About Vertigo Comics
There are very few comic book imprints which are as heralded and as famous for flipping the bird to the superhero trend as much as Vertigo Comics. Started and spearheaded by DC Comics editor Karen Berger in 1993, Vertigo’s purpose was to publish adult comics including and not shying away from nudity, drug use, profanity and graphic violence.
While Vertigo titles included worldly famous titles such as The Sandman, Hellblazer, Preacher, Y: The Last Man and Fables, Vertigo also published a slate of bizarre and challenging comic books which are highly sought after. Even to this day.
Here at Phasr Media, we love the downright strange and bizarre comic books. Even more so than their superhero counterparts. For the most part, we’ve avoided the Vertigo Comics where the characters originally heralded from a DC Comics book. For example: Shade, the Changing Man.
Instead, we’ve opted for a list more consistent with Vertigo Comics’ original characters or series that were still in the midst of publication during the inception of Vertigo and transitioned from the main DC Comics brand to Vertigo Comics. For example: Doom Patrol.
Let’s do a deep dive into some of the best and bizarre Vertigo titles which you simply must check out before you die!
1. 100 Bullets (Published by Vertigo Comics)
100 Bullets is an American comic book published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint. It’s written by Brian Azzarello and illustrated by Eduardo Risso. 100 Bullets ran for 100 issues and won the Eisner Award and Harvey Award.
100 Bullets is based on the core question of would you act on the desire of violent revenge if given the means, opportunity, and a reasonable chance of success? Many of the first issues involve the mysterious Agent Graves approaching someone who has been a victim of a terrible wrong. Graves gives them the opportunity to take revenge by providing a handgun, 100 bullets, and documentation about the primary target responsible for their woes. He informs the candidate the bullets are completely untraceable by any law enforcement investigation, and as soon as they are found at any crime scene, investigations will immediately cease.
So, would you exact revenge on someone who has wronged you if given the opportunity when you knew you’d have a 99% chance of getting away with it?
2. 2020 Visions (Published by Vertigo Comics)
2020 Visions (sometimes referred to as 20/20 Visions) is a science fiction comic book published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint. It’s written by Jamie Delano and drawn by four artists (Frank Quitely, Warren Pleece, James Romberger and Steve Pugh). 2020 Visions was originally serialized as a twelve-issue full-color limited series from 1997 to 1998 at the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics, however, it was later collected in black-and-white in a 2004 hardcover by Cyberosia Publishing and a 2005 trade paperback by Speakeasy Comics. Then, recently, a new edition of the trade paperback was released in full color in 2019 by ComicMix.
2020 Visions is an incredible anthology which tells four different stories over three issue arcs. The first arc, “Lust for Life”, is the horror tale. The second arc, “La Tormenta,” is the crime tale. The third arc, “Renegade,” is the western tale. The fourth arc, “Repro Man,” is the romance arc. With all stories loosely linked to one another by the genetic relationship of the protagonist in each tale and taking place in the year 2020.
2020 Visions is a bizarre series and the linking of the key protagonists in each tale doesn’t pay off for everyone who reads it. However, it’s telling just how much can be achieved in the world of comic books.
3. Adventures in the Rifle Brigade (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Adventures in the Rifle Brigade is the name of two Vertigo comic book limited series published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint. It’s written by writer Garth Ennis and illustrated by artist Carlos Ezquerra. The first series, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade, was released in 2000. Its sequel, Adventures in the Rifle Brigade: Operation: Bollock, was released in 2001 and 2002.
The Rifle Brigade is a British special forces commando unit commanded by Captain Darcy and staffed with a variety of oddball and at times deviant soldiers from varied British cities and allied nations. The two stories concerns their various covert missions across Europe and Africa and their relevance to the Allied victory.
The two mini-series look and feel like an aborted attempt at the long running Commando comic book.
A UK comic book magazine first published in the early 60s and it would not surprise me if this is where Ennis drew his influences from.
Will the Rifle Brigade be able to locate the missing testicle of Adolf Hitler in the small Arabic country of Semmen?
Yes, you read that right.
4. Air (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Air was an ongoing comic book series published by Vertigo Comics. It was written by writer G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by artist M. K. Perker. Air is where the word bizarre is taken to the Nth degree. Stay with me, true believer, it gets really strange from here.
Blythe, an acrophobic flight attendant for the fictional Clearfleet Airlines, is invited to join the “Etesian Front”, which claims to be an anti-terrorist organization which is in fact the exact opposite. . The Etesians trick Blythe into transporting plans for a terrorist attack. When she discovers this, she and a man named Zayn are kidnapped and taken on board the plane that is the hijack target. Later, Zayn and Blythe leap clear of the plane as it crashes into the sea. The head of the Etesian Front, a man named Benjamin Lancaster, also survives.
Zayn is later accosted by Lancaster in Narimar, a place that ostensibly disappeared from maps during the 1947 Partition of India, and interrogated as to the whereabouts of an Aztec artifact. Blythe follows him to Narimar, where she is designated by the Etesian Front a “hyperpract”. Basically it’s someone with the power to move into different dimensions or realities.
5. American Century (Published by Vertigo Comics)
American Century was a comic book series published by DC Comics as a part of the Vertigo imprint. It was co-written by Howard Chaykin and David Tischman. American Century concerned a former American pilot who fakes his death and goes on the run in the 1950s. In an interview, Chaykin said he intended it as a “left-wing version of Steve Canyon.” A comic strip which was published from 1947 until 1988.
In American Century, Harry Block (a WWII Vet), fakes his own death and makes his way to Central America to create a new identity for himself as Harry Kraft, a hard-drinking smuggler. During a war in Guatemala, a CIA operative blackmails Block into assassinating Rosa de Santiis, a popular leader in opposition to the CIA puppet dictator General Zavala. Afterward, takes a road trip from Hollywood to Chicago to New York, exploring all sorts of facets of 1950s American culture.
Do you know 1950s Americana as well as Harry Block?
6. American Freak: A Tale of the Un-Men (Published by Vertigo Comics)
American Freak: A Tale of the Un-Men was a five-issue limited series comic book published by DC Comics under its Vertigo imprint. It was written by Dave Louapre and illustrated by Vince Locke and ran from February to June 1994.
The story follows 23 year-old Damien Kane’s painful transformation into a freak, and his escape (with the assistance of a telepathic, first-generation Un-Man named Crassus). Crassus tricks Kane into traveling with him to Romania, promising the lad that his “creator”, Arcane, might be able to help reverse the mutation. This is, of course, complete and utter bullshit. Crassus’s secret goal is to make Kane rescue a gaggle of other next-generation Un-Men from the clutches of a depraved millionaire who forces them to perform in a private sideshow.
If medical experiments gone wrong, mutants and circus freaks of nature are your thing then American Freak is your poison!
7. American Vampire (Published by Vertigo Comics)
American Vampire is a comic book series created by writer Scott Snyder and illustrated by artist Rafael Albuquerque. It was published by Vertigo Comics. It was also one of the very last Vertigo titles as American Vampire continued under the newly-created DC Black Label imprint after Vertigo was closed in January 2020.
American Vampire depicts vampires as a population made up of many different secret species, and charts moments of vampire evolution and inter-species conflict throughout history. The focus of the series is a new American bloodline of vampires, born in the American West in the late 19th century. James Woods’ Vampires film, anyone? The first five issues featured two stories (one by Snyder and the other by Stephen King), both drawn by Rafael Albuquerque. With the sixth issue, Scott Snyder took over as sole writer. American Vampire spawned two spin off series (American Vampire: Second Cycle, 2014-2015 and American Vampire: 1976, 2020-2021).
Who will triumph when there’s Vampires in the American West – the humans or the vampires?
8. Army@Love (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Army@Love is an American comic book series from Vertigo Comics, which started in May 2007. It is drawn and scripted by Rick Veitch, with Gary Erskine on inking duties. With Issue #12 published in February 2008 was the “season finale”. Due to popularity, a second series of 6 issues, titled Army@Love: The Art of War soon followed in August 2008. The story follows the adventures of a unit of New Jersey National Guard in “Afbaghistan”, a fictional Middle Eastern country. You get three guesses on which real middle eastern country Afbaghistan is based on.
The Army@Love unit includes both men and women, a great deal of the action following the amorous adventures of various members. The contrast between the surreal combat in Afbaghistan and the comfortable lives of the rear echelon and the people the Guardsmen have left behind is also a recurring theme.
You can judge this comic by its cover and make an apt assumption that Army@Love is far from a children’s book.
9. Bite Club (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Bite Club is a Vertigo comic book mini series published by Vertigo Comics. Its created by writers Howard Chaykin and David Tischman. Bite Club is a crime story in which the protagonists are vampires living in Miami, Florida. In the past, co-writer Chaykin has said the comic was a metaphor for racial profiling and the immigrant experience.
Set after the murder of vampire crime boss Eduardo del Toro, his heirs and relatives begin to make a play for control of his organization. To their dismay, Toro in his will named his youngest son, a Roman Catholic priest and vampire named Leto, as his successor. What follows can best be described as Vampire Godfather as numerous Vampire relatives and factions vie for control of the Vampire mafia.
Who wins out and becomes the ultimate Vampire Godfather?
10. Chiarroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Chiaroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo da Vinci was a limited series published by Vertigo Comics. Chiaroscuro was published from 1995 to 1996, which was then repackaged in 2005 as a single volume. The series was written by Pat McGreal and David Rawson and illustrated by Chaz Truog and Rafael Kayanan. While the original series covers were done by Stephen John Philips and Richard Bruning.
Chiaroscuro is a work of historical fiction. Providing an ongoing narrative on the life of Leonardo da Vinci from the point of view of Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno (called Salai in the story), a beautiful young man Leonardo adopted as a boy. It shows the influence of their relationship on Leonardo’s life and work. Salai is depicted as a scheming, ambitious and selfish character. Resulting in Chiaroscuro depicting that several (less than ideal) events that occurred in Leonardo’s life were due to Salai’s scheming and manipulations.
11. Codename: Knockout (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Codename: Knockout was a comic book series published by Vertigo Comics. It ran for 24 issues (numbered #0–23) between June 2001 and June 2003. Codename: Knockout was created by writer Robert Rodi and artist Louis Small, Jr. The title was billed as a “mature readers” comedy series featuring absurdist espionage plots and artwork heavily inspired by the good girl art of the 1950s and 1960s.
Codename: Knockout follows the adventures of buxom blonde Angela St. Grace, a secret agent and operative for the “G.O.O.D.” (Global Organization for the Obliteration of Dastardliness) organization as she battles the nefarious agents of “E.V.I.L.” (Extralegal Vendors of Iniquity and Licentiousness). Throughout the series, Angela St Grace is assisted by her partner Go Go Fiasco, a young, gay fellow agent and by her mother Celeste St. Grace, the leader of the G.O.O.D. organization.
Will Angela St. Grace defeat the axis of E.V.I.L. ?
12. Crossing Midnight (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Crossing Midnight is a horror/fantasy comic book series published by Vertigo Comics. Set in contemporary Japan, Crossing Midnight was written by Mike Carey and illustrated by Jim Fern and Eric Nguyen, with covers by J. H. Williams III. Due to poor sales, Crossing Midnight concluded after 19 issues.
The Crossing Midnight storyline focuses on the Nagasaki twins Kai and Toshi are born either side of midnight, an unexpected result of their father’s frivolous prayer at their grandmother’s shrine. Toshi is seemingly invulnerable to harm; a fall onto spiked railings as a child reveals this while Kai is impossible to injure with a knife. The story appears to be deeply rooted in Japanese myth and culture. Not to mention the ongoing theme of two halves completing the whole when past versus future is constantly brought up.
Will you embrace Japanese culture in this Horror/Fantasy series?
13. Daytripper (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Daytripper was a ten-issue comic book mini-series published by Vertigo Comics. It was created by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá.
Brás de Oliva Domingos, the protagonist of the story, is the son of Benedito, an internationally renowned writer. While he writes obituaries for the newspaper he concentrates on his side hustle: writing novels afterhours and on the weekends. Where Daytripper taps into its own uniqueness as the reader witnesses important days in Brás’ life, including the challenges he is facing: travel, family, relationship, childhood, fatherhood. With each issue of Daytripper ending with a different version of dying.
Daytripper addresses the question: “what is the meaning of life?”
14. Deadman (Published by Vertigo Comics)
The fourth series of Deadman was published by Vertigo Comics. Perhaps because it featured a sort of superhero who was dead and existed on another plane? Who the hell knows. It has certainly become a fan favourite over recent years.
In the Bruce Jones version, airline pilot Brandon Cayce is killed and after refusing to pass on into another life he accepts this new half life, half death existence. Conceptually, a bit like Spawn. Except… not. Thankfully, there’s very little superhero entanglement and instead is more of a drama/thriller involving those that Brandon Cayce left behind.
15. Doom Patrol (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Doom Patrol are a group of misfit superheroes whose gifts have caused them alienation and trauma. Although, Grant Morrison has long been considered to be behind the helm of Doom Patrol during the glory days of Vertigo Comics, it was actually writer Rachel Pollack – who took over writing duties with Doom Patrol – Issue 64 (the first under the Vertigo imprint).
Pollack’s run had Dorothy as a primary member of the Patrol; she brought her imaginary friends to her aid in combat. Overall, Pollack’s run dealt with issues such as the generation gap, humanity, identity, transgender issues, bisexuality, and borrowed elements from Judaism and Kabbalah in the last few issues. For example, the angel Akatriel is used as a major character in the last four issues.
If you’re a fan of the TV show then you’ll probably feel most drawn to Grant Morrison and Rachel Pollack’s run as the show often feels like an amalgamation of these two eras thrown into a blender. A weird, sexy, fanciful blender.
16. The Dreaming (Published by Vertigo Comics)
If you’ve been beating around the Neil Gaiman bush then you’ve probably put two and two together to work out The Dreaming is Sandman related. And you’re right. The Dreaming, published by Vertigo Comics, was an anthology series of sorts set in the Sandman universe and due to its anthological (if that’s even a word) nature, it was drawn and coloured by many artists. Too many to mention.
Sadly, Neil Gaiman was quick to undo the events of The Dreaming comics with the publication of Endless Nights, set just one year after The Dreaming ended. Meaning the events in The Dreaming were largely ignored in Endless Nights and, consequently, made the entire volume of The Dreaming largely irrelevant. Such as the death of Matthew the raven and, later, The Dreaming (2018) rendition which pretty scrubbed the enture original run.
Was this Neil Gaiman’s way of flipping the bird to editor Alisa Kwitney and co? Yes.
17. The Extremist (Published by Vertigo Comics)
The Extremist was a four-issue comic book mini-series, written by Peter Milligan with art by Ted McKeever. The series was published by DC Comics through their Vertigo comics imprint from September to December 1993. If you’re after sleaze, sex clubs and offensive meandering then The Extremist is one to watch out for in the bargain bin.
Funny enough, it was originally created by Brendan McCarthy, who gave it to Peter Milligan to develop as a comic series because he “couldn’t be bothered to draw it”.
My kind of guy. Lol.
18. Fables (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Fables is one of the most commercially successful Vertigo Comics series. Created and written by Bill Willingham and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Willingham served as sole writer for the entire Fables run, with Mark Buckingham penciling more than 110 issues.
The series featured various other pencillers over the years, most notably Lan Medina and Steve Leialoha. Fables was launched in July 2002 and concluded in July 2015. However, in June 2021, it was announced that Fables would be getting revived in 2022 with a 12-issue continuation to the main series, as well as a 6-issue spinoff miniseries.
As the name would suggest, Fables features various characters from fairy tales and folklore – referring to themselves as “Fables” – who formed a clandestine community centuries ago within New York City known as Fabletown, after their Homelands were conquered by a mysterious and deadly enemy known as “The Adversary”.
Fables follows several of Fabletown’s legal representatives, such as sheriff Bigby Wolf, deputy mayor Snow White, her sister Rose Red, Prince Charming, and Boy Blue, as they deal with troublesome Fables and try to solve conflicts in both Fabletown and “the Farm”, a hidden town in upstate New York for Fables unable to blend in with human society.
Does The Adversary return in the series? Of course. It’s comics!
19. Federal Bureau of Physics (Published by Vertigo Comics)
FBP: Federal Bureau of Physics was an American comic book series by Simon Oliver and Robbi Rodriguez, distributed by Vertigo Comics. FBP imagines a world where disturbances in the laws of physics are as common as weather, and necessitate forecasts about wormhole locations, momentary gravity losses, and entropy reversals.
With much fanfare, the government creates a new bureaucratic organization to deal with quantum disturbances, the Federal Bureau of Physics. Because the FBI worked out just fine in the real world, right? /sarcasm
The FBP storyline follows special agent Adam Hardy as he deals with internal departmental battles and increasingly dangerous and radical quantum disasters. And if you think that description is wild then wait until you see the colour scheme.
20. Flex Mentallo (Published by Vertigo Comics)
If you’re familiar with the well documented fictional history of the Doom Patrol then you probably recognise the lead character in this comic. But for those unfamiliar, Flex Mentallo was a comic book series (and character) created by writer Grant Morrison, drawn (at least for this series) by Frank Quietly and published by Vertigo Comics.
Just like in the original run of Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol, there’s lots of flexing. So much flexing, in fact, your hands will probably tense up as you hold onto Flex Mentallo #1.
21. Greatest Hits
Greatest Hits is a six-issue comic book limited series, published in 2008 by Vertigo Comics. The series was written by David Tischman, with art by Glenn Fabry.
The main character team are The Mates. While there are parallels with The Beatles and each character is a pastiche of a superhero, Tischman insisted the concept was much broader than that. Still, this defiance didn’t stop the first issue of Greatest Hits from receiving average reviews from critics like the Comics Bulletin.
Greatest Hits is told through Come Together, a Behind the Music-like documentary looking back on the team directed by Nick Mansfield, the son of one of The Mates. It then relates the history of the fictional universe’s through the decades, each one bringing their own types of superhero.
22. The Horrorist (Published by Vertigo Comics)
The Horrorist was an occult and horror-themed comic book limited series written by Jamie Delano, with art by David Lloyd, and published by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo. It was a spin-off of Vertigo’s popular Hellblazer series and features the character John Constantine. The book consisted of two 52-page issues without advertisements, published in December 1995 and January 1996 respectively.
The story revolves around Angel, who as a young girl was rescued from war-torn Mozambique, and who witnessed the most unspeakable war crimes and atrocities. As an adult, in the present day, Angel becomes a “Horrorist”, someone who redistributes pain by unveiling to people the suffering of others. Sometimes this takes the form of altered reality, such as several boys playing in the snow dying from landmines that were not there earlier.
Demonologist John Constantine is drawn to Angel, both sexually and psychologically, mostly out of a hope that she can penetrate his emotional numbness. While they have sex, Angel fills Constantine’s mind with all the suffering in the world, emptying herself, which ultimately restores a bit of Constantine’s lost humanity at the apparent cost of her life.
23. Human Target (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Human Target is an espionage-related comic series written by Peter Milligan and published by Vertigo Comics. Human Target was based on the Human Target character (surprise, surprise) created in 1972 by Len Wein (Swamp Thing creator) and Carmine Infantino.
Though this may be the first time you’ve heard of the Human Target character and his mini-series, it’s worth noting the original Vertigo miniseries was so successful that an original graphic novel was published afterwards and later, an ongoing series.
25. Industrial Gothic (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Industrial Gothic was a five-issue comic book limited series written and illustrated by Ted McKeever. It was edited by Lou Stathis and published in 1995 by Vertigo Comics.
Industrial Gothic follows characters; Pencil and Nickel, two inmates of a prison in a dystopian society in which ugliness is a crime. Pencil was born in the prison; Nickel is incarcerated there because she has no arms or legs. They decide to escape, in order to find a semi-mythical place called The Aluminium Tower, in which everyone is accepted no matter what they look like.
26. iZombie (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Given the playfulness of The CW tv show, it may surprise you that iZombie hails from the ranks of Vertigo. Especially, given the dark and sleazy exploits of title runs like The Extremist and The Horrorist. Still, it had to start somewhere and thankfully it started with such a pivotal imprint like Vertigo Comics.
Originally titled I, Zombie, was created by writer Chris Roberson and artist Michael Allred. The series deals with Gwen Dylan, a revenant gravedigger in Eugene, Oregon and her friends Ellie, a 1960s ghost, and Scott, a were-terrier. A stark contrast to the show in which she worked at the Morgue.
Like the show, Gwen Dylan can pass for a regular girl, but she needs to eat a brain once a month to keep from losing her memories and intelligence. As a gravedigger, she has plenty of access to recently deceased people; when she consumes their brains she “inherits” part of the deceased’s thoughts.
iZombie was nominated for the 2011 Eisner Award for Best New Series. Hardly surprising. Let’s face it, iZombie is basically the best.
27. Joe the Barbarian (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Joe the Barbarian was an eight-issue comic book limited series written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Sean Murphy. It was published in 2010-2011 by Vertigo Comics.
Joe is a teenage boy with Type 1 diabetes. When his blood sugar drops and he enters a state of hypoglycemia, he begins to hallucinate, and enters a fantasy world populated with his toys and other fantasy characters. Here he becomes embroiled in a war with King Death, while in the real world he searches for a soda to fix his blood sugar. Sounds like my type of guy. HINT HINT. Joe knows there is one in the kitchen downstairs, but it is extremely far away, made farther by his medical condition affecting his mobility.
Joe the Barbarian was collected into a single 224 page volume back in 2011. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a lighter slice of the proverbial Grant Morrison cake.
28. Kill Your Boyfriend (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Kill Your Boyfriend is the title of a comic book one-shot. It was written by Grant Morrison and drawn by Philip Bond and D’Israeli for DC Comics Vertigo imprint in June 1995.
Kill Your Boyfriend is a dark satire of British youth culture which revolves round a bookish middle class schoolgirl, who has a bland and unexciting life until she meets a strange young boy who convinces her to kill her boyfriend. They then go on the run together for a series of anarchic adventures across Britain.
Meeting up with a group of travellers in a double-decker bus, the pair indulge in more crime and sexual experimentation before making their way to Blackpool where they meet their final fate.
29. Mnemovore (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Mnemovore was a six-issue horror comic book limited series published under the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics from June 2005. Mnemovore was co-written by Ray Fawkes and Hans Rodionoff, and illustrated (with painted covers) by Mike Huddleston.
The story focuses on Kaley Markowic, a young snowboarder who suffers a career-ending head injury during a competition, and loses part of her memory. While trying to recuperate from her head trauma, she discovers that the memories of others are being consumed by an ancient monster known as the Mnemovore. Kaley’s amnesia leaves her immune to the monster’s attacks, and the only one who can stop it.
In October 2007, at the H.P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, Mnemovore co-creator Hans Rodionoff screened a 10-minute sample reel for a proposed feature film based on the comic book. The sample reel featured Kristen Bell as Kaley Markowic, and Michael Biehn as her therapist. Rodionoff stated that the film would have been executive produced by Guillermo del Toro, and produced by Don Murphy and Susan Montford. Rodionoff had written the script and was set to direct as well. However, the film was never completed.
Seriously? Robbed I tell ya. ROBBED!
30. The New Deadwardians (Published by Vertigo Comics)
The New Deadwardians was an eight issue comic book series written by Dan Abnett and with artwork by I.N.J. Culbard. The New Deadwardian was published by Vertigo Comics from March 2012 onwards.
The comic follows Chief Inspector George Suttle as he attempts to solve crimes in a post-Victorian England where the upper classes are composed of vampires and the lower class of zombies and humans. As Suttle tries to get to the bottom of an upper-class citizen’s murder, he discovers that there’s more to this murder than meets the eye.
Common themes in The New Deadwardians involve class relations as well as the women’s rights movement as seen by suffragettes fighting for the right to become vampires on their own terms.
31. Northlanders (Published by Vertigo Comics)
If you’re a big Vikings fan then this is one you’ll want to strap yourself in for.
Northlanders was an American comic book series published by Vertigo Comics. The stories are fictional but set in and around historical events during the Viking Age.
Northlanders alternates between long and short story arcs, each of which deals with a different protagonist in a different time period within the Viking Age. Primarily, the comic is divided into three “arcs.”
The first story arc, “Sven the Returned”, runs through issues #1–8 and is set in A.D. 980. It follows a self-exiled Viking warrior named Sven who has been serving in the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and is now returning to his birth region in the Orkney Islands in order to reclaim his rightful inheritance.
The second arc, “Lindisfarne”, runs through issues #9 and 10, and is about a young boy and the sacking of the Lindisfarne monastery in A.D. 793, the beginning of the Viking Age.
The third arc, “The Cross + The Hammer”, runs through issues #11–16 and is set around Dublin, Ireland circa the Battle of Clontarf, which took place in A.D. 1014; it deals with the pursuit of an Irishman and his daughter who attacks the occupying Viking forces using guerrilla tactics.
32. Otherworld (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Otherworld is a creator-owned mini series by writer/artist Phil Jimenez released in 2005 and published by Vertigo Comics. The book was described by Jimenez is “The Real World meets The Lord of the Rings meets Tron”.
Otherworld is an epic, multipart “space opera” about a group of Los Angeles college students who find themselves on the front lines of an inter-dimensional border war. Otherworld revolves around 19-year-old Siobhan Monyihan, a student at the fictional University of Los Angeles and the progressive lead singer of a burgeoning LA band, and her boyfriend and rival, Jason Ng.
Siobhan is an incredibly powerful sorceress, descended from a mystic lineage millennia old, and alone holds the key to stopping the impending war in Otherworld, the Celtic land of magic and the dead. Drafted into the same conflict, Jason, a brilliant young man whose worldview is more clearly delineated in black and white, assumes control of the military forces of Siobhan’s enemies, the Technocracy.
It’s basic good versus evil trope. My race vs your race. Very American.
33. Outlaw Nation
Outlaw Nation was an American comic book series originally published by Vertigo Comics and ran from 2000 to 2002. Outlaw Nation was created by Jamie Delano and Goran Sudzuka about a family with extremely long lifespans.
Strangely enough, the series was collected by Desperado Studios and Image Comics into a single black & white trade paperback containing 456 pages, which was released back on November 8, 2006.
34. Punk Rock Jesus (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Punk Rock Jesus was a six-issue limited series comic book created by Sean Murphy and published by Vertigo Comics. Punk Rock Jesus ran for six issues from September 2012 to January 2013 and was collected as a trade paperback in April 2013.
Set in 2019, an entertainment company named OPHIS (Greek for serpent) starts what’s known as the “J2 Project”, a plan to resurrect Jesus Christ. Okay. A clone of Jesus Christ is made with DNA from the Shroud of Turin. Okay. The young Jesus is raised on an island with his entire life dictated and televised and viewed by nearly the entire world. Faced with these stresses the young Jesus ultimately becomes a rebellious punk rocker. Hang on – WTF?!
Religious zealots either love or hate the show and politicians begin to fret over potential influences on the nation. The scientific community fears the implications of the cloning itself.
Yes, you probably guess it. A lot of the inspiration was fuelled by the fear around human cloning. A fear which only hardcore christian types identify with.
35. Rogan Gosh (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Rogan Gosh is the title of a British comic book story written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Brendan McCarthy. Originally serialised in the 2000 AD spin-off title Revolver in 1990, Rogan Gosh was later collected into a single edition by Vertigo Comics.
Described as an Indian science fiction series, the story is an example of Milligan and McCarthy’s post-modernist psychedelic style of storyline described by some readers as confusing or challenging.
Albeit a tad insensitive, the name is a play on rogan josh (an Indian curry dish).
Yeah, that didn’t age well.
36. Scalped (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Scalped was a 60-issue crime/western comic book series written by Jason Aaron, illustrated by R. M. Guéra and published by Vertigo Comics.
Scalped began in January 2007, focusing on the Oglala Lakota inhabitants of the fictional Prairie Rose Indian Reservation in modern-day South Dakota as they grapple with organized crime, rampant poverty, drug addiction and alcoholism, local politics and the preservation of their cultural identity.
Interestingly though, Scalped originally began as a prospective relaunch of Scalphunter, an older DC character. However, as development proceeded, much of the original concept was dropped in favor of the plot and direction you’ll find in Scalped.
37. Spaceman (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Spaceman was a nine-issue, science fiction comic book miniseries written by Brian Azzarello, illustrated by Eduardo Risso, and published by Vertigo Comics.
Set in a post-apocalyptic near future, Spaceman tells the story of Orson, a hulking, lonely man who was genetically engineered by NASA to sustain long-term space flight. Flashbacks show Orson and other engineered participants of the project living and working on Mars. After NASA shuts down, however, Orson lives alone on Earth, salvaging scrap metal for a living. That is, until he finds himself at the center of a celebrity child kidnapping case.
Brian Azzarello fans who will note his recent fan favourite series like Faithless (BOOM! Studios) and Batman: Damned (DC Comics) will find it interesting that the first issue of Spaceman sold for only $1.
Inflation be damned!
38. Sweet Tooth (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Sweet Tooth is an American comic book limited series written and drawn by Canadian Jeff Lemire and published by DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint. Dubbed by some critics as “Mad Max meets Bambi”, it starred a human/deer hybrid named Gus and his many adventures which mostly take place in a rural post-apocalyptic setting with other creatures who are also human/animal hybrids.
Following the conclusion of the original Sweet Tooth series in January 2013, a sequel entitled Sweet Tooth: The Return, began publication in November 2020. While a Netflix adaptation of the original comic was released on June 4, 2021.
As a post-apocalyptic story, Sweet Tooth tackles themes of end of the world, nature vs the human race, evolution and racism.
39. Transmetropolitan (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Transmetropolitan was a cyberpunk transhumanist comic book series written by Warren Ellis and co-created and designed by Darick Robertson. Interestingly, Transmetropolitan was not originally published by Vertigo, as it was originally part of the DC Comics sci-fi imprint called Helix. We’ve included it in this Vertigo list as it was the only Helix book to survive the fallout of every other Helix title being abruptly cancelled. Transmetropolitan was then moved to the Vertigo line with Issue 13.
Transmetropolitan chronicles the battles of Spider Jerusalem, infamous renegade gonzo journalist of the future. Spider Jerusalem dedicates himself to fighting the corruption and abuse of power of two successive United States presidents. He and his “filthy assistants” strive to keep their world from turning more dystopian than it already is while dealing with the struggles of fame and power, brought about due to the popularity of Spider via his articles.
The entire set of Transmetropolitan trade paperbacks are now published under the DC Comics Black Label line. It seems that DC Comics will do whatever they can in order to keep a Warren Ellis book alive and well.
40. Trillium (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Trillium is a creator owned 8-issue comic series, which was written and illustrated by Jeff Lemire, and published by Vertigo Comics in 2013. Lemire’s Sweet Tooth collaborator José Villarrubia was the colorist for the entire Trillium story. With Carlos M. Mangual performing lettering duties.
Trillium is an inter-dimensional, time traveling love story between two explorers in two different time periods: William Pike, a World War I veteran on an expedition to the lost temples of the Incas in Peru in 1921, and Nika Temsmith, a botanist researching a strange flower on the outer-rim of colonized space in 3797. Separated by thousands of years, William and Nika’s budding love threatens the fabric of the universe.
It’s worth mentioning here that that the work of Arthur C. Clarke and Moebius, and contemporary comic series Saga, had a major influence on Jeff Lemire’s writing and illustrating throughout Trillium.
41. The Unwritten (Published by Vertigo Comics)
The Unwritten is an American comic book written by Mike Carey, art by Peter Gross and published by Vertigo Comics. The Unwritten follows Tom Taylor, who was the inspiration for a series of hugely successful children’s fantasy novels in the vein of Harry Potter.
The Unwritten deals with themes related to fame, celebrity, and the relationship between fiction and human consciousness. It also bares similar resemblance to other comic books that push the envelope on reality such as Sandman and Locke and Key. Or, even better, John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness.
42. Vimanarama (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Vimanarama was a three-issue comic book mini-series written by Grant Morrison, art by Philip Bond, and published by Vertigo Comics. Set in the United Kingdom (again? really?), it follows the story of Ali, a British Asian man who must confront ancient monsters inspired by Indian folklore, as well as more mundane crises in his family and personal life.
In addition to the mundane bs in his life, Ali must confront a team of ancient and somewhat naive superheroes, who are the only ones that can stop ancient monsters unleashed upon the world by a baby in Ali’s family. If you’re getting mad Jack Kirby-like vibes then you’re on the right track as this is as close to The Eternals as Grant Morrison has ever gone.
There’s also a dash of Arabian Nights-style romance mixed thrown in this haphazard mix of psychedelia and general oddness.
43. The Vinyl Underground
The Vinyl Underground was a comic book written by Si Spencer, art by Simon Gane and published by Vertigo Comics. The Vinyl Underground debuted in October 2007 and ran for twelve issues before its cancellation in September 2008.
The Vinyl Underground is a love–hate story about the streets of London that shaped its characters, and that shaped its author (Spencer). The Vinyl Underground is a fast-paced, ultra-cool ongoing crime-noir series, featuring an unlikely quartet of occult detectives secretly solving crimes that are mediocre at best. From DJ crack bars in Camden to the elegant, high-society ballrooms that make up modern London.
It’s the individual characters, not the story, that make The Vinyl Underground such an entertaining read.
44. Y: The Last Man
Y: The Last Man was a post-apocalyptic science fiction comic book series written by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Pia Guerra and published by Vertigo from 2002 through 2008. The series centers on Yorick Brown and his pet Capuchin monkey Ampersand, the only males who survived the apparent global androcide.
Y: The Last Man was published in sixty issues by Vertigo and collected in a series of ten paperback volumes (now you can find it in 5 Deluxe volumes). The series received three Eisner Awards. A television series adaptation premiered on September 13, 2021, on FX on Hulu. However, it was shortly cancelled after a few episodes aired. Ironically, during the Covid-19 global pandemic.
On July 17, 2002, all living mammals with a Y chromosome—including embryos and sperm—simultaneously die, with the exception of a young amateur escape artist named Yorick Brown and his Capuchin monkey, Ampersand. Many women die as a secondary effect of male deaths, such as plane and car crashes. Society is plunged into chaos as infrastructures collapse, and the surviving women everywhere try to cope with the loss of men, and the belief that humanity is doomed to extinction.
The majority of Y: The Last Man concentrates on Yorick, Ampersand and their companions, as they try to get to the bottom of what killed every living thing with a Y chromosome. And most importantly – how to fix it. You won’t guess what the cause is!
45. Young Liars (Published by Vertigo Comics)
Young Liars is a comic book series created by David Lapham. It was published by under the Vertigo imprint with the first issue debuting in March 2008.
Young Liars centers around a group of 20-somethings in modern-day New York City, though the story quickly expands to other parts of America and the world. All of them have disturbing secrets about themselves that they keep from the others, and even the readers are left to decide what is true and what are lies.
Unfortunately, the series was abruptly cancelled with Young Liars #18 being the last issue.
Which is your favourite Vertigo Comics title?
Which is your favourite Vertigo Comics title? Did we miss any?
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