Lock your vacuum cleaners away, it’s time for “So You Want To Read Comics”, a weekly feature where we take a look at a single topic and then provide two comic book recommendations, perfect for new readers, based on that topic. This week we’re taking a look at the works of Isaac Asimov.
With Foundation being adapted into a TV show, it seemed like the perfect time to talk about this prolific writer. Isaac Asimov was a writer who specialized in science fiction, particularly stories about humanity as it progressed forward into the future, as well as its relationships with the things it created like A.I. and robots. His writing is often described as “matter-of-fact”, opting for short, concise, and stark wording rather than an overly poetic approach. While he is most known for the aforementioned Foundation series and I, Robot, Asimov is credited with over 350 published short stories and 40 novels over the course of his career that spanned five decades.
So, you’ve been a longtime fan or a newcomer to the works of Asimov and want to see his themes in other places? Try one of these comic book series, or both.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Publisher: Image Comics
After a great tragedy, brought on by the hands of mysterious machines, befalls humanity and the civilization they’ve built up, hatred and violence against A.I.s and robots skyrockets. Descender follows the story of TIM-21, who must live in this world while also somehow becoming one of the most wanted beings in the universe. While this story is a deceptively personal story, in a way that Asimov was not known to write, what many people latch onto with this series is the relationship between the A.I.s and humans. Questions about what constitutes life and consciousness abound Also, the question of whether a single person can direct the tide of society and their sentiments, or are they just part or the bigger wave, comes up in this, in ways similar to how it came up in various Asimov writings. This series also features beautiful artwork from Dustin Nguyen and seeing as this was highly acclaimed when it came out, has been collected in easy to find collections.
Dawn of X
Publisher: Marvel Comics
When I think about some of Asimov’s most famous works, particularly The Foundation Series, and all the books and short stories that tie into it, what I think most about is the scale of it all. It’s massive in scope. And to my knowledge there is only one series in recent history that comes close to that scope and that’s the Jonathan Hickman led take on the X-Men and the world of mutants in the Marvel Universe. This series finds The X-Men attempting to establish their own fully functional country/society. Now while that in itself doesn’t sound massive, these books cover multiple facets of their society, from their secret intelligence agencies, to their political infighting, to how they handle their economics. Not to mention that the events that lead into these stories was a time loop that showed the history of the mutants from creation to extinction multiple times, so this series certainly has scope. Now, The X-Men have long had a well-earned reputation of being hard to penetrate as a new reader, and I won’t say that this series is the best either, but it does have an internal consistency and it’s not impossible to follow, just some of the wink and nod moments might be lost.