The story has as many retellings as Batman has reboots. In 1986, a Portland State grad named Mike Richardson started Dark Horse Comics, attracting creators with a then-novel idea: let them keep the rights to their own work. Since then, the writers, illustrators, and publishing houses have streamed in and stepped up, developing Portland-crafted characters who go on to world domination. Here are the heroes that supercharge the city’s comic scene.
Daredevil/Jessica Jones/Luke Cage
Netflix’s überpopular trio of intertwining shows might not exist at all without the influence of industry superstar (and Northeast Portland resident) Brian Michael Bendis, who cocreated Jones, gave Cage a real backstory, and wrote a definitive Daredevil series, all back in the aughts.
Published in 2004 by Portland’s Oni Press, Bryan Lee O’Malley’s excellent graphic novel about a schlubby bass player who must defeat his girlfriend’s seven evil exes is essentially the Mercury column “I, Anonymous” in manga form.
Captain Marvel has been around since the late 1960s, but in 2012 Portland comic writer Kelly Sue Deconnick put the former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, into the red-and-blue suit, and gave her a spot on the male-dominated Avengers.
Mike Mignola’s 1993 graphic novel about a crusty, wisecracking demon who helps the US government fight paranormal forces was one of the franchises that put Dark Horse on the map. The red-hued hero with an oversize right hand has since spawned two feature films, two animated films, and a pair of video games.
Portland’s multitalented David Walker has worked on films, books, and comics, including this reinvention of blaxpoitation’s private detective John Shaft—an entertaining but unflinching look at race and racism.
The newest addition to the Portland family is Berkeley-based Image Comics, which announced in August it was moving to Portland and bringing its flagship Walking Dead franchise with it. In a parallel to the white-hot TV show, zombie slayer Michonne wields her twin katanas in the ongoing comic book series. Technically, Image’s move makes her a California transplant, but given the twin katanas, we’re happy to call this one a Portlander now.