From the incredible storytelling in Brian K. Vaughn’s Saga to Marjorie Liu’s lush fantasy world in Monstress, these graphic novels will delight and amaze long-time fans of the format and new readers alike. Below are a few titles everyone who ever thought about reading a comic or graphic novel should have in their TBR (To Be Read) piles.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn. The praise heaped on this series is most decidedly deserved. With flawless art by Fiona Staples, Vaughn tells the story of a family fighting to stay together amidst a long galactic war. The series is charming, brutal, funny, and heartbreaking, sometimes all on the same page.
Descender by Jeff Lemire. Lemire and Dustin Nguyen already sold the film rights to this comic to Sony studios for adaptation to film, but Lemire’s focus is entirely on the comic. His storytelling shines with beautiful, understated water-color illustration by Nguyen. A child-companion robot, Tim-21, awakes one day to find his human companion gone and everyone else on the small mining colony dead after an attack by planet-sized robots known as the Harvesters. Humanity, shocked and outraged, begins a program of systematically destroying all robots. It becomes clear that Tim 21 is far more than just a companion robot: he could be robot-kind’s salvation, or humanity’s greatest weapon.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu. Sana Takeda’s luscious art blends steampunk and Art Deco aesthetics to create a rich tapestry on which Liu unfolds her tale of a magical, brutal world. Maika Halfwolf has survived war and slave camps to avenge her mother, but also to try and uncover the secret she carries within herself. Her journey takes her from dungeon labs run by an order of witches determined to keep and expand their power to a secretive and withdrawn court of Arcanics who have their own interests in Maika. A cat whose favorite line is “As the poets say…” and the cutest fox-child EVER accompany Maika while also providing light moments in a dark and disturbing tale.
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick. The art and storytelling are lush and dense in this western meets fantasy comic full of beauty, violence and revenge. Ginny, Death’s daughter, is hunting an old man who wronged her mother. While the bones feel familiar from folklore and myth, DeConnick expertly mixes the familiar with the weird to create a compelling story and layered, complex art by Emma Rios requires a second look. Fans of Sandman and Preacher should find a lot to like here.
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick. DeConnick is killing it as the writer of amazing female-centered narratives in an otherwise male-dominated genre. In addition to writing for the Captain Marvel series and Pretty Deadly, DeConnick also writes Bitch Planet, a Handmaid’s-level tale of a future dystopia where disobedient women are sent to a hellish penal planet and forced to fight for survival and the entertainment of the totalitarian patriarchal society that sent them there. Heady stuff with little reprieve. Totally worth it.
Check out the Must Read Comics list to find all of these titles, available at SPL.