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15 Comic Book Companies That Are Better Than The Mainstream Marvel and DC Comics

Updated October 13, 2018 571 votes 137 voters 3.1k views15 items

List RulesVote up the imprints you think produce the best comics.

Talk about world domination: For the past 50 years, two comic book companies have commanded the world of super heroes. For Marvel and DC Comics, the focus has always been on superheroes and their spandex-clad adventures, with only occasional dalliances into more realistic territory. Both publishers have spent decades building their dedicated mainstream universes, and they usually stick to that established world.

For something outside of this multiverse, Marvel and DC have launched a series of “imprints,” a place where writers and artists can explore stories not normally seen within the more mainstream comic world. While not every such offshoot is successful, the increased freedom they offer will oftentimes lead to stories that are  as good or better than their more traditional counterparts. All-time classics like The Sandman, Preacher, All-Star Superman, and more are the direct result of Marvel and DC letting creators run wild in a world outside the normal super hero tropes. Here are some Marvel and DC imprints that produced amazing comics.

  • 1. Vertigo Comics

    Photo: user uploaded image

    Nothing can touch the sheer quality of comics produced by Vertigo. Some of the greatest talents in comic book history including Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, and Garth Ennis combined to create some of the most memorable graphic novels in history. Just a quick refresher on Vertigo titles is all one needs to see the almighty impact the imprint has had: The Sandman, Preacher, Y: The Last Man, Hellblazer, and Fables have all been produced under the Vertigo line.

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  • 2. Earth One

    Photo: user uploaded image

    Earth One sought to retell some of DC’s most famous stories in an updated and less continuity-bogged manner. The imprint, thus far, has consisted entirely of graphic novel releases, rather than the publication of individual issues. The first such novel was Superman: Earth One in 2010, and it has been followed up with reinventions of both Batman and Wonder Woman’s origins, with the Teen Titans also getting the Earth One treatment in 2014. This imprint is still very much active, with Aquaman and Flash books set to drop in 2017.

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  • 3. Elseworlds

    Photo: Wikia

    Elseworlds was a catch-all imprint that DC invented in the late 1980s to house its “out-of-continuity” tales, which were beginning to become more popular. Instead of housing such stories in “what if” one-shots, DC created an entire imprint, which allowed them to publish full graphic novels set in their own unique continuities. The much-beloved Gotham by Gaslight, where Batman stalks Jack the Ripper, was met with universal praise. Some of DC’s all-time greatest books have fallen under the Elseworlds imprint, such as Superman: Red Son and the epic Kingdom Come.

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  • 4. Ultimate Marvel

    To ring in the new millennium, Marvel Comics sought to clean up their convoluted continuity with a rebooted imprint, dubbed Ultimate Comics. This line ran parallel to the mainstream Marvel universe and provided a fresh and updated start for their most popular characters, similar to what DC does with their Earth One graphic novels. Brian Michael Bendis’s Ultimate Spider-Man kicked things off and was an immediate success. In fact, Ultimate Spidey was so popular that the character’s continuity was folded into the mainstream Marvel universe when the imprint finally ended in 2015. Not every Ultimate comic was a hit, but most were well-received, and Marvel had the luxury of running two concurrent universes for a decade and a half.

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