I’m relatively new to the graphic novel scene, but it’s opened up a whole new world of science fiction and fantasy stories for me. This year, I was excited to read the nominees and continue to expand my exposure to comics.
Ms. Marvel, Vol. 1
Ms. Marvel, Vol 1 is great fun!
When it comes to introducing a kick-ass new superhero, this is a prime example of how to do it. In my review, I gave it four stars. While I loved the strong, well-developed characters paired with a good story, I can’t say I share the overwhelming admiration many fans have for this comic.
Rat Queens, Vol 1.
I first read this a year ago after Teka raved about it in her 5-star review. Unlike Ms. Marvel, which travels the well-worn treads of the superhero genre, this feels like a totally original fantasy.
Despite their sassy ways and their foul mouths, it’s impossible not to love the four women who make up the mercenary group of the Rat Queens—each have a unique personality and background. Although I hadn’t read many graphic stories at the time, Rat Queens made it on my hugo nomination ballot.
Saga, Vol 3.
Hands down, this is my favorite graphic novel series right now. I’m so glad it was nominated just so I could discover it. In volume three, there are some really poignant moments, including a memorable use of the Lying Cat character. Although it neatly wrapped up a story arc, setting up Vol. 4 to kick off a new chapter, the action definitely slowed for a while. Still, there is a reason Saga has already won so many awards.
Sex Criminals, Vol 1.
For any of those who are wondering, like I was initially, if this is a fantasy or sci-fi comic, yes it is. This series literally makes sex magical. I can wince my way through the explicit scenes in Saga (of which there are a few), but sex-related humor has never appealed. So maybe I’m a bit of a prude, but reading Sex Criminals made me squirm and my nervous giggles certainly raised my husband’s eyebrows.
Despite this not being my cup of tea, Sex Criminals had its moments and I appreciate the lengths Suzie will go to save a library.
Reduce, Reuse, Reanimate: Zombie Nation
This amateur collection of comic strips wasn’t provided in the hugo packet, and being self-published with low distribution, it wasn’t available at any library system in my area. After reading the excerpt provided on Amazon, I wasn’t about to purchase it. So no, I didn’t read it.
However, in addition to reading the excerpt, I did check out the web comic and my analysis is not very positive.
Out of all the titles on the Hugo ballot this year, this one seems the most like a mistake. It doesn’t even come close to the caliber of the other nominees. The cartoons lack artistic merit. The jokes fall flat. Amusing to some people, perhaps. Deserving of a place on the Hugo ballot to choose the best science fiction or fantasy graphic story? Not at all.
My Top Pick
This is a tough choice between Saga and Rat Queens for me. However, I don’t think Saga, Vol 3 is the strongest part of the ongoing series while Saga, Vol 1 deservedly won the Hugo Award in 2013. Rat Queens, on the other hand, certainly deserves some accolades and earns my top spot.
The Hugo Awards are the most prestigious award in science fiction and fantasy and I’m excited to be voting and attending WorldCon this year. This analysis only considers the nominated work itself, ignoring all other external factors. I’ve shared my views on the Hugo Awards controversy separately.