By Kenny Porter
When it comes to comics, there’s always more to discover. While superheroes might still dominate many pull lists and shelves at comic shops across the USA, we all know that the science fiction genre has just as much to offer as the cape and mask adventures. I’ve complied a list of five science fiction comics that you really need to read. Each story offers something different in terms of plot, characters, artwork, and experience, but all offer something that you can sink your teeth into. There’s a healthy mix of new and old, and these aren’t in order of quality or best to worst, they’re simply all worthy of your time and hard-earned cash.
So if you’re looking for something new to read, some old classics to discover, or just something different, this might point you in the right direction.
• THE PRIVATE EYE •
Published by: Panel Syndicate
Creators: Brian K. Vaughan (Writer) and Marcos Martin (Artist)
Premise: A science fiction mystery set in a world where the digital cloud has burst and the Internet is gone. Information and personal details are power, so people hide their identities with elaborate costumes and exist in a world without the web. A private investigator and unlicensed “paparazzo” stumbles upon a strange plot that threatens the entire world.
What’s great about this series is the world that Vaughan and Martin have built in this 10-issue digital story. From the start you can actually see and experience the new world post-internet, and how that would affect a world that was once obsessed with social media and constantly sharing information.
Presented in a landscape layout, this comic reads perfectly on a tablet or browser, and strangely utilizes the ability to distribute comics digitally while presenting a story where the Internet is a thing of the past.
The Private Eye is a must for fans of sci-fi noir and mysteries, or people who like stories about the dangers of technology.
• FEAR AGENT •
Published by: Dark Horse Comics
Creators: Rick Remender (Writer), Tony Moore (Artist), and Jerome Opena (Artist)
Premise: “When down-and-out alien exterminator Heath Huston stumbles upon an extraterrestrial legion of amoebas preparing to annihilate Earth, he’s forced to choose between the bottle and resuming his role as a peacekeeper, as the last Fear Agent.” (From Darkhorse.com)
Fear Agent is one of those comics I wish I had read earlier in my life. It’s the kind of sci-fi action and adventure story that you can’t put down, with a character you love to hate but sympathize with on every page. From the first issue to the last you get to see Heath Huston at his highest points and his lowest, spanning time and space as he fights for the human race and the lives of his family members. Fear Agent is required reading for anyone looking to read or write great science fiction.
• COPPERHEAD •
Published by: Image Comics
Creators: Jay Faerber (Writer) and Scott Godlewski (Artist)
Premise: “Welcome to Copperhead, a grimy mining town on the edge of a backwater planet. Single mom Clara Bronson is the new sheriff, and on her first day she’ll have to contend with a resentful deputy, a shady mining tycoon, and a family of alien hillbillies. And did we mention the massacre?” (From ImageComics.com)
I’ve become a fan of westerns late in life, and Copperhead captures all the best aspects of the “new sheriff in town” trope while taking the familiar setting into space. This series was one of my favorite new finds last year, and the dangerous adventures that Clara Bronson and her son find themselves in keep me coming back. Each character, no matter how big or how small, is given so much life that the town of Copperhead and its people feel just as fleshed out as a series of dense novels. If Firefly and Cowboy Bebop are some of your favorite shows, give Copperhead a try.
• KAMANDI •
Published by: DC Comics
Creator: Jack Kirby (Writer/Artist)
Premise: “Kamandi – one of the few survivors of a futuristic Great Disaster that has destroyed civilization – must make his way through a world populated by bizarre, mutated animals and other strange wonders!” (From DCcomics.com)
Jack Kirby was called the King of Comics for a reason. No one had the kind of imagination or artistic vision that was expressed by Kirby on the comic book page. Kamandi is my personal favorite venture into the mind of the comic book legend, mixing a lot of science fiction elements together while making it a whole new monster. The story has hyper-evolved animal men, a young and honorable protagonist, and lots of social commentary on what it means to be human.
Each issue takes you deeper into a world that only Kirby could create, and you’ll find yourself wanting more as soon as you step out into the world with Kamandi and his friends. It goes without saying that fans of stories like Planet of the Apes will go nuts for Kamandi, or just fans of Kirby in general.
• THE INCAL •
Published by: Humanoids
Creators: Alejandro Jodorowsky (Writer) and Moebius (Artist)
Premise: “John Difool, a low-class detective in a degenerate dystopian world, finds his life turned upside down when he discovers an ancient, mystical artifact called “The Incal.” Difool’s adventures will bring him into conflict with the galaxy’s greatest warrior, the Metabaron, and will pit him against the awesome powers of the Technopope. These encounters and many more make up a tale of comic and cosmic proportions that has Difool fighting for not only his very survival, but also the survival of the entire universe.” (From Humanoids.com)
The Incal isn’t just a comic, it’s an experience. The combined talents of Jodorowsky and Moebius make for something so surreal and organic that each page radiates creativity. Based on a lot of their ideas and concepts for the unproduced Dune adaptation discussed in Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Incal takes Jodorowsky’s love of insane storylines and bizarre characters and pairs it with Moebius’ stunning line work.
While the comic is a little dense with story and plot points, it’s a must read for anyone that’s a fan of dynamic artwork and science fiction stories that aren’t afraid to go off the rails. I can’t really recommend anything like it, although The Fifth Element notoriously took a lot from this story.
To be honest, there are dozens of science fiction comics that are being published right now that are worth your attention. These are only five series that I feel are must reads for science fiction fans.
If there are any great science fiction comic book series that you think should be on the list, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below.
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