The most compelling, most beautiful, most bad-ass comic book series of 2016 doesn’t feature Iron Man or Batman or any of the infinite versions of Spider-man. Angela: Queen of Hel is the story of Thor’s long-lost sister, on a Dantean quest to rescue her lover Sera from the depths of Hell (or, in Marvel’s reappropriation of Norse mythology, Hel).
In the 25 years since he “stormed out” of the Marvel Comics office in New York, Mike Mignola has created his own shared universe of occult-themed, Gothic-toned characters at Dark Horse Comics. Perhaps the most beloved of those characters, Hellboy, became a household name in the 2000s thanks to Guillermo Del Toro’s kickass movies starring Ron Perlman in the sawed-off horns.
Even if you’ve never opened a comic book, you probably know John Constantine. Co-created by Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) in the 1980s, John’s a cynical, chain-smoking occult detective in a trademark trenchcoat, star of Vertigo’s Hellblazer for 15 years before moving over to DC Comics in 2013.
Enter J. Scott Brownlee—a poet from Llano, Texas and a founding member of The Localists, a literary collective that emphasizes place-based writing of personal witness, cultural memory, and the aesthetically marginalized working class—to disrupt the notion that poetry is for the elites.