirrel and the ability to communicate with her cuddly counterpart, Tippy Toe, and all her tree-rodent friends. Doreen is trying to get through college with her stuffy roommate and an unlucky ability to get stuck in strange situations with villains. Armed with her friendly attitude, a collection of Deadpool Villain Trading Cards, and her squirrel buds, Squirrel Girl uses the power of communication to solve problems that punches just can’t bust.
The Marvel Universe can get pretty dark at times, but The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a breath of fresh air. The writing will have you laughing at every panel (and in-between the panels, thanks to Ryan North’s signature margin jokes). Pick up Volume 1: Squirrel Power, if you need a solid laugh and a happy reminder that some heroes are just inherently good. You can also try the standalone original graphic novel, Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe, for some one-and-done fun.
9. The Vision
The Vision is a story like nothing Marvel has told before. It reads as more of a Stepford-esque sci-fi book than a Marvel comic, and that is most definitely a good thing. Fans became more familiar with the Vision thanks to his prominent role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, this comic isn’t the lovable pink robot we met on screen. Vision is having a rough time as the Avengers dissolve and he has to get a real job- but what he wants most is a family. He wants to feel human, to feel normal. So, he builds a family. Not in the traditional sense. His android wife and cute android twins might not be the perfect family he had hoped for. The real question is: how were they made?
The Vision takes a real, dark look at what it means to be human. If you are interested in a Bradbury short story crossed with a beloved Marvel character and a thrilling murder-mystery plotline, this is the book for you. Start with Volume 1: Little Worse than a Man.
8. Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat
Patsy might be a Hero, but just being a Hero doesn’t pay your rent like it used to. After a series of retail jobs and some run-ins with her past (including the cheesy romance comics of her origin!), Patsy teams up with some other Super-friends to start a business. Between making rent, making friends, and trying not to get punched, Patsy relies on her humor and her buds to make it through her crazy double (triple?) life.
This is an excellent all-ages title that feels fun and inventive. With manga-style art from Brittney Williams and witty writing from Kate Leth, this book hits high marks for laughs, snorts, giggles, and general cuteness. Patsy’s world features characters of many orientations and backgrounds, making for an inclusive storyline that readers can enjoy. Hellcat is an iconic character from marvel’s past, but this reinvention is all-inclusive, so don’t feel obligated to go back and read old comics; everything you need is right there in Volume 1: Hooked on a Feline.
7. Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Lunella Lafayette is the smartest kid in the Marvel Universe, and her middle school life just can’t keep up with her ideas and inventions. It’s hard to make friends when you’re a super genius- unless your best friend is actually an inter-dimensional dinosaur you accidentally pulled through a wormhole. Lunella and DD have all sorts of adventures, but not everything is fun and games when your BFF is a giant red T-Rex. Lunella and her scaly best friend race to escape monster hunters, face off against the Incredible Hulk, and still manage to make it home for dinner. Unfortunately for our dastardly duo, Devil Dinosaur may not have been the only big bad monster pulled from the prehistoric past- and not everything Lunella let through the door wants to be her best friend.
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur is an all-ages book, perfect for fans of a young Peter Parker. The young, African American female protagonist and her big red friend make up one of the most entertaining super-teams in current Marvel comics. Pick up Volume 1: BFF to join Lunella and DD on all their adventures.
Karnak, Magister of the Tower of Wisdom, has sectioned himself off from society in an effort to curb the reaches of his own mind. Karnak sees the flaw in all things, in philosophy and systems and people. When Agent Coulson tracks down Karnak for a special S.H.I.E.L.D. operation, Karnak must choose between power, solitude, or becoming a savior.
The first six issues of Karnak followed an erratic schedule and took about a year and a half to finish, but somehow, with legendary writer Warren Ellis at the helm, every issue of this series was well-worth the wait. You might recognize Karnak from the Inhumans, but he seemed an unlikely character to warrant his own solo series. With thoughtful, philosophical undertones and masterful storytelling, Karnak gained popularity as one of the most intriguing fringe Marvel titles. You can pick up the collected series in Karnak: Flaw in All Things.
The Avengers are great, but the team has been around for a long time and it’s rare that they get up to any completely new adventures. Especially if you read Civil War II, you might understand why some readers would want something a little different. Well, turns out some heroes wanted something a little different, too. In Champions, Ms. Marvel, Nova, and Spider-Man quit the Avengers and create their own team, collecting young friends like Viv Vision and The Totally Awesome Hulk along the way.
The Champions are determined to change the world, and stick to the altruistic ideals they believe should be required of Earth’s greatest heroes. These super-teens battle ideologies with their predecessors, and battle villains as a solid team. You can catch up with Volume 1: Change the World, available May 3, 2017.
Writer Chelsea Cain brings SHIELD Agent Bobbi Morse to her stellar solo series. Mockingbird has always been one of SHIELD’s most reliable agents. Her scientific mind, keen instinct and mastership of martial arts have made her indispensable. However, when one of her friends is murdered, Mockingbird os forced to investigate the organization on her own, and fight the battles she encounters on her mission. Mockingbird sets off on her own adventures, in an attempt to save Hunter, the Queen of England, and the peacekeeping mission of SHIELD.
Mockingbird is an adventure-packed title with fast-paced storytelling. It is a fun window into the inner operations of SHIELD and what it’s like to be a secret agent in the world of superheroes. Pick up Volume 1: I Can Explain to get started, and be ready for Volume 2: My Feminist Agenda, releasing April 19th, 2017.
A-Force is a diverse, all-female super-team that sprung from the pages of the Secret Wars event. Some of Marvel’s most powerful women, including a menacing She-Hulk leading the pack, are trying to protect their island of Arcadia. This Avengers team sets out in Battleworld, to fight the Thor Corps and traitors within their own ranks to protect their home.
Though A-Force originated in the Secret Wars event as part of Battleworld, the series gained immediate popularity and was extended into its own continuing series. With featured heroes such as She Hulk, Loki, Miss America, Sister Grimm, and Medusa, this series packs some serious punch. the numbering of their series can be a bit confusing because the team started in Secret Wars. The best place to start is A-Force Volume 00: Warzones. As a bonus, you can learn more about the backgrounds and origins of individual characters by checking out the compilations of a single issue in the A-Force Presents series.
2. Deadpool V Gambit
In the past few years, the amount of Deadpool titles on the rack has understandably multiplied. In all the different series and team-ups, you might have missed this mini-series, even though it is one of the funniest Deadpool books to date. Deadpool and Gambit, the flashy French X-Man we all know and begrudgingly love, are initially not friends. Understandable, considering the Ragin’ Cajun and our Regenerative Degenerate don’t have a lot in common. Turns out, what they do have in common is a zest for heists and a desire to pull one over on their two-timing crime boss.
Ben Acker and Ben Blacker, creators of the hit podcast radio show The Thrilling Adventure Hour, bring a fast-paced humor to the dueling duo. The market may be flooded with Deadpool titles of varying success, but if you love the humor of the Deadpool movie, this is a book you don’t want to miss. Pick up the entire mini-series collected in Deadpool V Gambit Volume 1: The V is for Vs.
America, a new series on the shelves from breakout comic writer Gabby Rivera and Joe Quinones, one of the best illustrators in the industry, is well on its way to being one of the most iconic Marvel series of the year. Gabby Rivera brings her Puerto Rican flair to the famous America Chavez in this hard-hitting solo title.
This series takes America out of her powerhouse role as leader of the Ultimates and takes her on a solo journey that definitely deserves its own series. America needs to figure out who she is and what she wants, which for her means finishing college and living a life not centered around her superhero team. It’s hard to focus on finals when there’s an alien cult to stop and some inter-dimensional monsters on her tail. America Chavez is the butt-kicking Latina Superstar we’ve met before, but in a new, modern book that is suited to this journey of self-discovery and superhero antics. Pick up the first issue now! It flew off the shelves, and a second printing is anticipated on April 12th, 2017.
It’s easy to get caught up in the over-saturation of Marvel team books and event titles. With all the relaunches, renumbering, and rearranging, keeping up with multiple ongoing titles can be tough. Pick up one of these stand-out series and you will have a guaranteed starting point, and perhaps a slightly different experience from the Marvel norm.
Do you have a favoite Marvel title that you feel is underrated? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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