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Christmas Gift Guide

Valérian and Laureline

The Incal

The Metabaron

Nemesis the Warlock

Bitch Planet

Battle Angel Alita

Mega Robo Bros

Nikolai Dante

Saga

Troy Trailblazer

The Ballad of Halo Jones

Black Science

Strontium Dog

Descender

The Woods

Prophet

Sci-fi movie "Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets" hasn't been a huge hit. But if you've been fired up by the jaw-dropping sci-fi visuals and you're in the mood for more epic space opera, then comics are the place to look.

With the help of publishers Humanoids, The Phoenix and 2000AD, as well as online comics store Comixology, we've picked a selection of eye-poppingly gorgeous and mind-bendingly imaginative science fiction manga, bandes dessinée and comics from all over the world that you can find online or at your local comic store.

Caption by / Photo by EuropaCorp

The obvious place to begin. Luc Besson's film was inspired by the long-running sci-fi comic following the space-faring and time-travelling adventures of the heroic "Valérian and Laureline" by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. Packed with loopy sci-fi concepts married with riotously imaginative art, it's no wonder this inspired everyone from Besson to George Lucas. Start with the epic third adventure, "Empire of a Thousand Planets". 

Caption by / Photo by Dargaud

Luc Besson is a French filmic auteur, but if there's one name that can eclipse him in sheer visionary weirdness across comics and films, it's Alejandro Jodorowsky. Although Jodorowsky never managed to bring his planned "Dune" movie to fruition -- a venture chronicled in an excellent documentary -- he brought his grand, symbolic and mind-bending sci-fi vision to comics, including the highly influential Incal series. The original book was illustrated by artistic legend Jean "Moebius" Giraud, who also provided concept art for Besson's "The Fifth Element".

Caption by / Photo by Humanoids

Jodorowsky expanded the story of the Incal into a grandiose sci-fi universe following multiple generations of "The Metabaron" family of space warriors whose story sprawls across the galaxy in a succession of deadly duels between cybernetic-enhanced father and son. It's immense in scope and utterly original. 

Caption by / Photo by Humanoids

Almost any strip from long-running British sci-fi anthology "2000AD" could appear on this list, but few are as weird and wonderful as "Nemesis the Warlock". Written by Pat Mills and often memorably illustrated by Kevin O'Neill, the gloriously grotesque strip follows the demonic alien Nemesis locked in battle with the fanatical Torquemada, a religious maniac bent on exterminating aliens in Earth's distant future. Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!

Caption by / Photo by 2000AD

The book that launched a thousand tattoos. Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick with art by Valentine DeLandro, "Bitch Planet" is set in a dystopian world where women who refuse to comply with society's extreme patriarchal values are locked away in a space prison. The comic updates old-school exploitation movies in tough, colourful and modern style. Are you non-compliant?

Caption by / Photo by Comixology

Classic manga "Battle Angel Alita" follows an amnesiac cyborg living in the city of Scrapyard, where trash rains from a floating city and cybernetic bad guys cause trouble. A movie adaptation is on the way from James Cameron and Robert Rodriguez, which promises to be suitably anarchic.

Caption by / Photo by Comixology

Alex and Freddy are two normal brothers, always arguing and squabbling and driving their parents round the bend. Oh, and they're also immensely powerful super-robots. Published by "The Phoenix" anthology comic for younger readers, Neil Cameron's "Mega Robo Bros" is a witty, explosive sci-fi story for younger readers featuring giant robot beefeaters, flying tube trains, and rocket-powered siblings trying to save the world… if their mum and dad let them.

Caption by / Photo by The Phoenix

Get ready to have your buckles swashed at the hands of "Nikolai Dante", the fast-talking freebooter of a future in which Imperial Russia rules the galaxy. Armed with a back-chatting biomechancial sword implant, Dante is a thief, a liar and an inveterate womaniser -- and he has some bad points too. Created by Robbie Morrison and Simon Fraser, with art from various artists including the legendary John Burns, this long-running "2000AD" strip is a rip-roaring mash-up of bodice-ripping historical adventure and interstellar sci-fi action, swinging from comical caper to epic civil war action alongside a motley crew of Russian rogues. 

Caption by / Photo by 2000AD

Alana and Marko have done the unthinkable: fallen in love. Now their long-warring horned and winged races are after them, with television-headed royal robots and monstrous spider-like mercenaries hard on their heels. Written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, "Saga" is vibrant and hip space opera for grown-ups.

Caption by / Photo by Image

Space adventurer Troy Trailblazer joins forces with chums Jess, Barrus and robot Blip to search the galaxy for stolen relics in Robert Deas' vibrant time travel adventure from the pages of "The Phoenix". Bursting with the all-ages energy of Star Wars and Guardians of the Galaxy, this is an exciting introduction to space opera for younger readers.

Caption by / Photo by Phoenix

Before he created "V for Vendetta" and "Watchmen", comics legend Alan Moore wrote one of the most lyrical strips of "2000AD". Drawn by artist Ian Gibson, "The Ballad of Halo Jones" tells the story of an ordinary woman in an extraordinary future, refreshingly free of cliched violence. Across the three books you're dropped into a richly imagined and endlessly detailed future and forced to fend for yourself, just like Halo herself.

Caption by / Photo by 2000AD

It's "Quantum Leap" meets "Swiss Family Robinson" as a team of dimensionauts rip through different realities. Written by Rick Remender with art by Matteo Scalera, "Black Science" wraps you up in the mind-warping folds of infinity and spits you out into a succession of scenic and insane dimensions. 

Caption by / Photo by Comixology

The second favourite son of "2000AD" -- after Judge Dredd -- is Johnny Alpha, leader of the mutant bounty hunters known as "Strontium Dog". Created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra and continued by a who's who of British comics talent, this bizarre and often black comic all-action strip follows Johnny and a cast of colourful characters chasing down strange and deadly bounties across space and time, when they're not getting sucked into a brutally satirical and satirically brutal civil war with non-mutant "norms". 

Caption by / Photo by 2000AD

"Descender" follows young robot Tim-21 on a cosmic odyssey across the planets in search of long-lost family -- one step ahead of dangerous bounty hunters. Written by Jeff Lemire and rendered in painterly tones by Dustin Nguyen, this is heart-wrenching and epic space opera.

Caption by / Photo by Comixology

High school is hard enough without being transported to an alien world and having to fight for your life. School's out for the kids of "The Woods", written by James Tynion IV with art by Michael Dialynas, which throws them into a weird and deadly alien world.

Caption by / Photo by Comixology

This ethereal and expansive epic has its roots in a '90s superhero comic, but don't worry about that. The 2012 version of "Prophet" written by Brandon Graham catapults tragic hero John Prophet into the far future, where he wanders an outlandish, desolate wasteland populated with weird aliens, rotting spaceships and mysterious clones. Rendered by various artists like a Conan-style barbarian fantasy crossed with the more abstract style of European comics, this is one of the most intriguing, innovative and otherworldly American comics in recent history.

Caption by / Photo by Comixology
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