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Photoillustration: Christophe Haubursin/Vox; Images: DC, Marvel, Image Comics, Jasin Boland

If you loved Mad Max and Age of Ultron, here’s what you should be streaming and reading

We're knee-deep in summer movie season, and it's been a thrilling one for comic book fans. This year's biggest comic book film, Avengers: Age of Ultron, is already behind us, while Ant-Man and Fantastic Four are on tap for July and August, respectively. And just beyond those, tantalizing prospects like Captain America: Civil War and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice loom on the horizon.

In the days leading up to Age of Ultron's May 1 release, Marvel supplied us with teaser after teaser and trailer after trailer. And once the movie debuted, it brought with it a final scene that's bound to shake up the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That's made the relative silence of late May and early June feel deafening.

Luckily, for fans of great superhero or comic book stories who are looking for their next hit, there are more options than what's on the silver screen. Here are 10 television shows, comic books, and animated features for you to stream, read, or watch until the next comic-based movie comes along:

1

Daredevil

Daredevil Netflix

Medium: TV series

Why it's worth checking out: Marvel's Daredevil, a co-venture with Netflix, is brooding, bloody, and haunting. The show's grit and gore set it apart from Marvel's other projects in that it really delves into human fragility within the framework of its hyper-violent, noir world. There's a vulnerability to Daredevil's characters — both its heroes and villains — that isn't present in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and it carries over into the show's kinetic fight sceneswhere even our hero gets exhausted.

Perfect for: Someone who's been itching for Marvel to experiment with noir.

Where to find it: The first season of Daredevil — 13 episodes — is available on Netflix.

Image credit: Netflix

2

The Flash

Flash

Medium: TV series

Why it's worth checking out: The Flash's best asset is that it's unabashedly fun. The CW series isn't afraid to be silly — and we're talking "it involves a psychic gorilla" levels of silly — in the face of so many fellow movies and television shows where everything is grounded in reality. It's more concerned with having fun and being fun than with being critically acclaimed.

Everything starts with the hero. Barry Allen is cut from a different pattern. He's a superhero who is happy and joyful. He's someone who is organically good, even with his own tragic backstory (involving the murder of his mother and his father's imprisonment for the crime). The Flash is infused with this joy and goodness, and its first season became a delight to watch.

Perfect for: Someone who prefers Guardians of the Galaxy to The Dark Knight.

Where to find it: The first three episodes of The Flash are available on Hulu, the full season is available on Amazon and on iTunes.

Image credit: The CW/Warner Bros.

3

Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox

Justice League Flashpoint Paradox

Medium: Animated film

Why it's worth checking out: One of the more puzzling things about DC Comics and Warner Bros.' middling films (with the exception of some of Christopher Nolan's work) and the lack of excitement surrounding the Batman v. Superman trailer is that DC and Warner Bros. absolutely dominate Marvel in other geek genres like animation and video games. The animated feature Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox is a great example. The film is true to its challenging source material — a story where the Flash wakes up in a dystopian, completely messed-up reality where two of Earth's heroes are at war and Superman doesn't exist — and translates it to a weighty, pensive piece of art that even comic book neophytes can understand.

Perfect for: Someone who doesn't quite get why Superman and Batman will be fighting each other next year.

Where to find it: Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox is available on iTunes, Google Play, and Xbox video.

Image credit: Warner Bros./DC


4

The Dark Knight Returns

Dark Knight Returns

Medium: Comic book

Why it's worth checking out: The Dark Knight Returns isn't Batman's first appearance in comic books, but it's the most epochal. Today, in large part due to Nolan's cinematic interpretation of the hero in films like The Dark Knight, Batman is seen as a dark, brooding antihero. Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns was the comic book that crystallized that image when it was published back in the '80s. Set in a dystopian future, The Dark Knight Returns imagines a world in which Superman is an agent of the government and crime is rampant. The series explores the idea of a hero going as dark as any villain. Fear, it argues, can be as inspiring as hope.

"I don't remember any covers with a zillion characters fighting with flame and smoke," Batman artist Greg Capullo told me at New York Comic-Con last year. "They're beautiful pieces of art. But they're there, and they're gone. They didn't live with me. The Dark Knight Returns is iconic. It sticks in my head because of its simplicity."

Perfect for: Someone who watched the aforementioned Justice League: Flashpoint Paradox but still doesn't quite get why Superman and Batman will be fighting each other next year.

Where to find it: The Dark Knight Returns is available as a digital comic and on Amazon.

Image credit: DC Comics


5

Bitch Planet

Medium: Comic book

Why it's worth checking out: Mad Max: Fury Road is this summer's biggest surprise, and one of the most riveting things about the film is the feminism in its bones. In that same vein, Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro's Bitch Planet features a more diverse and realized sense of the feminism and exploitation film tropes we find in Mad Max. DeConnick and De Landro's tale is a dystopian sci-fi space adventure. Noncompliant women who don't conform to the whims of a juiced-up patriarchy are sent to an interplanetary jail, and some are chosen to participate in a televised death match, an event meant to entertain the public.

"I also seem to be obsessed with that moment when our hero picks herself off the ground," DeConnick told me in an interview. "She's bloodied and battered, but she's not done yet. It's like I'm always writing to get to that moment."

Perfect for: Someone who wished Mad Max: Fury Road was called Imperator Furiosa: Fury Road.

Where to find it: Bitch Planet is available as a digital comic, on Amazon, and in stores.

Image credit: Image Comics


6

Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux & Immortan Joe

Mad Max

Medium: Comic book

Why it's worth checking out: The beauty of Mad Max: Fury Road is there are so many questions the film unapologetically does not answer. What ails Immortan Joe? How do people take baths? Where do Immortan Joe's wives come from? Who are those people in Max's flashbacks?

Some of these questions and many others will be answered in Vertigo's Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux & Immortan Joe comic book prequel, which aims to tell the story of Max and the rest of the gang of Fury Road and how things became the way they were in the film.

Perfect for: Someone who doesn't understand where all that shiny spray paint came from.

Where to find it: Mad Max: Fury Road: Nux & Immortan Joe is available as a digital comic and in stores.

Image credit: Vertigo


7

A-Force

A-Force

Medium: Comic book

Why it's worth checking out: By the time Marvel's first female-led movie, Captain Marvel, hits theaters in 2018, there will have been 19 Marvel movies centered on leading men or male-dominated superhero teams. That's a travesty. But everything is different in Marvel's comic books. Series like the female Thor and Ms. Marvel are big sellers, and the company has made an even bigger push as of late to get more women into the spotlight.

That effort has culminated in A-Force, a comic about an all-female superhero team composed of heavy hitters like She-Hulk, Captain Marvel, Storm, and Medusa. These women live in a place called Arcadia, where they make all the rules and call all the shots until one of their own makes a crucial mistake and exposes the fragile structure of this world and who's really in power. There's an anxious energy in this book, because you just know that Marvel's most powerful women won't go down without a fight.

Perfect for: Someone who would like to see the Scarlet Witch and Black Widow get their own spinoff movie.

Where to find it: A-Force is available as a digital comic and in stores.

Image credit: Marvel


8

The Wicked + The Divine

Medium: Comic book

Why it's worth checking out: Superheroes are often (sometimes literally) gods among men and women. We've seen this dynamic explored in several different ways, dealing with both morality and humanity; often, and particularly with the stories like those of Thor and Superman, our heroes are out there to prove they're just like you and me.

The Wicked + The Divine isn't interested in that notion. Created by Jamie McKelvie and Kieron Gillen, WicDiv is a story about gods living on a two-year prayer here on Earth. Once those two years are up, they die. So, like any god working against an expiration date, they become pop stars, enjoying the lavish life of fame and celebrity.

The story is as effortless as it is smart and chic — which is to say, immensely. What's more, it was recently announced that the comic book will be adapted into a television series.

Perfect for: Someone who's watched Taylor Swift's "Bad Blood" video too many times.

Where to find it: The Wicked + The Divine is available as a digital comic and in stores.

Image credit: Image Comics

9

Jupiter's Legacy and Jupiter's Circle

Jupiter's Circle

Medium: Comic books

Why it's worth checking out: Mark Millar's Jupiter franchise boasts two wildly different twists on the superhero narrative. Legacy, illustrated by artist Frank Quitely, is a dark, gothic tale of betrayal and power about the children of legendary superheroes who plot a bloody coup and have their sights set on strangling all the good from this world. It's a swirling, dark story with the faintest glimmer of hope.

Circle, drawn by artist Wilfredo Torres, is Legacy's inverted prequel — it lays down the foundation for the events we'll later see and glorifies the goodness of heroes, but also deals with the ugliness of human history. The story is less about action and more about the personal drama surrounding the parents in Legacy — they serve as a mirror image of Americans growing up in the 1950s and '60s.

It's utterly impossible that the details in Circle are anything like your relationship with your parents, yet the story feels strangely familiar because it delves into the universal idea that our parents will always be the most puzzling and well-known people in our lives.

Together, the two comics attempt to resolve a universal mystery of humanity: what's this weird thing we call family?

Perfect for: Someone who's going through Mad Men withdrawal and can't wait for Captain America: Civil War.

Where to find them: Jupiter's Legacy and Jupiter's Circle are available as digital comics and in stores.

Image credit: Image Comics


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