This week I had a chance to talk with some colleagues in Australia around theological and religious reflection on science fiction, dystopias, and popular culture. One of the questions that came up were what comics I’d suggest might engage with that topic, so I’ve put together a selection of recent (and some not so recent) comics and graphic novels that are on my bookshelf which connect with that. Not a definitive list, but hopefully a helpful list. Not real commentary to them, but I’ve included the publisher’s blurb where possible along with a link to both paper and digital editions.
Of course, I encourage your to support your local comics retailers (Local NZ Comic Retailers)
Alex + Ada (Image Comics, 2013-2015)
Creators: Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn
“From JONATHAN LUNA (THE SWORD, GIRLS, Spider-Woman: Origin) and SARAH VAUGHN (Sparkshooter, Ruined) comes ALEX + ADA, a sci-fi drama set in the near future. The last thing in the world Alex wanted was an X5, the latest in realistic androids, but after Ada is dropped into his life, he discovers she is more than just a robot and takes a huge risk to unlock Ada so she can think for herself and explore life as a sentient android. Can they survive the consequences?” – IMAGE COMICS
Altered Carbon: Download Blues (Dynamite Entertainment, 2019)
Creators: Richard K. Morgan, Rik Hoskin and Ferran Sellares
“In the distant future, the human body is a temporary and interchangeable commodity – if you can pay.
For the interstellar elite, bodies are swapped out and reused without a second thought. You never grow old; you never die.
However, some bodies are more temporary than others …
Takeshi Kovacs was once a member of the Envoy Corps, stormtroopers for the Interstellar Earth Protectorate, ultra-lethal adepts in switching bodies across the stars. While he served, he was known by a variety of names–Mamba Lev, One Hand Rending, the Icepick–all testament to his capacity for rapid response and extreme violence in whatever flesh he wore. Now he’s out of the service and trying to live a different life. But the Protectorate hasn’t changed its spots, no matter what world Kovacs drifts to, and with that old combat rage still burning deep inside him, will he ever really be able to walk away?
Created by Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon was previously adapted as a Netflix television series. This original graphic novel, written by Rik Hoskin (Brandon Sanderson’s White Sand/Pierce Brown’s Red Rising, expands upon the Altered Carbon universe.” – Dynamite Entertainment
Analog: A Cyber-Dystopian Noir (Image Comics, 2018-2020)
Creators: Gerry Duggan and David O’Sullivan
“Five years from now: the security of the internet has been totally destroyed. Secrets are no longer sent over the web, they’re entrusted to armed couriers called “Ledger Men,” like human punching-bag Jack McGinnis. He’s got a gun in one hand and a briefcase handcuffed to the other. Danger lurks around every corner, and Jack has to watch his back—because he had a part in the cyber attack that changed the world. Get in on the ground floor of this new ongoing series and thrill as we slam Jack’s fist into the faces of spies, mercs, fascists, and eventually less punchable adversaries like a very grumpy artificial intelligence.” – Image Comics
The Ballad of Halo Jones (Titan Books/Rebellion, 2001)
Creators: Alan Moore and Ian Gibson
Digital (Audio): https://www.audible.com/pd/The-Ballad-of-Halo-Jones-Complete-Edition-Audiobook/1786184532
“2000 AD is proud to present the complete original black and white version of the all-time classic feminist space opera The Ballad of Halo Jones, written by comics legend Alan Moore (Watchmen, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) and drawn by Ian Gibson (Robo-Hunter, Star Wars).
WHERE DID SHE GO? OUT. WHAT DID SHE DO? EVERYTHING…
When Halo Jones grows bored with her life in The Hoop — a futuristic world where jobs are scarce and excitement is non-existent — she sets out to see the galaxy any way she can. But can she survive the highs and lows that lie in her path, including an extended period of shipboard servitude and a tour of duty in a terrifying war that defies the physics of space and time?” – 2000AD.com/Rebellion
Blade Runner: Origins (Titan Comics, 2021-)
Creators: K Perkins, Mellow Brown, Mike Johnson, Ferando Dagnino
“Los Angeles: 2009 Uncover the story behind the first Blade Runners!
A Tyrell Corporation scientist is dead – the victim of an apparent suicide.
But when LAPD Detective Cal Moreau is called to investigate, he uncovers secret documents revealing a new kind of Replicant and a conspiracy that could change the world.
Features an all-star creative teams with K. Perkins (Supergirl), Mellow Brown (American Gods) and with co-writer Mike Johnson (Blade Runner 2019).” – Titan Comics
Blade Runner: 2019 (Titan Comics, 2019-)
Creators: Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Andres Guinaldo
“In the neo-noir city of Los Angeles, 2019, Ash, a veteran Blade Runner, is grappling with a new case: a billionaire’s wife and child, apparently kidnapped by Replicants for dark purposes…
An all-new ongoing comic series from the pen of Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049, Logan, American Gods).
Plus longtime co-writer Mike Johnson (Supergirl, Star Trek), and artist Andres Guinaldo (Justice League Dark, Captain America).
The first comic to tell original, in-canon stories set in the Blade Runner universe!” – Titan Comics
Blade Runner 2029 (Titan Comics, 2020-)
Creators: Michael Green, Mike Johnson, Andres Guinaldo
“The first comic to tell original, in-cannon stories set in the Blade Runner universe returns!
It is 2029 and Blade Runner Ash continues to hunt the streets of the rain-soaked dystopian world of Los Angeles for renegade Replicants, but this time she’s trying to protect as many as she can find.
Written by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Michael Green (Blade Runner 2049) and co-writer Mike Johnson (Supergirl).”
Ender’s Game (Marvel, 2008-)
Creators: Orson Scott Card, Christopher Yost, Mike Carey, Jake Blac, Aaron Johnston, Pasqual Ferry, Sebastian Fiumara, Timothy Green, Pasqual Ferry, Pop Mahn
Print (Alternate): https://www.amazon.com/Enders-Ultimate-Collection-Orson-Scott/dp/0785163379/
Digital: Not currently available
“Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is only 6 years old. His peers bully him, his parents are aloof, and his older brother is violently resentful of him. He might also be humanity’s only hope. Ender is recruited to join the International Fleet’s legion of child warriors in training, to report for duty in defense of the planet. Leaving behind the only person who ever understood him–his kind-hearted sister Valentine–he takes on the challenge of becoming a commander in Earth’s defenses. His promise is high, and his teachers are sure he will rise to the test–that is, if Battle School doesn’t kill him first. Ender struggles to find a place within his soul for tranquility, humanity and a connection with something greater than the brutal mechanics of war and strategy. But when he is thrust into Command School at a vastly accelerated pace, will he crack up on the road to becoming the hero that the human race so desperately needs? Sci-fi legend Orson Scott Card’s Hugo and Nebula-Award winning classic is brought to vivid life by writer Christopher Yost (X-Force) and artist Pasqual Ferry (Ultimate Iron Man II).” – Amazon.com
Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation (Hill and Wang/Macmillan, 2009)
Creators: Ray Bradbury and Tim Hamilton
“Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ’em to ashes, then burn the ashes.
For Guy Montag, a career fireman for whom kerosene is perfume, this is not just an official slogan. It is a mantra, a duty, a way of life in a tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden.
In 1953, Ray Bradbury envisioned one of the world’s most unforgettable dystopian futures, and in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, the artist Tim Hamilton translates this frightening modern masterpiece into a gorgeously imagined graphic novel. As could only occur with Bradbury’s full cooperation in this authorized adaptation, Hamilton has created a striking work of art that uniquely captures Montag’s awakening to the evil of government-controlled thought and the inestimable value of philosophy, theology, and literature.
Including an original foreword by Ray Bradbury and fully depicting the brilliance and force of his canonic and beloved masterwork, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is an exceptional, haunting work of graphic literature.” – Macmillan
The Forever War (Titan Comics, 2017)
Creators: Joe Haldeman and Marvano
“The legendary novel of extraterrestrial war in an uncaring universe comes to comics, in a stunningly realized vision of Joe Haldeman’s Vietnam War parable!
The visionary Hugo and Nebula Award-winning SF tale by Joe Haldeman is beautifully realized in full color by the legendary artist Marvano.
An epic SF war story spanning relativistic space and time, The Forever War explores one soldier’s experience as he is caught up in the brutal machinery of a war against an unknown and unknowable alien foe that reaches across the stars.” – Titan Comics
God Complex: Dogma (Image Comics, 2017-)
Creators: Paul Jenkins & Hendry Prasetya
“A young forensics investigator finds his worldview turned upside down when a bizarre religious triple homicide introduces him to the Rulers, godlike beings who have ruled humanity since the dawn of time. From writer PAUL JENKINS (SPAWN: RESURRECTION, The Inhumans, Marvel Knights: Sentry) and artist HENDRY PRASETYA (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers), GOD COMPLEX: DOGMA is a unique spin on ancient mythology with a focus on one man’s journey of faith.” – Image Comics
Lazarus (Image Comics, 2013-)
Creators: Greg Rucka and Michael Lark
“In a dystopian near-future, government is a quaint concept, resources are coveted, and possession is 100% of the law. A handful of Families rule, jealously guarding what they have and exploiting the Waste who struggle to survive in their domains. Forever Carlyle defends her family’s holdings through deception and force as their protector, their Lazarus. Shot dead defending the family home, Forever’s day goes downhill from there…” – Image Comics
Man-Eaters (Image Comics, 2018-)
Creator: Chelsea Cain, Kate Niemczyk, Rachelle Rosenberg, Joe Caramagna, Lia Miternique, Katie Lane, and Stella Greenvos
“A mutation in Toxoplasmosis causes menstruating women to turn into ferocious killer wildcats – easily provoked and extremely dangerous. As panic spreads and paranoia takes root, the fate of the world rides on the shoulders of one twelve-year-old girl. Part Cat People, part The Handmaid’s Tale, MAN-EATERS will have everyone talking. From the creative team behind the Eisner-nominated series Mockingbird: writer CHELSEA CAIN, artist KATE NIEMCZYK, colorist RACHELLE ROSENBERG, letterer JOE CARAMAGNA, and joined by LIA MITERNIQUE, KATIE LANE, and STELLA GREENVOSS. This September… the cat wants in.” – Image Comics
Pax Romana (Image Comics, 2012)
Creator: Jonathan Hickman
“CREATE THE FUTURE, DESTROY THE PAST
From the mind of comic book innovator JONATHAN HICKMAN, comes the exhilarating time-traveling epic, PAX ROMANA. The creator of THE NIGHTLY NEWS brings his unique sensibility to science fiction and the result is a visually stunning look at a new history of the world. PAX ROMANA tells the tale of 5000 men sent on an impossible mission to change the past and save the future. It’s the end of the world: Will they succeed, or will they fail?” – Image Comics
Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale (Dark Horse, 2010)
Creators: Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon and Chris Samnee
“One of Serenity‘s greatest mysteries is finally revealed in Shepherd’s Tale, filling in the life of one of the show’s most beloved characters–Shepherd Book!
Who was Book before meeting Mal and the rest of the Serenity crew, how did he become one of their most trusted allies, and how did he find God in a bowl of soup? Answers to these and more questions about Book’s past are uncovered in this original graphic novel by rising stars Zack Whedon (Dr. Horrible, Terminator, Fringe) and Chris Samnee (Blackest Night: Tales of the Corps, Daredevil). A pivotal chapter in the ongoing Serenity saga, Shepherd’s Tale is also a rollicking, action-packed epic in its own right!” – Dark Horse
Supergod (Avatar Press, 2009-2010)
Creators: Warren Ellis and Garrie Gastonny
“SUPERGOD: praying to be saved by a man who can fly will get you killed. From the creator of THE AUTHORITY and PLANETARY comes the craziest and most horrifying superhero comic you’ve ever read! In the world of SUPERGOD, superhumans are the ultimate expression of the Messiah complex, and scientists can build Messiahs who will fly down from the skies to save the world. No-one thought about how they’d do it — or even if they’d want to. So begins the apocalyptic tomorrow of SUPERGOD — the story of how supermen killed us all and ended the world just because we wanted to be rescued by human-shaped things from beyond Science itself! Take every superhero comic ever published, shove them into a nuclear-powered blender, soak it in bad vodka and set the whole thing alight — and SUPERGOD will crawl out and eat your brain!” – Avatar Press/Comixology
The Surrogates (Top Shelf Productions, 2005-2006)
Creators: Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
“The year is 2054, and life is reduced to a data feed. The fusing of virtual reality and cybernetics has ushered in the era of the personal surrogate, android substitutes that let users interact with the world without ever leaving their homes. It’s a perfect world, and it’s up to Detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford of the Metro Police Department to keep it that way. But to do so they’ll need to stop a techno-terrorist bent on returning society to a time when people lived their lives instead of merely experiencing them.
The Surrogates is a story about progress and whether there exists a tipping point at which technological advancement will stop enhancing and start hindering our lives. It is also a commentary on identity, the Western obsession with physical appearance, and the growing trend to use science as a means of providing consumers with beauty on demand.” – Top Shelf Productions
The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone (Top Shelf Productions, 2009)
Creators: Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele
“In a dark downtown alley in Central Georgia Metropolis, a juvenile prank goes too far and a homeless man is killed. When the ensuing investigation reveals that the attackers aren’t who they appeared to be, justice depends on the testimony of a single witness — a street snitch with a history of providing information to a uniformed cop named Harvey Greer. Harvey is placed on special assignment to track down the informant, but others have their own designs, including a wealthy socialite and an ex-con turned religious leader known to his followers as The Prophet. As days pass and anger among the anti-surrogate population grows, the city stands on a razor’s edge. Will punishment be exacted in a courtroom… or on the streets?
Set fifteen years prior to the events of the first volume, The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone sheds light on the past that binds the cast together. From the streets of Central Georgia Metropolis to the boardroom of Virtual Self, Inc., it takes us on a journey through a city struggling to come to grips with its present. As much a cautionary tale as a story of suspense, this book reminds us that tomorrow will be determined by the choices we make today.”– Top Shelf Productions
Transhuman (Image Comics, 2008)
Creators: Jonathan Hickman and JM Ringuet
“From JONATHAN HICKMAN, creator of THE NIGHTLY NEWS, PAX ROMANA and RED MASS FOR MARS, comes TRANSHUMAN, a story that covers the discovery of superhuman genetic engineering, the companies built on the back of that discovery and the marketing war to bring it into each and every one of our homes.
Illustrated by JM RINGUET, TRANSHUMAN is a mockumentary told in the same vein as the great Christopher Guest movies Spinal Tap and Best in Show.”
V for Vendetta (Vertigo/DC Comics, 1982-1989)
Creators: Alan Moore, David Lloyd, Tony Weare, Steve Whitaker, Siobhan Dodds
“The graphic novel that inspired the hit Warner Bros. motion picture and DVD from the Wachowski Bros., the directors of THE MATRIX films and SPEED RACER. In the near future, England has become a corrupt, totalitarian state, opposed only by V, the mystery man wearing a white porcelain mask who intends to free the masses through absurd acts of terrorism.” – DC Comics