The Best Non-superhero Comics of 2020
2020 had great new series and continuing series—but like every other entertainment medium, the lockdowns hit it hard. The worst thing the pandemic did to comics was that it broke the momentum. First, there were the lockdowns, but then many stores had to close for good. Some of them are trying to survive any way they can. Well, here are some good reasons to order some books from your local comic shop. The best non-superhero comics of 2020
Hill House Comics Dominates the Best Non-Superhero Comics of 2020
One really freaky series you should read. (DC Comics)
When Joe Hill started a DC Black Label pop-up imprint Hill House Comics, everyone expected some cool horror, but that’s not what we got. Instead, we got some of the greatest comics we’ve ever read. Not only was Hill’s series, Basketful of Heads, a great comic, but the other series kept getting better. The two best—and really, just two of the best non-superhero comics of 2020 in general—were The Dollhouse Family, by Mike Carey (w) and Peter Gross (a), and The Low, Low Woods, by Carmen Maria Machado (w) and Dani (a). But all the Hill House titles are great, so you can’t go wrong.
The Sacrifice of Darkness Was a Bright and Beautiful Moment in a Year of Turmoil
(Image: Boom! Studios)
While Hill House Comics might have a monopoly on the best non-superhero comics of 2020, none of them hold the power of The Sacrifice of Darkness. Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynn Oliver, and Rebecca Kirby’s story of finding a way through a world literally plunged into darkness was something we needed, and if you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do so. It might not entirely heal the wounds of 2020, but it’s a start.
Crossover, The Best Non-Superhero Comic of 2020 that Features Superheroes
(Image: Crossover #1, Image Comics)
Is this cheating? Putting a book that contains superheroes exploding from the page like a meta-nuclear bomb, into our world, on the best non-superhero comics of 2020? At the same time, it doesn’t make it to the other list because it is based in the “real” world. We’re only a couple of issues in, and Crossover is already a brilliant experience. And these aren’t analogous superheroes either—we see Batman, Wolverine, Wonder Woman, Thing, and more. I don’t know where Cates’s is going with it yet, but I’m along for the ride. And if you aren’t yet, catch up!
The Non-Superhero Series from a Galaxy Far, Far Away: Star Wars: Darth Vader
(Image: Star Wars: Darth Vader (2020) #1, Marvel Comics)
Ever since Marvel took over the Star Wars comics, they’ve been wonderful. In the past, they weren’t great. Some were brilliant, but for every good one, we had Jaba the Hutt’s Art of the Steal. The writing was messy, and the art constantly subpar, with some exceptions. When Marvel took over and provided Star Wars comics with the one thing they hadn’t had before. Money. They take the Star Wars franchise just as seriously as their own superheroes.
But this newest Darth Vader series hit us with a Sith vengeance we haven’t seen in him before. We also learn a lot more about Vader, like why he doesn’t use force lightning. We even learn why the Sith all have red lightsabers. Greg Pak’s series gives us entirely new stories but still entrenched in Star Wars mythos.
The Year That America Became the Best Villain in Comics
(Image: Undiscovered Country #1, Image Comics)
In the past four years, we’ve seen many “America-gone-wrong” stories, almost all of them focused on right-wing extremists. In 2020, many of these titles were some of the best non-superhero comics in general. Undiscovered Country portrayed an America that literally cut itself off from the rest of the world and went all Mad Max inside its walls. The Scumbag showed us that the worst person on the planet is still better than any white supremacist. And The Department of Truth terrified us by suggesting ALL the conspiracy theories we’ve ever heard of were real and connected. And those are just three comics showing us the worst America has to offer in the best way possible: pages and panels.
What were your favorite non-superhero comics of 2020?
(Featured Image: The Department of Truth #2, Image Comics)
Roman Colombo finished his MFA in 2010 and now teaches writing and graphic novel literature at various Philadelphia colleges. His first novel, Trading Saints for Sinners, was published in 2014. He's currently working on his next novel and hoping to find an agent soon.