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10 Best Comics From Batman’s Newest Writer: Chip Zdarsky

Steve Murray is one of the fastest rising stars in comic book writing. This Canadian writer and artist is better known as Chip Zdarsky or Todd Diamonte. For decades he worked at the Canadian newspaper National Post. This was until his sudden and meteoric rise in the mid-2010s when he teamed up with another writer to create a new comic series.

Now Chip finds himself taking over DC Comics‘ main storyline of Batman. His already existing takes on the character are highly rated, which makes sense as he’s already had success with established characters before. He’s worked with DC, Marvel, Archie, and even some more obscure indie brands with his own original characters. So with his new Batman series inbound, it may be good to check his other work.


10 Howard the Duck (2015)

Howard the Duck in his office with Spider-Man leering in through the window.

Howard the Duck has always been one of the most ridiculed Marvel characters. He is an intentionally silly character, but there is a groundedness to him. After his cameo in the Guardians of the Galaxy film, it was a perfect time to reintroduce him. This 2015 run sees him as a private investigator working out of the same office as She-Hulk.

RELATED: Howard the Duck & 9 Other Family Films That Were Much Darker Than Advertised

The run was a return to the more multiverse-focused origins of the character. Originally Howard came from an alternate universe where everyone is ducks. His investigation takes him to the Nexus of All Realities, where the multiverse connects. It’s a fun read that’s actually quite serious despite its wild concept.

9 Stillwater (2020)

A skeleton holds a baby in Stillwater comic.

From independent comic company Image comes Chip Zdarsky’s Stillwater. It’s a horror mystery series taking place in the eponymous town. Daniel West finds out that a relative has left him an inheritance in the town of Stillwater. When he arrives though, he discovers something in the town is horribly wrong.

Nobody in town can die, and the residents are determined to keep their secret. This set-up is incredibly unique and sets up conflicts off the bat. The residents of Stillwater (and its police) are obviously suspicious of Daniel, but there’s another mystery. The contradiction of receiving an inheritance from here is also unsettling and leads to an inspired horror tale.

8 Sex Criminals (2013)

Sex Criminals Comic

Sex Criminals was Chip Zdarsky’s biggest indie comic success. It really put him on the map, which is ironic because he didn’t write this one. This comic about a librarian and actor crime duo was actually illustrated by Zdarsky, in which the two main characters discover that time freezes whenever they orgasm.

As the title suggests, they use this ability to commit crimes, specifically, robbery in order to save the failing library. The book was praised for its pulp action and depiction of sexual awakening. However, the collected editions of the series did become notoriously banned books for their explicit content.

7 Daredevil (2019)

Daredevil 2019

At the end of his 2018 run, Daredevil was in a dark place. His assumed victory over Wilson Fisk turned out to simply be a hallucination brought on by stress. When Chip Zdarsky was brought on for the next run audiences thought it would have gotten lighter. What they actually received was an even darker and brooding take.

RELATED: The 10 Best Daredevils Comic Issues Of The 1990s

In some ways, the run is pretty classic Daredevil fare. Matt Murdock deals with his decision between upholding the law and seeking justice. What makes it stand out as fresh though is an increased focus on Daredevil’s deteriorating body. This focus on impermanence ends up marking major status quo changes for the character and makes it a must-read for fans.

6 Spider-Man: Spider’s Shadow (2021)

Spider-Man, Spider's Shadow

Chip Zdarsky is known for both comedy and horror, and nobody could have predicted which his Spider-Man series would go for, given the character is familiar with both. Spider’s Shadow is a dark yet familiar “what-if” story for Spider-Man that understands him to a dark extreme. In this world, he keeps the Venom suit and slowly gives in to its temptations.

The horror of this story is ultimately one about concessions. Peter gradually gives into the suit’s wishes due to his great compassion and becomes a monster. By the end of the story, Spider-Man becomes completely Venomized. It’s a haunting yet extremely in-character alternate take on two of comics’ biggest rivals.

5 Newburn (2021)

Newburn #1 Image Comics

Newburn is another detective story, this time published by Image. It is unlike Howard the Duck, and more like Chip’s new mystery comics about the world’s greatest detective Batman. The comic stars the titular private detective Easton Newburn, and it fits very much in the realm of film noir.

Easton is investigating the murder of a man who was stealing from his own mafia family. He soon discovers that they didn’t kill him, and as events unfold, arson is committed and he finds that the case has much to do with him personally after all. It’s a classic genre tale that fans of the genre should try out.

4 Star-Lord (2016)

Star-Lord was a somewhat obscure character until he suddenly burst into mainstream prominence with the Guardians of the Galaxy film. A comic needed to be made to shepherd a new audience to the comic book version of the character, and Chip Zdarsky’s Star-Lord was that comic. The comic bridges the gap between the film and comic book versions.

RELATED: 10 Things Only Comic Book Fans Know About Star-Lord

It also brings a completely new setting to the space explorer. The collected editions are titled Grounded as he is indeed stuck on Earth. This causes the explorer who was always a fish out of water in space to also be a fish out of water at home.  The series was praised for its art but was criticized for some odd logic in later issues.

3 Spider-Man: Life Story (2019)

Life Story Annual #1 Header

As of this writing, this story is completed with extra issues coming annually. Readers hope there will be more, though, as it’s an excellent character-driven story. This “Life-Story” of Spider-Man imagines a world where Marvel characters aged in real-time, and this subversion of the famous “Marvel time” has Peter deal with the changes.

The story begins right after the end of the famous Stan Lee and Steve Ditko comics run and sees Spider-Man deal with Vietnam, Readers get to see famous arcs like the Clone Saga and Superior Spider-Man with an older Peter. He even manages to have a daughter which was famously averted in comics canon. The aforementioned annual Spider-Man comic deals with J Jonah Jameson in this world.

2 The White Trees (2019)

A bear-like creature with two humans in The White Trees.

If anything is apparent, it’s that Zdarsky can master multiple genres, with The White Trees being his take on a fantasy epic. Fitting his Canadian heritage, it takes place in the very forest-heavy region of Blacksand. The region is a classic heroic fantasy setting with tons of larger-than-life heroes.

The series does have its own interesting twists in its fantasy setting, though. For example, cat people are rather common in the world of Blacksand. These background elements and likable characters help this basic story of rescuing children have a lot more depth.

1 The All-Nighter (2021)

All-Nighter, Dark Horse

The All-Nighter is a local diner that’s only open at night. It’s a beloved fixture of the city due to its willingness to serve all kinds of strange clientele. Of course, the truth is that it is run by vampires that are trying to blend into human society. One vampire, Alex, gets bored of this and attempts to become a costumed superhero, and kicks off a chain of events.

This series is unique in that it blends Chip’s specialties. Not only is it a horror anthology but also a superhero action story. These are two great tastes that come together for one of the most unique blends of tropes and elements in an ongoing comic. In fact, these combined elements definitely would also make for a great Batman story, which means fans should look forward to Zdarsky’s run.

NEXT: 10 Things From Batman Movies That People Commonly Mistake For Comics Canon

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