Nine Tomorrows: Great Graphic Novels of the Not-So-Distant Future

Many years ago while perusing the shelves of the old Twelfth Street Books in Manhattan, I stumbled on an anthology of short science fiction stories by Isaac Asimov called Nine Tomorrows. I became instantly immersed in this strange collection of tales, a few of which left me spellbound for days after. Two of those stories that remain firmly implanted on my mind are “All the Troubles of the World” and “The Last Question,” which are both part of a larger series that revolves around a futuristic supercomputer known as the Multivac.

Since I’ve been spending much of my time penning blogs, comic book reviews, and my own creative writing, I currently have no time to read actual books (Fitzgerald’s Beautiful and Damned and Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises have been sitting in the same spot for a month). My reading list is thus comprised of comics and graphic novels, so I decided to put together this list of “Nine Tomorrows” –– my favorite graphic tales that tell of future days, time travel, and parallel universes.

9. Robin 3000 by Brian Preiss and P. Craig Russell

This two-issue prestige format book under DC Comics’ Elseworlds trademark, did not seem to do very well with audience despite its interesting sci-fi premise: 31st Century Thomas Wayne fights off a threatening alien race as the Boy Wonder after the Batman of his era is killed. Definitely worth a read if you can get your hands on some cheap copies (I wouldn’t spend more than $5 for the pair).

8. Mystery in Space by Jim Starlin and Shane Davis

Jim Starlin and Shane Davis put together a very exciting storyline in 2006 with Mystery in Space, starring Captain Comet (whom I also mention in my post “The Five Most Underrated DC Comics Superheroes Who Deserve Their Own Blockbuster“), who’s essentially a cross between Flash Gordon and Adam Strange. This is a near perfect book for anyone who enjoys a solid science fiction story that spans galaxies, though I could have done without The Weird stories that come with this trade paperback edition.)

7. RASL by Jeff Smith

I was introduced to this series by my good friend Ed, being that he knows I have a penchant for stories dealing with time travel and/or parallel universes, and after reading the first of two collections, I have only great things to say about Jeff Smith’s story about a world-jumping art thief who finds himself at the mercy of a killer who shares his ability for leaping from world to world. My kind of noir story for sure!

6. The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, Klaus Janson, and Lynn Varley

Not much really needs to be said about Frank Miller’s classic Bat-story The Dark Knight Returns, in which an older Bruce Wayne dons the cape and cowl once more to battle back the mutants of Gotham City. This is the paradigm of great stories about the future, and a must read for any comic book fans.

5. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross

Another exciting story of superheroes in future times, where Superman, Batman, and all the world’s greatest heroes engage in an all out super powers war. Beautifully panted by master illustrator Alex Ross, this story also pits many of our favorite superheroes against one another in a battle to save the world.

4. Batman & Dracula: Red Rain by Doug Moench and Kelly Jones

It’s Batman versus the King of the Undead in Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, which is a solid example of Elseworlds storytelling from Moench and Jones, with an ending that will blow your mind (and also bring into existence two terrible sequels –– Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist –– worth mentioning only because of the coolness of their titles and the fact that they all have something to do with the color red and rain.)

3. Revolver by Matt Kindt

I only recently discovered Matt Kindt through his most recent series Mind MGMT, and when I saw this at the Strand Bookstore in Manhattan, I just had to have it. From illustrations to Kindt’s story of a man who goes to sleep in one world and wakes up in another, Revolver is a subconscious journey through the wormhole of imagination, psychology, and human choice.

2. Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau

I’ve heard from a few people that this series wasn’t very good due to the simple fact that it’s dense and text-heavy, but as a writer myself, I wasn’t bothered by this retelling of the origin of Doctor Will Magnus and his band of merry Metal Men. Half the time, however, I was confused by some of the more chemistry-based elements of the story (the “How Stuff Works” aspects, if you will). But looking at it as the story of a man, his wicked, time traveling brother, and the woman they love, it is quite a ride through the wormholes of thought, keeping the camp-factor in tact while honoring the cosmological elements we’ve grown accustomed to questioning these days (thanks to Michio Kaku!)

1. Superman: Red Son by Mark Millar and Dave Johnson

There’s not much I can say about this story except that is the most awesome story DC has probably ever put out as part of its Elseworlds collection. The story of a Superman born and raised in the Soviet Union with an ending that to this day still twists the corners of my mind into the loop that it encompasses. Brilliant writing and brilliant artwork make for a brilliant capstone on a series dedicated to parallel worlds and alternate realities. This is a must have for every science fiction aficionado.

HONORABLE MENTION: Teen Titans, Volume 4: The Future is Now by Geoff Johns, Mark Waid, Mike McKone, Ivan Reis, and Tom Grummett

And because I’m a huge Teen Titans fan, I just had to include this truly wonderful trade paperback collection of Teen Titans (volume three) #s 17 – 19, a story arc aptly titled “Titans Tomorrow” about a possible future where our beloved young heroes Superboy, Robin, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Kid Flash, and Raven blur the line between hero and villain and run the risk of becoming no better than those they try to protect the world against.

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What are some science fiction stories (graphic or otherwise) that explore time travel, parallel universes, and/or alternate realities that have impacted YOU and expanded your knowledge of the universe?

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