I love the post-apocalypse!
(Wait, that sounds wrong.)
I love post-apocalyptic stories! And as you know, I love comics. So, these are my favorite post-apocalyptic comics.
Wasteland, by Antony Johnston, with art primarily by Christopher Mitten when the series started. Letters by Mitten and Douglas E. Sherwood.
The remnants of humanity survive in a desert, long after civilization was destroyed by The Big Wet. There are creatures in the desert who prey on humans, and humans with strange powers… who are maybe not so human after all. Like Abi, the village healer and kick-ass gal. Like Michael, the traveler who turns up with a small machine that may lead the way to a lost city. And of course creepy Marcus and his creepy sister who are running a large city as their own personal cult. Religion, mystery, corruption, violence, distrust, and death vie with friendship, faith, and magic. (C-Man says it would make an excellent Dungeons and Dragons game.)
Every time I get done with a new Wasteland volume, I am SO upset because what happens next?! I must know! And also because each volume brings us closer to the eventual end of the series. p.s. You can read 20 pages of the first issue at Comic Book Resources. You’re welcome!
And next, a book I can’t stop raving about to every comics fan I know: Lazarus. Written by Greg Rucka, art and letters by Michael Lark with Stefano Gaudiano and Brian Level, and colors by Santi Arcas.
Lazarus takes place in a future America where ultra-rich corporate families own everything, including other people. Cities are in ruins. Serfs toil on corporate holdings. Each family has an agent and defender, known as a Lazarus, endowed by massive amounts of technology and drugs with almost unstoppable healing powers. Forever Carlyle is her family’s Lazarus, and she serves her family loyally, but they’re not telling her everything. (Non-spoiler: they’re not very nice people.)
So yeah, there’s some tension going on. Forever is lethal in action, but as a person, she’s quiet and thoughtful… and not entirely fitting in with her assigned role. She has a connection with the Lazarus of a rival family that takes my breath away. I can’t wait to see what Rucka has in store for this character.
Next up, Freakangels by Warren Ellis (story) and Paul Duffield (artwork), with coloring assistance from Alana Yuen.
As Ellis says, “23 years ago, twelve strange children were born in England at exactly the same moment. 6 years ago, the world ended. This is the story of what happened next.” And what happened next, basically, is that the Freakangels try to save everyone they can. Well, some of the Freakangels do. Some of them have other ideas.
Warren Ellis is a master storyteller. (He doesn’t always choose to use his powers wisely, but that’s another blog post.) The place and time the Freakangels are trying to live through seem so very real, and the personalities of large cast in this series are always perfectly distinct. C-Man believes this is Ellis’s best work, which is saying a lot because we’re Ellis fanpeople in this house.
The end of Freakangels has already happened so you won’t be left hanging, and it’s sweet and sad and happy all at the same time. You could read the whole thing for free, because it was originally published as a webcomic, one page at a time: Freakangel.com. We own all the books. There is a complete Freakangels box set which I kinda wish I had… but I’m trying to stop re-buying comics I already have just for a new format!
Though Wasteland and Freakangels are both certified post-apocalypse settings, for bleakness they can’t hold a candle to Infinite Horizon by Gerry Duggan, with art by Phil Noto and letters by Ed Dukeshire.
You want a messed up world? Here you go. You want a small number of good people facing off against terrible odds, their fellow citizens running amok? Yep, got that right here.
The storytelling is arresting. Phil Noto’s art is gorgeous as always. But don’t read this when you’re in a bad headspace about the future of humanity.
The Massive by Brian Wood. The first volume is illustrated by Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown, with colors by Dave Stewart and letters by Jared K. Fletcher.
A series of ecological disasters has devastated the world. A non-violent direct action environmental group called Ninth Wave had two ships before the disasters: the Kapital, and the Massive. The Massive is missing. The crew of the Kapital is struggling to redefine their mission as violence and desperation escalate worldwide.
I love the diversity of the central cast, and I especially love Mary. Most people probably think Callum Israel, the Kapital’s captain, is the main character. I’m much more interested in Mary. She is her own person, and she has so many secrets. C-Man is afraid that he’s going to be disappointed when Wood gets where he’s going. He doesn’t think the mystery of the missing ship can pay off for how much and how well it’s been built up. There’s only one way to find out…
However be aware that Brian Wood has been accused of sexual harassment. Comics creator Tess Fowler, who spoke out, specifically did NOT ask for a boycott of his work, but different people have different levels of comfort separating the art from the artist.
My final recommendation for post-apocalyptic comics is Smoke by Alex de Campi, drawn by Igor Kordey, with colors by Len O’Grady and letters by Robbie Robbins.
This story of intrigue and conspiracy tales place in a future London run by a corrupt government. Rupert Cain was separated from his girlfriend when he was forced to transition from soldier to government assassin. Katie Shah is a young reporter whose path collides with Cain’s. She’s trying for an expose on the government, and he’s investigating who killed his former C.O. who’s also his ex-girlfriend’s father. Both of them are into something far bigger than they suspected.
Cain is a very human mix of professional competence and hangups about his ex, and Shah has her own complicated combo of perseverance and temper. We did not enjoy the followup story Ashes as much because the changes of artist were jarring, but it was nice to get some closure with the characters since I’d grown to like them very much.
And that’s the list of my favorite post-apocalyptic comics and graphic novels! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!