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10 Books Based On Comics That Aren’t Marvel Or DC – CBR – Comic Book Resources

While DC and Marvel are big names in the comic industry, these novels remind fans that a comic universe can be expanded anywhere.
Generally speaking, Marvel and DC lead the comic industry. However, there are many other publishers currently creating stories as compelling as these two, even from a time before superheroes were everywhere. Whether these are widely known superheroes from the beginning of the 20th century or more modern characters, their adventures are just as worthy as others. These comics deserve attention, and so do other stories that are inspired by them.
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Especially in literature, there are many stories often overlooked by readers. The abrupt cultural distinction between prose and comic books often makes fans ignore novels and short stories even if they’re based on their favorite characters. However, these novels remind fans that a comic universe can be expanded anywhere.
Set in a civilization similar to Medieval Europe, Elfquest: Journey To Sorrow’s End follows a group of Wolfriders elves who search for a place to live after The Holt (their haven) was destroyed. The book narrates their adventures as they search for a mythical place that’s untouched by humans. There, they can live in peace with other elves.
Created by Wendy Pini and Richard Pini, like the comic books, Elfquest: Journey To Sorrows End is the first book in the novelization trilogy of the fantasy Elfquest comic books. In addition to this trilogy, the Pinis have written several short story collections and another trilogy. All these books expand on the Elfquest universe and lore.
In 1973, Lee Falk wrote The Story Of The Phantom: The Ghost Who Walks. The Ghost Who Walks is a novel about Kit Walker, the son of the 20th crime-fighter known as The Phantom. Inspired by Lee Falk’s comic strip Childhood Of The Phantom, this novel narrates Kit’s life from his birth, through his childhood and adolescence, up until he takes the Phantom mantle.
The Ghost Who Walks is the first of a dozen novels about The Phantom. These novels aren’t novelizations of the comic strips. Instead, they’re original stories that feed on The Phantom’s myth while expanding its universe. Since they’re all written by The Phantom’s creator, they’re very respectful of his story.
After Al Simmons (a US Marine and CIA operative) is assassinated during a mission, a demon in Hell offers him to return to Earth if he becomes the leader of his army in Armageddon. Spawn centers on Simmons after he’s sent back to Earth five years after his death. He has one thing in mind: revenge.
Created in 1997 by Rob MacGregor, Spawn is the novelization of the 1997 homonym film based on the comics created by Todd McFarlane. Even though it’s based on the film, Spawn includes several exclusive scenes that didn’t make it into the film. Additionally, it delves into Spawn’s psychology in a way the movie didn’t.
Like the comic, Sable follows Jon Sable, a bounty hunter/book writer whose family was murdered by poachers. Consumed by his bloodthirst, he seeks revenge and moves to the U.S. to start a new life. The ghosts of his past follow him, something he must fix so he can find peace.
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Written by Mike Grell in 2000, Sable is a gritty and dark novel with action-packed scenes and violence. According to many readers, it barely explores Jon Sable’s psychology, so it feels a lot like a prose comic book. However, it’s a must-read for hardcore fans of this character.
Sara Pezzini is a New York City homicide detective in possession of the Witchblade, a mystical sentient gauntlet that grants her supernatural abilities. In the beginning, she’s able to balance her day-to-day life with her superhero activities. However, a trail of bodies points her to the Order of the Raven, a shady organization that seems to know everything about her secret weapon.
The prolific fantasy author John DeChancie created Witchblade: Talons based on the Witchblade comics by Marc Silvestri, David Wohl, Brian Haberlin, Christina Z, and Michael Turner. However, this novel isn’t a novelization of the comics, it’s a prose story heavily inspired by the events of 2001’s Witchblade series.

In Flash Gordon In The Caverns Of Mongo, the renowned hero Flash Gordon and his fiancée Dale Arden end up in Mongo. The faraway planet is threatened by The Cavernmen, an underworld race seeking to conquer the surface. To save Mongo, Flash and Dale join forces with Doctor Zarcov (a brilliant scientist) and King Bultan (the leader of the upper world).
Written by Alex Raymond, Flash Gordon’s creator, Flash Gordon In The Caverns Of Mongo is the first novel based on the comic strip characters. Since Flash Gordon In The Caverns Of Mongo was released in 1936, 21st-century readers may find it a bit ordinary. However, this book is a classic sci-fi tale.
After a comet struck a small town in Illinois, 113 fetuses gained superpowers. They were named The Specials and they grew more powerful with time, especially after one of them died. Rising Stars Book One: Born In Fire sees a mysterious character kill them one by one, trying to obtain their power.
Rising Stars Book One: Born In Fire by Arthur Byron Cover is the first of three books in a novelization of Rising Stars, the comic book by J. Michael Straczynski. It is followed by Rising Stars Book Two: Ten Years After and Rising Stars Book Three: Change The World. The three novels cover the three comic volumes.
The Darkness by Kerri Hawkins tells the story of Jackie Estacado, a character from the Witchblade comics. Raised in the Mafia, Jackie is New York’s prolific hit-man who inherited the curse of the Darkness after turning 21. Doomed to do evil, Jackie sometimes fights the Darkness inside himself but doesn’t always succeed.
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The Darkness serves as a character exploration that allows the readers to understand Jackie’s psyche as he delves into his past. A crime-fiction and horror book in one, The Darkness promises to keep the readers on the edge of their seats until the end.
Instead of a novel, G.I. Joe: Tales From The Cobra Wars is an anthology of short stories that revolve around characters from IDW’s G.I. Joe comics. These stories aren’t interconnected, but they’re all set in the middle of the war between G.I. Joe and his most deadly foe, Cobra.
Edited by Max Brooks, G.I. Joe: Tales From The Cobra Wars includes original stories created by prolific crime writers such as Jonathan Maberry, Chuck Dixon, and Duane Swierczynski. Since the stories are very different, the readers get to experience G.I. Joe’s adventures from new, unexplored angles that are complementary to the comics.
Buck Rogers: A Life In The Future reimagines Anthony “Buck” Rogers as a 20th-century pilot. After a tragic plane crash, he’s placed in suspended animation so he can be saved in the future. After waking up in the 25th century, Buck must adapt to the future while helping Earth against many outer space threats.
With Buck Rogers: A Life In The Future, Martin Caldin added a new story to the sci-fi universe of Buck Rogers, a famous character created by Philip Francis Nowlan in the early 1900s. This novel is one of many stories by different authors that join other media (such as radio novels, comic strips, and TV shows) to keep the Buck Rogers myth alive.
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Mayra García is a Comic Lists Writer for CBR. Her main interests include linguistics, superheroes, and food.


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