The act of buying comic books used to be as simple as stopping by your local supermarket, deli, 7-11, or newsstand to pick up your favorite titles. Sadly, the direct market eventually killed that accessibility, leaving many long-time comic book fans (and potential new ones!) no easy way to find Love and Rockets, Wonder Woman, and other tales that astonish. Though there are efforts to reverse that misstep, technological innovations now make it easy to read a vast number of offerings from major and independent publishers, all without getting off your duff. Digital comics have changed the game.
Digital Comics Defined
What are digital comic books, you ask? Digital comics are, well…comic books in digital format. It’s a broad umbrella that covers digital versions of print titles (such as Green Lantern) and original digital titles (such as Avengers: Back to Basics). The Comixology marketplace is the big dog in the space, with its excellent sales, browser-based reader, and mobile apps. Before you explore the service, check out these Comixology tips that will improve your digital comics experience.
Digital comic books let everyone from the first-time reader to the longtime fan enjoy titles on a PC, tablet, or smartphone. There are books from big guns like DC, Image, and Marvel, as well as titles from smaller publishers like Alterna, Boom, Dynamite, and IDW. The comics aren’t strictly superhero-based, either. Though super-powered slobberknockers dominate the comic book industry, there’s also a healthy share of mystery, horror, science fiction, and slice-of-life stories. Digital comics offer something for everyone.
The Digital Comic Books to Buy
If you’re looking for digital comic book recommendations, you’ve come to the right place. Unsurprisingly, the PCMag staff has quite a few comic book nerds in its ranks, and I’ve tapped the group for recommendations.
The titles below aren’t strictly the best comics on the market. Instead, consider this a collection of our favorite digital comics of the moment. And, if you’re curious about how comic books are made in contemporary times, check out From Ink to iPad: The Evolution of the Modern Comic Book.
Batman: Curse of the White Knight
Batman: Curse of the White Knight is writer/penciler/inker Sean Gordon Murphy’s follow-up to the critically acclaimed Batman: White Knight. In this DC Black Label series, The Joker returns to his sadistic ways and recruits Azrael to help him unearth a secret about the Wayne family that runs deep into Gotham’s dark history.
The Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips team strikes gold once again, this time with their new Criminal monthly series. A crime anthology set in different decades and following different protagonists, Criminal weaves complex tales of greed, lust, and people pushed to the edge.
Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen is a classic mini-series that is held aloft as one of the comic book medium’s defining moments. Doomsday Clock, a 12-issue Watchmen sequel from writer Geoff Johns and artist Gary Frank, does the unthinkable: continuing Watchmen‘s apocalyptic paranoia, while pulling that series’ characters into the mainline DC Universe just as a super-powered world war is set to erupt.
History of the Marvel Universe
The History of the Marvel Universe continues Marvel Comics’ 80th anniversary celebration of Marvel Comics #1. The six-issue limited series, which is penned by Mark Wait and Mike O’Sullivan, sees Galactus and Franklin Richards as the two remaining life forms in the universe. As they await the birth of a new universe, Galactus relates to Franklin the history of the earth, which includes visitations by The Celestials, the rise of mutants, Steve Rogers ingesting the Super Soldier Serum, and other memorable Marvel memories. And some new revelations, too! Javier Rodriguez handles the art.
The Immortal Hulk
This ain’t the MCU Big Green. Writer Al Ewing and artist Joe Bennett reimagine Bruce Banner’s alter ego not as a superhero, loner, or rage machine, but as a monster who emerges at night and creeps in the shadows to exact vengeance upon humanity’s worst members. It’s a surprisingly macabre run, one that recalls The Twilight Zone‘s sci-fi morality tales and EC Comics’ horror line. The Immortal Hulk’s title is taken from the fact that even if Banner dies, the beast lives on.
Three of the original Invaders—Captain America, Winter Soldier, and Jim Hammond, the O.G. Human Torch—undertake an investigation to determine why their former World War II partner, Namor the Sub-Mariner, has once again become a global threat. Taking place during the present day and World War II, Invaders explores Namor’s damaged psyche and mysterious post-war past. Marvel’s current MVP, Chip Zdarsky, handles the tale.
Letter 44 by Charles Soule (writer), Alberto Jimenez Alburquerque (penciler and inker), and Guy Major (colorist) chronicles what happens when a newly elected president, Stephen Blades, reads the letter left for him in the Oval Office by his predecessor—a letter that confirms the existence of an extraterrestrial construction project in the asteroid belt. If you’re into science fiction and secret histories, this is the book for you.
Superman: Year One
Frank Miller revamped Batman’s origin in the classic Batman: Year One mini-series and now applies the same treatment to the Man of Steel. DC Black Label’s Superman: Year One is a limited series that sees Miller, along with artist John Romita, Jr., examine Krypton’s last days and Ka-el’s arrival on Earth. Mainly, the story focuses on the forces that shaped a young Clark into becoming earth’s beacon of hope.
These Savage Shores
Vault Comics’ These Savage Shores is set 200 years after European ships first made landfall at Calicut. As the East India Company seeks to further its financial growth, a banished evil sails aboard a company ship in search of a new home. However, the evil soon finds that there are supernatural forces more powerful than his bloodlust. Ram V handles the writing duties, while Sumit Kumar tackles the art.
The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television
You know Rod Serling as the calm, cool, and collected narrator of television’s best anthology program. Yet, how much do you know about Rod Serling the person? Twilight Man: Rod Serling and The Birth of Television is an illustrated biographical tale by Koren Shadmi that details the storyteller’s early years, military service, and battles against television networks to push the boundaries of what could be expressed in the medium.
More on Digital Comics
If you enjoyed these Comixology suggestions, please check out our other digital comics stories.