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By 5 December 2014 | Categories: news

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Rat Queens

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If you like Role Playing Games, gut-wrenching action and irreverent humour then this book is for you. The Rat Queens are a group of all-female fantasy world adventurers, but that is where any derivative comparisons to standard fantasy fare ceases. Written with a modern sensibility, it is equal parts action adventure quest and the developing relationship between best friends. Humour throughout is spot-on and the mysteries the Rat Queens have to unravel are tightly plotted to keep the reader guessing. Swearwords are used liberally throughout and some sexual situations are alluded to, so possibly not the best book for kids.

Afterlife with Archie

Archie Comics

Everybody knows Archie, Jughead and the Riverdale teens, but in this book the entire idyll has been turned upside down as hordes of undead roam the streets. More than just another cash grab of the popular zombie genre, it is a textbook tale of terror and how easily disaster can derail modern life. Great writing and characterisation elevates the normally stereotypical (jock, nerd, cheerleader, etc.) characters to people that have real and sometimes deeply disturbing motivations and backgrounds. The brooding artwork with spots of high contrast colours by Francovilla perfectly complements the horror movie feel of the book.

Strong Female Protaganist

Top Shelf 

At first glance this might seem an unlikely choice for this list, but SFP has some of the best-written female (and male) characters in comics and also the most innovative approaches to superhero comics to date. Alison is the strongest superhero in her world, but the story follows her decision to live a normal, non-heroic student’s life. Of course her past life (and super-powered villains) interfere, but at its core this is the story of an extraordinary girl finding her place in the world. Read it online at www.strongfemaleprotagonist.com.

Batman Zero Year: Dark City 

DC

Beautifully illustrated and well-written, Dark City is a perfect Batman tale, focusing on all the elements that make the character iconic, including mysterious villains with convoluted master plans and brutal violence. Several homages to great Batman stories of the past are also sprinkled throughout. The story cleverly explores the relationships Batman has with Alfred, Jim Gordon, the police and the citizens of Gotham, as well as the dark forces that drive Bruce Wayne. Batman has to deal with the psychotic Dr Death, try to foil the Riddler’s plot and avoid being killed by the corrupt Gotham police department.

Hawkeye

Marvel

2014 saw some of the best stories coming from Fraction and Aja for their Hawkeye series. It follows the “normal” life adventures of Clint Barton, when he’s not on Avengers duty as Hawkeye. The stories are more grounded, with Russian tracksuit mafia being as big a nemesis as established villains like the Kingpin. What sets the book apart is the perfect synergy between writer and artist: frames and pages are written and designed to create breathtaking layouts whether it is action sequences or quieter character moments. Hawkguy (as one of his neighbours calls him) is a deeply flawed, extremely human character who makes some morally ambiguous decisions based on his own code of right and wrong, in the process redefining what a hero actually is.

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