For a long time licensed comic books have had a bad wrap as a way for companies to further cash-in on their TV, movie and video game properties. To be fair, that has been the case in the past with the comic books for different properties not adding much to the universes they derive from. That has changed a lot in the last few years as licensed comic books have risen to be some of the best titles currently being published.
Licensed comic books have been around since the industry was first created. There have been some true gems like the GI Joe and Transformer comics. The GI Joe comics in particular have done a lot to expand that universe with many characters with rich histories. But for the most part these comics were never must haves comic books outside of the hardest of hardcore fans of these properties.
That has changed a lot in recent years as we have seen companies like Dark Horse, IDW and BOOM! Studios invest time and creative efforts to make the comic book versions of licensed properties high quality. A big example of that is how Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel got new seasons in comic book form by IDW. What made the Buffy and Angel seasons stand out even more was the fact that IDW teamed with Joss Whedon to work on these comic books. Having Whedon, the creator of both series, write and oversee the creative direction for all the comic book seasons elevated the expectation of quality.
That expectation in quality for licensed comic books has only increased thanks what we’ve seen done recently with the Star Wars, Power Rangers, Transformers, Rick and Morty, Assassin’s Creed and WWE comics, to name a few. All of these franchises, and others not mentioned, have had there universes explored in ways that either adds to their respective universe or tells alternate stories within the context of their worlds.
The Power Rangers comics from The BOOM! Studios in particular has stood out in the last few years. In particular, the Power Rangers comics have shown that big events that match those produced by Marvel and DC Comics can be developed by licensed properties. Through a strong creative vision by Kyle Higgins, Ryan Parrot, their artists and editors the Power Rangers comics were able to lay the foundation over two years for a big event in the form of Shattered Grid. From a hype standpoint, Shattered Grid was as big with the comic book community as anything on the market. By the end of it Shattered Grid turned out to be one of the best stories in the Power Rangers franchise.
Having a successful big event like Shattered Grid shows how much potential there is with licensed comics. With publishers like BOOM, IDW and Dark Horse investing major creative efforts in expanding what all these universes are about. As media franchise become even bigger having comic book events built around their universe will be a win for everyone. Especially with many franchises still producing cartoons, live-action shows and movies this opens up the avenue to bring in new readers that may not normally read comic books.
All in all, for fans we are truly living in a new golden age of licensed comic books. The expectation for high quality licensed comic books has never been higher. Thankfully we have a ton of creators who are working hard to make sure the elevated quality level is not only met but exceeded.
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