Since 1986, Dark Horse Comics has been telling stories that are a little outside the norm. Unique heroes like Hellboy, Black Hammer, and the students of the Umbrella Academy have become firm favorites among comic book fans – and for good reason. If you’re looking for a series of Dark Horse comics to try, we can recommend the best places to get started.
While Marvel comics and DC comics seem to dominate popular culture, Dark Horse Comics is the next-biggest publisher in the United States, bringing readers some of the best graphic novels, comics, and manga of the modern age. Whether you’re a fan of grim horror comics or licensed titles like Star Wars comics, Dark Horse will have a series for you.
These are the best Dark Horse comics to read in 2023:
- Sin City
- The Umbrella Academy
- Black Hammer
- Harrow County
Volume one published: 1993
Hellboy is one of Dark Horse’s most iconic characters, and his comic series is well worth picking up. A gruff half-demon first sent to Earth by a Nazi occult ritual, Hellboy spends his time thwarting all sorts of dark forces, human and otherwise.
The Hellboy series is a must-read for fans of action horror, paranormal mystery, and a bit of folklore and Lovecraft. This is a dark, pulp-y, and often funny series with stark, unique artwork helping tell its stories.
First published: 1991
Frank Miller is a paragon of excellence when it comes to comics. Dark Horse has published plenty of his greatest hits, but we think Sin City is the top dog. It takes the noir genre, throws in plenty of grit, and finishes the whole thing off with some high-contrast art of all sorts of corrupt and violent acts.
Volume one introduces us to Marv, an ex-military man with plenty of demons. Oh, and he’s been framed for the murder of a prostitute. If you think the opening premise is grim, then you’ve seen nothing yet.
The Umbrella Academy
First published: 2007
Thanks to the hugely popular The Umbrella Academy series on Netflix, this series from My Chemical Romance singer Gerard Way has been propelled to new heights of fame. We reckon The Umbrella Academy is an excellent read, but fans of the show should be prepared for the source material to feel very different.
Don’t get us wrong, the stories are largely the same. In volume one, the mysterious Sir Reginald Hargreeves recently died, leaving his adopted team of super-children (the titular Umbrella Academy) to deal with their family issues along with an apocalypse-level threat.
The tone is darker than in its adaptation, the writing is less character-driven, and the art makes the whole thing feel that little bit stranger. And we’re here for it.
First published: 2016
Black Hammer is another comic series about superheroes past their prime, but it takes a very different approach from the Umbrella Academys and the Watchmens of the world. In volume one, six of your typical caped crusaders have been stranded for a decade in a strange dimension that looks exactly like a rural farm.
Black Hammer is an excellent mash-up of classic comic tropes and postmodern storytelling. It takes its time establishing its world and stories, but its unique mix of gloom, humor, and heart is worth sticking around for.
First published: 2015
Harrow County is a gothic tale of witchcraft and creatures that are ‘wyrd’ with a y. Young Emmy is a teenage witch figuring out who her friends really are at the same time as her powers. The nearby woods are filled with characters that are equal parts fairytale and childhood nightmare, and Emmy has business with them all.
Don’t be fooled by the slightly gross art on the cover of Harrow County’s first volume. There is plenty of darkness in this comic series, but Harrow County has less gore and more charm than many titles in the Dark Horse library.
For even more book recommendations, here are the best Image comics to try. We can also point readers to the best DnD books and the correct Horus Heresy book order for new and die-hard fans of Warhammer 40k.