Science fiction graphic novels are a perfect selection for those into darker, more mature themes. They combine the depth of any great SciFi story with the top notch illustrations you've grown accustomed to with comic books. Most graphic novels are geared towards adult audiences so they tend to be more mature in content. With all that being said, let's check out my list of best science fiction graphic novels.
If you want to check out any of these titles for free, you can do so with Audible's one month free trial.
Batman: Gotham by Gaslight
Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola
The first of DC Comic's Elseworld series (although not directly labeled as such) sees Bruce Wayne go Steampunk! The year is 1889, and Bruce Wayne travels to Europe to study psychology under the great Sigmund Freud. But after his sessions with the good doctor, Bruce decides it's time to head back home. Upon his return to Gotham, he discovers that not only are the streets filled with notorious street gangs, but that Jack the Ripper has traveled to Gotham to continue his bloody rampage.
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Billionaire venture capitalist Mike Cohen has it made. Well, that is until the new tech he's developing land him smack in the middle of a global conspiracy. The only way to save everyone and everything he cares about is to use his highly experimental technology, the Brainocytes. This nanotechnology makes Mark better, faster, smarter, and stronger in every way imaginable. His mission now is not only to save his loved ones, but ultimately the world.
World War Hulk
After the Illuminati banishes the Hulk from Earth, the spaceship used to do so explodes killing Hulk's pregnant wife. That makes Hulk angry. And you wouldn't like him when he's angry. Hulk makes it his mission to destroy all those who wronged him. He returns to Manhattan with one sole purpose. To kill the Illuminati through any means necessary including gladiatorial combat.
You can't have a list of graphic novels without Alan Moore's Watchmen on it. This is an alternate history graphic novel in which the emergence of superheroes in the 1940's and 50's ultimately leads to American success in the Vietnam War. But... The heroes later become treated as outlaws. Now, in 1985, the US and Soviets are on the brink of World War III and the government is desperately trying to pull these caped crusaders out of retirement. The story follows the struggles and moral dilemmas of returning to work and solving the murder of a fellow superhero.
Y: The Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan
Imagine a world without men. (Don't get too excited ladies...) In Brian K. Vaughan's post-apocalyptic thriller, all living mammals with a Y-chromosome die. With the exception of Yorick Brown and his pet monkey Ampersand. Now facing the threat of humanity's extinction, Yorick must find someway to ensure the future of humanity. Barring any major technological breakthroughs... the world as he knows it is doomed.
This extremely unique graphic novel follows Dr. Robert Johnson--aka RASL--a parallel universe jumping art thief. But things get a little hairy when you're wanted by the government. When he's not stealing Picassos or travelling through universe with no Bob Dylan, he's spending time with his girlfriend/prostitute Annie and being a wicked cool scientist.
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Bitch Planet is a multi-issue dystopian science fiction graphic novel set in Earth's future. The streets run ragged with robots, Big Brother is always watching, and space travel is exceptionally limited. It's exclusive to women. And non-compliant women at that. In an Earth run by white males, women deemed non-compliant are shipped off to a penal colony known as Bitch Planet. Bitch Planet is a must read mix of feminism, Orange is the New Black, and dystopian SciFI thoroughfare.
Copperhead is a grimy, dusty mining town on the edge of an equally grimy, backwater planet. Set in the 24th century, this Space Western focuses on the new Sheriff in town--single mom Clara Bronson. Follow along as she contends with her resentful deputy, a sneaky mining tycoon, and a wacky family of alien hillbillies. Through all of this, she starts to unravel the town's hidden secrets and mysteries.
Set billions of years into the future, Earth is now patiently awaiting its doom and destruction. The Sun has started its transformation into a Red Giant which has rendered the Earth's surface completely uninhabitable. But there are survivors residing in an underwater city known as Salus. The comic follows the inhabitants of this city and its pirate enemies. This underwater post apocalyptic novel is very unique in its approach and well worth the read.
Rebecca--aka Tank Girl-- is beer drinking, chain smoking, tank driving, mutant kangaroo enthusiast. And after a series of mistakes caused by a combination of drug use and sexual inclination, she has been declared an outlaw. Join Tank Girl and her boyfriend, the mutant roo Booga, as they wreak havoc in adventures set in futuristic Australia.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Despite its many borrowed characters, this steampunk styled graphic novel is one of a kind. The story revolves around a secret task force run by MI5 to prevent and stop extraordinary calamity. This team is constructed of adventure heroes of other famed literary works including Allan Quatermain (from the Allan Quatermain series), Mina Murray (from Dracula), Captain Nemo (20000 Leagues Under the Sea), the Invisible Man (H.G. Wells' novel of the same), and many more. This is a very unique and exciting series to read. This is a personal favorite of mine.
Just when you thought they had made every type of superhero imaginable... Here comes The Pro. The Pro is a super heroine prostitute granted powers by an alien entity known only as "The Viewer". Reluctantly, she and her newfound powers team up with the League of Honor (which is a direct parody of DC's Justice League) to take down underwhelming villains such as The Adverb and The Noun.
WE3 is a top secret military group comprised of three "ultimate living weapons". Living weapons that were once just a collection of cuddly house pets. Now Bandit (a dog), Tinker (the cat), and Pirate (the bunny rabbit) are equipped to the teeth with razor sharp claws, mine delivery systems, and machine guns. And let's not forget their mind implants that allow them to speak. WE3 is the cutest action-packed graphic novel you'll probably ever read.
In this French graphic novel, simple PI John DiFool stumbles across a small pyramid shaped crystal known as the Incal. The Incal that DiFool carries has such an immense power it turns John into the target of a galaxy wide manhunt. And by doing so it unwillingly and unwittingly transforms John from a lowly private eye to Messiah. As it turns out, there is another Incal out there. A dark Incal whose followers will stop at nothing to take over the universe.
Brian K. Vaughan
This 17+ Space Opera makes no considerations for its ultra violent and perverse universe. Heavily inspired by Star Wars, it follows the love story between ex-prisoner (and pacifist) Marko and his once was hot-headed prison guard Alana. They go on the lam together and soon baby Hazel is born. Now whereas the couple just wants to raise their child in peace, the warring powers that be have other plans. This critically acclaimed graphic novel has been likened to one of the greatest of our generation. It has won almost every single award it has ever been nominated for including multiple Hugo Awards, Harvey Awards, Eisner Awards, Joe Schuster Awards, and Inkwell Awards. An absolute must-read of the genre.
What Separates a Graphic Science Fiction Novel from a Comic Book?
Is it the noir environments and dark themes? Or just the more mature nature that these works of art happen to have? Or the length of them in general.
The answer is yes. Yes to all above.
Let's look at some of the differences.
A comic book refers to a comic adventure that happens via periodicals. So, weekly or monthly publications. They are normally quickly read telling only a part of a much grander story. Comic books also implies that the targeted audience is normally of a younger age with themes that are much more family friendly. (Although this is not always the case. There are exceptions.)
A graphic novel, on the other hand, isn't just part of a story... It's the story in its entirety. Or... a well sectioned portion of a saga. Graphic novels don't appear as a periodical. Instead, they appear more like a standard book series. They also imply that a more mature nature of sorts goes on between the pages. Hyper sexual and ultra violence is often found in graphic novels. However, that's not necessarily the point of the story. (Again, there are always exceptions.)
How do you read a Graphic Novel (or Comic)?
Graphic novels (and comics) are created in a style of frames. These frames to the uninitiated may seem awkward and confusing.
But don't fret. There's a simple way to read them--most of the time.
Left to Right. Top to Bottom.
It's just like reading a normal book but with a lot more pictures and text balloons. The real tricky part is reading within the frames. The frames depict full scenes of the story including characters, environment, and plot devices.
This is where the reader's comprehension and attention to the story come into play. Read what makes sense first. It may seem challenging at first. But I promise, it does get easier.
And if you're ever in doubt, just re-read it until it makes sense. Often times, you'll catch something you missed the first go around. Take your time and enjoy the art.
How Do You Make a Graphic Novel?
Graphic novels normally require the work of more than just one person.
There is a huge process involved! It starts with a writer developing the plot followed by a penciller, an inker, a colorist, a letterer, and an editor. Not to mention someone to make those endless pots of coffee...
A lot of work for some cartoons, huh?
Words of Wisdom from Stan Lee for Comic and Graphic Novelists
Get These Best Science Fiction Graphic Novels for Free!
Want to try some of these SciFi Graphic Novels for free? Here are two ways you can do that:
1. Signup with Audible's One Month Free Trial: By signing up for Audible's free month trial you can download any two books you choose for free. If you decide you like Audible then you can pay a small monthly fee of $14.95 and get one book a month. If you decide you do not like Audible you can cancel your trial and keep your two free books.
2. If you want to try something other than Audible you could also try Playster. Playster's One Month Free Trial works with either ebooks or audiobooks. You can pay for a membership at $14.95 per month and receive unlimited books. However Playster does not offer as many book options. If you would like to listen to all of Playsters books you will need to use the premium which is $29.95.