Illustrated by Fiona Staples and written by Brian K. Vaughn, Saga is one of the most critically acclaimed graphic novel series published by Image Comics. Once infamous for the art quality of its early comics in the 90s, Image Comics has become the champion of the indie artist. Saga is no exception to that, being the childhood dream-world of Vaughn, who claims to have begun creating the first details of the Saga-verse in elementary school math class.
Saga follows the tales of a handful of very different individuals whose lives become intertwined through the endless conflict and turbulence of a troubled universe. In their journeys across the stars, the leading characters explore a universe teeming with countless individuals, granting a sense of Sonder to every moment of the tale.
Saga is as much inspired by fantasy as it is by science fiction, bringing beloved characters into contact with everything from analog-television-headed robots to space ghosts and spider aliens. From science fiction, though, it gathers the core of its spirit; Saga embraces the deep questions that dwell in all of us and doesn’t shy away from bringing us face to face with our darkest sides. In the end, though, you’ll walk away all the better for it.
Yet another critically-acclaimed graphic novel by Image Comics, Nameless follows in the legacy of H.P. Lovecraft, warning us of the monsters – and the madness – that can reside just over the precipice of the known.
Written by Grant Morrison and Illustrated by Chris Burnham, this comic is certainly not for everyone. It is more in the spirit of Ridley Scott’s Alien films than it is anything else, clearly influenced by the genre-bending, science-occult work of artists like H.R. Geiger, who designed the terrifying environments of the Alien films with his concept art.
Nameless is a horrific account of mankind’s misguided attempt to make contact with beings far more powerful and far more malicious than anyone could have predicted. When an asteroid bearing a strange marking approaches the Earth, the world is flung into chaos and a last-ditch attempt to save the world is made. Darker forces lurk behind the plan though, and nothing is as it seems. Armed with nothing but their space suit and strange protective runes painted on their outfits, a small team of brave souls ventures into the unknown.
3. Lady of the Shard by Gigi Digi
With a charming and incredibly simple design, Lady of the Shard by Gigi Digi, is actually free to read online at Itch.io in a unique, semi-interactive comic format (though I strongly recommend supporting the artist!)
Lady of the Shard is a tale about faith, bravery, individuality, and what can happen when you fall in love with a deity. Introspective and raw, Lady of the Shard explores the awkwardness of love, the pain of bad breakups, and the fault lines that can appear in our faith when tested, all in the beautiful drift of outer space.
The art style is reminiscent of film-scratch animation, being almost exclusively black-and-white and done in a simple-but-expressive hand that adds nothing but charm. Each page is a long stroll through stars that seem to blink before your very eyes.
4. Mass Effect: Redemption
Based on the quintessential space-opera-turned-video-game Mass Effect, Redemption follows the journey of Dr. Liara T’soni into one of the most dangerous places in the known universe in search of what remains of her beloved friend. While certainly a work of love for fans of the Mass Effect series of games, Redemption has managed to draw a number of fans of its own.
Much like the games of the same name, Mass Effect: Redemption offers space exploration, camaraderie, and danger all unfolding in the backdrop of a very big, remarkably sparse galaxy. Across the stars of Mass Effect’s Milky Way, countless remnants of civilizations long gone lay entirely undiscovered, simply because faster-than-light “Mass Effect Relays” rendered planet-to-planet travel largely unnecessary.
Dr. T’soni is an admirable character whose naivete in Mass Effect may prove to be misleading. Fans of the series and newcomers alike will find her to be a suitable protagonist of this beautifully-drawn comic.
5. Star Trek
No report on the state of sci-fi in the modern day would be complete without a delve into Star Trek at some point. In this case, however, it is not the television shows or the movies but, instead, the comic book series that is winning the hearts of Trek fans (whether Trekkies or Trekkers.) In particular, Volume #9, which collects a number of the individual-issue comics into one book, has received incredible praise.
Star Trek: Volume 9: The Q Gambit can best be described as an all-star mashup, where the capricious space-lord known as “Q” decides to bend time in order to bring the crew of the starship Enterprise most recognized from the 2009 film that re-imagined the characters of the original Star Trek into contact with many characters from all across the series many sequels and iterations. In this way, The Q Gambit bridges the gaps between the new series and all that came before it.