Comics Alliance Best of 2015: Best Sci-Fi Comic of 2015
Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best sci-fi comic of 2015 — and four great runners up.
In Tom King and Barnaby Bagenda's cynical re-imagining of Omega Men, there are no moral absolutes. No longer a scruffy, lovable band of freedom fighters, the Omega Men have been hardened into something more real and pragmatic, stripped of bland heroism to reveal the jagged lines of killers for a cause. Faking the death of Kyle Rayner and taking him captive, they maim and murder in their war against the Citadel, willing to let thousands die so that they might free millions. Rayner, the former Lantern, has to reconcile his black-and-white worldview with the realities of uprising and determine who the Omega Men really are just as the reader does. Are they a justifiable reaction to dictatorship, or a terrorist cell? Revolutionaries or religious zealots? And do the ends justify the means?
Vast, thrilling, and complex, this devious series was almost canceled by DC for lack of readership, because that's usually what happens with vast, complex, devious stuff. But enough fans, editors and fellow creators spoke out that the evil empire reversed its decision and will allow Omega Men to finish its twelve-issue story. Praise Alpha. [John Parker]
Jonathan Hickman excels at creating a rich mythology and world for his characters, but it’s never been so well realized as when Nick Dragotta draws it. East of West takes everything Hickman excels at (multiple factions and character motivations, a long fake history, graphs) and smashes it together with the unstoppable art juggernaut that is Dragotta.
This is an incredibly beautiful comic, made even better by Frank Martin’s post-apocalyptic western-style colors, with an ambition and combined skill rarely seen. Every single character, even the smallest background extra, seems to have a life and a personality that can be gleaned from their design. This is a comic that covers an entire world of skewed Americana, but still has time and focus to get to the heart of the core cast of characters. And like all great Westerns, while the twists and turns are complex, the motivations are simple and timeless: love, loss, and revenge. [Ziah Grace]
It could be very easy to get lost inside the high concept strangeness of Kaijumax, which is set in a prison for giant rampaging monsters. Skyscrapers are used for weights, the prison guards are superheroes, and so on — it’s a book with a lot of funny business going on, but it works because creator Zander Cannon is so adept at weaving reality and science fiction together. Without each other, neither would be able to carry the book so carefully as they do together, and it’s that fascinating blend that makes this such a funny, up/downlifting comic.
The science fiction in particular is used to devastating effect throughout, showing us backstories to the various inmates that play off our expectations of the genre to switch us around and make us genuinely care for these giant monsters. Science fiction still has many new tricks within it. Kaijumax is a much-needed reminder of that. [Steve Morris]
Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro’s science-fiction send-up of women-in-prison exploitation movies is almost a study in paradoxes: A loud, in-your-face series of covers combined with some of the subtlest character work that either DeConnick or De Landro have done in their entire careers, and a feminist subversion of a notoriously misogynistic genre.
The comic has turned out to be as “non-compliant” as the characters found within. DeConnick’s writing a vicious mockery of misogyny and the patriarchy, and De Landro’s character acting in each scene gets to the emotional core of each of the women. Bitch Planet might take place in a world where a group of able-bodied, rich men control the lives of women and dictate punishments for any of those that don’t fit their ideal of a woman, but like all the best science-fiction, Bitch Planet shows a world with problems not far removed from our own. [Ziah Grace]
Science fiction's most appreciable attribute is its ability to comment on the now, and there's no better example of that in comics than Saga. In the fourth year of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples' epic, the pair upped the drama, amplified the intensity, and continued to make their far-flung space opera the most real comic series of the era. No matter how bizarre or alien the character, each is flawed and unpredictable and relatable, dealing with the same tangle of family and jobs and sex and drugs and mistakes as the rest of us.
And woven into everything spectacular are issues that concern us as a culture right now: the war between Western superpowers and the Islamic world, interracial marriage, xenophobia, entertainment overload, trans acceptance, mistrust of power, ghost babysitters and menstruating walruses. (Those may not be relevant to your life at this particular moment, but you're young.) Saga continues to be funny and sad, touching and shocking; epic and fantastic and human and real. An ongoing triumph that we'll be talking about for years to come. [John Parker]