10 Best Post Apocalyptic Comics
Sometimes, the best stories begin just when the world ends. It certainly seems that way in comic books, where some of the most seminal, and memorable books of the past ten years all take place in wastelands so desolate, Charlton Heston would feel right at home. But out of the entire rabble, there are a few books that stand heads and tails above the rest. These are the best post-apocalyptic comics:
10. Judge Dredd
No list of post-apocalypse stories would be complete without Judge Dredd. A judge of one of the few remaining cities, Mega City One, Dredd is judge, jury, and executioner. Unique among comic book characters, he ages in real time, so he’s currently over seventy years old. Dredd continues to be an important cultural icon, despite Rob Schneider’s best efforts.
9. Marvel: The End
Marvel has published a number of The End, books, which purportedly show the last adventure of your favorite heroes (and where’s my Maggott: The End book, by the way?). Heads and tails above the rest, though, are Hulk, and Punisher, which both show post-apocalyptic visions of these heroes. Both are left in world’s ravaged by Nuclear war. While Frank Castle still has a few people to blow away, Hulk is literally alone the entire book. It’s a grueling, sad look at the end of two lonely monsters.
The last boy on Earth was the star of his own Jack Kirby series from 1972 to 1978. Fighting devolved humans, and evolved animals alike, Kamandi hopes to restore order to a world that has none. A rollicking adventure in the best comics tradition, Kamandi also comes complete with a post-Nuclear, Planet of the Apes style message. That would be, Don’t use nukes, in case you were wondering.
Smart, political comic books are few and far between, so credit to Brian Wood and company for releasing the pointed, incendiary tale of a not-too-distant future where New York City has been turned into a no-man’s land battleground. Matty Roth is the one reporter embedded on the island of Manhattan, and through his eyes we see both what has happened in the book, and an alarming vision of where our own world could be heading.
Garth Ennis has never been one to shy away from shock tactics, and neither is publisher Avatar. So put them together for a neo-zombie tale of human beings afflicted with a disease that takes away all their inhibitions, and you end up with a big fat naked man swinging a severed horse penis around his head. That, by the way, is the only thing we feel comfortable talking about from this book – it gets far worse. What makes it noteworthy though, is its surprising heart. By the end of the book, we were nearly in tears, and not just because of the wince-worthy imagery.
5. World’s End
The dearly departed Wildstorm’s World’s End event makes this list not just for its ambition, but the fact that they stuck to the idea. Plenty of comics companies have destroyed their Earth. But someone always comes in and fixes things at the last second; there’s always an out. With World’s End, there was no out, the Earth was irrevocably broken, and the superheroes of the world stuck with it… Except those that up and left in their spaceship. It’s possible things may have gotten reversed eventually, but with Wildstorm gone, we may never know.
4. Sweet Tooth
After a plague kills off most of humanity, and leads to the few children born coming out with animal characteristics, one boy with antlers, and one grizzled old man travel this new world looking for their own kinds of salvation. Sweet Tooth is brand new, as the series on this list go, but it’s already made a big impact on post-apocalyptic literature.
3. The Walking Dead
Robert Kirkman’s zombie-pocalypse tale doesn’t boast a revolutionary take on the shamblers. But it does have characters in spades, and an ongoing format that makes it unlike any zombie story told before. Rick Grimes and company have, unlike most comic characters, changed dramatically over the course of the series, showing repeatedly how in inhuman circumstances, we often have to become monsters ourselves.
2. Tank Girl
Forget the Lori Petty movie (most people have), and instead, read any of the hard-to-find collections of Tank Girl by Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. Gleefully profane and dirty, TG travels the Australian outback with her kangaroo boyfriend, basically hanging out and blowing things up. Sometimes, she almost gets into adventures… And then she doesn’t. Punk comics at their best.
1. Y The Last Man
Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s Vertigo series ran for sixty issues, and was justly lauded with praise. As you might guess from the title, when a mysterious plague kills off all the men in the world, except for one named Yorick, its time for him to get his swerve on! Actually, its time for a cross-country journey, and one man-child’s slow, steady growth into adulthood. It also boasts the best monkey protagonist in literature, Ampersand.
Crossovers We Want To See: Walking Dead / Infestation
Zombie Reviews! The Walking Dead #80, The Walking Dead Weekly #1, and iZombie #9