Off The Panel: Most Recommended Comic Fantasy Series of 2014 So Far

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Not everyone may classify these titles as fantasy, but that is how I see them and in the best way I could describe because of the worlds built around them. Everyone has gone through their phases of the types of books they read, but in 2014 that for me was fantasy series. Ones that went where other titles didn’t dare, took risks the others would not, and explored things you could only get from a stories that dove into the supernatural.

Death Vigil variantDeath Vigil

Join the Death Vigil in their ongoing war against the ever-growing power of the Primordial Enemy! The only catch is you have to die first. Become a corporeal immortal Death Knight and obtain reality-altering weaponry in the never-ending battle between good and evil.

Death Vigil is a door opening to a new world where there is fun in the idea that you can do all the amazing things you see here, but the only catch being that you have to die first. What is so great about this series, and even just being the first issue is the concept. Compared to the rest of the series I name below, you won’t get this much of a focus on necromancy, supernatural spectacles or just something so dark. This is not to say Stjepan Sejic doesn’t throw some humor into it and it sticks because this is a story where you want to ease people into this world he created. The characters are just as shocked as we are when it comes to these supernatural things they don’t understand, we don’t understand it all either and that mystery is what makes Death Vigil entertaining.

As I even said in my review of Death Vigil #1, It should be worth mentioning from every person that this series is both written and painted by Stjepan Sejic. There is no question of whether that is gifted or not, that is quite the accomplishment for how both turned out overall. The painting he does is very clean, the word bubbles unique to the various characters seen throughout, and the layout looks great having both panels and characters overlapping one another. The coloring above all stands out most, especially when it comes to displaying the capabilities of those with powers being either a Death Vigil or necromancer. The creativity in the creatures and spirits seen also can’t be missed. You can talk about the art just as much as the story itself.

The Wicked + The Divine

Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. Welcome to THE WICKED + THE DIVINE, where gods are the ultimate pop stars. But remember: just because you’re immortal, doesn’t mean you’re going to live forever.

The Wicked + The Divine is a series that you don’t necessarily have to have a deep love for mythology to love, but nonetheless you love it because it has fun with the idea that these gods can walk among us and nobody really believe the possibility. These are gods reincarnated as pop stars, reveling in the limelight, hidden right under the radar and yet right in your face. What better way to go about looking for praise? There’s just so much you don’t know about the direction Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie will take this, but all you need to know is that you are in for one heck of an adventure as we see what happens when things don’t really go the god’s way.

Do I even have to mention how stunning the artwork is? You look at the covers, you look at the interior art, and again this is the same creative team that made you like Young Avengers and Phonogram. Personally I could stare at Laura’s hair all day because of both the style and color variation in it.

Umbral_vol1-1Umbral

A new dark fantasy starts here. The young thief called Rascal witnesses the horrific and brutal murder of the royal family— now the world’s dark legends will be relived, and only Rascal even knows it’s happening. This a new fantasy world rich in mythology, history, and blood.

A crazy adventure that we get to go on with Rascal as she is just as caught off guard by these dark mysteries neither of us truly understand. Having her whole life turned upside down in only a day and not many friendly faces to turn to. One tragedy after the other we are met with a gloomy situation that only gets worse as the story progresses. You love the reaction that Rascal has to all of this because she’s taking it seriously, and yet still presenting a strong presence in the face of those who want her dead.

The mythology is there, the history is certainly there, and you surely aren’t given any less when it comes to bloodshed. I personally thought Death Sigil treaded some dark territory, but Umbral certainly takes it to another level for a series that has had a little more time for progression.

Rat Queens

Who are the Rat Queens? A pack of booze-guzzling, death-dealing battle maidens-for-hire, and they’re in the business of killing all god’s creatures for profit. It’s also a darkly comedic sass-and-sorcery series starring Hannah the Rockabilly Elven Mage, Violet the Hipster Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Atheist Human Cleric and Betty the Hippy Smidgen Thief. This modern spin on an old school genre is a violent monster-killing epic that is like Buffy meets Tank Girl in a Lord of the Rings world on crack!

If that didn’t already sell you on this medieval tale, then let me give you a few more reasons to pick this up. Rat Queens is the book you should be reading if you want to see action. Entertaining from start to finish this book is one you want to read and enjoy for the fact that these are four woman just being plain badasses. This takes everything fun about living in that period and turns it into an adventure going to places you would not have expected from a series like this a year ago. Neither Kurtis J. Wiebe or Roc Upchurch pull punches or hold back showing just how nasty things get which you love considering this is something so out of this world that adults can enjoy. This is adult humor at its finest and even then doesn’t fall into just the category of humor.

Things get serious as well knowing these are characters who have their own problems, demons, or past they are trying to move on from. Things are revealed about them that you like, and those things revealed bring troubles of their own as those caught up with the series right now can attest to.

You may even like this series if you’re someone like myself who LARPs.

Saga

Saga is an epic space opera/fantasy comic book series depicting two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series.

The pinnacle of fantasy if I may say so myself. A story told so elegantly and from the perspective of Hazel as you already know, who throughout the series so far is just a baby growing up. Unaware of the struggle her parents have gone through in order to assure her safety. The drama that goes on between them just to make sure their love doesn’t crumble under the weight of such a problematic Universe. You just don’t see something so genuine and set in such a setting where the impossible can and will happen. I mean we see some creative people, places, things that you only imagine in your head brought to life in this story.

There’s not too much I can say about Saga that hasn’t really been stated already. Pretty much that fantasy series out there that you immediately point out to a new reader or someone looking to get into independent/creator-owned stories.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 10 #2Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10

New season. New rules. The age-old battle of Slayer vs. vampire is the focus of Buffy’s life once again—it’s downright nostalgic! But with all the toying with magic she’s done lately, this girl should know it’s time for another game change . . . Shouldn’t she?

If you already know Buffy, and hopefully you do unless you’re that young, then there really shouldn’t be much I have to say about the series as a whole. But what I can say is about this season 10 in particular. We don’t know what to expect, and neither does Buffy and that is a side you want to see from her as she questions how to handle these supposed new rules and how to help her friends who to some extent are picking up the pieces of past personal issues. This isn’t to say she’s not the same badass because surely she is. The Scoobies are back together with some new additions, and with that things start to feel nostalgic. We get that focus on the characters that really matter and with that Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 10 continues that quality story telling of keeping things down to Earth in a way that we reconnect with them on a different level. They reconnect with each other in the same way as well. Same supernatural occurrences, personal dramas, just comes with new magic rules which have everyone scratching their heads for what they have in store.

Did I mention the covers are beautiful?

The one thing I do feel the need to point out, is that these are in fact series with female leads. Does that change what makes them worthy of recommendation as fantasy series? Not at all, you read these and can easily forget that. They have diverse enough casts that there is someone for many to connect or relate to be it gender, race, and so forth.

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