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Comics get a bad rap from some people who think they’re nothing but superheroes punching each other. Yeah, there are plenty of superheroes punching each other, but that’s far from all that the medium has to offer.
Authors and artists can tell any kind of story via comics, but they have an edge for certain types of stories. Science fiction is a great example, as the art can convey aspects of the story that a novel couldn’t deliver the same way. Here are a few comics that put this to good use.
Written by Brian K. Vaughan and drawn by Fiona Staples, Saga is one of the biggest sci-fi hits in comics in recent history. One part space opera, one part fantasy, this comic has been running since 2012. Frequently funny and often gory, sometimes both at once, Saga is a great way to jump into comics if you don’t read them often, as there are plenty of trades collecting the series’ back issues. This comic also made an appearing on our list of great comics that have nothing to do with superheroes.
2. Black Science
Black Science offers up mind-bending science fiction from writer Rick Remender and artist Matteo Scalera. This series kicked off in 2013 and just wrapped up in 2019, so there’s plenty to go back to following scientist Grant McKay and his team through various dimensions.
3. Judge Dredd
If you’re looking for something that is one part sci-fi and other parts something a teenager would scribble in a notebook, then Judge Dredd is for you. Set in Mega-City One, which covers most of the east coast of North America, this series follows the titular judge who has the power to arrest, convict, and execute criminals all in one fell swoop.
4. Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four combines science fiction with the superheroes punching each other aspect of comics that draws so many people in. Whether you go for the classic Stan Lee / Jack Kirby era, the more recent Jonathan Hickman run, or anywhere in between, you’re not going to run out of reading material anytime soon.
5. Valérian and Laureline
No matter what you’re feelings on Luc Besson’s Valerian and the City of A Thousand Planets movie may be, the comics that inspired it are worth checking out. These are quite pulpy, so don’t expect hard science fiction concepts, but they’re still an awful lot of fun, and you can buy them all in one collection.
6. Bitch Planet
Comic fans may know Kelly Sue DeConnick from her excellent work on Captain Marvel or Pretty Deadly, which also had superb art from Emma Rios. Bitch Planet takes her storytelling chops and combines them with a dystopian sci-fi setting and a story inspired by gritty 1970’s exploitation flicks.
7. The Fuse
Comic from Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood, the team behind the much-loved Wasteland, this comic is set in what the creators call a “lived-in sci-fi” setting. While this is more a detective series than a pure sci-fi series, the setting frequently comes into play, and the environment of the space station adds a claustrophobic feel to the stories.
8. Guardians of the Galaxy
If you walked away from the Guardians of the Galaxy entries in the Marvel Cinematic Universe looking for more, this series has everything you’re looking for. Not only do you get more of the characters you love, but some backstory that might help you enjoy the movies even more.
Warren Ellis is a huge name in comics, and Transmetropolitan is one part of why he is such a legend. This cyberpunk vision of the future staring a gonzo journalist was one of the major movers in introducing decompression to comics, emphasizing characters more and slowing down the plot accordingly. The series wrapped up in 2002, so you can take your time reading and absorbing everything about it.
10. Silver Surfer
Another classic Marvel series, the Silver Surfer is actually a spinoff of the Fantastic Four books. The reason this series gets its own mention here is the Dan Slott / Mike Allred run on the series that lasted from 2014 to 2015. Even if this is all you ever read in this series, it’s absolutely worth it.