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There’s more to superheroes than those residing at Marvel and DC Comics. Sure, they might dominate the market, but that doesn’t mean they’re by default the best.
Outside the realms of the Big Two, superheroes are thriving on the more independently minded scene. From a mixture of throwback superheroics to off-beat adventures, and even some superheroes who are willing to go where DC and Marvel wouldn’t let their own properties, there’s a cornucopia out there for readers. And now, we’re spotlighting six standouts in that superhero mix in this week’s “Six by 6.”
Archer & Armstrong (Valiant): This longtime Valiant duo just got a second lease on life in the hands of Fred Van Lente and Clayton Henry. Created by the inspired trio of Jim Shooter, Bob Layton and Barry Windsor-Smith, this odd couple has found its ideal writer in Van Lente, who pushes up the angst between the beer-swilling demigod Armstrong and the more sheltered Archer. The series mixes fervent religious cults with finding your own way, soaked in the near-trademark humor that made Van Lente one of Marvel’s best Spider-Man scribes in decades.
Black Beetle (Dark Horse): Not satisfied with being one of the best cover artists of the year, Francesco Francavilla brought his self-published pulp hero the Black Beetle to the big time when he partnered with Dark Horse. First appearing in Dark Horse Presents, Black Beetle has since gone on to star in his own miniseries, subtitled No Way Out. Francavilla is mixing his love for murky crime drama with superheroes in the vein of the Shadow and the Phantom, bringing us a throwback story that’s less pastiche and more period piece inside Francavilla’s mythical Colt City.