It’s not hard to find sci-fi in comics format, because so many comics and graphic novels are traditional superhero stories. In the YA sphere especially, DC Comics has done a great job bringing their content to YA readers in the form of original novels and graphic novel adaptations, but I wanted to take a look at sci-fi that wasn’t necessarily superhero-based and explored other exciting aspects of the genre — space travel and experiments gone wrong, the progression of AI and how it intersects with humanity, and futuristic stories of survival and love.
Original sci-fi content in YA comics and graphic novels isn’t quite as plentiful as superhero stories, but we still have some really great and interesting stuff, and much of it showcases queer and marginalized identities, which is one of the reasons why I love YA comics so much. I didn’t include any of the Marvel or DC Comics original YA graphic novels because there are just so many, but if you want to explore those books, then start by checking out titles like Nubia: Real One by L.L. McKinney, Mister Miracle by Varian Johnson, or Teen Titans by Kami Garcia — there’s pretty much a YA graphic novel for every DC hero you can think of, and for many you haven’t even thought about!
On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden
In this hefty graphic novel, two storylines unfold to tell an epic story that spreads across the universe. In one timeline, two girls attending a boarding school in deep space fall in love, but one of them has a secret that will ultimately tear them apart. A few years later, a lonely girl joins a crew that breaks down abandoned space stations and finds unexpected family and community…but she’s searching for someone specific, and she won’t rest until she finds her.
Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld and Alex Puvilland
Years earlier, the Spill Zone claimed the city of Poughkeepsie, killing Addison’s parents and traumatizing her little sister. Getting photographs of the rare and dangerous Spill Zone can garner top dollar, but it’s more than dangerous — it can be downright deadly. When a millionaire makes Addison an offer she can’t refuse, she finds herself venturing closer than she’s ever dared for the perfect shot, and closer to the secrets that lie within.
Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate
Fans of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles series shouldn’t miss this spin-off series starring fan-favorite Iko. In this series, Iko investigates when wolf-hybrid soldiers attack, threatening the fragile peace between Earth and Luna, but the quest will take her on an arduous journey that will challenge everything she knows. Expect to see cameos from your favorite Lunar Chronicles characters!
Cosmoknights by Hannah Templer
Pan used to spend her days helping out in her father’s shop, hanging out with her best friend Tara, and scanning the skies for freighter ships. When it’s revealed that Tara is a princess and she disappears out of Pan’s life for good, Pan thinks that’s that…until years later, a pair of gladiators touch down on her planet, making life suddenly very interesting and bringing back the past.
Pixels of You by Ananth Hirsh, Yuko Ota, and J.R. Doyle
Indira is a human girl with cybernetic augmentation after a horrible accident. Fawn is a human-presenting AI. When the two of them land internships at a gallery, they’re not fans of each other’s work…but when they’re forced to work together, they discover that there is more to each other than they imagined, and that art isn’t always so clearly defined.
Always Human by Ari North
It’s the near future, and humanity can use an invention that offers body modification illusions…except for the few people whose bodies reject these mods. When Sunati meets Austen, someone whose body rejects mods, she’s attracted to her confidence and beauty. As they get to know each other, they must deal with the ways the outside world perceives them as they navigate their new romance.
Across a Field of Starlight by Blue Delliquanti
In this story of friendship and love between two nonbinary characters, Fassen’s ship crash landed on Lu’s planet when they were just kids, and even though they come from two communities who are opposites in every way, they become friends and keep in touch. But when an attack gives them the chance to finally reunite, they must decide how far they’re willing to go in order to be together.
Legend: The Graphic Novel by Marie Lu, Leigh Dragoon, and Kaari
In this graphic novel adaptation of the bestselling novel, June is a prodigy in her futuristic world controlled by military powers. Day is a the country’s most wanted criminal. When Junes brother dies, she suspects Day is at fault and decides to track him down…but as the two of them dance around each other, they’ll discover there is much more to June’s brother’s death.