From Locke & Key to Godzilla: 10 best comics from IDW Publishing
In a market dominated by Marvel and DC comics, IDW Publishing - an independent comic book studio - is increasingly gaining traction for not only putting up a fair fight but also competing tooth and nail alongside the other colossal names in the industry.
Over the course of its 23 years of existence, Ideas and Design Works (IDW) Publishing has become the fifth-largest comic book publisher in the world, with a vast range of titles to its credit. These include originals like Locke and Key and 30 Days of Night as well as pop culture concepts like G.I. Joe, Godzilla, and Transformers.
Many IDW Publishing titles have started from limited-issue comic series and blown up into full-fledged feature films and OTT adaptations. Here, we have curated a list of the 10 best comics from the studio.
Established in 1999, IDW Publishing excels in action, horror and superhero comics
1) G.I. Joe
The world is no stranger to G.I. Joes. However, new generations might be unaware of the fictional military group thanks to its lousy big-screen adaptations. The American heroes who started as Hasbro’s action figures for kids have now found their place in comic books, courtesy of IDW Publishing.
First released in October 2008, the G.I. Joe series was a stand-out hit that ran until March 2018. However, the jewel crown of the G.I. Joe comics is a spin-off series titled G.I. Joe: Cobra, which showcased the infamous villainous organization. The three-issue mini-series was well received by fans and critics.
The King of Monsters has been published across various comic book studios, from Marvel Comics to Dark Horse Comics. However, IDW publishing took the already successful franchise to the next level when in March 2011, the studio published Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters. The cover art of the 12-issue series was designed by Alex Ross.
Other titles by IDW include the 13-issue series titled Godzilla, 25-issue series Godzilla: Rulers of Earth, and miniseries like Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths and Godzilla: Legends.
3) Ragnarök: The Breaking of Helheim
After the immense success of Ragnarok, Walter Simonson, the mastermind behind Marvel’s Thor comics created The Breaking of Helheim. The six-issue series showcases Thor’s final journey as he seeks to free the slaves in the mines of Helheim.
Published in July 2019, Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim is IDW Publishing at its finest. With an innovative story and bold character designs, The Breaking of Helheim showcases themes and art that are rarely seen in mainstream comics.
4) The Maxx
Originally a comic series created by Sam Keith, The Maxx was published by Image comics in 1993. The Purple Hero with yellow claws was a favorite among fans and the MTV mini-series further catapulted the character into fame.
While DC Comic’s Wildstorm Prints later acquired the character, it was IDW Publishing which gave a brutal twist to the character by pairing him with Gotham’s Dark Knight. Titled Batman/ The Maxx: Arkham Dreams, the five-part series saw Maxx captured by Batman and sent to Arkham Asylum. The two later teamed up to defeat villains like Joker and Dr. Disparu.
5) Sonic the Hedgehog
Archie comics was the home of Sonic the Hedgehog for 24 years, but after IDW scored a deal with SEGA in 2017, they started a very successful line of Sonic comics. Written by Ian Flynn, the comic showcases the tales of Sonic and his friends as they battle Eggman and other enemies.
The publication house has also created other spin-offs like Sonic the Hedgehog: Tangle & Whisper, Bad Guys, and Imposter Syndrome. In October 2022, IDW will launch a new series titled Sonic the Hedgehog: Scrapnik Island, which will narrate the story of Sonic and his friend Tails who are trapped on an abandoned island filled with dysfunctional Badniks.
Transformers was a pop-cultural phenomenon in the 1980s when Marvel went all in to portray the transforming robots on their comic book panels. The robots in disguise were with Marvel from 1984 to 1993.
Dreamwave Productions acquired the rights to Transformers in 2002, but after the company declared bankruptcy in 2004, IDW Publishing became the home of the Autobots and Decepticons.
IDW’s series is the longest-running Transformers series. It began in 2005 and culminated in November 2018. IDW’s deal with Hasbro, which also began in 2005 will also be terminated in 2022. Over the span of 17 years, the studio published more than 427 issues of comics, which is a remarkable feat.
7) Locke and Key
Locke and Key is perhaps the most famous comic series by IDW Publishing, thanks to the recent Netflix adaptation. Written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodríguez, the limited series consists of 6 issues, with each issue acting as one beat of a 3-act story structure.
Locke and Key portrays the story of the Locke family returning back to their ancestral home of Keyhouse. The series features various mysterious keys that hold supernatural powers. The Locke siblings chase the Omega Key, the first key ever made which unlocks unspeakable treasures.
8) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
The famous pizza-eating, Kung Fu fighting mutant turtles, named after Italian renaissance artists, found their house in IDW studios after Dreamwave publication went bankrupt. The comics, which began in August 2011, continue to run strong even now.
Kevin Eastman, the co-creator of The Turtles Back at Mirage Studios, has also authored various stories at IDW.
The most standout and beloved story of TMNT at IDW Publishing is Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin, which showcases one mysterious turtle surviving the Footclan. After the internet speculated on the identity of the turtles for months, it was finally revealed as Michelangelo.
9) Usagi Yojimbo
Usagi Yojimbo, like many other comic series on this list, traveled to various publications studios, including Dark Horse comics and Mirage Studios, before it finally settled with IDW Publishing. Originally created by Stan Sakai, the comic series follows a Rabbit Ronin by the name of Miyamoto Usagi.
The comic is based on the Edo period of Japan and is influenced by Akira Kurosawa’s Samurai Cinema including Ran and The Seven Samurai. The major issues of Usagi Yojimbo under IDW are Homecoming, Tengu Wars! and Crossroads.
10) 30 Days of Night
The magnum opus for IDW publishing, 30 Days of Night is a 3-issue limited series created by Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith. The chill-inducing horror comic series features bloodthirsty vampires vulnerable to sunlight, taking shelter in a town called Barrow, Alaska, where the sun does not rise for 30 days.
In the series, the vampires take advantage of the phenomenon and feed on the townspeople at will.
The town Sheriff, Eben Olemaun, protects the people from the wrath of the Vampires by injecting their blood into his system. The haunting yet beautiful comic series was adapted into a feature film in 2007 by Spider-Man director Sam Raimi.