I don’t know about you, but for me the holiday season means Christmas presents for emerging geeks! Sam Sattin, author of the recently released Legend graphic novel offered to share his list of favorite science fiction themed graphic novels. If you are looking to get your sci-fi loving friends into comics, this list is for you!
Monstress (Marjorie Liu; Sana Takeda): One of my personal favorite ongoing series, MONSTRESS is a violent, inspiring, sturdily built epic that excels in turning stereotypes on their heads. The world-building is unlike any I’ve encountered; it’s unique blend of science fiction, fantasy, and horror veers off into unprecedented territory. Liu feels like a mad scientist who has discovered a very effective, if terrifying, formula.
The Incal (Alejandro Jadorowsky; Moebius): If you start down the road of reading sci-fi comics, you’ll undoubtedly come across THE INCAL, and the names Jadorowsky and Moebius, as well. Those two set the precedent for a lot of the science fiction you know and love (Star Wars—cough) . The story is expansive, and Moebius’ art is unparalleled. If you want to see where so much of everything sci-fi began, start here.
Kaijumax (Xander Cannon): This series is just bonkers, and by bonkers, I mean one of the most unique and entertaining things you’ll find on the shelves. KAIJUMAX tells the story of a prison for Kaiju, or giant monsters originating from Japanese monster movies. Power Ranger-resembling jail wardens incarcerate these monsters, and the narrative itself is much like Oz, or other comparable prison dramas. This is one of the weirdest sci-fi books out there. And one of the best.
Descender (Jeff Lemire; Dustin Nguyen): DESCENDER reminds me of MASS EFFECT meets KNIGHTS OF SIDONIA. Or more directly, it’s a story of survival where androids (our main characters) have been outlawed and danger lurks around every corner. If you want to jump into your sci-fi comics list with an epic, heart-rending adventure that will almost certainly leave you gasping at every turn, start here.
Nod Away (Jesse Cotter): If some of the books listed here are steeped in sci-fi adventure, NOD AWAY falls into the bizarre and contemplative category. If you like Phillip K. Dick, Stanislaw Lem, and mind-bending, sometimes harrowing character drama in the vein of Stanley Kubrick, you can’t go wrong with this book. NOD AWAY is the first of seven in a series by Cotter, and I know I’ll be waiting for each entry eagerly.
Bitch Planet (Kelly Sue DeConnick; Valentine De Landro): BITCH PLANET is one of the most exciting, ribald, hilarious, middle finger-to-the-system comics in all existence. Its harrowing dystopian setting is rendered not just to perfection in the panels, but in the other mechanisms used by the creative team — like advertisements, for instance — which are a source of laughter and pain.
Autumnlands (Kurt Busiek; Ben Dewey): This one ties with MONSTRESS for my favorite ongoing series. AUTUMNLANDS is a story of animal humanoids with a complex societal breakdown whose cataclysmic ways end up heralding the arrival of a fabled warrior…who happens to be human. It’s truly difficult to sum up why this book is so good, apart from the fact that the story is unique, the art is brilliant, and the characters are among some of the most memorable I’ve read.
I Kill Giants (Joe Kelly; J.M. Ken Niimura): This is an unusual story that touched my heart and expanded my brain. I KILL GIANTS is about bullying. It’s about troubled kids from troubled homes, and about how sci-fi and fantasy tropes can be used to cope with it all. It also leaves you wondering at the end, in the best kind of way, if we know ourselves at all.
Pluto (Naoki Urasawa): You don’t need to read ASTROBOY to understand PLUTO, although since the entire series of books is based on an early arc in Osamu Tezuka’s classic manga, it might not be a bad idea. Either way, PLUTO will not disappoint. Tackling issues of family, technology, terrorism, and war, the author of such lauded sagas as MONSTER will keep you guessing at every turn as an artificially intelligent monster wreaks havoc on a post-war world.
Bird Boy (Anne Szabla): I am so glad to know that more books in this series are coming out. Szabla has rendered a beautiful, frightening, mysterious world with creatures that are unusual and unique. Essentially a coming of age tale in a world like our own, but distant in its own way, the mystery of the Sword of Mali Mani deepens as the story develops, and so does our interest.
Fantasy Sports (Sam Bosma): Sam Bosma has a style of drawing and storytelling that I adore. FANTASY SPORTS is kid friendly, but there’s a maturity to it as well. It borrows from what I perceive to be classic D&D tropes, along with some of the visual nostalgia of Nintendo RPGs. The story itself, unfolding a world in which outlandish fantasy sports end up deciding the fate of the main characters (a couple of oddly matched mages), is constantly leaving me in want of more.