And the final batch of comics is those that aren’t in the Marvel universe at all. (Well, technically, two of them say they’re in the Marvel Universe, but they’re so far outside of continuity, it’s irrelevant.) Let’s do this one as a good ol-fashioned list:
- Ed Brubaker’s Criminal: Bad Night is the third of his Criminal volumes, which follow some kind of loser around on seedy activities. They’re well-written, and if you like sordid crime fiction, you’ll love them. I find sordidness off-putting, so don’t care for them that much, but I do keep reading them despite that, so they must be good, right?
- J. Michael Straczynski’s The Twelve follows twelve WW2-era Golden Age “superheroes” (most of them have no powers to speak of) as they are awoken in the modern world. This would feel substantially fresher if it weren’t the plot of like half the Captain America issues in existence, but even so, it’s well-done and interesting. Recommended for people who just finished Kavalier and Clay.
- C. B. Cebulski’s Loners: The Secret Lives of Super Heroes is about a group of teen heroes who are trying to stay away from superheroing and are meeting in a support group. Predictably, they end up back in action. Not bad, but definitely forgettable.
- Finally, the star of the lot, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle , which tells a self-contained Dresden story in a way that feels surprisingly like the novels. In the introduction, Butcher says that he always pictures the Dresden books as comics, which makes complete sense — I’ve remarked before on what a visual writer he is, and at the time I described it as “cinematic.” But Butcher’s completely right, and his novels are actually prose translations of comic books. So anyway, this is a comic book version of a Dresden story, and it’s excellent, fully reflecting Butcher’s many virtues as a writer. Recommended to any Dresden fan.