Heroes like Doc Savage and Hawkman star in some of the best adventure comic books from DC, Boom! Studios and more that explore brand-new worlds.
Ever since its Golden Age origins in pulp, the comic book industry has seen a consistently strong output of adventure comic books. These stories have pulled their heroes out of the traditional urban environment and taken them around the world to explore new places. Considering how many stories take place in a grounded setting, seeing characters thrust into brand-new worlds can be the best form of escapism.
Adventure serves as an excellent genre because it combines heroism with dynamic settings and strong, linear plots, giving heroes a clear objective. Unlike a traditional superhero comic, adventure stories routinely change the backdrop of the story, constantly introducing new locations, villains and goals. These series can serve as the best inspiration for great art and imaginative storytelling alike.
Doc Savage was one of comics' first adventure heroes, the very definition of a pulp comic book character. Doc Savage is a technological hero, but one whose adventures take him around the world to fight threats and solve strange mysteries alike.
Under DC Comics, Savage received some of his greatest stories under the creative run of Dennis O'Neil, Rod Wigham and Steve Montano. The series was the perfect combination of Golden Age heroics combined with family, seeing Savage teamed with his grandson as they battled global villainy.
In Boom! Studios' 2018 crossover Kong on the Planet of the Apes, the story very much mirrored that of the original King Kong but with a twist. In the aftermath of the original Planet of the Apes movie, the apes find the washed up carcass of a female Kong and set out to find more.
When the ape expedition reaches Skull Island, they meet the last human tribe and, later, King Kong himself. Just like their human predecessors, the arrogant apes subdue the giant primate and take him back home. But Kong, as he has shown before, cannot be held down for long.
Lord of the Jungle and Tarzan (both series featuring the same hero) have explored the Edgar Rice Burroughs character and his life as protector of the African jungles. Born of nobility and also known as Lord Greystroke, Tarzan exists in both literature and comic books.
Among his adventures, Tarzan even once teamed up with Batman in a classic adventure that reimagined the world of Bruce Wayne. He has been known to explore both the wilderness and civilized world alike, with no limitations on the lengths to which Tarzan will go for justice.
Ka-Zar, also known as Kevin Plunder, is Marvel's answer to the jungle hero Tarzan. He lives in the Savage Lands, where he was raised by the creatures and has befriended the saber-toothed tiger, Zabu. Much like Tarzan, Kazar was born of nobility, left to fend for himself in the jungle.
The protector of his land, Ka-Zar has battled the likes of monsters, poachers and super villains to keep his friends safe. Ka-Zar's adventures would later take him away from the Savage Lands and to the United States, where he was among the first to meet Man-Thing.
Jack Kirby's Kamandi created an interesting world that explored the concept behind Planet of the Apes but took it much further. Kamandi is the last boy on Earth in the aftermath of a "Great Disaster," which has left the planet populated by humanoid animals, such as apes and tigers.
Setting out with his friends, including the canine, Doctor Canus and tiger prince, Tuftan, Kamandi explored the remnants of man's world. The world of Kamandi has proven itself a fascinating environment, replete with giant insects, terrifying monsters, leopard pirates and more.
The Terrifics was something of an unexpectedly great run from DC Comics, and remains a testament that a superhero story shouldn't remain confined to a city. As DC's answer to Fantastic Four, it sent Mr Terrific, Metamorpho, Plastic Man and Phantom Girl on missions to save the world from cosmic threats.
The best stories of The Terrifics saw them split up and flung into alternate dimensions in the DC multiverse, including the cartoon world. The heroes even had a team-up with Tom Strong and his friends, and became closer as they saw their team grow in members and adventure.
While Alan Moore is best known for the likes of Watchmen and Swamp Thing, he has a strong library of original stories in his career too. In Tom Strong, Alan Moore explored his own take on the Doc Savage archetype, though made some notable differences in the world of his hero.
Tom Strong, a married father, is an inventor, hero, and adventurer, as well as a hero from the Second World War. Accompanied by his gorilla assistant and heroic daughter, Tesla, Strong has explored alternate dimensions and endured his share of time travel adventures.
Flash Gordon is a beloved hero of science fiction and adventure alike, known for his rivalry with Ming and journey to the planet Mongo. Accompanied by an iconic supporting cast, Flash Gordon has battled tyrants, alien monsters and evil scientists, all while exploring new worlds.
Flash and his friends' adventures have perfectly defined the combination of science fiction, adventure and fantasy. Although the rights to publish Flash Gordon comics have changed hands over the years, some of his best stories have been told under Dynamite Entertainment.
Hawkman's fan base has a lot of overlap with Indiana Jones, something DC has embraced more since the latter debuted in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark. The likes of Geoff Johns and Robert Venditti's respective runs on Hawkman have seen the character taken on perilous adventure stories.
Hawkman has explored everything from Ancient Egyptian mythology to hidden, mystical cities, and has been an explorer throughout his many incarnations. Hawkman's adventures aren't confined to any one planet or time periods, and have ranged from the Wild West to the Golden Age and present.
Across the adventure genre, there are few names that resonate as well with fans or are as recognizable as Indiana Jones himself. Although the hero had a good serialized run under Marvel, Dark Horse's decade-long control of the hero brought him to his peak.
Ditching the serialized formula, Dark Horse instead focused on contained stories in their own miniseries. These saw Indiana exploring the likes of Atlantis, searching for the mythical Golden Fleece and battling pirates on the high seas. The Indiana Jones run remains the peak of what adventure comics can and should be.
NEXT: 10 Greatest DC Heroes Who Aren't Human, Ranked