As people across Chicago quarantine themselves to curb the spread of COVID-19, they realize there are only so many episodes of Tiger King to binge on. For those seeking other ways to spend their self-isolating time, comics can nourish you with stories that delight, distract from, or reflect the reality of our world. Whether you’re new to comics or looking for a way back in, the creativity, scope, and variety of comics mean there are stories for everyone. We at Third Coast Review have compiled a list of great comics to fill your eyes and your days during life in quarantine.
Although many comic book shops are temporarily closed, with no new comics being released physically or digitally by several major publishers for the time being, many shops still offer home and/or curbside delivery of their existing backlog. We’ve listed these stores below and will update our list as they re-open.
For those wanting to be inspired:
Dark Night: A True Batman Story details the real-life trauma experienced by writer, Paul Dini, who was mugged and left nearly dead in the 1990s. Left with several broken bones and a disfigured face, Dini endured a difficult path to recovery that he chronicles here. In Dark Night: A True Batman Story, Dini reflects on his journey through the use of comics. As he slowly recovers, he is hampered by the imaginary likes of characters such as the Joker, Harley Quinn, and the Penguin, who serve as representations of his own dark thoughts and insecurities at the time. And yet, despite the bleakness of his circumstances, Dini found comfort and the will to keep going through a fantasy: Batman.
Serving as a testament to the power of fiction and how characters can transform our lives, Dark Night: A True Batman Story is ultimately a story about the power of heroes. Even in the darkest of times, there will always be heroes, both real and made-up, to lend a helping hand.
Written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale, Superman: For all Seasons is a coming-of-age story for the Man of Steel. Told over the course of four seasons, this self-contained story works to give an overview of who Superman is at his core. Beginning from his early days as a young boy living in Kansas to becoming the world’s greatest hero, Superman: For All Seasons was created gives a glimpse behind the curtain of what the character of Superman is ultimately about while humanizing him for a modern audience. Outside of Superman, the story features in-depth looks at the characters who make Superman who he is, including Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, and his adoptive parents.
A character that embodies hope above all else, Superman: For All Seasons is a perfect gateway into the world of DC’s biggest hero. The story is a great introduction to Superman’s world while also reminding seasoned readers of why they fell in love with the character to begin with.
For those wanting epic adventures and fantasy:
Considered to be the world’s greatest escape artist, Mister Miracle is the alter-ego of Scott Free. A member of the New Gods, Scott Free is the son of Highfather of New Genesis, but was traded to Darkseid of Apokolips as a means of ending the war between the two planets. After years of facing torture and abuse, Scott eventually escapes to Earth where he became a crime-fighting hero known as Mister Miracle.
Written by Tom King, Mister Miracle follows Scott Free and his life on Earth alongside his wife, Big Barda. Following a suicide attempt to “escape life”, the story finds Scott navigating the traumas of his past, while also tackling topics such as mental health, fatherhood, and war.
An Eisner-award winning series, Mister Miracle is a standalone story that even readers unfamiliar with DC Comics lore can enjoy. Unlike most stories delving into superheroes, Mister Miracle tackles the emotional traumas and difficulties that lie in being a hero. By the end, readers will be even more appreciative and inspired by their favorite superhero.
Serving as the introduction to the epic that is Sandman, Preludes and Nocturnes introduces readers to Dream, one of the seven endless who serves as the lord and personification of all dreams and stories. In this beginning volume, Dream inadvertently finds himself trapped by an occultist who was seeking out Dream’s older sister, Death, in a bid for eternal life. Faced to endure 70 years of imprisonment before finally escaping, Dream—also known as Morpheus—soon finds himself on a quest of regaining his strength and taking back control over his kingdom, The Dreaming.
Written by Neil Gaiman, the Sandman saga is a true epic in every sense of the word. Across this massive story, readers will be transported through all of time and space, meeting gods, demons, and monsters along the way. At its core, Sandman is a love-letter to the power of stories and their ability to change the world.
Equal parts sci-fi, fantasy, war-epic, and action-adventure, Saga has cemented itself as one of the most popular comic series since its introduction. Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, the story follows a pair of star-crossed lovers, Alana and Marko, who initially find themselves on opposing sides of an endless war. Wishing to remove themselves from the conflict and to also raise their infant daughter, Hazelm the two find themselves on the run as they navigate both parenthood and the greater galactic conflict in front of them.
Described by some as a hybrid of Star Wars and Game of Thrones, Saga is one of the most popular series in comics outside of Marvel and DC, and has gone on to win several awards, including 12 Eisner and 17 Harvey Awards. The series is currently half-way through its 108 issue run and is now on hiatus. With no release date set for the next issue, now is the perfect time for new fans to catch up and see for themselves why Saga is as popular as it is.
For those just wanting something fun:
The start of the Hellboy Saga, Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1: Seed of Destruction starts in World War II. One night, Nazi occultists summon a baby from hell to Earth. Unbeknownst to them, the child is found by Allied Forces. Growing to be a large, red-skinned demon with a tail, horns, and a giant right-hand made of stone, Hellboy devotes his life to fighting the paranormal by joining the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.R.P.D).
Collecting the first few volumes of Mike Mignola’s acclaimed series, Hellboy Omnibus Volume 1 is filled with action and monsters, and lays out the mythology of Hellboy’s world. Hellboy is a great series for those seeking an epic adventure that spans decades.
Anyone looking for a lighthearted superhero tale as opposed to the usual dramatic stories so frequent in the medium should look no further than Squirrel Girl. Having the incredible powers of superhuman agility, razor-sharp claws, and of course, the ability to talk to squirrels, Squirrel Girl is the alter-ego of Doreen Green, a fun-loving but also kickass character who has taken down the likes of Doctor Doom, Wolverine, and even Thanos himself.
Considered both a comedic and empowering character, Squirrel Girl is an upbeat hero who reminds readers to step back and just enjoy the fun and kookiness that life often throws our way. Especially now, characters like Squirrel Girl are all the more important in reminding us to keep our heads up and this first volume is a great starting point into her world.
First appearing in 2013 before going on to star in her own series the following year, Ms. Marvel was created by Sana Amanat, Stephen Wacker, G. Willow Wilson, Adrian Alphona, and Jamie McKelvie, and tells the story of Kamala Khan, a teenage Pakistani American girl living in Jersey City. After an incident leaves her with the ability to shapeshift, Kamala soon takes on the mantle of Ms. Marvel, a tribute to her hero, Captain Marvel.
Since her debut, Ms. Marvel has become a highly popular figure in the Marvel Universe. Recognized for being a huge steppingstone in rectifying the lack of diversity seen in comics, Ms. Marvel is also a different kind of superhero in that she takes delight in her powers and enjoys the role of being a superhero. A fun-loving character that inspires both in her world and ours, Ms. Marvel is a great introductory read for those looking for good-hearted fun.
Want to check out these or other comics? Our list below lays out Chicago-based comic stores offering home and/or curbside deliveries, If your store is not listed and is offering deliveries and/or curbside pickups, email me at email@example.com and I’ll add your shop to our list.