New Comics That Reboot Your Favorite Childhood Franchises
Get ready for some nostalgia
If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
The past few years have seen a slew of retro reboots. Roseanne. Will & Grace. Queer Eye. Twin Peaks. Gilmore Girls. The Twilight Zone. I could keep going.
But while many publications have crowned this the era of the reboot, the practice is nothing new to comics. The medium has always taken what was old and beloved and made it new again.
Where some of the TV reboots rankle, however—I don’t need or want you, new Heathers!—comics publishing has been killing it lately by breathing new life into franchises I’d previously thought should remain untouched. As a 38-year-old woman who feels like she maybe, possibly, finally has her shit together, I’m surprised to say that these latest revivals make me feel young again in the best of ways.
Which comics are giving me new life? Below are the recent comics that are rebooting your favorite childhood franchises.
Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom by Kelly Thompson, Jenn St-Onge, Triona Farrell, and Ariana Maher
Before I became obsessed with horror, I was Team Nancy Drew. I really dug the premise of a young girl using her smarts to outwit everyone else. There have been a number of attempts over the years to revive Nancy in comic form, but my favorite is this most recent iteration, from one of my favorite comic artists out there. In this arc, Nancy Drew is lured back to her hometown when she receives a mysterious message. There, she teams up with her old friends—including the Hardy Boys!—to solve an old murder. The story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so I have my fingers crossed that this won’t be the last we see of this creative team working on this franchise.
Misfit City by Kirsten “Kiwi” Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz, Brittany Peer, and Jim Campbell
While this comic isn’t a straight reboot—and the first issues were published all the way back in 2017—I have to give it a nod for being the first comic to press all my nostalgia buttons. The book takes place in a town that has nothing much going for it—aside from the fact that a cult kids’ adventure movie was filmed there in the ’80s. But is there any truth behind the movie fiction? When a group of teens finds an old treasure map, we all get to find out. The comic is a direct nod to The Goonies (I mean, come on. The cult film in the comic is literally called The Gloomies), and it brought me right back to a time when hidden treasures and booby-trapped caves and kids saving the day seemed possible.
Heavy Vinyl by Carly Usdin, Nina Vakueva, Irene Flores, Rebecca Nalty, and Jim Campbell
Originally published as Hi-Fi Fight Club, Heavy Vinyl is another comic that is all its own—but which is also undeniably a throwback to a popular pop culture phenomenon. The series takes place in late-’90s New Jersey, where our young protagonist has recently landed her dream job at a local record store. But things are not quite what they seem—they’re actually even cooler. It turns out Vinyl Mayhem is a front for a teen girl vigilante fight club! This comic is a delight no matter your personal pop culture references, but what really endeared it to me were its strong Empire Records vibes.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer by Jordie Bellaire, Dan Mora, Raúl Angulo, and Ed Dukeshire
Buffy’s another badass from the past who’s been revisited many times in the pages of various comics. This latest series is actually being overseen by original Buffy creator Joss Whedon, which is not a first for this character. But there’s something about the artwork in this iteration that takes me right back to the days when I marathone’d the show as a new mom. (And for those who are into this corner of the Whedonverse, you’ll be pleased to know that BOOM! Studios is bringing back Angel, too.)
Firefly by Greg Pak and Dan McDaid
Speaking of the Whedonverse, BOOM! also recently revived Firefly, another show that has been reimagined in comic form many times over—perhaps because it ended so prematurely that our appetite for new iterations is boundless. I should note here that Whedon has come under heavy criticism over the years, especially after his ex-wife revealed back in 2017 that, all this time, he’d been a misogynist in faux-feminist clothing. This revelation led to feelings of deep betrayal among many of his fans. For that reason, I hesitated to even include these two entries. But when I first saw Firefly, I fell so deeply, fanatically in love that I’ve become incapable of turning away another chance of living in that world. In this arc, readers are shown the beginnings of Mal’s story, during the War of Unification.
Jim Henson’s Fraggle Rock by Jared Cullum and Jay P. Fosgitt
Going back to a more innocent time, how many of you also watched the original Fraggle Rock series and then dreamed of finding a hidden passageway in your home that would lead you to a cave system where the Fraggles resided? No? Only me? In rewatching the series recently (no, you shut up), I can’t deny that the show is like one huge drug trip (how the hell did I forget about Marjory the Trash Heap?), but still. This new comic series brings the show alive in a form I enjoy sharing with my daughter.
The Legend of the Fire Princess by Noelle Stevenson, Gigi D.G., Ganucheau Paulina, Betsy Peterschmidt, and Eva de la Cruz
In all the reboot madness of the past few years, there’s one reboot that has given me life, and that is She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, an animated series developed by Noelle Stevenson (of Nimona and Lumberjanes fame), produced by DreamWorks Animation Television, and aired on Netflix. I may or may not have dressed up as She-Ra multiple times over the course of my life, and this re-envisioning of the series is the most awesome thing to have happened lately. Which is why, as I was writing this post, I engaged in a lot of “If only…” daydreaming. After all, with Stevenson’s resume, how could there not be a comic to go along with the new show? Well everyone (or just me). Your prayers have been answered. An original graphic novel based upon the series is slated to release in February 2020. Which seems unbearably far away, but we’ll get there!
You may have noticed that I’m somewhat partial to the comics coming out of BOOM! Studios. I can’t help myself. They (and Image Comics) were my first exposure to comics, and they’ve been doing a lot of pop culture revivals lately. But nothing beats IDW’s back catalog where it comes to television reboots and, this year, the publisher is celebrating their 20th anniversary by bringing back a bunch of their fan favorites in a weekly event that sees the characters either 20 years into the future or 20 years into the past. Some of the shows making appearance during this event include Ghostbusters, My Little Pony, Star Trek, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Who could resist?