When most people think of comics, they think of superheroes. It’s not surprising, considering the current obsession with on-screen comic book adaptations. From the multi-series DC universe on the CW to the sprawling cinematic universes of Marvel, DC, and Fox’s X-Men, comic books are big business – and there are a ton of superheroes.
But comics aren’t just about capes. Just like novels, comic books span a whole range of different genres, including horror, thriller, romance, YA, fantasy, and sci-fi. The big two (Marvel and DC) might be heavy on the heroes, but independent comic book publishers provide a huge number of alternative stories in an image-driven format.
Science fiction fans, in particular, would do well to explore the comic book section, as it’s a genre that lends itself beautifully to graphic novels. World-building is key when it comes to sci-fi, bringing to life gorgeous space-scapes and strange and wonderful alien races. In comics, this is achieved visually, allowing us to fully understand the writer’s vision in a single page. Comics provide the perfect way to balance setting and action in a genre where both can be equally important.
You may find that graphic novels and comics open up a whole new universe of science-fiction goodness – and we’ve got just the series to start you off.
Ask any comic fan to recommend a sci-fi series, and there is a solid chance that they’ll point you in the direction of Saga. This phenomenal space opera series centers on a husband and wife (Alana and Marko), lovers and parents who are on the run because their relationsip isn’t accepted by their warring races. This intergalactic war is a perfect backdrop for the very human struggles of Saga, which has been compared to fantasy and sci-fi classics including Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars. Saga is a fantastic starting point for anyone looking to get into sci-fi comics, and the combination of gorgeous artwork and a totally new world (brought to us by Brian Vaughn) is sure to get new readers hooked in only a few issues.
The Star Wars universe may have begun with a big screen trilogy, but now it’s one of the biggest sci-fi franchises in the world, and covers stories told in novels, video games, animation and live action. There are also a whole range of Star Wars comic books, currently published by Marvel (although the franchise has moved to other publishers over the past few decades). These are perfect for new readers who would feel more comfortable exploring this medium with familiar worlds and characters or just for Star Wars fans who can’t get enough! Currently, there is an ongoing Star Wars title, as well as a Poe Dameron title, as well as multiple shorter-run series such as the Princess Leia and Darth Vader books.
For a slightly creepier, murder-mystery take on sci-fi comics, Southern Cross is a fantastic offering from Image Comics. The series begins as Alex Braith embarks on a space-tanker journey to collect her sister’s body, and try and learn how her death came to pass. On the way, however, she starts to discover that there are even more mysteries on the ship itself, as she struggles to complete the journey and understand exactly what is happening. With wonderfully detailed and often claustrophobic images, Southern Cross is not for the faint of heart, and proves that comics are definitely not just for kids, but for serious sci-fi fans as well.
A comic that is as earnestly adorable as it is intelligent, the film rights to Descender were scooped up by Sony two years ago, so we may be seeing this one hit screens in the near future. Even if it never makes it to an adaptation, though, we’d still recommend giving this one a read. Descender follows the adventures and misadventures of a young AI boy in a world where artificial intelligence is outlawed thanks to anti-robot fears, and a diminished human population seeks to destroy any AI they encounter. Full of humor and humanity (the little robot boy has a dog, just in case we weren’t emotionally invested enough from the first pages), this is a story of hope and fear that is especially relevant today.
Finally, a little something for sci-fi fans who are literary purists – a comic book re-telling of Homer’s Odyssey, this fantastically trippy read makes full use of the medium and creates something truly unique. The hero of ODY-C is the space captain Odyssia, travelling through the galaxy after the war of Troiia, battling alien monsters and galactic threats as she tries to make it home. The psychedelic artwork is absolutely phenomenal, and takes this re-telling to new heights. This is sci-fi adaptation at its best, and is worth a read whether you have studied the Odyssey in detail, or if you just feel like you probably should have.
What are your favorite sci-fi comics? Have you read any of our recommendations? Comment and let us know!