As science fiction titles tend to the epic, several links are to the first volumes of what we consider great series, some self-contained, others episodic and continuing.
Aama – The science fiction of big ideas rather than slam bang action. A team is sent to a planet to discover what happened to a previous colony intending to experiment with the building blocks of life. Thought provoking, intelligent and tense. Frederik Peeters and SelfMadeHero.
The Ballad of Halo Jones – A clever attempt at producing adventurous science fiction lacking obvious conflict, where the thrills are generated by the environmental wonders and character interaction. Minutely plotted and fast-paced. Alan Moore, Ian Gibson and 2000AD Books.
Black Science – A complete headrush of a series with an arrogant, compromised lead desperately attempting to rectify his mistake and guide his family back through the dimensions to Earth. Shock follows cliffhanger follows shock. Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera and Image Comics.
Descender – Award-winning space opera with a twist that’s built a considerable following over four volumes. Sentient android Tim leads a cast where everyone is alien or a form of machine intelligence, yet the entire series drips humanity. Jeff Lemire, Dustin Nguyen and Image Comics.
The End of Summer – A highly acclaimed first graphic novel, and you shouldn’t know too much. It merges the trappings of fantasy and SF and packs them with detailed imagery and symbolism for an entrancing read. Tillie Walden and Avery Hill Publishing.
The Eternaut – Political allegory meshes with cracking adventure as Earth is invaded by unknown alien forces with terrible weapons and allies. Guerilla warfare ensues and a constant foreboding sense of horror is perpetuated. Héctor Germán Oesteheld, Francisco Solano López and Fantagraphics Books.
Grandville – Steampunk anthropomorphism as Inspector Brock faces a series of challenges hunting down criminals in a very compromised society, Britain under French control. Detailed, imaginative and packed with fun cameos. Bryan Talbot and Jonathan Cape/Dark Horse Books.
Star Wars: Vader Down – Old-fashioned space opera surely comes no more thrilling or sumptuously illustrated than this crossover between Marvel’s Star Wars and Darth Vader series. Jason Aaron, Kieron Gillen, Salvador Larroca, Mike Deodato and Marvel.
Twilight – Howard Chaykin was well ahead of the game with radical reinterpretations of forgotten characters, and here twists DC’s wholesome 1950s SF heroes into three dimensions amid an ambitious reconfiguring of the universe, all superby drawn. Howard Chaykin, José Luis García-López and DC.
Valerian and Laureline: Châtelet Station – The series is a slow builder, but this is a masterpiece, a wonderful repository of memorable ideas and emotional strength. Complex, melancholic and conceptual it’s nonetheless accessible to all. Pierre Christin, Jean-Claude Mézières and Cinebook.