By the 1980s, personal computers and numerous commercial gadgets were rapidly reshaping the way people worked, played, and lived. Unprecedented possibilities loomed ahead as writers and artists began to imagine a future infested with technology like cybernetic implants, androids, and virtual reality. Novels like William Gibson’s Neuromancer and movies like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner provided a language and look to the nascent genre which, due to its common anti-authority themes, became known as cyberpunk. Comics the world over quickly took to the cyberpunk aesthetic, and over the years a rich library of works has formed. So boot up, jack in, and enjoy part one (read Part 2, Part 3)of what will be a three-part cyberpunk comics list.

2020 Visions

Jamie Delano, Frank Quitely, Warren Pleacem James Romburger, and Steve Pugh. Vertigo, 1997–1998

British author Delano addresses rampant consumerism and inequality with four loosely connected stories that take place in a hypothetical America in 2020. By then the country’s depravity has reached all levels of society, which Delano and crew satirize with four stories (each drawn by a different artist) that borrow from genres like crime, horror, western, and romance.


Masamune Shirow. Kodansha, 1985–1989

Before his more well-known Ghost in the Shell, Shirow wrote and drew Appleseed, a mecha manga that also dealt with themes of politics and technology. The comic takes place in a world ravaged by World War III, where non-nation-affiliated organizations uphold the law. The comic follows ex-LAPD agent Deunan and her mechanized partner Briareos after they join ESWAT, a law enforcement outfit for the largely-cybernetic city of Olympus. The series was adapted into an animated miniseries in 1988, as well as three CG features (in 2004, 2007, and 2014) and a CG anime series.


Tsutomu Nihei. Shueisha, 2004–2009

Zoichi Kanoe, a synthetic human and agent of TOA Heavy Industries, and his AI companion search the world for people with a natural resistance to a fast-spreading disease that turns people into mindless “Drones.” In addition to TOA, a handful of corporations are also interested in the virus and its cure, though for more dubious reasons.

Channel Zero

Brian Wood. Image, 1998

Jennie 2.5, a New York-based performance artist/hacker begins hijacking television stations, urging viewers to stand up and take action against injustice and unchecked authority. Wood’s debut combined comics, design, and activism in ways that were startlingly fresh for when it was published in the 1990s, with many motifs and ideas that proved to be ahead their time. A sequel, Channel Zero: Jennie One, illustrated by Becky Cloonan, was released in 2003.


Richard Starkings et al. Image, 2006–ongoing

A spinoff from the series Hip Flask, Elephantmen takes place two-hundred years in the future and follows the lives of a handful of human-animal hybrids. Originally bred for war, the hybrids now lead normal lives such as information agents Hip Flask (a hippo) and Ebony Hide (an elephant), and business magnate Obadiah Horn (a rhino). Due to their controversial conception and wartime past, the hybrids often find assimilating into society difficult and their pasts inescapable.

Fluorescent Black

M.F. Wilson and Nathan Fox. Heavy Metal Magazine, 2008–ongoing

By 2085, advances in genetics have split society into two groups: "superiors"—those who can afford to breed out imperfection—and "inferiors"—everyone else. In Singapore and the Malaysian Peninsula, an inferior gang and its leader, Max, is hired by a biotech company to attack a rival firm. In the process of the raid, however, they wind up kidnapping a highly advanced clone who’s worth more than they could imagine.

Heavy Liquid

Paul Pope. Vertigo, 1999–2000

S, a detective in New York City, comes into possession of a sample of “heavy liquid,” a rare substance that can be used as an explosive or, as S discovers, a mind-altering drug. But having stolen the sample, S finds himself in the sights of some very dangerous people. In the meantime, an enigmatic benefactor commissions S to track down a famous sculptor in Paris (who happens to be S’s ex) so she can make a sculpture entirely out of heavy liquid.

Nathan Never

Various. Sergio Bonelli Editore, 1991–ongoing

Nathan Never is an Italian monthly comic that follows an agent of Agenzia Alfa, a corporate law enforcement agency. Nathan Never patrols The City, a towering urban center that’s home to all classes of people, mutants, and robots. The series is largely made up of episodic stories, although there are recurring plotlines and an overall continuity. Legs Weaver, Nathan’s first partner, starred in her own eponymous spinoff comic that ran from 1994–2005, and graphic novels about various Agenzia Alfa members have been published biannually since 1994.


Frank Miller. DC Comics, 1983–1984

A 13th-century samurai finds himself 800 years in the future where he must battle an ancient evil spirit he once vanquished. The spirit, Agat, has possessed the head of the Aquarius Corporation, a biocircuitry company that wants to use its technology for weapons. Through the psychic powers of a limbless man who works for Aquarius, the Ronin is summoned and must wield a bloodsword once owned by his master to destroy Agat for good.

The Surrogates

Robert Venditti and Brett Weldele. Top Shelf, 2005–2006, 2009

By 2054, all physical interaction is performed by remote control artificial humanoids known as “surrogates.” After multiple surrogates are mysteriously destroyed, a police lieutenant begins the hunt for the perpetrator. He soon discovers the suspect (known as “Steeplejack”) is out to rid the world of surrogates due to society’s superficial use of them. A prequel, The Surrogates: Flesh and Bone, and a live action Hollywood adaptation were released in 2009.

Tokyo Ghost

Rick Remender and Sean Murphy. Image, 2015–2016

In 2089 Los Angeles, a city teeming with screens streaming endless content, two constables—a free spirit who revels in her freedom from technology and her partner, a muscly berserker who’s consumed by it—are tracking down a drug kingpin, a job that takes them as far as Tokyo, the only place on Earth not overtaken by technology.