Professor Linnea Zeiner’s Humanities 409 course explores realities that describe “The Future.” Students explore how gendered and racialized spaces occur in media; how “real” is a present challenge to understand in the face of interactive medias and technology advancements; and what trends arise in narratives within specific historical contexts.
Use the tabs above to learn about comics that explore “The Future.” Included in this guide are graphic novels and comics. Comic strips and political cartoons are not covered. The guide is by no means exhaustive. There will likely be more comics that cover the topic than the titles we’ve chosen as representative examples, but we hope this will give you a good place to start. Happy researching!
Blade Runner (Marvel)
Dystopian Los Angeles in which genetically engineered replicants, which are visually indistinguishable from adult humans.
Published in 1982. Manga set in post-apocalyptic Neo-Tokyo (2019). Lots of anti-government and gang violence. Secret government agency testing involving psychic powers. Terrorist want to unleash Akira, who/what it turns out destroyed original Tokyo.
City of Silence (Image, 2000)
The future is bad for you. In a place where everyone has the technology to create brand-new, weird sciences ten times a day, there are policemen who will hunt you down for having a bad idea. They are the Silencers.
Set in a hypothetical America in 2020, the country is rampant with consumerism and inequality.
Transmetropolitan (DC, 1997-2002)
Transhumanistic cyberpunk. In a 23rd century dystopian future, Spider Jerusalem, a gonzo journalist, fights corruption and abuse of power by the U.S. The city is filled with consumerism, sex, violence, drugs, cannibalism and child prostitution. He writes about people who use genetic body modification based on alien DNA to become a completely different specie and are forced to live in a slum.
Hard Boiled (Dark Horse, 1990-92)
Frank Miller. Eisner Winner. Set in a dystopian, near-future LA. Cyborg tax collector/insurance investigator learns he’s part of an enslaved robot race.
Ronin (DC, 1983-84)
Set in a dystopic near-future NYC in which a ronin (samurai with no master) is reincarnated.
Judge Dredd (Eagle, 1983 and on)
Street judge gets to execute offenders immediately.
Bitch Planet (Image)
Feminist dystopian comic about non-compliant women who are sent to an off-planet prison. Non-compliant reasons include being too loud, too opinionated, overweight...basically anything that goes against the patriarchy.
Set in a war-obsessed dystopian future, “the citizenry compensate for the angst and ills of society with a hyper-obsession on sports.” Mara, a volleyball star, starts to develop superpowers, which turns the world against her. Deals with socio-political society and obsession with disposable culture and celebrity.
Serenity (Dark Horse)
Based on Joss Whedon’s Firefly TV series and Serenity movie. Set in the 26th century - think space cowboys so it has the futuristic world of space travel, but feels like an old western. Lots of strong female characters: Zoe, second-in-command onboard Serenity and a war vet; Inara, a Companion, which is a highly independent and respected professional who is a cross between a geisha and an escort or mistress; Kaylee, ship's mechanic; and, River, a child prodigy whose been experimented on so she gained psychic ability and is this weird wildcat crazy ninja-like woman.
Dollhouse (Dark Horse)
Based on the short-lived TV show by showrunner, Joss Whedon. People's brains are wiped as they sleep in the dollhouse. Rich people rent a persona that is downloaded into their bodies. When the mission is over, their brains are wiped and they start over. But what happens when they start to remember?
Space opera fantasy with alien races and robots. One of the most celebrated comics being published - numerous awards - Eisner, Harvey, and Hugo. Noted for diverse portrayal of ethnicity, sexuality and gender & social roles, and for its treatment of war.
Ten years after the arrival of massive and silent alien presence who stand on the surface of the earth like the "Trees" of the title, not moving and seeming to take no account of human life and society. One storyline follows a transgender community.
Set in a alternate Asia, the series begins with Maika, a non-human, being auctioned off to the highest bidder. We later learn that she is an Arcanic - magical creatures who sometimes can pass for human. Explores what it means to be human and author says themes are the inner strength required to withstand constant dehumanization, as well as the power of friendship among women.
Orphan Black (IDW)
Based on the TV show and deals with cloning.
Dr. Luke Taylor's perfect life comes to a dramatic halt when an identical, bloodied version of himself arrives at his doorstep with news that he is one of many clones created by the DOD. The bad side kidnaps his pregnant wife so they can steal the baby and study it.
How to Pass as Human (Dark Horse)
Partly a comic. Written as a field guide by Android Zero (aka Zach) to teach other androids how to pass undetected as human. Examines what it means to be human while exploring Zach’s own existence.
Retro-futurism. Electropolis is described as the “21st century envisioned in 1939. A retro-futuristic world where zeppelins and flying wings grace the skies above Yesterday's City of Tomorrow.” Set in Electra City, an experimental community built at the beginning of the Electric Age. Electricity is everywhere and it is commerce. There are robot servants and an electric detective name Menlo Park, solving murders and grappling with his own humanity. Also see: Terminal City by the same author.
Red Tornado (DC)
An android able to generate tornado-speed winds; body damaged and intelligence transferred.
The Vision (Marvel)
Android. Example of transferred intelligence. 2nd Vision is an android and a member of the Avengers (first appeared in Avengers #57 in 1968). 3rd Vision is a time traveler that fused with the second version's operating system. The "Vision Quest" story in West Coast Avengers #42–45 in 1989 changed him from his earlier depictions as a "synthetic human" and emphasized his android nature. The story had the Vision's memory and human brain patterns wiped out.
XS (Dark Horse)
Vol 1. Hybrid: Future where gifted, "hybrid" humans with special powers police the planet
Vol. 2: Angel Virus: Gamer unlocks a secret level unleashes a biomechanical virus and makes human hosts of skilled players - virus spans the globe on the hunt for the most powerful "hybrid" humans
Future world where breeding farms create human/animal hybrids who are taught to think of themselves as as property.
Mutants, a subspecies of humans who are born with superhuman abilities.
“Inhumans” in the Marvel Universe
Inhumans, a race of superhumans. For example, Daisy “Quake” Johnson, whom you may know from Agents of SHIELD.
Secret War #2 (July 2004) - first appearance (OC Box 5)
Secret Warriors #22 (don’t have)
Avengers. Various issues in vol. 4 from #19 (January 2012) - #34 (January 2013). (don’t have)
Secret Avengers vol. 1 #5 and vol. 2 #1 (2013) (vol. 1 HS 2013)