Waiting is hard. There’s nothing worse than waiting for the next Star Wars episode, seeing it, and then leaving the theatre thinking: oh, no… it’s over. The anticipation has passed. So, now what? Is it back to that waiting abyss? Yes, I know there’s another Star Wars film coming out before Episode IX. However, that film doesn’t solve the main problem: we won’t know what happens next for almost two years.
But there is a better way to fill that time. For instance, you could try out these great sci-fi comics. From a comic that dives deep into the psyche of a man living on Mars to a graphic novel about one alien’s goal of learning what it means to be human, this list has you covered for the inevitable waiting game. So, explore these space-centric stories and before you know it, Episode IX will be here.
Galanthus by Ashanti Fortson
Can’t get enough of Finn’s storyline? Read Galanthus by Ashanti Fortson. It follows Farah Sarki, a former factory worker, who stows away on a ship to make a new life for herself and eventually becomes a tech worker for a smuggling ship called the Galanthus. Even though Farah and the crew of the ship are sent to find a powerful artifact, Farah finds herself emotionally stuck on the loss of her grandmother and wondering if the future is worth fighting for at all.
The opening of Galanthus is a shot of a spaceship moving near a giant planet, one that resembles Jupiter. This first view of the world of Galanthus makes it a perfect match for transitioning from the usual narrative opening we’re used to seeing from Star Wars.
In addition to this opening, Farah and Finn share similarities in their resilience and character arcs. Farah’s optimism, motivation, and downright charming personality is what makes this comic so compelling to read. She’s upbeat but also grappling with loss and wanting a better place in the world. She isn’t the stereotypical white female protagonist: she wears a headscarf, she’s large, and she’s brown. It’s time to start telling sci-fi stories of the future that reflect the diversity of the present day, and Galanthus does a great job of leading the way. This, in addition to the aforementioned matching narrative arcs, makes Galanthus a great starting point for fans of the new Star Wars trio who are looking to find familiar ground story-wise.
Descender by Jeff Lemire, art by Dustin Nguyen
Descender is a comic that shouldn’t just be on a list about sci-fi comics: it is the list. This serial comic is set in a universe where androids have been outlawed, and it follows one young robot’s struggle to stay “alive.” Lemire and Nguyen’s collaboration creates an emotional and action-packed story about the edges of humanity and consciousness.
Descender changes the game from what we expect of sci-fi storytelling: rather than using the harsh lines often associated with a technologically advanced future, or the uncanny realism of alien creatures that look different from us, Dustin Nguyen uses a watercolour art style. This choice makes the story softer, emphasizing the disconnect between the harsh anti-robot perspective of the story’s universe and the possibility of a softer, more inclusive future. The watercolour style also allows people to disappear into the background, fades colours into each other, and essentially pushes the major theme of where boundaries exist. While the main conflict centres on a society that is trying to eliminate robots, the art and the narration work together to show how things are not as cut and dry as they may seem in this world that is trying to rid itself of a small “robot child.”
StarHammer by J.N. Monk, Harry Bogosian, and Tessa Kleiner
StarHammer is a web comic that mixes sci-fi, superhero, a magical girl, and alternate history. It follows an overachieving, but aimless teenage girl who finds her direction in life when she becomes the successor to a washed-up superheroine. The world of StarHammer incorporates sci-fi elements within the everyday life: similar to how Star Wars mixes the technologically-lacking desert with projections and podracing. In the world of StarHammer, there are holograms and magical hammers made of stardust, but it all seems to be within reason for the world these characters live in.
StarHammer is perfect for readers who love the humour of Star Wars as well as the hero’s journey: if you enjoyed watching Luke go from a young man on a farm to a Jedi master, the quick quips between characters, or waited with bated breath for when Rey finally gets to hold a lightsaber, you’ll enjoy watching Evey’s journey.
Bonus! The in-world Starhammer, also referred to as Orion’s Mallet, is a loose mix of Thor’s Hammer and a lightsaber: it’s a massive, sci-fi weapon that appears to have chosen the user more than the user choosing it. Plus, it looks to be made out of actual constellations.
Intercosmic by Kristina Luu
Intercosmic is colourful, humorous, and a delight to read. It begins with Lunik and Sol, the newest recruits to the Cosmics, as they hone their powers and try to live up to their new roles as one of the eight elemental demigods that govern the universe. However, even in this seemingly light-hearted comic there are questions that come to the surface: what happened to the original Lunik and Sol? Who is this young girl mentioned in the comic’s synopsis? Where are the other Cosmics?
Intercosmic is a great choice because it’s just begun! Luu has created a world full of interesting lore, and I know that I can’t wait to see how it unfolds in real time. There’s no chance of “accidentally” binge-reading the entire comic and then being left without new content to read. It’s still updating, so there is plenty of sci-fi storytelling left to be seen! Plus, the humour makes the characters more relatable while also allowing the reader to see how connected they are to each other. This will remind readers of the touching bonds that form between Star Wars characters amidst the struggle and heartbreak of a galactic war.
Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun
Jomny Sun’s everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too feels like the first moment Luke walks into the cantina in Episode IV. The music is playing and he’s disoriented and then you realize: what everyone has in common is how they are all different.
This graphic novel was inspired by Jomny’s Twitter (@jonnysun if you haven’t heard of it), which is why I couldn’t help but add it to this list. It’s a comic about a little alien named Jomny who is brought to earth to research humans. Along the way he learns about friendship, loss, humanity, and life. As Jomny interacts with more creatures, he begins to learn and grow, but he also realizes that there may be some questions much bigger than he can imagine. While these questions may not be the forefront of Star Wars, questions like “what does it mean to be human?” and “how do I fit into this world?” are definitely propelling the characters to act in revolutionary ways for causes that are bigger than themselves.
If you’re looking for a good, heartwarming comic about the ties that bind us and what it means to be human when “everyone’s a aliebn,” Sun’s graphic novel is just the thing.
Sfeer Theory by Alex Singer, art by Jayd Ait Kaci
Let’s take a step back from being in a futuristic space environment for a moment and consider the story that would arise if a Force-like ability manifested in the eighteenth century. Sfeer Theory is what I think that story would look like. In Sfeer Theory, a new magic called (you guessed it) Sfeer Theory and the mastery of it has allowed the Empire of Warassa to become the center of the world. However, tensions are on the rise, and, just like in Star Wars, the Empire may soon be in the middle of a war.
Sfeer Theory follows Luca Valentino, a lab technician at the Empire’s top-tier school, Uitspan Academy. Valentino only wanted to educate himself about Sfeer Theory, but as he learns more, he becomes entangled in a mystery that is greater than himself, and may just involve the entire world.
Sfeer Theory is a fantastic work of fiction; it’s equal parts energetic, magical, and intriguing. The depiction of Sfeer Theory magic in practice is fascinating: it’s described as existing within Valentino but the artwork shows how it also resembles the outward sensations we often see of Force manipulation. Valentino is able to manipulate the world around him, not in a malicious way, but to move things without exerting as much energy as he would normally.
This web comic is for those who can’t get enough of the mechanics of the Force and other types of magic – or even readers who love to mix superpowers into their historical comics.
Mare Internum by Der-shing Helmer
Mare Internum is set on Mars and follows a team of individuals who have been sent to a research station on the planet. The main character, Dr. Mike Fisher, has recently been fired from his job and is waiting to be brought back to Earth and he is neither happy about nor looking forward to it.
Helmer’s storytelling is phenomenal: each of these characters has an individual face and shape, their interactions are realistic and move the story along, and the environment is well-researched. When the only light of the story is Fisher’s flashlight, Helmer replicates this light source in a way that feels true to life and also builds the suspense within the story – we can only make sense of what Fisher is making sense of. Just as Fisher keeps his teammates in the dark about his mental state, the reader often is left in the dark, with only a “flashlight radius of understanding” to light their way. There are so many answers hidden in conversations between characters, and Helmer’s skill lies not only in her artwork, but also in keeping her readers on a “need to know.”
If you’re looking to mix the philosophical parts of Star Wars with the suspense and unease of Alien, look no further than Mare Internum.
*Note: this comic has a content warning about mental illness, abuse, body horror, and other material that may be disturbing to sensitive readers.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, art by Fiona Staples
What sci-fi comic list would be complete without mentioning the epic, Star Wars-inspired, space opera Saga?
Told from the perspective of a child born to parents whose respective planet and moon are at war with each other, Saga is both a sci-fi space war story and a meditation on the bonds that make a family. This ongoing comic features a cast of characters that range from the horned and winged child narrator, to a television-head robot king, and pretty much anything you could think of that would fall in between (which turns out to be, well, everything). Saga isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s worth enduring the violent turns and emotional depths. This is a comic that navigates science fiction racial tensions that span not just a planet but a galaxy, and the pitfalls of trying to form a family in the midst of a war. Vaughan and Staples have created a powerful story by filtering it through the lens of one child’s life. Although the narrative is told retroactively, and is currently being filtered through the narrator’s memory, Saga carries the weight of universal thoughts, feelings, and experiences by relating the sci-fi elements to the familiar themes of family, love, war, and redemption.
Whether you’re interested in Star Wars battles or the bonds between characters, Saga is the perfect read to keep you occupied – you won’t even notice you’re waiting!