Science Fiction in Comic Books:
Science Fiction Colonizes a
Science fiction concepts, icons, and clichés are ubiquitous in the pages of the American comic book. Aliens visit Riverdale in Archie Comics, Donald and his nephews accompany Scrooge McDuck on interplanetary adventures in Scrooge McDuck, and The Enterprise has gone far beyond where it has ever gone before in comic book adaptations of Star Trek published by Gold Key, Marvel Comics, and (in all its classic, Next Generation, and sequential film avatars) Detective Comics. Also, Marvel published more than a hundred issues of Star Wars from 1977 through 1986; Classic Comics and Classics Illustrated published numerous editions of The Mysterious Island, Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon, The War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, A Journey to the Center of the Earth, The First Men in the Moon, Off on a Comet, The Invisible Man, The Food of the Gods, and Master of the World from the late 1940s through the early 1970s; and Innovation has recently begun publishing comic book adaptations of such contemporary science fiction (SF) masterpieces as Gene Wolfe’s The Shadow of the Torturer and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War.
Yet, although some original comic book material is science fiction (or close enough to it), comic books characteristically employ the trappings and concepts associated with science fiction to develop narratives and narrative worlds that are essentially fantastic. Their science fiction components are usually only a superficial guise for fantasy, as comic book narratives generally exhibit no interest in extrapolating from—or basing their worlds’ divergences from reality upon—any sound, organized body of scientific knowledge or principles; rather, they use “science,” not to explain, but to explain away. Thus the comic book’s primary interface with science fiction is that of a fantasy medium that contains numerous—in fact, myriad—science fiction elements, but the extraordinary ex-